Thursday, August 5, 2010

Let’s Face It The Right Wing Really Is A Bunch Of Hateful White Supremacists Who Are Scared White Of Change.

Let’s Face It The Right Wing Really Is A Bunch Of Hateful White Supremacists Who Are Scared White Of Change.

Any Day Now We Will Hear That If The Mosque In NY Is Built There Will Be A Mosque On Every Street Corner Like Starbucks…if the Hispanics don’t get us then the Muslims will!

A community activist's attempt to inspire young people in New Haven has provoked the ire of America's rightwing media

Clifton Graves seemed amused rather than upset – certainly more amused and less upset than most people could manage after being held up to ridicule by the likes of Glenn Beck, Matt Drudge and other assorted rightwing cranks.

"It's indicative of the venom that exists, and the hostility," Graves told me. "It hasn't much to do with the program. I think it was just directed at Obama."
We were drinking coffee late on a Friday morning in New Haven, Connecticut, at the Greek Olive, a hotel restaurant off Interstate 95. We had met so I could interview him for a book I'm writing about online community journalism. First, though, I wanted to ask him about his long-distance encounter with Beck and his fellow travellers.
A 57-year-old African-American lawyer and community activist, Graves was singled out for national attention after a video of him leading middle-school students in a Jesse Jackson-style inspirational chant surfaced on YouTube.

What caught the right's eye was that the kids, after denouncing drugs and violence and asserting they could be anything they wanted to be ("President! President! President!"), were led to chant: "For I am an Obama scholar." That was it. But it was enough.
Beck, on his syndicated radio program, pulled together that and several other audio clips, then launched into one of his signature monologues about "dictatorship", "fascism" and "communism". Drudge linked to the video using the headline "School kids chant: 'I am an Obama scholar'…", as though it were anything more than an attempt to inspire poor kids from a poor city to stay out of gangs and get an education. A less well-known reactionary named Scott Factor referred to the chant as "the scariest" part of the video, and wrote that it depicted Graves "making these kids recite a pledge to President Obama … you read that correctly". (Well, no, actually.) A blog called Ironic Surrealism v3.0 called the video an example of "Dear Leader Obama education indoctrination". The rightwing media-watch site said it was "a creepy chant".

New Haven is a tough town where African-Americans and Latinos outnumber whites. Following several years of relative tranquility, the city is experiencing an upsurge of violence. Graves, active in the local NAACP and other community organizations, proposed a youth-mentoring program for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders. The idea was to introduce them to successful people of colour, as well as to those whose bad decisions had led them to prison.

But what to name it?
"We could have called it after Dr King," said Graves, who shook the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr's hand when he was nine years old and growing up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. "But in the aftermath of President Obama's election, I said, 'Gee, why not name the program after someone young people can relate to?' If I named it after a historical figure, it would be someone they have no direct relation to or connection with other than a picture in a book. Whereas here is a real, live person who actually serves as president." Thus was born the Obama Initiative.
The thunder on the right had more of an effect nationally than it did locally. The city's daily newspaper, the New Haven Register, published a front-page story in which various community leaders defended the programme. An accompanying editorial began: "The conservative criticism of an inner-city mentoring programme in two New Haven schools is as groundless as it is uninformed."

It is unsurprising that Beck would pick up on a story from New Haven. During the mid-1990s, he worked as a disc jockey at one of the city's radio stations. Paul Bass, editor of the New Haven Independent, a non-profit news site, was a freelance political commentator at the station, and he recalls liking Beck – but refusing his invitations to join him on the air.

"He'd do really racist stuff on his show," Bass told me last year. In a portent of the Beck that was to come, Bass said Beck would jokingly refer to him as "a communist from Yale", and once even asked him if he knew Fidel Castro.
Back at the Greek Olive, Graves was reminiscing. A soft-spoken man who often wears a kufi, Graves had a great-grandfather who – incongruously enough – was a cowboy and a federal deputy marshal in the Oklahoma Territory. Graves produced a book with a photograph of his great-grandfather Neely Factory (originally Factor) on horseback, along with his posse, a fellow African-American, a Native American and a Caucasian.
"Long before diversity was politically correct, here you've got four men in Oklahoma Territory, looking out for each other, covering each other's back as partners, as friends, as colleagues. It was just so unique," Graves said.
School will be in session in another month, and, for the moment at least, Graves assumes he'll be invited back, "Obama scholar" chant and all.
"To the credit of the community – the school board and the administration – they got a lot of heat. They got the phone calls, I didn't," Graves said. Of his rightwing critics, he added: "They probably don't know how to get in touch with me. They just saw my picture and my name."
Graves said he has yet to see any of the rightwing criticism, and has turned down suggestions from friends that he contact Beck's producers to tell his side of the story. "Why should I give him that credibility?" he asked.
The problem, of course, is that millions of people do find Beck and his ilk credible. A well-intentioned program is mischaracterized, a good man is smeared and the right lurches off in search of another victim.
For them, it's a game. But for Graves, what's at stake is nothing less than the fate of New Haven's youth.

