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What Happens When Groups Use Nonviolence, Like We’ve Been Begging Them to Do For Years?

In Gaza, Human Rights, Israel, Mainstream Media, Mideast Peace, Politics on July 24, 2010 at 6:53 am

Apparently the U.S. and Israel treat nonviolent protesters as being as much of a threat as terrorists:

Bil’in Protest organizer Abdallah Abu Rahmah was sentenced to two months of imprisonment and to a six month suspended sentence, after a five year long trial on charges clearly related to freedom of speech.

Abu Rahmah was convicted of two counts of “activity against the public order”, simply for participating in demonstrations, in one count despite the fact that “No evidence of violence towards the security forces was provided”. Abu Rahmah was also convicted of “obstructing a soldier in the line of duty”, for shouting at a police officer and refusing to leave the scene of a demonstration, of “breaking curfew”, for being in the street in front of his house when the army declared curfew on Bil’in to suppress a demonstration, and of “incitement”, which under military law is defined as “The attempt, verbal or otherwise, to influence public opinion in the Area in a way that may disturb the public peace or public order”. Abu Rahmah was convicted of inciting others to “[…] continue advancing [to their lands during a demonstration in Bil’in], claiming that the land belongs to them.

For years the U.S. and even Israel have been saying that groups (or individuals) who use violent means to get their point across, will not have a place at any negotiating table. Increasingly we are a seeing not only peaceful groups use economic boycotts and peaceful civil disobedience, but also traditionally violent groups like Hamas begin to realize the political power of civil disobedience and other forms of protest. And no, unfortunately Hamas has not renounced violence but more and more it has become clear that they recognize the power of being able to attract public attention through means other than violence. This presents a big problem for the U.S. and Israel, both of whom once called on people to use these very means we are now condemning.

I believe that the U.S. never really expected certain groups/organizations people to use civil disobedience so we never thought we would have to face a situation like the flotilla incident or the growing number of boycotts, peaceful protests in Gaza and other parts of the Occupied Territories. And what has the US response been? Have we praised groups for their nonviolent means of getting their message out? No, we have sat quietly by and Israel has violently repressed free speech, the right to assemble and nonviolent protests. We have sat quietly by as Israel murders protesters, enacts draconian laws which violate free speech and we have joined in the demonization of these protesters by changing our rhetoric- now we say things which infer that “those who attempt to deligitimize Israel…” are as dangerous to Israel’s security as those who plant bombs or use missiles to get their point across.

This is shameful on our part and shows just how the U.S. never really supported nonviolence to begin with. The same thing happened with Northern Ireland when Sein Fein began to realize the power of civil disobedience. Although because Northern Ireland is not Israel, we eventually accepted them and allowed them to negotiate a peace treaty.

Israel refers to the boycott movement as “economic terrorism” and justified killing nine people flotilla because they sought to “delegitimize” the Jewish State. That’s the big story which the media is ignoring- what happens when groups use nonviolence in the Mideast, like we’ve been begging them to do for years?

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Are Certain Media Viewpoints Privileged Over Others?

In Mainstream Media, Neocons, News, Politics on July 8, 2010 at 7:47 pm

There seems to be a spate of media people lately who are getting fired for voicing opinions which the mainstream finds offensive. Is this a slippery slope and is there a problem with deciding which views or biases are acceptable and which are not?

The latest firing:

A senior Middle East editor at the US cable news channel CNN has been fired after she wrote on Twitter that she “respected” a late Lebanese Shia Muslim leader with links to Hezbollah.

Octavia Nasr lost her job after the 140-character tweet sparked fierce online debate and the channel’s management decided that her credibility had been compromised.

Nasr posted the tweet as news of the death of Lebanon’s Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah broke over the weekend. She called him “one of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot”.

Nasr has apologised for the remark, describing it as a “error of judgement” to praise Fadlallah without any context, although she said she had been referring to his “pioneering” stance on women’s rights.

Fadlallah was branded a terrorist by some Western governments, but issued religious edicts banning so-called honour killings of women and enshrining the right of women to defend themselves from domestic abuse.

In a blog posting after the incident, Nasr wrote that Fadlallah was “revered across borders yet designated a terrorist. Not the kind of life to be commenting about in a brief tweet. It’s something I deeply regret”.

