S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

It is hard to believe --

It is hard to believe that the Bush administration could mess this up so completely. But it is not the first time, and we should not be surprised. The (8/19/08) link* -- Russia's Return Bites the Neocons' Grand Energy Scheme in the Ass, includes the comment, "You have to ask what were they smoking over at the Pentagon and the CIA when they thought they could control Russia's close neighbor." The post begins:

The feeble American response to Russia's assertion of power in the Caucasus of Central Asia was appropriate, since our claims of influence in that part of the world are laughable. The US had taken advantage of temporary confusion in Russia, during the ten-year-long post-Soviet-collapse interval, and set up a client government in Georgia, complete with military advisors, sales of weapons, and even the promise of club membership in the western alliance known as NATO. These blandishments were all in the service of the Baku-to-Ceyhan oil pipeline, which was designed specifically to drain the oil region around the Caspian Basin with an outlet on the Mediterranean, avoiding unfriendly nations all along the way.

It is hard to believe that it is the year 2008 and this is actually going on. Cold War propaganda is alive and well in Russia. **This headline comes from the Times Online: "Kremlin dusts off Cold War lexicon to make US villain in Georgia." Charles Bremner in Moscow writes on August 15, 2008, “In the old days under Soviet rule we didn't believe a word of our own propaganda but we thought that information was free in the West and we longed for it,” said Katya, a middle-aged Muscovite. “But we have learnt since that the West has its own propaganda and in some ways it is more powerful because people believe it.” To quote further:

Russians were told over breakfast yesterday what really happened in Georgia: the conflict in South Ossetia was part of a plot by Dick Cheney, the Vice-President, to stop Barak Obama being elected president of the United States. . . .The Obama angle is getting wide play. It was aired on Wednesday by SergeiMarkov, a senior political scientist who is close to Vladimir Putin, the Prime Minister and power behind President Medvedev.

“George Bush's Administration is promoting interests of candidate John McCain,” said Dr Markov. “Defeated by Barak Obama on all fronts, McCain has one last card to play yet - the creation of a virtual Cold War with Russia . . . Bush himself did not want a war in South Ossetia but his Republican Party did not leave him any choice.” The Americans were now engineering an armed conflict between Ukraine and Russia, Dr Markov added.

It is hard to believe the good news that the Democrats are about to nominate Senator Barack Obama to be the next POTUS, and that the party is beginning to be unified enough to actually have a chance to win the election. It is so very true that much remains to be done, however. The New York Times recently ran a good editorial on what Obama must do next. To quote:

Senator Barack Obama goes into the Democratic convention in Denver with a clear challenge: to match the soaring oratory that brought him to this moment in history with a strong and detailed explanation of how he will address the country’s many dire problems. . . The main event is Mr. Obama’s chance to give 120 million voters a clear idea of what he means when he asks them to trust him to change the country.

. . . One part of Mr. Obama’s task will be easy: showing how much damage the Bush administration has done to Americans’ lives and their country’s reputation. . . Whether the problem is lead-tainted toys or predatory credit card companies or irresponsible home mortgage lending by handsomely paid bankers, Americans doubt that their government is able to protect them, or wants to do so.

. . . What we know is that many Americans are deeply suspicious of their political leadership — the approval ratings of Congress, now controlled by Mr. Obama’s own party, are even lower than those of President Bush — and they are only now turning their attention to the election. . . More than any candidate we have seen in years, Mr. Obama has an ability to inspire hope and a sense of unlimited possibility. To lead, especially in such hard times, a president needs to offer the country both. To win the presidency, he will first have to make clear where he wants to take that nation.

