Why McCain and Obama Won’t Talk about Race

Obama and Mccain

Obama and Mccain

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama made one speech in March to damp down the furor over his relationship with his controversial former pastor Jeremiah Wright. He made another speech at the NAACP convention in July. Other than those two speeches, he has not uttered another word about racial issues since.

Republican rival John McCain spoke at the same NAACP convention. Shortly after that, he issued a terse statement backing the Ward Connerly concocted anti-affirmative action initiative on the November ballot in Arizona and two other states. Other than that, he has not uttered a single word about racial issues since.

The audience for McCain and Obama’s speeches at the NAACP convention were mostly blacks. That reinforced the notion that racial issues are by, and for, blacks, with no broad policy implications for all Americans as issues such as health care, jobs and the economy, terrorism and Iraq.

About the only talk about race during the campaign has been the interminable Hydra headed question of: Can Obama make history by being the first African-American president? And if he doesn’t will race sink him? That’s hardly the candid, free-wheeling, in-depth talk about the problems that impact the lives of millions of black, Latino, Asian, and American Indian voters. Minority voters make up about one quarter of American voters, and they deserve to hear what the candidates have to say about racial matters and, more importantly, what their administration plans to do about them.

Obama and McCain’s racial blind spot has been ritual blindness in all candidates in recent America presidential races. Racial issues have seeped into presidential debates only when they ignite public anger and division. In a 1988 debate, Bush Sr. hammered Democratic contender Michael Dukakis as being a card carrying ACLU’er, a milksop on crime, and tossed in the Willie Horton hit to drive home the point. In one of their debates in 2000, Bush and Democratic challenger Al Gore clashed over affirmative action

Race has been a taboo subject for presidents and their challengers on the campaign trail for the past two decades for a simple reason. No president or presidential challenger, especially a Democratic challenger, will risk being tarred as pandering to minorities for the mere mention of racial problems. In stark contrast, Obama, let alone McCain, would never worry about being accused of pandering to Christian Evangelicals by talking incessantly about gay marriage and abortion.

Full article: www.insight-info.com

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Obama, The Prince Of Bait-And-Switch

John Pilger describes the denigration of the of civilian casualties in colonial wars, and the anointing of Barack Obama, as he tours the battlefields, sounding more and more like George W. Bush.

By John Pilger

24/07/08 “ICH” — – On 12 July, The Times devoted two pages to Afghanistan. It was mostly a complaint about the heat. The reporter, Magnus Linklater, described in detail his discomfort and how he had needed to be sprayed with iced water. He also described the “high drama” and “meticulously practised routine” of evacuating another overheated journalist. For her US Marine rescuers, wrote Linklater, “saving a life took precedence over [their] security”. Alongside this was a report whose final paragraph offered the only mention that “47 civilians, most of them women and children, were killed when a US aircraft bombed a wedding party in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday”.

 

Slaughters on this scale are common, and mostly unknown to the British public. I interviewed a woman who had lost eight members of her family, including six children. A 500lb US Mk82 bomb was dropped on her mud, stone and straw house. There was no “enemy” nearby. I interviewed a headmaster whose house disappeared in a fireball caused by another “precision” bomb. Inside were nine people – his wife, his four sons, his brother and his wife, and his sister and her husband. Neither of these mass murders was news. As Harold Pinter wrote of such crimes: “Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest.”

 

A total of 64 civilians were bombed to death while The Times man was discomforted. Most were guests at the wedding party. Wedding parties are a “coalition” speciality. At least four of them have been obliterated – at Mazar and in Khost, Uruzgan and Nangarhar provinces. Many of the details, including the names of victims, have been compiled by a New Hampshire professor, Marc Herold, whose Afghan Victim Memorial Project is a meticulous work of journalism that shames those who are paid to keep the record straight and report almost everything about the Afghan War through the public relations facilities of the British and American military.

