“Left-Wing” Pundits Root for Putin to Humiliate Obama

President Obama through Emoprog eyes

President Obama through Emoprog eyes

Obama hatred has really reached a crescendo today, and I’m not talking about hatred spewed by the Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, or Rush Limbaugh. I’m talking about people who identify themselves as “progressives.” Twitter is mobbed emoprogs making a concerted effort to ensure that if there is a deal with Russia and Syria to prevent military action over Syria’s use of chemical weapons, President Obama will get zero credit for it.

Meanwhile supposedly “left-wing” pundits Robert Dreyfuss and Robert Scheer are praising Russia’s anti-gay, ex-KGB agent President Vladimir Putin for leading the way to peace.

Check this out from Dreyfuss at The Nation:

It’s tempting to enjoy the moment, that is, the humiliation of President Obama and the short-circuiting of his war push by a brilliant coup conducted by Vladimir Putin, that sly old dog and ju-jitsu expert, along with Russia’s ally, Syria. President Obama might as well not bother giving his Oval Office speech tonight, because the chances that Congress will approve Obama’s Authorization to Use Military Force are zero, and the possibility that the United States will go to war against Syria without congressional support are now less than zero.

You know, I really don’t take pleasure in seeing the President of my country humiliated; and I have to wonder about the judgement of a “journalist” who does–especially a journalist who probably doesn’t want to see a President Ted Cruz elected in 2016.

Dreyfuss can’t imagine a scenario in which Obama doesn’t particularly want to bomb Syria but threatens to do so in order to pressure Russia to respond with a diplomatic alternative. However he can picture Putin doing something clever and sneaky. Dreyfuss even quotes Tucker Carlson and Fox News–of all people!–in support of his belief that Obama is utterly incompetent and incapable of guile.

Ask yourself–if instead of threatening military strikes, Obama had simply asked Assad in a nice way to give up his chemical weapons, what would have happened?

Robert Scheer also wrote a snide piece at Truthdig that isn’t quite as in-your-face nasty as Dreyfuss’s but it’s pretty bad, and Scheer also quotes a right-wing pudit–Peggy Noonan! Scheer writes:

…there was a moment Monday when the odds for sanity seemed to finally stand a chance of prevailing. It came when President Obama acknowledged the Russian proposal for Syria to avert war by agreeing to destroy its chemical weapons stock as “a potentially positive development.” It was quintessentially an un-Bush moment when suddenly this presidential “decider” seemed possessed of a brain capable of reversing his disastrous course.

Because Obama has, until now, been completely intractable and inflexible, with a Bush-like brain?

The bipartisan rejection of the inevitability of a military response has been stunning in its geographical reach, and as Peggy Noonan, a leading Republican intellectual as well as a former top speechwriter for Ronald Reagan, observed in her Wall Street Journal column Saturday: “The American people do not support military action… . Widespread public opposition is in itself reason not to go forward.” Although underscoring the need to “rebuke those who used the weapons, condemn their use, and shun the users … a military strike is not the way, and not the way for America,” she wrote.

She is right. The use of chemical weapons cannot be ignored, even though the U.S. did just that decades ago when then-Mideast special envoy Donald Rumsfeld embraced Saddam Hussein after he deployed those heinous weapons on his own people and in his war with Iran. A strong response to the use of those weapons is in order, but instead of more violence that would inevitably kill innocent people, why not give peace a chance? At the very least, even if the Syrian government continues to deny responsibility for the chemical attacks, it must abandon its arsenal of these weapons that are inherently inhuman.

So what would that response be? Scheer credits Russian foreign minister Sergey V. Lavrov with a sudden brainstorm in response to a supposedly off-handed remark from John Kerry.

Lavrov seized upon Secretary of State John Kerry’s purely rhetorical point that Syria could abandon its chemical weapons supply and asked, why not? It was a serious plan, given that it had been previewed in a phone conversation between Lavrov and Kerry and that Syria’s foreign minister, who was in Moscow at the time, welcomed the sentiment.

