Thursday, June 05, 2008

Live in Fame or Go Down in Flames

Here are two items of potential interest, the first is the sacking of the Secretary of the Airforce and its Chief of Staff, ostensibly over two very visible public failures.

Gates cited two embarrassing incidents in the past year. In one, a B-52 bomber was mistakenly armed with six nuclear-tipped cruise missiles and flown across the country without anyone realizing nuclear weapons were aboard.

In the other, four electrical fuses for ballistic missile warheads were mistakenly sent to Taiwan in the place of helicopter batteries. Gates said an internal investigation found a common theme in the B-52 and Taiwan incidents: "a decline in the Air Force's nuclear mission focus and performance."

But I've received a spate of emails suggesting longer-standing institutional issues. Wired writes:

Despite reports you may be reading elsewhere, this firing was not about nukes or missiles, well-placed sources say. "Far and away the biggest issue was the budget stuff, not the nuclear stuff. The UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] fight, the F-22 deal... Gates really didn't appreciate it," one of those sources tells Danger Room. Now, with the botched missile and nuke shipments, "the SecDef [Secretary of Defense] has good cover to do something that suits him bureaucratically."

Whether Gates will be remembered as "acting decisively" or taken to task for "letting things get to this point" will probably be a major theme of Washington politics in the next few days. My guess is we haven't heard the last of this.

The other item of interest is Barack Obama's foreign policy version of distancing himself, this time not from Jeremiah Wright, but from a position he had taken only days earlier. Glenn Kessler at the Trail writes that Obama was for the US Embassy's relocation to Jerusalem before the Palestinians objected to the idea.

Facing criticism from Palestinians, Sen. Barack Obama acknowledged today that the status of Jerusalem will need to be negotiated in future peace talks, amending a statement earlier in the week that Jerusalem "must remain undivided."

Obama, during a speech Wednesday to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-israel lobbying group, had called for Jerusalem to become the site of the U.S. embassy, a frequent pledge for U.S. presidential candidates. (It is now in Tel Aviv.) But his statement that Jerusalem should be the undivided capital of Israel drew a swift rebuke from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

"This statement is totally rejected," Abbas told reporters in Ramallah. "The whole world knows that holy Jerusalem was occupied in 1967 and we will not accept a Palestinian state without having Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state."

So the Change Man did what he does best. He changed. The story in the Trail continues:

Obama quickly backtracked today in an interview with CNN.

"Well, obviously, it's going to be up to the parties to negotiate a range of these issues. And Jerusalem will be part of those negotiations," Obama said when asked whether Palestinians had no future claim to the city.

Obama said "as a practical matter, it would be very difficult to execute" a division of the city. "And I think that it is smart for us to -- to work through a system in which everybody has access to the extraordinary religious sites in Old Jerusalem but that Israel has a legitimate claim on that city."

Like the Air Force issue this is either going to be spun either as evidence of Obama's creativity and openness or proof that he simply tells everyone what they want to hear. But unlike the Air Force issue we've probably heard the end of it.


Oops. We haven't heard the end of it. A spokesman for Obama says that there is no contradiction between Jerusalem being the capital of Israel and the idea that it's disposition must be subject to negotiation. Jake Tapper at the Political Punch says:

"His position has been the same for the past 16 months," Wexler said. "He believes Jerusalem should be an undivided city and must be the capital of a Jewish state of Israel. He has also said -- and it's the same position as President Bush, former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Prime Minister Ehud Ohlmert -- that Jerusalem is of course a 'final status' issue," meaning it would be one of the key and final points of negotiation for a Palestinian state. "And Sen. Obama as president would not dictate final status issues. He will permit the Palestinians and Israel to negotiate, and he would respect any conclusion they reach."

Wexler concluded, "the articles are not picking up this position. They're not contradictions -- they're the same position."

In other words, Jerusalem is Israel's but Israel is free to give away Jerusalem if it wants. It's a really neat way of squaring the circle. What will he recommend to Israel? Israel Matzav has video of what Obama actually said, and what the Palestinians objected to.

Obama seems to say that "Jerusalem must remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided." This was preceded several phrases before by the words "any agreement". A layman might be excused for thinking this means that 'any agreement should preserve Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided'. That's seems plain enough on the face of it, but as we now know it doesn't actually mean that. We are told it actually means Jerusalem "must remain the capital of Israel" subject to final disposition. If you're confused, don't be. Wexler assures us they mean the same thing. Now what does Obama actually promise Israel and Palestine? A laymen listening to the speech might imagine Obama promises Israel a secure border with no compromises and the Palestinians a contiguous and cohesive state. Listen to the video.

But according to Israel Matzav, "Abu Mazen and Abu Zuhri are upset about is not Jerusalem, but the fact that Obama said that Israel should be a Jewish state living within secure borders." So they are upset about something in that sentence. And with regards to what is promised the Palestinians, as you can hear on the video yourself, Obama promises them a "contiguous and cohesive state". Israel Matzav asks, "look at a map. How can a 'state' that includes the 'West Bank' and Gaza be 'contiguous and cohesive?' For that matter, how can a state that includes Judea and Samaria be 'contiguous and cohesive' unless we go back to the 1967 borders? How can a 'state' with no port prosper? The whole idea is ridiculous."

Not to Obama. I'm sure it all makes sense and we will learn what the words "secure" Israel and "contiguous" Palestine mean in due time.

The Belmont Club is supported largely by donations from its readers.


Blogger Nomenklatura said...

"Obama was for the US Embassy's relocation to Jerusalem before the Palestinians objected to the idea"

Obama is starting to come across as a klutz when it comes to diplomacy.

