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“Professional Bashers”: GOP Will Find A Way To Blame President Obama On Ukraine Jet Downing

The monstrous downing of a Malaysian jet liner apparently by Russian backed separatists in the Ukraine did something that few thought could happen. It has gotten GOP leaders momentarily to agree with President Obama when he pointed the finger squarely at Russia for the horrific attack. But don’t expect the GOP’s hand hold with Obama to last. GOP leaders have been relentlessly snipping at Obama from the moment that Russia muscled into the Ukraine, lopped off slices of its territory, and cheered on and supplied pro-Russian separatists in the nation with sophisticated weapons. Presumably those weapons include the kind of missile thought to have taken down the jetliner. If it’s shown beyond doubt that the rebels downed the plane and did it with a Russian supplied missile, GOP leaders almost certainly will renew their barrage of attacks on Obama.

As always, their attacks will have absolutely nothing to do with indignation and outrage over the mass killing. It will have everything to do with politics. In April, when Obama first talked with Russian President Vladimir Putin to get him to stand down on stirring up tensions in the country, GOP leaders pounced. They branded him as too weak, soft and conciliatory. The smear was a rerun of the same smears it has repeated time and again against him on the issues of national security and foreign policy.

The GOP has dusted off the script on every foreign policy crisis that’s popped up since Obama entered the White House. The list is endless: Somalia, Bin Laden, Afghanistan, Syria, and Iran and, of course, Benghazi. In each instance, just change the names and the rap is till the same, he’s weak, indecisive, and soft, and always the charge is that his alleged weakness somehow puts the nation at mortal risk. As in every one of the crisis’s that Obama allegedly bungled and jeopardized the nation’s security, the unreconstructed cold war hawks and professional GOP Obama bashers flatly declare that the U.S. must get tough, firm and resolute up to and including a military and even nuclear a saber rattle against a perceived American foreign enemy.

The Ukraine crisis has been no different. GOP leaders have called for Obama to do everything short of putting boots on the ground in the Ukraine to battle the Russian backed separatists. The only thing that has stopped those tempted to cross that line and make that call is the vehement overwhelming opposition of the American public. As horrible, bloody and now humanly catastrophic with the jetliner attack, the conflict is, it’s still a regional conflict in which the U.S., no matter how long and loud the saber rattle from the GOP, can do little beyond the strongest political and moral condemnation and sanctions. In themselves they are weak and for the most part ineffectual. As morally odious as the conflict is especially with its latest horrific turn, it still poses no direct threat to American security.

However, that means little to a GOP determined to score big in the mid-term elections. It will do everything it can to turn the heinous downing of the jetliner into yet another political indictment of Obama. They will scream louder to slap even tougher sanctions on Russia. Some of which are border on the absurd. This includes proposals to bar Russia from landing its Aeroflot planes in the U.S and other Western nation airports and even more dangerous and counterproductive, demanding that the U.S. arm the Ukraine military to the teeth. This almost certainly will guarantee a frantic arms race with Russia shipping even more heavy weaponry to the Rebels. The GOP nowhere explains exactly how any of this will bring Russia to its knees, to stop it from aiding the rebels or make airspace over Ukraine any safer.

Obama’s sensible option continues to be to redouble efforts through a combination of new sanctions which he did a day before the jetliner debacle that involved energy and banking transactions and negotiations aimed at stopping the flow of weapons and military support to the rebels. No matter how loud the war hawks scream about Obama’s actions, he has little choice but to try and help craft a solution through diplomacy. This hardly shows weakness, but recognition that the U.S.’s options are few.

The Malaysian jet liner downing was a senseless and heart-breaking tragedy that served absolutely no political or military purpose for the rebel separatists, if they indeed committed the dastardly deed. It will fuel even further the justifiable worldwide public rage at Russia and Putin. It will push Russia further to being branded a rogue state. Obama’s careful measures in dealing with the conflict have done much to insure that’s the case. The GOP’s inevitable finger point at him for the latest tragedy in the Ukraine will stand again as nothing more than the usual false, phony and opportunistic political pandering.