 

The US and its allies are dropping record numbers of bombs on Afghanistan. This is not news. In the first half of this year, 1,853 bombs were dropped: more than all the bombs of 2006 and most of 2007. “The most frequently used bombs,” the Air Force Times reports, “are the 500lb and 2,000lb satellite-guided…” Without this one-sided onslaught, the resurgence of the Taliban, it is clear, might not have happened. Even Hamid Karzai, America’s and Britain’s puppet, has said so. The presence and the aggression of foreigners have all but united a resistance that now includes former warlords once on the CIA’s payroll.

 

The scandal of this would be headline news, were it not for what George W Bush’s former spokesman Scott McClellan has called “complicit enablers” – journalists who serve as little more than official amplifiers. Having declared Afghanistan a “good war”, the complicit enablers are now anointing Barack Obama as he tours the bloodfests in Afghanistan and Iraq. What they never say is that Obama is a bomber.

 

In the New York Times on 14 July, in an article spun to appear as if he is ending the war in Iraq, Obama demanded more war in Afghanistan and, in effect, an invasion of Pakistan. He wants more combat troops, more helicopters, more bombs. Bush may be on his way out, but the Republicans have built an ideological machine that transcends the loss of electoral power – because their collaborators are, as the American writer Mike Whitney put it succinctly, “bait-and-switch” Democrats, of whom Obama is the prince.

 

Those who write of Obama that “when it comes to international affairs, he will be a huge improvement on Bush” demonstrate the same wilful naivety that backed the bait-and-switch of Bill Clinton – and Tony Blair. Of Blair, wrote the late Hugo Young in 1997, “ideology has surrendered entirely to ‘values’… there are no sacred cows [and] no fossilised limits to the ground over which the mind might range in search of a better Britain…”

 

Eleven years and five wars later, at least a million people lie dead. Barack Obama is the American Blair. That he is a smooth operator and a black man is irrelevant. He is of an enduring, rampant system whose drum majors and cheer squads never see, or want to see, the consequences of 500lb bombs dropped unerringly on mud, stone and straw houses.

 

First published in the New Statesman

US Fails at Enforcing Prosecution of Contractors

The US government has the legal authority to prosecute private contractors for crimes they commit in Iraq but often declines to use it, according to a report released today by a leading human rights group. The findings by Human Rights First come amid renewed uncertainty about whether employees of the US security company Blackwater can be prosecuted for a September shooting in Baghdad that
left 17 Iraqis dead.

blackwater

The Bush administration has warned that inconsistency in federal law may allow the contractors to evade charges, the New York Times reported today.

“The main obstacle to ending the culture of impunity among private security contractors is not shortcomings in the law but rather the lack of will to enforce the law,” today’s report states.

A seven-year-old law called the Military extraterrestrial jurisdiction act, or MEJA, provides the main mechanism to prosecute contractors for crimes committed outside the US.

But many in the capital have questioned whether MEJA’s specific application to Pentagon employees would exempt Blackwater, which was operating under a US state department contract when the September shooting occurred.

The human rights report rejects that argument, citing a congressional expansion of MEJA passed after the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal in 2004. That measure allows for prosecution of non-Pentagon employees who were “supporting the mission of the department of defence”.

The behaviour of contractors for Blackwater and other security firms has sparked resentment among Iraqi officials as well as civilians, many of whom consider the private guards unnecessarily violent.

“These violent attacks have created a culture of impunity that angers the local population, undermines the military mission, and promotes more abuse by contractors over time,” the report states.

The report found that since the war in Iraq began, only one US contractor has been charged with a violent crime under MEJA: an employee of KBR, formerly owned by Halliburton, who was accused of
stabbing an Indian female colleague.

The House of Representatives already has approved a measure that would directly apply MEJA to Blackwater and its fellow contractors. Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama has introduced an expansion of MEJA in the Senate, but the bill has yet to see action.

Fallout from Blackwater’s legal and public relations troubles has hit British security companies in recent months.

The chief executive of ArmorGroup, the largest UK security firm operating in Iraq, left his post after reports of the September violence chilled the company’s profits and new contracts.

The human rights report singles out ArmorGroup and Aegis Defence Services, another UK-based contractor, for tracking incidents involving firearms use by their employees, in contrast with US
companies that do not routinely keep such records.

by: Elena Schorr