status quo. n.m. the existing state or condition.

Jean-Paul Sartre was very clear in his description of existentialism: it is not just responsibility for you and your fellow citizens, it is also a form of humanism, in which, through our collective and individual awareness, we are creating a possibility for improvement, betterness – in other words, hope and change.

Those two key words were also the key words used by President Obama during his campaign, and that we are now realising are nothing much but a brand, as put by Chris Hedges in his slap-in-the-face piece for TruthDig, “Liberals are useless”. Once again, Chris Hedges, the author of The Empire of Illusion, has nailed the truth, one that we do not want to hear but must face: for as long as we subscribe to whatever has been sold, we are never going to change, and we can hope, that we can do, but it is not going to bring about change. Change is not something that appears, out of the blue, into your hands. Liberals are not supposed to believe in change like Catholics believe in the birth of Jesus. We are not supposed to adorn our elected leader with an aura of pure faith and wait for the blessings of Babylon to be handed out to us. Like free coupons.

Jean-Paul Sartre: he no likey

Tha majority of the American people who voted for Obama mostly acted on two ideals: the escalation of war and violence must be stopped, and health care must be provided to every citizen on the basis of international conventions, so as even full-time workers could support a family and not descend into Dickens-like poverty as soon as fate hit them with a disease, most often curable and temporary in western countries in which universal health care was a tradition no politician would ever consider denying. Obama was supposed to bring the United States into a new age of equality and fairness, justice and democracy, everything its predecessor had failed to provide. Instead, we are at a standstill: as the war in Afghanistan escalates with more than vague timeframes for withdrawal, as the health care reform has been watered down to the point of being nothing more than what it already was, and as unemployement is on the rise to the point where college students have to rely on foodstamps, it is a legitimate statement Chris Hedges made when he said we were a “useless lot”.

For what it is worth, Obama said it the day of his inauguration: “Help me achieve what I must do”. A mandate is precisely what this is, but apathetic as we had become accustomed to be, we simply left our lives into his own hands, tied by the private insurance companies and polluted by Blackwater, until we are scared of questioning his decisions. He can not be wrong, we are saying, because he is our leader, he is not like them; we are consciously and purposefully setting him apart with as much rethorical power as we can, to dissociate him from the previous presidents in place, in opposition as well as in our own camp – the Clinton era was a trainwreck – so well we might as well have erected a pedestal. Problem is: this is not Obama’s job to decide what is and what must be. This is ours. Electing a representative is one thing; giving him the power to decide without your input is one another entirely. The situation the nation is in right now requires more popular uprisings, yet the streets are empty and liberals are urging everyone to “just wait”, we are not even halfway through his mandate yet; just like we were asked to “just wait”, he was only in the first hundred days of his presidency.

I was an Obama supporter myself; I made my decision over Hilary Clinton because she seemed to be more of a war supporter than he was. I believed in his Chicago southside background, and I believed that his past as a community organizer would make him just that, a community organizer on a wider scale. In place of a community, of a united nation behind democratic and legal principles, we are sold the “bipartisanship” brand, the type of compromise that is so condescending in its description we are just babies waiting for big daddy to tell us the facts of life. We did not elect Barack Obama because he was a compromise; we did not elect him because he was a hybrid between John McCain and Ralph Nader. We elected him because he was leftier than Bill Clinton, and because as liberals, we were too chicken to see what was going on in Ralph Nader’s corner.

Words like “radical” and “socialist” are being used as insults while newspapers, this so-called “leftist media” that Sarah Palin blamed for her downfall, are praising the decisions made by Barack Obama when this is no step forward: simply because it is not even a step backward. It is a statu quo. Nothing changed. Even John McCain, the maverick, is pleased with the foreign policy on Afghanistan. The little outrage sparked by the attribution of the Peace Nobel Prize to someone fighting two and a half wars and still supervising illegal detention centers (such as Baghram, and Guantanamo Bay still not taken care of) was the proof that we are considered like stupid, braindead, brainwashed, and manipulated infantilized group of people. Follow the leader, they said, so we did. The marching song sounded nice enough, so why not.