Except if Kerry and Lavrov had discussed the idea previously, then Kerry’s remark wasn’t an off-handed gaffe that destroyed Obama’s dream of war, was it? Scheer truly wants to describe events in such a way that Obama comes out looking like a stupid, incompetent war monger.

Since Dreyfuss’ and Scheer’s diatribes were posted, we’ve learned that Obama and Putin have been discussing diplomatic solutions to deal with Syria’s chemical weapons for months. Laura Rozen of Foreign Policy writes at The Back Channel:

U.S. and Russian officials confirmed Tuesday that they have had discussions about removing Syria’s chemical arms going back months before the August 21st alleged chemical weapons attack outside Damascus, and that the idea was not born out of a stray comment made by US Secretary of State John Kerry at a London press conference Monday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that he and President Obama had “indeed discussed” the idea during a meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia last week.

He and Obama agreed “to instruct Secretary of State [John Kerry] and Foreign Minister [Sergey Lavrov] to get in touch” and “try to move this idea forward,” Putin told Russia Today in an interview Tuesday.

According to Rozen, Obama and Putin discussed the issue a year ago when the two met at the G-20 summit in Mexico and John Kerry talked about it further with Putin when he was in Moscow in April of this year. I guess in the time of Wikileaks, Snowden, and Greenwald, it’s now assumed that government are permitted no secrets and diplomacy must be carried out in the glare of TV cameras. Well, folks, that really isn’t how it works.

And now, as Sam Stein noted on Twitter, emoprogs are “this close” to hoping for a failure of the diplomatic solution so that Obama can be further mocked and humiliated.

I’m not sure where all the Obama hatred is coming from, but it’s really ugly; and the more I see of it, the more I want to give Obama the benefit of the doubt. I really like Bob Cesca’s take on this: A Deal to Prevent an Attack on Syria Reveals Obama as JFK, Not GWB.

Is anyone else here old enough to recall the Cuban missile crisis? Kennedy had learned that Russia had installed missiles in Cuba. His advisers urged him to attack Cuba and take out the missiles, but that would have forced the Russians to retaliate and likely led to World War III. Instead Kennedy set up a blockade around Cuba, and gave both sides some breathing room. From Wikipedia:

in secret back-channel communications the President and Premier initiated a proposal to resolve the crisis. While this was taking place, several Soviet ships attempted to run the blockade, increasing tensions to the point that orders were sent out to US Navy ships to fire warning shots and then open fire. On October 27, a U-2 plane was shot down by a Soviet missile crew, an action that could have resulted in immediate retaliation from the Kennedy crisis cabinet, according to Secretary of Defense McNamara’s later testimony. Kennedy stayed his hand and the negotiations continued.

The confrontation ended on October 28, 1962, when Kennedy and United Nations Secretary-General U Thant reached an agreement with Khrushchev. Publicly, the Soviets would dismantle their offensive weapons in Cuba and return them to the Soviet Union, subject to United Nations verification, in exchange for a US public declaration and agreement never to invade Cuba. Secretly, the US also agreed that it would dismantle all US-built Jupiter IRBMs, armed with nuclear warheads, which were deployed in Turkey and Italy against the Soviet Union.

Now that we know that the US and Russia have been engaging in “back-channel” negotiations over Syria, isn’t that a better comparison to the current situation than Bush and Cheney lying us into Iraq?

UAW, CREW File Ethics Charges Against Romney for Hiding Auto Bailout Profits

United Auto Workers (UAW) President Bob King and the Center for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW) will hold a press conference at 2PM today to announce that they are filing formal ethics charges against Mitt Romney with the US Office of Government Ethics for

improperly hid[ing] a profit of $15.3 million to $115.0 million in Ann Romney’s so-called “blind” trust.

