Friday, July 30, 2010

Obama Doubling Down on War, with Not Enough Votes to Stop Him Yet

Despite WikiLeaks Revelations,

Congress Votes for War Funding

By Tom Hayden

July 29, 2010 - Never was the case so weak for throwing another $33 billion into the Afghanistan sinkhole, but that's what a defensive US Congress did anyway on Tuesday evening, July 27. The vote was 308-114, with Republicans supplying most of the prowar votes.

Washington-based peace groups, after weeks of e-mailing messages to Congress, put the best face possible on the vote, claiming a "significant" gain of fourteen additional antiwar votes over the 100 cast for a similar amendment by Representative Barbara Lee two weeks ago. (The new Democratic votes were cast by Corrine Brown, Kathy Castor, John Conyers, Rosa Delauro, Lloyd Doggett, Anna Eshoo, Chaka Fattah, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Hank Johnson, Marcy Kaptur, Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, Gregory Meeks, James Moran, Christopher Murphy, Carol Shea-Porter, Mike Thompson, Lynn Woolsey and David Wu; while five Republicans joined the opposition: Paul Broun, Vernon Ehlers, Jeff Flake, Phil Gingrey and John Linder.)

Those casting prowar votes from safe liberal districts included Lois Capps, James Clyburn, Susan Davis, John Hall, Patrick Kennedy, Nita Lowey, Lucille Roybal-Allard, John Sarbanes and Joe Sestak. Significantly, Speaker Nancy Pelosi abstained from voting, which meant retreating from the chance to draw an antiwar line more firmly.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Note to Liberals at the Top: No More Shilly-Shallying on the Racist Right

Enough right-wing propaganda

By E.J. Dionne Jr.

Washington Post
Monday, July 26, 2010; A13

The smearing of Shirley Sherrod ought to be a turning point in American politics. This is not, as the now-trivialized phrase has it, a "teachable moment." It is a time for action.

The mainstream media and the Obama administration must stop cowering before a right wing that has persistently forced its propaganda to be accepted as news by convincing traditional journalists that "fairness" requires treating extremist rants as "one side of the story." And there can be no more shilly-shallying about the fact that racial backlash politics is becoming an important component of the campaign against President Obama and against progressives in this year's election.

The administration's response to the doctored video pushed by right-wing hit man Andrew Breitbart was shameful. The obsession with "protecting" the president turned out to be the least protective approach of all.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tom Hayden on Sherrod's Heroic Roots -- and Cowardice in the Face of Today's Racist Right

Shirley Sherrod, center


Sherrod, Obama, and

the Strength of Roots

By Tom Hayden

How would members of the Obama administration have reacted to racist pressure from the Deep South in the early 60s? Would they have fired Justice Department civil rights monitors who antagonized hard-line segregationists?

For those of us with long memories, this is one of the key questions posed by the firing of Shirley Sherrod in a fit of official over-reaction to the shameful right-wing blogger Andrew Breitbart. It is true that the administration reversed course quickly after the true story was revealed, but that the Obama administration can be spooked so easily by Glen Beck and FOX News raises a serious question: if they are so tough on national defense, drugs and crime, where is their resolve against the deceitful attack dogs of the right?

My introduction to virulent southern racism came in 1961 when I ventured to Albany, Georgia, first to write an article about the Deep South organizing done by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee [SNCC] and, second, to become a freedom rider on a train to Albany that December.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Conservatism's Gulf Blindspot: When Markets Fail, Blame Obama

Conservatism's Death Gusher

By George Lakoff

Huffington Post, July 16 2010

The issue is death -- death gushing at ten thousand pounds per square inch from a mile below the sea, tens of thousands of barrels of death a day. Not just death to eleven human beings. Death to sea birds, sea turtles, dolphins, fish, oyster beds, shrimp, beaches; death to the fishing industry, tourism, jobs; and death to a way of life based on the beauty and bounty of the Gulf.

