Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Just why exactly did Barack Obama suddenly become concerned with providing security for Iraqi reconstruction in April, 2004? I look at the question at Pajamas Media. Here's Obama in April, 2004.

What exactly happened at around that time that might be of interest?

Here's what I think, and try to document in the Pajamas Media article.

The shifts in Barack Obama’s policy toward Iraq show a remarkable correlation with the rise and fall of Tony Rezko’s business prospects in the Chamchamal Power Plant. As the story of the Rezko syndicate is exposed in his Chicago trial, the subject of its Iraqi commercial interests will come under a brighter light. Barack Obama has already said of his convicted ex-fundraiser, “this is not the Tony Rezko I used to know.”

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Blogger Reliapundit said...

rezko machine, i belierichard;

ve his burgeoning hawkishness in 2004 had only to do with getting in synch with kerry's BS's during the election phase when kerry and the dems were all trying to seem a little more hawkish.

6/18/2008 04:06:00 AM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

This is April 5, 2004 now. The bloodiest month of the war. Blackwater contractors strung up, First Fallujah, etc. And the hawkishness lasts all the way to November 20, 2006, when it suddenly changes. The elections were long over. But Chamchamal had been cancelled on Nov 6, 2006. In between the Auchi party and the cancellation we had the steadfast Obama. Before and After we had the "let's pullout" Obama. Coincidence? Maybe.

6/18/2008 04:37:00 AM  
Blogger watimebeing said...

Right now we only have an I supported the surge before I didn't support the surge- sort of - situation with the Fallujah connection (Code Pink, Blackhawk et al) conjecture as to why. While the Dems attempts to sound like or at least reclaim the Hawkishness of Henry Scoop Jackson failed to find footing, the thin veneer of that line of thought doesn't go far enough and isn't strong enough to explain the "OH" stance on that video.

The Resko connection story has legs, however and the powers that be can't change the powers that never happened re "Chumchmal". The big time question, where is the reciprocity? Can it be documented?

Thank you, wretchard, I guess smoke is still an indication of fire after all. Is it racial profiling if its true? Or do concepts of true and false matter anymore?

6/18/2008 05:15:00 AM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

I think we only have a circumstantial case. I started out writing the piece looking at Alsammarae. By and by I got the timeline for Chamchamal. At the time, Ed Morrissey made the mistake of thinking the Obama video saying "I’ve never said that troops should be withdrawn. What I’ve said is that we’ve got to make sure that we secure and execute the rebuilding and reconstruction process effectively and properly and I don’t think we should have an artificial deadline when to do that," was a new one. It was an error which Ed immediately realized and corrected himself on.

But Rezko Watch (I think) noticed the video stamp was a couple days after the party with Auchi. Then I knew I was onto something. So I Googled Obama on Iraq at intervals and to my amazement he stayed consistent throughout 2005 and all the way to November 20, 2006 when he made a sudden turn. So the April 5 video wasn't a fluke.

Then I asked myself, 'wait a minute, when did Rezko's Chamchamal thing get cancelled. John Batchelor had the court proceedings. And there it was. Rezko told the judge it was finally cancelled on Nov 6 or 7, 2006. Two weeks later, Obama did his about face.

It was striking to me because I didn't set out with an idea of what I would find. When the pieces were all in front of me, I said, "well I'll be darned".

But like I said, it's all circumstantial. However, if some kind of beneficial relationship between Obama and Rezko turns up, then you've really got to wonder.

6/18/2008 05:46:00 AM  
Blogger mercutio said...

There are several possibilities regarding the video.

Most likely: The interview never happened. Any evidence to the contrary is evidence that it was staged.

Fact: Karl Rove was in Chicago on April 4.

Umm . . . Bush lied!

Hillary did . . . something or other.

Conclusion: This is change we can believe in.

Seriously, thanks for the investigation. I never knew that Sen. Obama said such things. May the other shoe drop, soon.

6/18/2008 08:08:00 AM  
Blogger joe buz said...

Dot connecting is a distraction and does nothing to help my kids. Swift Boat to Chumchumal.

6/18/2008 08:39:00 AM  
Blogger Benj said...

I’ve been paying pretty close attention to OBama's stances on Iraq since 2004. I thought back at that time he was the most inspiring American pol in decades even though I disagreed with him about Iraq from the jump. I think it's fair to note a change of tone/emphasis in November 06. But if you're rationally cynical - as opposed to madly conspiratorial - one reason for O's change back to a harder line against the prosecution of the war was the Nov 2006 election which made it clear the country was sick to death of Bush/Rummy approach...That, rather than developments with Rez (whose requests for help O had already shut down according to your own account) "explain" the turn if you want get low. Since O's a pol no reason not to always be aware of a certain calculation, but his public move didn't come as a shock because it had been set up by his respectful but obviously skeptical questioning of Khalizad in the public hearings the previous summer. Obama did not take the Senate hearings as an occasion to pontificate about the wrongness of the Admin's approach (as Hillary and Kerry did). What he did do was zero in on America's man in Iraq to see if the Admin had any back-up plan if it turned out the new (at that time) Maliki gov couldn't stem the sectarian violence. I remember O specifically asking K - what happens if you come back here a few months on and the violence hasn't begun to come down? Will you allow then that it might be time to Go? I took O's public calls and responses in the Spring/Summer of 06 as evidence he realized he had no need to get strident about his own longstanding opposition to the war. Unlike Hill and Kerry, he'd actually said No when it mattered. But he also knew (and knows) that No wasn't all that. As you'll recall, his famous refusal of the red state/blue state paradigm was founded on his clarity about the fact that "there were patriots who supported the war in Iraq and those who were against it." My own sense (to repeat what I've said here in old posts) is that O was always against the War (for good reasons) but also experienced (and expressed) moments of genuine ambivalence. There's a passage in "Audacity" re his visit to Iraq that pretty much sums up his gut response - As I recall (perhaps imperfectly) O tells about meetings with biggies and mid-rank officers whose reports on where Iraq's at leave him up in the air. But the one thing that he's sure of is the future of Iraq will be determined by (what he calls) the "hard-eyed" Iraqi pols. My own sense is that his analysis there was probably right on AND slightly self-protective. A way of evading the moral force of those everyday Iraqis who voted the various hard-eyed pols into office...As I say, I don't think O is perfect.

Still I MAY be being to hard on the guy. What I might take as evidence of moments of calculation/evasion could very well be another measure of O's exceptional mind. Wade - for real, consider that the capacity for variousness - and a readiness to change your mind!- shouldn't be taken as a sign of moral cowardice. And the fact that so many people assume change is not something we can believe is a sign of the need to revive that old ideal – liberal-mindedness. In my experience a readiness to consider changing your mind means yours is still alive. What we now have is a politics that’s all about who can shout "I was right!" the loudest. O’s GIFT to America might very well be subverting that sort of mindless certainty.

O's evolution on Iraq doesn't flow in my direction. (Though I still have my hopes/) But I doubt his movement of mind is contemptible ...On that score, I'm reminded again of the quality of the back and forth between O and Khalizad (and later Condi) at those public hearings. It was good stuff. And, as I say, Wretch if you're interested in something other than rumor-mongering you might go back to those hearings and I think you'll see that Obama's November 06 turn is clearly presaged in his earlier public comments. [Oh yeah – you still have made no comment/apology for passing on the "reporting" of that Murtha-loving counterpuncher - Isn't it time to acknowledge that up until the time she started doing dirt on Obama, you would have regarded her stuff with absolute contempt?]

Wade – one more thing on that old discussion re Rummy – Might check Sanchez’s new book on all that. He may not have been the right guy for the job – but he’s no Scott M. There’s an account of Rummy trying to get him sign off on a revision of the history of decisions about troop levels in the immediate aftermath of “Mission Accomplished” that’s devastating (I think). Worth more of your time rather than bogus attempts to build specious explanations for OBama’s public positions (which are no wonder at all to anyone who was paying attention)….

6/18/2008 10:38:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Benj, there's a new invention you might want to try once in a while. It's called a paragraph and it makes it much easier for a reader to wade through line after line of densely packed letter words. Especially if you have a tendency to write REALLY long detailed posts.

Always provided, of course, that you actually want anyone to read your stuff.

6/18/2008 10:55:00 AM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Wait until --AFTER-- B. Hussein has been formally nominated the presidential candidate before you pull his plug. The Democrat Party bosses could still swap in Hillary or a dark horse if it becomes clear that B. Hussein is damaged goods.

6/18/2008 11:05:00 AM  
Blogger Jrod said...