The whole point of his making this statement about Jerusalem in a speech to a Jewish audience was to dispel the impression that (in line with his far-left backers) he was on the Palestinians' side, and that he could offer supporters of Israel a reliable commitment. Then just 48 hours later he reneges on his commitment and demonstrates precisely the reverse.

I don't think this will be forgotten between now and November because it comprehensively trashes so many aspects of the image he has been trying to present:

• More skilled at foreign diplomacy than Bush... NO

• Reliable partner for American allies... NO

• Unlikely to cave in to pressure America's opponents around the world, and Muslim ones in particular... NO

• Candid in setting out his core beliefs for an American audience... NO

It's pretty damaging.

Quite apart from the specifics, the quality of being 'accident-prone' isn't something Americans tend to look for in a President.

Obama is also starting to conform to the familiar caricature of a liberal, as someone who 'is too even-handed to be on his own side'.

6/05/2008 10:05:00 PM  
Blogger Gary Rosen said...

"Obama is starting to come across as a klutz when it comes to diplomacy."

*Starting* to? He makes Jimmy Carter look like Metternich.

6/05/2008 10:25:00 PM  
Blogger randian said...

Klutz? I wouldn't call his flip-flops the mark of a klutz. I have something far less kind in mind.

6/05/2008 11:16:00 PM  
Blogger daun1919 said...

The post of yours have make me thinking.... How can the military can be so reckless. As we all know that the military is full of the procedures in whatever they do or in whatever mission they involved. If the level security is so low like what happened can you imagined if terrorist plan to make something ?????

Pet Treadmills

6/05/2008 11:53:00 PM  
Blogger dla said...

The far left desperately want a Democrat in the Whitehouse. Will their hatred of all things "Bush" blind them to this fellow's shortcommings?

I had hoped better of Obama - he's starting to make Hillary look good.

6/06/2008 12:29:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Unfortunately government bureaucracies swing between extremes. It appears that the senior leadership makes a list of what will be required to have a quality force and then says “Geez! We can never do all that!” and starts issuing edicts to compensate for what they presume will be a bunch of idiots.

So in the early 50’s SAC emphasized navigation and produced a bomber force that could navigate like hell but could not hit anything with a bomb. In the late 50’s the emphasis on bombers and nuclear delivery produced a fighter force that was not designed to fight. In the late 70’s “Use fixed price contracts whenever possible” was translated into “Use fixed price contracts all the time, PERIOD.” A decade later they were demanding who in the hell thought that one up. Musta been Reagan, the press decided (and in reality it was Reagan that stopped that nonsense began under Carter). In the early 90’s the USAF “warfighter” emphasis led to a series of technical and procurement disasters that continue to this day.

So after the end of the Cold War they de-emphasized nukes. No doubt the War on Terror accelerated this – you don’t nuke terrorists. And the result is what we have today.

6/06/2008 04:17:00 AM  
Blogger hdgreene said...

One rule to remember when dealing with the left is that they are infallible. One of the reasons they don't like the Pope is because he claims to be infallible but disagrees with them on so much that he must be full of shit.

If you are in a discussion with a leftist and show a statement to be untrue it doesn't count because there is a subsurface, subterranean truth there that you are just completely missing. So you see the same "misstatement of fact" in the New York Times over and over and you write letters telling them about it again and again and still it's repeated. Well, you just don't get it. There is a deeper truth there. "The Fake but Accurate Principle."

So they spend going on two hundred years rewriting Marx and Engel's when a simple "He was full of it" would do. But on the left you can compare someone to Engel's and it's a compliment. There is this comment from Benj on an earlier thread.

In an unguarded moment, Lasch once musingly equated Lawrence Goodwyn (whose work I've invoked here in the past) with Engels. Lasch identified himself with Marx. His culture of narcissism is our culture of late capitalism/consumerism - His best-known books are basically American updates of the Euro Marxist culture critiques of the Frankfurt School.) I spoke to Lasch's Engels this morning.

Until corpses are heaped up like cord wood as a result of putting his theories into operation, I ain't buying the compliment. Not until the next revolution plays out.

So the Question is never in what way is Sen. Obama wrong -- but in what sense is he deeply right?

6/06/2008 05:16:00 AM  
Blogger Lilith said...

How can a 'state' that includes the 'West Bank' and Gaza be 'contiguous and cohesive?'

Obviously Israel is going to have to accept being cut into two halves to allow a contiguous and cohesive land corridor to exist between the West Bank and Gaza. The important thing is that the Palestinians are happy. No happiness, no peace.

Israel wants to be compensated in territory for a 35-km (20-mile) land corridor connecting the West Bank to the Gaza Strip. It is unclear how much land that would entail.

6/06/2008 06:21:00 AM  
Blogger davod said...

"Obviously Israel is going to have to accept being cut into two halves to allow a contiguous and cohesive land corridor to exist between the West Bank and Gaza."

Rice was pushing this recently. Madness.

I have come to the conclusion that many Jews in the US wouldn't give a farthing for Israel. They just need to be seen to be caring.

The Jews attending the AIPAC function will lapp up Obama's words and ignore anything which contradicts them.

6/06/2008 07:48:00 AM  
Blogger peterike said...

If anyone thinks Barry --ethnically Arab, descendant of slave traders, raised as a Muslim for years, buddy of professional anti-semites -- is going to take Israel's side for five minutes after he's elected and no longer needs the campaign funding of foolish, liberal Jews, then you're dreaming.

We are very possibly on the cusp of a far-left takeover in America. These things, when they happen, happen quickly. The climate bill is an opening salvo.

As for Barry's continual flip-flops and sheer stupidity about foreign affairs, don't expect that to have any effect on his starry-eyed fan base, or on the tired-of-Bush crowd (most of the electorate). How many people do you think even have the slightest idea that he's made such comments?