Many, perhaps a majority, of the Gulf residents affected are conservatives, strong right-wing Republicans, following extremist Governors Bobby Jindal and Haley Barbour. What those conservatives are not saying, and may be incapable of seeing, is that conservatism itself is largely responsible for what happened, and that conservatism is a continuing disaster for conservatives who live along the Gulf. Conservatism is an ideology of death.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Leo Gerard on The GOP 'No!' Party: Kissing the Rich, Dissing the Jobless

Republicans Kiss the Rich; Diss the Jobless

Leo W. Gerard

Leo W. Gerard

International President, United Steelworkers

Posted: July 19, 2010 11:09 AM

A brutal competition pits worker against worker continually now in this country. Five unemployed people vie with each other for each available job. It's like a cruel game of musical chairs, with five desperate competitors for one seat.

Workers who've lost cars to repossession and homes to foreclosure run around frantically trying to get that one job. When the music stops, four disheartened, still-unemployed people move to other viscous cycles of five struggling to win one available job.

Republicans watching this blame the 14.6 million unemployed Americans for the inadequate number of chairs. They've called the unemployed lazy and refused to extend unemployment compensation. Meanwhile, the GOP is demanding an extension of Bush's tax cuts for the rich.

To the GOP, the rich are deserving. Republicans see the unemployed as leeches -- not as victims of filthy-rich, banksters who destroyed the economy, not as the stalwart citizens whose tax money Bush used to bail out Wall Street. To Republicans, the unemployed - along with the un-rich - deserve only disrespect.


Friday, July 16, 2010

Note to Obama: Digging Deeper is Not the Way Out

America: Hooked on War

and Getting Poorer

By Clancy Sigal
The Guardian, July 15, 2010
There's plenty of good money to be made /
Supplyin' the army with tools of the trade …
– Country Joe and the Fish

I hallucinate easily, a hangover from time spent in an acid-rock commune in London in the fevered 60s. Most evenings when I switch on the television 6.30 news with its now cliched pictures of deep sea oil spurting from BP's pipe rupture, I see not bleeding sludge but human blood surging up into the Gulf of Mexico.

I've learned to trust my visions as metaphors for reality. The same news programmes, often as a dutiful throwaway item, will show a jerky fragment of Afghan combat accompanied by the usual pulse-pounding handheld shots of snipers amid roadside bomb explosions, preferably in fiery balls. My delusional mind converts this footage into a phantasmagoria where our M60 machine guns are shooting ammunition belts full of $1,000 bills.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Using Race for a 2010 Center-Right Majority

Black Power's Gonna Get You Sucka:

Right-Wing Paranoia and the

Rhetoric of Modern Racism

By Tim Wise
Daily KOS, July 12, 2010
Prominent white conservatives are angry about racism.
Forget all that talk about a post-racial society. They know better than to believe in such a thing, and they’re hopping mad.
What is it that woke them up finally, after all these years of denial, during which they insisted that racism was a thing of the past?
Was it the research indicating that job applicants with white sounding names have a 50 percent better chance of being called back for an interview than their counterparts with black-sounding names, even when all qualifications are the same?
Was it the study that found white job applicants with criminal records have a better chance of being called back for an interview than black applicants without one, even when all the qualifications are the same?


How About A Bail-Out for Young People?


Students in Dire Need of Debt Relief:

Government Vastly Undercounts Defaults

Many More Students Are Defaulting Than Official Tallies Show 1

Photo illustration by Ron Coddington


By Kelly Field

Chronicle of Higher Education

July 11, 2010 - The share of borrowers who default on their student loans is bigger than the federal government's short-term data suggest, with thousands more facing damaged credit histories and millions more tax dollars being lost in the long run.

According to unpublished data obtained by The Chronicle, one in every five government loans that entered repayment in 1995 has gone into default. The default rate is higher for loans made to students from two-year colleges, and higher still, reaching 40 percent, for those who attended for-profit institutions.

