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Naomi Klein on Obama's emerging love affair with "free" markets


Paul Rigby
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Let's hope not, but I suspect the lady's on to something. Read on:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/20...uselections2008

Naomi Klein, “Beware the Chicago boys: Obama’s vow of love for free markets gives reason to fear a replay of Bill Clinton’s 1993 U-turn,” The Guardian, 14 June 2008, p.36:

Barack Obama waited just three days after Hillary Clinton pulled out of the race to declare, on CNBC: "Look. I am a pro-growth, free-market guy. I love the market." Demonstrating that this is no mere spring fling, he has appointed the 37-year-old Jason Furman, one of Wal-Mart's most prominent defenders, to head his economic team. On the campaign trail, Obama blasted Clinton for sitting on the Wal-Mart board and pledged: "I won't shop there." For Furman, however, Wal-Mart's critics are the real threat: the "efforts to get Wal-Mart to raise its wages and benefits" are creating "collateral damage" that is "way too enormous and damaging to working people and the economy ... for me to sit by idly and sing Kum Ba Ya in the interests of progressive harmony".

Obama's love of markets and his desire for "change" are not inherently incompatible. "The market has gotten out of balance," he says, and it most certainly has. Many trace this profound imbalance to the ideas of Milton Friedman, who launched a counter-revolution against the New Deal from his perch at the University of Chicago. And here there are more problems, because Obama - who taught law at Chicago for a decade - is embedded in the mindset known as the Chicago School.

Obama chose as his chief economic adviser Austan Goolsbee, a University of Chicago economist on the left side of a spectrum that stops at the centre-right. Goolsbee, unlike his Friedmanite colleagues, sees inequality as a problem. His primary solution, however, is more education - a line you can also get from Alan Greenspan. Goolsbee has been eager to link Obama to the Chicago School. "The guy's got a healthy respect for markets," he told Chicago magazine. "It's in the ethos of the [university of Chicago], which is something different from saying he is laissez faire."

Another of Obama's Chicago fans is the 39-year-old billionaire Kenneth Griffin, the CEO of the hedge fund Citadel. Griffin, who gave the maximum allowable donation to Obama, is a poster boy for an unbalanced economy. He got married at Versailles, and is one of the staunchest opponents of closing the hedge-fund tax loophole.

While Obama talks about toughening trade rules with China, Griffin has been bending the few barriers that do exist. Despite sanctions prohibiting the sale of police equipment, Citadel has been pouring money into controversial China-based security companies that are putting the local population under unprecedented levels of surveillance.

Now is the time to worry about Obama's Chicago Boys and their commitment to fending off regulation. It was in the two-and-a-half months between winning the 1992 election and being sworn into office in 1993 that Bill Clinton did a U-turn on the economy. He had promised to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement, adding labour and environmental provisions - but two weeks before his inauguration, the then Goldman Sachs chief, Robert Rubin, convinced him of the urgency of embracing liberalisation.

Furman, a Rubin disciple, was chosen to head the Brookings Institution's Hamilton Project, the thinktank Rubin helped found to argue for the free trade agenda. Add to that Goolsbee's February meeting with Canadian officials, who got the impression that they should not take Obama's anti-Nafta campaigning seriously, and there is every reason for concern about a replay of 1993.

The irony is that there is absolutely no reason for this backsliding. The movement launched by Friedman, introduced by Ronald Reagan and entrenched under Clinton faces a legitimacy crisis around the world - nowhere more evident than at the University of Chicago itself. In May, when the university president Robert Zimmer announced the creation of a $200m Milton Friedman Institute, more than 100 faculty members signed a letter of protest. "The effects of the neoliberal global order ... strongly buttressed by the Chicago School of Economics, have by no means been unequivocally positive," the letter states. "Many would argue that they have been negative for much of the world's population."

When Friedman died in 2006, the memorials spoke only of grand achievement, with one of the more prominent appreciations, in the New York Times, written by Goolsbee. Yet now, just two years later, Friedman's name is seen as a liability even at his own alma mater. So why has Obama chosen this moment, when all illusions of a consensus have dropped away, to go Chicago retro?

The news is not all bad. Furman claims he will be drawing on the expertise of two Keynesian economists: Jared Bernstein, of the Economic Policy Institute, and James Galbraith, son of Friedman's nemesis, John Kenneth Galbraith. Our "current economic crisis", Obama recently said, is "the logical conclusion of a tired and misguided philosophy that has dominated Washington for far too long".

True enough. But before Obama can purge Washington of the scourge of Friedmanism, he has some ideological house cleaning of his own to do.

NB: A longer version of this article appears in the Nation (www.thenation.com) www.naomiklein.org

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I am sad to report the following....the Barack Obama’s campaign has apologized to two Muslim women who were barred from sitting behind Obama during his rally on Monday in Detroit. Obama campaign volunteers prevented Hebba Aref and Shimaa Abdelfadeel from sitting behind the podium because they were wearing traditional Muslim headscarves. A campaign volunteer told one of the women that because of the political climate it was not good for her to be seen on television or associated with Obama.

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9360

Obama and AIPAC

by Stephen Zunes

Global Research, June 17, 2008

Huffington Post - 2008-06-12

In many respects, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama has played right into the hands of cynics who have long doubted his promises to create a new and more progressive role for the United States in the world. The very morning after the last primaries, in which he finally received a sufficient number of pledged delegates to secure the Democratic presidential nomination and no longer needed to win over voters from the progressive base of his own party, Obama -- in a Clinton-style effort at triangulation -- gave a major policy speech before the national convention of the America-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Embracing policies which largely backed those of the more hawkish voices concerned with Middle Eastern affairs, he received a standing ovation for his efforts.

