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Undernews For 26 July, 2008

Undernews For 26 July, 2008

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Editor: Sam Smith

24 JULY 2008


Sam Smith

In a remarkable essay in Counterpunch, an anonymous political consultant gets to the heart of what's happening in this election campaign: we're not choosing a politician but a product, one that makes us feel good about ourselves - and Obama is the iPod while Hillary Clinton was the cell phone. Writes the consultant: "In the world of toys it is the one that stands out the most [that] is the most marketable," which helps to explain why a black, inexperienced, atypical pol like Obama did so well against Clinton. And why McCain, who still, metaphorically at least, is using a dial phone, is having such a hard time.

The author also notes:

"The two primary features of the post political age are a politics completely drained of all its contents and ability or willingness to be used as an agent of change in social or economic policy, and its full integration into the world of American popular, consumer and entertainment culture. To such an extent that there exists today a seamless web between our political, economic, media and consumer cultures wherein the modes and values of one are completely integrated and compatible with the others."

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One of the effects of this phenomenon is that apparently contradictory policies thrive. For example, with a political market being driven by upscale and comfortable middle class whites, "the same forces that make it possible for the rapid acceptance of ideas such as gay marriage are the same which can create a society that will accept massive social inequalities."

Thus the failure of those who tried to bring economic issues into the primary debate and the ability of the selected candidate to do a massive pop concert tour in places that can't even vote in an American election, while totally ignoring the worst financial crisis this country has seen in decades.

The point is further brought home by news that the Obama veep vetting team is considering a Republican conservative, ethanol boosting, agro-business lawyer and NAFTA negotiator, Ann Veneman. You might excuse Obama for thinking about selecting his rightwing buddy Chuck Hagel as merely friendship gone astray, but to even consider Veneman is to declare that politics, the Democratic party and issues don't matter. Only Obama does.

He's not the first to try this. After all, Bill and Hillary Clinton - albeit lacking the appeal of a new iPod - got things going as the first postmodern couple to occupy the White House. They also revealed the fatal flaw in the scam, as I noted at the time:

"Of course, in the postmodern society that Clinton proposes -- one that rises above the false teachings of ideology -- we find ourselves with little to steer us save the opinions of whatever non-ideologue happens to be in power. In this case, we may really only have progressed from the ideology of the many to the ideology of the one or, some might say, from democracy to authoritarianism.

"Among equals, indifference to shared meaning might produce nothing worse than lengthy argument. But when the postmodernist is President of the United States, the impulse becomes a 500-pound gorilla to be fed, as they say, anything it wants."

Jody Kantor, in the NY Times, nicely captured Obama's similar post-modernism:

"Friends say he did not want anyone to assume they knew his mind; and because of that, even those close to him did not always know exactly where he stood. . . Charles J. Ogletree Jr., another Harvard law professor and a mentor of Mr. Obama, said, 'He can enter your space and organize your thoughts without necessarily revealing his own concerns and conflicts'. . .

"People had a way of hearing what they wanted in Mr. Obama's words. . Mr. Obama stayed away from the extremes of campus debate, often choosing safe topics for his speeches. . . In dozens of interviews, his friends said they could not remember his specific views from that era, beyond a general emphasis on diversity and social and economic justice."

If you turn away from the pop concert we still call a campaign, you can find some interesting examples. In 2001, while still a state senator, Obama said:

"As I said before, if [Bush] brought before us a nominee who didn't agree with me on affirmative action and yet said that, you know, I do think that and showed a history for showing regard and concern for racial justice, if he came before us and said I oppose a woman's right to choose, or I oppose abortion, I find it religiously offensive, and yet I do respect, for example, the notion that we shouldn't be solving these things with violence, historically, if that had been what was said, then I don't think I would object. And I think that's a fair position to take.' "

He also defended Bush's new appointee for Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld:

“The proof in the pudding is looking at the treatment of the other Bush nominees. I mean for the most part, I for example do not agree with a missile defense system, but I don't think that soon-to-be-Secretary Rumsfeld is in any way out of the mainstream of American political life. And I would argue that the same would be true for the vast majority of the Bush nominees, and I give him credit for that."

This is the man that liberal America is treating as a savior because they see themselves buying a hybrid instead of a political program and because, when you come down to it, hybrids make you feel better about yourself than thinking about politics and policies.