They're not hearing it from Katie, or from Oprah, or anywhere else. These remarks vanish like bubbles into the air. McCain will need to beat O'b to a pulp in debates and ads to knock the blinders off people's heads, and I don't think he's the man to do it.

God, it would be so sweet to have a sharp, articulate debater go up against B-fresh. While I didn't go for all his positions, I'd love to see Giulianni rip Barry a fresh one ten or twenty times in a debate. Would have been great. McCain will just fumble and bumble and sputter. It's Dole II folks.

6/06/2008 08:04:00 AM  
Blogger Lilith said...

If anyone thinks Barry --ethnically Arab, descendant of slave traders, raised as a Muslim for years, buddy of professional anti-semites -- is going to take Israel's side for five minutes after he's elected and no longer needs the campaign funding of foolish, liberal Jews, then you're dreaming.

I'm a conservative and I'm voting for McCain, but I have to object to your post. Ethnicity and descent means nothing in America. This is the Land of the Free. People come here from all over the world and they are free to carve out a new destiny. Your point that he has anti-Semitic friends is valid, however, and your objection should rest on that.

6/06/2008 08:13:00 AM  
Blogger Benj said...

HD - Since you called me out - a quick response re my post on that last thread - Another poster had respectfully invoked the work/perceptions of Christopher Lasch. Figured it made sense to point out to him that Lasch identified with Marx since Wretch had (earlier in the week) dismissed Marx as a worthless thinker. Hope I was doing more than point-scoring (though there may have petty motives pushing me to ego off). But - what the hey - there was an op (staring me in the face) to encourage Clubbers to cultivate a slightly less disdainful response to Marx (and Marxism) so I took it...BTW - I was laughing with a buddy about the, ah, incongruity -not to say idiocy - of asking Wretch (and Movement Conservatives) to give two shits about the (occasional) moral accuity of Marx (and/or the racism of T.S. Eliot). But, what the hey - wasn't much stranger than making the case for "George Bush's War" (or the Surge) to old friends who assumed I'd lost my mind. Can't lean on Jesus so I'll keep rolling with the American scholar - "surprise is your only teacher."

Occurs to me that maybe you (and Wretch) might consider another angle on O.'s habits of mind. You blame the left for claiming to be "infallible." I'd say the sense of certainty that you zero in on is alive all over the political spectrum. One thing that distinguishes Obama's own head is a certain ease with uncertainty. Means he'll get pilloried as a flip-flopper by folks who aren't used to examples of (what was once called) liberal-mindedness. But O has been showing the way on that front for years now. In the 60's true libs went down slow because their minds couldn't quite keep up with the passions of the times (on both the left and right). Their, ah, passion for dispassion, for "seeing around" began to seem wishy-washy. Too, well, intellectual and plus - there wasn't much TIME to think in the whirlwind. But Obama is funking up liberalism - he knows the habit of seeing around becomes dessicated w/o emotion and faith and commitment. And that's why his talks tend to hook up a seach for clarity with a readiness to FEEL forward. Wretch (and co.) are probaby right to zero in on the Jeru issue raised by O.s speech - the details of a map matter when you're touching on a boundary dispute. But so do the facts of feeling in the speech. Might turn out to be way wrong - but I don't think O's speech was chiefly about the "roadmap." His subject was the felt connection between blacks and jews and America's moral imagination. And who does Obama choose as an example of American who had the goods? He makes the obvious Movement move - invoking Goodman and Schwerner. But the line that shows why O will be teaching us all for years was his invocation of Ike forcing the Germans in the towns surrounding the Concentration camps to go look at what they'd been about. (O left out the fact that the mayor and wife of one of those towns committed suicide.) What O was doing was trying to recall and update and (yup) invent a liberal moral consensus. Suicide bombers, airplane hijackers and I'm a Dinner Jacket are outside that consensus. And - btw - so are commentators who think that the gulf between O. and Hillary is like the rift between Hamas and the PLO...I worry that I'm beginning to act like a Jingo. But Wretch - you're running down this country at a moment when you should be CELEBRATING it for what its people have just accomplished...Know there are folks on the site who have, ah, problems with black women. But I'm know you don't so consider Condi;s words...

"Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Wednesday hailed Barack Obama becoming the first black presidential nominee of a major US party, saying it showed America was an "extraordinary country."

"The United States of America is an extraordinary country," Rice, the first black woman to be the nation's top diplomat, told reporters when asked to comment on Obama's historic victory late Tuesday in the grueling 2008 Democratic primaries.

"It's a country that has overcome many, many years, decades -- actually a couple of centuries -- of trying to make good on its principles," Rice said.

"I think that what we're seeing is an extraordinary expression of the fact that we the people is beginning to mean all of us."

PS - Came across Condi's official response to Obama's race speech -

6/06/2008 09:07:00 AM  
Blogger davod said...

So. Until every group in the US has had a chance to be a the Presidential candidate for a major party "We the people" will not mean all of us.

6/06/2008 10:00:00 AM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

There is a Rand study "The Arc" about a highway/conduit to create a single esophical tube joining the two parts. Very interesting reading, if practical, sound doable. But the politics of the region have gone beyond the doable or the practical and have committed the commonsense-cycle to spin doctor hell.

6/06/2008 10:45:00 AM  
Blogger Benj said...

Nope Dave - the History of African Americans makes them more different than America's other Others...Also makes it possible for O's rise to open up the minds of/for everybody everybody though I'm not generaly all that big on role-nodeling - ...Came across a couple passages in the news recently, but you might start by thinking on a couple graphs from Condi (from her response to O's race speech)...

Rice said her own father, grandmother and great-grandmother had endured "terrible humiliations" growing up in the segregated south and yet they still loved America.

While many blacks called themselves African American, Rice said they should not be looked at as immigrants.