His June 3 speech in Washington in many ways constituted a slap in the face of the grass roots peace and human rights activists who have brought him to the cusp of the Democratic presidential nomination.

In other respects, however, he pandered less to this influential lobbying group than many other serious aspirants for national office have historically. And at least part of his speech focused on convincing the largely right-wing audience members to support his positions rather than simply underscoring his agreement with them.

Much of the media attention placed upon his speech centered on the ongoing debate between him and incipient Republican presidential nominee John McCain on Iran. While embracing many of the same double-standards regarding nuclear nonproliferation issues and UN resolutions as does the Bush administration and congressional leaders of both parties, Obama did insert some rationality into the debate regarding the need for negotiations with that regional power rather than maintaining the current U.S. policy of diplomatic isolation and threats of war.

When it came to Israel and Palestine, however, Obama appeared to largely embrace a right-wing perspective which appeared to place all the blame for the ongoing violence and the impasse in the peace process on the Palestinians under occupation rather than the Israelis who are still occupying and colonizing the parts of their country seized by the Israeli army more than 40 years ago.

Progressive Israeli Reactions While there were some faint glimmers of hope in Obama's speech for those of us who support Israeli-Palestinian peace, progressive voices in Israel were particularly disappointed.

Israeli analyst Uri Avneri, in an essay entitled "No, I Can't!", expressed the bitterness of many Israeli peace activists for "a speech that broke all records for obsequiousness and fawning." Avneri goes on to observe the irony of how Obama's:

"dizzying success in the primaries was entirely due to his promise to bring about a change, to put an end to the rotten practices of Washington and to replace the old cynics with a young, brave person who does not compromise his principles. And lo and behold, the very first thing he does after securing the nomination of his party is to compromise his principles."

Avneri addressed the view of many Israelis that "Obama's declarations at the AIPAC conference are very, very bad for peace. And what is bad for peace is bad for Israel, bad for the world and bad for the Palestinian people."

Support for Further Militarization In his speech, Obama rejected the view that the Middle East already has too many armaments and dismissed pleas by human rights activists that U.S. aid to Israel -- like all countries -- should be made conditional on adherence to international humanitarian law. Indeed, he further pledged an additional $30 billion of taxpayer-funded military aid to the Israeli government and its occupation forces over the next decade with no strings attached. Rather than accept that strategic parity between potential antagonists is the best way, short of a full peace agreement, to prevent war and to maintain regional security, Obama instead insisted that the United States should enable Israel to maintain its "qualitative military edge."

Over the past three years, the ratio of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip killed by Israeli forces relative to the number of Israeli civilians in Israel killed by Palestinians is approximately 50 to one and has been even higher more recently. However, Obama chose only to mention the Israeli deaths and condemn Hamas, whose armed wing has been responsible for most of the Israeli casualties, and not a word about the moral culpability of the Israeli government, which Amnesty International and other human rights groups have roundly criticized for launching air strikes into Gaza's densely crowded refugee camps and related tactics.

Since first running for the U.S. Senate, Obama has routinely condemned Arab attacks against Israeli civilians but has never condemned attacks against Arab civilians by Israelis. This apparent insistence that the lives of Palestinian and Lebanese civilian are somehow less worthy of attention than the lives of Israeli civilians have led to charges of racism on the part of Obama.

Despite his openness to talk with those governing Iran and North Korea, Obama emphasized his opposition to talking to those governing the Gaza Strip, even though Hamas won a majority in the Palestinian parliament in what was universally acknowledged as a free election. Though a public opinion poll published in the leading Israeli newspaper Haaretz showed that 64% of the Israeli population support direct negotiations between Israel and Hamas (while only 28% expressed opposition), Obama has chosen to side with the right-wing minority in opposing any such talks.

Furthermore, Obama insists that Hamas should have never been even allowed to participate in the Palestinian elections in the first place because of their extremist views, which fail to recognize Israel and acts of terrorism by its armed wing. Yet he has never objected to the Israelis allowing parties such as National Union -- which defends attacks on Arab civilians and seeks to destroy any Palestinian national entity, and expel its Arab population -- to participate in elections or hold high positions in government.

He insisted that Hamas uphold previous agreements by the Fatah-led Palestine Authority with Israel, but did not insist that Israel uphold its previous agreements with the Palestine Authority, such as withdrawing from lands re-occupied in 2001 in violation of U.S.-guaranteed disengagement agreements.

In reference to Obama's speech, the anchor to Israel's Channel 2 News exclaimed that it was "reminiscent of the days of Menachem Begin's Likud" referring to the far right-wing Israeli party and its founder, a notorious terrorist from the 1940s who later became prime minister. By contrast, back in February, while still seeking liberal Democratic votes in the primaries, Obama had explicitly rejected the view which, in his words, identifies being pro-Israel with "adopting an unwaveringly pro-Likud view of Israel." Now that he has secured the nomination, however, he has appeared to have changed his tune.

Endorsing Israel's Annexation of Jerusalem Most disturbing was Obama's apparent support for Israel's illegal annexation of greater East Jerusalem, the Palestinian-populated sector of the city and surrounding villages that Israel seized along with the rest of the West Bank in June 1967.

