Sunday Reads, and little bald gold men.Posted: February 27, 2011 Filed under: Diplomacy Nightmares, Egypt, Foreign Affairs, just because, Libya, Middle East, morning reads, worker rights | Tags: Academy Awards, History, Ibn Khaldun, Oscars, Wisconsin 20 Comments
It is Sunday and we are open for business…so grab your coffee, or cafe con leche, and let’s get this bus rolling. We finally heard our President mention Gaddafi by name, Obama and Secretary Clinton have finally said Gaddafi must step down. Boston Boomer put up a post about it last night.
Here are a couple updated links below:
Live Blog – Libya Feb 27 | Al Jazeera Blogs
Libya Protests: Obama Says Muammar Gaddafi Must ‘Leave Now’
I found this Opinion on the AJE site, it is written by Mark Levine, a professor at UC Irvine. I think what drew me to this commentary is that he seems to say what won’t be said in our own MSM. Here are some exerts of the article, however I think it best for you to read the entire thing.
History’s shifting sands – Opinion – Al Jazeera English
Although she likely did not intend it, when Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, warned Arab leaders in early January that they must “reform” lest their systems “sink in the sand” her words were as relevant in Washington as they were in Tunis, Tripoli, Cairo or Sanaa. But Americans – the people as much as their leaders – are so busy dismantling the social, political and economic foundations of their former greatness that they are unable to see how much they have become like the stereotype of the traditional Middle Eastern society that for so long was used to justify, alternately (and sometimes simultaneously) supporting authoritarian leaders or imposing foreign rule.
A well known Egyptian labour organiser, Kamal Abbas, made a video telling Americans from Tahrir that “we and all the people of the world stand on your side and give you our full support”. It is a good thing, because it is clear Americans need all the support they can get. “I want you to know,” he continued, “that no power can challenge the will of the people when they believe in their rights. When they raise their voices loud and clear and struggle against exploitation.”
Aren’t such lines supposed to be uttered by American presidents instead of Egyptian union activists?
The problem clearly starts from the top and continues to the grass roots. Barack Obama campaigned for the presidency on the slogan “Yes we can!” But whether caving in to Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, on settlements, or standing by as Republicans wage a jihad on the working people of Wisconsin, the president has refused to stand up for principles that were once the bedrock of American democracy and foreign policy.
The American people are equally to blame, as increasingly, those without healthcare, job security or pensions seem intent on dragging down the lucky few unionised workers who still have them rather than engage in the hard work of demanding the same rights for themselves.
The top one per cent of Americans, who now earn more than the bottom 50 per cent of the country combined, could not have scripted it any better if they had tried. They have achieved a feat that Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Hosni Mubarak and their fellow cleptocrats could only envy (the poorest 20 per cent of the population in Tunisia and Egypt actually earn a larger share of national income than does their counterpart in the US).
The situation is so desperate that a well known singer and activist contacted me in Cairo to ask organisers of Tahrir to send words of support for union workers in Wisconsin. Yet “Madison is the new Tahrir” remains a dream with little hope of becoming reality, even as Cairenes take time out from their own revolution proudly to order pizza for their fellow protesters in Wisconsin.
Will Ibn Khaldun be proved right?
It now seems clear that hoping for the Obama administration to support real democracy in the Middle East is probably too much to ask, since it cannot even support full democracy and economic and social rights for the majority of people at home. More and more, the US feels not just increasingly “irrelevant” on the world stage, as many commentators have described its waning position in the Middle East, but like a giant ship heading for an iceberg while the passengers and crew argue about how to arrange the deck chairs.
Luckily, inspiration has arrived, albeit from what to a ‘Western’ eye seems like the unlikeliest of sources. The question is: Can the US have a Tahrir moment, or as the great Arab historian Ibn Khaldun would have predicted, has it entered the irreversible downward spiral that is the fate of all great civilizations once they lose the social purpose and solidarity that helped make them great in the first place?
It is still too early to say for sure, but as of today it seems that the reins of history have surely passed out of America’s hands.
