Friday, March 27, 2015

Mitt Romney is right; Rachel Maddow is wrong!!

This may only be about one thing; however in this rare occasion I think Mitt actually made a reasonable request although most people won’t think it is reasonable at first.

(This was originally posted on Open Salon 2012)

By now you have probably heard that Mitt Romney has responded to a request for his tax returns by saying the following:

“The Obama campaign is playing politics, just as he’s doing in his conduct of foreign policy," Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul wrote. "Obama should release the notes and transcripts of all his meetings with world leaders so the American people can be satisfied that he’s not promising to sell out the country’s interests after the election is over.” Daily KOs
Black Political Buzz

The response to this from most sources on the so-called left, including Rachel Maddow and the Daily KO has been has been mostly ridicule implying that this is an unreasonable request. Rachel responded by saying sarcastically “really” and then going on to question how this is even connected. Jed Lewison at the Daily KO responded by saying that: “If that were the policy, it wouldn't result in more transparency, it would simply mean that presidents would no longer have meaningful conversations with foreign leaders, because no foreign leader in their right mind would agree to such terms.”

This is simply not true especially when you’re dealing with a country as powerful as the USA. No country in the world would hesitate to deal with the USA if the USA adopts a reasonable position. By repeating the assumption that foreign policy should be kept secret over and over again they’re using propaganda to convince the public that when they make decisions about who to vote for they should just assume that they shouldn’t be entitled to the information they need to make important decisions because this is so important that we can trust our leaders to do what is right.

There is just one problem with this assumption.

It is dead wrong!

Our leaders lie to us about one foreign policy decision after another and it almost always turns out that we go to war based on lies.

One of the biggest and most recent examples of this is Downing Street Memo which, combined with an enormous amount of other evidence indicates that we started the second Iraq War based on lies. This probably isn’t the exception it is almost certainly the rule and in most cases the public probably never finds out about it; nor is anything new. The following excerpt from the Nixon Administration indicates how little our leaders have truly been about the well being of the public except those with a significant amount of political power.

The two-hour midday session on May 24 focused on economic and European matters. Nixon emphasized that he would need a settlement of outstanding lend-lease debts from World War II to win congressional approval for Soviet Most Favored Nation (MFN) status on trade and cautioned that European affairs, particularly NATO force levels, could not be settled without consultations with allies.

“Do you think the time will come when there are no allies on your part or on ours, that we are common allies?” Kosyg in asked. “It will take time,” Nixon responded, loath to even hint at negotiations to dismantle NATO. “That’s what we want to achieve,” Kosygin answered. “As long as you have your allies and we ours, we are at loggerheads.” Nixon countered, with implicit reference to the twenty-seven-year Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, “Small nations object to having their fate decided by larger ones.” He then softened his remarks by declaring that “we wouldn’t want to anger Albania.” When the laughter subsided, Gromyko exclaimed sarcastically, “That is a very noble intention.”

Both sides added to the mirth by declaring their interest in a joint manned-mission to Mars. Nixon said he was ready to go along. Kosygin suggested he come too. “It will take nine months. We will get to know each other very well,” Nixon declared. “We will take cognac,” Kosygin responded. “Perhaps there should be a preliminary flight of foreign ministers,” Gromyko volunteered. “If the foreign ministers don’t come back, ”Nixon deadpanned, “we won’t go.” Brezhnev thought that Kissinger’s presence on such an adventure would “keep him away from submarines,” on which he had been outspoken in defense of the U.S. negotiating position. (Robert Dallek “Nixon and Kissinger” 2007 p.394-5)

By talking so lightly about how “Small nations object to having their fate decided by larger ones.” And how “we wouldn’t want to anger Albania.” They clearly demonstrate the attitude that many of the most powerful people have towards those that don’t know what is going on. Many people including Robert Dallek have stated or implied that Nixon was the exception when it comes to this kind of attitude; however I have no doubt that a closer look at the history of foreign policy will indicate that the biggest thing if not the only things that makes him an exception is the fact that he did a worse job hiding his beliefs; made tapes of them; and got caught in a very public manner.