Over and over, politicians in Washington have condemned “earmarks,” language stuck into bills designed to provide money for special projects supported by individual members of Congress. Yet politicians keep fighting for those earmarks -- and there are some members who denounce earmarks in the abstract but then work hard for those that happen to benefit their folks back home.
That may seem hypocritical, but now we know why politicians do it: Voters like politicians better when they show them the money. A new Pew Research Center/National Journal poll released today found that 53 percent of Americans are more likely to vote for candidates with a record of bringing government money and projects to their districts; only 12 percent were less likely to vote for such candidates. The remaining third say the money makes no difference.
That’s a 4-to-1 ratio in favor of delivering the goods. This suggests that voters themselves may actually welcome it when their members have a double-standard: fight spending in the abstract, but make sure we get our share of what goes out. Alternatively, voters may be cynical enough (or realistic enough -- take your pick) to calculate that if money is going to be passed around, they want a piece of it for their communities. And, yes, there are still voters out there who believe government can do good things, and they especially like it when those good things are tangible and close-to-home. The moral: expect to see a lot of ads this fall in which incumbents facing tough races talk a lot about the projects they’ve won for their districts.
Personally, I wish there were less hypocrisy and phony moralism about the whole thing. Members will always fight for money for their constituents, and I’m weary of empty posturing about earmarks. But I don’t expect it to stop.
But if earmarks help candidates, Sarah Palin does not. 
Another striking finding from the poll: 38 percent said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate she campaigned for, while only 18 percent said her support would make them more likely to vote for that candidate. President Obama had a mixed impact: 27 percent said Obama’s campaigning would make them more likely to vote for a candidate, 28 percent less likely.
Within those numbers are two others sets of figures suggesting that a lot of Republicans will ask Palin to stay home: Among independents, 36 percent said Palin would make them less likely to support a candidate, while only 15 percent said her support would help that candidate. And Palin turns off more Democrats than she turns on Republicans: 41 percent of Republicans said they’d be more likely to vote for a Palin-backed candidate, but 58 percent of Democrats say they’d be less likely to support one of her favorites.
On net, association with the Tea Party also hurts a candidate more than it helps: 31 percent said they were less likely to vote for a Tea Party supporter, while 22 percent were more likely to give such a candidate their vote. These numbers are yet another indication that the Tea Party represents roughly the right-wing quarter of the American electorate, which was there long before Obama became president.
The bottom line: Count on many Democratic candidates to associate their Republican opponents with Palin and the Tea Party. These numbers suggest that the influence of both peaked during this year’s Republican primaries. Now, they are a net negative for the GOP. And, yes, count on all incumbents to brag about that bridge or building they brought to a street near you. 

Fox News To Move To Front-Row White House Briefing-Room Seat

The White House Correspondents Association voted unanimously Sunday afternoon to move Fox News to the front row of the White House briefing room. 

The seating change was prompted by the resignation of veteran
 UPI reporter Helen Thomas. 

According to Ed Henry, the senior White House correspondent for CNN and member of the WHCA board, the
 Associated Press will move to the front-row middle seat formerly occupied by Thomas. 

Fox News will replace the AP in its former seat, also in the front row, and NPR, which lobbied for Thomas's seat along with Fox and Bloomberg News, will take Fox's former seat in the second row. 

