Obama vs. ISG: Yes Blood For Oil!

Cross-posted from Patterns That Connect

On Dec 04, Chris Bowers wrote a post, "The Two Obamas and Me, Part One" which contrasted the principle-driven Obama who first inspired tremendous netroots support with the compromise-driven Obama who now seems intent on demonizing the very people who helped get him his start.  One example Chris cited of the second Obama was this:

In town-hall meetings, when those who opposed the war get shrill, Obama makes a point of noting that while he, too, opposed the war, he's "not one of those people who cynically believes Bush went in only for the oil."
Chis followed up:
Did anyone with any power every say that? Did any leading Democrats ever say that? Did any progressive or liberal of any public stature ever say that? If they did, I'd love to see the quote.
Well, now it appears that someone has come quite close to saying that: The Baker/Hamilton Iraq Study Group (ISG).  Privatizing Iraq's oil is one of their fundamental recommendations--regardless of what the Iraqis want.  Democracy--well, that was always an afterthought.

The ISG is a center-right outfit, composed entirely of people who were wrong about Iraq.  Anyone who opposed the war from the gitgo was simply not considered ISG material.   As Glen Greenwald points out today ("The principal sin of the Baker-Hamilton Report"), their overall proposal is clearly to prolong US involvement, a position that the American people now soundly reject. Greenwald points to an AP poll:

Seventy-one percent said they would favor a two-year timeline from now until sometime in 2008, but when people are asked instead about a six-month timeline for withdrawal that number drops to 60 percent.
In defiance of these numbers, the ISG is attempting to once again redefine a "center" that's an extreme minority position, so that the mainstream of American opinion can in turn be defined as "extremist,""defeatist" and "off the table." One part of that center, pointed out by author Antonia Juhasz (The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time) in an LA Times Op-Ed today, is the ISG's "advocacy for securing foreign companies' long-term access to Iraqi oil fields." (More on this below.)

Barack Obama, of course, has helped make this happen.  Every enabler of bipartisan rhetoric has helped make this happen.  But Obama has a special role, since his early backers, those who helped him early when he needed it most, had every reason to suppose that he would be a powerful, eloquent, moral voice of leadership opposing the war.  Instead, we've gotten a weathervane routine from him, as David Sirota wrote last June for The Nation:

Then there is the Iraq War. Obama says that during his 2004 election campaign he "loudly and vigorously" opposed the war. As The New Yorker noted, "many had been drawn initially by Obama's early opposition to the invasion." But "when his speech at the antiwar rally in 2002 was quietly removed from his campaign Web site," the magazine reported, "activists found that to be an ominous sign"--one that foreshadowed Obama's first months in the Senate. Indeed, through much of 2005, Obama said little about Iraq, displaying a noticeable deference to Washington's bipartisan foreign policy elite, which had pushed the war. One of Obama's first votes as a senator was to confirm Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State despite her integral role in pushing the now-debunked propaganda about Iraq's WMD.

In November Obama's reticence on the war ended. Five days after hawkish Democratic Representative Jack Murtha famously called for a withdrawal, Obama gave a speech calling for a drawdown of troops in 2006. "Those of us in Washington have fallen behind the debate that is taking place across America on Iraq," he said. But then he retreated. On Meet the Press in January Obama regurgitated catchphrases often employed by neoconservatives to caricature those demanding a timetable for withdrawal. "It would not be responsible for us to unilaterally and precipitously draw troops down," he said. Then, as polls showed support for the war further eroding, Obama tacked again, giving a speech in May attacking the war and mocking the "idea that somehow if you say the words 'plan for victory' and 'stay the course' over and over and over and over again...that somehow people are not going to notice the 2,400 flag-draped coffins that have arrived at the Dover Air Force Base."

This is larger context for Obama's remark dismissing "those people who cynically believes Bush went in only for the oil." As Chris said, who are those people?  I've gone to anti-war demonstrations, I've attended weekly peace vigils.  I've talked with people carrying "No Blood For Oil" signs.  Even I haven't met anyone who "believes Bush went in only for the oil." The point of those signs is not to claim that this was Bush's only reason--that would be absurd.  The signs are meant to point out a reason that the official discussion routinely ignores, and refuses to discuss, except to ridicule--just the way Obama did.

Of course, at a basic level, everyone knows that Iraq is about oil.  There are only two reasons we originally got involved in that part of the world: Oil and to deny the Soviets a warm-water port.  Israel only became important as a result of those first two reasons.  Our oil obsession caused us to overthrow the Mossadegh regime in Iran in 1953--a promising democracy that we would give our eye teeth to have back today, at least, if we had any sense.  Which, of course, we don't.  In Afghanistan, our anti-Soviet obsession caused us to team up with the most extremist elements of the Mujahadeen, and partner with bin Laden.    The problems we face today are almost entirely of our own making--the result of narrow, short-sighted, knee-jerk responses to situations that were far less threatening to us than the situations we face today, situations our reactive policies have created.

But if oil is half the reason we're in the Middle East to begin with, oil also plays a very specific role in this very specific war.  We had both the President and Vice-President from the oil industry.  We had all manner of other oil company connections, we had a huge imbalance in financial support for the GOP from the oil industry vs. alternative energy, we had the super-secret Cheney energy taskforce with maps of Iraq's oil fields, we had promises that Iraq's oil revenue would pay for Iraq's reconstruction--the connections go on and on and on and on.  To not talk about any of them is of necessity to not talk about the real reasons, true context, and political alignments that lead us into this war.  And this, in turn, leads us to embrace a series of fairy tales, instead.  First WMDs and Iraq's mythical involvement in 9/11, then the absurd notion that Bush not only cares about democracy, but that that's the reason we invaded Iraq in the first place--a reason that Bush himself strenuously opposed, until it was forced on him by the Iraqi people.

