Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Letter to editor

Below is a letter I've written to the SB NewsPress editor. I'll update this blog if/when it's published.

Update: It was published on October 12, 2010, and a second time (don't know why) the next day.

I’ve lately been hearing from Obama, Biden and, before that, from Press Secretary Gibbs, that we progressives should “stop whining” about shortcomings in this administration’s achievements and get out and work for the “change you can believe in” by supporting Democratic candidates in the upcoming elections.

My answer to these pleas: I would work now—as hard as I did for Obama’s election—if over the last two years I’d witnessed a strong, principled effort toward fundamental change. Instead, here’s what I’ve seen. (1) A backroom deal with Big Pharma and capitulation by the White House on the “public option” for healthcare, an option Obama repeatedly asserted, while campaigning, was essential to meaningful reform. (2) Abandonment of his pledge to close Gitmo; of his pledge to restore habeas corpus and to reverse the Bush administration’s intrusions on our privacy; of his pledge of transparency in government; of his pledge to “stand firm” against “entrenched monied interests” in Washington. And (3) a heartbreaking reversal of his commitment to seek a path toward peace through making peace, supplanted by expanded wars—hopeless, pointless wars—in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

If Obama had stood up to demand the promised changes from his presidential pulpit, his present calls to work would ring true. But Obama didn’t even try to “change the way Washington does business”; instead, through backroom deal-making and compliant Congressional politicking, he has delivered to us only half-measures or no measures at all. And I, for one, intend to return the favor.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Generals are taking over the executive branch

Bob Woodward's latest book--Obama's Wars, on the shelves today--tells of the president's wrestling with his generals and military advisers to get some sense of a withdrawal schedule from the mess in Afghanistan. The generals, apparently, don't think much of Obama or his schedules. On top of that, here is, to me, an equal outrage: Petraeus laying out what has got to be a nonstarter for the Afghanis' negotiations with the Taleban, namely the latter's acceptance of the US-authored Afghan constitution and their disarmament. There's no way either of these is acceptable to the Taleban, no way toward a negotiated settlement of that ugly war.

Which is, of course, is precisely what Petraeus and the generals want: endless war.

A message to Chris Hedges...

Gee, Chris, why don't you say what you really mean?

I don't know about you, but

this news report about a US military campaign starting in Kandahar sounds exactly like the reports coming out of VietNam in the final years of our failed warmaking there.