The UN Security Council passed a series of resolutions (252, 267, 271, 298, 476 and 478) calling on Israel to rescind its annexation of greater East Jerusalem and to refrain from any unilateral action regarding its final status. Furthermore, due to the city's unresolved legal status dating from the 1948-49 Israeli war on independence, the international community refuses to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, with the United States and other governments maintaining their respective embassies in Tel Aviv.

Despite these longstanding internationally-recognized legal principles, Obama insisted in his speech before AIPAC that "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided."

Given the city's significance to both populations, any sustainable peace agreement would need to recognize Jerusalem as the capital city for both Israel and Palestine. In addition to its religious significance for both Palestinian Christians and Palestinian Muslims, Jerusalem has long been the most important cultural, commercial, political, and educational center for Palestinians and has the largest Palestinian population of any city in the world. Furthermore, Israel's annexation of greater East Jerusalem and its planned annexation of surrounding settlement blocs would make a contiguous and economically viable Palestinian state impossible. Such a position, therefore, would necessarily preclude any peace agreement. This raises serious questions as to whether Obama really does support Israeli-Palestinian peace after all.

According to Uri Avneri, Obama's "declaration about Jerusalem breaks all bounds. It is no exaggeration to call it scandalous." Furthermore, says this prominent observer of Israeli politics, every Israeli government in recent years has recognized that calls for an undivided Jerusalem

"constitutes an insurmountable obstacle to any peace process. It has disappeared -- quietly, almost secretly -- from the arsenal of official slogans. Only the Israeli (and American-Jewish) Right sticks to it, and for the same reason: to smother at birth any chance for a peace that would necessitate the dismantling of the settlements."

Obama argued in his speech that the United States should not "force concessions" on Israel, such as rescinding its annexation of Jerusalem, despite the series of UN Security Council resolutions explicitly calling on Israel do to so. While Obama insists that Iran, Syria, and other countries that reject U.S. hegemonic designs in the region should be forced to comply with UN Security Council resolutions, he apparently believes allied governments such as Israel are exempt.

Also disturbing about his statement was a willingness to "force concessions" on the Palestinians by pre-determining the outcome of one of the most sensitive issues in the negotiations. If, as widely interpreted, Obama was recognizing Israel's illegal annexation of greater East Jerusalem, it appears that the incipient Democratic nominee -- like the Bush administration -- has shown contempt for the most basic premises of international law, which forbids any country from expanding its borders by force.

However, the Jerusalem Post reported that the Obama campaign, in an attempt to clarify his controversial statement, implied that the presumed Democratic presidential nominee was not actually ruling out Palestinian sovereignty over parts of Jerusalem and that "undivided" simply meant that "it's not going to be divided by barbed wire and checkpoints as it was in 1948-1967." The campaign also replied to the outcry from his speech by declaring that "Jerusalem is a final status issue, which means it has to be negotiated between the two parties' as part of "an agreement that they both can live with." This implies that Obama's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel does not necessarily preclude its Arab-populated eastern half becoming the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Israel, however, has shown little willingness to withdraw its administration and occupation forces from greater East Jerusalem voluntarily. Obama's apparent reluctance to pressure Israel to do so makes it hard to imagine that he is really interested in securing a lasting peace agreement.

It Could Have Been Worse

Perhaps, as his campaign claims, Obama was not rejecting the idea of a shared co-capital of Jerusalem. And perhaps his emphasis on Israeli suffering relative to Palestinian suffering was simply a reflection of the sympathies of the audience he was addressing and was not indicative of anti-Arab racism. If so, the speech could have been a lot worse.

Indeed, Obama's emphasis on peace, dialogue, and diplomacy is not what the decidedly militaristic audience at AIPAC normally hears from politicians who address them.

Obama did mention, albeit rather hurriedly, a single line about Israeli obligations, stating that Israel could "advance the cause of peace" by taking steps to "ease the freedom of Palestinians, improve economic conditions" and "refrain from building settlements." This is more than either Hillary Clinton or John McCain was willing to say in their talks before the AIPAC convention. And, unlike the Bush administration, which last year successfully pressured Israel not to resume peace negotiations with Syria, Obama declared that his administration would never "block negotiations when Israel's leaders decide that they may serve Israeli interests."

Furthermore, earlier in his career, Obama took a more balanced perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, aligning himself with positions embraced by the Israeli peace camp and its American supporters. For example, during his unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000, Obama criticized the Clinton administration for its unconditional support for the occupation and other Israeli policies and called for an even-handed approach to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. He referred to the "cycle of violence" between Israelis and Palestinians, whereas most Democrats were insisting that it was a case of "Palestinian violence and the Israeli response." He also made statements supporting a peace settlement along the lines of the 2003 Geneva Initiative and similar efforts by Israeli and Palestinian moderates.

Unlike any other major contenders for president this year or the past four election cycles, Obama at least has demonstrated in the recent past a more moderate and balanced perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As president, he may well be better than his AIPAC speech would indicate. Though the power of the "Israel Lobby" is often greatly exaggerated, it may be quite reasonable to suspect that pressure from well-funded right-wing American Zionist constituencies has influenced what Obama believes he can and cannot say. As an African-American whose father came from a Muslim family, he is under even more pressure than most candidates to avoid being labeled as "anti-Israel."

Ironically, a strong case can be made that the right-wing militaristic policies he may feel forced to defend actually harm Israel's legitimate long-term security interests.

A Political Necessity?