CNN management decided that Nasr, who had worked at the company for 20 years in mainly off-screen roles, should leave her job. “We have decided that she will be leaving the company,” said a company memo circulated on Wednesday.

Professor Juan Cole of Informed Comment thinks there is a double standard and a wee bit of Islamaphobia involved. Philip Weiss also weighs in. Both believe the Islamaphobic neocons are to blame (read: the Lobby).

There does seem to be a double standard. How long would it take us to find a media figure who has voiced unwavering support for an Israeli figure or policy which the mainstream might find extreme or very controversial? What is notable about this is that Nasr was a very behind the scenes figure at CNN- very important of course, but not exactly the face of CNN. That a bunch of people waged a social networking war against her so successfully is pretty amazing.

And then there is this– The Washington Post’s David Ignatius expressing some respect for the controversial Fadlallah in 2002.

Most Americans Aren’t Buying Israel’s Propaganda About the Flotilla Raid

In Foreign Policy, Gaza, Human Rights, Israel, Mainstream Media, News, Politics on July 5, 2010 at 10:48 am

In a leaked Frank Luntz memo, the news isn’t good for the U.S. attempts to spread Israeli propaganda:

The Israel Project (TIP), an American Hasbara outfit, commissioned Republican political consultant Frank Luntz to examine the effectiveness of Israel’s public diplomacy in the US on the Flotilla debacle. TIP gave the memo to the Prime Minister’s Office, where someone promptly leaked it to Chico Menashe, Channel Ten TV News diplomatic affairs correspondent.

Luntz’s findings are grim. Here’s a summary:

1. 56% of Americans agree with the claim that there is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza;
2. 43% of Americans agree with the claim that people in Gaza are starving;
3. [Only] 34% of Americans support the Israeli operation against the Flotilla;
4. [Only] 20% of Americans “felt support” for Israel following announcement of easing of Gaza closure.

It’s time for Israel to wake up and realize there is only so much spinning that they can do. It could be that most Americans “get” that armed commandos attacking a humanitarian vessel in international waters, was, well, heavy handed.

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General Petraeus and Max Boot

In Foreign Policy, Human Rights, Israel, Mainstream Media, Neocons, News, Politics on July 4, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Raise your hand if you are surprised by any of this?:

Last March General David Petraeus, then head of Central Command, sought to undercut his own testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee that was critical of Israel by intriguing with a rightwing writer to put out a different story, in emails obtained by Mondoweiss.

The emails show Petraeus encouraging Max Boot of Commentary to write a story– and offering the neoconservative writer choice details about his views on the Holocaust:

Does it help if folks know that I hosted Elie Wiesel and his wife at our quarters last Sun night?! And that I will be the speaker at the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camps in mid-Apr at the Capitol Dome…

Petraeus passed the emails along himself through carelessness last March. He pasted a Boot column from Commentary’s blog into in an “FYI” email he sent to an activist who is highly critical of the U.S.’s special relationship with Israel. Some of the general’s emails to Boot were attached to the bottom of the story. The activist, James Morris, shared the emails with me.

The tale:

Back on March 13, Mark Perry broke the explosive story that Gen. David Petraeus was echoing Joe Biden’s view that the special relationship with Israel is endangering Americans. Perry said that Petraeus had sent aides to the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the White House to tell him that the U.S.’s inability to stand up to Israel was hurting Americans across the Middle East. Perry reported that Petraeus was asking that Israel and Palestine be included under his Central Command (rather than under Europe, as they are now).

On March 16, neocon Max Boot, who is on the Council of Foreign Relations and holds militarist pro-Israel views (he’s an American Jew born in Russia), sought to refute Perry’s post at the Commentary blog:

“I asked a military officer who is familiar with the briefing in question and with Petraeus’s thinking on the issue to clarify matters. He told me that Perry’s item was ‘incorrect.'”

Boot quoted the unnamed officer at some length apologizing for Israel:

he did not suggest that Petraeus was mainly blaming Israel and its settlements for the lack of progress. They are, he said, “one of many issues, among which also is the unwillingness to recognize Israel and the unwillingness to confront the extremists who threaten Israelis.” That’s about what I expected: Petraeus holds a much more realistic and nuanced view than the one attributed to him by terrorist groupie Mark Perry.

