Features

Nota Bene #22

Got hot links if you want ’em!

In “Mr. Cool’s Intensity” in the Washington Post, David Ignatius writes of Obama’s reluctance to write off Rev. Wright. There’s “an instinctive American fondness for people who don’t rat out their friends, even when their friends are creeps. That’s why a Wright-based strategy may backfire for the Republicans, just as it did for Hillary Clinton.”

The New York Times’s pro-globalization and once pro-Iraq war columnist Tom Friedman seems to have mellowed during the sabbatical from which he recently returned. In “Who Will Tell the People?” he writes: “Much nonsense has been written about how Hillary Clinton is ‘toughening up’ Barack Obama so he’ll be tough enough to withstand Republican attacks. Sorry, we don’t need a president who is tough enough to withstand the lies of his opponents. We need a president who is tough enough to tell the truth to the American people.”

At Smirking Chimp, Robert Parry writes: “Rev. Wright represented something of a two-fer. As an angry black man, he helped further ‘ghetto-ize’ Obama, but he also reinforced questions about Obama’s patriotism with comments about ‘chickens coming home to roost’ on 9/11 and incendiary rhetoric about ‘God-damn America.'”

Meanwhile, in “The Obama Bubble Agenda” on Counterpunch, Pam Martens writes: “Senator Obama’s premise and credibility of not taking money from federal lobbyists hangs on a carefully crafted distinction: he is taking money, lots of it, from owners and employees of firms registered as federal lobbyists but not the actual individual lobbyists.” It’s not easy to rain on a parade, especially one in which this editor is marching.

In “The Case for Invading Myanmar” on Asia Times Online, Shawn Crispin writes: “A unilateral — and potentially United Nations-approved — US military intervention in the name of humanitarianism could easily turn the tide against [Myanmar’s] military leaders, and simultaneously rehabilitate [Bush] legacy.” With the added bonus of distracting Bush & Co. from attacking Iran.

At Huffington Post, famed sociologist Amitai Etzioni also thinks we should bomb — but with rice. If the “authoritarian rulers of [Myanmar] continue to endanger the lives of . . . their people by refusing to accept badly needed food and medicine,” he writes, “then the international community should. . . . provide food and meds by air drops.”

When you have nothing else to show for a war, there’s always body count. In a blockbuster Salon article, “Killing by the numbers,” Mark Benjamin and Christopher Weaver demonstrate. “The pressure from above for more bodies was. . . toxic in Iraq, where the isolated, outnumbered and outgunned snipers of the 1st Battalion had to make split-second life-or-death decisions [that] landed them. . . not the brass [in a military court]. ‘Yes, the chain of command deserves to burn in hell,’ one sniper who served with the unit wrote Salon in an e-mail.”

The Washington Post’s Nir Rosen makes the Iran-Iraq nexus simple at Steve Clemons’s the “Washington Note: “Moreover the dominant parties in the [Iraqi] government and. . . security forces that battled their political rivals in Basra and elsewhere are the ones closest to Iran. The leadership of the Iraqi government regularly consults Iranian officials and is closer to Iran than any other element in Iraq today.” It’s not really that complicated.

In “US trains Pakistani killing machine” at Asia Times Online Syed Saleem Shahzad explains how former patron to the Nicaraguan Contras and present Deputy Secretary of State, John Negroponte, seeks to create “special Pakistani units, trained by the US, to go after key figures. The training by the US of Pakistani special forces is based on Negroponte’s initiatives in Nicaragua [as well as] the Philippines.” I might feel better about this if it weren’t for Negroponte’s pronounced inability to tell the good guys from the bad guys.

In “Springtime in Somalia,” on Military.com Jeff Huber writes: “The New York Times said, ‘at least four Tomahawk cruise missiles. . . had slammed into. . . buildings in Dusa Marreb.'” Its source was an “‘American military official. . . who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the operation.’ Notice how operations these days are ‘sensitive’ as opposed to ‘classified’ or ‘secret.’ One has to wonder how they arrived at a word like ‘sensitive’ to describe things like cruise missile attacks that kill people.”

At Informed Comment: Global Affairs, Barrett Rubin writes about Afghanistan, where we find “Marines Stuck Protecting Poppies in Helmand.” “Yet the Marines are not destroying the plants. In fact, they are reassuring villagers the poppies won’t be touched [to keep from driving] them to take up arms if they eliminated the impoverished Afghans’ only source of income. Many Marines in the field are scratching their heads over the situation.”

In “State Secrets” from the New Yorker, Patrick Radden Keefe writes about the difficulties inherent in defending in court those accused by the government of providing terrorists with funds: “One consideration for prosecutors is that winning convictions on terrorism charges can be difficult.” In one case, “One of the jurors described the governments evidence as ‘strung together with macaroni noodles.'”

In “Perhaps 60% of today’s oil price is pure speculation” on Global Research.com, William Engdahl writes: “The price of crude oil today is. . . . controlled by an elaborate financial market system. . . . As much as 60% of today’s crude oil price is pure speculation driven by large trader banks and hedge funds.”

England’s New Statesman is running a whole section on the impact of the year 1968 on both the United States and Europe. “Was it a great beginning . . . or just the final great street festival before the darkness closed in? [Did] the year change everything — or nothing at all.” The likes of Noam Chomsky, Greil Marcus, and Eric Hobsbawm weigh in.

Appendix:

Were she in a position to do so, here’s what Top Chef’s Padma would tell Senator Clinton (an email from R.I.):

“Hillary, please pack up your knives and go.”

2 replies »

  1. Yeah, I happened to see that, Brian. Much as I respect Krugman, William Engdahl, who lives in Germany, has been covering oil for years. He’s one of my favorite analysts, period.

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