NEWS & VIEWS ROUNDUP: October 7

Why McCain’s time with the Council of World Freedom matters

Since Sunday, Democrats have been buzzing about the re-revelation that during the 1980s, Sen. John McCain served on the board of a far-right conservative organization that had supplied arms and funds to paramilitary organizations in Latin America.

Democratic strategist Paul Begala lit the fire when, during an appearance on Meet the Press, he warned that this relatively obscure detail from McCain’s past could draw him into a guilt-by-association game he was bound to regret.

“John McCain sat on the board of…the U.S. Council for World Freedom,” said Begala, “The Anti-Defamation League, in 1981 when McCain was on the board, said this about this organization. It was affiliated with the World Anti-Communist League – the parent organization – which ADL said ‘has increasingly become a gathering place, a forum, a point of contact for extremists, racists and anti-Semites.'” [continued…]

Global fears of a recession grow stronger

When the White House brought out its $700 billion rescue plan two weeks ago, its sheer size was meant to soothe the global financial system, restoring trust and confidence. Three days after the plan was approved, it looks like a pebble tossed into a churning sea.

The crisis that began as a made-in-America subprime lending problem and radiated across the world is now circling back home, where it pummeled stock and credit markets on Monday.

While the Bush administration’s bailout package offers help to foreign banks, it seems to have done little to reassure investors, particularly in Europe, where banks are failing and countries are racing to stave off panicky withdrawals after first playing down the depth of the crisis.

Far from being the cure for the world’s ills, economists said, the rescue plan might end up being a stopgap for the United States alone. With Europe showing few signs of developing a coordinated response to the crisis, there is very little on the horizon to calm rattled investors. [continued…]

The GOP goes back to its ugly roots

The End of Days is approaching for John McCain and Sarah Palin, and at least one member of the ticket is not likely to greet this development with religious rapture. Their numbers are tanking. Their campaign has had to pull out of Michigan, and they are trailing in most of the battleground states they must hold onto. Even Karl Rove has predicted an Obama win if the election were held today. McCain’s hotheaded behavior during the Wall Street crisis and his numerous other erratic tactical swerves have backfired. And his biggest gamble, choosing Sarah Palin as vice president, is increasingly looking like a disaster.

McCain’s all-too-predictable response: get ugly, as he did on Monday is his disturbing rant against Obama in New Mexico.

The man who incessantly talks about “honor” has checked his own at the door. Back in April, McCain — himself the victim of a vicious, race-baiting smear campaign orchestrated by Karl Rove in 2000 — disavowed a North Carolina ad attacking Obama for his association with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. “It’s not the message of the Republican Party,” McCain said. “It’s not the message of my campaign. I’ve pledged to conduct a respectful campaign.”

But that was before McCain faced imminent defeat. His “pledge” has turned out to be about as credible as his sudden incarnation as a lifelong enemy of Wall Street. On Monday, McCain rolled out a new TV ad, “Dangerous,” that accuses Obama of being “dishonorable.” “Who is Barack Obama?” a narrator ominously asks. “He says our troops in Afghanistan are ‘just air-raiding villages and killing civilians.’ How dishonorable.”

Of course, this is an outrageous smear. Obama was simply pointing out the well-known fact that in fighting an insurgency, over-reliance on air power is counterproductive. That’s because airstrikes inevitably result in civilian deaths, which turn the population against the side carrying them out. U.S. airstrikes and the ensuing civilian casualties are one of the biggest points of contention between the U.S. and Hamid Karzai’s regime in Afghanistan, and they are a huge issue in Pakistan and Iraq as well.

But none of those facts matter, because McCain desperately needs to paint Obama as a traitor, an alien, a defeatist, and un-American. The rhetorical question “Who is Barack Obama?” is not accidental: It is intended to raise fundamental doubts about whether he is a real American. It ties into the online smears that accuse him of being a Muslim, a terrorist, of not saluting the flag, hating the troops, attending a madrassa, hating Israel, and so on. [continued…]

The United States and Iraq: still getting it wrong

The United States presidential candidates are not the only ones scrambling to put together a credible interpretation of the situation in Iraq these days. The Pentagon’s latest quarterly report to the US Congress – Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq, delivered on 1 October 2008 – shows that Washington’s defence establishment shares the same difficulty.

There are two basic problems in the report, which covers the period June-August 2008. The first concerns its assessment of “the fundamental nature of the conflict in Iraq”. At the outset there is bombast: “[While] security has improved dramatically, the fundamental character of the conflict in Iraq remains unchanged – a communal struggle for power and resources”. That is as about as wrong as one can be in describing the political dynamics of the past year. [continued…]

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1 thought on “NEWS & VIEWS ROUNDUP: October 7

  1. Henry Pelifian

    In our society smearing someone is often successful in and out of politics. Smears work. Will racists more likely believe the smears? In fact, it may be more common that we realize. Also the “Bradley Effect” as well as the dishonesty of small or not so small numbers of people in polling today can skew the results creating inaccuracies.

    Barack Obama may win the presidential election, however, American history shows that racism, favoritism and unfairness have had a great role to play in and out of politics. Therefore, it will not be surprising for Barak Obama to lose the presidential election. If Barack Obama loses the election how will racism be shown to be a factor? How will racism be measured or can racism be measured?

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