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Posts Tagged ‘terrorists

Sarah Palin & the Vietnam War Era: Shall we reduce our history to bumper sticker slogans?

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I figure I can keep prefacing my posts with this anecdote until it no longer applies: I once knew a man whose parrot could say “shit.” While the bird had no idea what the word meant, it nonetheless spent its days repeating, “shit” (along with “open the door” and “what’s up?”) daylong, come rain or come shine. 

Sarah Palin is like this. Her scriptwriters have given her some zingy speeches, phrases and one-liners, which she delivers with a fair degree of skill. Problem is, she hasn’t the foggiest idea what she’s talking about. It’s one thing to memorize the facts. It’s another thing, entirely, to understand those facts — and particularly to understand them within their historical context.

Oh, that the lessons from the ugliest chapters in our national history could be reduced to bumper sticker slogans, which we could forever intone in times of trouble, to save us from all future calamity. The world doesn’t work that way. Anyone who thinks so is just plain wrong. And any national leader who thinks so is just plain dangerous. In this vein, I feel compelled to set the record straight on the Vietnam War era, which served as the backdrop to those notorious and violent protests of William Ayers that have recently become the subject of Sarah Palin’s bumper-sticker slogans — those carelessly delivered slogans that carry the same potential for deadly violence as any of the Weathermen’s bombs.    

The Vietnam War Years: some sorely needed perspective on those horrible times

William Ayers’ activities with the Weathermen were abhorrent, no matter that he committed them in the cause of ending the war in Vietnam. I can state, without a doubt (and even lacking statistics) that nearly all Americans were opposed to bombing government buildings in protest of the war. It would be a lie,  however, to say that Ayers was out of the mainstream in his beliefs that the war was wrong and needed to end. 

The fact is, during the height of Ayers’ anti-war activities, the majority of Americans were of the same mind as Ayers in opposing the war in Vietnam. Depending on the age group, the opposition ranged from 66% to 77% of Americans opposing the war in Vietnam War.

Again, we can all overwhelmingly agree today that William Ayers’ violent methods were wrong (wrong, wrong, wrong). But let’s be clear. It would be a lie to say that his opposition to the war was “un-American” as Sarah Palin would like us to believe, unless you’re the sort who believes that the majority opinion, within a democracy, is undemocratic, or that citizens who protest when they believe their government is wrong are “unpatriotic.” Because, if you’re that sort, then you’re also the sort who would paint as treasonists and terrorists men like Patrick Henry, Paul Revere, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson…..

The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive. — Thomas Jefferson

During the height of the Vietnam War, millions of Americans took to the streets in protest against the war, with the majority of violent acts being committed — not by the protesters, but by law enforcement. Even this is an over-simplification. The point here is that Sarah Palin knows shamefully little about the history of the country she’d like to rule, much less the rest of the world. In this vein, I offer, below, an exceedingly brief historical context of the Vietnam War era, because it seems history’s been re-written into things that were and were not. 

My effort here will no doubt inspire the wrath of some. I suspect this is why we don’t see an outpouring of such efforts, even as there are no doubt countless millions in this country who would agree with what I’m saying. I’m of the mind that, lest we remember the lessons of our history, we will be forced to relearn them over and over. Ain’t no bumper sticker can save us from ignorance. I am particularly mindful and fearful of this when I hear the hateful, violence-inciting vitriol of Sarah Palin’s stump speeches.  

ABOVE: A May 1964 conversation between President Lyndon Johnson and his National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy, one year before the fatal escalation of troops. Here, Johnson voiced his strong reservations about escalating this war: Looks to me we’re getting into another Korea. It just worries the hell out of me….. I don’t think it’s worth fighting for, and I don’t think we can get out, and it’s just the biggest damn mess that I ever saw….. It’s damned easy to get into a war, but it’s going to be awfully hard to extricate yourself if you get in.

ABOVE: Four years after this conversation, Walter Cronkite denounced the war in Vietnam in a broadcast that effectively put an end to Johnson’s aspirations for re-election. Would that we had, today, such journalists of integrity.

ABOVE: For those who didn’t live through the Vietnam years, this is a sampling of what we saw on the evening news. For those who did live through those years, but have forgotten the national climate at that time, here is a sampling of the 66% to 77% of Americans who, like William Ayers, were opposed to the war. This footage at least shows us that the Bush Administration took one lesson from the Vietnam War — namely, that if you shut out the media (don’t show the slaughtering of women and children, and don’t show those coffins arriving home) you can keep the American public in the dark about the realities of a war and, thereby, reduce the level of negative opinion and protest.  (note: the sound quality on this video is uneven — scratchy, then loud, then soft — but well worth the 10 minutes to watch).