Nothing that has to be done is anything new. Before Chris Hedges came Naomi Wolf, before Naomi Wolf came Amy Goodman, and before Amy Goodman came Ralph Nader, before Ralph Nader came Noam Chomsky. And before all of them came all of those rescapees, those refugees of the great popular movements of 1968, that are giving us the warning signs, that are begging us not to repeat the same mistakes, that are telling us that our generation might have given free-flowing, no-hold-barred capitalism a try, but when a system is not working, it is not up to your leader to stop it, it is up to you, and you only, to tell your leader to stop it. You are not supposed to follow the leader: the leader follows you, your incentive, your mandate, your propositions, suggestions, and orders. Don’t ask for permits, don’t wait for elections, don’t sit on everything you are told until you are so nauseous you want to vomit this so-called democracy and be done and over with. We are useless because we don’t act and are satisfied too easily.

That is called a status quo. And yes, this is a problem.

Advertisements

My morning headache had a name (as they always do), and beyond the nightmare that is swine flu, this one is named Stupak.

Stupak is also one of those Democrats belonging to the blue party for reasons that are beyond our comprehension (he’s fiercely pro-life, much in the likes of Sarah Palin currently hosting fearfully successful pro-life rallies in the South). The Stupak Amendment is an amendment to the current healthcare bill that considerably reduces the federal funds given to abortion. Basically, if you need an abortion, please pay out of your own pocket, thank you. Considering the fact that women in need of abortion are generally mostly of lower to poor working classes, this is not going to help women at all. But this is 2009 and Maine has already given us our federal quota of legal gay-bashing for November; so who else were we going to stump on this time? You’re right, the <i>other</i> second-class citizen: poor women.

The Stupak Amendment, which real name is Stupak-Ellsworth-Pitts-Smith-Kaptur-Dahlkemper Amendment, is already mirroring the Hyde Amendment asking for the complete refusal of federal funds for abortion under health care policies, and the removal of abortion from government-funded health care programs. Planned Parenthood was just about to shoot itself in the head before it heard the news, and is now considering committing itself to the nearest government-funded mental illness program created just for women who have no other choice in life but to turn to the 19th century literature already condemning the use of underground abortion. Guess that a teenage Austrian Jew knew more about women than Democrats do.

As per Republican custom – which once again makes me question Stupak’s allegiance to the Democrat Party – at the moment of voting, Stupak called to the “conscience” of Congressmen, in order to secure the place of his amendment on the bill. The proposed health-care reform, already the product of a severe compromise and the dismissal of anything that would be actually historical and life-changing in the history of healthcare in the United States, is now crowned with the title of the first health care program that completely ignores women’s rights and women’s health in it. I am talking about western countries obviously since we have already stated that the United States has a healthcare record placing them behind Cuba. According to Stupak,

“Passage of the Stupak Amendment does not impose a new federal abortion policy; it simply continues what has been the law of the land since 1977 and I am pleased that with the addition of this amendment the House health care reform bill will continue that policy.”

“I have long been an advocate of health care reform. My goal has always been to ensure that the voices of the majority of Americans who oppose federal funding for abortion were heard in this important debate. Now that those voices have been heard we must move forward and pass a bill that provides quality, affordable health care for all Americans.

“I thank Speaker Pelosi for allowing this important vote to occur and I appreciate the hard work and perseverance of my pro-life colleagues in Congress who held strong and stood with me over the past several months as we worked to find a way to allow this vote against all odds.”

Against all odds, indeed, since Nancy Pelosi is herself a woman and should vote in her conscience with the hundreds of thousands of women she is now condemning by allowing Stupak to use all his manly force to restrict women’s rights a little bit further, in case we weren’t already worried with our situation. Melissa Harris-Lacewell, a teacher at Princeton University, twittered this morning: “So angry about Stupak last night that I had to practice meditation at 2:30AM to finally get to sleep.” Then: “It’s Sunday morning and I am seeking more balance, greater optimism, and the courage to move in a new direction.” We do, actually, and proponents of women’s rights such as Rachel Maddow and Planned Parenthood have already geared up their responses for the bill that passed with a bipartisan vote of 220 – 215 (thank you, Anthony Weiner!)

“Planned Parenthood serves three million women every year through its more than 850 affiliate health centers across the country and has worked tirelessly on behalf of those patients for affordable, quality health care. On behalf of the millions of women Planned Parenthood health centers serve, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America has no choice but to oppose HR 3962. The bill includes the Stupak/Pitts amendment that would leave women worse off after health care reform than they are today, violating President Obama’s promise to the American people that no one would be forced to lose her or his present coverage under health reform.

