General Question

cookieman's avatar

Is this an example of ignorance or do I simply fail to see this point of view?

Asked by cookieman (38037points) December 14th, 2008

Right outside my office today, two co-workers were discussing Barack Obama.

Co-worker #1: Well he’s already breaking all his campaign promises. He’ll lie about anything that guy.

Co-worker #2: That’s OK, let the minorities run the country for a while. They’ll fuck it up so bad every one will be begging for Bush to get back in office.

So, of course, I’m appalled by this and think, “What the hell is wrong with some people?!” But on the other hand, these are otherwise reasonable guys.

What do you make of this?

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27 Answers

dalepetrie's avatar

Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one.

wundayatta's avatar

Were they white men? I think that people get overly identified with a point of view. I mean, I was convinced that Bush was going to destroy the world, and no one would vote for him or any republican ever again.

It’s a kind of sour grapes, I think.

jrpowell's avatar

#1: Smart people change their mind when circumstances change.

#2: Is just an idiot. punch em’ in the dick.

kevbo's avatar

He is breaking his campaign promises (although this is not unique).

A minority is running the country. Just not in the way this guy is thinking. Hence, Obama is breaking his campaign promises.

PupnTaco's avatar

Typical ignorant assholes, they’re everywhere. ~ Like the last eight years were the paragon of leadership. ~

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

I’m spluttering like an idiot, trying to articulate an answer.

People have no grasp of reality, and how complex life really is. They cannot understand anything other than what lives inside their four walls.

laureth's avatar

Racism can be found even when people appear otherwise reasonable. It’s something deep down and buried. Fear of the “other” has existed, like, forever.

Judi's avatar

I think when people are so entrenched in their political beliefs they can’t see the good at all in the opposing party. I know that I held on to my respect for Jimmy Carter and never liked or trusted Regan. I couldn’t find anything good to say about him.
I changed my attitude when my daughter (born in 1980) told me (when she was in grade School) that she wasn’t proud to be an American. I realized how my hatred had poisoned my kid. It was like a kick in the gut. I explained to her that one of the greatest things about being an American was that we had the right to complain about our leaders without fear of imprisonment, something other countries wouldn’t think of.
I determined then that I would try to focus on issues more than personalities and treat our leaders with more respect, even if I disagreed with them.
Not everyone gets that “kick in the gut” and holds on until the last thread even when it is to their own and the countries detriment.

cheebdragon's avatar

Shocking….~

augustlan's avatar

I’m gonna’ go with “ignorance”.

Judi's avatar

I do find it funny that people are accusing him of breaking campaign promises even though he isn’t even President yet.

kevbo's avatar

@Judi, excellent point.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

With respect to #2, I would have to say, um, Congress runs the country as much as the president does, and have they seen a photo of Obama’s cabinet choices?

dalepetrie's avatar

You know the saying “you can’t please all the people all the time”? This is especially true in politics. The very nature of our whole political system is set up so that majority rules WITH minority representation. That pretty much ensures we won’t have lock step agreement on anything, even within one particular class of person. A person can be very smart and reasonable, but it’s part of our culture to question our government. And in my humble opinion, the last 8 years really did a lot to make our political discourse far less productive and far more invective. Whether you like him or hate him, George W Bush expanded the powers of the Presidency like no one else, and adopted, even as far back as his first campaign, a slash and burn approach to leadership…my way or the highway. Bush and Rove basically found a way to go over, under or around anything that stood in the way of their agenda, and if Bush’s agenda was one you liked, you might well think he was one of the BEST President’s ever…but that’s only about a quarter of the population…the other 3/4 were, in varying degrees and at varying times, shut out of the process. Bush did not respect the minority representation, and took a majority as slim as 51/49 as a mandate. And this more than anything has led us to a political environment where EVERYONE is going to question EVERYTHING.

So, the far right, well they’re going to hate Obama no matter what. I’ve tuned in Sean Hannity twice since the election for about 2 minutes each time. One time I heard him refer to our economy as the (and I’m not kidding you), the “Obama recession”, and the next time, just last week, he was saying that Obama was far closer to the Blagojevich thing than the media would report, you just watch how quickly this is going to bring him down, and that either he’s lying when he said that he had “no contact” with Blagojevich, or Axelrod was lying last week when he said the campaign had spoke to Blagojevich…apparently there’s no space in right wing world between having your campaign have any contact whatsoever with someone, and being deeply involved in the inner workings of their scheming.

But the far left wing is going crazy too. They are all up in arms, saying that Obama promised “change” and yet he’s appointing people from the Clinton administration to his cabinet. Well I ask, what the fuck do these people want? Do they just want him to appoint any swinging dick with 0 experience to head up everything of importance in our country. The problem is, people don’t listen. Obama said in the campaign that he would want experienced people who don’t necessarily agree with him on everything…he doesn’t want to be surrounded by yes men. He also said that ideas are not just good if they come from the left and bad if they come from the right, he is open to listening to all peoples’ perspectives and inputs, but that ultimately, HE is the one who makes the decision, the buck stops with him. And that’s exactly what in my not so humble opinion we SHOULD want as a country.