By ridiculing and misrepresenting those who refuse to ignore the link between oil and war--and war and death--Obama has paid his dues to join the Washington insider's club.  And from that perch, he now parades--much like John McCain--as a maverick outsider.  (You know, like Frank Sinatra in the heyday of the Rolling Stones, the Velvet Underground and the Mothers of Invention.  Or Peter Frampton at the time of the Sex Pistols, the Ramones and the Slits.)  The "maverick outsider" status absolutely depends on absolutely banishing real outsiders from even a moment's notice, especially if they represent a majority of the American people.

In her Op-Ed, "It's still about oil in Iraq," Antonia Juhasz, begins:

While the Bush administration, the media and nearly all the Democrats still refuse to explain the war in Iraq in terms of oil, the ever-pragmatic members of the Iraq Study Group share no such reticence.

Page 1, Chapter 1 of the Iraq Study Group report lays out Iraq's importance to its region, the U.S. and the world with this reminder: "It has the world's second-largest known oil reserves." The group then proceeds to give very specific and radical recommendations as to what the United States should do to secure those reserves. If the proposals are followed, Iraq's national oil industry will be commercialized and opened to foreign firms.

The report makes visible to everyone the elephant in the room: that we are fighting, killing and dying in a war for oil. It states in plain language that the U.S. government should use every tool at its disposal to ensure that American oil interests and those of its corporations are met.

It's spelled out in Recommendation No. 63, which calls on the U.S. to "assist Iraqi leaders to reorganize the national oil industry as a commercial enterprise" and to "encourage investment in Iraq's oil sector by the international community and by international energy companies." This recommendation would turn Iraq's nationalized oil industry into a commercial entity that could be partly or fully privatized by foreign firms.

This is an echo of calls made before and immediately after the invasion of Iraq.

Accomplishing this, Juhasz explains, would require re-writing Iraq's constitution, something the Iraqi's have resisted so far.  She reviews some of the crucial backstory of this struggle before concluding:
The Iraq Study Group report states that continuing military, political and economic support is contingent upon Iraq's government meeting certain undefined "milestones." It's apparent that these milestones are embedded in the report itself.

Further, the Iraq Study Group would commit U.S. troops to Iraq for several more years to, among other duties, provide security for Iraq's oil infrastructure. Finally, the report unequivocally declares that the 79 total recommendations "are comprehensive and need to be implemented in a coordinated fashion. They should not be separated or carried out in isolation."

All told, the Iraq Study Group has simply made the case for extending the war until foreign oil companies -- presumably American ones -- have guaranteed legal access to all of Iraq's oil fields and until they are assured the best legal and financial terms possible.

We can thank the Iraq Study Group for making its case publicly. It is now our turn to decide if we wish to spill more blood for oil.

There is, quite simply, no way around it.  The ISG report is a prescription for oil and empire on the cheap, in the face of growing, majority opposition. It is not a solution for "the Iraq mess" as perceived by the American public, with their naive faith in our "good intentions." It is a solution for America's elites faced with a severe recurrence of "Vietnam Syndrome" aka "democracy."

You know, that thing we're supposed to be fighting for in Iraq.

Where's Obama?

So where's Obama in all this? One thing's for sure--he's not front and center, denouncing the ISG for trying to do an end-run around the will of the American people.  In fact, quite the opposite: he's cheering it on...selectively, though without saying so.

While Bush is busy ignoring the ISG by picking and choosing which recommendations he will reject out of hand, Obama's busy doing the same: ignoring the icky blood-for-oil provisions that he above all does not want to talk about, Obama said:

"In presenting a realistic view of how far the situation has deteriorated, the report avoids the partisan rhetoric that has characterized too much of this debate and offers a unique chance to forge a bipartisan consensus about how to move forward in Iraq."
In other words, ignoring the blood-for-oil dimension of the war is absolutely crucial for maintaining the facade that what's "bipartisan" in Versailles bears any resemblance at all to what's non-partisan majoritarian in America.  But Obama can't actually say he's ignoring the blood-for-oil aspect.  That wouldn't be ignoring it at all.

In the end, ironically, we discover that George Bush really is more honest and forthright.  He rejects certain parts of the ISG, and he comes right out and says it.  Obama--at least so far--has not been so honest.  He hasn't looked at the actual recommendations, and said, "Sure, blood for oil, fine with me!" But he hasn't said he's against it either.

After all, he's never been one of those cynics.  You know what I'm talking about.  The ones who believe their own eyes.

Tags: ISG, Antonia Juhasz, Barack Obama, Iraq, No Blood For Oil, Oil (all tags)

Comments

52 Comments

Re: Obama vs. ISG: Yes Blood For Oil!

Wow way to take one line in a town-hall meeting and blow it WAY out of proportion.

by blueryan 2006-12-08 03:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama vs. ISG: Yes Blood For Oil!

Nope. Maybe you'd have a point if it was an isolated incident, but it's not. It's a pattern of behavior.

by tgeraghty 2006-12-08 04:05PM | 0 recs
Obama Is Like Bush

He is never responsible for anything in the eyes of his supporters.

In the real world, however, politicians are known to live and die by their words.  They chose them very carefully.  I've been in enough town meetings to know that there are no throw-away lines.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-08 04:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Is Like Bush

Bottom line is Obama opposed the war from the beginning.  But I supposed in your world it's much beter to vote for the war than decide it was a mistake when you run for President after thousands of people died as long as you speak carefully about it.

by blueryan 2006-12-08 04:24PM | 0 recs
Bottom Line Is Obama Zig-Zagged From The Beginning

As Sirota wrote:

Then there is the Iraq War. Obama says that during his 2004 election campaign he "loudly and vigorously" opposed the war. As The New Yorker noted, "many had been drawn initially by Obama's early opposition to the invasion." But "when his speech at the antiwar rally in 2002 was quietly removed from his campaign Web site," the magazine reported, "activists found that to be an ominous sign"--one that foreshadowed Obama's first months in the Senate. Indeed, through much of 2005, Obama said little about Iraq, displaying a noticeable deference to Washington's bipartisan foreign policy elite, which had pushed the war. One of Obama's first votes as a senator was to confirm Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State despite her integral role in pushing the now-debunked propaganda about Iraq's WMD.