Leave no authority existing not responsible to the people. — Thomas Jefferson

 

See our related posts:

Sarah Palin Hurls William Ayers: A Molotov Cocktail with a Twist of Lies 

The Terrorist Tactics of Sarah Palin & John McCain: It’s time to tell the media “Enough is Enough!”

McCain & Palin — Palling Around with Terrorists While Rome Burns

 

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The terrorist tactics of Sarah Palin & John McCain — It’s time to tell the media: “Enough is Enough!”

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John McCain vowed to take the gloves off during last night’s debate. To the disappointment of some, he didn’t. What seems to have escaped the media radar is that the McCain campaign had already taken the gloves off 4 days earlier. It is the nature of chickenshit men to only attack their opponents from behind. Hatred flourishes in dark places. Brought into the light of a public forum, the shamefulness of their acts becomes glaring. Even John McCain, in his most desperate hours, couldn’t bring himself to stoop to the level of his running mate, who has shown that she has no shame.    

 

The difference between Sarah Palin and William Ayers

There are those who think it is sometimes justified to commit violence for a cause. You could run the full gamut — from the Battle of Lexington to the war in Afghanistan, from militant anti-abortion protesters to militant anti-war protesters, from the suffragette movement to the civil rights movement (although, in that latter set, it bears mention that the violence was committed primarily by angry men and angry whites, respectively, against women and black protesters), and from Carrie Nation to William Ayers. I abhor violence. It is not my intention here to promote, excuse or argue the worthiness of any violent act over another, no matter how noble some may view the cause.    

Our history is equally pocked with instances of individuals and groups committing or urging violence out of a sheer hatred — born from ignorance and fear of other individuals and groups — which is not a noble cause by any standard, but is a sickness: from slavery to the Trail of Tears, from the KKK to neo-Nazis, from Charles Manson to Timothy McVeigh. The McCain campaign belongs in this group.  

To the extent that, at times in our history, this sickness has erupted into violence, we carry a collective wound that is continually re-injured, never quite healing. A source of shame for some, and a source of unresolved rage for others, this wound is part of our national consciousness. In some, it exists right beneath the surface, like an inflamed boil, ever on the verge of bursting into a poisonous flow of pus. In hard times, the rage and hatred are more easily provoked, requiring only a slight pricking of the surface to start the flow. Sarah Palin– on behalf of the McCain campaign — has taken a surgical needle to this wound, urging — nick by nick, code-word by code-word — the poison to the surface. 

All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.

The media are taking their cues from the American public on this. In the absence of our protests, they will likely continue airing, without counterpoint, the hateful, race-baiting, violence-inciting stump speeches of Sarah Palin and the McCain campaign. It is odd that, only during a presidential campaign, would such vitriol be broadcast, daylong, into our living rooms — as if the implications of Sarah Palin’s speeches were as benign as a rant on taxes, health care or energy independence.  At no other time would a public figure be allowed a national forum to incite violence. 

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I urge all people of good conscience to write the media. Send an outpouring of protest against the unchallenged airing of this dangerous vitriol. You need write no more than a sentence. Less is more. Just remember to be courteous, respectful and succinct (admittedly not my forte). Below is a list of media contacts, from the Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) site. If you’re at a loss for words, feel free to borrow some of mine, below, changing them as you see fit.

The recent tone and language of the McCain campaign is inciting a threatening atmosphere of hatred that I fear could erupt into violence. While I would never propose abridging free speech, there is a fine line between the free exercise of speech and the inciting of violence. In reporting on hate groups, such as the KKK  and neo-Nazi groups, I would not expect the media to air their hateful vitriol without a strong counterpoint. While there are many shades of gray between the two, I believe the line between free speech and violence-inciting words has been crossed, when the stump-speeches of a public figure incite the audience to jeer, “Kill him!” and “Terrorist!” and “Treason!” and (to an African American member of the media) “Sit down, boy.” Our country is in a time of crisis, with old and new angers simmering beneath the surface. I fear that, in the near future, the media will be reporting on the repercussions of these destructive speeches. I implore you to, please, exercise responsibility in the reporting of these hateful speeches.