Of course, the fiscal crises may put a damper on politics as just another a product. Reality may rear its ugly head but for the time being but right now it's enough to say you've got your Obama, whoever the hell he is.



Howard Gensler Philadelphia Daily News - Is John Edwards guilty of adultery, stupidity or merely being a convenient pawn in drawing media attention away from the "Barack Obama Conquers the World Tour, Summer 2008"?

If one is to believe the National Enquirer and the right-wing blogosphere which jumped on this story like a stud horse on a mare, Edwards was trysting with Rielle Hunter Monday night at the Beverly Hilton. It allegedly was not the first time. Making the story juicier, the Enquirer claims, is the additional fun "fact" that Hunter is the mother of Edwards' illegitimate child.

Edwards' pal, Andrew Young, also married, claims to be the father of that child, meaning Young is really willing to fall on the sword to help a buddy - or Hunter isn't averse to sleeping with multiple Democrats.

If the sordid tale is true and Edwards is cheating on his wife, Elizabeth, while she's battling cancer, this puts him in rarified air even for a politician - with Newt Gingrich, for instance.

And it may be true. One of Hunter's goals as a consultant to Edwards' campaign was to remove his "Ken doll" image, though the idea probably wasn't to replace that with a Ron Jeremy doll.

So far, all the Enquirer has on this alleged tryst is that Edwards was in Hunter's hotel room at the Beverly Hilton on Monday night.

Not sure what that means. Tattle has been one-on-one in hotel rooms with Sienna Miller, Keri Russell, Keira Knightley and other babes, and we can honestly report that, alas, nothing happened. It is possible to hang out in a hotel suite without rattling the headboard.

But let's assume for a minute that Elizabeth Edwards' treatments have hindered their sex lives, and Edwards, being a standard-issue horndog politician, chose to look elsewhere for excitement. Maybe Elizabeth gave him permission to look elsewhere.

Yes, he'd still be an ass, but in a post-Clinton, post-Spitzer age, could he be such a stupid ass as to carry on with a political confidante who produced movies for his campaign? And could he be so monumentally moronic as to meet said mistress at a hotel as public as the Beverly Hilton?

As Daily News TV critic Ellen Gray informed us from the Television Critics Association summer press tour, what makes the Beverly Hilton choice even more bizarre is that the place was crawling with reporters Monday night for the TCA, including newspaper people from the New York Times, USA Today the New York Daily News, the Washington Post, and us. But no one but the National Enquirer seemed to spot John Edwards.

True, but the Enquirer says Hunter/Edwards friend Bob McGovern reserved rooms 246 and 252 at the Hilton. The TCA hospitality suite was down the hall in Room 234.

Tattle's not saying it's not true - and Edwards may soon be issuing tearful mea culpas - we're just saying that if Edwards chose to have a liaison in a hotel hosting a press event, he's an idiot.

In Houston yesterday, Edwards said about the Enquirer story, "That's tabloid trash. They're full of lies. I'm here to talk about helping people."

Hunter has said the stories were "not true, completely unfounded and ridiculous."

National Enquirer A team of Enquirer reporters caught the married ex-senator visiting his mistress and secret love child late Monday night at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Los Angeles hotel. As we reported previously, Edwards arrived at the hotel at 9:45 p.m. Monday, driven by a friend in a BMW, and was seen by Enquirer reporter Alan Butterfield. We can now reveal that the man who drove Edwards was Bob McGovern, the same man who drove Rielle to the hotel from Santa Barbara and rented her room in his name. He was driving a 1999 four-door midnight blue BMW.

Said Butterfield: "The car had a baby seat in the back for Rielle's infant. He pulled into the parking lot, took a ticket from the automated machine, pulled forward, and stopped right after the parking gate lowered. Edwards got out of the passenger side, walked around the front of the car and went in a side entrance near the swimming pool. McGovern parked the car and then slowly walked back inside the hotel and went upstairs."

In the aftermath of our exclusive story, the National Enquirer has now learned:

- Edwards' advisers are "spitting mad and furious" that his late-night escapades have made international headlines because it could derail his chances of becoming Barack Obama's running mate. . .

- His mistress, blonde divorcee Rielle, meanwhile, has returned to her home in Santa Barbara, Calif., and sources say she is "in despair" that Edwards might cut off contact with her because their latest rendezvous has been exposed in the media.