In November Obama's reticence on the war ended. Five days after hawkish Democratic Representative Jack Murtha famously called for a withdrawal, Obama gave a speech calling for a drawdown of troops in 2006. "Those of us in Washington have fallen behind the debate that is taking place across America on Iraq," he said. But then he retreated. On Meet the Press in January Obama regurgitated catchphrases often employed by neoconservatives to caricature those demanding a timetable for withdrawal. "It would not be responsible for us to unilaterally and precipitously draw troops down," he said. Then, as polls showed support for the war further eroding, Obama tacked again, giving a speech in May attacking the war and mocking the "idea that somehow if you say the words 'plan for victory' and 'stay the course' over and over and over and over again...that somehow people are not going to notice the 2,400 flag-draped coffins that have arrived at the Dover Air Force Base."


And he's doing it again with his praise for the ISG Report.

Your response is plain-and-simple denial.  It doesn't win a lot of debates.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-08 04:34PM | 0 recs
I wouldn't call it Zig-Zagging

I would call it being logical.  He confirmed Rice because she was the choice of the President and it's his cabinet.  After the President wins an election he gets to pick his cabinet like it or not.  Unless there's an extreme circumstance, not voting for his choice is meaningless.  What would the reason be for voting against her?  Because she supported going to war?  Real logical so did Bush who got re-elected.  Obviously whoever he chose to replace Powell would be a big supporter of the war.  The Republicans also had the Senate so voting against her would have been double meaningless.  Let me guess you wanted her filibustered right?  Very practical...

As far as his line on Meet the Press he was 100% correct.  If we unilaterally withdrew all our troops we would just be asking for genocide in Iraq.  The Sunni militias would probably be defeated by the much larger Shiite population after which point the entire Sunni population would be susceptible to being massacred and that's if the Iranians, Saudis, and Syria stayed away.  If they jumped into the mix we would be looking at a regional war.  

Frankly, he's right to say what he did and he's right to support the ISG.  It wasn't perfect and I think Feingold's criticisms of it were valid, but the overall recommendation is a bull seye.  We need to change course and get out of the country while assuring its neighbors keep the region stable.  It was bipartisan so of course it couldn't have called for a specific timeline, but again it would be a million times better than Bush's current course of action.

by blueryan 2006-12-08 04:52PM | 0 recs
Re: I wouldn't call it Zig-Zagging

Paul finds his own truth even if he has to fabricate it himself out of other half truths.  Ignore him.

by yitbos96bb 2006-12-08 05:12PM | 0 recs
blueryan Becomes A Neo-Con

It's amazing how this response illustrates my underlying thesis: that Obama's style of "responsible" opposition (intimately connected to demonizing and disowning more the straightforward opposition of folks outside the Beltway) has the inevitable impact of moving everything the right.  It's a sort of political moonwalking, actually, where you appear to move to the left, but actually end up farther to the right.

Let's examine the claims presented in trying to deny Obama's zig-zagging:

(1)

He confirmed Rice because she was the choice of the President and it's his cabinet.  After the President wins an election he gets to pick his cabinet like it or not.
Forst off, this is plainly ludicrous.  The President gets to pick his cabinet, but the Senate gets to Advise and Consent.  You could look it up in the Constitution. Why in the world have the Senate vote on a nominee if they don't have the right to vote "no"?

What's behind this ludicrous assertion is the GOP/conservative double-standard, wherein any Republican appointee must be approved immediately with no questions asked, while no Democratic appointee can be approved without Congress diligently fulfilling its constitutional duty to drag things out as long as possible, in hopes that a Republican will be elected before they actually have to vote on the appointee.

Okay, I exaggerated. But just a little bit.  The double-standard on the appointment process is so well-known in the blogosphere, that anyone echoing the GOP talking points on them has created a rebuttable presumption that they are wingnut troll.

(2)

As far as his line on Meet the Press he was 100% correct.  If we unilaterally withdrew all our troops we would just be asking for genocide in Iraq.
Now, let's recall what Sirota's article said:
On Meet the Press in January Obama regurgitated catchphrases often employed by neoconservatives to caricature those demanding a timetable for withdrawal.
And isn't that exactly what blueryan has also done?

(3)

Frankly, he's right to say what he did and he's right to support the ISG.  It wasn't perfect and I think Feingold's criticisms of it were valid, but the overall recommendation is a bull seye.  We need to change course and get out of the country while assuring its neighbors keep the region stable.
There are so many zig-zags in this one passage alone that my head is spinning.  You can't have it both ways--agreeing with Feingold's criticism, and Obama's support of it.  The positions are mutually exclusive.  But, more to my main point--have you read my diary?--by saying "he's right to support the ISG" you're saying we're right to force Iraq to privatize its oil industry--even if they don't want to ("democracy," who needs it?)--and to insist on it as an integral part of our Iraq plans.

Now Obama defenders seem to have a hard time grasping this, so I'll repeat it twice:

(1) Obama could have said "No way will I support the forced privatization of Iraq's oil. That demand undermines everything we supposedly stand for."

(2) Obama could have said "No way will I support the forced privatization of Iraq's oil. That demand undermines everything we supposedly stand for."