It is strange, a bit eerie, and terribly confusing that this health care reform, so long promised, so long talked about and so long decried by a Republican Party afraid to lose its homophobic, women-hating and gun-toting base, finally became exactly what the Republican Party expected it to be: expensive for sick people, unaffordable for minorities, reducing women’s rights, denouncing equality, and finally going back to square one, all of that without having mastered a single debate yet. We had been encouraged to look toward European countries and favor systems such as La Sécurité Sociale in France and the National Health Service in the United Kingdom, without ever using this said inspiration to anything progressive, productive in useful. In times of recession, only government-based means of social security are saving societies from decrepit downfalls of epic proportions. It is only because of health care and welfare that most European countries managed to keep their level of conumption to a degree that kept their economies somewhat afloat. What will happen to the United States now?

One question: what is the use of Congress – and most importantly, the use of a majority in Congress – if we are not using it to bring about the ideas and the reforms propulsed by said majority? It’s not as if the Republicans had ever hesitated to press with all their weight when they were in Office. Why, all of a sudden, must everything be bipartisan, to the point it’s not even a question of balance, but a question of pleasing the minority? Barack Hussein Obama wanted to bring the United States into the third millenium after George W. Bush had run it into the ground and hit reverse – now we are retreating further back into the Dark Ages of feodal rule, and I am not so happy about the future of women, of gay people, of minorities, and of low incomes anymore. If anything, brace yourselves, because this future is indeed a bleak one.

By the way, Stupak, please do leave your Democrat Party card at the door when you leave, thank you.

It is becoming harder and harder to maintain something resembling innocence in this world; every victory is tainted by cynism and every hope is being trashed by disappointment, every change held back by rampant conservatism. In the aftermath of Barack Hussein Obama’s election, divided forces of the United States are shaking the benches and tables of the Senate, slamming their fists and creating even more turmoil and chaos than the overwhelming electoral victory would have led us to believe. It is all acceptable, as leading through ideology is often faced by those less inclined towards progress.

Barack Obama has been telling the Human Rights Campaign that his willingness to end the absurdity of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is still vivid, but didn’t mention any timeframe during which he is planning on putting the end of this legislation to a vote. Barack Obama has been meaning to uphold a diplomatic vision on the extremely belligerent US foreign policy history, but is sending more troops to Afghanistan. Until then, most of us Obama supporters have been biting the insides of their cheeks understanding the complexity of governance and hoping that the compromises made during the first year of his term would be softly removed as the years went by in order to bring about change.

One thing we certainly did not count on would be the spite that we had become accustomed to by the far right. The “internet left fringe” to which this blog belongs, and which has solidly, steadily and successfully carried President Obama to a positive end to his national campaign, is now being dismissed in the most patronizing and condescending manner by Obama’s advisers, none the wiser when it comes to understanding the way new media is emerging onto the social and political scene. Sadly, it is to our own detriment that we have to teach those who should take the opportunity of having a flexible and opinionated base when FoxNews’s ratings are doubling ever since the election.

According to advisers, bloggers are children in their pajamas with a free blogger dot com account and parading their pseudo-knowledge of political science as a means to express their teenage rebellion. The subsequent protests taking place all over the country as we speak are no more than hormonal surplus and boredom, all swallowed whole by the monster that is internet access without parental control. It has somehow failed to occur to those “advisers” than most of the bloggers they are referring to are academics, journalists also taking part in the print media world, college graduates, and media-savvy adults. Most of them even wear clothes as they are typing.
From John Knefel to Jay Rosen, from Naomi Wolf’s internet platform to Allison Kilkenny, bloggers hardly are the same crowd that had entered the internet  in the late 1990s and merely used the platform as a public journal. Blogs are now a democratic and open-minded source of information, opinion, often more reliable and inclined to fact-checking than some respectable news sources (I am looking at you, New York Times). The contempt displayed by supposedly “mature” writers such as Maureen Dowd who, although she despises bloggers, does not mind plagiarizing them, and White House staffers who, despite seeking their help desperately when in need of fundraising, are treating bloggers like attention-whoring children, is becoming not only frustrating, but also insulting.