Imagine, people in Egypt sending pizzas of support to those in Wisconsin, it tugs at my waning sense of idealism…On a side note, if you have never read Ibn Khaldun, please take a look at some of his writings.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Moammar Gadhafi: Time to Step DownPosted: February 26, 2011 Filed under: A My Pet Goat Moment, Foreign Affairs, Libya | Tags: Angela Merkel, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton Moammar Gadhafi, Libya uprising, United Nations 18 Comments
It looks like President Obama finally gave Hillary the go ahead to say what she probably wanted to say several days ago. From the LA Times:
President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Saturday called on Moammar Kadafi to step down, reversing previous reticence by the U.S. leaders to directly urge the Libyan president to leave office.
In a statement, Clinton said Kadafi “has lost the confidence of his people and he should go without further bloodshed and violence,” and that the Libyan people deserved a government that “protects their universally recognized human rights.” The U.S. has always said that the future of Libya should be decided by its people, she said, and “they have made themselves clear.”
Meanwhile the White House released the contents of a phone call between Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.
In a phone call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Obama did not cite Kadafi by name, but said that the Libyan leader had lost his legitimacy. “The President stated that when a leader’s only means of staying in power is to use mass violence against his own people, he has lost the legitimacy to rule and needs to do what is right for his country by leaving now,” a White House statement said.
What is his problem with calling out Gadhafi by name anyway? Read Hillary’s full statement below the fold.
Read the rest of this entry »
Right off a CliffPosted: February 26, 2011 Filed under: abortion rights, Barack Obama, Civil Liberties, Civil Rights, collective bargaining, Corporate Crime, Democratic Politics, education, Environmental Protection, Federal Budget, Feminists, fundamentalist Christians, GLBT Rights, Human Rights, John Birch Society in Charge, Populism, Psychopaths in charge, Republican presidential politics, right wing hate grouups, Surreality, Team Obama, The Media SUCKS, the villagers, U.S. Politics, Voter Ignorance, We are so F'd | Tags: extremists, Republicans, Ron Brownstein, Scott Walker, States Rights 11 Comments
Where are mainstream Republicans these days? What has happened to the party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Eisenhower? Prior to the Reagan years, Republican women were front and center in volunteering for planned parenthood, supporting the ERA, and working for abortion rights. First Lady Betty Ford was a proud feminist and one of the first women to put women’s health issues–including women with drinking problems and breast cancer–on the map. President Richard Nixon was responsible for many of the agencies that protect the environment. The current party is chock-full of science denying Theocrats and economics-denying Corporate Fascists. It’s making a sham out of the two party system. We may now have a window open wide enough to stop some of this. We should ready ourselves with the facts and act now.
An online conversation has been initiated with the publication of Ron Brownstein’s article in the National Journal on Thursday called ‘State’s Rights’. It is front and center in starting a discussion among Democratic bloggers, journalists, and other liberal/progressive sympathizers. States rights was code for the right to own slaves during the first 100 years of this country’s existence. It is now code for the right to discriminate against the GLBT community, insert the government into an individual woman’s gynecological care, and bust unions. The racial overtones have not gone away since the worst of the hateful verbiage is aimed at stopping any policy goal attempted by President Obama.
Any one who has read me over the last few years knows that I am not a big fan of this President and I’m even less of a fan of his zealous followers. However, it would take a fairly dim bulb to not see the racism implicit in many of the Republican attacks against him. Attacks range from the extremely bizarre personal assertions that he is a secret Muslim, foreign born, and a devout socialist/communist to a complete rewrite of any policy initiative.
Obama is about as conservative of a Democrat as one can find these days which has been one of my issues with him all along. His actions and words have not stopped the endless attacks on absolutely everything he attempts by Republicans and their monied interests. These tactics were first used against former Democratic President Bill Clinton but have reached some kind of hyper-extortionate apex today. It’s to the point that I firmly believe some of these Republican extremists would rather take the country down with them than negotiate something other than an ideologically pure outcome. Brown’s article and examples focus on the current bloc of extremist Republican governors with their take no prisoners policies. While his focus is mostly on the impact on Obama, I believe his larger point should entice us to think bigger.