Since you seem to be the resident Obama spokesperson, in your opinion, would it be too much to expect Obama to modify something that Dennis Miller once said: "I support this war, but if I didn't I would pretend like I did because it is our men and women doing the fighting over there" to something like, "I don't support this war, but I'll pretend like I do because it is our men and women over there doing the fighting."

Or maybe what another handsome orator, Stephen Decatur once said when proposing a toast: "To our country; in her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right; but our country, right or wrong."

6/18/2008 11:18:00 AM  
Blogger Jrod said...

Good point Eggplant. FWIW Intrade is still giving her a 5% chance of getting the Dem nomination and a 6% chance of being the president (regardless of party affiliation I presume).

6/18/2008 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

What's most amazing about the obama campaign is the amount of money he is raking in. a shame we can't get detailed records of the sources for his cash.

6/18/2008 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger mercutio said...

Benj wrote:

"My own sense (to repeat what I've said here in old posts) is that O was always against the War (for good reasons) but also experienced (and expressed) moments of genuine ambivalence . . . . In my experience a readiness to consider changing your mind means yours is still alive."

"Genuine ambivalence" and (as one commenter on this site approvingly gushed) "vulnerability" do not seem like virtues to me. "Change" synomynous with "ambivalence" sounds much more like a classic vice, e.g. inconstancy.

So he was against the war. O.K. Then he was supportive to the extent that he allows in the interview. Then he's for a sixteen month phased pull-out, no bases.

And still is (via the Obama web site):

"Bringing Our Troops Home

Obama will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. He will remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months. Obama will make it clear that we will not build any permanent bases in Iraq. He will keep some troops in Iraq to protect our embassy and diplomats; if al Qaeda attempts to build a base within Iraq, he will keep troops in Iraq or elsewhere in the region to carry out targeted strikes on al Qaeda."

The campaign is trying hard to keep Iraq out of view, literally, on the web site. You have to scroll way down to get it as an issue.

Dante locates the inconstant, by the way, in the eighth circle of the Inferno. Let's hope he is not eligible for the final circle, which is reserved for the lowest human type of all.

6/18/2008 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

Here is my feeble attempt at a joke.

Did you hear about an organization called Muslims for McCain? Both members are in hiding because of all of the death threats they've been getting.

6/18/2008 01:23:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Circumstantial or not, this is the sort of thing that torpedoes presidential bids if it gets the right kind of circulation and the candidate is forced to do some 'splainin'.

6/18/2008 01:37:00 PM  
Blogger Benj said...

J-Rod - I speak for no-one but myself...Re Dennis Miller (who's always seemed like a human horror to me - the dead End of the hipster's line) - I thought Mike Kinsley did pretty well on that front - "I'm against the war," he said. "But I hope to hell it goes well." Didn't O's 04 Convention speech come fairly close to what you wished for? - Remember the following passages...

" You know, a while back, I met a young man named Seamus (ph) in a VFW hall in East Moline, Illinois. He was a good-looking kid, 6'2", 6'3", clear eyed, with an easy smile. He told me he'd joined the Marines and was heading to Iraq the following week.

And as I listened to him explain why he had enlisted -- the absolute faith he had in our country and its leaders, his devotion to duty and service -- I thought, this young man was all that any of us might ever hope for in a child. But then I asked myself: Are we serving Seamus (ph) as well as he's serving us?

I thought of the 900 men and women, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, friends and neighbors who won't be returning to their own hometowns. I thought of the families I had met who were struggling to get by without a loved one's full income or whose loved ones had returned with a limb missing or nerves shattered, but still lacked long-term health benefits because they were Reservists.

When we send our young men and women into harm's way, we have a solemn obligation not to fudge the numbers or shade the truth about why they are going, to care for their families while they're gone, to tend to the soldiers upon their return and to never, ever go to war without enough troops to win the war, secure the peace and earn the respect of the world."

That still reads pretty well to me... Obama's angle on the war hasn't been all that shakey. He's kept thinking about the facts,ah, in the ground - he's made some political calculations - but he's always been a patriotic skeptic - though not a dogmatic one. I hear Mark re the possibility that he'll walk back from previous Iraq postions - I'm kinda hoping he does just that. Not betting on it though. In part because Maliki et al provide cover through their assertions of sovereignty. A week or so ago, I noticed a Maliki comment from a press conference that O could easily point to if he wants to stick to his current withdrawal plan.

One more point re Mark's equation of O's "change" with inconstancy. He's not Hamletizing and he's not out to be the King. He's trying to build a democratic movement that's welcoming to masses of Americans who will not (and should not!) agree on every policy position. Isn't it his job to articulate the values and incarnate the habits of mind and character that will inform the policies that his administration will eventually pursue? And since we're back to the issue of character, I'd urge everyone again to look at the stories Obama has choosen to tell - In my experience, the tales someone tells often reveal what you need to know most about the teller.

6/18/2008 02:17:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

Nearly all the successful bad guys I've met in life could tell could tell compelling and moving stories. Narrative ability is no gauge of character. A more reliable indicator is whether, at the end of a stemwinding story, you detect a what salesmen used to call a "close". This often takes the form of an appeal to buy, subscribe to, or vote for something. We have all learned to recognize this. Or at least some of us have. And there's really not much bigger an appeal than "make me President". That's quite a close for a moving story.

That tells as much about the story as the story itself.

This is why Obama's Chicago connections are so important. They make all the difference between seeing Obama's positions in Iraq as that of a "skeptical patriot" or seeing him as a shill. The bald fact is that persons close to the Senator stood to gain immensely from Iraq reconstruction -- and that by means of fraud. Rezko himself said he didn't have two dimes to rub together when he bid for the project. How do you bid for a $150 million project without a nickel to your name?

And how do you ask Barack Obama (which Rezko did) for help in appealing a project which has been canceled in part because one of the bidders (Alsammarrae) has been jailed for fraud? It took a long time for Obama to decline the help, though eventually did. Or maybe he saw that nothing would be gained by tying a tow cable to the Rezko's Titanic.

Rezko's bid was a scam pure and simple. The authorities in Iraq found this out and threw his confederate into the slammer, until he broke out.

This break out episode tells me we have yet to hear the rest of this story. It smells like this sordid tale is one of bipartisan cooperation, in the same way that the Chicago scandals are. You will recall that the rot in Illinois crosses part lines.

But that's not the same as saying that certain people are above suspicion because they tell moving stories. Because when their soaring rhetoric happens to match up in timing with the lowest form of grubbing, then you can put a wholly different construction on the story.

6/18/2008 02:42:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

Right after the Civil War, a species descended on the South who are now remembered as Carpetbaggers. Of course not everyone who came was a Carpetbagger, though Carpetbaggers there were.

The Texas Observer has no problem in believing that US Army officer killed himself after receiving emails calling him names and accusing him of being associated with a contractor called USIS, one of whose stockholders was the Carlyle group, and hints darkly that the officer was in fact killed by persons unnamed before his sense of honor could get the best of him.

The article is full of suggestion, and little else, that Iraq is full of carpetbaggers. Given history, one shouldn't be surprised. It might be a little surprising if none of these carpetbaggers could have come from Chicago. My guess is that a lot of people saw the huge spike in contracting as an opportunity. And that attracted the good and the bad. In which category was Rezko?

Rezko was a blatant rip off artist. His only coin was influence. Connections. Other coin he apparently had none. Zero. Zip. Nada. Unless there's something else he's not talking about. Accounts he can't remember he has.

Everything about this says, "keep digging". It's not about moving stories. It's about timelines and who stood to gain from what.

6/18/2008 03:10:00 PM  
Blogger Featherless Biped said...

benj wrote:
"Still I MAY be being too hard on the guy. What I might take as evidence of moments of calculation/evasion could very well be another measure of O's exceptional mind. Wade - for real, consider that the capacity for variousness - and a readiness to change your mind!- shouldn't be taken as a sign of moral cowardice."

benj, Bill Clinton had this mental plasticity in spades. It's something I bet a lot of Rhodes Scholars have.

But spectacular achievement as a student or scholar may actually be a negative in a political leader.
Think about it.

6/18/2008 03:22:00 PM  
Blogger Slade said...

Just so. Reminds me of the eight oligarchs who stripped the newly formed Russian state of all financial assets. Only difference - they didn’t walk in with carpetbags. They walked out with them.

The genii is out of the bottle. But it’s not just one.

There is a strong element of the negative in these observations. I can hear the objections coming -from those with eyes wide shut.

6/18/2008 03:31:00 PM  
Blogger Benj said...