"We don't mimic the immigrant story. Where this conversation has got to go is that black Americans and white Americans founded this country together and I think we've always wanted always wanted the same thing," she said.

Later on Friday, when asked what Americans had learned about race since the civil rights movement, Rice told reporters: "You have to work hard every day to make the extraordinary, moving and inspirational words of our founding documents a reality for all Americans."

Here's the stuff from the paper. As I say - O as role-model is not enough for moi. Yet it's not nothing. While we should be beyond of the time of black Firsts - the country moves at different paces in different places. Here at the Club for example, it's still possible for someone to shout out about how "ugly" Michelle O is (physically) and expect appreciative echoes - I'm hoping such sentiments will seem antidiluvian or - more to the point - un-American - sooner rather than later...

"And Barack Obama, biracial himself, is a success story not just for blacks, but for all people struggling to find a place and having felt like they never quite fit into our society:

Alison Kane, a white 34-year-old transportation analyst from Edina, Minn., said Mr. Obama’s success as a biracial politician would have a similar effect on her 21-month-old biracial daughter, Hawa.

"When she’s out in, God knows where, some small town in rural America, they’ll think, 'Oh, I know someone like you. Our president is like you,'" Ms. Kane said. "That just opens minds for people, to have someone to relate to. And that makes me feel better, as a mom."

"Our president is like you." How long has it been since we had a president that a large number of Americans across the spectrum could say that about? Barack Obama, though not a blank slate and certainly a much-accomplished person in his own right, is also someone that whites, blacks, immigrants, biracial people, Latinos, Asians—can all can see some part of our own story in his. He’s the modern day story of what America can be and what America should be.

And finally, this story that Obama himself told was also powerful part of the story--simply anecdotal, true, but breathtaking in its implications for our country and our future:

"Probably the most powerful story I heard was today at a conference, a woman came up to me," he said in an interview on NBC News. "She said her son teaches in an inner-city school in San Francisco and said that he has seen a change in behavior among the young African-American boys there in terms of how they think about their studies. And, you know, so those are the kinds of things that I think make you appreciate that it’s not about you as an individual. But it’s about our country and the progress we’ve made."

6/06/2008 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

In the video Obama goes down a list of bullet items regarding Israel and each item is mentioned using a kind of shorthand or code word that has a larger meaning. "Undivided Jerusalem" is one of these items and its meaning is clear to Israelis and Jews, many of whom support the idea. It also has a clear meaning to the Arabs, most or all of whom are against the idea.

It is troubling that Obama would go back on such a clear statement. It either means that he didn't know the meaning of the term when he used it. Maybe he just heard it or was repeating something one of his advisors recommended to him. Maybe he knew exactly what it meant when he said it but was hoping that the Arabs wouldn't object. Maybe he just says what he thinks his audience wants to hear.

In any case he seems to be in over his head. He said something that he either didn't mean or he changed his mind after the fact. I think that AIPAC members and others will consider Obama unreliable based on this event.

I was surprised to read that he had said this in the first place because it is a somewhat right-wing conservative Israeli position not to give any of Jerusalem to the Pals.

His backpedaling statement that this is a final status issue and he would support whatever the two sides agree to is disingenuous. Of course any president will support any position that both sides agree to. His original statement clearly was taking sides on this issue, which probably was ill-advised but that's clearly what he did. When he was called on it he backed away from his statement. This was a poor showing.

The Arab statement that they don't accept Israel as a Jewish state is of course what their position has always been although I don't think this is generally understood in the West. Both presidential candidates and probably most of the Western world don't agree with them on this but it is par for the course and a big part of the reason why there hasn't been real peace.

6/06/2008 12:28:00 PM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

Benj, this is pure nonsense. Obama cannot be so dense as to not know the reputation or activities of those around him, he cannot be so dense as to not know of the issues surrounding a hospital that was not needed, and all the wonderful projects that are now falling apart literally and emptying the pockets of the citizens of Illinois, as well as the myriad other schemes that seem to just spring up in his path.

If he did not know then he is criminally incompetent. If he did know then either his actions are criminal or his lack of action is. Take your pick.

Either "OH" Bama is an idiot or he is a criminal. There is no other explanation. His Harvard education tells me he is no idiot. So what is left?

So now when those kids in SF get all depressed and cry about how a 'brotha' can't get a break, I have to cry BULL SHIT!!!
I must show them the example of the the Black Businessmen who through honest effort and perseverance build companies and take them public on numerous Stock exchanges, without corruption or extortion, just hard work. Or the example of Secretary Rice herself, who has risen to powerful position despite being black and a woman. I would stop calling the guys who succeed honestly and through their own sweat a bunch of "toms" and start praising their example. There has got to be a better example of hope than a the bunch of poverty pimping lawyers and machine crooks which with 'OH' has surrounded himself.

As despicable as:
the aiding and abetting, and the shafting of who knows now how many folks whose misfortune it is to live in "projects",
whose insurance and tax burdens have soared due to the fraud an corruption emanating from 'OH's office and office mates is,

the international flavor of the schemes gives the distinct impression of much of the activities being a money laundering operation to pass US aid moneys spent presumably in Iraq, to the pockets of Chicago area criminals. All while our guys are getting shot at and their grandparents freezing their butts off in the project nursing homes built by 'OH's cronies because even Chave's oil won't burn in the crappy heating system.

'OH' bama has made his choice. If he is innocent I will be the first to apologize (I'm not gonna hold my breath though!) Mean while we have to balance the very telling notions that a man is defined by his friends, and that a man is innocent until proven guilty, because like the good lawyer and politician he is, he will allow no hint of substance to escape his lips.

Come on Benj, you can write better than that, so I will presume you can think better too. DO DUE DILIGENCE. You owe it at least to yourself if not to you first readers. And if not for them, then for those kids in SF.