The union chief says, “The American people have a right to know about Gov. Romney’s potential conflicts of interest, such as the profits his family made from the auto rescue,” “It’s time for Gov. Romney to disclose or divest.”

The ethics complaint is based on investigative research by Greg Palast, published in The Nation on October 17. Briefly:

The Romneys’ gigantic windfall was hidden inside an offshore corporation inside a limited partnership inside a trust which both concealed the gain and reduces taxes on it.

According to ethics law expert Dan Curry who drafted the ethics complaint, Ann Romney does not have a federally-approved blind trust. An approved “blind” trust may not be used to hide a major investment which could be affected by Romney if he were to be elected President. Other groups joining the UAW and CREW include Public Citizen, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Public Campaign, People for the American Way and The Social Equity Group….

In 2009, Ann Romney partnered with her husband’s key donor, billionaire Paul Singer, who secretly bought a controlling interest in Delphi Auto, the former GM auto parts division. Singer’s hedge fund, Elliott Management, threatened to cut off GM’s supply of steering columns unless GM and the government’s TARP auto bailout fund provided Delphi with huge payments. While the US treasury complained this was “extortion,” the hedge funds received, ultimately, $12.9 billion in taxpayer subsidies.

Singer’s fund ended up making $1.27 billion, after which he moved all Dephi production to Mexico along with 25,000 UAW jobs. The goal of the ethics complaint is to force the Romneys to reveal how much profit the made off this sleazy deal.

Feel free to use this as an open thread.

TGFriday Reads

Good Morning!

I’ve thought about writing some posts about the CPAC circus but frankly, any thing that gives Donald Rumsfeld a “Defender of the Constitution Award” plus features Dick Cheney and Donald Trump is just way too over the top for me.  There were several interesting things and most of it came via Ron Paul and his very dedicated groupies.  One of them shouted Dick Cheney down as a “war criminal”.  Most of the Fundies were AWOL because they didn’t want to be seen networking with folks that might be out there trying to convert them to the “radical homosexual agenda”.   Then there was The other Donald with your zen moment of the day saying that Ron Paul was a nice guy but had “zero chance” of get elected.  Next question, Mr. Trump.  What are your chances of being elected then?

One shout of “where’s Bin Laden?” rang out as Cheney spoke of Rumsfeld.

That led to the pro-Cheney contingent (which it should be said greatly outnumbers the opposition) to shout the hecklers down with the familiar “USA, USA” chant.

It was all very odd, especially considering that when Cheney appeared as the “surprise guest” at last year’s CPAC he was greeted with the kind of cheers generally reserved for a rock star.

But Team Paul — whose numbers appear to have grown at CPAC in 2011 — were not going to let that happen this time around.

“Uh, Defender of the Constitution?” Justin Bradfield of Maryland scoffed when I caught up with him after he walked out of Rumsfeld’s speech. “Let’s see: he expanded the Defense Department more than pretty much any other defense secretary and he enforced the Patriot Act.”

“[Speaking] as a libertarian, that’s not really the type of person who should be getting Defender of the Constitution,” he added.

Wow, this is the sort’ve thing that calls for popcorn and chagrin.  The Hill covered the Trump card.

Business mogul Donald Trump said Thursday that Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) could not possibly win the 2012 presidential race.

“By the way, Ron Paul cannot get elected, I’m sorry to tell you,” Trump said at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Thursday. “I like Ron Paul, I think he’s a good guy, but honestly he just has zero chance of getting elected.”

Then, the Caucus at the NYT covered the background on the Trumped-up decision to run for President.  Oh, the drama!  Oh, the pathos!  Oh, the ratings boost!

“Obviously, it’s a tremendous forum to espouse his views and to express the fact that he is legitimately contemplating on this run,” said Michael Cohen, the executive vice president of the Trump organization, who confirmed his attendance at the forum. “He is seriously considering doing this because he’s disgusted with how the country is being run.”