You know Wretch - that comment on stories was directed at you as much as Obama. You keep looking for the lowest possible motives whenever you approach O. And never allow that the rumor-mongers you've leaned on are worthy of skepticism OR were flat out wrong. (i.e. the Hewitt/Steyn episode where they conflated a mind-set O. was criticizing in his book with his own current world-view.) The stories you tell about Obama tell me a lot about you. I don't believe that citizens should be fans - so I respect your skepticism about O (though I wish it extended to figures in the current Admin), but I also think that democracy in America withers when the response to a Black Swan phenomenon like Obama is all-cynicism-all-the-time...

As for "narrative ability being no gauge of character" you're right as rain. But I'm not talking up O's "ability" in some formalist way. I'm saying look at the content of his stories. And he's got quite a few for you to examine in his 800 plus pages of published writings. That's where you'll find evidence of his character. Just so we're all clear - O is just an ok writer - (He's no Mark Helprin!) It's not the fluidity or elegance of the tales but the moral import thet counts - the sense of the past, the sociological range, the ease with America's double-truths, the lack of meanness...

Wretch - Here we just differ in ways that probably have something to do with basic temperaments/politics - I belong to what Emerson called the Party of Hope. You have a doomier angle on the world. Have to say that, for what it's worth, I believe my own pov is closer to the American grain. But – what can I say - I always figured Elvis and Al Green and MLK were much closer to being echt Americans than William F Buckley Jr. Maybe we'll find out if I'm right this next election...

6/18/2008 03:36:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Here we just differ in ways that probably have something to do with basic temperaments/politics ...

Don't flatter yourself. The difference is IQ points, education and experience. The ability to take disparate events and factoids and put them together to create a whole logical reality, vs. running on empty emotion and hope.

6/18/2008 03:46:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

Hope is not the same as naivete. It's the belief that good will eventually win out over evil; not the idea that evil doesn't exist. In order to survive hope requires a clear discernment between good and evil. At least as clear as we can make it. Hope is lost when we can no longer see the difference between bad and good or stare at the bad and see it as good.

Most people and situations are neither wholly good nor bad. Figuring out whether there's hope requires judging to a nicety how much of each is in a given. And even then it's a gamble.

There's almost nothing in Obama's actual track record which, it seems to me, would invite anyone to bet on him except the characteristics which suggest that he might win the Presidency. He speaks well; looks good; has the right demographic. Those are all valid political assets. But suppose you were looking for someone to trust with your life in the underground; or hand your life savings to; or share a foxhole with. Would you trust Obama?

There are a lot of people whose conversations are less than sparkling; stories less than engaging; attire less than tasteful who I would readily entrust my safety to. And there are a lot of people who would make me laugh and bedazzle my glance who not never ever would I get into a foxhole with. That's not to say they're not talented. Just not the talent I'm looking for.

The best predictor you can have of how good Obama will be in the White House is what he did and how he performed in Chicago. Not what he wrote in an 800 page book.

The world is a hell of a lot messier than Chicago, though some may find it hard to believe. How well can Barack size up America's enemies? As well as he sized up Rezko, Wright, Ayers and Daley. It's not like you're voting for a new person. He's 46 years old.

6/18/2008 03:54:00 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

I already decided months ago - hell, a year ago - that Obonga is not someone with astute judgment or the qualities you look for in a guy to cover your back. No one knows Leftists like former Leftists. Expediency is their coin. The ones who do have integrity (and they do exist, trust me, I've met them)are generally not the ones who rise up in the ranks of their comrades. And deep down they too do not trust their leaders. They know the truth of it.

It's going to get a lot more crowded under Obonga's bus.

6/18/2008 06:28:00 PM  
Blogger ambisinistral said...

The easiest sort of a movie to make, or a story to tell, is an anti-war story. That's all Obama did. All he talked about was suffering with his little Seasmus story. People suffer, and so we must stop.

At Gettysburg Lincoln had a graveyard full of Seamuses, yet when he talked briefly, he talked of larger issues.

I don't expect every politician to be a Lincoln, but I do expect them not to be shallow and tawdry. That's the problem I have with Obama. He doesn't say much beyond platitudes in my opinion, and that doesn't impress me.

War is bad. Yes we know. Now, what are you going to do about things Mr. Obama?

6/18/2008 07:37:00 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

Along these same lines: Used to hear how terrible Haliburton was.
Then George Soros bought up a lot of their stock.
Criticism of Haliburton sort of vanished thereafter.

6/18/2008 08:33:00 PM  
Blogger Benj said...

"The best predictor you can have of how good Obama will be in the White House is what he did and how he performed in Chicago. Not what he wrote in an 800 page book."

One mo time? It's two books. If you're going to hold forth repeatedly on the guy's essence and opinions it might make sense to have read them. (A point I've made before to no point apparently - I recall someone in the Club accusing me recently of failing to do due diligence. Here's looking at you Wretch.)

O's record as a state legislator was pretty impressive. I'll re-up on stuff I posted before only because there may be folks here who missed it. His most important achievement as a State Senator was the bill he got through the Illinois legislature which mandated all police interrogations and confessions be videotaped. The idea was to stop cops from beating confessions out of suspects. Charles Peters recently offered an account of how Obama got his “heart and soul” bill passed over the initial objections of the law enforcement establishment, Illinois’s Governor, Republicans who were “automatically tough on crime,” Democrats who were scared to seem “soft on crime,” and anti-death penalty advocates who worried that Obama’s bill “by preventing the execution of innocents would deprive them of their best argument.” When the police lobby proposed to limit the videotaping to confessions, Obama held out “knowing that the beatings were most likely to occur during questioning.” He not only prevailed, he was so persuasive “that the bill passed both houses of the legislature, the Senate by an incredible 35 to 0.” And then Obama talked the Governor into signing the bill, making Illinois the first state to require such videotaping.

Peters argues that Obama’s successes in the Illinois Legislature (where he passed other significant legislation) indicates “Obama’s campaign claim that he can persuade Americans to rise above what divides us is not just rhetoric.”

But let's stick with the rhetoric for a moment. It's just crazy to me that someone would diminish the importance of being a great communicator in a democracy. That's not the whole deal for a Pres - but it's central to the gig. Obama's books (especially the first one) are, in fact, political achievements. They provide a narrative that explains and embodies an imagination that's now out to revitalize liberalism. The books hook up with the speeches. No heavy mysteries here. The flow is consecutive if you'll just follow it. Wretch - you've got an ambitious but authentic American Greatness liberal on your hands, not a dupe or a hustler.

Which brings me to the comment re Clinton. Sure Bill was sharp and undogmatic - Might even have had the head to do the intellectual work that O has done. But it was always all about Bill. The key diff is that O actually had the experience as an organizer of helping everyday people find their own voices. He writes convincingly about all that in his Dreams - He knows his stuff there belongs to a moral tradition that ecompasses the labor movement, the Civil Rights Movement, Solidarnosc - It's powerful and (sorry) transformative legacy. It stays with you, grounds you and shapes your whole sense of human possibility. The Clintons' politics was always a much more straigtened top-down thing. (That's why that back and forth re LBJ's role in the Movement during the S.C. primary had mucho resonance.)

Anbi - re Seamus - For me the point was to hear Obama - the Brotherly liberal - explicitly BOW DOWN to the (personalized!) example of a white boy with a sense of honor - thereby pushing his own "natural" consituency to overcome the slight resistance they might feel to celebrations of those who embrace military codes and the martial impulse...(Consider how how O's approach differed from, say, Michael Moore's equation of the Voluteer Army with dupes...- As I say, Obama is re-imagining what a left politics can be.) What Obama does in his stories is the exact OPPOSITE of a hustle. At his best he doesn't pander to his audience - he pushes them (before pulling them together).

One more thought in closing re Wretch and hope/naivete. I don't think I'm nearly as beamish as Wretch suggests. Been in some dicey spots in my time - physically and spiritually. Still - No fox-hole. So I'm guessing Wretch is one-up on me there. And I'm not going to pretend that don't matter. As I figured out right after 9/11. I was feeling strangely guilty for days after the attacks. I can be pretty slow sometimes - and clarity didn't come rolling in quick. But I managed to rule out survivor's guilt. I was at 18th street - not too close to the Towers. A couple people I knew who worked there managed to get out - or were sick that day...So what the hell was it? After a while I realized I was paying for my faith in hope. My sense of humanity had been too Up - It's not that I ever doubted everybody was a mix of good/bad as per Wretch - but I was just more interested/attracted to the Good and the Ture and the Possible...Again - I knew from evil. Any kid who played the Rolling STones' "Play With Fire" had a clue WAY back in the day. But I'd underestimated the need for PROTECTION - (Got my own ass kicked a few times but who would care about that - my ass ain't my neighbor's) Point is - that 9/11 did teach me something that Wretch (and most Clubbers) already knew in their bones. Security counts! - But what the hey - I'll keep pushing back - Been guilted in/by my time, but now (maybe?)it's our time to encourage ya'll to recognize that we're not always Men in Dark Times. There's a light that never goes out and right it's shining...