I suspect this unnamed officer was Petraeus himself– based on the emails. But we’ll get to them in a minute.


That’s just an excerpt above, definitely go to Mondoweiss to check out the whole story. Some people may look at this and say “what’s the big deal?” Well, the big deal is that it shows the disproportionate amount of influence of the Israel lobby and those associated with it. It also speaks to how the media works with the U.S. to spread Israeli hasbara.

It’s things like this that make it clear that the U.S. relationship, while important, has become dysfunctional and self-defeating. And no, I am no anti-Semite nor am I anti-Israel. I simply understand that by enabling the right-wing Israeli government’s worst tendencies, the U.S. is helping drive Israel off a cliff- a truly self-defeating irony. Democracy is just a word and unless Israel ends the occupation and stops treating all dissent as tantamount to terrorism, the US will increasingly find itself defending the indefensible.

The other thing that this may clarify is Petraeus’ future political ambitions. I wouldn’t be surprised if he runs for President as a Republican in the not too distant future.

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The Mainstream Media Goes After Michael Hastings for Doing Their Job Better Than They Do

In Afghanistan, Foreign Policy, Mainstream Media, News, Politics on June 29, 2010 at 8:54 pm

Now that Michael Hastings has done the U.S. a favor by exposing what a bunch of arrogant, undisciplined jerks McChrystal and his cadre of General-worshippers were, rather than having a moment of introspection, the media is going after Hastings for daring to expose the fact that McChrystal had nothing but contempt for a) the Commander in Chief and b) the civilian diplomats with whom he was supposed to be working in order to make his much-beloved COIN strategy work.

The Beltway media trades access for the unspoken understanding that the subjects of the “news” stories will be handled largely with kid gloves lest there never be another interview. So don’t expect any Watergate revelations anytime soon from the likes of David Gregory, David Brooks or Lara Logan. And speaking of Logan, Matt Taibbi takes her to task for her groveling attitude towards the power elite about which she is supposed to be reporting. Here is an excerpt:

I thought I’d seen everything when I read David Brooks saying out loud in a New York Times column that reporters should sit on damaging comments to save their sources from their own idiocy. But now we get CBS News Chief Foreign Correspondent Lara Logan slamming our own Michael Hastings on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” program, agreeing that the Rolling Stone reporter violated an “unspoken agreement” that journalists are not supposed to “embarrass [the troops] by reporting insults and banter.”

Anyone who wants to know why network television news hasn’t mattered since the seventies just needs to check out this appearance by Logan. Here’s CBS’s chief foreign correspondent saying out loud on TV that when the man running a war that’s killing thousands of young men and women every year steps on his own dick in front of a journalist, that journalist is supposed to eat the story so as not to embarrass the flag. And the part that really gets me is Logan bitching about how Hastings was dishonest to use human warmth and charm to build up enough of a rapport with his sources that they felt comfortable running their mouths off in front of him. According to Logan, that’s sneaky — and journalists aren’t supposed to be sneaky:

“What I find is the most telling thing about what Michael Hastings said in your interview is that he talked about his manner as pretending to build an illusion of trust and, you know, he’s laid out there what his game is… That is exactly the kind of damaging type of attitude that makes it difficult for reporters who are genuine about what they do, who don’t — I don’t go around in my personal life pretending to be one thing and then being something else. I mean, I find it egregious that anyone would do that in their professional life.”

When I first heard her say that, I thought to myself, “That has to be a joke. It’s sarcasm, right?” But then I went back and replayed the clip – no sarcasm! She meant it! If I’m hearing Logan correctly, what Hastings is supposed to have done in that situation is interrupt these drunken assholes and say, “Excuse me, fellas, I know we’re all having fun and all, but you’re saying things that may not be in your best interest! As a reporter, it is my duty to inform you that you may end up looking like insubordinate douche bags in front of two million Rolling Stone readers if you don’t shut your mouths this very instant!” I mean, where did Logan go to journalism school – the Burson-Marsteller agency?