The numbers represent thousands of students like Lourdes Samedy, of Boston, who ended up defaulting on about $7,000 in student loans after completing a nine-month-long medical-assistant program at Corinthian Colleges Inc. Everest College, and now cannot get a job.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Message to Congress: Vote 'No' on War Funds!

A Defining Vote on Afghanistan

By Katrina vanden Heuvel
The Nation, July 1, 2010

More than six months after the implementation of the Obama/McChrystal strategy, and with one year to go before the beginning withdrawal of US forces, it's clear that the strategy in Afghanistan is failing on nearly all fronts. [1]

It’s critical that we now turn to a more fundamental exit debate: How do we change course and craft a responsible strategy to end the war?

Tonight the House will have an opportunity to do just that with two votes--on the $33 billion Afghanistan war supplemental and an amendment introduced by Congressman Jim McGovern that would require, at long last, an exit strategy including a timetable for the completion of the redeployment of US troops.

Although Obama has said he will begin to drawdown troops in July 2011, McGovern observed earlier this year [2], “It’s not only important to know when the first soldier is to be redeployed or brought home, it’s important to know when the last soldier is as well.”

On a conference call with reporters yesterday--organized by Tom Andrews of Win Without War--McGovern and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree outlined the case for an exit strategy and a vote against the supplemental as well as the political significance of this moment.

Last year, McGovern’s exit strategy amendment garnered 138 votes, including 131 Democrats--the majority of the Democratic Caucus.

“My hope is that we’ll get a good vote on the vote to strike the military aid,” said McGovern. “And we are hoping to get a good vote on the exit strategy and that will be a signal to the White House to rethink it’s policy.”

Pingree said she hoped for a “lively debate” and said that the war is “increasingly unpopular.” She cited the death toll of US troops climbing over 1000.

“Every time we get a call as I did this week about another soldier lost in Afghanistan,” said Pingree, “just the very thought of making the call to that family is really unthinkable when it seems like we don’t have a winning strategy and we’re asking our young people to do something--some of them redeployed over and over again--for a failed strategy.”

She also spoke to the war’s cost--$7 billion per month.

“There is no question in this economy we can’t afford it,” she said. “We spend a lot of our time today arguing about whether or not we can pass aid to the states, or unemployment insurance. It’s just unthinkable to me that when we spend money on this war, we don’t require ourselves to pay for it, and every other thing that comes through hear we have these big arguments about whether it’s paid for. So, I think the politics is there, the American people are really done [3] with us doing this. It’s our job as Members of Congress to increase the debate and let the White House know this isn’t the thing that we should be doing.”

Other progressive legislators are also urging conservatives to vote against the continued funding of the war based on its cost. In a statement circulated by Representatives John Conyers, Raúl Grijalva, Michael Honda, and Alan Grayson, the legislators call Obama on his broken promise to “stop funding the wars with emergency supplemental appropriation bills that avoid budgetary restriction. They describe the supplementals as “gimmicks to hide the cost of war.”

The statement continues, “Our challenge: if you oppose deficit spending, debt dependency on China, cuts to Social Security, and are concerned about a debt-threat to our national security, then oppose this supplemental war funding request.”

The four Congressmen will be joined by House Committee on Veterans Affairs Chairman Bob Filner and bipartisan members of the Out of Afghanistan Caucus at a press conference [4] this morning to urge a vote against the supplemental and call for an exit strategy.

In his post [5] yesterday, Nation editorial board member Tom Hayden notes that--depending on this vote--the Obama Administration faces the grim prospect of the Afghanistan war being “supported primarily by Republicans and opposed by Democrats in Congress as well as Democrats and independents” in the opinion polls.

That’s a message that needs to be made loud and clear. Now is the time to burn the phone lines with calls to your representatives [6]. Tell them to vote for the McGovern exit strategy amendment and oppose the $33 billion “emergency” war supplemental--it does nothing but dig us deeper into a failed strategy and makes our own national emergency worse.

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