6/18/2008 09:00:00 PM  
Blogger watimebeing said...

OH says "When we send our young men and women into harm's way, we have a solemn obligation not to fudge the numbers or shade the truth about why they are going, to care for their families while they're gone, to tend to the soldiers upon their return and to never, ever go to war without enough troops to win the war, secure the peace and earn the respect of the world."

IOW..., Bush lied people died. Only given the legs of sentimentality because the level of service at a critical juncture of history had been allowed to slip woefully below the necessary level of force and readiness required in the post Soviet era.

If Deomonicrat Presidents would resist the temptation of abusing our nations forces and try maintain ing a level of strength and readiness equal to the foreseeable tasks, then so much of tragedy could be avoided. If options that should have been there, could have been available then maybe, there might have been a different outcome and then maybe "OH' would be whistling a different tune... or maybe not.

As to "OH" and judgment, I have made the point that there is too little to judge. The laws he passed in the State house were not crafted by "OH" they were passed on to him to get them passed. Pushing others under the bus and giving little credit for the crafting and a whole lot of credit for making what was an otherwise procedural move. (That from the lips of the speaker of the Illinois legislature in addition to "I'm gonna make me a president"). Hat tip to you Benj.

As for apologizing for the lady's laundry list. I've been through plenty of such exercises in connecting the dots, follow the bouncing ball, and (a favorite of
conspiracy theorists) follow the corporate connections, and have found that in most cases there is information that supports not the conspiracy but the purity of the person alleged to have shady dealings. Because there is such a paucity of actions from which to make a solid judgment about "OH" following such stuff is one way to fill in the gaps. It is Vetting the hard way, but if your man is as honorable as you claim then there is nothing to fear, and we all will benefit from the exercise.

For what it is worth, Apologize I will not, as the lady is what she is, but then again Mr. Murtha is what he is too, and I have little that is nice to say about him.

Your man "OH" by running so early in his career gives us no other options but to run this stuff down. I don't trust him because his support is so strong on so little action deserving of merit. Some thing is wrong, really wrong, when folks would throw their support to someone so untried so untested.

Either you are all just off you collective nut or, the guy is what you claim. I have no hard evidence to lead me to accept he is what you say, so I am seeking hard evidence of what he is or is not. Sparks could fly, smoke is an indication of fire, unless it is a screen. I may never be satisfied in time to make an informed decision. But I will not gamble on an uninformed one.

6/18/2008 09:44:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

NahnCee said...

"Benj, there's a new invention you might want to try once in a while. It's called a paragraph....

...Always provided, of course, that you actually want anyone to read your stuff."

NahnCee: paragraph or no paragraph; I learned better than to read Benj posts a long time ago.

6/18/2008 11:08:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Wretchard said...

"Hope is not the same as naivete.... Hope is lost when we can no longer see the difference between bad and good or stare at the bad and see it as good."

Wretch: If what you say is true; BHO is guilty of false advertising. Whatever he is selling, it isn't "hope".

6/18/2008 11:20:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Wretchard, I am impressed by your Pajamas Media article on Senator Obama.

As you point out, the case you build is merely circumstantial. Furthermore, any consideration of the Senator's motives will always be speculative unless Senator Obama chooses to divulge them to us (and even then, of course, we won't know how much to believe and not to believe).

Nonetheless, the parallel timelines of bidding for reconstruction contracts and of supporting an American troop presence are remarkable.

So remarkable, in fact, that a further conclusion suggests itself: Senator Obama didn't explicitly agree to help Rezko, because as an intelligent lawyer, he understood that to be treason, or somewhere in the neighborhood of treason -- in fact, that would have been a very convenient excuse on the senator's part to beg off giving an explicit commitment to help; rather, there may have been a tacit understanding between Rezko and Senator Obama that Obama would support the U.S. presence in Iraq if and only if the Iraqi government was willing to entertain and approve Rezko's bids.

To mere mortals such as you and I and 99% of the American public, such an understanding would be breathtakingly cynical and Machiavellian and morallly bankrupt. But would it really be beyond the capabilities of Senator Obama to rationalize such an arrangement in his own conscience as some kind of justifiable, albeit hardball, expediency?

At this point (post-Jeremiah Wright, post-DNC consolidation in Chicago, post-masterly outmaneuvering of the Clinton machine in the Democratic caususes and primaries) I am entirely not sure.

This is, certainly, a line of inquiry which is shouting for further investigation. I am very, very glad that you are on the case.

6/19/2008 12:41:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Where is the
"great communicator"
when the teleprompter is not present, Benj?

...becomes the great stutterer and stammerer.

6/19/2008 05:32:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Sandra M:

“Would somebody please make a cogent reality-based argument for why we shouldn’t vote for Obama?”

Let me take a shot.

1. Obama’s spiritual mentor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, hates white people and hates America. Obama sat in the pews of his church for 20 years so, even if he daydreamed most of the time, he must have imbibed some of these ideas or at least not found problems with them. And it’s the anti-American part that is most troublesome in a potential President.

2. Ignore Father Pflegler, a past friend, the former Weatherman terrorists Bill Ayers, also a past friend, Tony Rezko, a crooked Iraqi wheeler dealer also a past friend. His wife alarmed me with her “I’m proud of my country for the first time in my life” speech.

3. Obama’s 3 names are Arab. Baraki is the word for “blessed” in Arabic. His father, Barack Hussein Obama Sr. was 87.5% Arab. It said so on his birth certificate. Why did Jr. lie and say the name Obama was African Swahili? Why not run as our first Arab-American president?

4. Let’s focus on his half-brother, Abongo Obama, and his cousin, Raila Odinga, whose presidential campaign in Kenya Obama went over to help with. Odinga would have put in Muslim Sharia law. He lost and has been stirring up mass violence with a horrific tale of herding Christian men, women and children into a Christian church and setting it on fire. Obama called them twice during the New Hampshire primary. Was it to tell them to cool the violence till after he was elected? Google Odinga Obama.
(from pj thread)

6/19/2008 05:34:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Obama and Ayres

So, what we have, is multi-million dollar educational boondoggle, being run by Ayres. What, you might be asking, does this have to do with Barack Obama? Thank you for asking.

Ayres, and the other founders of the Annenberg Challenge chose Barack Obama to be the first Chairman of the Board for the new program. Barack Obama, whose relationship to Ayres was "flimsy at best" worked directly for Ayres for eight years. This would seem to be more than just a casual relationship.

A little more digging into the background of the two, would suggest that their relationship is even older still. Obama's wife Michelle worked at the prestigious Sidley Austin law firm in Chicago from 1988 through 1991, at about the same time as Bernardine Dohrn, the wife, and fellow terrorist, of Bill Ayres.

According to reports from Chicago, it is widely believed that Dohrn acquired her position at Sidley Austin, at least in part, because of her father-in-law, Thomas Ayres, CEO of Commonwealth Edison, the firms largest, and most important client.

In his fascinating blog, Santa Clara University law professor Steve Diamond lays out an interesting timeline and theory about the relationship between Obama and Ayres. According to his timeline, it would appear that Obama and Ayres became acquainted in the late 1980s. The full article, entitled Who Sent Obama, is available here, with excerpts below:

6/19/2008 05:57:00 AM  
Blogger Buckets said...

Fantastic, Wretchard. And absolutely circumstantial, but fascinating nonetheless. Obama and Rezko... There is a reason why the Feds have been pressuring Rezko to talk about Obama and/or Blagojevich. All this campaign cash that Rezko donated or got his friends to donate may be the basis for criminal activity on Obama's part. Bribery, gratuity, extortion under color of official right, quid pro quo - these are all federal white collar crimes that are fairly easy to commit, especially in Chicago. On the basis of what I've seen so far of Obama's activities, it would not be a stretch to say a federal criminal indictment was possible.

Can we imagine an criminal indictment of a Presidential candidate or a President-elect? I certainly can't, to be honest. But if there is any chance such an indictment would be brought, perhaps one of the only men in the country who would bring it happens to be from Illinois. Patrick Fitzgerald is the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. Fitzgerald put former Ill. governor George Ryan in jail, and he has just finished up with Rezko. Smart money says Fitzgerald will be focusing on Gov. Blagojevich next, but Obama is certainly entangled in all this.

6/19/2008 06:03:00 AM  
Blogger Benj said...

Well Wade if folks are seriously interested in vetting (as opposed to smearing) maybe they should be moved to check the guy's books. Seems to me there's MORE on the public record about O than we know about most candidates...