But one senior Obama administration official, who also had a close view of Clinton’s interaction with Republican governors, contends that ideology is trumping interest for the governors in many of these new disputes. Health care reform, for instance, asks states for no new financial contribution to expand coverage through 2016 and only relatively small participation thereafter; because 60 percent of the uninsured live in the states where a Republican holds the governorship, their residents would receive the most new federal aid if the law survives. “One had the sense in the mid-1990s that conservative governors were doing whatever was in the best interest of their state,” the senior official said. “This time, the Republican governors appear determined to make an ideological point, even if it costs their state a great deal.”
Whatever the governors’ motivations (one man’s posturing, after all, is another man’s principle), their unreserved enlistment into Washington’s wars marks a milestone. It creates a second line of defense for conservatives to contest Obama even after he wins battles in Congress. It tears another hole in the fraying conviction that state capitals are less partisan than Washington. And it creates a precedent that is likely to encourage more guerrilla warfare between Democratic governors and a future Republican president.
American politics increasingly resembles a kind of total war in which each party mobilizes every conceivable asset at its disposal against the other. Most governors were once conscientious objectors in that struggle. No more.
I can remember attending Republican conventions in the early 1980s during the first hint of the unholy alliance between religious fanatics along the line of a Christian Taliban with the John Birch Society version of libertarians. It was a terrifying spectacle. At the time, the more pro-business and hoity-toity conservative elements in the party were willing to use them like pet pit bulls because they were incredibly organized at the grass roots level and they voted. Republicans traditionally had a much more difficult time turning out voters and their GOTV machines were dwarfed by the Democrats who could rely on well organized and managed union membership. This is one of the reasons why there is also the huge attack on the last standing unions now. They’re worth a fortune come election time and no Republican campaign strategist worth anything underestimates them. We can clearly no longer underestimate the religious zealots or those gullible to the rants of Glenn Beck. They’ve become a contagion.
Back in the day, the young me argued that this form of big daddy government intervention put forth by religionists and Birchers was basically enabling powerful business monopolies and drop kicking the constitutional mandate to deny the establishing of a state religion. It was against the very core ideology of historical Republicanism. I got no where. This was especially true as Nixon’s southern strategy began to work its evil influence on bringing in the remaining racist elements of the old Dixiecrats who frankly were all for the government taking care of any one that wasn’t like them. This added the last nail in the traditional coffin of the party of Lincoln. That sin is now manifesting in the xenophobia against Muslims and Hispanics in addition to African Americans topped by the anti-science bias from the religionists and the pro-monopoly market creation from the corporatists.
It appears that many old school Republicans now see the results of opening this Pandora’s box. They are horrified and have been trying to stuff the demons back into the chest. Now, you see those same folks that opened their kennels filled with poodles to the pit bulls are now acting absolutely appalled by the rising influence of absolutely whacked extremists like Glenn Beck. Scarborough, Rove, and Kristol are currently trying to put the Beckheads back into the box. Those of us that don’t vote Republican could afford to ignore this if it were just some intraparty feud. It’s gone beyond that with the rise of tea party hysterics and billionaire libertarian Daddy Warbucks’ propaganda machines. In many states, the Republican party infrastructure has been commandeered by the pit bulls. The poodles–like Arianna Huffington and Markos–have long left their confines. They are morphing traditional Democratic Party concerns. The same divisive issues that used to motivate the base to do the GOTV and show up at the polls has managed to bring this new crop of Republican governors and congressional members to a critical mass. They refuse any middle or even right of middle ground. They won’t negotiate on the usual country club Republican issues. It’s no longer a GOTV ploy for them because they are true believers.
Steven Benen explores this quandry in his blog at WAPO today.