MEDIA CONTACTS:

ABC News
77 W. 66 St., New York, NY 10023
Phone: 212-456-7777

General e-mail: netaudr@abc.com
Nightline: nightline@abcnews.com
20/20: 2020@abc.com

FAIR
112 W. 27th St.
New York, NY 10001
fair@fair.org

 

 CBS News
524 W. 57 St., New York, NY 10019
Phone: 212-975-4321
Fax: 212-975-1893

Email forms for all CBS news programs
CBS Evening News: evening@cbsnews.com
The Early Show: earlyshow@cbs.com
60 Minutes II: 60minutes@cbsnews.com
48 Hours: 48hours@cbsnews.com
Face The Nation: ftn@cbsnews.com

CNBC
900 Sylvan Avenue, Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632
Phone: (201) 735-2622
Fax: (201) 583-5453
Email: info@cnbc.com

CNN
One CNN Center, Box 105366, Atlanta, GA 30303-5366
Phone: 404-827-1500
Fax: 404-827-1784
Email forms for all CNN news programs

 Fox News Channel
1211 Ave. of the Americas, New York, NY 10036
Phone: (212) 301-3000
Fax: (212) 301-4229
comments@foxnews.comList of Email addresses for all Fox News Channel programs
Special Report with Brit Hume: Special@foxnews.com
FOX Report with Shepard Smith: Foxreport@foxnews.com
The O’Reilly Factor: Oreilly@foxnews.com
Hannity & Colmes: Hannity@foxnews.com, Colmes@foxnews.com
On the Record with Greta: Ontherecord@foxnews.com

 MSNBC/NBC
30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10112
Phone: (212) 664-4444
Fax: (212) 664-4426
List of Email addressesfor all MSNBC/NBC news programs
Dateline NBC: dateline@nbc.com
Hardball with Chris Matthews: hardball@msnbc.com
MSNBCReports with Joe Scarborough: joe@msnbc.com
NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams: nightly@nbc.com
NBC News Today: today@nbc.com

 PBS
2100 Crystal Drive, Arlington VA 22202
Phone: 703-739-5000
Fax: 703-739-8458

The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer: newshour@pbs.org


National Radio Programs 

National Public Radio
635 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20001-3753
Phone: 202-513-3232
Fax: 202-513-3329E-mail: Jeffrey A. Dvorkin, Ombudsman ombudsman@npr.org
List of Email addresses for all NPR news programs

The Rush Limbaugh Show
1270 Avenue of the Americas, NY 10020
Phone (on air): 800-282-2882
Fax: 212-445-3963
E-mail: ElRushbo@eibnet.com

Sean Hannity Show
Phone (on air): 800-941-7326
Sean Hannity: 212-613-3800
James Grisham, Producer: 212-613-3807E-mail: Phil Boyce, Program Director phil.boyce@citcomm.com


National Newspapers

The Los Angeles Times
202 West First Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone: 800-528-4637 or 213-237-5000
Fax: 213-237-4712

L.A. Times Contact Information by Department
Letters to the Editor: letters@latimes.com
Readers’ Representative: readers.rep@latimes.com
The New York Times
620 8th Ave., New York, NY 10018
Phone: 212-556-1234
D.C. Bureau phone: 202-862-0300
Fax: 212-556-3690

Letters to the Editor (for publication): letters@nytimes.com
Write to the news editors: news-tips@nytimes.com
Corrections: senioreditor@nytimes.com
New York Times Contact Information by Department
How to Contact New York Times Reporters and Editors

USA Today
7950 Jones Branch Dr., McLean, VA 22108
Phone: 703-854-3400
Fax: 703-854-2078 

Letters to the Editor: editor@usatoday.com
Give feedback to USA Today

The Wall Street Journal
200 Liberty St., New York, NY 10281
Phone: 212-416-2000
Fax: 212-416-2658

Letters to the Editor: wsj.ltrs@wsj.com
Comment on News Articles: wsjcontact@dowjones.com
The Washington Post
1150 15th St., NW, Washington, DC 20071
Phone: 202-334-6000
Fax: 202-334-5269

Letters to the Editor: letters@washpost.com
Ombudsman: ombudsman@washpost.com
Contact Washington Post Writers and Editors


Magazines

Newsweek
251 W 57th Street, New York, NY 10019
Phone: 212-445-4000
Fax: 212-445-5068