6/06/2008 12:29:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

When I first read Obama's statement about Jerusalem I too thought he was making a large concession to Israel until Desert Rat pointed out at the Elephant Bar that:

" desert rat said...
But, it could also be the Palistinian capital, ash.

It could remain undivided under UN or some other international body's control.
A Jerusalem Triumvirate of Christian, Muslims and Jews rule over an international capital city.

Well within the parameters of thw quote.

Think boldly"

Which is one of the generally accepted visions for an Israeli/Palistinian peace.

6/06/2008 02:04:00 PM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

But, it could also be the Palistinian capital, ash.

It could remain undivided under UN or some other international body's control. A Jerusalem Triumvirate of Christian, Muslims and Jews rule over an international capital city.

That's not what he said when he clarified his remarks after the fact.

As I said, his audience understands the term "undivided Jerusalem" to have a specific meaning. If it comes out that he really meant something else then they will go against him. He's managed to make both sides mad at him over this issue.

6/06/2008 02:28:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6/06/2008 02:45:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

From your linked article Utopia:

"But a campaign adviser clarified Thursday that Obama believes "Jerusalem is a final status issue, which means it has to be negotiated between the two parties" as part of "an agreement that they both can live with."

"Two principles should apply to any outcome," which the adviser gave as: "Jerusalem remains Israel's capital and it's not going to be divided by barbed wire and checkpoints as it was in 1948-1967."

He refused, however, to rule out other configurations, such as the city also serving as the capital of a Palestinian state or Palestinian sovereignty over Arab neighborhoods.

"Beyond those principles, all other aspects are for the two parties to agree at final status negotiations," the Obama adviser said."

6/06/2008 02:52:00 PM  
Blogger Benj said...

Wade - steer me bro - I'm willing - though not yearning! - to be disillusioned. So direct me to the inside dope on the hospital or the nursing home projects. Have to say, though, that each time a Clubber has cited some supposed horror story re O, it turns out there's not much in the shadows. Remember the petition thingy from his first Senate race? - CNN re-upped on that one a couple days ago! Left out all the evidence in the original Trib piece that indicated this was something other than a simple gotcha story. And do you recall Hewitt/Mark S./wretch offering up O's account of his college worldview as if it was still his pov rather than a position he'd described in his "Dreams" precisely in order to explain how he'd come to transcend it. Jesus - when I think of THAT segue, I'm still flat-out embarrassed for Wretch and S. Not sure that even falls under the rubric of due diligence..- more like straight-up slander…

BTW I've had the same sort of experience with left critics of O. who are almost as fierce though not quite as unhinged as some Clubbers...A guy I respect mucho claimed in a piece that O.’s campaign was lying about Michelle’s life-story, claiming she’d lived “in poverty.” But no such claim had ever been made…

One more word on due diligence - I first learned about O from a piece by in the New Yorker by William Finnigan. He's a real good reporter. Doubt he would've missed evidence of obvious corruption but...

For years now, I've been wondering/waiting to see if someone O organized with back in the day would drop a dime on the guy. Confirm he was a sell-out - Hasn't happened. The organizer who served as his mentor - and whom he treats a little harshly in his memoir - is still cool with him. (And I checked to see if he'd been bought!) I figure those people are the ones who know the insides of his politics best. Are you sure you know the “real” O better than them?

Since you invoke Condi, you might consider that she doesn't seem to share your contempt for OBama. And maybe the best way to answer your assertions re "Toms" etc. are with a few questions. - Not defensive ones either since I don't talk that talk and neither does O. (BTW Haven't we been through this Wade? - I recall citing passages in his book that were dispositive on this front.) So here goes - Is there any reason (good or bad or value-neutral) why O's example might have more resonance than Condi's to those kids in S.F.? Not sure I know the dealio there - but I'm guessing it might have something to do with boys' lives and pop life. (Do you know what kind of music Condi plays?)...

Postus interuptus - Had to rush out to the bank - while I was there, the teller (a Sister) caught the first name of my wife - "How do you say Mbayang...I like names that are...It's good to be different." Well - occurred to me on my way back to this post that Barack O.'s presence pretty much announces to Americans (and the world) that it's good to be different...

Get real you say - O is just a party pol - a "Chicago hack" - I'll take your points if/when you score em (or when Alexis did re O's farm statism) - but consider the evidence right in front of eyes, ears, and nose when this guy is speaking to you on the tube. Have you ever heard a hack-politician deliver the sort of speeches we're now coming to expect from Obama? And – let’s be clear here - he's not whipping people up – nobody’s fainting! - and nobody in his amazingly integrated audiences are responding like black and white keys on a piano. They’re just accepting his invitation to think and feel as gracefully as he does...

Obama was never a natural yes-man. (That’s one reason why there’s a willed quality to his Churchy affirmation of faith – you can read it/him as evidence he’s a whore – or you maybe O’s come to understand the need for the YES that’s at the core of all religions) Obama has learned how to go from nego to Positivity w/o buying into the World-as-it-is…He’s educating me so it’s not that hard to for me to imagine him educating “the youth.” Are you so sure there’s nothing he can teach you?

6/06/2008 03:48:00 PM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...


You seem to think that those remarks indicate that Obama is a modern day Solomon who has a plan to both divide and not divide Jerusalem at the same time.

What I think is that those remarks indicate that Obama made a mistake in saying that Jerusalem should remain undivided. He went too far to the Israeli side and made the Arabs and their supporters angry so he is backtracking. While doing that he is making the Israelis and their supporters angry.

These are political remarks. All the remarks in front of AIPAC were political remarks and all the remarks since are also. These are not policy statements and IMO don't really mean anything regarding what a Pres Obama would do.