I believe we elect a President based more on his IDEAS than on his experience…I thought that all along which is why I supported Obama from the second he announced his candidacy…I like his ideas, I like his vision. Now, not everyone will, but I also like his leadership style. Even though ideologically he struck me as far more liberal of a candidate than we’d ever elected before (which is where I think a lot of the far lefties, myself NOT included, got hung up and turned a blind eye to everything else), he struck me as more pragmatic and cautious and open minded when it came to actual leadership. He is the kind of guy who is not afraid to say, I could be wrong, let me hear you out. He’s the ANTI-Bush if you will, the guy who has his own ideas an agenda and will try to get there, but who will do so in a practical manner, who will realize his limitations, who will respect the voices of ALL people, not just those who side with him ideologically. Anyone who is sour grapes about this is in my opinion, pretty much just the mirror opposite of the 24% of America who have never stopped liking Dubya.

So, yeah, he supported FISA, rather than get bogged down in a battle he couldn’t win, because Congressional leadership asked him to do so under the assumption that they were working towards the greater good. Had he roadblocked it, and it had not gone through, that could have been used as a wedge issue against him in the campaign (hell, not could have, it fucking WOULD have), and hey, instead of having a President elect who in 37 days can actually DO something to reverse the damage, we’d have a President elect who in 37 days would double down and do everything he could to make sure it NEVER got improved.

Yes, Obama is now saying he’ll let the Bush tax cuts expire, instead of just rolling them back on day one, but you know what, he never actually promised he would roll them back on day one, he said he’d get rid of them. A lot of that was liberal fantasy just hoping he would do something immediately, but again, Obama don’t roll like that. He is very cautious, he plays his cards very close to the vest, and he proceeds in anything with caution. So he’s not going to just come in and say, “suck it, neocons” and just immediately reverse all the things Bush did without looking closely at them. That’s what a lot of the liberals want, and yes in ideal dream world, it would be great from my perspective as a pretty far left liberal to just go in and flip the reverse switch, but that’s no way to govern…that’s what BUSH did when he took over for Clinton. He killed pretty much every executive order to protect the planet or the people that Clinton had put into place in his last days in office and IMMEDIATELY began putting heads of industry in charge of the agencies that are supposed to regulate those agencies, making horrible conflicts of interest, that the liberals and moderates could not do a DAMN thing about. Obama will make the moves to bring us back to what he sees as a sane and productive set of policies and regulations, but if he moves too quickly, he will alienate people who, with a little bit of nuance, might be persuaded to come along with him.

You move like that and you cement public opinion against you, and Obama realizes that many of the problems we have with gridlock in the government are due to a my way or the highway style of governance. But because that has been what we have lived under for 8 years, it is now the default mindset of everyone to think that any move the leader makes has some sort of evil, ulterior motive to it, we can’t trust them. I mean, for God’s sake, people are already calling for Obama’s impeachment and he hasn’t even done a single thing as President yet. The far right is going to be out for blood, they’ve had their 100% say for 8 years and it’s hard for them to become the minority, that’s just common sense and human nature, no big surprise there. The sense of my way or the highway entitlement has been fostered within the far right mindset, they’ve been conditioned to think that their way of thinking is unquestionably right, and therefore, anything that doesn’t fit with their worldview is utter heresy.

But the left is looking for comeuppance…some are just viscerally angry about the way things have gone. But Obama is not a vengeful guy. When Clinton left office, many of these people would have voted for him again if he’d run a 3rd term, but nonetheless, there were many things the left did not like about the Clinton administration, there were of course the personal scandals, the failure to get Bin Laden when he had the chance, the weakening of the welfare system, fairly business friendly policies for a so-called liberal, and a not so stellar record on gay rights (vis a vis Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and DOMA). But those people were more than happy to vote for Gore who was not much more than an extension of Clinton at the time, none would have preferred Bush. And none of these same liberals would have voted for McCain if any of the 9 other Democratic candidates had won the primaries. Had we not had someone whose ideology seemed to place him in the camp of dyed in the wool liberals, most liberals would have been more than happy to have a President who would just undo the damage Bush had done (from their perspective). But they see greater potential to move the ball closer to their ideology, and they want Obama to seize that potential the way Bush seized, it only ironically they don’t see that if Obama did that, he would be no more effectual than Bush and in 4 or 8 years we’d have another backlash, which in the long run would make it even HARDER to realize the liberal agenda.

So, it’s sour grapes, and it’s to be expected, but one would wonder how these same liberals would respond if they were asked whether or not they’d rather have McCain. They may be angry, but really, how angry can they BE? People need to give the new President a chance before they write his legacy, and fortunately, Obama seems to have approval ratings in the 70s and disaproval ratings in the 20s, so even most Republicans are giving him a chance. This of course leads me to believe that it’s a very small but very vocal minority which is making all the noise on the left and on the right about what a horseshit job Obama is doing. So to summarize what I’ve written a novel about in one word, and to answer your question of what this is:

IGNORANCE.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Well, they’re fools to themselves, aren’t they?But it’s not ignorance, it’s a cop out. The vast majority of whites in this country know that “minorities” have the same concerns, feelings and worries as they do. They know the truth, but it’s such an ego stroke, isn’t it, to put down someone else in a society where even the so-called privileged don’t have as much opportunity for high status or upward mobility as they’d like, instead of realizing, Hey, I’ve been sold a bill of goods since Nixon, and the way I’m thinking and behaving isn’t helping the country, much less myself.