If indeed Obama took these hard-line positions during his AIPAC speech in order to seem more electable, it may be a serious mistake. Most liberal Democrats who gave blind support to the Israeli government in the 1960s and 1970s now have a far more even-handed view of the conflict, recognizing both Israeli and Palestinian rights and responsibilities. In addition, voters under 40 tend to take a far more critical view of unconditional U.S. support for Israeli policies than those of older generations. There is a clear generational shift among American Jews as well, with younger Jewish voters -- although firmly supporting Israel's right to exist in peace and security -- largely opposing unconditional U.S. support for the occupation and colonization of Arab lands. The only major voting group that supports positions espoused by AIPAC are right-wing Christian fundamentalists, who tend to vote Republican anyway.

Furthermore, Obama has been far more dependent on large numbers of small donors from his grassroots base and less on the handful of wealthy donors affiliated with such special interest groups as AIPAC. This speech may have cost him large numbers of these smaller, progressive donors without gaining him much from the small numbers of larger, more conservative donors.

Indeed, there may not be a single policy issue where Obama's liberal base differs from the candidate more than on Israel/Palestine. Not surprisingly, the Green Party and its likely nominee, former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, along with independent candidate Ralph Nader, are both using this issue to gain support at the expense of Obama.

Only hours after his AIPAC speech, the Nader campaign sent out a strongly worded letter noting how, unlike Obama and McCain, Nader supports the Israeli and Palestinian peace movements and would change U.S. Middle East policy. The widely-circulated response to the speech makes the case that, in contrast to Obama, "Nader/Gonzalez stands on these issues with the majority of Israelis, Palestinians, Jewish-Americans and Arab Americans."

Betraying the Jewish Community

Through a combination of deep-seated fear from centuries of anti-Semitic repression, manipulation by the United States and other Western powers, and self-serving actions by some of their own leaders, a right-wing minority of American Jews support influential organizations such as AIPAC to advocate militaristic policies that, while particularly tragic for the Palestinians and Lebanese, are ultimately bad for the United States and Israel as well. Obama's June 3 speech would have been the perfect time for Obama, while upholding his commitment to Israel's right to exist in peace and security, to challenge AIPAC's militarism and national chauvinism more directly. Unfortunately, while showing some independence of thought on Iran, he apparently felt the Palestinians were not as important

Taking a pro-Israel but anti-occupation position would have demonstrated that Obama was not just another pandering politician and that he recognized that a country's legitimate security needs were not enhanced by invasion, occupation, colonization and repression

"That truly would have been "change you can believe in."

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I am sad to report the following....the Barack Obama’s campaign has apologized to two Muslim women who were barred from sitting behind Obama during his rally on Monday in Detroit. Obama campaign volunteers prevented Hebba Aref and Shimaa Abdelfadeel from sitting behind the podium because they were wearing traditional Muslim headscarves. A campaign volunteer told one of the women that because of the political climate it was not good for her to be seen on television or associated with Obama.

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9338

In The Great Tradition: Obama Is A Hawk

by John Pilger

Global Research, June 15, 2008

New Statesman

John Pilger reaches back into the history of the Democratic Party and describes the tradition of war-making and expansionism that Barack Obama has now left little doubt he will honour.

In 1941, the editor Edward Dowling wrote: "The two greatest obstacles to democracy in the United States are, first, the widespread delusion among the poor that we have a democracy, and second, the chronic terror among the rich, lest we get it." What has changed? The terror of the rich is greater than ever, and the poor have passed on their delusion to those who believe that when George W Bush finally steps down next January, his numerous threats to the rest of humanity will diminish.

The foregone nomination of Barack Obama, which, according to one breathless commentator, "marks a truly exciting and historic moment in US history", is a product of the new delusion. Actually, it just seems new. Truly exciting and historic moments have been fabricated around US presidential campaigns for as long as I can recall, generating what can only be described as bullxxxx on a grand scale. Race, gender, appearance, body language, rictal spouses and offspring, even bursts of tragic grandeur, are all subsumed by marketing and "image-making", now magnified by "virtual" technology. Thanks to an undemocratic electoral college system (or, in Bush's case, tampered voting machines) only those who both control and obey the system can win. This has been the case since the truly historic and exciting victory of Harry Truman, the liberal Democrat said to be a humble man of the people, who went on to show how tough he was by obliterating two cities with the atomic bomb.

Understanding Obama as a likely president of the United States is not possible without understanding the demands of an essentially unchanged system of power: in effect a great media game. For example, since I compared Obama with Robert Kennedy in these pages, he has made two important statements, the implications of which have not been allowed to intrude on the celebrations. The first was at the conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac), the Zionist lobby, which, as Ian Williams has pointed out, "will get you accused of anti-Semitism if you quote its own website about its power". Obama had already offered his genuflection, but on 4 June went further. He promised to support an "undivided Jerusalem" as Israel's capital. Not a single government on earth supports the Israeli annexation of all of Jerusalem, including the Bush regime, which recognises the UN resolution designating Jerusalem an international city.

His second statement, largely ignored, was made in Miami on 23 May. Speaking to the expatriate Cuban community – which over the years has faithfully produced terrorists, assassins and drug runners for US administrations – Obama promised to continue a 47-year crippling embargo on Cuba that has been declared illegal by the UN year after year.

Again, Obama went further than Bush. He said the United States had "lost Latin America". He described the democratically elected governments in Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua as a "vacuum" to be filled. He raised the nonsense of Iranian influence in Latin America, and he endorsed Colombia's "right to strike terrorists who seek safe-havens across its borders". Translated, this means the "right" of a regime, whose president and leading politicians are linked to death squads, to invade its neighbours on behalf of Washington. He also endorsed the so-called Merida Initiative, which Amnesty International and others have condemned as the US bringing the "Colombian solution" to Mexico. He did not stop there. "We must press further south as well," he said. Not even Bush has said that.