But Logan goes even further that that. See, according to Logan, not only are reporters not supposed to disclose their agendas to sources at all times, but in the case of covering the military, one isn’t even supposed to have an agenda that might upset the brass! Why? Because there is an “element of trust” that you’re supposed to have when you hang around the likes of a McChrystal. You cover a war commander, he’s got to be able to trust that you’re not going to embarrass him. Otherwise, how can he possibly feel confident that the right message will get out?

True, the Pentagon does have perhaps the single largest public relations apparatus on earth – spending $4.7 billion on P.R. in 2009 alone and employing 27,000 people, a staff nearly as large as the 30,000-person State Department – but is that really enough to ensure positive coverage in a society with armed with a constitutionally-guaranteed free press?

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$1 Billion a Year For Each al Qaeda member in Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, Economy, Foreign Policy, Mainstream Media, News, Politics on June 28, 2010 at 8:18 pm

The mainstream media likes to complain about the unruly, unwashed hacks which make up the blogosphere, but I think that is largely a result of envy. Many bloggers are just better at doing a MSM “journalist’s” job than the MSM is. Take Emptywheel for example and just imagine what would happen if Jake Tapper or that useless David Gregory would ask Panetta, Obama, Biden, Gates or Clinton about this:

Think Progress does the math on Panetta’s admission that there are just 100 al Qaeda members in Afghanistan, and discovers we’ve got 1,000 American troops in Afghanistan for each al Qaeda member.

The U.S. has committed nearly 100,000 troops to the mission in Afghanistan. ABC This Week host Jake Tapper asked CIA Director Leon Panetta how big is the al Qaeda threat that the soldiers are combating:

TAPPER: How many Al Qaeda, do you think, are in Afghanistan?

PANETTA: I think the estimate on the number of Al Qaeda is actually relatively small. I think at most, we’re looking at 50 to 100, maybe less. It’s in that vicinity. There’s no question that the main location of Al Qaeda is in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

[snip]

Now let me add to their math. Even Afghan war fans admit that it costs $1 million a year–on top of things like salary–to support a US service member in Afghanistan.

[snip]

So 1,000 US troops per al Qaeda member, at a cost of $1 million each. That’s $1 billion a year we spend for each al Qaeda member to fight our war in Afghanistan.

How do you think the Obama administration would be able to justify to the U.S. taxpayer continuing on with its failed Afghanistan policy if asked about the cost per soldier or per member of al Qaeda? Answer- they wouldn’t be able to. But first it would take some sparky, committed member of the Washington press corp to ask such a question and that would never happen because it would involve the risk of upsetting the cozy relationship the press has with the powerful elites which it is supposed to be holding accountable.

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CIA Chief Panetta: Iran could have 2 nukes in 2 years. Again.

In Foreign Policy, Iran, Israel, Mainstream Media, Neocons, News, Politics on June 27, 2010 at 6:57 pm

Gee, where have I heard this before?

“In an EXCLUSIVE interview on “This Week,” CIA Director Leon Panetta said if the Iranians chose to pursue making a nuclear weapon, they could have a bomb in two years.

In Iran, “there is a continuing debate right now about whether or not they ought to proceed with a bomb. But they clearly are developing their nuclear capability and that raises concerns,” Panetta said. “Just exactly what are their intentions?”

“We think they have enough low-enriched uranium right now for two weapons,” the CIA Chief said. “They do have to enrich it fully to get there. And we would estimate if they made that decision, it probably would take a year to get there. Probably take another year to develop the kind of weapon delivery system in order to make that viable,” he told host Jake Tapper.”[emphasis added]

So, where have we heard this before? Here:

“Iran is the center of terrorism, fundamentalism and subversion and is in my view more dangerous than Nazism, because Hitler did not possess a nuclear bomb, whereas the Iranians are trying to perfect a nuclear option.”

Benjamin Netanyahu 2009? Try again. These words were in fact uttered by another Israeli prime minister (and now Israeli president), Shimon Peres, in 1996. Four years earlier, in 1992, he’d predicted that Iran would have a nuclear bomb by 1999.

You can’t accuse the Israelis of not crying wolf. Ehud Barak, now defense minister, said in 1996 that Iran would be producing nuclear weapons by 2004.