After we posted the details of Edwards shocking meeting with Rielle, political sources close to Edwards revealed how he was candidly scolded by his advisors hours later.

One political source divulged: "His advisors told him they were furious that this had been brought out by the National Enquirer right when Obama is considering whether he's V.P. material with the Democratic National Convention (Aug. 25-28 in Denver) only weeks away.

"From what I hear, John was read the riot act by his people. The fallout from this could cost him the job of running mate. They told him Obama doesn't want to pick someone and be embarrassed by the choice. This 'bimbo eruption' at this critical time will do him absolutely no good.

"While his people are not trying to tell him how to live his personal life, this baggage isn't going to help him convince Obama that he's the right guy to be his veep."

Fox News Beverly Hills hotel security guard told Fox he intervened this week between a man he identified as former Sen. John Edwards and tabloid reporters who chased down the former presidential hopeful after what they're calling a rendezvous with his mistress and love child.

The Beverly Hilton Hotel guard said he encountered a shaken and ashen-faced Edwards - whom he did not immediately recognize - in a hotel men's room early Tuesday morning in a literal tug-of-war with reporters on the other side of the door.

"What are they saying about me?" the guard said Edwards asked.

"His face just went totally white," the guard said, when Edwards was told the reporters were shouting out questions about Edwards and Rielle Hunter, a woman the National Enquirer says is the mother of his child.

The guard said he escorted Edwards, who was not a registered guest at the hotel, out of the building after 2 a.m. Edwards did not say anything while he was escorted out, said the guard, adding that at times the reporters on the scene were "rough on him," sticking a camera in his face and shouting questions.

The guard did not recognize Edwards at the time of the incident, but said he concluded it was the 2008 presidential hopeful after hearing reports about the incident and finding an Enquirer reporter's notebook at the scene.

A former campaign staffer, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Fox he wishes he were "more surprised" to hear reports Edwards was visiting Hunter. "I'm definitely upset by it. I wish I was more surprised, though.". . .

Beverly Hills Police Sgt. Michael Publicker, meanwhile, confirmed Friday that an incident report was filed with the department by two of the tabloid's reporters. Publicker said that contrary to a published report, a "criminal complaint" was not filed and there are no charges pending. "It will be looked into," Publicker said, refusing to say whether Edwards would be contacted as part of a formal investigation. "We're not going to comment on the investigation," he said. Police department spokesman Tony Lee said Publicker told him that Edwards was not named on the incident report. . .

The Enquirer says it has videotape showing Hunter entering the room where she met Edwards, and shows Edwards leaving the same room. However, the Enquirer has thus far declined repeated requests by Fox Newsto release any photographs or videotape evidence of the incident.

Progressive Review, December 2007 - True or not, the story below is spreading around the grocery checkout lines of America and could have a major impact: the National Enquirer is claiming that John Edwards is soon to have a love child. Various caveats follow the Enquirer account.

National Enquirer - The Enquirer has learned exclusively that Rielle Hunter, a woman linked to Edwards in a cheating scandal earlier this year, is more than six months pregnant - and she's told a close confidante that Edwards is the father of her baby!

The Enquirer's political bombshell comes just weeks after Edwards emphatically denied having an affair with Rielle, who formerly worked on his campaign and told another close pal that she was romantically involved with the married ex-senator.

The Enquirer has now confirmed not only that Rielle is expecting, but that she's gone into hiding with the help of a former aide to Edwards. The visibly pregnant blonde has relocated from the New York area to Chapel Hill, N.C., where she is living in an upscale gated community near political operative Andrew Young, who's been extremely close to Edwards for years and was a key official in his presidential campaign.

And in a bizarre twist, Young - a 41-year-old married man with young children - now claims he is the father of Rielle's baby. But others are skeptical, wondering if Young's paternity claim is a cover-up to protect Edwards. . .

In a statement issued to The Enquirer through her attorney, Rielle said: "The fact that I am expecting a child is my personal and private business. This has no relationship to nor does it involve John Edwards in any way. Andrew Young is the father of my unborn child."

But a source extremely close to the 43-year-old divorcee says Rielle has told a far different story privately: "Rielle told me she had a secret affair with Edwards. When she found out that she was pregnant, she said he was the father."