It is time the wishful-thinkers grew up politically and debated the world of great power as it is, not as they hope it will be. Like all serious presidential candidates, past and present, Obama is a hawk and an expansionist. He comes from an unbroken Democratic tradition, as the war-making of presidents Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter and Clinton demonstrates. Obama's difference may be that he feels an even greater need to show how tough he is. However much the colour of his skin draws out both racists and supporters, it is otherwise irrelevant to the great power game. The "truly exciting and historic moment in US history" will only occur when the game itself is challenged.

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In The Great Tradition: Obama Is A Hawk

by John Pilger

Global Research, June 15, 2008

New Statesman

John Pilger reaches back into the history of the Democratic Party and describes the tradition of war-making and expansionism that Barack Obama has now left little doubt he will honour.

[...]

Pilger is known for his carelessness with and misrepresentation of the facts to the extent that “to pilger” and “pilgerize” have entered the lexicon meaning to play fast and loose with the truth. This “essay” is a good exampleof why:

“His second statement, largely ignored”

He makes it sound as if the press were remiss or colluding in not giving the speech wider coverage. Obama presumably delivers several a week; does he expect them all to make the front page of the NY Times?

“Obama promised to continue a 47-year crippling embargo on Cuba that has been declared illegal by the UN year after year.”

I’m not endorsing Obama’s position, though pressuring Cuba to become more democratic is good I don’t know if using the embargo as a bargaining chip is legitimate but a honest journalist would have fairly represented his position. He said:

I will maintain the embargo. It provides us with the leverage to present the regime with a clear choice: if you take significant steps toward democracy, beginning with the freeing of all political prisoners, we will take steps to begin normalizing relations. That's the way to bring about real change in Cuba - through strong, smart and principled diplomacy.

“He described the democratically elected governments in Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua as a "vacuum" to be filled.”

No, he said that they filled a vacuum created by Bush ignoring the region:

Since the Bush Administration launched a misguided war in Iraq, its policy in the Americas has been negligent toward our friends, ineffective with our adversaries, disinterested in the challenges that matter in peoples' lives, and incapable of advancing our interests in the region.

No wonder, then, that demagogues like Hugo Chavez have stepped into this vacuum. His predictable yet perilous mix of anti-American rhetoric, authoritarian government, and checkbook diplomacy offers the same false promise as the tried and failed ideologies of the past. But the United States is so alienated from the rest of the Americas that this stale vision has gone unchallenged, and has even made inroads from Bolivia to Nicaragua. And Chavez and his allies are not the only ones filling the vacuum.

He even criticized Bush’s attempts to undermine Chavez

...the Bush Administration's blustery condemnations and clumsy attempts to undermine Chavez have only strengthened his hand.

“He raised the nonsense of Iranian influence in Latin America.”

He said, “Iran has drawn closer to Venezuela, and just the other day Tehran and Caracas launched a joint bank with their windfall oil profits.” According to Word the speech was exactly 4200 words long. He devoted 23 (just over 0.5%) to making 2 accurate observations about Iran’s ties to a single Latin American country. Perhaps a member of this forum can point out how Obama's comments were incorrect, misleading or otherwise qualify as "nonsense"

“…he endorsed Colombia's "right to strike terrorists who seek safe-havens across its borders". Translated, this means the "right" of a regime, whose president and leading politicians are linked to death squads, to invade its neighbours on behalf of Washington.”

Though I agree with Pilger’s description of the Colombian regime I’ve seen no evidence they attacked FARC’s camps in Ecuador “on behalf of Washington”. I can’t see any other government acting much differently if an insurgent group that attacked civilian targets were based in a foreign country. Ecuador was either illegally harboring FARC or was unable to stop them. Also the word ‘invade’ connotes intent to “occupy” or raise plunder according to most dictionaries, thus Colombia didn’t 'invade' Ecuador nor did Obama endorse such a right.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/invade

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/invade

“He also endorsed the so-called Merida Initiative, which Amnesty International and others have condemned as the US bringing the "Colombian solution" to Mexico.”

I found no references to Amnesty condemning the Merida Initiative nor referring to it ‘as the US bringing the "Colombian solution" to Mexico’. The term “Colombian solution” doesn’t even appear on the Amnesty International nor Amnesty International USA sites

They said the following about the plan:

Amnesty International today urged the US Congress to maintain human rights safeguards in the Merida initiative – legislation to fund a security cooperation package between the US, Mexico and Central America.

And

The US and Mexico should work together to address shared drug and security problems particularly as thousands of Mexicans loose their lives every year to drug related violence. The US assistance and Mexican policies to fight crime cannot be at the expense of human rights. Amnesty International wants to see a shift in the balance of funds so that human rights are at the core of this aid package.

Site searches

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%...amp;btnG=Search

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%....amnestyusa.org

“He did not stop there. "We must press further south as well," he said. Not even Bush has said that.”

BS, the Merida Initiative is aimed at Mexico AND Central America

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/scp/2008/103374.htm

I do not find it at all surprising that Pilger failed to provide a link to the text of the speech. You'd think if he really believed what he wrote he would want his readers to take a look. I imagine that since he so pilgerized it he preferred they didn't.