Mr. Cohen, a special counsel to Mr. Trump, has started a Web site, http://www.shouldtrumprun.com, to serve as something of a draft movement. But the Web site is far from an organic outpouring, considering that it is run by people on Mr. Trump’s payroll.

Advisers to Mr. Trump say that he will decide by June whether to go forward with a Republican presidential bid. The timing is built around his television program, “The Apprentice,” which is scheduled to end by June.

I have to admit that I was more interested in who WASN’T as much as I was in hearing about the theatrics concerning the attendees.  What does it say when two of the top draws in Republican Straw polls find better things to do?

I’m not sure if you caught the WAPO editorial written by a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Abedel Moneim Abou el Fotouh but you may want to give it a read. I’m basically of the opinion that we should worry about the Fundies in our back yard before we worry about the Fundies in some one else’s back yard. El Fotouh tells us we shouldn’t worry at all.  He also reminds us that peoples of a nation have a right to self-govern. That’s the basic American principle that does make the US exceptional.

Contrary to fear-mongering reports, the West and the Muslim Brotherhood are not enemies. It is a false dichotomy to posit, as some alarmists are suggesting, that Egypt’s choices are either the status quo of the Mubarak regime or a takeover by “Islamic extremists.” First, one must make a distinction between the ideological and political differences that the Brotherhood may have with the United States. For Muslims, ideological differences with others are taught not to be the root cause of violence and bloodshed because a human being’s freedom to decide how to lead his or her personal life is an inviolable right found in basic Islamic tenets, as well as Western tradition. Political differences, however, can be a matter of existential threats and interests, and we have seen this play out, for example, in the way the Mubarak regime has violently responded to peaceful demonstrators.

We fully understand that the United States has political interests in Egypt. But does the United States understand that the sovereign state of Egypt, with its 80 million people, has its own interests? Whatever the U.S. interests are in Egypt, they cannot trump Egyptian needs or subvert the will of the people without consequences. Such egotism is a recipe for disaster. With a little altruism, the United States should not hesitate to reassess its interests in the region, especially if it genuinely champions democracy and is sincere about achieving peace in the Middle East.

I have to admit that any one who lives in Louisiana usually has a huge number of Mississippi jokes up their sleeve.  The same was true for Nebraska on Iowa.  Nebraska had a red and white license plate design and we always called Iowa Drivers out as ‘blue plate specials’ for there blue tags.  I got to use that same joke down here on the folks from Mississippi; especially my New Yorker transplant boyfriend who taught molecular biology and lived in Forrest County.  I just learned where the Forrest came from and  I’m not even sure I can express what I want to say about this tidbit on a proposed Mississippi license plates: ‘Mississippi May Honor Early KKK Leader On Commemorative License Plate. Some historical figures are best left dead  and  buried’.

Controversies over honoring Confederate heritage are not uncommon in the South, but some activists in Mississippi are pushing the envelope even further. The Mississippi Division of Sons of Confederate Veterans is proposing a license plate that honors Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was also an early leader of the Ku Klux Klan.

Following the Civil War, Forrest was involved with the very first incarnation of the KKK. He was so closely associated with the group’s formation that he is sometimes incorrectly referred to as the KKK’s founder — though he was quickly elected Grand Wizard, and began centralizing disparate KKK groups under his authority. He believed that while blacks were now free, they had to continue to toil quietly for white landowners. “I am not an enemy of the negro,” Forrest said. “We want him here among us; he is the only laboring class we have.”

Perhaps even more disturbing, however, were Forrest’s violent actions during the Civil War, specifically a massacre of black soldiers at Fort Pillow, TN in April 1864.

Yup, this guy slaughtered black union troops that had already dropped their rifles.  What is wrong with modern Mississippi and what will its Governor Haley Barbour say about this?

So, here’s an interesting YouTube with Noam Chomsky on ‘How Climate Change Became a ‘Liberal Hoax’ in a series from The Nation’.