[snip]

The issue today is Iran and, more precisely, what President Barack Obama will make of Netanyahu’s prescription that, the economy aside, Obama’s great mission is “preventing Iran from gaining nuclear weapons” — an eventuality newly inscribed on Israeli calendars as “months” away.

[snip]

Israel’s nuclear warheads, whose function is presumably deterrence of precisely powers like Iran, go unmentioned, of course.

Netanyahu also makes the grotesque claim that the terrible loss of life in the Iran-Iraq war (started by Iraq) “didn’t sear a terrible wound into the Iranian consciousness.” It did just that, which is why Iran’s younger generation seeks reform but not upheaval; and why the country as a whole prizes stability over military adventure.

Arab states, Netanyahu suggests, “fervently hope” that America will, if necessary, use “military power” to stop Iran going nuclear. My recent conversations, including with senior Saudi officials, suggest that’s wrong and the longstanding Israeli attempt to convince Arab states that Iran, not Israel, is their true enemy will fail again.

What’s going on here? Israel, as it has for nearly two decades, is trying to lock in American support and avoid any disadvantageous change in the Middle Eastern balance of power, now overwhelmingly tilted in Jerusalem’s favor, by portraying Iran as a monstrous pariah state bent on imminent nuclear war…

So, how many times is Iran going to get nukes in two years? We’ve been saying this for over a decade. But hey, don’t let the facts get in the way of a good headline. Wouldn’t it have been nice if Jake Tapper had asked Panetta about how the US and Israel have been saying this repeatedly and yet, here we are in 2010 and we’re still just TWO SHORT YEARS AWAY from Iran getting nukes.

Oh, and no mention of the other nuclear power in the region, right? Because that has nothing to do with anything, right? If the point of Israel’s nuclear arsenal is deterrence, then apparently it’s not working if they are claiming every five minutes that within two short years, Iran will have the capability to use nuclear weapons against them.

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It’s Official. Sarah Palin’s Speech at CSU Sucked

In Conservatives, Mainstream Media, News, Politics on June 27, 2010 at 4:48 pm

There was an open mic that caught the negative reaction of the press after the speech.

I have to say I agree with them. I am no Sarah Palin fan but even if she were a liberal, I’d be ashamed of someone who has no clue what they are talking about. She strings together a bunch of soundbites, does her usual sarcasm thing, and that’s it, an easy 200-300K for her effort. It’s all rather pathetic.

It’s only a matter of time until Palin comes out swinging against the “Lamestream Media” because she, like so many on the right, sees herself as a perpetual victim. Annoying.

Joan Walsh at Salon has more.

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Frank Rich Nails It: Obama is Naive, if Not Totally Clueless

In Foreign Policy, Mainstream Media, News, Politics on June 27, 2010 at 12:28 pm

But the question is, will they learn from the events of the last several weeks? It’s not often that I cite with approval a NYT editorial, but this one is right on the money:

What we saw was this: 1) Much of the Beltway establishment was blindsided by Michael Hastings’s scoop, an impressive feat of journalism by a Washington outsider who seemed to know more about what was going on in Washington than most insiders did; 2) Obama’s failure to fire McChrystal months ago for both his arrogance and incompetence was a grievous mistake that illuminates a wider management shortfall at the White House; 3) The present strategy has produced no progress in this nearly nine-year-old war, even as the monthly coalition body count has just reached a new high.

If we and the president don’t absorb these revelations and learn from them, the salutary effects of the drama’s denouement, however triumphant for Obama in the short run, will be for naught.

There were few laughs in the 36 hours of tumult, but Jon Stewart captured them with a montage of cable-news talking heads expressing repeated shock that an interloper from a rock ’n’ roll magazine could gain access to the war command and induce it to speak with self-immolating candor. Politico theorized that Hastings had pulled off his impertinent coup because he was a freelance journalist rather than a beat reporter, and so could risk “burning bridges by publishing many of McChrystal’s remarks.”