This would have been a perfectly logical, as well as pragmatic and principled thing for him to say.  It had everything going for it.  Except, of course, it went against the Versailles consensus.  And Barack Obama will never go against the Versailles consensus.

He's a moonwalker.  The only way left is right.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-08 05:49PM | 0 recs
Nice try

(1) I never said the Senate can't vote no on a cabinet apointee, read my response please.  I said that there was no good reason for Obama to vote no on Rice.  I find it amusing that you have to distort my argument to "any Republican appointee must be approved immediately with no questions asked".  I never said that nice try.

(2) You don't have to be a neocon to realize that we would be doing a great disservice to Iraq and the  Middle East if we don't leave carefully.  It's pretty hard to characterize someone that opposes the war as a neocon.  Neocons say we shouldn't leave because we haven't finished our mission and that leaving early would make us surrender monkeys.  Please tell me when or how Obama has ever said that.  O that's right he hasn't.  Nice try again.

(3)Actually you can agree with both Feingold's criticms and Obama's support for the ISG.  Try to follow me i'll type s-l-o-w-l-y.  Feingold's primary criticisms were as follows:
a)The Commision was composed of people that didn't oppose the war from the beginning
b)Those that testified before the commission didn't oppose the war from the beginning
c)It is a washington insider commision
d)It wasn't representative of the American people
e)It presented no time table

Now I agree with these criticisms and I don't see how agreeing with these doesn't allow me to agree with the overall recommendation of the ISG, which is to change course and get out of Iraq and start negotiating with all of Iraq's neighbors.  You say "There are so many zig-zags in this one passage alone that my head is spinning."  Not really you just are thinking too simply.  You aren't automatically a neocon for supporting the primary recommendation of the ISG, sorry Paul.  Again i'll repeat, these recommendations are a million times better than what Bush is currently doing.  Therefore, I think these would bring the American people to a much better place while we still have a Republican as the commander in chief.  The primary difference between Obama and Feingold in regards to the ISG is rhetric.  Feingold even said he thought there were "many positive recommendations" in the report.  Wow that's what Obama thinks too he just wasn't critical enough of  the actual commision for you so now him and all of his supporters are neocons.  Very funny, but sad.  

As far as your requirement of Obama having to say
"No way will I support the forced privatization of Iraq's oil. That demand undermines everything we supposedly stand for." well that's just ridiculous.  Obama has not done a point by point criticism of the report, so why would he have said that?  If he runs for President and is asked to give a detailed analysis of the report that's one thing, but tht hasn't happened yet.  Your litmus test of him having to say "No way will I support the forced privatization of Iraq's oil. That demand undermines everything we supposedly stand for." is absolutely laughable.  By the way I never heard Feingold say that either.  I guess Dennis Kucinich can count on your support for 2008?  Good luck with that buddy...

by blueryan 2006-12-08 07:21PM | 0 recs
You Don't Read Too Good, Do You???

(1) What did I say?

Okay, I exaggerated. But just a little bit.  The double-standard on the appointment process is so well-known in the blogosphere, that anyone echoing the GOP talking points on them has created a rebuttable presumption that they are wingnut troll.
Your argument wasn't as extreme as the GOP and the neocons, but it followed their lead.  Sirota's piece said:  
One of Obama's first votes as a senator was to confirm Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State despite her integral role in pushing the now-debunked propaganda about Iraq's WMD.
To supposedly rebut it, you say:
I never said the Senate can't vote no on a cabinet apointee, read my response please.  I said that there was no good reason for Obama to vote no on Rice.
But Rice's role in pushing the WMD propaganda is not just a good reason, it's a compelling reason to vote no on Rice.  Unless, of course, you're a go-along-to-get-along kind of good old boy.  Which, I guess, is what Obama now is.

(2)

You don't have to be a neocon to realize that we would be doing a great disservice to Iraq and the  Middle East if we don't leave carefully.
I'll try to say it a little differently, since you seem to have some trouble grasping the point here.  It's not that there aren't serious concerns about how to leave Iraq.  The problem is that such concerns are used to avoid leaving Iraq.  As Meteor Blades wrote in a current front page story at DKos:
If Russ Feingold's August 2005 proposal for withdrawal had been adopted, the last American troops would be leaving Iraq in a couple of weeks. We might already know who the last one to die for the lies of that     man in the White House and his pals. But Feingold's, and the proposal by Brian Katulis and Larry Korb, and John Kerry's, and Jack Murtha's and Wes Clark's have all been ignored. So, the skulls are stacked, American, Iraqi and others, the bloodbath goes on, and the dithering ceases not.
And Obama's MTP appearance was devoted to yet more stalling, stacking up yet more skulls.

(3a) You say:

Actually you can agree with both Feingold's criticms and Obama's support for the ISG.
Afraid not.  Feingold said:
"this report is a regrettable example of `official Washington' missing the point."
There is no way to square that with support for the report.

(3b) You say:

As far as your requirement of Obama having to say
"No way will I support the forced privatization of Iraq's oil. That demand undermines everything we supposedly stand for." well that's just ridiculous.  Obama has not done a point by point criticism of the report, so why would he have said that?
Again, if you'd read my diary, you would know the answer to this one--supporting the report means supporting it point-by-point.

You take this:

It's spelled out in Recommendation No. 63, which calls on the U.S. to "assist Iraqi leaders to reorganize the national oil industry as a commercial enterprise" and to "encourage investment in Iraq's oil sector by the international community and by international energy companies." This recommendation would turn Iraq's nationalized oil industry into a commercial entity that could be partly or fully privatized by foreign firms.
Combined with this:
Finally, the report unequivocally declares that the 79 total recommendations "are comprehensive and need to be implemented in a coordinated fashion. They should not be separated or carried out in isolation."
That makes it crystal clear that if you support the ISG Report, then you support privatization of Iraq's oil.  Which is why Juhasz concludes:
All told, the Iraq Study Group has simply made the case for extending the war until foreign oil companies -- presumably American ones -- have guaranteed legal access to all of Iraq's oil fields and until they are assured the best legal and financial terms possible.