Keep in mind, it’s ideology, not practical concerns, that lie at the heart of these governors’ reactionary moves. The states turning down investments for high-speed rail, for example, were effectively handed a gift — jobs, economic development, improved infrastructure — but Republicans like Rick Scott and Scott Walker turned down the benefits because of a philosophical opposition, deliberately hurting their state in the process. The administration was effectively throwing a life-preserver to a Republican who’s drowning, only to be told, “We don’t like government life-preservers.”
The same is true of health care, which would be a boon to states, but which far-right governors resist for reasons that have nothing to do with public policy.
Bill Clinton faced a watered-down version of these Republican pit bulls over a decade ago. Dealing with them is how he got his reputation for triangulation. He seemed uniquely placed to make some small progress then–that now seems impossible now–because of his past position as a southern governor with a decidedly homespun and folksy manner. President Obama has none of this going for him. He is surrounded by Businesscrats that are unlikely to fill the void. The only thing he’s managed to do is to gain the ear of the Chamber of Commerce types. These folks are hardly going to be sympathetic to social justice or middle class bread-and-butter issues. Additionally, right wing media sources and timid main stream media sources are playing into the hands of the outrageous. We have media enablers instead of investigative journalists.
That is why it is absolutely essential that whatever is left of the Democratic grassroots need to make one extremely loud noise right now. It is unconscionable that a rewrite of history, science, and economic is taking place while many of us are simply standing around with gaping mouths. I’ve spoken many times about the absolute lack of economics that is driving austerity programs. It’s already showing signs of slowing economic growth down at a time when unemployment is unacceptably high. This is only going to multiply as the days and months unfold. Ask yourself if we can really afford another recession?
I was also disheartened to read that science is not fairing well either. Scientific American has a thought provoking piece up on the overwhelming science behind global warming and climate change.Their title should be rhetorical but it is not: ‘Why Are Americans So Ill-Informed about Climate Change?’
Near the forum’s conclusion, Massachusetts Institute of Technology climate scientist Kerry Emanuel asked a panel of journalists why the media continues to cover anthropogenic climate change as a controversy or debate, when in fact it is a consensus among such organizations as the American Geophysical Union, American Institute of Physics, American Chemical Society, American Meteorological Association and the National Research Council, along with the national academies of more than two dozen countries.
“You haven’t persuaded the public,” replied Elizabeth Shogren of National Public Radio. Emanuel immediately countered, smiling and pointing at Shogren, “No, you haven’t.” Scattered applause followed in the audience of mostly scientists, with one heckler saying, “That’s right. Kerry said it.”
Such a tone of searching bewilderment typified a handful of sessions that dealt with the struggle to motivate Americans on the topic of climate change. Only 35 percent of Americans see climate change as a serious problem, according to a 2009 poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.
It’s a given that an organized and well-funded campaign has led efforts to confuse the public regarding the consensus around anthropogenic climate change.
These extremists are even rewriting the already right wing Ronald Reagan’s legacy to make it seem more extreme to support the legitimacy of their radical agendas. Here’s an example I found this morning on ThinkProgress on Reagan’s views on unions. Scott Walker’s fantasy world includes his vision of being Reagan’s heir. Yet, here is Reagan himself on the union movement in Poland during one of his radio addresses to the nation.
REAGAN: Ever since martial law was brutally imposed last December, Polish authorities have been assuring the world that they’re interested in a genuine reconciliation with the Polish people. But the Polish regime’s action yesterday reveals the hollowness of its promises. By outlawing Solidarity, a free trade organization to which an overwhelming majority of Polish workers and farmers belong, they have made it clear that they never had any intention of restoring one of the most elemental human rights—the right to belong to a free trade union.
The one thing that I learned early on when dealing with these people from within the Republican party itself in the pre-Reagan and early Reagan days is that they believe their courses are so righteous that they will lie and do anything to support them. If we do not hold their actions and lies to the light of day, our country will be completely overrun by by folks that are anti-science, anti-economics, anti-rational thought, and anti-democracy. We’ll have a theocratic plutocracy in fairly short order.