Letters to the Editor: letters@newsweek.com

Time
Time & Life Bldg., Rockefeller Center, 1271 6th Ave., New York, NY 10020
Phone: 212-522-1212
Fax: 212-522-0003

Letters to the Editor letters@time.com
U.S. News & World Report
1050 Thomas Jefferson St., Washington, DC 20007
Phone: 202-955-2000
Fax: 202-955-2049

Letters to the Editor letters@usnews.com


News Services / Wires

Associated Press
450 West 33rd St., New York, NY 10001
Phone: 212-621-1500
Fax: 212-621-7523

General Questions and Comments: info@ap.org
Partial Contact Information for the Associated Press by Department and Bureau

Reuters
Three Times Square, New York, NY 10036
Telephone: 646-223-4000Reuters Editorial Feedback

United Press International
1133 19th Street, NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20036
Telephone: 202-898-8000
FAX: 202-898-8048Comments and Tips: tips@upi.com

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McCain & Palin — Palling Around with Terrorists** While Rome Burns

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Perhaps if the media hadn’t let McCain spend the first half of this year skating, unscathed, across the surface of the Obama-Clinton fracas, people might have noticed long before September that the McCain platform has nothing to offer but a thinly disguised repeat of the Bush-Cheney agenda. Perhaps, had McCain been acting, well, presidential all along, he wouldn’t find himself in the position he’s in today: backed into a corner with nothing to offer the American people but an ugly smear campaign, his only hope being that he can convince us that his opponent is a terrorist.

This tactic has played particularly ugly over the past several days, as we’ve watched McCain & Palin wage their scathing fearmongering tactics from the stump, whipping their audiences into hate-filled frenzies, punctuated with cries and jeers of “Kill him!” and “Terrorist!”

Um…. And just who’s the terrorist in this equation?

I watch a lot of news, and I read even more, so I was among the first to hear the unveiling of the new McCain-Palin campaign strategy this past weekend: “We are looking forward to turning a page on this financial crisis and getting back to discussing Mr. Obama’s aggressively liberal record and how he will be too risky for Americans.”

I heard that loud and clear. But what I didn’t hear from either McCain or Palin was a statement of condolence to Joe Biden on the passing of his mother-in-law. Nor did I hear either candidate pause during their hate-filled stump dictums to comment on yesterday’s plummeting Stock Market numbers. Nor did I hear any mention of the victims of this financial disaster — those suffering the collateral damage from this 8-year long financial orgy on Wall Street: the family of six in Los Angeles, all dead; and Addie Polk, the 90-year old woman in Ohio who, in despair, shot herself in the chest as sheriff’s deputies came to evict her from her home of 38 years. 

Yeah, I’ve heard of lot of things said over the past week, but nothing in the way of solutions, hope or even a modicum of compassion from the McCain-Palin ticket. Just a lot of nasty lies, smears, character assassinations and hate-mongering, that can only serve to tear this country apart even further, at a time when we so desperately need capable leaders with the wisdom, intelligence and temperament to lead us in a direction of hope and healing.    

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This is a human face for a great national tragedy. — Dennis Kucinich, speaking on behalf of Addie Polk, whose foreclosure has been dismissed, thanks to the efforts of Congressman Kucinich, October 3, 2008

Neighbor Robert Dillon, 62, used a ladder to enter a second-story bathroom window of Polk’s home (left) after he and the deputies heard loud noises inside. He hurried downstairs and let the deputies in. He said they told him they found Polk’s car keys, pocketbook and life insurance policy laid out neatly where they could be found, suggesting she intended to kill herself. — CNN News report, October 3, 2008

Our opponent … is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country. — Sarah Palin, speaking on Barack Obama, October 4, 2008

Two things are important now. No. 1, that the administration uses the authority that it’s been given wisely. So we have to make sure that Secretary Paulson and others are structuring the purchase of these…troubled assets in a way that protects taxpayers. That’s very important. The second thing we have to do is we’ve gotta make sure that homeowners are benefiting. Now the Treasurer has authority to work with the modification of mortgages to prevent foreclosure. He’s supposed to come up with plans to do that. I want those plans on tap quick so that we start getting some relief to homeowners out in neighborhoods. The final thing is understanding that even if this rescue package works exactly as it should it’s only the beginning. It’s not the end because we still have 150,000 [sic; it was 159,000] new people who’ve lost their jobs this month, 750,000 people since the beginning of this year. — Barack Obama, October 4, 2008

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** And Speaking of Terrorists….