The 2010-2011 WHCA board includes representatives from USA Today,Reuters, C-SPAN, the New York Times, Politico, Time magazine, NPR and the D.C.Examiner.
Thomas, a longtime critic of Israeli foreign policy, had resigned in late May after a video clip in which she said that Israelis should "get the hell out of Palestine" and "go home" — to Europe, the United States and other places — surfaced on the internet. 
Liberal groups had lobbied for NPR's placement in the front row over Fox, which one petition called a "right-wing propaganda outlet." 

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Rep. Rogers: We Should Have Considered Executing Daniel Ellsberg

We had Congressman Mike Rogers on MSNBC today regarding his controversial comments calling for capital punishment of Pvt. Manning, who is charged with releasing classified information to Wikileaks.
Rep. Rogers was very clear and re-iterated his call for execution of Bradley Manning if he is convicted of the charges because he believes they are tanamount to treason.
But he went further when I asked him what he would have done with Daniel Ellsberg who leaked the Pentagon Papers. He said he wasn't clear on the facts of that case, but if Ellsberg had released information that put soldiers in the field at risk that he would have "absolutely" callled for his execution. I don't think even Nixon went that far.

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The American left and the WikiLeaks documents
By David Walsh
Saturday, Jul 31, 2010

31 July 2010

The release by WikiLeaks of 92,000 secret documents has helped expose the brutal, neo-colonial character of the US-led war in Afghanistan.

The documents detail US military atrocities against the Afghan population, reveal the scope of the opposition to the foreign occupation, and expose the stooge regime in Kabul for what it is, a coalition of big business interests, drug lords and sadistic killers.

The American public has been lied to for nine years about the war, both its motives and its reality. The US media has worked hand in glove with the White House and Pentagon to conceal the horrific character of the conflict.

Despite that, the population defeated the Republicans in two elections, 2006 and 2008, in part because of opposition to and suspicion about what the US military was up to in Iraq and Afghanistan. Brought to power promising “change,” the Obama administration has continued and escalated the military intervention.

In the wake of the WikiLeaks release, the New York Times and the establishment media have downplayed the significance of the documents, insisting there is “nothing new” in them. Moreover, they are attempting to use the leaked material to justify an escalation of the war, claiming it shows the US military has been “hamstrung” in Afghanistan and the Pakistani regime has been playing a double game.

American liberalism and the “left” respond as an element of the establishment, suggesting alterations in policy, but rejecting an independent struggle against war based on a break with the Democratic Party.

In its July 29 editorial, “Getting Out of Afghanistan,” the Nation magazine argues that “we have seen enough—enough to know that [Obama’s current] strategy cannot work, and enough to understand that the costs of continuing the war far outstrip any conceivable benefits.” Which conceivable benefits?

The editors continue: “After nearly nine years of war, it is clear that Afghanistan—with its complex regional and ethnic divisions, its long history of fierce resistance to occupying forces, its decentralized governance and tribal system, and its susceptibility to the interference of neighbors—does not lend itself to successful counterinsurgency.”

“Successful counterinsurgency”? The editors are complaining that the massive, ruthless effort to suppress popular resistance to the US-led forces in Afghanistan has failed. Does the Nation now stand for “successful counterinsurgency”? What examples do they have in mind?

Not a single reference appears in the editorial to war crimes, atrocities, the murder of thousands of men, women and children by the US military and its allies. The only mention of civilian deaths comes by way of noting how counterproductive such violence is from the US point of view: “The Pentagon presents counterinsurgency as a benign force to protect the population, but—as the WikiLeaks revelations about civilian casualties show—it is also deeply disruptive and destabilizing and can make reconciliation more difficult.”

The murderous war, conducted in part by death squads, is “disruptive” and “destabilizing.” The language is revealing: the Nation, in its own fashion, is contributing to the media downplaying of the scale of the ongoing war crimes.

The editorial pursues a central theme, since “there is no prospect of success,” the war should be abandoned. But what if there were a prospect of success? Presumably the Nation would support such an effort.

The Nation’s editors are considerably to the right of Senator Robert Kennedy during his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1968. Kennedy, a savvy bourgeois politician, nonetheless condemned the war in Vietnam not simply on the grounds that it was not going well, but that it was a moral crime.

Kennedy argued,

“We’re killing children, we’re killing women, we’re killing innocent people.… Do we have the right here in the United States to say we are going to kill tens of thousands of people, make millions of people, as we have, refugees, kill women and children as we have?… We must feel it when we use Napalm or a village is destroyed and civilians are killed.”