[snip]

Symbolically enough, Hastings was reporting his McChrystal story abroad just as Beltway media heavies and their most bold-faced subjects were dressing up for the annual White House correspondents’ dinner. Rolling Stone has never bought a table or thrown an afterparty for that bacchanal, and it has not even had a Washington bureau since the mid-1970s. Yet the magazine has not only chronicled the McChrystal implosion — and relentlessly tracked the administration’s connections to the “vampire squid” of Goldman Sachs — but has also exposed the shoddy management of the Obama Interior Department. As it happens, the issue of Rolling Stone with the Hastings story also contains a second installment of Tim Dickinson’s devastating dissection of the Ken Salazar cohort, this time detailing how its lax regulation could soon lead to an even uglier repeat of the Gulf of Mexico fiasco when BP and Shell commence offshore drilling in the Arctic Ocean.

The Interior Department follies will end promptly only if Obama has learned the lessons of the attenuated McChrystal debacle. Lesson No. 1 should be to revisit some of his initial hiring decisions. The general’s significant role in the Pentagon’s politically motivated cover-up of Pat Tillman’s friendly-fire death in 2004 should have been disqualifying from the start. The official investigation into that scandal — finding that McChrystal peddled “inaccurate and misleading assertions” — was unambiguous and damning.

Once made the top commander in Afghanistan, the general was kept on long past his expiration date. He should have been cashiered after he took his first public shot at Joe Biden during a London speaking appearance last October. That’s when McChrystal said he would not support the vice president’s more limited war strategy, should the president choose it over his own. According to Jonathan Alter in his book “The Promise,” McChrystal’s London remarks also disclosed information from a C.I.A. report that the general “had no authority to declassify.” These weren’t his only offenses. McChrystal had gone on a showboating personal publicity tour that culminated with “60 Minutes” — even as his own histrionic Afghanistan recommendation somehow leaked to Bob Woodward, disrupting Obama’s war deliberations. The president was livid, Alter writes, but McChrystal was spared because of a White House consensus that he was naïve, not “out of control.”

We now know, thanks to Hastings, that the general was out of control and the White House was naïve. The price has been huge. The McChrystal cadre’s utter distaste for its civilian colleagues on the war team was an ipso facto death sentence for the general’s signature counterinsurgency strategy. You can’t engage in nation building without civilian partnership. As Rachel Maddow said last week of McChrystal, “the guy who was promoting and leading the counterinsurgency strategy has shown by his actions that even he doesn’t believe in it.”

This fundamental contradiction helps explain some of the war’s failures under McChrystal’s aborted command, including the inability to hold Marja (pop. 60,000), which he had vowed to secure in pure counterinsurgency fashion by rolling out a civilian “government in a box” after troops cleared it of the Taliban. Such is the general’s contempt for leadership outside his orbit that it extends even to our allies. The Hastings article opens with McChrystal mocking the French at a time when every ally’s every troop is a precious, dwindling commodity in Afghanistan.

[snip]

You have to wonder whether McChrystal’s defenders in Washington even read Hastings’s article past its inflammatory opening anecdotes. If so, they would have discovered that the day before the Marja offensive, the general’s good pal Hamid Karzai kept him waiting for hours so he could finish a nap before signing off on the biggest military operation of the year. Poor McChrystal was reduced to begging another official to wake the sleeping president so he could get on with the show.

The war, supported by a steadily declining minority of Americans, has no chance of regaining public favor unless President Obama can explain why American blood and treasure should be at the mercy of this napping Afghan president. Karzai stole an election, can’t provide a government in or out of a box, and has in recent months threatened to defect to the Taliban and accused American forces of staging rocket attacks on his national peace conference. Until last week, Obama’s only real ally in making his case was public apathy. Next to unemployment and the oil spill, Karzai and Afghanistan were but ticks on our body politic, even as the casualty toll passed 1,000. As a senior McChrystal adviser presciently told Hastings, “If Americans pulled back and started paying attention to this war, it would become even less popular.”


The more Obama talks about this war, the more he sounds like George W. Bush, who as we know, didn’t know what the fuck he was doing.

Lanny Davis: The Fake Liberal Strawman

In Economy, Mainstream Media, News, Politics on June 26, 2010 at 11:21 am

Lanny Davis is one of those Democrats that Fox News and the WSJ love- he’s always willing to slam the liberal base of the party and because he’s a Democrat who claims to be a “liberal” his criticisms of the left are accepted as per se legitimate by the corporate media.