Rielle loves Edwards and will do anything to protect him, the source says.

In The Enquirer's Oct. 22 issue, we revealed that Edwards, 54, was involved in a mistress scandal and the shocking allegations - if proven true - could devastate the Democratic hopeful's campaign. . .

Reporters asked Edwards about The Enquirer report during a campaign stop in Columbia, S.C., on Oct. 11. Edwards responded: "The story is false. It's completely untrue, ridiculous," adding: "Anyone who knows me knows that I have been in love with the same woman for 30 plus years."

Rielle issued her own statement through, a pro-Democratic Web site, saying: "The innuendos and lies that have appeared on the Internet and in the National Enquirer concerning John Edwards are not true, completely unfounded and ridiculous. . .

A former "Director of Operations" for Edwards' campaign, Young's last official position with the campaign was "North Carolina Finance Director." He left that job about a month ago - about the same time Rielle settled in Chapel Hill. . .

Edwards' lawyer called The Enquirer and denied the well-coiffed Democratic candidate is the father of Rielle's baby, adding that Rielle would deny it as well.

Progressive Reivew - This story, if true, means an extremely intelligent trial lawyer with no previous record of extra-curricular sexual escapades launched a casual affair just before running for president and while his wife was critically ill - and did so without using a condom. That's not lascivious; that's masochism.

While it is true that John F. Kennedy engaged in affairs during his primary campaign, he had already established a reputation strong enough that staffers took protective measures. This story also is strikingly different than those involving Bill Clinton who discarded women like they were just another long-standing Democratic party plank and where the accounts of what happened (and subsequent efforts to keep them quiet) came from the women themselves. There is also no accusation of rape in this instance in contrast to the Juanita Broaddrick case involving Clinton.

The Enquirer, it should also be noted, places the word of an unnamed source above those of the woman allegedly involved and the man she claims is the father.

One final note: the key owner of the Enquirer is a Clinton operative


BBC California has become the first US state to ban restaurants and food retailers from using trans-fats, which are linked to coronary heart disease. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said the new legislation, which will take effect in 2010, represented a "strong step toward creating a healthier future".

Some cities, like New York City, Philadelphia and Seattle, have already banned the fats. Many food makers and restaurant chains have also been experimenting with replacements for oils and foods that contain them.

Trans-fats are produced artificially in a process called hydrogenation which turns liquid oil into solid fat.
They can be used for frying or baking, or put into processed foods and ready-made mixes for cakes and drinks like hot chocolate.

A review by the New England Journal of Medicine in 2006 concluded that there was a strong connection between the consumption of trans-fats and coronary heart disease. It found they boosted "bad" cholesterol levels in the body.
Progress Report - The Tax Policy Center released a report finding large disparities between Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) public economic proposals and his advisers' private assurances. After comparing McCain's public economic policies with the "measured options outlined by his campaign," the center concluded that McCain's public proposals "would cost an additional $2.8 trillion over ten years" above what the campaign's stated policies would cost. Responding to the report, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, McCain's senior economic adviser, argued that the proposals McCain makes in town halls do not constitute official policy. But the differences between McCain's rhetoric and his policies are stark. While McCain's advisers suggest that the senator would "patch" the alternative minimum tax, McCain promises to completely repeal it. While McCain publicly advertises a broad expansion "of expensing investments," his economic consultants privately assure budget analysts that the senator would allow expensing for "only to three-and five-year equipment and only on a temporary basis." Overall, McCain's public economic pronouncements suggest that a McCain administration would provide even larger tax cuts for the richest Americans, increase the national debt, and reduce access to health insurance. McCain "is making diametrically opposed policy promises to different audiences at the same time," Robert Gordon and James Kvaal of the Center for American Progress observed recently.

The Tax Policy Center analysis concludes that McCain's health care proposal would cost $1.3 trillion over 10 years and eventually force every household to pay higher taxes on their health insurance. McCain's plan would undermine employer-based coverage and leave 55 million Americans without any kind of health insurance. According to the report, by 2013, 16 million Americans would lose the health benefits they get from employers.


Politico - Barack Obama's vice presidential search team has floated the name of a member of President Bush's first-term Cabinet, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, as Obama's running mate. The search committee, now led by Caroline Kennedy and Eric Holder, raised Veneman's name - among others - in discussions with members of Congress, two Democrats familiar with the conversations said.

