Friday, January 25, 2008

Pity the Citizens of South Carolina

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane, Bilerico Project & My Left Wing

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In past elections, only those poor souls in Iowa and New Hampshire were abused at the hands of a media circus, but now it has spread to South Carolina. South Carolinians are getting tired of the way the media is trying to shape the election.

Kathey E. Adams [...] said when traveling and watching reports about her state, "I was horrified by what I saw." She deplored reports that focused on black voters, saying "It's a new South. What do they think, we're in hoop skirts?"

As for her choice in Saturday's primary, Adams said she will "probably" supporting Clinton. She had been a Joe Biden supporter before leaning toward Clinton.

She said was "disappointed" by the exchange between Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama during the debate Monday. She said she is considering former Sen. John Edwards because she agreed he was "the only adult in the sandbox."

The coverage I have seen has not been kind to SC - cataloging it as a backwards state, podunk, etc. Folks, South Carolina makes BMWs! Yes the South is a living dichotomy. New South vs Old South. Klan vs. Progress.

I wonder if they will vote for Edwards just out of spite? Besides he is actually a local.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Haute Cuisine of Hoppin’ John Edwards

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane, Bilerico Project & My Left Wing

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Most people are very aware of Cajun cuisine from Louisiana but few are aware of South Carolina's claim to fame - Lowcountry Cuisine. It is a subtle blend of flavors from unusual ingredients to make a dish that surprises you. Lowcountry cuisine also springs from poverty and limited local resources. There are only so many things you can make when your income is limited. A lowcountry breakfast consists of mostly grits, butter, and shrimp with a biscuit. If you are feeding a family on a very low income, chances are lowcountry breakfasts were part of your diet.

Here is another example - the Hoppin John - black-eyed peas, bacon (or fatback), rice, onions and salt. Simple, cheap and filling.

That was John's childhood. Lowcountry food was probably (guessing here) something that graced his plate on occasion while growing up in the brutal poverty of South Carolina.

I am not surprised that John Edwards is exploding in the polls in South Carolina - he understands the issues of poverty to his bones, unlike his opponent Hillary.

Here is my new pet theory. John will continue to gain strength in the polls because the race has thinned. Yes, Kucininch is still in the race, but all media attention (for better or worse) is on Obama, Clinton (and Clinton) and Edwards. In the past debates - all of them previous to Nevada, Edwards had to fight for time with almost a dozen other people. And even then, time typically went to Obama and Hillary more than the other candidates. So John had little opportunity to rise above the din. Now it is just the three of them and Edwards has the opportunity to make the vivid comparison between himself and the other candidates.

While Clinton and Clinton trade jabs with Barack Obama, John is building. He is moving forward.

Frankly I am ready for a steady diet of Hoppin John Edwards.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Iraqi Border With Africa

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane, Bilerico Project & My Left Wing

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With all the news about the elections and the financial meltdown in the economy and the Strait of Hormuz propaganda and the million other things that get dumped on us, some things have gotten little or no coverage even though they are important news stories. Even Keith Olbermann has a segment on Countdown called "Bushed" - covering the numerous scandals in the Bush Administration that get glossed over.

There is one story that made little or no news here in America and that was the Turkish bombing of Iraq. This whole mess started with Bush, of course, and the Pentagon's lack of control of the Iraqi border. This has allowed Kurdish Guerrillas known as the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) to cross the border into Turkey and bomb populated areas.

Some in the tin foil crowd (they tend to be right on these things lately) think that our slack border security with Turkey is payback because Turkey did not allow US troops to enter Iraq from their border. Either way, the Turks are conducting strikes within Iraq and it seems the Bush Administration is allowing this to occur.

From December 24:
U.S. President George W. Bush promised Monday to continue helping Turkey fight separatist Kurdish rebels, after the third air attack in a week inside Iraq by the U.S.'s NATO ally, a Turkish official said.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan talked with Bush by telephone Monday after Turkey's latest attack on rebel bases in northern Iraq and the two men agreed to continue sharing intelligence about the rebels, said an official from the prime minister's office who declined to be named because he was not authorized to speak to journalists.

Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council at the White House, said the leaders discussed the "importance of the United States, Turkey and Iraq working together to confront" the rebels.

I think it is obvious why the US is not mopping up the PKK. We have most of our troops sitting in Baghdad's Green Zone doing the surge thing, and even with heaps of Blackwater mercenaries, we still do not have enough troops to take care of the Kurdish rebels. I might add, there was a ceasefire of sorts until the US invaded Iraq - then it all went to Hell.

But nobody cares in our glossy MSM world. I am sure CBS has a package set to run tonight about a dog that can predict the outcome of the South Carolina primary.

Iraq is quickly sliding to a place with the US populace that is on the same level of Africa. You know Africa? It is right there beside Iraq.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Thug Life Of John Edwards

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane, Bilerico Project & My Left Wing

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Last night during CNN's South Carolina Democratic Debate, John Edwards came out swinging, but not at Hillary or Obama, he came out swinging for the poor, the middle class - for those of us who aren't getting billion dollar bonuses for closing down US manufacturing plants.

In turned out to be a Jerry Springer Show for political geeks, John Edwards kept on topic during the Hillary/Barack cage match. He was the only one that looked Presidential, acted Presidential and was the one that exhibited an inner strength that our pre -Bush allies could respect. But he could stand his ground when the occasion arose. Hillary brought up the issue of trial lawyers donating to Edward's campaign. Here is his golden response...

CLINTON: Well, John, trial lawyers have given you millions and millions of dollars. So...

EDWARDS: And what they expect from me is they expect me to stand up for democracy, for the right to jury trial, for the right for little people to be heard in the courtroom. And that is exactly what I stand up for.