On top of that there is of course the Pentagon Papers and other reports from Vietnam and many other conflicts to indicate that these wars were also fought based on lies. The past behavior of the government clearly should indicate that the most powerful people in our country clearly can’t be trusted in these decision as much as most of us would like to believe.

There isn’t a country in the world that can provide a real military threat to the USA; in fact the greatest threat to the USA clearly seems to be from within and this is partly a result of the secrecy that our leaders continue to do things including foreign policy.

This discussion of course arose as a result of Barack Obama’s recent statement which was overheard on the mike, “This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.” This statement was followed up by a friendly pat on the hand and a response from Dmitry Medvedev, “I understand.”

It is hard to imagine how or why Barack Obama made this “blunder” in front of an open mike; presidents including Barack Obama clearly had plenty of opportunity to learn from open mike mistakes; regardless of why he made this mistake this should initiate an important discussion about whether or not the public should have the information they need to make decisions about the leaders they choose to conduct foreign policy.
This discussion should not be used to repeat the false assumption that the public should be kept in the dark about many of the most important decision including foreign policy based on the assumption that secrecy increases security.

Clearly the obsession with secrecy on this subject hasn’t increased security at all; in fact it has done the opposite!

This doesn’t mean that Mitt Romney is right about many if any other issues; nor does it mean that he can be trusted to release his transcripts of conversations with foreign leaders if he were to become president one way or another.

Let’s face it Mitt Romney Flip Flops on everything; clearly we can expect that he is only making this request for the short term benefit of his campaign even if it backfires. Once he gets in office he can be expected to be as secretive as Obama if not much worse.

However, Rachel Maddow was right that when she claimed that Mitt Romney lies all the time. (minimum XI part series; early parts don’t link to later parts so additional segments may not be reflected in this link.) this is clearly enough evidence to indicate that he can’t be trusted to be president even if he did say the right thing for the wrong reasons.

Barack Obama has his history of lying as well; however he usually does a better job at appearing to be sincere without actually being sincere. Clearly neither of these two candidates should be considered serious contenders; unfortunately the Mass Media continues to try to tell the public that these are the only viable candidates.

This is a lie, or implied lie on the part of the Mass Media.

They’re hoping that the public won’t notice that there are many other candidates for presidential offices including some that will have national access to the ballot. Under these circumstances the claim that you would be throwing away your vote unless you chose from the candidates presented as “viable” by the Mass Media is a lie; in fact the opposite is true.

In order to be considered “viable” by the Mass media they have to collect an enormous amount of campaign contributions from the corporations adopt the ideologies of the political elite and abandon the best interests of the majority.

Fortunately the public has other options. Vote Smart has provided a list of many other candidates that are running for president for people to choose from. Both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney “refused to tell citizens where he (they) stand(s) on any of the issues addressed in the 2012 Political Courage Test, despite repeated requests from Vote Smart, national media, and prominent political leaders.” This should be enough to disqualify them both. In order to qualify for high office the candidate should be willing to answer question from the public or the closest thing available to direct question. Vote Smart may not be perfect but they’re more sincere than the Mass Media and the candidates.

At least one of the candidates from that list has agreed to answer those questions and, as far as I can tell Jill Stein has a much more reasonable position on these issues. The following is what she wrote about foreign policy:

U.S. interests can be best served by a demilitarized foreign policy, guided by human rights and international law. The Bush/Obama policies of unending war and military bases in over 100 countries costs us not only blood and treasure, but sacrifices America's higher calling as a beacon for peace and democracy in the world. We should go after criminals but in doing so, should maintain, not violate the law. Assassination without trial denies rule by law, and for this reason, undermines the values that we seek to protect. Jill Stein position on foreign policy at Vote Smart

This doesn’t indicate whether or not she believes that foreign policy should be done in complete secrecy; however if she is sincere about it then I don’t see why she would need to do much if any business in secrecy.
Clearly Jill Stein deserves a closer look; other candidates on the list from Vote Smart may also deserve a closer look but restricting choices to those that the Mass media tell you are viable due to the fact that they collected a massive amount of bribes, thinly disguised as campaign contributions, from the corporations would be throwing away your vote.