By: Earl Ofari Hutchinson, Associate Editor of New America Media; The Huffington Post Blog, July 19, 2014



July 22, 2014 Posted by | GOP, Russia, Ukraine | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Common Murderer, Ordinary Thug”: Putin Is Trying To Reconstruct The Russian Empire

After the bloody suppression of a patriotic demonstration in Warsaw in 1861, Alexander Herzen wrote to Tsar Alexander II: “You have become a common murderer, an ordinary thug.” He also described the Russian press as “shameless” and “unscrupulous.”

Today, we should repeat the words of this great Russian, and direct them at Vladimir Putin and Russian propaganda-men who are lying ceaselessly and insolently. A while ago, we heard that Poland trained Ukrainian fascist squads that terrorized the Maidan; next we learned that Putinist conquerors of the Crimea bought their weapons and uniforms in stores and that the Kremlin had nothing to do with it. Now we are once again hearing about the Ukrainian state’s responsibility.

The 298 wretched victims of the crash of the Malaysia Air flight are a result of Putin’s ruthless and cynical policies. It was his decision to arm the so-called separatists who in reality are the Kremlin’s spy network and fifth column in the Donbass region. They were armed with Putin’s knowledge and approval. And these people are the ones who killed random, innocent individuals.

Putinwith his KGB lieutenant-colonel mentalitydoes not want to let Ukraine follow its own path toward democracy and Europe. He wants to reconstruct the empire. Inciting and upholding ethnic conflicts in Latvia and Estonia serves this aim, as does the creeping dismantling of Moldova, and maintenance of conflicts around Upper Karabakh. Indeedthis great power, great Russian chauvinism is the final and highest stage of communism. And Putin understands progress as gradual annexation of successive states.

The European Unionaccustomed to peace and quiethas neither determination nor an understanding of the growing threat. The clichéd faith in the possibility of placating the beast is replaying over and over again. The blindness and loyalty of European political and business elites gives reason for concern. But there is nothing that releases usintellectuals active in culture, scholarship, and mediafrom the duty to say clearly, stubbornly, and emphatically: This is very dangerous. We are not allowed to repeat the naiveté once displayed by intellectual elites toward Hitler and Stalin. And back then we were not allowed to close our eyes to the annexation of Austria, Czechoslovakia, and the Baltic States.

My friend from Moscow says that there are two scenarios in which the Russian army will leave Ukraine: One realistic and the other miraculous. In the realistic scenario, Saint George will ride in on a dragon and use his fiery sword to chase this band of scoundrels away. That’s the realistic scenario. And the miraculous one? They’ll just up and leave on their own.

The policy of successive concessions leads nowhere. Putin is not a European-style politician; he’s a politician of permanent belligerence. Much seems to suggest that he has already let the genie out of the bottlecrowds of mercenaries are moving from Russia to Ukraine, crowds of sentimental monarchists, Orthodox fascists, National-Bolsheviks, and the like. Arming these bandits with first-class weapons is simply criminal. It is a good thing that Poland’s current government has taken an honest and judicious stanceit’s not flexing its muscles but it’s also not succumbing to illusions or hypocrisy.


By: Adam Michnik, Editor-in-Chief of Gazeta Wyborcza, where this piece originally appeared; The Huffington Post, July 21, 2014

July 22, 2014 Posted by | Russia, Ukraine, Vladimir Putin | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Stroll Down Memory Lane”: Sometimes, ‘What Would Reagan Do?’ Is The Wrong Question

After the public learned last week that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 had been shot down, killing all 298 people on board, it wasn’t long before an obvious comparison came to mind: in September 1983, a Russian fighter jet shot down Korean Air Lines Flight 007. The attack left 269 passengers and crew dead, 62 of whom were American, including a member of Congress.

Olivia Kittel noted that for many Republicans, President Obama should not only follow Ronald Reagan’s example from 31 years ago, but also that Obama is already falling short of the Reagan example.

In the wake of a Malaysia Airlines jetliner crash, Fox News has rushed to conveniently rewrite history to disparage President Obama by drawing false comparisons to former President Ronald Reagan’s response to a 1983 attack on a Korean airliner.