Re Bush Lied - O has explicitly upbraided the Kos kids for that sort of motive-mongering - And as for dems' failures on Security/military - Not sure that's the FIRST place I'd look in this instance. On that score, I 'd really be interested in your take on Sanchez's last encoutner w/ Rummy where he asked to sign of the Boss-man's revisionism. Suggests to me that Rummy might not be the someone you'd want in a your foxhole...

6/19/2008 07:18:00 AM  
Blogger Fred said...


I would submit for your consideration some news about your candidate that tells me that he truly is not ready for the job to be Commander in Chief of our military and competent to execute a rational foreign policy. Please feel free to peruse the brief article linked below.

The reports out of Iran suggest that, running parallel with the fissile material and detonation devices programs, there are programs to upgrade the mid-range missiles and to also bring into their arsenal a long range intercontinental ballistic missile. Thus, when they get the fissile material and devices mated, they will be ready to make good on their oft-stated goals to wipe out the Zionist Entity and to blackmail and attack the West.

One of the many weapons systems Sen. Obama has pledged to eliminate is the missile defense program, claiming that it is not a successful program – when the truth is that it is a successful program. I know. Not just from published reports of its success, but also because my sister is married to a man who works in Raytheon's part of the program.

President Obama now says that the military option is off the table because it would cause collateral damage. I consider him unfit for the office because he displays an inability to weight the collateral damage he fears with the much, much higher cost in human lives that will result when Iran uses it against Israel and against the West. Not just Israeli lives, European lives, and American lives, but also the very life of his nation if we uphold our deterrence and retaliate. I am doubtful that he would give the order to retaliate, but failing to defend the nation that way he most assuredly will be deposed by a combination of citizenry in rebellion joined by most of the military. He will not be able to buy off enough of the military to insulate himself with Praetorian Units. His successor most assuredly will obliterate The Islamic Republic.

He and his supporters tout his diplomatic skills, when he demonstrates that he would be a failure at diplomacy by taking an important option off the table.

He is unfit for the office for this, among other, reasons.

Obama Backtracks on Pledge to Consider Military Option Against Iran

6/19/2008 11:01:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Can someone with more expertise in public financing law tell me if this latest "never mind" by B. Hussein is an attempt to draw the curtain over questions as to where his campaign financing is coming from, and if any of it is oil-stained? Like, if he doesn't get his money from taxpayer sources, it's none of our business who his donors are?

The biggest never-mind yet: that pledge about public financing. It is fine to say “little people” are funding his campaign, but so are Tony Rezko bundlers. It would, of course, be ridiculous for Barack Obama to give up his fundraising advantage. On the other, doing something not in his own self-interest would allow Obama to demonstrate his bona fides as the architect of New Politics. Will John McCain make some hay? Only if he is able to demonstrate a larger theme of “phony Agent of Change” can he make any headway on this. After all, campaign finance reform — despite McCain’s best efforts — was never an issue to seize the popular imagination.

6/19/2008 11:43:00 AM  
Blogger Benj said...

FRed - your link wasn't working - I'l try again later or direct me to the source...Not exactly on point but do you recall the Bernard Lewis episode re Iran from couple years back? Here's the graph from tje Wiki entry on Lewis (who's a distinguished Arabist and fave of this Admin)

In August 2006, in an article about whether the world can rely on the concept of mutual assured destruction as a deterrent in its dealings with Iran, Lewis wrote in the Wall Street Journal about the significance of August 22 in the Islamic calendar. The Iranian president had indicated he would respond by that date to U.S. demands regarding Iran's development of nuclear power; Lewis wrote that the date corresponded to the 27th day of the month of Rajab of the year 1427, the day Muslims commemorate the night flight of the prophet Muhammad from Jerusalem to heaven and back. Lewis wrote that it would be "an appropriate date for the apocalyptic ending of Israel and, if necessary, of the world." [15] The article received significant press coverage. [16]

The date cited by Lewis came and went w/o incident...- I never went for the Iraq WMD thingy - my support for the War was all about the promise of demos. But there were lots of Americans who felt burned by the WMD-mongering. Your side should probably be aware that failed projections in the recent past are going to be an obstacle to generating support for pre-emptive military action against Iran...

Wade - did you check Obama's Father's Day speech? Here's a link - addresses matters that you've brought up i n the past - Not a speech for the Ages but it's hard to imagine you disagreeing with much in it...

Did it seem Wwrthless?

6/19/2008 03:07:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Not taking questions about AYERS and DORHN, Benj?

6/19/2008 03:15:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

(see my link above, and we'll see if you can spin THAT clean)

6/19/2008 03:16:00 PM  
Blogger watimebeing said...

Benj, I think you might already be familiar with this, but it is if nothing else well researched. A provocative piece worth the read, especially when contemplating that someone is interested in covering up issues I am not sure they could give a damn about. It isn't the first time Sanchez misjudged another's response, or so it seems to me. It is worth the read, re dems and military build up too, even though I think some of the starting dates are mistaken.

Kaplan on Rumsfeld

If the link doesn't work cut and paste this...

I remain unconvinced especially after "OH"s decision to accept public monies. I figured him to have just a touch of larceny in him, but man what he did is a little over the top, and it shows. Some may think that is a favorable move, displaying a willingness to gain advantage by guile and deceit, others may be put off by it. Personally, I am wondering about other effects not tied to "OH".

6/19/2008 07:04:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Monica Crowley on Ingraham show reported that the NY Times buried a story on page 20 yesterday about Obama meeting w/black ministers, and locking out any coverage of it.
Haven't found it yet.

Christian leaders meet privately with Obama - Yahoo! News

Cizik said the issues discussed Tuesday included "protecting the traditional family, same-sex marriage, gay rights, religious freedom, genocide, poverty and hunger in America, and how we might even improve America's standing in the world."

Cizik said participants agreed not to give specifics of Obama's responses to their questions, but that "there was nothing softball about this meeting and that's the way he said he wanted it."

About 30 people attended, the campaign said, but it released only three names...

6/19/2008 07:25:00 PM  
Blogger Fred said...


I'm new at the instructions on how to encode links so that they can be accessed from a page like this. So, I honestly do not know how I messed up with that link. I think I'm going to have to practice with this stuff and see if I can get it right.

Just go on over to On today's page, on the right hand side scroll down and you will find the topic I described.

I wonder why he changed his mind about ALL options being on the table. After all, collateral damage is just about inevitable when you are talking about hardened targets deliberately built around civilians. The enemy knows what some of us do not have the stomach for. Me... I would rather see some Iranians die than millions of them in a nuclear war, or millions of Westerners and Israelis die. Keep in mind that nuking Israel, since it is such a small place, pretty much kills fellow Muslims too.

Obama's take on The Islamic Republic is unacceptable to me. You cannot dress it up so that it doesn't stink.

6/19/2008 08:26:00 PM  
Blogger Benj said...

Wade - thanks mucho for the steer to the Kaplan piece on Rummy - seemed (to me) fair and balanced and pretty devastating re Rummy's missteps in Iraq. Gave me no reason to doubt Sanchez's account of his last go-around with the chief. I hope other folks here read it and I think it will make it clear we should all damp down the impulse to blame critics of the war - even the wackest ones whom I've targeted in my time - for what went wrong in Iraq. As a tease to others, here's the last 3 graphs...

The list of things Rumsfeld got wrong is also long, better known, and historically more consequential. To wit, his decision to more or less go it alone in Afghanistan in 2001 made strict military but not political sense. The failure to allow NATO a large role in the beginning gave alliance members little stake in the outcome—a dynamic that continues to hamper the war’s conduct. His use of private contractors in Iraq made sense in order to create efficiencies in the rear, but because Iraq constituted an irregular war, there was often no rear there, so contractors found themselves in the midst of the fighting. The abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib was an abject failure in the chain of command going all the way up to the defense secretary, who must be held accountable.

Rumsfeld did achieve a measure of redemption in the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review. The concept of the “long war” elaborated in the QDR was less a sign of Rumsfeld’s warmongering than of his belated realization that the indirect approach exemplified by the strategy in the Philippines pointed a way forward. As the QDR says, “Efforts … on five continents demonstrate the importance of being able to work with and through [indigenous] partners, to operate clandestinely and to sustain a persistent but low-visibility presence.” This last of his QDRs also acknowledged the need for stabilization operations, or nation-building. That is a far cry from the Rumsfeld who at the beginning of his tenure couldn’t wait to get our troops out of their peacekeeping mission in the Balkans.