That is not the same thing. That is not the same thing as corporate lobbyists who are in there every single day lobbying against the interests of middle-class Americans. And I think we need a president who can stand up.

We have a difference about this. You're entitled to your view. But we have a real difference about it.

Respectful but forceful.

We have had a President that has dished bullshit since way before he was ever elected and from what Hillary dished out last night, it just made me queasy. Her relentless and unwarranted attacks on Obama were difficult to watch, especially the lies about the Reagan and Rezco nonsense. That was NOT Presidential.

Oh yeah, one more thing, can we please get out of Iraq?

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Horserace or Horse Manure?

The topic below was originally published in my blog, the Intrepid Liberal Journal as well as The Wild Wild Left, Independent Bloggers Alliance, the Peace Tree and Worldwide Sawdust.

My immediate response to Saturday’s results in South Carolina and Nevada are jaded despair. None of the candidates in either party, including my preferred candidate John Edwards, inspires my confidence about the future. Even worse, my preferred candidate with the most progressive message didn’t even garner five percent of the vote in a heavily unionized state.

Overall, too many figures in the corporatist media, as well as bloggers, are consumed by the “horserace.” The focus has been on Hillary Clinton’s tears, Barack Obama’s platitudes, John Edward’s hair or John McCain’s so-called “authenticity.” There was also the silly hair splitting about who said what in the Clinton and Obama camps over race or inspid attention on Obama’s statements about his disorganized desk. What the hell is wrong with all you people out there? Why are people so incapable of focusing on the salient challenges of our time and demanding answers from the declared candidates about why their ideas are best? Sad to say, today's candidates don't measure up to previous presidents.

America for all its flaws benefited from skilled leadership at crucial junctures in history. Our first president, George Washington, established a legacy of peaceful succession in an era of kings while surrounded by enemies. Abraham Lincoln kept the union together in spite of a bloody civil war due to the evil institution of slavery that wasn’t sustainable. Theodore Roosevelt took on entrenched corporate interests that were turning America into a plutocracy and established reforms that later became the building blocks of the New Deal. His cousin, Franklin Roosevelt saved America from an economic depression that impoverished millions with the New Deal and mobilized the country to defeat Nazi Germany's quest for global domination and genocide.

During the Cold War, presidents Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy managed to avoid the calamity of nuclear war in spite of reactionaries inside the military industrial complexes of both the United States and the Soviet Union. Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon were flawed, paranoid leaders who prosecuted a self-defeating immoral war in Vietnam but both also successfully pursued détente with the Soviets. President Jimmy Carter helped put human rights on the map and empower a dissident movement inside the Soviet Union that leveraged Ronald Reagan to seek accommodation with the reform minded Michael Gorbachev and end the Cold War.

Today’s challenges, requires a caliber of leadership beyond even Washington, Lincoln and FDR. Those presidents were guided by the concept of American Exceptionalism. It’s an ideology practiced by presidents and political parties in this country for over two centuries. It’s based on a firm conviction that our society is morally superior, America knows best and our consumption of over a quarter of the world’s resources entirely justified. I know there are some knee-jerk conservatives out there thinking, “another blame America first leftist.”

I don’t blame America first. The world itself is flawed with greed and we’re a part of it. America was simply in the best position to pursue its greed because of power. Many other societies would have been far worse for this planet in the role of super power. I’m proud of my country in many ways. If not for the United States of America my grandfather would have perished in a Polish concentration camp and I never would have been born. I love my country even with all its flaws and warts. But we have to be honest with ourselves.

America’s power is descending. In recent years we’ve overreached due to greed, immorality and misguided hubris. We’re over extended economically, strategically, militarily and spiritually. America and the world can no longer afford our addiction to empire. At one time it could be plausibly argued that the American empire preserved a level of needed stability in a bipolar world. Today however, evil non-state terrorist actors and multinational corporations regulate this planet with more influence than centralized governments.

Hell, Blackwater has one of the largest armies in the world and Osama Bin Laden has no allegiance to any flag. Meanwhile, the global economy we long championed is now carving up financial institutions such as Citcorp. When even banks are experiencing a credit crunch due to the sub-prime mortgage crisis and selling off assets to Saudi Arabian princes, your average wage earner will be left in the dust faster than you can say the American dollar is sucking wind.

The next president will have to usher in a new era of humility, conservation and international cooperation without surrendering America’s sovereignty or producing a destructive backlash among xenophobic racists, desperate plutocrats, delusional hawks and anti-civil libertarians. While I suspect many Americans can rationally and intellectually jettison our national security empire state it will require a severe cultural adjustment.

Even the most progressive peace advocates among us have grown up with an America as a colossus and many citizens will have difficulty embracing new realities. Furthermore, much of the planet alienated by America’s greed, imperialism and heavy- handed militarism will have to be cajoled into joining us in a mission to save humanity from global warming and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Among the candidates for president in both parties I don’t see a leader possessing the combination of strength and finesse to confront contemporary realities. Edwards has the most progressive message, Obama is a gifted man who offers great symbolism and even Clinton would be an improvement over Bush. Hell, John McCain would be an improvement over Bush simply because he doesn’t advocate torture. My boss would be an improvement over Bush. Your boss would be an improvement over Bush. People I personally dislike would be an improvement over Bush.

So yes, it’s nice that next year at this time we’ll have a new president regardless of who prevails. But I am not confident that any of these candidates is the right person for the moment. How can anyone be? My advice to citizens is stay as informed as possible in this shallow environment and don’t be easily seduced by platitudes, misinformation and just plan horse manure.

I also advise that disenchantment is no excuse for apathy. As disenchanted as I am, I intend to vote and increase participation through get out the vote efforts as much as possible. Ultimately, our only salvation is an informed, realistic electorate that's involved, asks questions and makes itself heard.