The mention of Veneman's name surprised Democratic lawmakers. The low-profile Republican was close to food and agriculture industries but clashed with farm-state Democrats and environmentalists during her tenure, which lasted from 2001 to 2004.

But Veneman, 59, has a biography that could be suited to Obama's unifying message. A Republican raised on a California peach farm, she rose to become the nation’s first female agriculture secretary. In 2002 she was diagnosed with breast cancer, which was treated successfully. Today she serves as executive director of the United Nations children's agency, UNICEF. The selection of a Republican could bolster Obama's unifying message, a Capitol Hill Democrat familiar with the discussion said. . .

Veneman's is one of about a dozen names suggested by vetters in a round of meetings with members of the House and Senate within the last few weeks. Veneman's name. . .

Choosing Veneman would be a way to "show that he can get things done without all the partisanship," the Democrat familiar with the discussions said. "Her appeal would be nonideological. It would be, 'I'm just here to get the work done.' She's not a hot-button conservative."

Other Republicans mentioned as potential Obama running mates include Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, who accompanied him to Iraq, and retired Marine Gen. James Jones. . .

"Are you serious?" one lawmaker asked vetters when Veneman's name came up, a second source familiar with the conversations said.

The surprise stems from the fact that, while Veneman was seen as an experienced leader for her department, she often clashed with Democrats on a central battle front of the Bush years: regulation. Venemen was criticized by some Democrats and environmentalists, and praised by agriculture and food interests, for lightly regulating the industries and for encouraging trade and biotechnology during her tenure.

When she resigned, the American Meat Institute praised her "vision and commitment."

She also clashed with Democrats - including then-Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, who is now an Obama confidant - over subsidies for small farmers, which they sought to expand.

Source Watch - Bill Bullard, chief executive of the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America (also known as R-CALF USA), called Veneman's tenure "disappointing." R-CALF was very critical of the Secretary's response to mad cow disease, and after "exhaust[ing] all of our administrative remedies," filed suit against USDA to prevent them from easing restrictions on the import of live Canadian cattle and beef products.

According to Agriculture Online, Veneman was not popular with ordinary farmers either. While "69% of visitors to Agriculture Online who responded to a pre-election poll favored Bush . . . the exact same percentage wanted Veneman out in the days after the election." When asked why Veneman was so unpopular, Arkansas farmer Tom Burnham replied, "Because she is a corporate lackey." . . .

Between her tenure at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (under George Bush Sr.) and being named head of California's Department of Food and Agriculture in 1995, Ann Veneman served on the board of directors for Calgene Inc. In 1994, Calgene became the first company to bring genetically-engineered food, the Flavr Savr tomato, to supermarket shelves. Calgene was bought out by Monsanto, the nation's leading biotech company, in 1997. . . Veneman also served on the International Policy Council on Agriculture, Food and Trade, a group funded by Cargill, Nestle, Kraft, and Archer Daniels Midland. . .

Veneman is even better known as an expert on international marketing than as a field agent for farmers. From 1989 to 1991, Veneman was deputy undersecretary of agriculture for international affairs and commodity programs. In this assignment, she managed international issues, including trade policy, export negotiations, and food aid. According to the trade publication Ag Alert, "While she was a negotiator at the Uruguay round of talks on the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the U.S.-Canada FreeTrade Agreement, and the North American Free Trade Agreement she developed her background expertise in trade that . .

John Nichols, Nation - "Veneman is expected to get the [UNICEF] job because of the defining role that the Bush administration plays in the selection process, just as U.S. pressure set up Wolfowitz for the World Bank position.

"The notion that Veneman would be placed in a position to decide how to feed and care for the planet's most destitute children is every bit as alarming as the notion that Wolfowitz would be charged with providing aid to developing countries.

"Indeed, as Ravi Narayan, coordinator for the global secretariat of the People's Health Movement, wrote in a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the members of the executive board of UNICEF: 'Ms. Veneman's training and experience as a corporate lawyer for agribusiness do not qualify her for the substantial task of leading the agency most responsible for the rights of children worldwide. There is no evidence in her tenure as U.S. secretary of agriculture, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, or deputy undersecretary for international affairs of the USDA of her interest in the world's children or their health and well-being.