So Donald Rumsfeld finally got it right. But as Richard Shultz Jr. of the Fletcher School argued, his being half-wrong on operational strategy for too many years cost too many Iraqis, Afghans, and Americans untold suffering. No improvements in Iraq and Afghanistan will reverse that verdict. As for the rest, developments in Asia, Africa, and Europe for years to come will say much more about Rumsfeld’s legacy: a legacy that, in one final irony, may give future Madeleine Albrights more of the tools they need to intervene for humanitarian reasons.

Doug - Wretch had a post on "Who Sent O." a few days/weeks ago - I responded (too) many times...BTW - I've also posted re Bill Ayers in the past...I know the guy a little. Reminds me I should try to get him to write something for our rag re what's it like to know you will surely hurt the candidacy of someone you must recognize has a chance to make a large difference in the lives of the people you've tried (in your own mind/fantasies) to be in solidarity with for decades. I'm not a prick, though, so I might NOT push Ayers to take in all the hard ironies of his personal situation - But fate keeps dogging him - like him publishing his memoir avec boastful passages re bombing Pentagon bathroom on...9/11. The guy keeps getting reminded of how his own actions have done (perhaps fatal) damage to the causes he believes in. Part of him knows the deal, but he can't (yet) see his way all clear...Not pretending that A. is a tragic figure - he's not big enough for that. Still his quandaries have a human interest. Though I wouldn't PUSH many Clubbers to empathize...Unless, maybe, you come from the South Side - and I don't mean Chicago. I wonder about the felt consequences of, say, growing up digging on the honor of the Lost Cause and then finding out the announced policy of the Confederate army was to shoot any afro-american pow's...I'm guessing some folks might have less than murderous feelings toward Ayers if they realized that in the early 1960s he was on the right side of America's most momentous domestic struggle. I know that's why Obama would have been able to have an easy conversation w/ the guy. (Ayers actually KNEW and honored the SNCC organizers who were Obama's heroes/role models.) And, just so you're aware, notwithstanding Ayers' boastful comments re the bombings - a large portion of his memoir is devoted to spelling out exactly how wrongheaded (and he talks in moral as well "strategic" terms) the Weatherman turned out to be. His memoir is more about his regrets than a "My Way" or the highway. Again, I'm not expecting Clubbers to feel his pain. But you might as well be clear that the guy Obama was having friendly conversations with was someone who had explicitly renounced the more militant turns taken in the 70s by those who went "underground."

Fred - I'll get to your piece - but I doubt you'd find my own line on Iran acceptable so...- I took my lead on the Iraq question from Kanan Makiya - the sharpest Arab critic of Arab dictatorships (and Arab intellectuals). I'm still paying attention to him. He is not in favor of America attacking Iran. Nor are most Iranian dissidents. I think Iran has a real chance to change from the inside - Baathist Iraq was locked down... - I'm guessing Obama made a mistake re the line you're citing. Won't be the first or last... But consider the example we started with. Rummy wouldn't have made such mistakes, right? But he ended up making LARGE blunders that cost lots of lives...Certain kinds of certainty/expertise can be overvalued. OBama's strength might be in his readiness to think Outside of the defense/FP establishment box - and then re-think !!!!!

6/20/2008 10:11:00 AM  
Blogger watimebeing said...

Seemed to me to be a good description of Rumsfeld as far as it goes, but frankly it is a complete miss on policy issues and time line items. There is, no doubt, a reason the secretary did not grant him an interview.

I will grant that Sec. Rumsfeld did not get everything he was looking for in General Sanchez, and the General had a different view of his needs and from that opinion the Secretary had, but I seriously doubt it was as bad or as haphazard as is the urge to put forward publicly. Some of the creepier tendencies of conspiratorial thinking lends people to get stuck on things unhealthily. When making life and death decisions no one serving in the Bush administration took lightly the safety of the troops. No one took for granted the urgency of the mission. No one acted in callous disregard for the lives of our soldiers in performing the task. People who attempt to ascribe such motives, whether to President Clinton or President Bush are dealing from a less than contemptible place. While I do not agree with the goals of say a Madelin Albright and I have little regard for the Department of Defence under the Clinton White house, I will not ascribe motives that would appear as callous to the memory of any service member.

I don't know how the Generals thinking got so twisted, but twisted it is, and the less said about it the better. I for one will not ascribe motive unbecoming an otherwise good and patriotic career. I will say this, The General has to live with the knowledge of scandals that occurred on his watch and while it is not as easy to affix blame for them, as for nuclear parts gone missing, it is tough to live with none the less. Many folks think he should have paid for what happened and Lord knows his career suffered for what was done. I am a harsh critic of the supporting command structure that tells me as soon as I know what the job is I get my people ready to perform. I would expect the General's subordinates to have the same dedication to their duties as well. Everything true I've heard said about the situations in question are contained in the official report on the matter.

But the difference between what these men strove to do honorably, no matter how good or bad the result, the plain fact of it is that there are some who will take advantage of situations in order to promote a position, or make a quick buck. That "OH" was in contact and befriended so many of those who at various times fall under suspicion for such conduct makes me very uneasy with his judgment of character and suspicious of his motivation. It doesn't help that his ideology is so far to the left I suspect he'll next be making Buchanan's leg tingle along with Mathews. Power plants are huge undertakings which enrich a whole lot of people in the process of building. The amounts of money and influence needed to undertake the effort is like a siren song to hucksters and con men. Companies that can build such plants have capabilities and the understanding to get past the graft and corrupt, without getting crimina Either that or they'll pack up their tools and go home. It is and should be as simple as that.

6/20/2008 05:04:00 PM  
Blogger Fred said...


I understand that Persians are not Arabs. They are generally a better sort of people and have a long, proud history of civilization, culture, and learning. But, Islam came in and really repressed the best of those people. I do indeed know about the opposition inside the country.

I am not suggesting we invade Iran. And I am not suggesting that we bomb the country into rubble, unless we have to retaliate in order to make good on our deterrence posture. All I want from a President Obama is that he consider the tradeoffs that make sense. Does it make sense to eschew the probability of collateral damage in maybe the thousands if we take out their nuclear weapons' facilities, when allowing them to get that weapon, put it on ICBM's or on freighters, and murder millions in Israel and the United States? And the likely cost to Iran would be truly horrific, if we and the dying breath of the Jewish state let fly hundreds of nukes.

Damn it all, man, if I - not an Ivy League graduate - can see this tradeoff as clear as day, why cannot Obama?

And if he does not retaliate for the loss of one or more of our cities? It will mean civil war or revolution, which is the most tragic event a country can experience - we've already been through one. And this time, with most of the military and law enforcement on our side, the Left has not a prayer of a chance of holding on to power. Obama and all his supporters would be imprisoned pending trail. Thousands of Leftist Americans will die in this depressing scenario.

As I see it, benj, a policy of containment or MAD only works with people who do not want to die. But martyrdom is the ONLY sure ticket punch to paradise in the afterlife for the Muslim. Communists and socialists have no such belief. And throughout history much of the time the soldiers of Marxist regimes have only rushed our guns when their political officers had pistols at their backs.

No, war is not a real skill with the Left. The Muslims are better warriors than socialists are. And in a rebellion in this country, those of us not on the Left are better armed, better trained, have military experience, and understand how to wage war.

If Obama will not defend the nation and our civilization, then there is a very good chance he will be removed. Forcibly, if necessary. And his supporters will not be able to prevent it. He and they will not be able to buy off enough of the military to withstand it.

6/20/2008 06:09:00 PM  
Blogger Benj said...

Fred - For what it's worth, I bet O probably flashed on Hillary's pander/hard girl move re "obliterating" Iran on O'Reilly - I can understand him wanting to distance himself from that sort of transparent tougher-than-thou-ism...Quickie re "Islam came in." Facilitated by the CIA's removal of Mossadegh! Always good to have clarity about the America's/Dulles'/BP Oil's horrific violation of Iranian sovereignty back in the 50s. Cold War context notwithstanding (as in Afghan) our country's anti-democratic actions had very bad consequences for the M.E. and for our own interests...

Understand and share your deep skepticism of Islam. Can't claim to be a Christian myself but I can sympathize with anyone who believes Jesus is It. Surely beats the hell out of Mo - Still - I'd urge you to resist your own anti-Muslim bias. I very much doubt that Jesus himself would encourage you to anticipate a future of endarkement and apocalypse. He'd also recognize that no religious group has a monopoly on virtue. And isn't his deepest message that it ain't about doctrine? It's about your heart and doing good in the moment? Are you sure you're not mixing up Whahabis with all Muslims? - My guess (based on, ah, marital experience)is that Whahabis are going to be asking Wha'happen? sooner rather than later. Think on those posts Wretch linked to here re the current arguments within radical Islam. That Movement is imploding (slowly, admittedly). We're going to win this war, man. We all need to talk straight when Muslims in the West try to pull our chains. But I don't think it helps a helluva lot to be caught singing bomb bomb bomb bomb Iran...

