American Culture

Nota Bene #20

Got hot links if you want ’em!

Headline of the week: CLINTON CHALKS UP KEY MEANINGLESS VICTORY. At Asia Times Online courtesy of Muhammad Cohen. (Yes, that’s his real name.)

In her Los Angeles Times column, “My Winning Strategy,” Rosa Brooks writes of Hillary Clinton: “But they said I had to win by double digits to keep my campaign alive. . . . And I am alive! And kicking! And punching and biting and kneeing my opponent in the groin!”

Last week Hillary said of Iran, “In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them.” At Informed Comment, Juan Cole responds: “Clinton’s rather bloodthirsty pandering to what she thinks the Israel lobbies want to hear is likely actually to produce the opposite of the desired reaction in Iran itself . . . . [She’s] now just flailing around fantasizing about incinerating children in playgrounds in Isfahan.”

Or, as Pepe Escobar writes in “Hillary, the war chick” at Asia Times Online: Besides using “all the tricks in the Karl Rove slash and burn political playbook [and causing] a potential disaster inside the Democratic Party, Hillary had to extend her slash and burn approach to the Middle East.”

In “Why Hillary Makes My Wife Scream” at the Nation, Tom Hayden writes: “It is as if Hillary Clinton is engaged in a toxic transmission onto Barack Obama of every outrageous insult and accusation ever inflicted on her by the American right. . . . She is running against what she might have become. Too much politics dries the soul of the idealist.” (Emphasis added.)

In “Petraeus’ Rise Lets Cheney Loose on Iran” at Asia Tmes Online, Gareth Porter writes: “The nomination of General David Petraeus to be the new head of the US Central Command ensures that he will be available to defend the George W Bush administration’s policies on Iran and Iraq [and] gives Vice President Dick Cheney greater freedom. . . to exploit the option of an air attack against Iran.” And you thought Hillary’s comments about obliterating Iran were scary.

In “Al-Qaida No. 2 says 9/11 theory propagated by Iran” the Associated Press reports that when Ayman Al-Zawahri was asked on Hezbollah’s TV station if Israel, as is believed by many in the Middle East, was behind 9/11. “The purpose of this lie,” he said, is to show that “there are no heroes among the Sunnis who can hurt America as no else did in history.” Al-Zawhri is cute when he’s jealous, isn’t he?

notabene1.gifIn “Terrorphobia” at the American Interest, John Mueller writes that the “likelihood that a person living outside a war zone will perish at the hands of an international terrorist over an eighty-year period is about one in 80,000.” Despite this, polls show little decline “in the percentage of the American public anticipating another terrorist attack. [It] has chosen to wallow in a false sense of insecurity, and it apparently plans to keep on doing so.” (Emphasis added.)

Few Americans are aware that the Taliban kidnapped Pakistan’s ambassador to Afghanistan. In “Pakistan faces a lose-lose situation” on Asia Times Online, Syed Saleem Shahzad writes that video of the captured consul “has all the hallmarks of al-Qaeda’s strategic planners, indicating that they have taken over the Taliban-led tribal guerrilla war, particularly as it affects Pakistan.” (Emphasis added.)

In “Room for two: US, Iran in the Middle East,” also at Asia Times Online, Trita Parsi writes: “. . . to reach a settlement with Iran that could help stabilize Iraq, prevent a Taliban resurrection in Afghanistan, reach a political deal in Lebanon and create a better climate to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the US must arguably grant Iran a role in the region. . . . Neither Washington nor Tehran can wish the other away.” Obvious — except to Bush & Co.

At Smirking Chimp, David Michael Green writes: “Imagine, if you can, that the situation was reversed [and] that Hillary Clinton had a prohibitive lead in the race for the Democratic Party presidential nomination [and] that for her opponent, Barack Obama, to remain in the race would only have the effect of dragging down the chances that Clinton and the Democratic Party could win the presidency in what should be a slam-dunk election. . . . Would Obama stay in the race [and] would he be allowed by other Democrats to stay in? Of course not.”

Hosting Laura and Jeanna Bush talking about the children’s book they co-wrote, Larry King asked each who she supports for president. Her mother responded, “the Republican,” apparently gagging on John McCain’s name. Meanwhile, Jenna said, “I don’t know. I mean, who isn’t open to learning about the candidates?” You know you want it, Jenna (to vote for Obama, I mean).

At AlterNet Ray McGovern writes about the pope’s visit: “Is it possible that papal advisers forgot to tell him that the post-WWII Nuremberg Tribunal described an unprovoked war of aggression, of the kind that the Third Reich and George W. Bush launched, as the ‘supreme international crime’? Could they have failed to tell the Pope he would be hobnobbing with war criminals [and] torturers? For this Catholic, it was a profoundly sad spectacle.”

In “The United States of Stupidity” at Smirking Chimp, Allan Bisbort writes: “It’s the stupidity, stupid!” I usually don’t like stuff this, well, stupid, a la the movie “Idiocracy.” But, as is often the case, Bisbort is too fun to resist.

Loose Ends:

A personal email to me describes a moment on the Daily Show last week: “Jon Stewart [asked] Howard Fineman why it was that the media keeps talking about America’s rubes as ‘the heart and soul of America.’ He said, ‘What about the rest of us, the educated ones they call ‘elites’? What about us, aren’t we part of America’s heart and soul? What are we, chopped liver?'”

From an email to a Yahoo group I’m in: “When Barack was eating a waffle, and someone asked him a question, he petulantly pouted about why he wasn’t allowed to just eat his waffle in peace? What if the phone rings at 3 am and he’s in the middle of a waffle?”