"'Indeed, her performance in these positions has been characterized by the elevation of corporate profit above people's right to food (U.N. Declaration of Human Rights, Article 25). Such a philosophy and practice would reverse almost six decades of UNICEF's proud humanitarian history and prove disastrous for the world's children.'

"Just as it is vital for responsible Americans to object to the selection of Paul Wolfowitz to serve as president of the World Bank, so it is equally vital that we object to the selection of Ann Veneman to lead UNICEF."


Counterpunch - Recently I received this brilliant analysis from a high powered political consultant whose name is withheld for obvious reasons. He/she has to live and work in the political world and for either party. -- Joe Bageant

Inside a Democratic Party primary there is no demographic or political reason that a male first term African American senator from Illinois with an unorthodox name should come any where close to beating a white female senator, who happens to be the wife of the last Democratic President whose approval ratings are still above 70% with Democratic voters and who also happened to earn the endorsements of the substantial parts of the Democratic Party establishment. . .

The underlying social change that led to the Obama victory is the unprecedented extent to which the narrative of popular consumer culture, and the media that drives it, has become the dominant influence on how Americans think, formulate their ideas and understand the world around them.

The most important result of this process has been the steady and consistent depoliticization of American society, to an extent that we can make the case that we are living at the dawn of the post political age.

The two primary features of the post political age are a politics completely drained of all its contents and ability or willingness to be used as an agent of change in social or economic policy, and its full integration into the world of American popular, consumer and entertainment culture. To such an extent that there exists today a seamless web between our political, economic, media and consumer cultures wherein the modes and values of one are completely integrated and compatible with the others.

It should not come as a surprise that the dominant ideas and mores of popular culture have become the dominant ideas of our society. Popular culture is the breaker of customs, prejudice, tradition and relevant historical knowledge.

It is a result of this dynamic that the two consistent winners in American politics over the last 30 years have been the cultural left and the economic right. Despite the massive organizing drive of the religious right over the past three decades, they are further away from reversing the cultural liberalization of American society than when they started. On others side of the ledger, organized labor outside of a few urban pockets and industries is no longer a relevant force in American life. The ever greater electoral activism of both of these groups is generally misunderstood as a show of strength; in fact, it is the exact opposite. It is the desperate fight of the losing side of the American economic, cultural and political scene.

In essence, the same forces that make it possible for the rapid acceptance of ideas such as gay marriage are the same force which can create a society that will accept massive social inequalities.

In the post political world and the candidates who can best thrive in it have tremendous appeal to the economic elites, a system that does not dwell on issues and will never ask the question, "who has power and why", but simultaneously creates a social and media environment of stupefying distractions while destroying traditional social mores . . .

In such a setting our political choices, like our consumer choices regardless of the product, are primarily about what makes us more fulfilled and feel better about ourselves.

Senator Obama's campaign understood much better the impact of these changes on our electoral system than any of his opponents' campaigns. In the post political world, the campaign that is less political and less issue-based but is savvier in using new modes of communication technology will be the campaign to win the greatest market share of the electorate. The candidate in this case, Obama, was not a political entity but, in essence a product, an ornament that made his supporters feel better about themselves.

One of the most telling facts about the Obama's constituency outside of African Americans (whose support needs no explanation) is that it is a coalition of people who need or demand the least amount of social benefit from our government. They are the under politicized younger voters and upper middle class whites. The two groups, coincidently, are the ones most influenced by trends in consumer popular culture and have the greatest of ease using the latest technologies.

In commercial advertising it is the poor commercial that lists the seventeen functions of the product being marketed. The best commercials are based on image associations entirely unrelated to the functions of the actual product. In the post political world, when the same principle is applied to the political realm, it makes complete sense how Barack Obama no longer is a black man with a strange name but the iPod to Hillary Clinton's cell phone. In the world of toys it is the one that stands out the most is the most marketable. . .

At the precise moment that the intellectual underpinnings of conservative free market ideas that have dominated politics for the past 30 years are crumbling across the globe. Obama calls for a post ideological and partisan world. . .

His very presence, the color of his skin, the very strangeness of his name is the best guarantee of his betrayal of the expectations of the constituencies that will vote to elect him. Barack Obama is in short order a far more reassuring prospect for the continued dominance of the financial elite than another four years of neo-conservative rule which in an almost historically unique combination of greed, ill will, incompetence and stupidity have brought the country to the edge of disaster.