From the standpoint of a presidential campaign, slinging crap willy-nilly all over your opponent carries both benefits and risks. It draws crowds, for sure. But there’s always the risk of some kid wandering up and saying something wise, like, “What’s that brown stuff all over the emperor’s face?” In this spirit, I offer the following links, from which you can draw your own conclusions.

Huffington Post: McCain linked to private group in Iran-Contra case – GOP presidential nominee John McCain has past connections to a private group that supplied aid to guerrillas seeking to overthrow the leftist government of Nicaragua in the Iran-Contra affair. McCain’s ties are facing renewed scrutiny after his campaign criticized Barack Obama for his link to a former radical who engaged in violent acts 40 years ago. The U.S. Council for World Freedom was part of an international organization linked to former Nazi collaborators and ultra-right-wing death squads in Central America. The group was dedicated to stamping out communism around the globe.

Huffington Post: Why McCain’s time with the U.S. Council for World Freedom matters – The USCWF was founded in Phoenix, Arizona in November 1981 as an offshoot of the World Anti-Communist League. The group was, from the onset, saddled with the disreputable reputation of its parent group. The WACL had ties to ultra-right figures and Latin American death squads. Roger Pearson, the chairman of the WACL, was expelled from the group in 1980 under allegations that he was a member of a neo-Nazi organization.

Think Progress: McCain voted to protect domestic terrorists who carry out violence at abortion clinics – McCain has repeatedly voted against protecting Americans from domestic terrorists in the anti-choice movement. On multiple occasions throughout his career, McCain sought to limit the government’s ability to punish violent anti-choice fanatics.

ABOVE: Sarah addresses the Alaska Independence Party (AIP or AKIP) Convention in this video. Sarah and Todd Palin formerly “palled around” with the Alaska Independence Party (AIP), a militia party that seeks to have Alaska secede from the union, as either an independent country or a commonwealth. The McCain campaign denies Sarah’s involvement with this radical political party, citing as evidence the (true) fact that Sarah has been a registered Republican since 1982. This does not explain or negate the fact that she and Todd nonetheless have a history of “palling around” with this group. Todd was a member of this party from 1995 to 2002, until Sarah assumed the duties as Mayor of Wasilla.

ABOVE: The McCain party’s denial of Sarah Palin’s involvement with this group conradicts statements made by its leader, Dexter Clark, in the October 2007 video, above, starting at 1:01.  (For a longer version of this video, see here, with the Palin quote starting at 6:00.)  Dexter Clarks’s speech was delivered at the 2nd Secessionist Convention, in Tennessee, in October 2007. Below is a quote from this speech.   

Our current governor, who I mentioned in our last conference — the one we were hoping would get elected, Sarah Palin, did get elected. There’s a joke, she’s a pretty good looking gal. The joke goes around that we were the coldest state with the hottest governor. And there’s a lot of talk about her moving up. She was an AIP member before she got the job as a mayor of a small town, that was a non-partisan job, but you get along as you go along. She eventually jointed the Rebublican Party where she had all kinds of problems with their ethics, and, uh,  I won’t go into that. She also has an 80% aproval rating, and is pretty well sympathetic to her former membership.

 More links on Sarah:    

The Consortium Report: Sarah Palin’s Party Loyalty –  You may have heard that she once belonged to a political party, the Alaska Independence Party, which sports the occasional mission of establishing Alaska as its own country…. Leaders of the G.O.P. and the religious right have vowed to stick with her. But what if she supported a third party that’s bent on smashing up the Republican Party? Or one with links to militia groups? Would she still look like your garden-variety church lady to the Republican Party pooh-bahs?

Talk to Action: The Council for National Policy Meets in Minn, Vets Palin –Last week, while the media focused almost obsessively on the DNC’s spectacle in Denver, the country’s most influential conservatives met quietly at a hotel in downtown Minneapolis to get to know Sarah Palin. The assembled were members of the Council for National Policy, an ultra-secretive cabal that networks wealthy right-wing donors together with top conservative operatives to plan long-term movement strategy.

Sarah Palin Hurls William Ayers: A Molotov Cocktail with a Twist of Lies

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Trickery and treachery are the practices of fools that have not the wits enought to be honest. — Benjamin Franklin

In 1972 — back when Sarah Palin was in, like, 2nd grade, and Barack Obama was in 5th grade — William (Bill) Ayers was a militant Vietnam war protester, involved in those most notorious activities that are now being used to smear Barack Obama’s good name.