There often seems to be a gap between what he writes and believes. He sang the praises of the North Vietnamese liberators during the war but hot tailed it to the US Embassy in Saigon on the day in 1975 when the city fell to catch one of those famous helicopters from the roof. He even admitted to pushing in front of others.

TEXT OF OBAMA’S MIAMI SPEECH

http://www.miamiherald.com/1060/story/544657.html

EDIT: Added the following -

"He comes from an unbroken Democratic tradition, as the war-making of presidents Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter and Clinton"

How exactly did Carter qualify as a "war-making of president"?

2nd EDIT - Typos corrected see below

Edited by Len Colby
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Pilger is known for his carelessness with and misrepresentation of the facts to the extent that “to pliger” and “pligerize” have entered the lexicon meaning to play fast and loose with the truth.

Both verb and noun - "pilgerism" - coined by Auberon Waugh, the veteran MI5 urinal, in the pages of Private Eye, if memory serves.

But I confess to a certain sympathy with those who find Pilger inconsistent, and his judgments intermittently suspect. Anyone who's read his 1968 Daily Mirror piece on a visit to Dallas for the fifth anniversary of JFK's assassination will find his more recent take on JFK and RFK more than a little curious.

As for Washington not being behind the Colombian incursions into Ecuador, really, Len, that's ridiculous.

Paul

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Both verb and noun - "pilgerism" - coined by Auberon Waugh, the veteran MI5 urinal, in the pages of Private Eye, if memory serves.

The origin of the term is less important than its accuracy and as I demonstrated in my previous post it was quite fitting regarding the essay you posted. He is in the habit of making inaccurate claims, distorting the facts and omitting details that contradict his narrative. He also rarely cites sources for his claims but that doesn’t stop him from criticizing collegues for supposedly doing the same.*

[Pilgerism a verb? Quick call the forum's grammar marm]

But I confess to a certain sympathy with those who find Pilger inconsistent, and his judgments intermittently suspect. Anyone who's read his 1968 Daily Mirror piece on a visit to Dallas for the fifth anniversary of JFK's assassination will find his more recent take on JFK and RFK more than a little curious.

Care to elaborate?

As for Washington not being behind the Colombian incursions into Ecuador, really, Len, that's ridiculous.

- Do you have evidence they were? Since FARC almost exclusively strikes Colombian targets and rarely if ever American ones** the Colombian government had much more of a vested interest in attacking them.

Did the Colombians tell the US about their plan ahead of time and get a green light? - I would expect so.

Did the US provide the Colombians intelligence? - That wouldn’t surprise me.

Would the Colombians not have attacked the FARC base in Ecuador but for being asked/pressured/bribed etc by Washington to do so? - Unless you can cite evidence that was the case it seems quite unlikely.

- Can we assume you aren't disputing anything else in my previous post?

Len

* He said, “Allegations were unsubstantiated; hearsay uncorroborated. No source was identified” about an article he didn’t like in the Observer. The same could be said about his own article.

http://www.newstatesman.com/world-affairs/...havez-venezuela

** According to the US Department of Justice they carried out grenade attacks in 2003 which “killed a Colombian woman and injured 73 others, including five Americans.”

http://www.usdoj.gov/opa/pr/2004/September/04_crm_599.htm

They also killed 3 Native American environmental activists but that seems to have been a mistake committed by a low level commander. Since the victims were working against oil companies FARC seems to have dine the MIC an unintentional favor.

http://www.salon.com/news/1999/03/19newsb.html

Edited by Len Colby
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[Pilgerism a verb? Quick call the forum's grammar marm]

Okay.

Also for an author of so many books you have piss poor grammar, maybe you should enroll in a literacy course.

Pliger? Pligerize? Probably just carelessness.

Pilger is known for his carelessness with and misrepresentation of the facts to the extent that “to pliger” and “pligerize” have entered the lexicon meaning to play fast and loose with the truth.
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Guest David Guyatt

If Mr Colby's signature gets any longer or more smug, I'm gonna start wondering if he's really Ashton Gray in drag.

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[Pilgerism a verb? Quick call the forum's grammar marm]

Okay.

Also for an author of so many books you have piss poor grammar, maybe you should enroll in a literacy course.

Pliger? Pligerize? Probably just carelessness.

Pilger is known for his carelessness with and misrepresentation of the facts to the extent that “to pliger” and “pligerize” have entered the lexicon meaning to play fast and loose with the truth.

Thanks for catching my (now corrected) typos, your valuable contributions to these threads is much appreciated.

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If Mr Colby's signature gets any longer or more smug, I'm gonna start wondering if he's really Ashton Gray in drag.

Its size has the advantage of making almost impossible to miss, when it was smaller you were repeatedly unable to locate it. :o:rolleyes::ice:lol:

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Peter of course finds it easier to insult me than rebut my post where I demonstrated that Pilger’s article about Obama was inaccurate and misleading.

As for the surveillance bill I was disappointed to see so many House Democrats vote for it and will be even further disappointed if Obama and other Democrats vote for it in the Senate. Their excuse is that if they hadn’t passed the ‘compromise’ bill enough conservative Democrats would have sided with the GOP to pass the bill Bush originally wanted. There is so little difference between the two I would have preferred a stand on principle (i.e. Bush’s billed being passed but with very few Democrats voting for it) if defeating it was impossible.

Politics isn’t a pure game though and there are no perfect candidates. Obama is still clearly better than McCain, not voting or voting for alternate candidates would only be helping the latter.