If Obama thinks that Jerusalem should be shared somehow then he's had plenty of opportunity to make that statement in a clear way. If all he meant was that Jerusalem shouldn't be divided by barbed wire then clearly he was being disingenuous.

6/06/2008 03:49:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Utopia Parkway said:

"These are political remarks. All the remarks in front of AIPAC were political remarks and all the remarks since are also. These are not policy statements and IMO don't really mean anything regarding what a Pres Obama would do."

B. Hussain's comments as echoed by the MSM are only so much flatulence. B. Hussain will say what ever he believes will get him elected. His past performance is the only meaningful metric for judging him.

6/06/2008 03:54:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"They’re just accepting his invitation to think and feel as gracefully as he does..."
...or as Maya Angelou says,
"Im so Happy"
...repeat a dozen times.
We are the World...
We are the people we have been waiting for...

6/06/2008 04:13:00 PM  
Blogger Lilith said...

Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, on Friday rejected an agreement for the US long-term presence in Iraq...

Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shiite leader of the Mahdi Army, also has called for the demonstrations after Friday prayers to pressure the Iraqi government into abandoning the proposed agreement.

Last week Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's most revered Shiite cleric, also expressed his anger, saying he would not permit the Iraqi government to sign a deal with "US occupiers" as long as he lived.

Fancy that! A united Iraq at long last!

6/06/2008 05:16:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Lillith, 40 years of Identity politics make race and gender and sexual orientation THE defining issues for people.

Liberals and Dems have made it so. OF COURSE Barack Hussein Obama would backtrack as soon as Palestinians object.

Now, Obama means to win against McCain. That is his avowed goal. Why the backtracking? When it is to his electoral advantage to have Palestinians criticizing him, complaining he's to "Pro Israel?"

Why the backtrack? Which makes him look weak, and throws away the advantage he had secured for himself at AIPAC?

Because Obama as a man of the Left and Democrats views himself FIRST as BLACK, second as AFRICAN, and THIRD as a member of the solidarity movement with all Third World Peoples (he tells us so repeatedly that his middle name being Hussein will make America loved in the Third World). Heck his appeal as a "Lightworker" among Democrats is that he is a Black Man from African descent.

Obama does not think of himself as an American, it would be impossible for ANYONE to think of themselves as American steeped in 40 years of Democratic Identity politics. Of course "God Damn America" is the sermon of the day. Obama eats that for breakfast because he likes it. It's why he immediately issued solidarity with Palestinian radicals when challenged.

His identity (opposed to America) is that important to him.

6/06/2008 06:38:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...


A generally accepted outline to a Israel/Palistinian peace includes a shared Jerusalem, a Palestinian State, and a trade of lands balancing area to roughly the '67 borders. Obama's statement of a "undivided" Jerusalem is entirely consistent with this paradigm. The folks at AIPAC and the folks in the terrortories may be upset but that's actually a good indicator of a proposal which cuts down the middle. I agree the AIPAC folks wanted "undivided" to mean 'all Israeli' and the Palis' think it gives away the store but they're both wrong.

It is interesting that this one speech by Obama has helped to bring some of the issues into clearer focus for both sides. Words DO have some effect after all.

6/06/2008 07:01:00 PM  
Blogger Benj said...

Ash Thanks for your clarity Ash!

Whiskey Thanks (but no thanks) for your rare expression of paranoid style of conservative will - "[O] tells us so repeatedly that his middle name being Hussein will make America loved in the Third World"

It's that "repeatedly" that's above and beyond...It reminds me of Chomsky's turns - if you're going to LIE go for the gusto!!

6/06/2008 08:40:00 PM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...


I guess words just mean what you want them to mean. Undivided means divided.

To the Jews and Israelis undivided means that the Pals get no part of Jerusalem. Divided means that the Pals get some part of Jerusalem. I think those words mean the same thing to the Pals.

Saying that shared is a generally accepted solution doesn't make it true. Neither side wants to share Jerusalem with the other side. Maybe you think that's a possible outcome but I really doubt it. You might think that that's what Obama wants or believes is a good outcome but there's no actual evidence that that's the case. Perhaps you can point us to some evidence that the Pals, or the Israelis, or Obama think that sharing Jerusalem is a good outcome.

In 2000 in Camp David what Clinton proposed and Barak agreed to was that the Pals would get the Arab neighborhoods in so-called East Jerusalem. The sides went through a number of possible ways of partitioning the old city and temple mount. There were no formulas that were acceptable to both sides.

Today the Israelis are inclined to be less generous and the Pals are inclined to demand more. IOW no agreement is possible.

6/06/2008 09:49:00 PM  
Blogger newscaper said...

Ash said
"A generally accepted outline to a Israel/Palistinian peace includes a shared Jerusalem, a Palestinian State, and a trade of lands balancing area to roughly the '67 borders."

Me: Agreed.

Ash then added:
"...I agree the AIPAC folks wanted "undivided" to mean 'all Israeli' and the Palis' think it gives away the store but they're both wrong.

It is interesting that this one speech by Obama has helped to bring some of the issues into clearer focus for both sides. Words DO have some effect after all."

Oh, right. THAT was his devious, intentional plan all along.

Utter, unalloyed 100% bullshit.

At *best* the greatest orator (at least with teleprompter) put his foot in his mouth, "misspeaking" when the stakes are high -- worst getting caught red-handed in pandering lies.

The excuse that he was too smart for his audiences is a crick.

6/07/2008 12:05:00 AM  
Blogger Gary Rosen said...

"It is interesting that this one speech by Obama has helped to bring some of the issues into clearer focus for both sides. Words DO have some effect after all."