It is absolutely imperative that we put pressure on the media and Democratic politicians to fact check these people, stand up to them, and expose their lies to the public. It is possible that we’ve caught a tipping point in their overreach process. If this is the case, it means we have to work with the momentum now. Nothing short of our democracy and our children’s future is at stake here. We cannot be complacent and we cannot be left with mouths wide opened. We also cannot rely on leadership from the very top. If you’re in one of those states that is acting up, act now!!! Find and support your version of the Wisconsin 14.
Saturday Sequel: Solidarity from across These United StatesPosted: February 26, 2011 Filed under: morning reads | Tags: 50 state solidarity, collective bargaining, FDR, Frances Perkins, GOP hearts Coolidge, jazz, Mother Jones, Obama Hearts Reagan, public workers, rightwing canards, sisterhood 41 Comments
Good morning, news junkies!
Last Saturday, I rounded up some headlines state-by-state, in solidarity. Well, it’s time to supersize: This Saturday is set for a 50-State Solidarity March. MoveOn.org has organized gatherings, dubbed “Rally to Save the American Dream,” in front of every statehouse and in every major city, at noon local time today, to stand in solidarity with the workers of Wisconsin.
I don’t know about you, but a 50-state solidarity has my attention in a way that Dr. Dean’s 50-state strategy–to court “socially conservative economic moderates”–never did.
I’m not the biggest fan of MoveOn, given their timidity in the age of Obama, but if today’s rallies are the start of a concerted effort by everyone involved to–as Krugman and Wells put it at the start of the year–“delink their political fate from Obama,” then more power to ’em.
Okay, so let me get started with my offerings to go with your morning brew.
New Deal 2.0’s Lynn Parramore put out a great read this week about Coolidge, Reagan, and Governor Walker, in response to the revisionist anti-union propaganda being promulgated by Amity Shlaes and other rightwing hacks.
Shlaes’ narrative is a hoot. According to this rightwing propaganda, Coolidge put himself on the national map by crushing unions and firing striking police officers in Massachusetts, which turned him into a hero and real man of the people. Soon enough Coolidge becomes Harding’s VP (Shlaes says that like it’s a good thing!) and then president himself. Union membership went down, and so did joblessness… apparently the birds started singing, the sun was shining…as Parramore quips, the way Shlaes tells it, it was “Morning in America” again. Thus, the code words “Boston Police” cemented the American principle that union causes do not trump others.
Are these people insane?
The money quote from Parramore’s response to Shlaes:
Coolidge got to the White House for crushing unions, where he slept ten hours a day and hopped on and off a mechanical horse in his underpants and a cowboy hat.
Here’s what America got: the Great Depression.
Between Shlaes and Glenn Beckistan, I wonder how much more warped the conservative reading of history is going to get. I’m sure it can *get* much worse, since there is no depth they won’t sink to (for the latest proof on that, see the Nebraska bill that would effectively legalize murder of abortion providers).
Still, it’s hard to imagine *how* their reading can get much worse. Harding and Coolidge were horrible presidents, remembered for corruption and corporate cronyism. The Harding and Coolidge “prosperity” of the roaring twenties existed side-by-side with quiet desperation, evidenced by the growing phenomenon of Hoovervilles. Is this really the history the right wanted to remind us of while we watch the current-day battle over unions play out? If the Republican overreach to annihilate public worker unions is astonishing, the conservative attempts to brand this move as Coolidgesque are utterly inexplicable.
(Then again, we live in an era where creative class progressives–the operative word there being creative–think Obama, an ostensibly Democratic president, being Reagan’s true heir is something to brag about. I’m reminded here too of the Heritage Foundation’s newfound interest in heeding the admonitions of FDR. We live in topsy-turvy times. But, more on that later.)
Parramore goes on to say:
Intuiting correctly that the public may not be on their side in this battle, conservatives have relentlessly pushed the deceptive idea that public employees enjoy higher salaries and better benefits than their private-sector counterparts. But this has been widely debunked. Careful research has shown that when you adjust for skill levels, public sector workers are not overpaid relative to private sector pay scales.