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Pilger is well known and respected for his search for the objective truth on matters - LC is the one who is known for false spin on people and issues. Pilger has produced so many absolutely fantastic investigative journaslistic pieces and films. The world would be a much sadder, ill-informed and dangerous place with fewer like Pilger or more like LC. IMO

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I quite agree, Peter, but something nags. Here's Pilger in the pages of the Daily Mirror on the fifth anniversary of the coup that removed JFK and claimed his life. Compare and contrast the characterisation here of RFK as one of three men of "change" with Pilger's recent views on the same figure:

Daily Mirror, 22 November 1968, pp.17-18

A wreath in Dallas

By John Pilger

Five years ago on this day the first of the crop was harvested: John Fitzgerald Kennedy, a true spirit of change, was ambushed and shot to death on Elm Street in Dallas, Texas.

The world stopped that day and, in unison, we all spewed our grief.

Some did not. Some, like the hate-weaned innocents at a school in Dallas, stood and cheered, while their parents hastily convened parties at which glasses were raised in grotesque salutes to what had happened that day; and if these truths are unimaginable then so, too, is the truth of John Kennedy’s death.

For after five years of cataclysm in America, in which three other men of change have been assassinated and the very idea of America as a civilised country challenged, we still do not know the complete story of Dallas. We have, of course, the Warren Commission’s twenty-six volumes of finely-honed yet patently inconclusive reassurance, compiled, it would seem, only for those who needed reassuring, and perhaps in 1964 when the report was published we were not unlike those citizens of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World who lined up for their peace of mind.

I came to Dallas because on election day, when front pages were filled with poll predictions of the candidates, I read in the Los Angeles Times the results of the most important poll of all. It was taken by the Louis Harris group and it said in effect that 81 per cent of the American people no longer accepted the findings of the Warren Commission and now believed that there was a conspiracy to kill the President of the United States.

So I am in Dallas, in November and a pale ghost of a sun flits across a sky that is both enormous and hard; and down on Elm Street, on the grassy knoll near the Texas School Book Depository, from where Lee Harvey Oswald was said to have done his work, two young soldiers quizzically study a wreath sent by a student group to await the anniversary. On it is written:

Send him not these flowers,

Send us the truth.

Dallas has not changed. The organised forgetting has not worked; only the city’s mask is new.

A great deal of money has been poured on civic wounds and into prefabricated banks, like gargantuan filing cabinets; and yet the John F. Kennedy memorial, Dallas’s tribute, still lies in the planning room of City Council.

It could have happened anywhere, they still chorus. The Mayor of Dallas, multi-millionaire Erik Jonsson said: “We are not ashamed, sir!” The deposed police chief of Dallas, Jesse Curry, who has these five years carried the public guilt for the murderous circus that tried and killed Oswald in his headquarters basement, said: “Please, ah just want to go mah own way now, and forget.”

It could have happened anywhere, but it did not. Dallas was the chosen place and the world said Dallas killed the President with its air of hate and tradition of death and violence, with its assorted nuts of the paramilitary Right and a daily newspaper that believes civil rights is the Communist line. And in reply Dallas asks to be excused. Big D is a doer, they say with pride; Dallas man was born to act, not to contemplate the past. Or anything. Hamlet would hate it here.

Dallas, it must be emphatically said, is not America. The conscience which was custom-made for comfort here is a time bomb ticking away almost everywhere in the United States. Nor is that conscience being aroused by the sworn enemies of the American establishment. Such pillars as Life Magazine and The New York Times, both of which greeted the Warren Report as “exhaustive,” have long since called for a new inquiry.

Life called for a new inquiry on the basis of the film it bought for $25,000 from Abraham Zapruder who, from the grassy knoll in Elm Street filmed the President’s motorcade as it approached and kept his camera running as the shots were fired. The film, according to Texas Governor John Connally, who was seated directly in front of the President and was critically wounded, shows that he was not hit until after President Kennedy was shot for the first time, which suggests that the two men were struck by separate bullets. No one assassin using a bolt action rifle could have fired two shots that fast.

Since February of last year, New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison has been on the stage with his revelation of a conspiracy plot in which, he says, Oswald played only a minor part; and in spite of the guns of scepticism aimed at him, he has gathered enough evidence for three judges to indict a New Orleans businessman called Clay Shaw, of whom the Warren Commission makes no mention, for conspiracy to assassinate the President of the United States.

Perhaps it is indicative of all the assassination intrigue that the strongest case for a new inquiry might eventually rest within the bizarre. Since 1963 an estimated thirty-five to forty-seven people connected with the assassination have died in unbelievable situations.

For example two Dallas reporters who were at a meeting with Jack Ruby the night before he killed Oswald, died violently: one when a revolver “went off” in a California police station, the other by a “karate chop” in the shower at his Dallas apartment. Two strippers who worked for Jack Ruby in his Carousel Club have also died violently, one from gunshot wounds and the other, held overnight in a Dallas jail on a petty charge, was found hanged in her cell.

Columnist Dorothy Kilgallen, who was the only journalist to have a private interview with Jack Ruby during his trial, was found dead in her New York apartment after telling friends she was going to Washington “to bust the whole thing open.”

Is it true that a CIA agent who told friends he could no longer keep quiet about the assassination was found shot in the back in his Washington apartment? The verdict was suicide.

Pilot David Ferrie was found dead in his New Orleans home, ostensibly from natural causes, but with two suicide notes beside him. Four days earlier, Ferrie had told reporters that Jim Garrison had him “pegged as the getaway pilot in an elaborate plot to kill Kennedy.” The odds against these and other deaths have been calculated at 100 trillion to one.