After Fox News said Obama wasn’t Reagan-esque enough, plenty of other conservatives soon followed.

Let’s take a brief stroll down memory lane in case some have forgotten what actually happened in 1983.

After the Soviet pilot killed 269 people on a civilian airliner, Reagan’s aides didn’t bother to wake him up to tell him what happened. When the president was eventually briefed on developments, Reagan, who was on vacation in California at the time, announced he did not intend to cut his trip short. (Reagan’s aides later convinced him to return to the White House.)

Last week, Obama delivered a public address on the Malaysia Airlines plane about 24 hours after it was shot down, calling the incident an “outrage of unspeakable proportions.” Reagan also delivered stern words, but in contrast, he waited four days to deliver public remarks.

So what is Fox talking about?

More from Kittel’s report:

On the July 17 edition of Fox News’ The Kelly File, host Megyn Kelly connected the July 17 tragedy to the 1983 Korean airliner crash, highlighting Reagan’s speech in response and noting in comparison that Obama has “been accused of ‘leading from behind.’ ” Fox contributor Chris Stirewalt compared Reagan’s response to Obama’s, saying Reagan’s response made Americans feel “reassured and resolute,” and Kelly echoed that Obama’s response “makes him look unconnected and makes a lot of Americans feel unrepresented.” […]

Such comparisons applauding Reagan’s 1983 response to attack Obama have reverberated throughout Fox News. Andrew Napolitano invoked Reagan’s response to insist Obama should “get on national television and call Vladimir Putin a killer.” Fox correspondent Peter Johnson Jr. said of Obama, “I think the president needs to take a page out of Ronald Reagan,” while Fox strategic analyst Ralph Peters suggested Obama’s strategy should reflect “clear speech, a la Ronald Reagan, backed up by firm action and with follow-through.”

This over-the-top Reagan worship isn’t just wrong; it’s ironic. In 1983, some of the prominent conservative media voices of the day actually complained bitterly that Reagan’s response was wholly inadequate.

George Will – yes, that George Will – called the Reagan White House’s arguments “pathetic” at the time, insisting, “It’s time for [Reagan] to act.”

The president responded publicly with rhetoric that made the president sound rather helpless. “Short of going to war, what would they have us do?” Reagan said. “I know that some of our critics have sounded off that somehow we haven’t exacted enough vengeance. Well, vengeance isn’t the name of the game in this.”

One wonders what the reaction would have been from the right and the Beltway media if Obama responded with similar rhetoric to a comparable situation.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, July 21, 2014

July 22, 2014 Posted by | Fox News, Republicans, Ronald Reagan | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Stop Undermining The President!”: I Am Glad We Have Barack Obama As Our President At This Time In Our History

For a short time after September 11, 2001 anyone who dared to criticize then President Bush was called an unpatriotic traitor. Remember the Dixie Chicks?

But today when international crises occur those same folks pushing that patriotic fervor are quick to find fault with our current Commander in Chief. Whatever happened to putting our country first? It seems to me any global unrest becomes an excuse to bash our President for political purposes.

Take this recent shooting down of Malaysian domestic Flight 17 over the Ukraine. President Obama addressed the disaster the day it happened at an event in Delaware but he was criticized by pundits at Fox News and right wing radio for continuing his speech about building infrastructure. A case could be made that the President wanted to promote calm and business as usual on the home front. On the same day he spoke on the phone with the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, who later put the blame on Ukraine.

The next day our President labeled it an “outrage of unspeakable proportions” and a “global tragedy” and asked for a ceasefire between Russia and the Ukraine and called for an international investigation into the incident. He also spoke on the phone to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razale, and Prime Minister Marke Rutte of the Netherlands over the course of the past two days.

In other words, he took the appropriate steps and actions to lead and stay on top of this international crisis. Yet, Senator John McCain pointed fingers at President Obama for not supplying weapons to Ukraine to help fight off the Russian rebels accused of this dastardly deed (whether it was an accident or not.) In fact, President Obama just two days ago announced even tougher sanctions on Russia for its involvement in Ukraine. So he has been taking actions, just not the military ones that war hawks McCain and others in the GOP have been pushing.