Wade - Rummy knew (from the historical record) that Kaplan was not one of his high admirers. Doesn't say much either way that he chose not to speak to this reporter. Re Sanchez - don't think S. claimed Rummy meant to, ah, kill. But there's very little reason to believe he's lying when he suggests Rummy tried to cover his own ass re troop/staffing levels years after the fact...As I say, he doesn't go over the top to claim Rummy is the devil or a traitor. Just that the boss was a less than trustworthy bureaucrat who was worried his tenure at DOD might be looked at very closely down the line. The Kaplan piece is just one indication of the sort of scrutiny that Rummy knew was coming...

You guys are too cynical about O and not nearly cynical enough about pub pols (who often have had "other priorities" than the defense of their country). Still, I take your point re the harshest sorts of crit. Neither Rummy nor Dick nor Tony Lake should be confused with America's real enemies. Hope Fred won't do that to whomever O appoints once he gets elected. (Did you read re the rumor he might KEEP Gates on at the DOD) Don't worry, O will have your back if something nasty jumps off. And the country will be more united than it was under Bush - There's not going to be no civil war...

6/20/2008 10:54:00 PM  
Blogger watimebeing said...

First, I would rather be hard as nails now then discover later I've been played. "OH" has positioned himself well coming so quick from Chi town, and what little he says is enough to soothe the masses of Democrats, but will it save his butt once he's trawling for my vote? If he moves the way you think he says hes gonna move there will be nothing but trouble, and all of it his own making. I'd be more afraid of a palace coup started by the likes of ACORN then of civil war. So while I'm checking into the voter fraud scheme, I'll be waiting to hear from you about his years with the ACORN organization.

Anyway don't count out Hillery or McCain, just yet, I still don't think the Dems got the message of the off year election right either. Voters "OH" claims to have talked to up and down Illinois aren't likely to put up with Pelosi and Reid's nonsense much longer. It appears that there is No one there to fill in the void and that scares me.

Second, I don't think Rummy gives a shit about the scrutiny he knew was coming, couldn't get any worse then the (sarcasm on) principled scrutiny his office has already received (sarcasm off).

At this point I, along most Iraqi's and Afghani's and a lot of just plain folks really don't care who did what to who or why. They don't care about a vengeful god or a merciful allah or any other nonsense that some con artist uses to raise cash for his retirement. What is happening is that they will want to know how secure they can be in their home and business and if their kids can go to school safely. Now I don't know how much of that Rumsfeld understands, but I believe his version of deconstruction and reconstruction of the Pentagon and how it works laid the groundwork for guys who do. That Kaplan and you apparently find that to be ironic is staggering. That you think Rumsfeld cared about being admired, leaves me scratching my head and wondering if you get what the motivation is to someone like a Rumsfeld or a Cheney or even the President. That would have to extend to Roosevelt or Lincoln or even Reagan. You claim to see the purity of motivation of your man "OH", and wish for me to see a similar light in his eyes that shone from great men gone before. Perhaps we may see something after he is the official nominee of the Democrats. He hasn't shown it yet, not that I see. Too bad, he was supposed to earn my vote.

6/21/2008 01:19:00 AM  
Blogger Benj said...

Wade - You're right to call me on the lack of the conditional in that last post - wasn't hubris. I'd still be AMAZED if O won - though he obviously has a pretty good shot...I'm not getting heavy into motives here - you might try my Man O'Brien at the FIRST site on Sheehan and Doctorow's silly takes on Bush...- And I agree that the blame-game isn't much to the point (generally). ON that score, I've been responsive to Makiya's line on all that. I lean on him in what I wrote introduing a set of piece in FIRST OF THE YEAR looking back on OIF...

The Iraq war is the subject of this section.

“So far everyone has been wrong about something,” wrote British journalist David Aaronovitch soon after the fall of Baghdad. I’ll come clean about one of my failings on this front since evidence of it isn’t in this set of pieces and I wouldn’t want readers to suspect a cover-up.

On the eve of the invasion of Iraq, citing a Times report about how the Saddam Fedayeen had just cut someone’s tongue out as a gift for Qusay Hussein, I argued in First the choice now came down to “War or Torture.” If only it had been a few bad apples at Abu Ghraib who turned that into a false opposition. But the shaming had just begun. It would get worse when I read Tony Lagouranis’s Fear Up Harsh: An Army Interrogator’s Dark Journey Through Iraq, which describes how U.S. army interrogators found it impossible keep luxuriant releases of rage in check once Defense Department officials gave them license to go wilding.

That was all supposed to be on the down-low but the Iraqi government went public with its derelictions of duty when they allowed Moqutar Sadr’s militia to turn Saddam’s execution into a sectarian hate-fest. It was a humiliating moment for most of us who had spoken up for the justice of removing Saddam from power. In the days following Saddam’s hanging, Jalal Talabani – the famously gregarious tribune of the Kurds (and a man who had been in the struggle against Saddam for generations) – reportedly locked himself in a hotel room and refused to see anyone.

Talabani acts his way out of guilt. (He recently caused a crisis in the Iraq’s governing coalition by refusing to sign death warrants for lower-level Baathists.) But the Iraq War has produced some suspect self-laceration. The narrative of George Packer’s “definitive” book on the invasion and occupation, The Assassins’ Gate (2005), slid around set-pieces of disillusionment that felt contrived. While it was easy to identify with Packer’s disdain for the Bush Administration’s “criminal incompetence,” there was something off about his aggrieved tone and the new journalistic animus he directed toward Kanan Makiya. Packer blamed Makiya (though he claimed to “love” him) for providing rationales that caused his own heart to rise as he contemplated the invasion of Iraq. Yet, “sweets and flowers” notwithstanding, Makiya was much more realistic about the prospects for democracy in Iraq than Packer lets on. At the end of chapter called “Exiles,” Packer quoted lines from a pre-invasion email that Makiya wrote from Kurdistan, finding in them his friend’s true voice – “the fearless voice of his books” – rather than the compromised sound of Makiya banging drums for war. But the email by Makiya that Packer cited was addressed not (as The Assassins’ Gate suggests) “to a few friends” but to “every Iraqi democrat in the world.” Makiya distributed it through various e-mail listservs and then published it in The New Republic. The email wasn’t a sign the pure Makiya had momentarily re-surfaced; it was another political act. And a pretty prophetic one.

Makiya began by telling how a fellow member of the Iraqi opposition had threatened to “wipe him off the face of the earth” after fantasizing a slight. This was a genuine threat from a deeply disturbed man. But Makiya wasn’t out to make himself appear heroically embattled. He invoked the threat because it came from someone who was an ally – a person “who had suffered as much as any human being at the hands of the Baath party…at one point he weighed 30 kilos.” Makiya asked his readers to see this man feelingly – “try to imagine the worst and you will not come close to what this man has suffered in his life” – and then recognize – “this is the human raw material that you want to build democracy for…

Every day for the last five weeks, I have come across such damaged and wounded people, people who breathe nationalism, sectarianism, without knowing that they are doing so, and people who are deeply suspicious towards their fellow Iraqis. These are the facts of life for the next generation in this poor, unhappy, and ravaged land."

Makiya had developed the impression:

"Some of you think you can lift your noses and ride into Iraq on American tanks, above the stink of it all, without having to wade knee-high in the shit that the Baath party has made of your country. You cannot. That is a pipe dream."

Makiya elaborated on his warning and as he came to the end of his note he anticipated a future of disillusion.

"The United States…is bound to let you down if you think you can ask her for too much. Actually, if you think about it hard enough, it is not the U.S. that is letting you down, nor is it President Bush or even his CIA and his State Department…it is you, who by coming face to face with your own illusions, will end up letting yourselves down the most, and it is you and all those Iraqis who have put their faith in you, who will end up paying the biggest price of all."

Packer left this passage from Makiya’s pre-war message out of The Assasins’ Gate. The timing of Makiya’s prediction about what lay ahead for his side (and himself!) didn’t quite fit the arc of Packer’s story. What counts now is not that Makiya was right on, (He wasn’t done being wrong yet.) What matters is that he was thinking hard, offering Iraqis who had put their faith in him not certainties but a chance to join his search for moral precision.

Millions of Iraqis came along on that search on January 30, 2005. Makiya celebrated Iraq’s first election with them:

"Millions of people actually made choices, and placed claims on those who will lead them in the future. To act upon one’s own world like this, and on such a scale, is what politics in the purest sense is all about. It is why we all, once upon a time, became activists. And it is infectious. The taste of freedom is a hard memory to rub out."