Much of the sequence is already known: what is not known are the answers to a melange of questions that haunt both critics and defenders of the Commission. At random: Why should two-thirds of the eyewitnesses in Dealey Plaza report that shots came from in front of the President, and not from behind as the Commission says? And why were only a small portion of these witnesses interviewed?

And why were all the investigations not published? I have seen a Secret Service report that supports Governor Connally’s two bullets theory. It was not published in the Warren Report. A similar FBI report also was not published.

Why did the doctor who received the President at Parkland Hospital say the bullet entered his throat from the front, only to change his mind to agree with the autopsy performed later in Washington which contended that the bullet entered the back? Why did the chief pathologist at the autopsy burn the draft of his first report? How could the bullet – the only bullet linked to Oswald’s gun – emerge virtually unscathed after a journey through two bodies causing extensive wounds, smashing bones and a wrist?

What of the film that shows a policeman holding a rifle which he had just carried from the School Book Depository before the “Oswald rifle” was found?

The answers to these questions are not proof on their own, but together they mean something, perhaps even the beginning of a way out of the monstrous whodunnit into which the Kennedy assassination has been allowed to sink.

But the whodunnit is real. This year I have spoken to many of its authors and critics and of those I met in Dallas, I should mention here two who most impressed me.

One of them is Penn Jones, Jr., editor of the Midlothian Mirror, in the town of Midlothian, south of Dallas – a crusading small-town editor.

Years before the assassination Penn Jones exposed the John Birch Society in his columns and, for this, his office and printing presses were fire-bombed. He, like almost all the critics, believes in the political conspiracy theory.

“Anyone who has read all twenty-six volumes of the Warren Report knows by his basic common sense that it reeks of whitewash.” He said: “The report is its worst enemy; those who defend it usually haven’t read it; they just can’t conceive something that doesn’t agree with what is thought to be the respectable viewpoint. And those of us who have read all of it – and we’re few – know damn well what’s happening…”

Penn Jones sent me to Roger Craig, whose testimony to the Commission, on page 160 of the report, he repeated for me in a Dallas restaurant.

Now the City Judge and Justice of the Peace of Midlothian, Craig was a deputy sheriff in Dallas five years ago and was on duty in Dealey Plaza on November 22. He saw the President shot. He also saw a man he identified as Oswald running from the School Book Depository building fifteen minutes after the shooting.

He said Oswald got into a station wagon which had been cruising along Elm Street and he later identified him at Dallas police headquarters. He said that Oswald remarked: “Everybody will know who I am now.” What is important here is that Oswald, according to the Commission Report, should have been well on his way home when Craig saw him. The Commission dismissed Craig’s testimony on the basis that his superior officer, Captain Fritz, a man who said he “never took notes,” did not remember the Oswald identification.

Roger Craig is a gaunt, erect man who speaks almost at a whisper. “I have spent my life in law enforcement and I know what I saw. I looked at Oswald’s eyes. It was him.”

Last November, Craig was shot at in a Dallas parking lot, three days after giving evidence to District Attorney Garrison, and today his family live in a virtual state of siege. Molly, his wife, has been followed by the same car for months and their phone is monitored.

The road from Dallas invariably leads to New Orleans and to District Attorney Garrison. He is the only public official in the United States inquiring full-time into the assassination. For all his intriguing without him there would be no public dissent.

“Oswald,” he said, “was a decoy who became a patsy. He never knew the true nature of his job. He never expected to die. There were about seven men involved in an old-fashioned ambush of the President. Shots came from the grassy knoll area, from the Depository building and another building in the Plaza.

“They probably did not leave the scene until well after they did the job.

“The assassination team were fanatical Anti-Castro Cubans and Right Wing paramilitary types and we are investigating connections with elements of the Central Intelligence Agency. Don’t raise your eyebrows: just consider their record outside this country, the Bay of Pigs, the U-2 incidents…

“John Kennedy was working for a peaceful détente with Castro and with all the Communist world. And he was thinking ahead to an American withdrawal from Vietnam. He wanted everything changed. He had to go.”

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If Mr Colby's signature gets any longer or more smug, I'm gonna start wondering if he's really Ashton Gray in drag.

Its size has the advantage of making almost impossible to miss, when it was smaller you were repeatedly unable to locate it. :o:rolleyes::ice:lol:

Looks more like a case of Lemkin Envy to me. Everyone here knows that Peter has the biggest and best signature on the Ed Forum. It is a class act. Unrivaled. Len, you can't compare. Put it away.

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If Mr Colby's signature gets any longer or more smug, I'm gonna start wondering if he's really Ashton Gray in drag.

Its size has the advantage of making almost impossible to miss, when it was smaller you were repeatedly unable to locate it. :o:rolleyes::ice:lol:

Looks more like a case of Lemkin Envy to me. Everyone here knows that Peter has the biggest and best signature on the Ed Forum. It is a class act. Unrivaled. Len, you can't compare. Put it away.

Actually it would more properly labeled ‘Peter envy” but since you don’t have one and never did (unless there’s something you aren’t telling us) you just can’t understand. Odd that David didn’t harp on about Peter’s though as you observed it’s far lengthier than mine. Can’t say which one is better but Ashton’s is even longer than Peter’s. It’s in fact the biggest I’ve ever seen. Mr. Gray is indeed the John Holmes of the Ed. Forum.

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