You're not serious, are you? Words from Obama have precisely zero meaning. The day after he went before AIPAC to orate on "undivided" Jerusalem he reneged on it, as he so often has before on so many topics.

The point is not even whether you agree with him (today) about Jerusalem. The point is that Obama will tell anybody what they want to hear. Then when it turns out it is something somebody else doesn't want to hear he disowns it or claims he was misquoted/misunderstood/miswhatevered. Then when you call him on his flip-flop he waxes indignant and lectures you for not addressing the real issues.

I am becoming more convinced by the day that an Obama presidency would be utter disaster for our country. He makes Bill and Hillary look like Washington and Lincoln.

6/07/2008 12:25:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Maybe the Barry Barry hears talking today is not the same Barry Barry knew yesterday.

6/07/2008 04:05:00 AM  
Blogger Gary Rosen said...

"We will Barry you"

6/07/2008 08:23:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

gary, according to the Utopia linked jpost article the clarification in no way repudiated what he said at the speech.


I agree both sides want Jerusalem for themselves, it is a holy site to many, and there is much disagreement and warring over the issue. A reasonable compromise appears to be this shared jurisdiction international city that is undivided. It can house the capitol for two nations. Unique yes, but as you've noted many sides are warring for it.

6/07/2008 09:04:00 AM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...


There is a cartoon by BEK (?) in the middle of that New Yorker Article, that strikes me as hilarious now. A man presenting a woman with a wrapped gift (occasion unknown). The caption reads:

"If you don't like it you can always use it as another example of how I have no idea who you really are."

As chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services nearly all of the illegal activity for which Resko and Levine were indited, occurred under 'OH's watch.

I don't care how pretty he is or how wonderful he sounds or how graceful he dances around the issues of the day, if he doesn't prove to me that he can be trusted I won't vote for him.

The nice thing for me is that 'OH' must prove the positive, that is how this kind of political persuasion works. I think he is guilty and no matter what any jury thinks or what any reporter feels, you have to prove to me that we can trust your man, that 'OH' is deserving of the nations trust.

When the people who support his campaigns own millions for renovations and improvements to housing that were never made, when a similar pattern of corruption for which Resko has been convicted extends to other areas of 'OH's oversight, I can only wonder what the hell he was doing while he was in office because it wasn't oversight.

6/07/2008 11:04:00 AM  
Blogger randian said...

I agree both sides want Jerusalem for themselves, it is a holy site to many

Jerusalem is a holy site to Muslims only when they don't own it. During periods of Muslim rule it becomes a neglected backwater. It is not a stretch to argue that it is a holy site to Muslims for the precise purpose of demonstrating Islamic superiority over other religions i.e. we've conquered your city, we're better. Jerusalem otherwise has zero connections to anything historically Arab or Muslim.

6/07/2008 12:26:00 PM  
Blogger Gary Rosen said...

"gary, according to the Utopia linked jpost article the clarification in no way repudiated what he said at the speech."

Then why were the Palestinians upset and why did he feel the need to "clarify" what he said? He's only a candidate now. When he does this kind of shit as POTUS it will be very damaging to our country.

6/07/2008 01:16:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Monica Crowley

Today's New York Times features a story about the conviction of Tony Rezko, the longtime Obama fundraiser and rainmaker, on 16 counts of bribery, fraud, and money laundering.

Swell guy.

In the piece, a statement from Obama was quoted. (What's this with a "statement?" I thought Obama never met a camera he didn't like. Oh, right: that only applies to when things are going well for him. The bad stuff gets a "statement.")

Obama said he was "saddened" by the verdict. (There goes the gravy train!)

And then this: "That's not the Tony Rezko I knew."

Sound familiar? After the Reverend Wright controversy blew up, Obama said that the man seen ranting and raving, full of anti-American vitriol, was "not the man he knew."

Father Michael Pfleger? When his racist sermons came to light, Obama said the exact same thing about him: not the guy I knew!

Bill Ayers? Hardly knew him. Bernadine Dorhn? Ditto.

How is it that all of these people, to whom he was close (most for 20+ years) have all changed? Suddenly, all of them are different people. Now that Obama is a national figure, suddenly, miraculously, they've all changed. For the worse.

Are you buying this?

Obama can dress up his radicalism in a pretty package, and he does it well. But fraud is fraud (ask Mr. Rezko.)

Obama is inflicting a fraud on us:
inviting us to believe he's one thing, when his past and his associations indicate he's someone else entirely.

Maybe someday we'll say: "That's not the Barack Obama we knew."

That's assuming we ever do get to "know him."

6/07/2008 03:38:00 PM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

I assume Allison Davis, one of Resko's recent partners and onetime principal of the firm representing Resmar, the firm 'OH' went to work for instead of Resmar back in 1987, had no connection to corrupt actions either, and ah, 'OH' never did more than six hour of legal work on any of his friend Resko's Resmar holdings. He also as a community organizer could not possibly know of the connection between Resmar and the low income neighbor hoods he was organizing.

Of course all of this is mere coincidence and those three money guys from the Iraq well they just "ah" just "ah" well, "ah". Bad timing I suppose?

Granted I do not have the prosecutorial powers needed to subpoena all of the files and all of the transaction docs required to connect the dots and make more than a circumstantial case. But the circumstance given screams the man is dirty and in thick with the thieves around him.

Now you can argue that it is just Chicago or that this is all being misconstrued and you could even say that its okay if your not a part of the problem you don't have to be a part of the solution, but I don't think the folks living in those Rezmar renovated tenements who lost their unheated and squalor housing because of Resko's dealings with Davis' law firm while promoting Blagovich's rise in Illinois and 'OH's rise in Chicago are just going to be very receptive to the idea that 'OH' didn't do anything, wasn't part of the solution.