Then the Fox pundits, Sean Hannity in particular, compared this situation to President Reagan‘s reaction to a downed Korean passenger airliner by the Soviet Union in 1983. Yes, President Reagan, great actor that he was, condemned it in strong words, but it took him four days to do it and then he never took any action after that. Plus, it was a totally different world then. We were in a Cold War with the Soviets and things are much more complicated today with all of the unrest in the Middle East.

The conservative pundits will never talk about the Iranian passenger plane Air 655 that we shot down by accident in 1988 under President Reagan’s watch. The United States never apologized for it, paid $61 million for the 290 victims’ families, and no one was fired or held accountable for it. Talk about ironic hypocrisy by those who are so outraged by this.

I, for one, am getting tired of hearing about how “weak” our President is regarding foreign policy. Isn’t it possible that calling him that undermines our country and our reputation in the world? He is not weak. He is not John Wayne (emulated by Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush) but rather Cool Hand Luke. He thinks before he acts. He doesn’t shoot from the hip. He takes his time and consults his advisors and looks at the big picture of any long term effects his decisions may create. This may infuriate the action hero testosterone crowd but I think it is the better approach.

Sure, there are statements and mistakes the President made that he would like to take back like the “red line” in Syria, providing more security in Benghazi, and domestically the “you didn’t build that” (although that was taken outside of context), and “if you like your plan you can keep it” (which I think he really believed.)

But the vitriol and hatred lashed out against our leader is very disturbing and maddening. Many of it is based on lies told against him by his opponents (remember the so-called “apology tour” and “death panels” and the debacle over his birth certificate?)

A Facebook friend accused President Obama of raising his middle finger to Republicans from the beginning. I had to straighten him out by pointing out that right after Obama was inaugurated he invited the GOP over to the White House for a Super Bowl party, he played golf with Speaker of the House John Boehner after the 2010 election, he said in his address to the American people “even if you didn’t vote for me, I am your President too.” He wanted to unite the country. Remember his 2004 Democratic Convention speech about the red and blue states and how we are the United States?

It was the Republicans who turned against him from the beginning. The first day of his Presidency they had a meeting to devise a plan to defeat him. The Senate Minority leader, Mitch McConnell, said his number one priority was to make Barack Obama a one-term president (we all know how that turned out.) Talk radio host Rush Limbaugh said in the midst of our Great Recession “I hope he fails.”

You can only extend the hand of friendship and have it rebuffed so many times until you get the message that it is pointless. And I’m not saying it’s racial although there may be elements of that. The GOP did the same thing to President Bill Clinton, leading numerous dead-end investigations until they latched onto the Monica Lewinsky scandal and actually impeached him in the House of Representatives.

The irony is that the oppositions’ constant barrages have actually strengthened the President. I have never heard him speak with more fire than after Boehner announced the GOP were going to sue him. He has become immune to the chatter on the right and has taken up this latest attack as a battle cry for him to “do his job” for the country as Congress has become the least productive branch of government in history.

President Obama has finally gotten the message that FDR, LBJ, Bill Clinton and even Ronald Reagan learned. You can’t please the opposing party so you have to stick to your principles and do what you feel is right for the country.

I don’t know if other Americans are sick of all of this infighting but I have reached my boiling point. I am seriously considering banning Fox News from my channel surfing as it just irritates the heck out of me.

I just wish we as a nation would get behind our President at times of international crises. Maybe that will happen after the mid-term elections, but I am not holding my breath. In the meantime, I am glad we have Barack Obama as our president at this time in our history. We need his calm, cool, clear headed approach to leadership at this time of unprecedented international turmoil. And if enough of us just get behind him, maybe we can once again become the “United States of America.”


By: Joan E. Dowlin, The Huffington Post Blog, July 19, 20



July 21, 2014 Posted by | Foreign Policy, Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Higher Consciousness Thinking”: Who Started It Doesn’t Matter, Who Has The Wisdom To End It Does

Remember back in childhood how, whenever a melee erupted on the playground or in a backyard, mothers, fathers or teachers would suddenly emerge to pull wrestling bodies apart while some sweaty kid, with pointed fingers and glaring eyes, would caterwaul, “But he started it!”? That familiar, blurted defense was intended to justify the chaos and fisticuffs, rationalize the bullying and bloody noses, and, usually, it didn’t work.