It was to be another 23 years before the two men’s paths would actually cross. By that time, Ayers had been married with two children for nearly two decades. The charges against him for the violent protests he waged while a member of the Weathermen had long ago been dropped. He’d since earned his Masters in Early Childhood Education, followed by a Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction, in 1987.  Ayers is currently a professor in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, holding the honor of Distinguished Professor.

By the time Barack Obama first met him in 1995, William Ayers had spent the previous two decades channeling his energies into early childhood education issues, with emphases on urban education reform and poverty & social justice. With both men actively working on the same issues, in the same town, it was only inevitable that their paths would cross. 

A CORRECTED HISTORY: Who, Why, When, Where, What & How

Barack Obama and William Ayers first crossed paths in 1995, as the two men served on the board of an educational organization, called The Chicago Anneberg Challenge, which has been described as “the largest public/private endeavor in U.S. history dedicated to improving public schools.” During this same year, Ayers and his wife held a “meet-and-greet” in their Hyde Park home, at which time State Senator Alice Palmer introduced Barack Obama as her chosen candidate for the 1996 Democratic primary. Obama’s and Ayer’s paths again crossed in 1999, as both served on the board of The Woods Fund, an anti-poverty grantwriting group in Chicago. According to Deborah Harrington, the president of the The Woods Fund, the two men were selected for the board because of their solid academic credentials and passion for social justice. In 2001, William Ayers contributed $200 to Barack Obama’s re-election campaign. Regarding any untoward motives involved with this donation, Harrington commented:

This whole connection is a stretch. Barack was very well known in Chicago, and a highly respected legislator. It would be difficult to find people round here who never volunteered or contributed money to one of his campaigns.

Regarding any untoward connections between the two men, Obama campaign spokesman, Bill Burton, said:

Senator Obama strongly condemns the violent actions of the Weathermen group, as he does all acts of violence. But he was an eight-year-old child when Ayers and the Weathermen were active, and any attempt to connect Obama with events of almost forty years ago is ridiculous.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: I’ve been involved in the arts and local theater in my own town. I wonder, were I to ever run for public office, would I be indicted for some notorious decades-old activities of a fellow thespian or artist? ]

Obama’s and Ayers’ paths crossed again, quite literally — and for the last time — in 2007, as described by an Obama campaign spokesman this past August: 

“The last time Obama saw Ayers was about a year ago when he crossed paths with him while biking in the neighborhood. The suggestion that Ayers was a political adviser to Obama or someone who shaped his political views is patently false.”

A fact that should be mentioned here is that the above-mentioned Chicago Annenberg Challenge, headed by the same William Ayers, would not have been possible without the generous support of Walter Annenberg, a staunchly conservative Nixon appointee, major GOP donor and longtime friend of Ronald Reagan.  In fact, Walter Annenberg was President Nixon’s Ambassador To Great Britain From 1969-1974, and, in 1986, President Ronald Reagan awarded him the nation’s highest civilian honor, The Presidential Medal of Freedom.

As if that weren’t endorsement enough, Walter Annenberg’s widow, Leonore Annenberg ( the current president of the Annenberg Foundation) is on John McCain’s recently released list of 100 former ambassadors endorsing McCain’s candidacy.

Hardly what you could call, “palling around with terrorists”

But, then, Sarah Palin is hardly what you’d call a politician who “pals around with the truth.” In her Ayers-smears against Obama, Sarah Palin is not only guilty of taking malicious liberties with the facts, but she is also guilty of a profound ignorance of these facts, particularly with respect to their historical context. This would be harmless enough, coming from an everyday hockey mom, but for a politician aspiring to be vice-president (and back-up president)  of the United States, her ignorance is also profoundly dangerous. It is one thing to own a rote memorization of the facts. It’s another thing, entirely, to own an  understanding of those facts.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I once had a friend whose parrot could say “shit.” While the bird had no idea what the word meant, it nonetheless spent its days repeating, “shit” (along with “open the door” and “what’s up?”) daylong, come rain or come shine. 

Sarah Palin has proven that she can deliver a script, a bumper-sticker slogan or a phrase, such as the zinger she hurled yesterday in her smear against Obama when she said: “Our opponent… is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country….This is not a man who sees America as you and I do.”

