Thursday, July 24, 2008


I have heard the question asked by more than a few people. Is Obama receiving fawning press coverage while McCain gets little more than a notice? Yes. Obama is a rock star. He is young, energetic, compassionate, able to speak with clarity and has the ability to give people hope. McCain, no matter how valiant his service to this country was, is yet another old white guy who will do everything his predecessor did to see that the rich will get richer and cruelty is rewarded with power. Period. Obama is no saint. No one comes out of Chicago politics without learning the game very well. But to make a bad pun, the comparison is black and white. Of course a young man who is half black and running for the president of the united states of America is going to get a lot of press coverage. You know why? Because he is the liberal Regan. Regan was a great communicator. He was funny, always had a smile and knew how to speak to a crowd. Sound familiar? America has not had a charismatic young leader since Kennedy. If you think the press is not going to follow him around and make a big deal out of his slightest utterances, than you don't understand the American media where a celebrity announcing they are going to have a baby often times trumps real news.
What I have noticed about the coverage of McCain is that the press seems unwilling to point out when he makes a mistake. The latest was a interview where he talked about the danger along the Iraq Pakistan border. Iraq does not border Pakistan. A country by the name of Iran, sits between the two countries. If anything, the media seems unwilling to be critical of his statements out of fear that people will think they are pointing out his age. Fine. Call him out on his policies. Call him out on the huge issues he has changed his mind about and ask him why. Call him out on the fact that his campaign has had to fire lobbyist after lobbyist when their conflict of interest is brought to the attention of the media. The fact is, Obama has yet to make a major misstep. When he does, the media will be all over it. There is nothing we value more in this country than the fall of a star. It will come. Until then, he is just that; a star. Obama is more than politician or leader. He is the agent of change in a time when no one particularly knows how to change. America has some very hard choices to make. No one is telling us this yet because the leaders are scared by what they see too. The fact is, we are headed into a decline of Americas power.
Story after story comes in from people traveling every where that the dollar, the currency of the planet, is no longer being accepted by the road side merchants in India or the small shops in Cairo. The dollar is no longer respected or strong enough on the global market to be of any value to even the people on the fringes of their local community. Prices for basic items are going up. Our military is fractured and over stretched. The writing is on the wall for anyone who wants to see it. If we are to maintain anything like the power and prestige we once had on the world stage, it is going to take some dramatic changes in policy. Change, as you might have noticed, is not something we do well here. We have all been conditioned to trust that the next generation will have it better than the last generation. Maybe not this one. Education standards continue to fall. Well paid jobs in industry and technology are getting harder to find for even the best educated Americans. We have sat transfixed by reality TV as the machinery built to grant everyone life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness has been dismantled. It has been taken a part by men in power to give those who already have a lot, more. Deregulation has driven prices up, not down as they told us it would. We might not have faced any more terrorist attacks on home soil, but an entire generation of adults will come home from Iraq damaged in ways we scarcely understand. Money will not be there for all their issues. Help will be rationed and only the worse who act out will get attention. In every way, they too should be thought of as victims in a terrorist attack. I do not think Obama is a saviour or anything more than a politician. However, he has shown the capacity for greatness in a time that needs a leader that can inspire us to change. John McCain is the total embodiment of all that rests in the past. This is not his fault. It is just not his time. One more rich white guy with all the privileges and lack of understanding for anyone else is not what we need in the White House right now. We need to hear how bad it is along with a solution. We need to be able to trust that leader and allow him to push us toward difficult changes. Do you really think McCain is that man?
It's easy to lavish Obama with praise. He is a phenomena. The press is reflecting what the population feels for him. I don't know if that means he will be able to guide us onto a new path or even how much worse things will get. If anything, the media seems more determined to not let us know the true state of things. Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness might be a right to all in the Constitution, but those three things are in short supply lately. The Constitution has never faced a more scornful administration for the rights it grants every citizen. You might have the illusion of being safe from a terrorist attack, but the leaders who remind you every chance they get that they are responsible for that are the same leaders who deregulated the banks. Last time I checked, it wasn't Al Queda taking peoples homes in record numbers, it was the banks who have politicians on their boards that are forcing people out of their homes. Gay marriage is not responsible for Americas big three automakers refusing to update their technology and are now paying for it with inventories filled with gas guzzling SUV's and nothing to offer Americans who want a cheaper more green alternative. Burning the flag has not kept American troops under hostile fire in a war that has been based entirely on lie after lie for an agenda that will benefit a handful of petroleum companies. Believing in God has not kept our educational standards from falling lower and lower in a world we are told we must compete with in a global economy.
Stop voting against your self interest America. Being for or against abortion will not fix the system of money lending we created to destroy the middle class. If you are truly pro-life, then end our billion dollar a day experiment in empire and bring the troops in Iraq home. We are hated and shot at everyday while we are there. No good can ever come from that. Every stray bullet we fire and each child harmed in a normal bomb dropping operation spawns a hundred more sworn enemies of America. This is how we created Bin Laden. If Iraq is doing anything, it is making a thousand more of him that your children will have to face. Not us. Not today.
I don't know what Obama can do to turn us from a dreary path. I have no illusions that he is anything but a man. But I have concrete belief in the fact that McCain will only continue a slash and burn attitude toward the dying middle class. McCain will be another out of touch guy use to money and power who will take America away from what it was set up to be. That I believe.