They’d actually have to face the reality that the Bush/Cheney types don’t care about them at all, regardless of white maleness. Can you imagine all the changes your co-workers would have to go through to accept that reality? Much easier to slag the “minority” guy and ignore it, cop out and go along with the “white privilege program,” even if they know deep down Bush and his cronies think of the likes of your co-workers as the mob, the same as they do about minorities.

Foolaholic's avatar

First of all, when do presidential candidates ever keep all of their promises? It seems like that’s the same whining I hear every time we go through this. As to the other guy, that just sounds like prejudice. It’s weird, it seems like a lot of bright people I know hold conceptions like that which I find completely offensive. To quote one of a meager handful of insightful lines from Quantum of Solace, “It just goes to show that we never really know anyone.”

cookieman's avatar

@daloon: Yes, they are white guys.

@johnpowell: I had the urge to go with choice #2 for sure.

@aprilsimnel: Very good point.

Zuma's avatar

There is something much deeper than ignorance going on here. This is the legacy of a politics of unreality and self-deception. You may recall the hate-fests that passed for Republican rallies, where Obama was demonized, and where the crowd was encouraged to boo and jeer as his character was pilloried and demeaned. The purpose of these evangelical spectacles was to turn each of the people attending in to a proselytizing “Joe the Plumber” who, in anticipation of their own 15-minutes of fame, would feel emboldened to spout the Republican party line to anyone who might listen, even while the their own economic fortunes were being dashed by the undeniable failures of Republican policy.

This politics of self-deception goes back to the vanquished South in the American Civil War. Southerners constructed a whole mythology of the “Lost Cause,” buttressed with rationalizations about how they had really won the war, and how they would “rise again” after they had been tested like the Children of Israel. The ascendancy of the South, first under Nixon and then more comprehensively under George W. Bush, has reached a crescendo of violent rhetoric, accompanied by an unprecedented cynicism in the manipulation of reality.

”[This] guiding ideology was explained by a famous but anonymous Bush aide who informed reporter Ron Suskind of the impotence of the “reality-based community”—defined by said aide as individuals who ‘believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.’ ‘That’s not the way the world really works anymore,’ he explained. ‘We’re an empire now, and when we act we create our own reality. And while you are studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left just to study what we do.” citation

Whenever you blend religion and politics, as the Republicans have by pandering to the Religious Right, you get a kind of political True Believer who takes up the party line as if it were a tenet of their religion—especially, when their religious leaders frame candidates and political issues in religious terms. Unfortunately, once pragmatism and critical thinking are subordinated to faith, reality goes out the window, and the party faithful become willing—even eager—to ignore inconvenient truths and believe any self-serving lie.

Reality doesn’t stand a chance against people plugging their ears and chanting “liberalmedia, liberalmedia, liberalmedia.” The more the New York Times goes after Sarah Palin, the better off she is, because there’s a bigger truth out there and the bigger truth is, she’s Conservative, she’s White and she’s Christian. As long as those facts are out there, the little facts about her complete lack of qualification, and the bankruptcy of her party’s ideology don’t matter.

We now have Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity stepping up to the right wing megaphone trying to float the outrageous idea that Barack Obama is single handedly responsible for the stock market crash and a recession that, for anyone who has been paying attention, has been going on for over a year now. How are they able to do this? They are able to do it because they, along with other right wing pundits, have abandoned any semblance of journalistic regard for the truth. They are political operatives masquerading as journalists and entertainers. They are propagandists who mirror the views of their corporate paymasters.

They are able find a ready audience among the “unreality community” by playing to the same themes of humiliation, racism, and religious manicheanism that have always resonated among defeated racists. Its simply too humiliating to acknowledge that the stock market crash and the recession could be the result of deregulatory policies born of Republican ideology, or that their electoral defeat could have been on the merits of the case. So, they have constructed a mythology in which they are on the side of the angels, and the world is being driven to perdition by a black man.

They are so out of touch with reality that they can’t even wait until he takes office before they spin off fabrications about how he is already breaking his campaign promises. But, no matter. The truth has nothing to do with anything with these folks. This is all about self-deception. What’s being done here is giving people cover for their racism by showing them, with a sly wink, how they can express it respectably by cloaking it in a criticism of Obama’s handling of the country. This is just a warm-up, a rehearsal—a sketching of the outline—for the campaign of scapegoating, distortions, and vicious bald-face lies that we have known and come to expect from the right wing—people whose ideas have come and gone, but who nonetheless believe that they create their own reality.

cookieman's avatar

@MontyZuma: You are very right about the “self-deception”.

I found later, when these guys are pressed for their logical reasons, they have none. They eventually said things like, “I got nothing against blacks, but..” followed by some half baked “facts” that sounded straight out of consevative radio.