Known for his criticism of the media, Chomsky doesn’t hold back in this clip, laying blame on mainstream media outlets such as the New York Times, which will run frontpage articles on what meteorologists think about global warming. “Meteorologists are pretty faces reading scripts telling you whether it’s going to rain tomorrow,” Chomsky says. “What do they have to say any more than your barber?” All this is part of the media’s pursuit of “fabled objectivity.”

Of particular concern for Chomsky is the atmosphere of anger, fear and hostility that currently reigns in America. The public’s hatred of Democrats, Republicans, big business and banks and the public’s distrust of scientists all lead to general disregard for the findings of “pointy-headed elitists.” The 2010 elections could be interpreted as a “death knell for the species” because most of the new Republicans in Congress are global warming deniers. “If this was happening in some small country,” Chomsky concludes, “it wouldn’t matter much. But when it’s happening in the richest, most powerful country in the world, it’s a danger to the survival of the species.”

Okay, so, just so you know that our Congress is on the up and up these days, I’m going to leave you with this headline: ‘The Pajama Party Is Over, Ethics Group Tells Congress’.

A Washington ethics watchdog says it is time for Congress to crack down on lawmakers who sleep in their offices rather than pay for a place to live. Reacting to a surge in lawmakers’ bunking down in their work spaces, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington wants the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate whether the politicians are getting an unfair tax break and violating their own rules by making personal use of public resources. “House office buildings are not dorms or frat houses,” Melanie Sloan, the group’s executive director, said Thursday. “If members didn’t want to find housing in Washington, they shouldn’t have run for Congress in the first place.” Aside from the legal and rules questions, Ms. Sloan said she has heard reports from Congressional staffers about uncomfortable work environments. “Especially if you’re a woman and you’re working late and your boss is there getting ready for bed, that seems designed for discomfort,” she said.

They should just be glad their Senator isn’t David Vitter who probably uses campaign funds for hookers and diapers. Don’t make me think about what he’d be up to in his office!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

An Obituary for New Deal Liberalism

If you haven’t read William Grieder’s powerful piece ‘The End of New Deal Liberalism’ at The Nation, you really should.  Let me give you a taste.

In these terms, the administration of Barack Obama has been a crushing disappointment for those of us who hoped he would be different. It turns out Obama is a more conventional and limited politician than advertised, more right-of-center than his soaring rhetoric suggested. Most Congressional Democrats, likewise, proved weak and incoherent, unreliable defenders of their supposed values or most loyal constituencies. They call it pragmatism. I call it surrender.

Obama’s maladroit tax compromise with Republicans was more destructive than creative. He acceded to the trickle-down doctrine of regressive taxation and skipped lightly over the fact that he was contributing further to stark injustices. Ordinary Americans will again be made to pay, one way or another, for the damage others did to society. Obama agrees that this is offensive but argues, This is politics, get over it. His brand of realism teaches people to disregard what he says. Look instead at what he does.

Greider outlines the goals of the plutocracy so clearly that you wonder when he’ll be put up for trumped up espionage charges or at least some made-up sex scandal.  His opening paragraphs on the capture of our government by corporate interests are just about the most compelling and apt description I’ve read recently. He’s awakened some how to the spokesmodel-in-chief. (h/t to Cinie wherever she may be)

Government has been disabled or captured by the formidable powers of private enterprise and concentrated wealth. Self-governing rights that representative democracy conferred on citizens are now usurped by the overbearing demands of corporate and financial interests. Collectively, the corporate sector has its arms around both political parties, the financing of political careers, the production of the policy agendas and propaganda of influential think tanks, and control of most major media.

What the capitalist system wants is more—more wealth, more freedom to do whatever it wishes. This has always been its instinct, unless government intervened to stop it. The objective now is to destroy any remaining forms of government interference, except of course for business subsidies and protections. Many elected representatives are implicitly enlisted in the cause.

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