It is hard to believe that this book got on the New York Times best-seller list -- Ostensibly about Senator Obama, it is unbelievably full of false propaganda. Fortunately, the truth is coming out now, and it is a bizarre episode. Time Magazine (8/24/08) headlines: "The Blogger behind the Obama Hit Job." To quote the *opening paragraph:

Larry Martin owns Frontera Bar and Grill, a Tex-Mex restaurant in Kuala Lumpur. He imports mesquite charcoal from San Francisco and, he says, "serves peace love and American hegemony, one plate of tacos at a time" to Malaysian customers. In his spare time, he writes a semi-anonymous blog, An American Expat in Southeast Asia, on which he rails against mainstream American media, multiculturalism and Barack Obama. And that is how Martin has come to the attention of a broader audience. His blog is repeatedly cited as a source in Jerome R. Corsi's best-selling anti-Obama book, Obama Nation: Leftist Politics and the Cult of Personality.

It is equally hard to believe that someone, who is ostensibly a journalist, could be this outrageous and cynical. *Think Progress headlined, (8/25/08): "Glenn Beck Encourages Listeners To Use More Energy To Wipe Out Any Potential Energy Savings At The DNC." Are all the wingnuts insane? Well, from this, it would seem so.

It is hard to believe that this heroic woman is still active in the political process. This post is from my blog friend, Spadoman, at Round Circle - 8/18/08, was titled, "1st Amendment Rights." To quote extensively from it:

We received this E-mail today from a local protest organization here in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul, MN area. I thought it worth posting as the author is a notable figure in American history. It is passed on from Coleen Rowley. You remember, the whistle blower that mentioned that there was much evidence leading to the attacks on 9/11 before they happened. She was an FBI agent. She was also TIME Magazine person of the year in 2002.

Here is the letter to the editor she posted in the St. Paul Pioneer Press along with her personal message to one of the members of the Alliant Action Vigil:

Dear XXXX,

I just got this letter published in today’s (Saint Paul) Pioneer Press! Sometimes I think the rumor mill is our own worst enemy… L Coleen R.

Patriots can't stay home

08/16/2008 04:23 PM CDT – I finally figured out what that old Simon and Garfunkel song meant by warning about the "Sounds of Silence." It doesn't take much to chill people from exercising their First Amendment rights. Just look at the lead-up to the RNC in St. Paul, which has unfortunately been characterized by misinformation, not so much by police or city authorities, but by right-wing talk radio, anonymous sources and the rumor mill.

What kind of a democracy is this if we let citizens become unnecessarily intimidated about being tazered, pepper-sprayed, infiltrated, spied on or photographed by cameras installed on public streets?

We can prove the talk wrong and counter this threat to participatory democracy by simply showing up in great numbers for all the marches, rallies, concerts and artistic, "unconventional" expressions during this time of national focus. Martin Luther King was certainly right that there are times when silence is complicity. Therefore patriots cannot stay home and keep quiet.

Coleen Rowley, Apple Valley

It is hard to believe the the Department of Health and Human Services would try to get away with this at this late date. An e-mail to me from the ACLU warns that womens' choices are again under assault: "25 days to protect women's health." And there is something you can do, too. To quote:

Late last week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed regulations that could seriously undermine access to basic reproductive health services -- including birth control and abortion.

Instead of striking a careful balance between individual religious liberty and patients’ access to reproductive health care, the Bush administration has taken patients’ rights and their health care needs out of the equation. We have less than 30 days to stop these new rules from being enacted. Take a stand now.

The rule leaves open the possibility that -- based on religious beliefs -- institutions and individuals can deny women access to birth control. It also permits individuals to refuse to provide information and counseling about basic heath care services. And it expands existing laws by permitting a wider range of health care professionals to refuse to provide even referrals for abortions. . . .

This far-reaching proposal doesn’t need congressional approval. But, it can’t go forward without allowing for public comment. That’s where you come in. Tell the Department of Health and Human Services to stop efforts to block women’s access to basic reproductive health services. Submit your comments now.

The stories we read or that our friends send us are often hard to believe. The items in today's post left me shaking my head in disbelief. So I just had to share them all with you. *Hat Tip for the links to my friend Jon; and **to my blog friend, betmo, for these links.

View my current slide show about the Bush years -- "Millennium" -- at the bottom of this column.

My “creativity and dreaming” post today is at Making Good Mondays.

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