I let it go, but I’ve certainly lost respect for them. Such sheep.

Judi's avatar

My 2 son in laws have long commutes to work and have listened to a little to much AM radio, although they did vote for Obama (or maybe they’re just trying to keep family peace ;-)
This year I got them each an iPod touch for Christmas. I’m hoping they’ll stop brainwashing themselves.

cookieman's avatar

Indeed Judi. Would NPR podcasts be expecting too much of them? ;-)

tessa's avatar

Not only are they ignorant. They are totally racist. Why should we ‘LET the minorities run the country’? That is assuming a certain hierarchy which is being broken, and in order for these poor bastards to feel as though they are in control, they are LETTING the black guy run the country. and why will they fuck it up? That is RACIST! That is the same as saying anyone who is not white, is not as good.
Not only should you lose respect for these guys, you should stay clear and make sure they understand they are racist. And they DO have something against black guys. They are egotistical racist bastards and I feel very sorry for you for having to work with them!

90s_kid's avatar

Someone already tried to assasinate Obama. :S

laureth's avatar

Just one?

90s_kid's avatar

No, many, sorry.

otherlyworld's avatar

From Infowars.com:

Obama’s War Cabinet

Stephen Lendman
Global Research
December 5, 2008

December 1 brought more disappointment but no surprises. Obama’s national security appointees (like all his earlier ones) aren’t “change to believe in” or what people expected for their votes. They’re recycled establishment figures. Their agenda is business as usual, and they’ll continue the same failed Bush administration policies at home and abroad. Washington’s criminal class is bipartisan. Obama was chosen to lead it and is assembling a rogue team that’s little different from the one it’s replacing.

For “security”, it means:

– maintaining the “strongest military on the planet” and do it by outspending all other countries combined;

– continued foreign wars;

– possibly another against Iran;

– permanent occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan – directly and with proxy forces; Obama saying he’ll withdraw all US forces from Iraq in 16 months (around mid-2010) is false and misleading;

– a reinvented Cold War against Russia;

– an “absolute” commitment “to eliminating the threat of terrorism (with) the full force of our power;”

– inciting instability anywhere it serves US imperial interests with special emphasis on resource-rich Eurasia, including the Asian sub-continent; Exhibit A: the Bombay (Mumbai) terror attacks that Michel Chossudovsky explains have “the fingerprints of a (carefully planned) paramilitary-intelligence operation (and) are described as India’s 9/11,” or at least a mini version of it; the usual suspects are blamed; the purpose is to incite fear and more violence; the consequences – an internal hard line crackdown, increased tensions between India and Pakistan, and a military opening for Washington to intervene further in the region; and

– additional North American militarization as evidenced by a disturbing December 1 Washington Post report – that (on the pretext of national security) the Pentagon will deploy 20,000 troops nationwide by 2011 “to help state and local officials respond to a nuclear attack or other domestic catastrophe;” three “rapid-reaction” combat units are planned; two or more additional ones may follow; they’ll be supplemented by 80 smaller National Guard units and will be trained to respond to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, high-yield explosive, and other domestic “terror” attacks or disturbances; in other words, homeland militarization and occupation is planned using combat troops trained to kill.

Media Reaction to Obama’s National Security Appointees

The New York Times suggested he’s “put(ting) the rancor and even some of the rhetoric of the presidential campaign behind him on Monday as he welcomed his chief Democratic adversary into his cabinet and signaled flexibility in his plans to withdraw troops from Iraq.” He stated: “I will listen to the recommendations of my commanders (and it’s) likely to be necessary to maintain a residual force to provide potential training (and) logistical support to protect our civilians in Iraq.”

According to the Cato Institute’s foreign policy director, Christopher Preble, Obama chose Iraq war supporters, so it “suggests that we will only get more of the same.”

The Washington Post highlighted Obama’s “high-powered national security team….to face a complex security picture.” It quoted him calling for “a new beginning, a new dawn of American leadership (and) the power of our moral example.”

According to UN ambassador-designee Susan Rice, it’s a team “to prevent conflict, to promote peace, combat terrorism, prevent the spread and use of nuclear weapons, tackle climate change, end genocide, fight poverty and disease.” More on those aims below.

The Wall Street Journal suggested that Obama’s national security team will make “a clean break from Bush administration policies on Iraq, Afghanistan and overseas diplomacy.” It will differ from “an over-reliance on the military and a failure to devote enough resources to political reconciliation and economic development in those nations.” More on that below as well.

Obama’s National Security Designees

On December 1 in the UK Guardian, author Jeremy Scahill called them a “Kettle of Hawks” so it’s no surprise that hard line neocon writer Max Boot was jubilant over the selections and said they “as easily (could) have come from a President McCain.” He and like-minded ideologues believe this puts “an end to the 16-month timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, the unconditional summits with dictators (aka democrats like Chavez, president Ahmadinejad of Iran, and Fidel and Raul Castro), and other foolishness that once emanated from the Obama campaign.” His selections “should be powerful voices for neoliberalism which is not so different from neoconservatism.”