Audacity yes, change hardly.


NOTE: You can post your comments on any of the above stories by going to our Undernews site and searching for the headline. Once posted, a copy is immediately mailed to the Review and we pick some of the most interesting to publish here.

Of course it'd be unthinkable in today's climate to suggest that one possible means of curtailing the number of these accidents would be to have the (all-too-often) negligent parents of trespassing brats be prevailed upon to restrain their wanderings onto their neighbors' property.

My god. What a menace! It is amazing that any of us make it into adulthood!

1.81 children per 100,000 in the population died as a result of abuse or neglect. The total number of reports has increased nationwide by 49% since 1986. . . Bullets, unguarded pools and matches can not kill. . The root cause is neglect.

Someone may want to tip him off to the 10,000 plus Lakes rivers and streams in unguarded my state.

Statistics indicate that close to 200 children nationwide drown or are injured in swimming pools each year.


Of course, Iran working towards nuclear weapons. Can you blame them for it? Two national governments on their borders have been overthrown. Israel has threatened them with air strikes. . . A nuclear weapon is a defensive weapon. Ever notice that North Korea and Pakistan can resist the United States. . . What do they have in common? They are both nuclear powers.

It is simple bigotry that Iran is not being allowed to develop atomic weapons. Why shouldn't an Islamic hereditary theocracy be allowed to build I.C.B.M.s?

A nuclear middle-east will be a peaceful middle-east because of mutually assured destruction. Mutually assured destruction kept the peace between the United States and the Soviet Union for decades. Atomic bombs are defensive weapons because they make victory impossible for anyone.

In the future, every Mullah, Generalismo, and Warlord will have the ability to hurl nuclear weapons at one another. But, they will also be threatened with the same thing coming back at them. War shall become obsolete and peace shall prevail. - Thinking Dove


Excellent post on America's greatest shame. Someone should send a copy to Mr. Obama. He thinks that it's all the fault of black fathers not being responsible enough. Has nothing to do with the war on drugs or prevalent racism.


Obama's been smoking too many flags.


The shortcomings of the Fenty administration are clearly growing. His was a promise that not only was not delivered. . . seems to have been fabricated. If it is not a simple fix he does not have a clue or the patience to figure out what to do. Tangherlini has become his lap dog while Nichols his pit bull. This wasn't the kind of government I wanted.

. . . the tale of him ordering his escort to pull over a car that had just jettisoned some trash out of a window. Said Booker later, "I told them that what they did was an act of violence."

What the heck is wrong with Booker doing this? That's great. It is an act of violence to degrade a community by littering. I once beeped at someone throwing McD's trash out their window and they threw fries at me.


One of the big problems in this debate is a failure to distinguish between "evolution" and "Darwin's theory of natural selection". The fact that the latter can be questioned does not mean that there is any doubt about the former. Evolution is factual. It happens. There is no doubt about it. Scientists observe the evolution of microorganisms in the lab every day.

Poorly educated religious extremists who don't understand this difference hear scientists criticize Darwin and assume that means evolution is in question, but what these scientists are criticizing is Darwin's description of how he thought evolution worked.

On a related note, "Intelligent Design" is easy to debunk in a couple of ways. Just challenge someone who professes it to provide a list of falsifiable hypotheses and describe the experiments that can be performed to test those hypotheses. They will be completely unable to do so, because their "theory" has no science in it.

Alternately, just turn their own ridiculous argument back on them. Suggest that any creator so intelligent and powerful as to be able to create this universe from scratch, couldn't have just popped up out of nowhere. There must have been something even more intelligent first to create the creator, and so on ad infinitum.

Ah, but where did the structure of the universe come from?. . . If everything started as pure chaos, what gave it structure? . . . Are Greg Egan's anthrocosmologists correct that our universe will be retroactively created by the first physicist to develop and understand a perfect TOE (Theory of Everything)? - The Question Man


While Europeans have been paying much more for petrol for many years, they have long organized their societies so people can get around with out a car. Europe didn't have their major transportation systems bought up by auto makers in the 1930s for the purpose of dismantling them, and Europe rebuilt proper transit systems after WW2. Thanks to US auto makers of the 1930s the US currently has little infrastructure to support carless culture.