John Maszka said...

Senator Obama is turning out to be a real disappointment and a very dangerous man. Moving the war on terror to Pakistan could have disastrous consequences on both the political stability in the region, and in the broader balance of power. Scholars such as Richard Betts accurately point out that beyond Iran or North Korea, “Pakistan may harbor the greatest potential danger of all.” With the current instability in Pakistan, Betts points to the danger that a pro-Taliban government would pose in a nuclear Pakistan. This is no minor point to be made. While the Shi’a in Iran are highly unlikely to proliferate WMD to their Sunni enemies, the Pakistanis harbor no such enmity toward Sunni terrorist organizations. Should a pro-Taliban or other similar type of government come to power in Pakistan, Al-Qaeda’s chances of gaining access to nuclear weapons would dramatically increase overnight.

There are, of course, two sides to every argument; and this argument is no exception. On the one hand, some insist that American forces are needed in order to maintain political stability and to prevent such a government from rising to power. On the other hand, there are those who believe that a deliberate attack against Pakistan’s state sovereignty will only further enrage its radical population, and serve to radicalize its moderates. I offer the following in support of this latter argument:

Pakistan has approximately 160 million people; better than half of the population of the entire Arab world. Pakistan also has some of the deepest underlying ethnic fissures in the region, which could lead to long-term disintegration of the state if exacerbated. Even with an impressive growth in GDP (second only to China in all of Asia), it could be decades before wide-spread poverty is alleviated and a stable middle class is established in Pakistan.

Furthermore, the absence of a deeply embedded democratic system in Pakistan presents perhaps the greatest danger to stability. In this country, upon which the facade of democracy has been thrust by outside forces and the current regime came to power by coup, the army fulfills the role of “referee within the political boxing ring.” However, this referee demonstrates a “strong personal interest in the outcome of many of the fights and a strong tendency to make up the rules as he goes along.” The Pakistani army “also has a long record of either joining in the fight on one side or the other, or clubbing both boxers to the ground and taking the prize himself” (Lieven, 2006:43).

Pakistan’s army is also unusually large. Thathiah Ravi (2006:119, 121) observes that the army has “outgrown its watchdog role to become the master of this nation state.” Ravi attributes America’s less than dependable alliance with Pakistan to the nature of its army. “Occasionally, it perceives the Pakistan Army as an inescapable ally and at other times as a threat to regional peace and [a] non-proliferation regime.” According to Ravi, India and Afghanistan blame the conflict in Kashmir and the Durand line on the Pakistan Army, accusing it of “inciting, abetting and encouraging terrorism from its soil.” Ravi also blames the “flagrant violations in nuclear proliferation by Pakistan, both as an originator and as a conduit for China and North Korea” on the Pakistan Army, because of its support for terrorists.

The point to be made is that the stability of Pakistan depends upon maintaining the delicate balance of power both within the state of Pakistan, and in the broader region. Pakistan is not an island, it has alliances and enemies. Moving American troops into Pakistan will no doubt not only serve to radicalize its population and fuel the popular call for Jihad, it could also spark a proxy war with China that could have long-lasting economic repercussions. Focusing on the more immediate impact American troops would have on the Pakistani population; let’s consider a few past encounters:

On January 13, 2006, the United States launched a missile strike on the village of Damadola, Pakistan. Rather than kill the targeted Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s deputy leader, the strike instead slaughtered 17 locals. This only served to further weaken the Musharraf government and further destabilize the entire area. In a nuclear state like Pakistan, this was not only unfortunate, it was outright stupid.

On October 30, 2006, the Pakistani military, under pressure from the US, attacked a madrassah in the Northwest Frontier province in Pakistan. Immediately following the attack, local residents, convinced that the US military was behind the attack, burned American flags and effigies of President Bush, and shouted “Death to America!” Outraged over an attack on school children, the local residents viewed the attack as an assault against Islam.
On November 7, 2006, a suicide bomber retaliated. Further outrage ensued when President Bush extended his condolences to the families of the victims of the suicide attack, and President Musharraf did the same, adding that terrorism will be eliminated “with an iron hand.” The point to be driven home is that the attack on the madrassah was kept as quiet as possible, while the suicide bombing was publicized as a tragedy, and one more reason to maintain the war on terror.

Last year trouble escalated when the Pakistani government laid siege to the Red Mosque and more than 100 people were killed. “Even before his soldiers had overrun the Lal Masjid ... the retaliations began.” Suicide attacks originating from both Afghan Taliban and Pakistani tribal militants targeted military convoys and a police recruiting center. Guerrilla attacks that demonstrated a shocking degree of organization and speed-not to mention strategic cunning revealed that they were orchestrated by none other than al-Qaeda’s number two man, Ayman Al-Zawahiri; a fact confirmed by Pakistani and Taliban officials. One such attack occurred on July 15, 2007, when a suicide bomber killed 24 Pakistani troops and injured some 30 others in the village of Daznaray (20 miles to the north of Miran Shah, in North Waziristan). Musharraf ordered thousands of troops into the region to attempt to restore order. But radical groups swore to retaliate against the government for its siege of the mosque and its cooperation with the United States.