Here’s Davis’ last bit of nonsense over at The Hill:

Two events last week involving elements of the Democratic Party who call themselves the “true progressives” show a danger they represent to the progressive change they say they want to effect. Together they offer President Barack Obama an opportunity for a “Sister Souljah moment” — perhaps to save the Democratic Party majority in both houses of Congress, as well as his progressive agenda in the last two years of his administration.

First was the success of Sen. Blanche Lincoln in June 8’s Arkansas Democratic primary, despite a campaign organized by these self-described progressives, along with certain labor unions. Lincoln won the primary, despite the confident predictions of these liberal-left groups at the “netroots.” Labor unions spent nearly $10 million trying to defeat Lincoln, primarily, they said, because she opposed the “card-check” method of organizing a union. Yet labor supported her opponent, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, who also opposed card-check. Go figure.

[snip]

The second event was a conference on that June 8 primary day, held in Washington and organized by the Campaign for America’s Future, a self-described “progressive” organization, which cheered denunciations of Obama for “retreat on Guantánamo [and] no movement on worker rights or comprehensive immigration reform,” according to The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, and shouted down and nearly prevented liberal House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) from speaking. “Progressives have grown ever more dissatisfied [with Obama’s policies] for good reason,” Robert Borosage, the organizer of the conference, said.

[snip]

But this “eating your own children” syndrome by these so-called progressives also offers Obama an opportunity for a “Sister Souljah moment” — i.e., challenging the base of his own party engaging in these self-destructive tactics.

He can challenge those who prefer the perfect over the good, who seem to prefer to defeat Blue Dog House Democrats and Senate moderates from Republican or marginal districts and states, even if that means setting back the progressive cause substantially with the Republicans winning back the House and narrowing the margin in the Senate way below the current filibuster-proof 60 votes.

That would be the right thing to do for President Obama — and it would be the right politics. By doing so, he will have a chance of winning back those political independents and moderates who supported him for president in 2008 but, polls show, have now become less supportive of him and the Democratic Party….

Let me translate Lanny Davis’ argument- progressives should just STFU and stop complaining that Obama has backed off of all of his key campaign promises/policy positions that HE articulated, and let the adults in the DNC and DLC handle things because, after all, the Republicans are worse.

This reasoning is why nothing ever changes. This is why gays still have to serve in silence in the military, why BP was allowed to operate with minimal to no regulatory oversight, why the financial crisis almost destroyed the global economy and why we became a nation which tolerates such undemocratic policies as torture, rendition and targeted assassinations of Americans abroad.

That progressives and many moderates elected Obama because they wanted REAL change and because they agreed with his stated policy positions during the campaign, is of little importance to Lanny Davis. But he is not alone in this “Blame the Liberals” campaign. To hear these faux liberal establishment types talk, you would think that Obama had campaigned on a platform to NOT close Gitmo, to NOT roll back some of Bush’s most repugnant, secretive terrorism policies, to NOT take on Wall Street full force (as opposed to the window dressing legislation he’s lauding).

But then again, Lanny Davis is the guy who went and worked PR for the coup government of Honduras after the elected President was kidnapped and illegally spirited off to another country, so what can you expect? Basically, policies which maintain the elite status quo benefit Lanny, so anything that threatens to disrupt that is going to be a target of his ire. The thing is, no one really on the left really buys into Lanny’s BS because we’re not fooled by his “I’m a liberal but…” nonsense.

Greg Grandin of NYU pretty much exposes Lanny Davis for the corporatist fraud that he is:

Last Friday, I debated lawyer-turned-lobbyist Lanny Davis, now working for the business backers of the recent Honduran coup, on Democracy Now! It actually wasn’t much of a debate — in the way that word means an exchange of ideas — as Davis was fast out of the box, preemptively trying to taint host Amy Goodman and me as “ideologues.”

[snip]

Recently, Davis has been hired by corporations to derail the labor-backed Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for unions to organize, all the while touting himself as a “pro-labor liberal.”

Davis was also the chief U.S. lobbyist of the military dictatorship in Pakistan in the late 90s and played an important role in strengthening relations between then President Bill Clinton and de facto president General Perez Musharraf.