We can thank the Iraq Study Group for making its case publicly. It is now our turn to decide if we wish to spill more blood for oil.

And Obama said, "That's for me!"

But, now you're defending him by saying what?  That his fingers were crossed?

Nice try.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-08 08:30PM | 0 recs
Wait a sec

So Sirota is the authority that you are citing?  Great objective source there!

by Jerome Armstrong 2006-12-09 06:52AM | 0 recs
Re: Wait a sec

Where does Sirota skew something?

by justinh 2006-12-09 07:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Wait a sec

Why is Sirota less "objective" on the subject than anyone else?  It seems that recently Sirota has come under some scrutiny by some bloggers because he has decided to take a critical look at the overhyped and -- generally --uncritical attention that Senator Obama has garnered.  Sirota has, as far as I can recall, been a consistently progressive, intelligent and incisive voice on progressive issues.

by bedobe 2006-12-09 07:24AM | 0 recs
If You're Questioning Sirota's Reporting, Jerome

Then site me something that contradicts what he wrote.

An ad hominem swipe at him doesn't accomplish anything.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-09 09:07AM | 0 recs
Why blame Obama because no Democrat

leader said Iraq was a war for oil?

"Did any leading Democrats ever say that(Iraq II was a war for oil)? Did any progressive or liberal of any public stature ever say that? If they did, I'd love to see the quote."

It was a war for oil (that is the US strategic interest in the Middle East) so you completely missed the boat and asked the wrong question of the wrong person.

Obama was likely correct that Bush Jr and the neocons hubris was so overwhelming they did think it was about more than oil...that they were going to reshape the Middle East in 80 days.

As far as Obama, he is the only Democratic contender who did oppose the Iraq before the war which would make him the most liberal, progressive candidate.

by BrionLutz 2006-12-08 11:15PM | 0 recs
Who Needs This Kind Of "Progressive"???

A "progressive" who first says he's "not one of those people who cynically believes Bush went in only for the oil."
A "progressive" who now supports privatizing Iraq's oil?

I'd have an awful lot more respect for Obama supporters, if just one of them would step forward, and say, "Yeah, that's fucked up.  It bothered me, too, and I wrote to him about it.  I still support him, because of X,Y, and Z.  But you make a very good point."  But so far, it just doesn't seem like Obama supporters are part of the reality-based community.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-09 05:25AM | 0 recs
The reality-based community...

Yeah, I've noticed this too, and it is increasingly concerning to me.  

I want to elect a President I can criticize.  If what he does is always right, how can we get him to be a better President? And if we can't do it to make them a better candidate, how will we ever do it after they win?

by bruorton 2006-12-09 09:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Why blame Obama because no Democrat

"As far as Obama, he is the only Democratic contender who did oppose the Iraq before the war which would make him the most liberal, progressive candidate."

Hopefully, he would still have opposed the war if he were in the U.S. Senate at the time.  But given his political cautiousness, I'm not convinced that he would have.

by justinh 2006-12-09 07:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Why blame Obama because no Democrat

"Hopefully, he would still have opposed the war if he were in the U.S. Senate at the time."

Well he ran for US Senate stating his opposition and it doesn't get any more gutsy than that.

"But given his political cautiousness, I'm not convinced that he would have."

Actually engaging in an election as an unknown underdog, for Obama to take a position opposing the war was as "courage politics" as it gets.

As far as the commentary at the top, it is totally off base complaining about Obama correctly noting that the neocons ambitions and hubris went way beyond just Iraqi oil.

by BrionLutz 2006-12-09 08:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Why blame Obama because no Democrat

1) C'mon.  Running for Senate in 2004 in Illinois was much different than having to vote in the Senate two years earlier.  2)He ran against Alan Keyes.

by justinh 2006-12-09 08:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Why blame Obama because no Democrat

"Running for Senate in 2004 in Illinois was much different than having to vote in the Senate two years earlier."

Oh really...Kerry lost in 2004 claiming Iraq was a mistake so for Obama, an underdog, neophyte to stake out a position against the Iraq war was political guts.

by BrionLutz 2006-12-09 09:10AM | 0 recs
Get Real!

It was a crowded primary field.  His anti-war stance helped him break out, and garnered national netroots support when that was really crucial for his primary success.  Then he lucked out and ran against a carpetbagger nutjob.

I'd say it was pretty canny of him, really.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-09 09:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Get Real!

That sounds good.  I didn't realize he was running against a lot of pro-war candidates in the Illinois Democratic primary.

by justinh 2006-12-09 09:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Get Real!
I hope you guys are kidding, right?  In 2002 Sen. Durbin voted against the war.  With the exception of Paul Wellstone I do not believe there was another Senator that was up for reelection that cast their vote against the war.  His vote was never an issue in the race. Durbin won handily in 2002.  
  As far as I can remember there were no pro-war Democrats in the 2004 primary field, at least not among the front runners.  Some like Nancy Skinner were even more out spoken against the war.  The primary was more about domestic issues. I do not think a pro-war Democratic Senator would have won in IL.
   Just want to keep the context clear that being against the war in IL in 2004 was not unusal or even a heroic stand for the Democratic Candidate.
I suppose it could be said the Sen Durbin took the real stand in 2002.
by Licorice 2006-12-10 08:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Get Real!

I was definitely kidding.  I imagine Paul R. was, too.  It's been a challenge to get BrionLutz to present an actual argument in support of Barama.

by justinh 2006-12-10 09:13AM | 0 recs
As I've Said It Before

His defenders make him look worse than his critics do.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-10 09:23AM | 0 recs
Re: As I've Said It Before

Maybe they work for Hillary!

by justinh 2006-12-10 09:51AM | 0 recs
I Don't Know About The Others

But BrionLutz acts like a Republican.