According to Boot, Obama will pick up right where Bush left off with a near-seamless transition. “Only churlish partisans of both the left and the right can be unhappy with the emerging tenor of our nation’s new leadership.”

According to former Chicago congressman, federal judge, and Clinton White House Counsel Abner Mikva in a Chicago Jewish News article, it’s also true for the nation’s Jews and the state of Israel. As some call Clinton ‘the nation’s first black president,’ “I think when this is over, people are going to say that Barack Obama is the first Jewish president.” Rabbi Arnold Wolf agrees in saying Obama is “embedded in the Jewish world.” Given the team he’s assembling, there’s every reason to believe they’re right.

Hillary Clinton

She’s co-heading the team (with Robert Gates) as Secretary of State designee, so it’s clear no change is planned given her hard line neocon ideology. As one analyst puts it: it’s why many on the left “are grinding their teeth” about her and other former Clinton administration appointees.

Back in May, CounterPunch co-editor Jeff St. Clair referred to her “Gothic politics” that offer no hope for needed change. He called her “constitutionally wedded to a stern neoliberalism, a disposition (she’s unable to) camouflage.”

Darker still is her hawkishness, far enough to the right to be indistinguishable from Joe Lieberman or John McCain. It’s why one analyst calls her a “war goddess” and with good reason. She supported the invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and still does. She voted for the Patriot, Homeland Security, and other repressive acts.

She’s extremely bellicose, endorses attacking Iran, supported Israel’s destructive 2006 Lebanon war, praised Israel’s apartheid wall, demeans the Palestinian people, equates them with terrorists, calls any Israeli criticism anti-Semitism, is close to AIPAC, and at its June convention said “The United States stands with Israel now and forever….We have shared interests….shared ideals….common values. I have a bedrock commitment to Israel’s security. (Against Islamic extremists) our two nations are fighting a shared threat….I strongly support Israel’s right to self-defense (and) believe America should aid in that defense….I am committed to making sure that Israel maintains a military edge to meet increasing threats.”

“I am deeply concerned about the growing threat in Gaza (and) Hamas’ campaign of terror….Its charter calls for the destruction of Israel….Iran (also) threatens to destroy Israel….I support calling the Iranian Revolutionary Guard what it is: a terrorist organization. It is imperative that we get both tough and smart about dealing with Iran before it is too late.”

In other speeches, Clinton has been extremely belligerent and blatantly malicious in accusations mirror opposite of the truth. She called Iran a strategic long-term threat, a country that practices state terrorism, that uses “surrogates to supply explosives that kill US troops in Iraq,” and that must be dealt with with “all options on the table.”

She also said that if Iran attacks Israel (that’s implausible on its face), America would respond by “obliterating” the country – in other words, incinerate its entire population through a nuclear holocaust. During the 2008 campaign, she told ABC’s Good Morning America:

“I want the Iranians to know, if I am the president, we will attack Iran. And I want them to understand that (if) they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them.”

She’s just as extremist on all foreign policy issues. She opposes an international treaty to ban land mines and was against banning cluster bomb exports to countries that use them on civilians. She backs arms transfers and police training to human rights abusing countries like Israel, Egypt, Pakistan, India, Saudi Arabia and similar US allies.

She’s for a larger military budget, continuing the “war on terror,” the nation’s illegal wars and occupation, and Israel’s repressive Palestinian occupation. In July 2004, she denounced the UN, accused it of opposing aggressive US policies, its judicial arm for challenging Israel’s Separation Barrier, and she sponsored a Senate resolution “urging no further action by the UN to delay” its construction.

She’s done nothing to contain nuclear proliferation except to condemn Iran’s legal commercial development. It’s in full accord with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) unlike the world’s greatest nuclear outlaw – America. Israel, India, and Pakistan as well, but they’re US allies unlike Iran. Clinton also supports the Bush Doctrine and his administration’s unilateral position on using first strike nuclear weapons, including against non-nuclear states.

Hillary Clinton at State sends a strong message to free people everywhere and especially to all Muslims and the Arab world – the “war on terror” will continue. Your people are its main target, and America will continue to invade and occupy your lands. It also tells the anti-war movement that it’s work has just begun and will be no simpler under Obama than it’s been up to now. Clinton is a powerful bulwark against it and to all freedom loving people everywhere. “Gothic” indeed – dark and foreboding in the same “war party” under new management.

Robert Gates

He’ll remain as Defense Secretary and is a clear signal of Bush administration policy continuity. After being named to succeed Donald Rumsfeld in November 2006, this writer said about him: The appointment of Robert Gates “replac(es) one controversial (defense) secretary and accused war criminal with an unindicted liar and equally controversial former Reagan and senior Bush official.” Earlier he was involved “in cooking the intelligence to fit the policy in the Iran-Contra scandal he was never held to account for.” He also had a hand “in secretly arming Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. When he takes over (at DOD), expect the Pentagon under (his) management to be no different” than the leadership it’s replacing. In all respects, Gates lived up to expectations and will continue the same policies under Obama.

In an October 28 speech at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, he argued for expanding the Bush administration’s pre-emptive war doctrine to include first strike nuclear weapons. He said that pacifist illusions shouldn’t deter planning for a broader war.

