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.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Presidents "win some, lose some"

Commander in Chief -- President Obama has issued his first veto threat. He says he will not sign the House 2010 Defense authorization bill if they try to add funds for the F-22 aircraft or the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The President and the Secretary of Defense, I think will win this one. And it is essential for Congress to realize that war fighting has changed, and the military industrial complex must change or be left behind.

Defense Budget References: Here is the legislation in question. Read it and weep. (HT to ProPublica) Mother Jones Special Report: "MoJo dissects the Defense Budget so you don't have to:"

Collateral damage, civilians lose -- According to a BBC News (6/23/09) Special Report by the International Committee of the Red Cross, "Civilians 'bear the brunt of war'." In summary, "A report carried out among 4,000 people in eight countries suggests civilians bear the brunt of modern conflict." To quote further:

The report, called "Our world, views from the field" asked 4,000 civilians from eight countries to relate their personal experiences of war. Of those, 44% said they had witnessed armed conflict first hand and one in three had seen a relative killed.

The countries were Afghanistan, Georgia, Haiti, Liberia, DR Congo, Colombia, Lebanon and the Philippines. More than half - 56% - said they had been forced to leave their homes and almost half had lost contact with a loved one.

. . . The report also suggests that most civilians caught up in war turn first to relatives or friends for help, a sign, the ICRC says, that more needs to be done to support those carers.

Reaching out to Muslims will be a winning strategy -- The "Obama Cairo speech," post is from emptywheel (6/4/09). I agree with this author's evaluation that it was a big winner. To quote:

Spencer has posted the full text of the speech, and some good comment. Click the link and read the full text of the speech, it is well worth it.

It was a remarkable speech. This is a not just a speech that George Bush would not have given, but a speech he functionally could not have given; even with wordsmith speechwriters and handlers, he simply doesn't have the intellectual depth, greater worldview or oratorical skill to have pulled off what Obama did. If there is a hope for peaceful and productive coexistence with the Islamic world, and peace in the middle east, this speech will be the first linchpin of Obama's effort in that regard.

Changing the dynamics might win peace -- At the same time as the President was reaching out to the Muslim world, he was setting limits with Israel. And I believe this will be a winning strategy in the long run, because it changes the balance of power and the old worn out dynamics in the peace process. "Obama's 'interference in Israeli politics," is by Glenn Greenwald at (6/3/09). Glenn's points:

. . . if one chooses instead to become dependent on someone else or seeks help and aid from them, then complying with the demands of those providing the aid is an inevitable price that must be paid – and justifiably so.

. . . While hypocrisy and double standards are far too common in our political discourse to highlight every time they appear, the notion being pushed by Likudniks in Israel and the U.S. -- that it is wrong for one country to "interfere" in the politics of another democracy -- is far too ironic to ignore.

. . . How serious Obama is about applying real pressure to Israel remains to be seen, but it’s hard to deny that these initial steps are encouraging. When is the last time there were public rifts of this sort between the American and Israeli governments?

Domestic surveillance, gone right -- The Department of Homeland Security has killed a domestic spying program, the National Applications Office, emptywheel reported earlier this week. This is the program that Rep. Jane Harman was going to try to kill with legislation, because it has been a bad idea from the outset. Military spy satellites have been used to survey domestic locations in the case of natural disasters. But back during the Bush administration there was talk that this office would use the military eyes in the sky for domestic surveillance.

Domestic surveillance gone wrong -- Former President Clinton lost out in this episode. "NSA Secret Database Ensnared President Clinton's Private E-mail," is from Wired - Threat Level (6/17/09). To quote:

A secret NSA surveillance database containing millions of intercepted foreign and domestic e-mails includes the personal correspondence of former President Bill Clinton, according to the New York Times.

An NSA intelligence analyst was apparently investigated after accessing Clinton’s personal correspondence in the database, the paper reports, though it didn’t say how many of Clinton’s e-mails were captured or when the interception occurred.

The database, codenamed Pinwale, allows NSA analysts to search through and read large volumes of e-mail messages, including correspondence to and from Americans. Pinwale is likely the end point for data sucked from internet backbones into NSA-run surveillance rooms at AT&T facilities around the country.

Intelligence oversight loses -- The "White House Intel Advisory Board Has No Members," Steven Aftergood revealed at Secrecy News. The implications of this are there is no formal oversight of questionable intelligence gathering practices, programs that could be unlawful, or contrary to executive orders or presidential directives. Aftergood writes that it was rumored that former DNI Mike McConnell was going to be appointed to the board, but nothing has happened on the matter.

President Obama lost Renegade Democrats, who are going against President Obama with these plans. House members Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) and Rep Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), are both willing to challenge incumbent senators in their own party, according to In Pennsylvania, the Senator is former Republican, Arlen Specter, in New York it is newby Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

[Post date - June 27, 2009]

See also Behind the Links, for further info on this subject.

Blogs: My general purpose/southwest focus blog is at Southwest Progressive. My creative website is at Making Good Mondays. And Carol Gee - Online Universe is the all-in-one home page for all my websites.

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