So maybe it's a joint McCain/Clinton operation.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-10 02:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Why blame Obama because no Democrat

Which would make sense if Kerry lost Illinois.

Or if the Presidential election were in 2002.

by justinh 2006-12-09 09:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Why blame Obama because no Democrat

ich would make sense if Kerry lost Illinois.

Or if the Presidential election were in 2002.

by justinh 2006-12-09 09:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama vs. ISG: Yes Blood For Oil!

Ugh. I am going to get so sick of arguments about Obama over the next year, I can see it already.

by Mullibok 2006-12-09 09:06AM | 0 recs
Boy, You Ain't Kiddin!

I sorta forgot how people's IQs sink through the floor--or rather, I didn't expect it to start so soon.

I was simply trying to extend Chris's point, and trace out a further consequence of the sort of bash-the-base tactics that Obama engages in sometimes.  We all know that others have done this, and will do it again in the future.  And we know that it's a bad idea.  So it seems pretty straightforward to say that Obama shouldn't do it either.

It's not a matter of "bashing" him, it's standing up for a principle that all Democrats should observe--and not just presidential wannabes.  It's for the good of the whole party.  I just don't see how it's controversial.

Unless, of course, Obama matters to you more than anything else.

Which is a pretty big problem in its own right.  Look what Bush worship did to conservatives and the GOP.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-09 09:23AM | 0 recs
Obama and the intelligence factor.

"I sorta forgot how people's IQs sink through the floor--or rather, I didn't expect it to start so soon."

As your message above so clearly demonstrates.  

You say anyone who questions your views is not intelligent which, ironically, makes the opposite point.

Which brings us back to Obama...the reason people like him is his intelligence and the fact he doesn't insult their intelligence.

by BrionLutz 2006-12-09 03:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama and the intelligence factor.

You say anyone who questions your views is not intelligent which, ironically, makes the opposite point.
I thrive on intgelligent criticism.  But I've been starving here.

I don't judge intelligence as a function of whether you agree with me or not.  I judge it as a function of whether you make me think new ideas or not.  If I can answer your knee-jerk "aguments" in my sleep, you're just not being very intelligent.

The Obama groupies here have not offered intelligent arguments for a very simple reason: they haven't done a very good job of reading my diary in the first place.  So instead of responding to my argument, and taking it seriously, they've tried--at their best--to deny the facts of the matter.

They've been so busy doing that that it never dawns on them that (1) I might be right, and (2) if I am right, and Obama learns from his mistakes, he can be an even better candidate and (3) if that happens, I will probably support him.

The fact is, Obama's critics right now--at least that I am aware of--are primarily people who want to support him, but who are troubled by what they see as a very misguided inside-the-Beltway mentality on his part.  This is certainly true of Sirota, and Chris Bowers, for example, and is also true of me. This is the same mentality that caused Gore to fight the 2000 election challenge with one hand tied behind his back, and to give up too easilty, and that caused Kerry to run a stiff and clueless campaign in 2004, culminating in a failure to honor his pledge to ensure that all the ballots were counted.  This is the mentality that the netroots has been fighting against since day one.  Just because Obama is charismatic and "a liberal" is no reason to embrace or excuse that mentality.  To the contrary, it is all the more reason for us to fight against it.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-09 05:08PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama and the intelligence factor.

"I thrive on intgelligent criticism."

Hard to say since you accuse those who disagree with you of being "IQ challenged" vs. presenting an intelligent counter pont.

"Obama's critics right now--at least that I am aware of--are primarily people who want to support him, but who are troubled by what they see as a very misguided inside-the-Beltway mentality on his part."

Actually it seems more obvious that it's been a "Lamont's revenge issue" all the way....scratch an Obama critic and find a Lamont supporter who felt jilted by Obama.

"Obama learns from his mistakes, he can be an even better candidate and (3) if that happens, I will probably support him."

Ah yes...the "recant, prostrate himself before me and kiss my ring" mentality we saw in Sirota's opinion piece...all about the Lamont heresy.

I think the college of cardinals of the blogosphere who hold that position always leave themselves the out (you do above, Sirota did) that after some self perceived "recanting" by Obama (there won't be an actual one) they'll say they support him.

Until then we'll have to listen to these Potemkin village criticisms of Obama constructed by the Lamont sect.

Which does serve a purpose, we'll get to deconstruct the right wing blogosphere critiques early as they'll have the same construction.

by BrionLutz 2006-12-10 04:42AM | 0 recs
My Mind Is Made Up, Don't Confuse Me With Facts

You've repeatedly claimed that opposition to Obama is based on his failure to support Lamont.  (For some unknown, occult reason, you apparently feel that this is a devastating counter-attack. Go figure.)  You have never presented one iota of evidence to support this claim.

OTOH, when I have presented evidence of other reasons to distrust Obama, you both change the subject to whether Obama was justified or not, and continue denying that such reasons even exist.

In short, "My mind is made up. Don't confuse me with the facts."

The absurdity of this line of argument should be obvious.  

The basic premise is that opposition to Obama is based on his support for Lieberman and failure to support Lamont--an error in political judgement.

You support this premise by denying that anything else could be a factor--such as his vote for the bankruptcy bill, or vote to confirm Condi Lies--because thinking those votes are important would be... wait for it... an error in political judgment.

So, to recap: We're stupid to oppose Obama because of his support for Lieberman, and we couldn't have any other reason to oppose him, because that would be stupid.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-10 09:00AM | 0 recs
Obama critics = Lamont supporters

is more matter of fact observation.  Sirota's piece etc. all written by Lamont supporters.