He added that “As long as other states have or seek nuclear weapons – and can potentially threaten us, our allies and friends – then we must have a deterrent capacity that makes it clear that challenging the US in the nuclear arena – or with weapons of mass destruction – could result in an overwhelming, catastrophic response.” In other words, if non-US allies seek nuclear weapons or if Washington (without evidence) claims it, they then become potential targets for a nuclear response even if their intentions are peaceful.

Gates’ other credentials include 26 years with the CIA where he was its deputy director from 1986 – 1989 and director from 1991 – 1993. Former CIA official, turned political activist, Ray McGovern knew him there and wrote about his “dexterity in orchestrating his own advancement (and) never (being) one to let truth derail (his) ambition.”

Former CIA analyst Mel Goodman described how he “tried hard to anticipate the views of policy makers in order to pander to their needs” and played a major role in politicizing the agency. One of his key distortions led to higher military spending under Ronald Reagan – by exaggerating the Soviet menace (along with CIA director Bill Casey) as a “military behemoth with a robust economy rather than a decaying power with a shriveling GDP.”

Goodman added: “While serving as deputy director for intelligence from 1982 – 1986, Gates wrote the manual for manipulating and centralizing the intelligence process to get the desired intelligence product.” He promoted pliable CIA careerists to top positions while sidelining or retiring more independent ones. In 1991 under GHW Bush, his colleagues staged an unprecedented revolt for his role in destroying the agency’s commitment to objectivity.

At the time, Harold P. Ford, former National Intelligence Council vice-chairman, told the Senate Intelligence Committee: “Bob Gates has often depended too much on his own individual analytic judgments and has ignored or scorned the views of others whose assessments did not accord with his own. This would be okay if he were uniquely all-seeing. He has not been.”

Throughout his career, Gates was devious and opportunistic. He’ll bring those “qualities” to the new Obama administration.

He’s also a past president of Texas A & M University (a position gotten with considerable Bush family help), a member of several corporate boards, served on the Baker Iraq Study Group, and was George Bush’s first choice for Department of Homeland Security secretary but declined to remain at Texas A & M.

Retired Marine General James Jones

He’s the announced National Security Advisor designee to head the White House National Security Council (NSC). Since inception under Harry Truman, it’s to advise the president on national security and foreign policies as well as coordinate them among various government agencies (including the military branches, CIA, and other intelligence agencies).

* A d v e r t i s e m e n t
*

Jones is a former NATO commander (from 2003 – 2006), Commandant of the Marine Corp (from 1999 – 2003), and 40 year veteran after retiring from the Corp in 2007. He’s now a US Chamber of Commerce executive and last November was named the administration’s special Middle East envoy with this endorsement: he’s the “person we need to take up this vital mission….an experienced leader who can address the regional security challenges comprehensively and at the highest levels….” His assignment was to draft a strategic security stabilization plan to complement (so-called) Israeli – Palestinian peace talks. He supports stationing US forces in Occupied Palestine under the pretext of NATO peacekeepers.

He also investigated the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, concluded that America “t(ook) its eye off the ball” in Afghanistan and is losing. That view supports Obama’s wanting 10,000 more combat troops there (30,000 according to some reports) and also plans “as our first priority” increased regional military operations – against Afghanistan and Pakistan with a more convenient than ever pretext in the wake of the Bombay (Mumbai) terror attacks in the part of the world he calls the greatest menace to US security.

Increasing numbers of US missile strikes are killing more Pakistani civilians. They’re inciting growing anger in the country, are escalating the Afghan war, and threaten to expand the war theater to a much larger area with potentially catastrophic consequences – a strategy Obama and his incoming team apparently support.

In his latest article titled “Afghanistan, Another Untold Story,” Michael Parenti has a different view. After reviewing the country’s recent history, he says:

“US intervention in Afghanistan has proven not much different from US intervention in Cambodia, Angola, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Grenada, Panama, and elsewhere. It had the same intent of preventing egalitarian social change, and the same effect of overthrowing an economically reformist government. In all these instances, the intervention brought retrograde elements into ascendance, left the economy in ruins, and pitilessly laid waste to many innocent lives.”

“The war in Afghanistan, a battered impoverished country, continues to be portrayed in US official circles as a gallant crusade against terrorism. If it ever was that, it also has been a means to other things: destroying a leftist revolutionary social order, gaining profitable control of one of the last vast untapped reserves of the earth’s dwindling fossil fuel supply, and planting US bases and US military power into still another region of the world….In the face of all this, Obama’s call for ‘change’ rings hollow.”

It also suggests a frightening prospect under his leadership – a continuation of Bush’s (preventive war) Doctrine against countries we claim (true or false) practice “terrorism,” harbor “terrorist” elements, or aid “terrorist” groups. In other words, an agenda that needs enemies, invents them strategically, and intends to wage permanent aggressive wars to expand US imperialism globally and especially over resource-rich parts of the world like Eurasia.

Eric Holder

As Attorney General designee, he’s another very troublesome choice because of his hard line law-and-order reputation. He’s Obama’s senior legal advisor, a former District of Columbia Superior Court judge, and Deputy Attorney General under Bill Clinton.