Because instead of reacting as the finger-pointing child hoped, most intelligent adults would respond along the lines of (and this was my mother’s favorite rejoinder): “I don’t care who started it! I just want to know which one of you is going to end it?” And from there heads hung, consequences were meted, and we’d be on our way, grumbling about how unfair life was.

Yet our parents’ wisdom in understanding that who “started it” was irrelevant to the goal of peace was actually a highly evolved concept pulled right from the tenets of higher consciousness thinking, philosophy that seeks to transcend our biological response to aggression and adversity. Unfortunately, the persistence of human beings to assert that who “started it” matters terribly (with results that usually are terrible), is, in fact, the flawed rationale behind why rockets are blowing up families in the Middle East and passenger planes are being shot out of the sky in service to the Ukraine/Russian skirmish. We are a world beset by tragedy and trauma motivated by the battle cry, “they started it!” and… it’s killing us.

While many question who exactly shot down Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 (according to the latest it was Russian-backed separatists), and media, social and otherwise, is aflame with heated discussions of who’s more right or wrong in the Middle East, there’s no end to the spectrum of finger pointing to be found. Charles Krauthammer’s “Moral Clarity In Gaza” was posted on Facebook today with an assertion that it defined who, at least, “started it,” but my own thought was: does that really matter at this point? Hasn’t the never-ending reality of war proven that defining who “started it” has no bearing on the impact and tragedy of the escalation beyond that inception?

But we continue to go round and round, century after century, for time immemorial, ripping each other to shreds with pointed fingers, bombs and rockets, terrorism and intolerance, in support of nationalism, ethnicity and religion, defended and justified by who “started it.” Seems we’ve not gotten much beyond our schoolyard defenses… except now the costs are so much more grave.

In response to the current state of warring humanity, l can’t help but ponder an oft-asked and existential question: what is a human being? Apart from our ethnic, national, religious and sexual background, what, really, are we? If one has a religious or spiritual bent (and isn’t religion most often cited for our historical attachment to war and violence?), doesn’t one embrace the doctrine that every human is a spirit, has a soul, or is in some way an energy or essence that transcends the physical self? If so, doesn’t it follow that, beyond life, as one transitions to whatever is next, the spirit shakes off those physical identities we hold so dear and fight for so viciously? And if that’s true (and if one has spiritual belief one typically believes some measure of that is true), then it also follows that, in fact, and beyond where we landed on this planet at birth, we are all, truly and irrevocably, made of the same stuff, regardless of nationality, ethnicity or religion. If human beings — particularly those who would kill or die for their religious or national affiliation — instead embraced that spiritual philosophy of oneness, wouldn’t peace, then, be possible?

Certainly it should be. But history tells us peace is the greatest uphill battle. Because the invisible hand of religion, national and ethnic pride, and that unfortunate human impulse to, instead of turning a cheek, push when pushed, shoot when shot at, or rush to the killing field to decimate an enemy rather than negotiate a peace, keeps our warring factions ratcheting to higher and higher levels of discord and devastation. Strange how religious tenets of harmony and oneness are never the rallying cry of those who kill in religion’s name.

It doesn’t really matter who started it, whichever it we’re talking about. If it’s one side this time, it’s another the next. The anatomy of feuds, combat, war and strife depends on enflaming our differences — nationalities, religions, ethnicities – instead of honoring our shared humanity. And until someone on one side or the other finds the humility and wisdom to not shoot back, not point fingers, and not allow ancient wounds and animosities to persistently preempt peace, the human right to pursue happiness and raise our children in health and safety will never be a reality for some in some parts of the world. And that is unacceptable.

Our parents were right… it only matters who ends it. So let’s stop talking about “moral clarity,” and “who’s at fault this time.” Just tell me who will end it. That’s the only analysis I want to hear.


By: Lorraine Devon Wilke, The Huffington Post Blog, July 19, 2014

July 20, 2014 Posted by | Middle East, Russia, Ukraine | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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