Now Lanny Davis finds himself defending another de facto regime in Honduras that is engaging in “grave and systemic” political repression, suspending due process, harassing independent journalists, killing or disappearing at least ten people, and detaining hundreds as “constitutional,” all the while touting himself as a (Honduran) constitutional expert.

The Honduran coup occurred on June 28, when soldiers, working on behalf of a small group of business and political elite who control the country, kidnapped democratically elected president Manuel Zelaya and sent him into exile. Since then, the military-backed de facto regime of Roberto Micheletti has tried to argue to the world that it was acting constitutionally, even though nearly every country in Latin America, along with the European Union, isn’t buying it. Only in the U.S. is there a debate as to whether Micheletti government is legal or not — largely thanks to the lobbying efforts of Lanny Davis.

Davis’s argument is based on a disingenuous description of the legal and political maneuvers by Zelaya’s opponents in the Supreme Court and Congress prior to the coup. He calls these power grabs constitutional.

Never mind that several clear violations of Honduras’ constitution were carried out on June 28th, including the detention of president Zelaya by the armed forces (violation of articles 293 and 272), his forced deportation to another country (violation of art. 102) and Congress’ decision to destitute the president (this is not within Congress’ constitutional attributions).

But the best response to this position — in addition to pointing out that Davis’ description of events is so selective as to be false (see below for details) — is that throughout Latin America’s long history of coups, those who executed them usually counted on legal and political backing. Pinochet in Chile, for example, had both.

In retrospect, I should have made this point. But Davis was running through so many lies — they were too focused and polished to be simple mistakes or errors of interpretation — it was hard to catch up.

Through the program, host Amy Goodman demonstrated almost superhuman restraint, professionally refusing to respond to Davis’s provocations. His very first lie accused her of an ideological rant, for simply reporting the truth, for saying that Zelaya accepted a proposal to settle the crisis brokered by Costa Rican president Oscar Arias. This is demonstrably true — Zelaya has repeatedly indicated a willingness to accept the compromise; Micheletti, on the other hand, is playing for time until November’s regularly scheduled presidential elections — yet Davis repeatedly insisted otherwise. My favorite part of the debate took place about a third into the show, when in response to me pointing out that he was carrying out ad hominem attacks, Davis said that I was the one engaging in ad hominem, since I used the word “elite” to describe supporters of the coup. “‘Elite’ is an ad hominem word,” Davis said.

You can read the point-by-point take down of Davis’ lies about the Honduran coup here.

And then of course there is Lanny Davis’ “Israel-First” philosophy which self-defeatingly claims that essentially, Israel can do no wrong and that they should NEVER be publicly called out for ANYTHING, ever. Lanny begins every one of his hasbara meme’s on HuffPo or The Hill or wherever else with the empty assertion that he supports a two state solution. Big deal. By making the claim publicly, he hopes to not come across as the pandering, apologist that he is. What good is verbally supporting a two state solution when any attempt to get the parties to make concrete steps in that direction is violently opposed by the AIPAC crowd, of which Lanny is a proud member? Any call for Israel to stop building illegal settlements is tantamount to a full revocation of U.S. support for Israel in Davis’ knee-jerk, Israel-First world.

Of course, those of us who actually support Israel, realize that sometimes friends have to disclose uncomfortable truths and not always just in private. Blindly supporting the Israeli government even when their policies are dangerous, self-defeating and in some cases, illegal, is not “helping” or “supporting” Israel. In fact, it simply adds to their growing isolation. To not make any distinction between the policies of Likud and the other more moderate political parties in Israel is just ridiculous, as is the refusal to question the policies and hateful rhetoric of people like Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. To blame everything on Israel’s enemies while ignoring the frequent slights Israel levels at her allies, is hardly sound policy. It’s time Israel starts to act like the mature, sovereign nation state it is (or should be) and start taking responsibility for some of its more self-defeating policies rather than simply running behind the U.S. for cover. But as long as people like Lanny Davis, Anthony Weiner, Chuck Schumer, Abe Foxman, etc. manipulate media coverage of the issue and use the age-old tactic of claiming any criticism of Israel represents anti-Semitism or anti-Israeli sentiment, it’s unlikely that the government of Benyamin Netanyahu will change course any time soon.

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