(For more information on Blog see Blog description and table of context for most older posts.)

The following are the original replies when this was first posted on Open Salon.

I'll have to come back and finish this Zack, but one point here. If the Bay of Pigs fiasco would have been published as it was happening, we might not be here to worry about it. Kennedy did not tell the American public that we had agreed to remove our nukes from Turkey along with some other concessions. Gotta go, just saying...

scanner April 02, 2012 01:36 PM

Yeah, but of course they're just doing it to protect us know-nothings from having to suffer the frustrations of understanding why fracking us is good for us...

I remember Art Bell asking his listeners to suggest what single change would have the most impact on human society. One guy got it right: "Nobody can lie anymore." I'll bet that sends shudders down the spine of just about everyone who reads it, powerful or not.


Samasiam April 02, 2012 01:57 PM

I agree. Transparency would make the whole world a safer place.

Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall April 03, 2012 02:28 AM

Scanner, If you look at some events like the Bay of Pigs at the last minute then it may seem as if the best thing to do is keep secrets from the public; however if you look closer to the activities that preceded the Bay of Pigs and many other incidents I have no doubt that openness could have reduced the danger. In the case of the Nukes they had opportunities to reverse the race during the Eisenhower administration but instead they escalated it based on lies and paranoia.

Baltimore, I agree they should both disclose everything that might relate to their job assuming they get it in order to qualify for the office.

There is something phony about the coverage of both this incident and the one where Dan Rather used fake documents when there were real ones that he could have used. I don’t know what it is but it has become the rule not the exception and it is all the more evidence for disclosure.

Sam, Stuart agreed, thanks for responding.

zacherydtaylor April 03, 2012 09:41 AM

[r] so agree, Zachd. SO-CALLED left is right!!! There's the rub. Et tu, Rachel, whom I ferociously promoted even before she came on the scene, emailing her Bush-scalding independent videos to everyone I knew. She has a new book out. Cherry-picking her way to indict the Republicans when wars whether led by Obama or a Repub are evil and violent corporate piracy.

"After my election I have more flexibility." Yeah, once again, Obama feels no allegiance to ANYTHING he promises during the seduction ritual of campaigning. Afterwards he will do whatever he and his corporate overlords want for power and profit. Talk to the hand, 99% ... and yet still so many lost in the F-O-G (what Kevin Zeese calls "the forces of greed") and gobbling up all that pr the media is slathering over Obama and all the pr he can buy for election 2012 with the bribing pac money from his corporate pimps!!! As Jill Stein runs for president the honest way, without giving away the store to the vulture vampire capitalists!

There's a book by John Mearsheimer who talks about the lying that is done not between nations but American Presidents like Obama lying to their own people. At first they focus on lying about international policy to justify the horrifying amorality of the USwarmachine, but then it flows into lying about anything and everything in terms of domestic issues. Obama had already gone down that slippery slope before becoming president, apparently. He lied from the get-go.

God bless Jill Stein who bottom lines it all morally and simply:

"U.S. interests can be best served by a demilitarized foreign policy, guided by human rights and international law."

That bullshit rationalization for war, "American interests" ... not the interests of the 99%, the profit-making interests of those economic rapists and war-mongering murderers.

David Brooks calls us Post-Morality America. We need to move the pendulum back to humanism!!!

Zachd, thanks for saying all you say!!! best, libby

libbyliberalnyc April 03, 2012 01:49 PM

Libby, I haven't read Rachel's new book but I did hear some of the quick comments that she made on her show; some of them were reasonably good but they're nothing new to many people. there have been many other authors including Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Chalmers Johnson and many others that have been making the same points and more for years and they've been doing a better job at it.

The biggest difference is that they were almost completely boycotted by the mainstream media while Rachel gets an enormous amount of promotional opportunities.

Presumably this might be because they realize that things have gotten so bad that they have to give the public a little permission to think a little more, not much, just a little.

Then when their is reform Rachel might be in a position to take credit for the things that were driven by others thanks to her position within the mass media.

Still stopping the military insanity is a good idea but we shouldn't stop with what Rachel promotes.


zacherydtaylor April 05, 2012 09:33 AM

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