As senior Democrat Party legal advisor during the Bush administration, he was actively involved in his party’s complicity in enacting repressive police state laws.

In 1998, he issued a statement known as the “Holder memo” in which he supported government intervention into policing Internet free speech. It stated:

“Because of the nature of the Internet and availability of agents trained in conducting criminal investigations in cyberspace, investigation and prosecution of Internet obscenity is particularly suitable to federal resources.”

In a 1998 letter to Morality In Media (an extremist religious right front group against pornography), he said: “I appreciated having the opportunity to meet with you recently to discuss the prosecution of obscenity cases.” Holder supported multi-jurisdictional prosecutions of Internet web sites and businesses on such charges, even in cases of First Amendment-protected material.

Some claim his strategy wasn’t to win, but to burden defendants with mounting legal costs, exhaust them through repeated litigation, and perhaps drive them into bankruptcy. It’s a tactic very similar to so-called SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) lawsuits that are used to intimidate and silence critics.

Holder was also involved in Bill Clinton’s indefensible last day in office Mark Rich pardon, the billionaire fugitive commodities trader. In 1983, Rich and his partner were indicted on 65 counts of defrauding the IRS, mail fraud, tax evasion, racketeering, defrauding the Treasury and trading with the enemy. Holder was deputy attorney general at the time.

As US attorney for the District of Columbia, he also pushed for stiffer marijuana penalties, and according to one report, advocated “minimum sentences of 18 months for first-time convicted drug dealers, 36 months for second offenses, and 72 months for each subsequent conviction.” He also wanted to “make the penalty for distribution and possession with intent to distribute marijuana a felony, punishable with up to a five-year sentence.” The DC Council enacted Holder’s recommendation into law in 2000. His hard line stance against non-violent drug offenders runs counter to Obama’s softer position, apparently about to harden.

Holder also played a lead role in the 2005 Patriot Act reauthorization, supported at the time by Obama. In addition, after his Clinton administration service, he was a partner in the Covington & Burling law and lobbying firm at which he defended Chiquita Brands International executives on charges of aiding terrorism by financing and arming Colombian (AUC) death squads. In spite of overwhelming evidence and the company’s own admission, he got it off with a fine of around half of one percent of its annual revenue.

Holder also believes that accused “terrorists” have no Geneva Convention rights. In a January 2002 CNN interview he said:

“One of the things we clearly want to do with these prisoners is to have an ability to interrogate them and find out what their future plans might be, where other cells are located; under the Geneva Convention you are really limited in the amount of information that you can elicit from people.”

“It seems to me that given the way in which they have conducted themselves, however, that they are not, in fact, people entitled to the protection of the Geneva Convention. They are not prisoners of war.”

Holder left unaddressed the question of torture, guilt or innocence. The fact that they were captured and imprisoned is good enough for him.

As the nation’s top law enforcement official, he’ll assure more of the same criminal abuses under George Bush. He’s no civil libertarian or what people should expect from the nation’s top law enforcement officer. He represents business as usual, and a sign of continued dark times ahead.

Keeping FBI Director Robert Mueller as his chief law enforcement deputy (even though his term runs until 2011) is an even stronger signal. Mueller enforced the worst of “war on terrorism” policies, including witch-hunt prosecutions, illegal spying, and targeting political dissent.

The possible appointment of former George Tenet aide John Brennan as new CIA chief is also disturbing although reportedly he’s out of the running. He heads Obama’s intelligence transition team, supported warrantless wiretapping, extraordinary rendition, and was involved in politicizing intelligence alleging Saddam’s WMDs in the run-up to the Iraq war.

Possible CIA Directors

On December 2, The New York Times reported that “Obama Faces a Delicate Task” in choosing his CIA chief – “one of the more treacherous patches of his transition to the White House” given the agency’s disturbing involvement in extraordinary renditions, torture, and other illegal practices under Bush.

Even so, “some senior Democratic lawmakers who are vehement critics of the Bush administration’s interrogation policies seemed reluctant in recent interviews to commit the new administration to following the Army Field Manual in all cases.”

Diane Feinstein will become Senate Intelligence Committee chairperson in January. She says extreme cases and potential terrorist threats call for flexibility, so her message is clear even though in a subsequent statement she softened it. Repressive interrogations, including torture, will likely continue under Obama even if Guantanamo is closed and even though they’re illegal under US and international law.

During the campaign, Obama aides said he’d let CIA keep holding prisoners in overseas jails but that International Committee of the Red Cross representatives should be given access to them. It matters little because, when allowed, their tours are carefully orchestrated to conceal repressive practices and no contact with prisoners most aggrieved by them.

The Army Field Manual (No. 27–10) is explicit on the rule of law. It incorporates the Nuremberg Principles prohibiting crimes against humanity, and in paragraph 498 states that any person, military or civilian, who commits a crime under international law bears responsibility and may be punished. In addition, paragraph 499 defines a “war crime.” Paragraph 500 refers to conspiracy, attempts to commit it and complicity with respect to international crimes. Paragraph 509 denies the defense of superior orders in the commission of a crime; and paragraph 510 denies the defense of an “act of state.”