For example I live in a major city, my husband's work is 12-15 minutes away from home traveling by car, but by bus it is 75+ minutes away on a good day. Why? Because the bridge that goes directly from our dense residential region of town to the industrial/office district he works at has no bus service, so he has to ride miles out of his way, changing buses three times, to get across the river to work. A proper transit system would have a bus route across a major bridge linking a large residential district and a major industrial/office district, but since my city had its street cars removed by automakers in the 30's, we have had a stop gap transit system ever since. When the city does road work, sometimes I see old streetcar track lines in places where we desparately need buses today.

Of course since we live in a city, at least we can get around slowly, with a lot of walking, and our inadequate transit system, but there are many mid sized US cities that have no bus service or a bus service so minimal that it has little practical use. A car then becomes the only real way to cover the 30 or more miles distance that many in the US live from their jobs.

I ask myself--would Obama have marched. I am white and my friends black and white left for the south from Carbondale, Ill. In the dashiki days of the 60s, Stokely was around and went to Tasso's Bar...they marched, many of the people there. I don't see Obama, Oprah, or Tiger marching. I could be wrong. But I just can't see it. This new crew seems to be what Shelby Steele calls "bargainers," not challengers. Jess Jackson is a challenger--see where that is getting him now. Oh, well--good post!


It is very unlikely that Bush or his cabinet gives a rat's ass about their legacy or what's good for the US. I think there's a simpler explanation: the neo-con wing's threats to Iran have driven the price of oil up to a point which is devastating the US economy.

The Republicans are worried that very high energy costs will help Obama get elected, and the Bush cabinet in particular are worried about a Democratic cabinet that won't cover up their crimes like Bush Senior did for Reagan. Faced with losing the election or even jail time for the Bush cabal, the decision makers have been forced to ditch the neo-con crazies in favor of detente, at least while it's placing their electoral chances in jeopardy. And indeed, just about the same time as this new Iran detente emerged, oil has dropped sharply.

No mention of the fact that the ongoing IAEA inspections have only supported the Iranian's claims.


Bush was appointed President by an act of the Supreme Court making use of the equal protection clause of the Constitution. If he's going to be unaccountable for his crimes in office, then by an evenhanded application of the equal protection clause, everyone held in U.S. prisons and being prosecuted for criminal charges should also be set free--no questions asked.

Bill Clinton was impeached for lying about a blow-job because the GOP Christian extremists didn't like him. Prosecuting the Bush administration for crimes against humanity and failing in their obligation to uphold the Constitution is not in any way comparable.

Public service should be criminal free, Sunstein, you twit. Answers like your are the result of someone having something to hide.


Frankly I have no problem at all with a population composed of a large percentage of criminals, welfare cheats, thugs and crackheads failing to 'bounce back' either now, or in the forseeable future...

Don't you just love people who use percentages to hide uncomfortable facts. The race that has the most absolute number of Americans fitting the descriptions in the above post is of course Caucasians.


So far, we've seen Obama blow off the people who worked to get him the nomination, in favor of the same smelly policies advocated by the same smelly corporate lobbyists who financed Bush One, Clinton and Shrub. After eight years of Cheney/Rovian phantom-of-the-opera secrecy, we see we can expect the same imperial attitude from Obama who apparently feels the less we know the better. Hope? Change? Bah! Humbug!

"You're seeing selected pictures taken by the military, questions by the military, and what some would call fake interviews, because they're not interviews from a journalist."

Well neither are you, Andrea. You're an overpaid, pock-marked faced, stenographer. Now, go and suck on your husband's 70+ yr old wang, will you?

I'm sure reporters would have had tough questions for Obama, just like they did when Bush had his news conference right before the Iraq war that was in no way scripted or rehearsed. Oh wait. . .

The mainstream Republican-corporate controlled media has been on its knees before Dear Leader Bush for years on end; why would anyone presume that they would lend any credibility to the situation with their coverage? Obama isn't stupid; if the press corps had any integrity he might have treated them differently. It's already getting old that no matter what Obama does someone is sniveling about it.

It's way past old when Obama's sniveling supporters bleat that when Obama replays Shrub's scenes it's somehow different because He's the Anointed. Get a time machine and vote for Gore or Kerry then blame it all on Nader and the rest of sane America.


More than a little hard on the ears though.

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