That memory soon seemed like a lie to many Iraqis. (Though Makiya underscored there were no guarantees in his post-election analysis: “the nature of great historical turning points, and the source of the wonder and beauty they bring into the world, is that we can’t predict their outcome.”) The country’s democratic momentum stalled as sectarian violence ruled. But there is still “no final word on Iraq.” To borrow a phrase that jumped out at me at the end of a long piece last summer in Der Spiegel by two German reporters who allowed they’d been surprised to find evidence the Surge was working. Their report – and others like it – go against the narrative of the war preferred by WE WERE RIGHT leftists such as the Nation’s Katha Pollitt. Pollitt et. al. should call it as they see it but she needs to get her own story straight. Responding to Michael Ignatieff’s recent mea-culpa – “Getting Iraq Wrong: What the War Has Taught Me about Political Judgment” – Pollitt recently insisted “Bush’s stated reason for war was not the liberation of the Iraqi people.” But she’s shading the truth there. A few weeks before the invasion, Pollitt pointed out in her own column that Makiya and Iraqi democrats had rejected a State Department blueprint for an authoritarian regime in post-war Iraq:

"In a remarkable cry of despair published in the February16 London Observer Makiya rages that U.S. plans for post-invasion Iraq include the betrayal of the Kurds, the sidelining of the Iraqi National Congress and, beneath a top layer of U.S. military brass, the continued hegemony of the Baath party – Baathism without Saddam."

Yet later that February, Pollitt went missing when Bush publicly committed himself to establishing democracy in Iraq, reassured Kurds by speaking of a future “federation” and even State Department officials began talking up de-Baathification. Pollitt failed to alert her readers the Administration seemed to have heard Makiya’s No in Thunder (after it was amplified by the Turkish parliament’s refusal to facilitate the U.S. Military’s invasion plans). She left Nationists with the impression Iraqi democrats had bought out of “Bush’s War.” And she’s still dissembling. The next section includes a transcript of a pre-invasion speech by Barham Saleh, the former Prime Minister of Kurdistan (who has gone on to become a major figure in Iraq’s governments since the handover of sovereignty) that calls attention to democratic political forces Pollitt was content to marginalize.

Take the following set of writings as a First draft of recent history – a sketch of public movements of mind on the left about the Iraq War. While I’m wary of associating our tiny writers’ collective with world historical events, the uniqueness of First’s politics of culture was underscored during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. I can’t think of another American publication on the left that would have printed in the same issue (as First did) Makiya’s pro-war, NYU talk (see p. ) and Tim Shorrock’s detailed critique of Paul Wolfowitz’s reactionary diplomatic record in Asia, which leads off this section. Makiya’s and Shorrock’s voices and the others in this mix implicitly call each other out. As I hear them in my head now, I’m struck (again) by how First has tried to be a “device” that would let argument breathe.

6/21/2008 09:44:00 AM  
Blogger peterike said...

Benj wrote" "Wade - did you check Obama's Father's Day speech? Here's a link - addresses matters that you've brought up i n the past - Not a speech for the Ages but it's hard to imagine you disagreeing with much in it..."

Having nothing to do in a hotel room on a business trip, I decided to read the speech (I didn't watch the video, because listening to O creeps me out, the same way listening to Clinton creeped me out, the same way I'm always creeped out by watching monumental narcissists speak, whether it’s some pinhead receiving an Oscar or an ego driven pol). I decided I’d try to find some of this monumental “imagination” Benj keeps declaring O has in abundance.

Yeah, well, “not a speech for the ages” is an understatement! Nothing but a bag of clichés and tired, long discredited Lefty nostrums.

It begins with an invocation of “Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.” In the mouth of a Republican, such a comment would immediately have your typical Leftist grinding his teeth and mumbling about a “dangerous religious nut.” But it’s cool cuz it’s O. And besides, the Left has always been very wink-wink-nudge-nudge about Jesus talk coming from blacks because it’s provided cover for useful agitators like Jackson and Sharpton. Nobody takes their God talk seriously, and I’m sure nobody takes O’s seriously.

Then O does go down a road not so typical of Black politicos, with a lot of Bill Cosby-like talk about fatherhood and young black men taking responsibility for their actions, etc. Of course, the Right has been saying this, well, essentially forever, and they are routinely lambasted by the Left for such heresy (blaming the victim and all that). Though I suppose such utterly obvious common sense that anyone who isn’t hypnotized by Left-think understands from the time they are twelve years old strikes many in Obama’s audience as shocking new wisdom. But I don’t see any grand imagination here. And it comes on the heels of a very long black tradition of such talk. Though I will say it will be a good thing if O can make this talk “respectable” rather than being called a Tom for it, which has been the exact fate of other blacks that dared go down this road.

Sadly, these good sentiments then get wrapped up into nothing but a bag of Lefty programs. More aid for this and that, after school programs, job training, government taking joint “responsibility” for fatherhood, more money for education (Hah! Money is the PROBLEM in American education, not the solution), government funded paternal leave, etc etc. Not a single plan of action that’s new or interesting and most of them have been tried over and over and long since discredited, but a Liberal never lets reality intrude with a feel-good fantasy about government action.

One rather bizarre moment in the speech comes when O says, apparently seriously, as if it’s some kind of insight, “An eighth-grade education doesn't cut it today.” Is he kidding? Is this something we need to be told? He apparently thinks so. Maybe it’s that great imagination at work again.

He wraps it up with a long list of Liberal bromides, nothing but a grab bag of distorted images of the world, standard Leftist hoo-hah. It’s worth quoting because it so clearly shows how SMALL his imagination is.

“But now, my life revolves around my two little girls. And what I think about is what kind of world I'm leaving them.”

What? The kind of world YOU’RE leaving them? What, just you? I guess that does show imagination, or a dangerous reality displacement, either one.

“Are they living in a county where there's a huge gap between a few who are wealthy and a whole bunch of people who are struggling every day? Are they living in a county that is still divided by race? A country where, because they're girls, they don't have as much opportunity as boys do? Are they living in a country where we are hated around the world because we don't cooperate effectively with other nations? Are they living a world that is in grave danger because of what we've done to its climate?”

Oh dear dear dear. Such imagination. I mean, I’ve never heard such things expressed before, except for every single minute for the past fifty years from politicians, academics, the media, etc. How tedious, how unwise, how ignorant. I especially like the one about girls not having the same opportunities as boys. It is to laugh.

Speaking of the need for imagination, an interesting article in The Atlantic this month about the scary growth in crime in second-tier cities and suburbs. Long story short, the various “poor” (i.e. mostly blacks) who’ve been dispersed from centralized housing projects into Section 8 housing scattered around smaller cities have been taking their pathologies with them (wow, shocking, it wasn’t the miracle cure promised when billions were spent on it), and crime is exploding in these areas. THIS is the real black problem, and I wonder when O is going to squarely face it.

6/21/2008 09:56:00 AM  
Blogger Benj said...

Peter - OK, as I allowed - not a speech for the ages - but I noticed you seemed to have rolled right by the sort of detail that lifts even this pretty conventional uplift speech out of the ordinary...You have Obama simply affirming that kids need more than an 8th grade ed, but that traduces his point. Look at what he said...

"You know, sometimes I’ll go to an eighth-grade graduation and there’s all that pomp and circumstance and gowns and flowers. And I think to myself, it’s just eighth grade. To really compete, they need to graduate high school, and then they need to graduate college, and they probably need a graduate degree, too. An eighth-grade education doesn’t cut it today. Let’s just give them a handshake and tell them to get their butts back in the library!"

What O was doing was criticizing the internalization of the soft bigotry of low expectations. And, yup, he can do it in inside-out way that George Bush (and souless Sowell) can't...Ar the risk of hammering on the point - He is NOT simply affirming you need more than 8th grade ed nowadays - he's criticizing the tendency to over-celebrate nada achievements - to hype up school-based rites of passage. The graph you pissed on was acutally favorite thing in the speech and I submit that your own version of it shows a certain lack of...imagination. Remember that out there in the audience there were probably a few folks who had participated (perhaps wholeheartedly) in the kind of celebrations Obama gently disdained. As I've noted before - O tends not to simply pander to his audience - he pushes them. He doesn't simply come on as a down brother...Though you're certainly right that he belongs to a long tradition of creative marginalists within Black Communities who offer creative angles on everydailiness...

6/21/2008 09:56:00 PM  
Blogger Zenster said...

Douglas: Whatever he is selling, it isn't "hope".

Rhymes with it, though.

6/23/2008 12:53:00 PM  

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