It’s the age old scapegoat story of the Little Guy falling for the lie that everything is the fault of the even Littler Guy, while the Too Big to Fails laugh all the way to the bank.
More from Parramore:
Governor Walker says he’s fighting for ordinary Americans. So why does he want to require unions to re-certify every year, but we don’t hear a peep about corporations being required to renew their charters every year? Why does he want to control the salaries of public employees, but doesn’t have any interest in controlling the salaries of grossly overcompensated corporate CEOs? Why does he call for sacrifices from hard-working people who have been screwed by the economy through no fault of their own, and none from the financiers who caused the crisis?
Maybe it’s because he has quite a bit in common with Coolidge and Reagan after all. In Reagan’s case, as in Coolidge’s, union-busting led to some of the biggest peacetime income re-distributions in modern history. Democracy got weaker, oligopolies got stronger, the rich got richer, and the rest of us got left behind.
I was born a couple months after Reagan took office, so all I’ve ever seen is “democracy getting weaker, oligopolies growing stronger, the rich getting richer, and the rest of us getting left behind.”
Except, of course, for that dreadful “pause” called the “Clinton nineties.” I so much prefer Obama’s rewinding back to Reagan over that icky pausing thing. Thanks for that,
creative clueless class!
But, I digress. Parramore concludes:
The real lesson from Coolidge and Reagan is this: If Governor Walker and his Republican friends are allowed to crush the public unions, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
My takeaway from all of this is if Republicans want to follow in the footsteps of Coolidge and the Democrats want to follow in the footsteps of Reagan, perhaps we should all just call our efforts to secure all these human ‘luxuries’ we’ve been fighting for (i.e. jobs, food, shelter, education, healthcare, collective bargaining, etc.) a real nice try, declare it’s time for an “orderly transition,” and get in line at our local soup kitchens. Why prolong the inevitable. We need to do this as orderly as possible so we can ensure maximum “stability” for the too-big-to-fails!
Sorry to get so sardonic on a solidarity Saturday, but this is what we’re up against. We’re only to listen to FDR when it’s to crush unions, and both wings (D and R) of our Corporate party are chasing the corporate welfare ghosts of Coolidge and Reagan. It’s a good thing the Oscars are tomorrow, because bread and circuses is all we have left.
Anyhow, be sure to read the rest of Parramore’s piece when you get a chance. It’s a meaty and satisfying read.
There’s more, so go get your morning cuppa refilled, and then click to continue.
Guarded Responses vs LeadershipPosted: February 25, 2011 Filed under: A My Pet Goat Moment, Barack Obama, collective bargaining, Egypt, Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Libya, Surreality, Team Obama, U.S. Politics | Tags: US Response to Egytian Protests, US response to Libya, US Response to Supression of Collective Bargaining rights 27 Comments
I’ve got an on again off again relationship with Christopher Hitchens’ writings. It frequently depends on the topic and frankly, how much he’s probably been drinking at that time. He’s arrogant, curmudgeonly, erudite, and smug but always interesting to read. Here’s something to chew on from his latest at Salon called ‘Is Barrack Obama Secretly Swiss?” on the President’s overly guarded response to the recent Arab uprisings.
This is not merely a matter of the synchronizing of announcements. The Obama administration also behaves as if the weight of the United States in world affairs is approximately the same as that of Switzerland. We await developments. We urge caution, even restraint. We hope for the formation of an international consensus. And, just as there is something despicable about the way in which Swiss bankers change horses, so there is something contemptible about the way in which Washington has been affecting—and perhaps helping to bring about—American impotence. Except that, whereas at least the Swiss have the excuse of cynicism, American policy manages to be both cynical and naive.