All question Obama's sincerity by noting he didn't campaign for Lamont.

Obama is clearly the most liberal, most progressive Democratic candidate.

I think the Lamontista's will come around eventually as they all leave themselves the "out" of supporting Obama once he "earns" their support...aka...they get over their hissy fit and are faced with Hillary losing to McCain or Obama having a shot at beating McCain.

by BrionLutz 2006-12-10 11:35AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama critics = Lamont supporters

How exactly is Obama the most liberal, most progressive candidate?  Based on what?  

by justinh 2006-12-10 11:44AM | 0 recs
In Other Words, My First Response To You Was Right

That there were a number of troubling things that Obama had done, but the level of awareness about them got a shot in the arm from him playing footsie with Lieberman.

All of which is quite consistent with wanting our candidates and representatives to be responsible to the voters, not the DC court of Versailles.

Aside from that, you've got nothing.

You take the opposite view, of course.  That we should be happy with crumbs from the table, and never question our betters.  When we lowly plebians dare to question our masters, you trot out your upside-down language about us wanting candidates to kiss our rings--as if we had any!

Your focus is entirely on horse-race politics.  We just happen to think that some things comes before the horse race--and last much longer after it is done.  Pardon us for thinking that both are important, and for noticing that the horserace proper has not even begun.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-10 12:03PM | 0 recs
Obama critics = Lamont supporters

"That there were a number of troubling things that Obama had done, but the level of awareness about them got a shot in the arm from him playing footsie with Lieberman."

And I'm sure the Obama critics/Lamont supporters will think of them sooner or later.

Thanks for proving my point.

by BrionLutz 2006-12-10 01:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama critics = Lamont supporters

BL:

"That there were a number of troubling things that Obama had done, but the level of awareness about them got a shot in the arm from him playing footsie with Lieberman."

And I'm sure the Obama critics/Lamont supporters will think of them sooner or later.

Thanks for proving my point.

I've mentioned those troubling things repeatedly, and you've ignored them over and over again.

So thanks for proving mine:

You've repeatedly claimed that opposition to Obama is based on his failure to support Lamont.  (For some unknown, occult reason, you apparently feel that this is a devastating counter-attack. Go figure.)  You have never presented one iota of evidence to support this claim.

OTOH, when I have presented evidence of other reasons to distrust Obama, you both change the subject to whether Obama was justified or not, and continue denying that such reasons even exist.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-10 01:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama critics = Lamont supporters

"I've mentioned those troubling things repeatedly"

And we saw that those "troubling" things were supporting Leiberman in the primary and not campaigning for the doomed Lamont in the general.

The "troubling things" Sirota pointed out were Obama voting for 40 mpg fuel standards and health care for laid of UAW workers.

by BrionLutz 2006-12-10 04:29PM | 0 recs
How Many Times Can You Tell The Same Lies?

From my original diary (at the top of this very page!)

As Sirota wrote:
    Then there is the Iraq War. Obama says that during his 2004 election campaign he "loudly and vigorously" opposed the war. As The New Yorker noted, "many had been drawn initially by Obama's early opposition to the invasion." But "when his speech at the antiwar rally in 2002 was quietly removed from his campaign Web site," the magazine reported, "activists found that to be an ominous sign"--one that foreshadowed Obama's first months in the Senate. Indeed, through much of 2005, Obama said little about Iraq, displaying a noticeable deference to Washington's bipartisan foreign policy elite, which had pushed the war. One of Obama's first votes as a senator was to confirm Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State despite her integral role in pushing the now-debunked propaganda about Iraq's WMD.

    In November Obama's reticence on the war ended. Five days after hawkish Democratic Representative Jack Murtha famously called for a withdrawal, Obama gave a speech calling for a drawdown of troops in 2006. "Those of us in Washington have fallen behind the debate that is taking place across America on Iraq," he said. But then he retreated. On Meet the Press in January Obama regurgitated catchphrases often employed by neoconservatives to caricature those demanding a timetable for withdrawal. "It would not be responsible for us to unilaterally and precipitously draw troops down," he said. Then, as polls showed support for the war further eroding, Obama tacked again, giving a speech in May attacking the war and mocking the "idea that somehow if you say the words 'plan for victory' and 'stay the course' over and over and over and over again...that somehow people are not going to notice the 2,400 flag-draped coffins that have arrived at the Dover Air Force Base."

Furthermore Sirota's story began with a list of the top things you ignore:

Obama was calling because he was bothered that I had written a few blog posts questioning positions he'd taken that appeared to belie his progressive image, most prominently his vote for a corporate-written "reform" of class-action lawsuits, his refusal to frontally challenge the Iraq War after running as an antiwar candidate and his vote to confirm Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State.
But all you know is denial.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-10 05:56PM | 0 recs
There's No One I Like

enough to reduce my IQ by 50 points.  Which seems to be the price of the ticket these days.

I was supporting Feingold.  But, then, I didn't have to get a lobotomy for that.  I could criticize him whenever I wanted to.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-09 09:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama vs. ISG: Yes Blood For Oil!

Stop knee-capping Obama. Wait until AFTER he declares to throw him under the bus.

by DRR7979 2006-12-09 12:59PM | 0 recs
Stop Taking Stupid Pills Before You Write

Wait until AFTER you've written to lower your IQ 50 points.

See my last two comments here and here.

Nothing would make me happier than to see Obama abandon his inside-the-Beltway gamesmanship--the same shit that lost us the last two presidential elections, btw. The same shit that virtually everyone in the netroots has been screaming about since day one. If he did so, I would be happy to support him.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-09 05:16PM | 0 recs
Meta-Cognition Is The Way To Go

Right now I'm not particularly interested in producing a better eventual nominee.  I'm interested in ceating a context that will make any nominee better--while strenghtening the party and the progressive movement in other ways as well.  We need a more enlightened, more informed, more self-aware netroots--which will take some struggle--as well as a more active and involved netroots (which seems like a given at this point).