There’s none of that in the Nation editorial, which is written with hardly a pretense of sympathy for the sufferings or sentiments of the Afghan people. Indeed, it speaks in the crude manner of the semi-criminal elements who have come to the top in Washington, observing: “Even if we are able to eliminate many Taliban leaders, younger and more radical ones may take their place. The US military has killed a large number of insurgent leaders, yet the Taliban have only grown stronger and more determined.” No moral outrage, simply the sad fact that this homicidal operation hasn’t worked.

The editors reason that given the accumulating difficulties, “It is therefore time for the president to change policy” and begin the redeployment of US troops, presumably to some location where their efforts could be more productive.

This isn’t opposition, but friendly advice, to imperialism.

Robert Dreyfuss’s July 26 piece in the Nation, “The WikiLeaks Papers and the Pakistani Intelligence–Taliban Connection,” ignores US crimes and Afghan deaths entirely and speaks to an issue that might concern a State Department policy maker. Dreyfuss emphasizes, along with theNew York Times, “the involvement of Pakistan, its army and its intelligence service, the ISI, in support of the Taliban.”

This key to the leaked documents, for Dreyfuss, leads to a piece ofRealpolitik advice, “The administration has no choice but to deal realistically with Pakistan, the real one—the one that exists—and not with the happy, sunny Pakistan that they wished existed. President Hamid Karzai has already figured that out.” This appears in a “left” publication.

The Nation identifies itself with the “national interests” of American capitalism. When the magazine speaks of “our own troops” and “our power” and “our strategy,” its editors are not speaking loosely.

As we have noted, a division of labor exists in liberal and left circles. The New York Times sets the tone, the Nation interprets the arguments in its own, slightly more “left” fashion, and publications such as the Socialist Worker add a further “left,” even “socialistic” twist—all of this within respectable bounds. did not respond to the release of 92,000 documents until July 29, several days after the material was available online.

As is the case with the NationSocialist Worker begins with the fact that the war is not going well. Noting the administration’s claim that the WikiLeaks “documents were ‘old news,’” the article continues, “This last point was surely damage control—the WikiLeaks documents vividly expose the disastrous state of the U.S. war on Afghanistan.”

Again, what if it weren’t “disastrous”? What would that do to the International Socialist Organization’s attitude toward the Afghanistan war?

Socialist Worker reports on US war crimes, unlike the Nation, but its orientation is fundamentally the same, toward changing establishment public opinion and the Obama administration’s policies. Its article quotes extensively from James Fallows of the Atlantic, a former speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, who makes it clear that his perspective is shifting “mainstream opinion about the war.”

Fallows’ criticism of the administration is bound up with tactical differences within the ruling elite over how best to pursue US geopolitical aims. In the Atlantic piece referred to by, in a portion that is not quoted, Fallows cites approvingly the comments of a reader who writes that “If the debate had been centered around ‘securing Afghanistan or parts of it for own use’ for as long as it serves our strategic interests, the debate could take a much more constructive turn.… The question is which tactics are most likely to keep the costs (in lives and dollars) of securing Afghanistan for our own use as low as possible during the time we wish/need to control the area.”

Following its reference to Fallows, the ISO comments that “It’s too soon to judge the impact of the WikiLeaks documents,” and adds, “Nevertheless, the Obama administration won’t end the US war on Afghanistan because of declining approval ratings or because it is embarrassed by the revelations in the WikiLeaks documents.”

The aim here is to channel popular hostility to the war into applying pressure on Obama and the Democrats, and thus prevent it from breaking beyond the two-party system. Socialist Worker’s opposition to the war doesn’t distinguish it from numerous liberal publications and organizations, who also can detail the “massacres and bloodshed,” but remain firmly within the Democratic Party orbit.

Hardly anything could be more futile or more of a political diversion than the effort to shift “mainstream opinion,” i.e., the leading circles in Washington. As the WikiLeaks episode has graphically demonstrated, there is no constituency in the US elite for opposition to colonialism.

The task at hand is turning to the only social force with an interest in opposing imperialist war, the working class, and building up an antiwar movement on a principled socialist basis, in opposition to Obama and his left apologists. As Trotsky explained, “the defense of a backward country against colonial oppression deals a blow to imperialism, which is the main enemy of the world working class.”

Source: WSWS

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