I would want to know why especially if after all of that I'm sitting in one of Resko's nursing homes while 'OH' is sitting in a multi-million dollar mansion he bought using a tip from who, and with money from what including a spectacular last minute deal saving play by who using money gotten from where? And after back peddling from every initial statement about the transaction the editorial board at the Tribune and your friend at the NY'er don't seem to have a problem with it WHY?

Is this what they spent all of that time paying back all those student loans to get their Journalism and English degrees for? To look the other way? I guess it isn't the other way, its the "Chicago Way".

I noted that it was like old home in Miss Nancy's house, yesterday. Both Hilleray and 'OH' laughing over good times remembered, mutual acquaintances and mutual lessons learned on the south side of Chicago.

Ah, breath deep the stench of Chicago, where the machine reinvents itself every couple of years.

6/07/2008 07:15:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

Gary wrote:

"why did he feel the need to "clarify" what he said?"

To help folks like you and the Palestinians reach a deeper understanding.l

6/07/2008 08:47:00 PM  
Blogger Gary Rosen said...

"... folks like you ..."

Ya mean the Joooos? Are you cedarford in drag?

6/07/2008 11:09:00 PM  
Blogger Benj said...

Wade - quickie - Don't have much dope to counter/convince you. And as you know I'm not even sure I'm out for your vote!! But before you write the guy off as hopelessly corrupt don't you need evidence he blew off a whistleblower? No-one has argued Rezko was PAYING O for explict favors, right? O's personal financial situation was pretty tight throughout the 90s - The Rezko relationshop didn't allow him to live large - O went upscale only after "Dreams" became a best-seller.

All comparisons are odious but I'm reminded of Johnny Mac among the Keating Five - Doubt his failings there are the best way to take the measure of the man...

To your larger point about the Machine and urban poltics in general. When you move from being a community organizer to becoming a pol, you do it with clarity that you are choosing to get (at least) slightly dirty. My bro has been a a tenant organizer for 30 years. (Able to do it cos he had a steady gig at the P.O and his wife taught in Harlem schools.) He drove/drives Harlem pols crazy because he can not be bought. (I once overheard a couple of em referring to him as
"Tommy the Commie" - that was the only way they could explain his strange recalcitrance.) Over the years Tom has been let down (even double-crossed) by any number of pols who make a practice of giving into the local money-men (Columbia U. in particular), failing to stand up for their inner city constituents. AFter a few years, though, Tom learned to LOWER his expectations. Local politics in America's federal system is not about high ideals and grand principles - There's a LOT of back-scratching, a lot of impurities. I'm reminded just now of a good essay (by a writer named Fred Jameson whose stuff I don't usually like) on Raymond Chandler and the murky worlds of city/state politics...So - where's this headed? - what's striking to me is not that O has some unsavory connections, but that he managed to do some relatively visionary things in the course of his state senate career. (That bill on the video-taping...) Maybe it's Obama's mad ambition that lifts him out of the murk. You invoke him laughing with Hillary - but Hill started at the top, right? - Senator Hillary was her first real gig. Never had to scuffle learning how to golf or talk to folks from Southern Ill or Go Back to Cicero. It's O's sense of his own possibility that separates him from, say, Bobby Rush or the black Machine pols or the ones my bro has dealt with over decades in Harlem.

All of whom(by the way) supported Hillary except for ONE (Bill Perkins) who just happened to the only pol who occasionlly musters up the nuts to take on the heaviest interests in his district.

Which reminds me of O's other big urban black pol backer - Cory Booker. He's the guy who's basically trying to pull off a Rudy Giuliani minus the white chauvinism in Newark where he took out Sharpe James (the former Mayor and classic black gangter pol). OBama and Booker are tight - Booker went down to North Carolina to campaign for Obama...Which doesn't exactly suggest to me that Obama is the favored candidate of black urban machine pols...

A couple thoughts on O's immediate surround. There are certainly pros in the mix - But Tom Daschle's former chief of staff does not seem to me to incarnate urban corrupton. Then there's Ax you'll say (rightly). Not sure he's a hack, but he's certainly a "regular." Nothing New about his way of doing politics. Still I'm not sure the presence of Ax the knife means O isn't in the healing game. Maybe it signifies that O isn't much interested in the standard narrative of the morally pure (and self-celebrating) pol who fights valiantly against the system and loses...O knows from Nader and he dosen't want to go there. Does that mean he's just in it to win it? I don't think so. I think he wants to, yup, write a new story. And, as I've said, he's already doing that (from my pov). The speeches he's giving are modeling a new liberal imagination. I think that's more important than his gas policy. All his talk may be derided as just wind, but I'm a word-man myself so I'm biased toward someone who is trying to enhance our political discourse.

I'Ll leave you with an (indistinctly recalled) anecdote from that Trib guy's bio of O. Back during the 04 campaign, the reporter called O on the fact that his State Sen office had contradicted one of O's stated principles by using mailing privileges to get out campaign docs. O. called the reporter to defend himself w/ some excuse about dating but basically allowed that he'd screwed up. A few hours later Ax called to ream the reporter for his "unfair" story - The Trib guy interupted him to say, ah, (sorry) your candidate just admitted the story was accurate - seems he is an honest man. Ax responds. "Oh Shit...Yeah he is honest and it's becoming a real problem."

PS (for Doug)- re "He's not the man I knew" - the Bushies did a half-dozen of those in one day over Scott M. That was obviously BS. Scott M. is the same shallow soul he always was. The moral equiv of Brownie...Payback is a bitch.

There's another phrase the O campaign has used way too often - Very PC - "There's no place in this campaign for...." (I HATE that one, though I think I'm going to start using it if Wade (or anyone else) makes a point that hurts - i.e. There's NO place in this argument for a...

6/08/2008 09:53:00 PM  

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