The Obama groupies here will never believe me, but this diary had nothing to do with the 2008 nomination in my mind.  It had everything to do with the framing of foreign policy alternatives as an integral part of reshaping the political discourse for the next 30-40 years.  If Obama learns the lessons that out there to be learned, I have no problem at all with him as our candidate in 2008.  And I'll point out that it's still 2000 and fucking 6, so there is plenty of time for folks like me to come to a conclusion about who to support.

I very much hope that Obama will learn these lessons, regardless of whether he's the nominee, or even regardless of whether he runs, simply because he's a high-profile figure, and every high profile figure should be learning these lessons.  However, if he does learn these lessons, I could become a strong supporter who wants him to run.

Finally, I think your own thinking:

I'm most interested in just finding the candidate most able to strengthen the party for 2012, regardless of whether it will be challenging or defending the White House
is pretty much in line with my own.  The concern is with strengthening the party in the short run, so that we can regain a dominant position, and marginalize the various forms of insanity the GOP has been incubating for the past 30-40 years.  Candidates for 2008 should be viewed as means toward that end, and evaluated accordingly.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-09 04:50PM | 0 recs
My sentiments too

I know I might cave in and just vote Obama in the general election if he does end up being the nominee. But that does not mean I will not let him off the hook so easily.

Since when did using an anti war stance in a blue state against a right wing kook become the epitome of courage?

I have asked Lutz this before - how does merely stating a position become leadership? What has he done to encourage others to adopt the same position and what has he done to debate other politicians and try to persuade them to change their views? I still not have seen enough from him in this aspect when I consider his leadership on the Iraq war issue.

The fact that he campaigned for Lieberman in the primary - the main Democratic party politician to build up support for this war and is probably guiltier than a lot of republicans when it comes to quelling dissent on this war - shows me that while he has a common sense opposition to this war, he lacks a high enough priority for this war. For him, it is just one of many issues and not the pressing issue of the day(Obama is smart enough to know that this issue has eaten up valuable time and resources that would have been better spent on many other priorities and continues to do so). There is a time and place for many issues and this is one of them. Supporting people like LIeberman would be tantamount to supporting a rabid pro-life Democratic Party candidate in the 70s and 80s who browbeats his prochoice colleagues.

by Pravin 2006-12-10 03:33AM | 0 recs
Re: My sentiments too

Obama never "campaigned" for Lieberman.  

Senator Obama spoke at a major fundraiser for the entire CT Democratic party last spring where he did express support for Lieberman's relection.  That was it.

Once Joe floated the idea of an Independent run if he lost the Dem primary Obama was one of the first Dem Senators who stated intent to support the Dem nominee no matter who won.

by Sam I Am 2006-12-10 05:35AM | 0 recs
Re: My sentiments too
My mistake, if that is the extent of what happened.
But an endorsement is pretty bad in my book too. He could just as easily not given an endorsement to either candidate if he didn't want to piss off lieberman.
by Pravin 2006-12-10 11:38AM | 0 recs
Re: My sentiments too

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/1 1/14/122820/27

(From Tim Tagaris of the Lamont Campaign)

Barack Obama
Quite possibly the biggest disappointment ... period.

While on his book tour, he was in NYC one day, had a scheduled day off, and appeared in Massachusetts the following day.  Yet he couldn't make time to stop in the state between the two on his day off.  We made it explicitly clear he was the single senator we wanted in the state above all others.

He declined.

Eventually, we asked Senator Obama to send out an email for the campaign to his Connecticut list.  We created a culture in which emails became news (much like we did with the blogs in the primary).  They made it entirely clear that he would basically not even mention Joe Lieberman's name in the email, let alone take him to task for his unfortunate position on the war in Iraq.  This was disappointing, but I wasn't going to be spiteful.  They sent the email, and as I hoped, the press came calling.  Our Press Secretary, Eddie Vale, was asked how many people the email went to.  He looked on the back-end of the website and saw the number of click-throughs to the landing page I created.  He answered "about 5,000."  Within minutes of the Associated Press piece going on the wire, I received several phone calls from Obama staff.  They were none to pleased about the 5,000 number.  Essentially, Obama could be seen as helping, but not helping THAT much.  His staff apparently made it clear that the email only went out to 225 people in Connecticut.  That's it.  The next day we were subject to a correction in the papers and ridicule from Lieberman's campaign and corners of the right-wing blogosphere.

It's also important to note that Obama's email came only after a tremendous amount of pressure built up from portions of various online communities who "threatened" in behind-the-scenes conversations and open discussions online that support for Lamont would be viewed as a part of a "presidential checklist."

Everyone should also know that Robert Gibbs, part of the group that ran the infamous Dean/Osama ad during Iowa 2004, is now Barack Obama's Communications Director.

by justinh 2006-12-10 12:46PM | 0 recs
You've confirmed that Obama opposed Iraq war

prior to US invading Iraq.

That's a progessive plus for Obama.

The other Obama "sins" mentioned by Sirota were Obama's voting for 40mpg fuel standards and health care for laid off UAW workers.

Those are also progressive pluses.

The other item always mentioned by Obama critics is non-support of the doomed Lamont.

Besides the issues items...there's the presence.

We originally scheduled the Rolling Stones for this party, but we canceled them when we realized Sen. Obama would sell more tickets," New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch told the crowd. Democrats in New Hampshire said they were impressed. 'He was able to talk about issues in a way that wasn't quite as pat and predictable as we're used to hearing,' said Brad Greeley, a Democrat from Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

by BrionLutz 2006-12-10 06:43PM | 0 recs

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