This has been especially evident in the case of Libya. For weeks, the administration dithered over Egypt and calibrated its actions to the lowest and slowest common denominators, on the grounds that it was difficult to deal with a rancid old friend and ally who had outlived his usefulness. But then it became the turn of Muammar Qaddafi—an all-round stinking nuisance and moreover a long-term enemy—and the dithering began all over again. Until Wednesday Feb. 23, when the president made a few anodyne remarks that condemned “violence” in general but failed to cite Qaddafi in particular—every important statesman and stateswoman in the world had been heard from, with the exception of Obama. And his silence was hardly worth breaking. Echoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who had managed a few words of her own, he stressed only that the need was for a unanimous international opinion, as if in the absence of complete unity nothing could be done, or even attempted. This would hand an automatic veto to any of Qaddafi’s remaining allies. It also underscored the impression that the opinion of the United States was no more worth hearing than that of, say, Switzerland. Secretary Clinton was then dispatched to no other destination than Geneva, where she will meet with the U.N. Human Rights Council—an absurd body that is already hopelessly tainted with Qaddafi’s membership.
I have to admit that I’ve had my own concerns about our tepid national response to the incredible thuggish brutality going on in Libya. First, there’s the news that helicopters were shooting at citizens in the streets. Then, there were the executions of Libyan soldiers who refused to follow the orders to shoot at citizens. Finally, there’s the news of mercenaries paid sums to commit violence on whoever they find in the streets. How much does it take for one to come out and say this is just plain evil and should stop now or else?
Obama’s made one tepid statement on Libya as well as one tepid statement on events at home that concern the stripping of collective bargaining rights from US workers. Both should be low hanging fruit for any Democratic politician. Libya murdered all those Syracuse students in the Lockerbie bombing. Unions fund and work tirelessly for their Democratic candidates including this President. Obama’s sure coming up short on words these days for a man with legendary status as a speech giver and TV personality. His new press secretary Jay Carney appears to be a Milquetoast spokesmodel also whose bland nonresponse responses must reflect the dithering at the top.
Okay, well, back to Hitchens for the strong words …
Evidently a little sensitive to the related charges of being a) taken yet again completely by surprise, b) apparently without a policy of its own, and c) morally neuter, the Obama administration contrived to come up with an argument that maximized every form of feebleness. Were we to have taken a more robust or discernible position, it was argued, our diplomatic staff in Libya might have been endangered. In other words, we decided to behave as if they were already hostages! The governments of much less powerful nations, many with large expatriate populations as well as embassies in Libya, had already condemned Qaddafi’s criminal behavior, and the European Union had considered sanctions, but the United States (which didn’t even charter a boat for the removal of staff until Tuesday) felt obliged to act as if it were the colonel’s unwilling prisoner. I can’t immediately think of any precedent for this pathetic “doctrine,” but I can easily see what a useful precedent it sets for any future rogue regime attempting to buy time. Leave us alone—don’t even raise your voice against us—or we cannot guarantee the security of your embassy. (It wouldn’t be too soon, even now, for the NATO alliance to make it plain to Qaddafi that if he even tried such a thing, he would lose his throne, and his ramshackle armed forces, and perhaps his worthless life, all in the course of one afternoon.)
I’ve always thought Hitchens to be a war monger. His foreign policy diatribes are usually way over the top for my taste but I have to admit that this particular opinion piece is spot on. If we can’t use our position as the world’s superpower to at least publicly condemn these kinds of atrocities, what good are we? There has to be more to do here than just wait around until the tide shows some sign of turning. I’m not suggesting we invade Tripoli but some kind of sign of moral comprehension of the situation–even if it’s just a toughly worded condemnation–would certainly create a signal that the US will not stand around silent while some crazed dictator slaughters his people. Right now, it just seems like the U.S. is just going to sit on its thumbs and watch the slaughter. White House responses to Egypt, Libya, and the suppression of labor in the U.S. feel like a series of “The Pet Goat” reading moments. How guarded of a response do you have to make to thugs?
update: Obama slaps sanctions on Libyan government
U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday imposed sanctions on Libya’s government for its violent repression of a popular uprising, signing an executive order blocking property and transactions related to the country.
#Obama signs executive order blocking property and prohibiting transactions related to #Libya