Just who are the “you and I” in this equation? They are, of course, the good guys and the bad guys. In Sarah-world, the good guys love America, and the bad guys hate America. It’s that simple. All we really need is a pep talk for the good guys, and a few stern warnings about the bad guys, and we’ll all be okay. Problem is, the world is an infinitely more complex place than that bean-brained vision inside Sarah Palin’s head. 

This is as true today as it was 232 years ago when our country was founded by a handful of dedicated people (John Hancock, Paul Revere, John Adams, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin…) who understood that imperfection is as much the nature of government as dissent is the means to perfecting that government. Perhaps this is what inspired Thomas Jefferson to pen the following words, which were immortalized in our Declaration of Independence:

Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government — Thomas Jefferson

Our American founders are surely roiling in their graves over the state of our union, in much the same spirit as the millions of living, breathing Americans who’ve spent the past 8 years watching helplessly as the Bush Administration systematically dismantled the very foundations or our country — playing reckless with our economy, cooking intelligence to take us to war, chipping away at our Constitution, staining our relationships with our allies and otherwise wrecking the integrity of our country. Barack Obama is not alone in his observation that we find ourselves in a less-than-perfect place.

 

But what does this have to do with William Ayers? Um. Nothing. 

But this surely won’t stop politicians like Sarah Palin and John McCain from playing these filthy, dirty political games for the next 29 days, even as our country is teetering on the brink of collapse. Apparently, this is the best hope they have to offer our country: throwing gasoline onto the fire in the hope of saving their campaign. Here, their methods aren’t so different than William Ayers’ methods.  Hopefully, the majority of Americans today are wiser than they were 8 years ago. Hopefully, enough of us have learned the difference between the real thing and a cheap imitation of a patriotic American.

Think the War in Iraq was a Bad Idea? Wait ’til You See What Bush-Cheney & Co. Have in Mind for Iran.

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Perhaps you missed the headlines: America on the Brink of War Against Iran. 

Or perhaps not, since this news has been conspicuously absent from the mainstream media in America. Now. Before you brush this news aside as the rantings of a tinfoil hat-wearing Chicken Little, running in circles, squawking, “The sky’s falling!” consider that Congress is set to vote, any day, on the very resolutions that will finalize the Bush-Cheney preparations for war against Iran, waged on the claims that Iran has WMDs. Or that they *will* have WMDs. Any day now….Even though the intelligence and inspectors’ reports say otherwise. Sound familiar?

(At this point, before you read on, please consider pausing long enough to protest ResolutionS 362 AND 580).

Consider, also, what the U.N.’s chief weapons inspector and director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) — which oversees nuclear inspections in Iran — said, just last week:

I DON’T believe that what I see in Iran today is a current, grave and urgent danger…. A military strike [from the U.S. or Israel], in my opinion, would be worse than anything. It would turn the region into a fireball. 

History seems to be repeating itself. Using the same blueprint they used to trick America into an illegal war in Iraq, Bush-Cheney are making a case for war in Iran, despite that all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies concluded in November 2007 that Iran had stopped nuclear weapons-related work in 2003 and had not resumed it as of last year, and despite that IAEA inspectors have found no evidence of nuclear weapons work in Iran. History is, indeed, repeating itself:

Has it been only 5 years since the Bush Administration similarly disregarded — ridiculing as naive — the findings of IAEA inspectors Mohamed ElBaradei and Hans Blix, who told the Bush Administration there was no evidence of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq?

  • October 1997: IAEA reports Iraq is free of nuclear weapons.
  • February 2001: Colin Powell reports that Iraq is “contained” and is “unable to project conventional power against his neighbors” and that “he threatens NOT the United States.”
  • February 2002: CIA confirms that Iraq has not provided WMDs to terrorists.
  • August 2002: “We now know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons…. Many of us are convinced that Saddam will acquire nuclear weapons fairly soon.” — Dick Cheney
  • September 2002: “Iraq is six months away from producing a (nuclear) bomb.” President George W. Bush
  • September 2002: “Iraq’s military forces are able to use chemical and biological weapons, with command, control and logistical arrangements in place. The Iraqi military are able to deploy these weapons within 45 minutes of a decision to do so;” — from the document: Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction: The Assessment of the British Government
  • September 2002: “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” — Condi Rice
  • January 2003: “In the course of these inspections we have not found any smoking gun,” Hans Blix
  • January 2003: “He has weapons of mass destruction — the world’s deadliest weapons — which pose a direct threat to the United States, our citizens and our friends and allies.” — President George W. Bush
  • March 6, 2003: “The IAEA finds no indication of resumed nuclear activities in Iraq.” — IAEA director general/UN inspector, Mohamed ElBaradei
  • March 16, 2003: “Mr. ElBaradei is, frankly, wrong.” — Dick Cheney, three days before the invasion of Iraq.
  • May 1, 2003: “We found the weapons of mass destruction.” — President George W. Bush
  • June 26, 2008: “We have found the weapon of mass destruction in Iraq. It is oil.” — Dennis Kucinich