A July 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) concludes that “al Qaeda is resurgent in Pakistan- and more centrally organized than it has been at any time since 9/11.” The NIE reports that al-Qaeda now enjoys sanctuary in Bajaur and North Waziristan, from which they operate “a complex command, control, training and recruitment base” with an “intact hierarchy of top leadership and operational lieutenants.”

In September 2006 Musharraf signed a peace deal with Pashtun tribal elders in North Waziristan. The deal gave pro-Taliban militants full control of security in the area. Al Qaeda provides funding, training and ideological inspiration, while Afghan Taliban and Pakistani Tribal leaders supply the manpower. These forces are so strong that last year Musharraf sent well over 100,000 trained Pakistani soldiers against them, but they were not able to prevail against them.

The question remains, what does America do when Pakistan no longer has a Musharraf to bridge the gap? While Musharraf claims that President Bush has assured him of Pakistan’s sovereignty, Senator Obama obviously has no intention of honoring such an assurance. As it is, the Pakistanis do just enough to avoid jeopardizing U.S. support. Musharraf, who is caught between Pakistan’s dependence on American aid and loyalty to the Pakistani people, denies being George Bush’s hand-puppet. Musharraf insists that he is “200 percent certain” that the United States will not unilaterally decide to attack terrorists on Pakistani soil. What happens when we begin to do just that?

Joe said...

You have set the record for the longest comment on my blog. I also think you have the best thought out and researched reply to date. Everything you say about Pakistan is true. I would add a little more history to the story. When Russia invaded Afghanistan, it was the money, training and weapons we sent to the Pakistan Military Intelligence services that supplied the Taliban to fight them. It was a very comfortable relationship we had with them. However, every deal with the devil has its down side. The fruit of this relationship created Osama, who would go onto become public enemy number one. It also created the father of Pakistan’s nuclear program, A.Q. Khan. We knew that he was selling the technology on the international black market and did nothing about it till we found it ending up in North Korea and Libya. One could argue that what America is going through right now is payment of a Karmic debt. Knowingly funding a dictators covert military has always come back to haunt us. All you need to do is look at our relationships with Saddam Hussein and Manuel Noriega to see that.
Obama is not dangerous when he says he is in favor of crossing borders to unilaterally destroy an enemy on another countries soil with out permission. After all, isn’t that what Bush did in the name of safety when he invaded Iraq? Isn’t that what McCain promises when he talks about bombing Iran? The fact is, everyone knows where Osama is. Everyone knows why he is allowed to go untouched too.
The argument that losing a dictator who is on our payroll will result in disaster for us might be true. But what the hell are we doing business with a terrorist nation anyway? If America is serious about bringing Osama to justice and stamping out radical terrorist cells-something Bush tells us over and over as the middle class is killed off-then why not do it? Why not deal with the consequences of actually doing what we tell the world we are doing? The fact is, every move we have made in the region has only brought more problems a decade down the road. Who ever gets into the White House will have to confront Pakistan sooner or latter. If we are too busy bombing Iran for what they may or may not have yet, how will we handle a nuclear powered jihad in Pakistan? We won’t.
Obama is not dangerous as I see him. He is practical and simply said that he is willing to do what Bush did. That statement more than anything else he has said scares me. McCain has been quoted as saying, “I hate to tell you this, but there are going to be other wars.” He has also said, “we might be in Iraq for 100 years.” My favorite one is, “I know how to win wars.” Really? Cause I don’t think Vietnam went down in the history books as a win.

eobubba said...

Maybe you should go into politics, Joe, instead of telling dick jokes to drunks in Idaho?

You've got the speaking ability, you've got the passion, and you live in the right city.

Just a thought.

Joe said...

I have thought about it. If I go into politics though, my past will be a great weapon for the other side and I will loose credibility. After all, we live in a country that gets most of it's hard hitting political information from The Daily Show.I am sticking with comedy. Not the drunks in Idaho who want dick jokes. Just the dicks in the rest of the country who voted for a joke.

eobubba said...

We live in a state with a crappy actor as governer. You live in a city where roller-skating tranvestite nuns are a major-political force in a town where illegals are protected by law and pot is legal.

What horrible thing did you do that would kill your SF politic career? Vote for Reagan? Doubt Al? Threaten to castrate Obama?

Matt Gubser said...

Holy hell Mr. Maszka. In the time it took you to post that comment, seven other countries developed nuclear weapons, including Puerto Rico.

Joe said...

Check the Dudes blog out. he knows his stuff and now we have real debate on my blog!

Matt Gubser said...

I can't find any info on Mr. Maszka other than the obscure mention that he is a "scholar" and wrote a book. No mention of credentials, experience, etc. He sure does like to leave blog comments though.