Most members of Congress from both parties have been complicit with the administration in egregiously violating both US and international laws. All signs point to little, if any, change under the incoming Obama administration.

The Times reports that Obama will replace CIA director Michael Hayden. Possible candidates include:

– deputy director (since 2004) Stephen Kappes, a 27-year CIA veteran;

– former Indiana congressman and member of the 9/11 commission Tim Roemer; he’s now president of the Center for National Policy, a Washington-based national security think tank;

– Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel who’s retiring from the Senate in January; he’s also a former conservative talk-show host and is (or was during his runs for the Senate) part owner, chairman, and CEO of the Election Systems & Software (ES&S) electronic voting machine company; it installed, programmed and operated the equipment used by most voters for the elections in which he ran; he won a second term in 1982 with 83% of the vote – the largest ever political victory in the state; some critics called it a dress rehearsal for Bush’s 2004 electoral theft and various state ones favoring Republican candidates; and

– Jack Devine, a 32-year CIA veteran, now retired, and former head of clandestine service; he describes himself as “a covert action person (who believes) we should be out there pushing US policy wherever we can, covertly and overtly.”

Admiral Dennis Blair

Reports are that retired Admiral Dennis Blair is top choice to be Director of National Intelligence (DNI). The office was established by the 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act and was formed in April 2005. It’s the president’s principal national security intelligence advisor; heads the nation’s 16 intelligence agencies; and oversees and directs the National Intelligence Program.

Now retired, Blair is a 34 year Navy veteran and currently holds the (former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman) John Shalikashvili Chair in National Security Studies at The National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR). Also the General of the Army Omar Bradley Chair of Strategic Leadership at Dickenson College and the US Army War College. He’s the immediate past president of the Institute for Defense Analyses, a US government Washington, DC think tank that calls itself “a non-profit corporation that administers three federally funded (R & D) centers to assist the (government) in national security issues.”

Blair was also an Oxford classmate of Bill Clinton and a Naval Academy classmate of Senator Jim Webb. If appointed, he’ll bring more militarist credentials to Obama’s war cabinet. In his various command assignments during the Bush administration, he was a point man in the “war on terrorism.” He’ll continue that role as the nation’s intelligence chief.

An obstacle in his way was in a Pentagon inspector general finding regarding DOD conflict-of-interest standards. Earlier he was involved with a study of a major military contract for the F-22 fighter while a board member of the company that makes it, Lockheed Martin. It occurred while Blair was president of the Institute for Defense Analyses. Whether this will derail him is an open question, but it highlights the pervasive Washington revolving-door and overall corrupted culture.

Janet Napolitano

According to Michael Lacey of LA Weekly News, the current Arizona governor and designee for Homeland Security secretary is a troublesome choice. He cites her sorrowful Arizona service “consorting with anti-immigrant enforcers, indulging rank opportunism, and adhering to failed policies (that make for) an unlikely recipe for change we can believe in. And yet this very cocktail of mediocrity” made her Obama’s choice for DHS chief or what this writer calls the nation’s Gestapo.

As Arizona governor, Napolitano defended her states border with a “pitchfork. Her multi-pronged strategy: embrace the nation’s most regressive legislation; empower a notorious sheriff using cynical political calculations; (and) employ boots on the ground” – shock troop enforcers against defenseless Latino immigrants forced north because of destructive NAFTA policies.

Lacey goes on to describe Napolitano’s “bungled billions,” hiring companies embedded with former state agency employees and cronies, ducking hard choices, using accounting gimmicks in state budgets, and various other practices amounting to “corruption, greed, and the cupidity of boondoggle bookkeeping in hard times.” She also signed legislation criminalizing the need to work and support one’s family and created a state atmosphere reminiscent of Prohibition – today against Latino immigrants driven north to find work. Now she’ll do for America what she’s doing to Arizona.

Susan Rice

She’ll be Obama’s nominee for UN ambassador. Earlier under Bill Clinton, she was on the National Security Council and served as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. Some call her progressive but recommending the unilateral use of military force against any country violates the Charter of the organization where she’ll work. In 2006, she recommended it against Sudan in stating:

“History demonstrates that there is one language Khartoum understands: the credible threat or use of force….After swift diplomatic consultations, the United States should press for a UN resolution that issues Sudan an ultimatum: accept unconditional deployment of the UN force within one week or face military consequences.”

Chapter VII of the UN Charter authorizes only the Security Council to “determine the existence of any threat to the peace, or act of aggression (and, if necessary, take military or other actions to) restore international peace and stability.” It permits a nation to use force only under two conditions: when authorized by the Security Council or under Article 51 allowing the “right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member….until the Security Council has taken measures to maintain international peace and security.”

Calling for unilateral force against another state for any reason is illegal and criminal. Susan Rice did it, yet will serve as America’s UN ambassador as her reward.

Obama continues to round out his team, and each appointment mirrors the others. On his watch, it’ll be business as usual, but what else would we expect.

cheebdragon's avatar

I can’t remember what the question was…..

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