That was Iraq. This is Iran:

  • December 2005: “We haven’t seen a smoking gun in Iran. We haven’t seen an underground production enrichment facility. We haven’t seen enough materials in Iran…to put into a weapon.” — Mohamed ElBaradei, IAEA
  • October 2007: “There is NO evidence of a concrete, active nuclear weapon program” going on inside Iran.” — Mohamed ElBaradei, IAEA report
  • October 2007: “The Iranian regime needs to know that if it stays on its present course, the international community is prepared to impose serious consequences.” — Dick Cheney
  • October 2007: “If Iran had a nuclear weapon, it’d be a dangerous threat to world peace. So I told people that if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested” in ensuring Iran not gain the capacity to develop such weapons.” — President George W. Bush
  • November 2007: “Mohamed ElBaradei is an apologist for Iran….Even a stopped clock is right twice a day” — John Bolton
  • March 2008: “Obviously, they’re also heavily involved in trying to develop nuclear weapons enrichment, the enrichment of uranium to weapons-grade levels,” — Dick Cheney
  • June 4, 2008: “We reached agreement on the need to take care of the Iranian threat….George Bush understands the severity of the Iranian threat and the need to vanquish it, and intends to act on that matter BEFORE THE END OF HIS TERM in the White House.” — Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert 

To that end, Israel just recently carried out a full rehearsal of an air assault on Iran, to the tune of nearly 100 warplanes aimed at Iran’s nuclear sites — nuclear sites which, according to International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors, are being used to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes: power, not weapons use. Yet, today, as in October 2002, Cheney is poised to, in his own words, “discredit inspections in favor of disarmament,” which translates roughly to: So what if there aren’t any nuclear weapons? We’re going in, anyway.

So here we are, perched on the precipice of another war. Only, this war carries the potential to escalate out of control, possibly even to the scale of the sky-falling scenario that Chicken Little envisioned. The question today is: Is there any one here who knows why the U.S. and Israel should not join together in this most unholy of wars against Iran? Speak now, or forever hold your peace.

_______________________________

For more reading, see:

UPDATE NOV. 2008: For a better historical understanding of our relationship with Iran, read this excellent article from the October 2008 Smithsonian: Inside Iran’s Fury

Seymour Hersh’s July 7, 2008 New Yorker article, Preparing the Battlefield
The Bush Administration steps up its secret moves against Iran
: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/07/07/080707fa_fact_hersh 

Seymour Hersch 6/30/2008 NPR interview on U.S. covert military operations in Iran: http://www.npr.org/templates/player/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=92025860&m=92028303

When Did Iran Stop Beating Its Wife? http://www.military.com/opinion/0,15202,158545,00.html

When Did Iran Start Beating Its Wife Again? http://discuss.epluribusmedia.net/node/1448

This article has some important background, particularly on banking and financial sanctions, including the Bush Administration’s blackmailing of other countries into supporting these sanctions, which are a lead-up to war: The March 20, 2008 Declaration of War on Iran: http://dandelionsalad.wordpress.com/2008/03/24/the-march-20-2008-us-declaration-of-war-on-iran-by-john-mcglynn/

Bush-Cheney-Israel Disinformation Campaign to Justify Attack on Iran: http://dandelionsalad.wordpress.com/2008/05/03/bush-cheney-israel-disinformation-campaign-to-justify-an-attack-on-iran/

Secret Bush “Finding” Widens War on Iran – Democrats OK Funds for Covert Ops: http://dandelionsalad.wordpress.com/2008/05/03/secret-bush-finding-widens-war-on-iran-democrats-ok-funds-for-covert-ops/

Joint Chiefs Chairman Says U.S. Preparing Military Options Against Iran: http://dandelionsalad.wordpress.com/2008/04/25/joint-chiefs-chairman-says-us-preparing-military-options-against-iran/