Is it a vain and naive misunderstanding of the emerging technologies impacting the media world, or is it deeper propaganda aimed at killing the embryo of an inner-Democratic Party revolt against promises unkept? The United States, for long denounced for their political apathy benefiting conservatism ever since the Reagan era, are now waking up and paying attention to the dire situation they are in; they feel empowered enough to express themselves through the democratic means at their disposal, protest movements included. If the internet is allowing a faster dissemination of the information so be it, and let’s be glad it is happening: this is exactly what Barack Obama had referred to when asking his younger base to engage into the sort of community organizing that did not exist when he was himself working on the South Side, but is for sure helping movements grow and expand their possibilities of outreach.

Bloggers certainly do not deserve such scorn. First they ignore you, then they laugh at you – and then you win. Ignoring the blogosphere can only last so long, especially when said blogosphere constitutes the majority of your audience. Journalism may be the fourth power, but the street belongs to the people, the only place when democracy takes real action. When both forces mingle, compelling action is required. Ball’s in your camp, Barack.

After a winter and a spring marked by the rise of racism and gay-bashing, six months in a so-called post-racial world where instinctive and primal social conservatism is threatening to tear down the thin fabric of national cohesion, the House of Representatives passed a Hate Crime Bill, systematically vetoed under the Bush Administration, yet now a reality.

A hate crime is an attack – verbal or physical, assault – sexual or physical – or even murder based on the victim’s race, gender, sexual orientation, or mental/physical disability. A hate crime is exactly what it is: it is a crime, a severe threat and violation of one’s integrity, based on pure, unabashed hatred for what is different. Until today, a hate crime was not recognized as such in the United States, unlike most western countries; a specific intent on the defendant’s part could only contribute to a tougher sentence, but did not constitute a separate crime in itself.  If the law has to mirror the society in which it is developed in order to provide a more efficient protection, then there is no doubt the United States desperately needed the Federal Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009.

Because hate crimes are dividing a nation and respond to different stimulus than a ‘regular’ crime, and because it is often symptomatic or a deeper social issue, Obama urged the House of Representatives to sign the bill into law. “I urge members on both sides of the aisle to act on this important civil rights issue by passing this legislation to protect all of our citizens from violent acts of intolerance”, he said. But as it often appears to be the case in the recent american political rhethoric, the question of equality seems to raise a serious concern for inequality on the part of opposing Republicans, who firmly convinced themselves that giving people rights would take theirs away. As if Proposition 8 was not enough to prove that civil rights still have a long way to march in the nation of Freedom, a handful of elected officials raised their concern: Lamar Smith, on the Representative Judicial Committee, believes the Hate Crime bill undermines the very core concept of US Justice. “Unfortunately, this bill undermines one of the most basic principles of our criminal justice system — ‘equal justice for all.'”

John McCain is simply upset that the Hate Crime Bill does not cover attacks against the elderly.

John McCain is simply upset that the Hate Crime Bill does not cover attacks against the elderly.

In an argument that seems to defy all logic, “”Justice will now depend on the race, gender, sexual orientation, disability or other protected status of the victim. It will allow different penalties to be imposed for the same crime.” Following that logic, creating a longer and tougher sentence for acts of pedophilia would make adults lesser than children, teachers lesser than students, and male lesser than women under the law. Following that logic, affirmative action would make white people lesser than black, hispanic, or asian people. Strangely enough, we have already heard that before, and it certainly feels as if whenever one part of the population finally accesses to what is duly and properly theirs to be reckoned with, the privileged pundits are jumping to their feet in an attempt to defend oligarchy.

Former presidential candidate John McCain, a seemingly permanent Washington DC resident and unsuccessful in the race to political credibility, objected to the Hate Crimes Bill on FoxNews.  According to McCain, the Hate Crimes Bill is stealing the spotlight of the Defense Budget discussion, a topic very close to his heart, the belligerent watchdog believes that bipartisanship, that Obama claimed to have owned during votes on the health care reform, is nowhere to be found and will not support another attempt to promote civil rights. Well, no one ever said that the Defense Budget was not worth a national debate, Mr. McCain. No one even believes that cookie-cutter clean cut bipartisan ship really exists, Mr. McCain. No one would ever deny the possibility of discussion among the Representatives of the people, Mr. McCain, and I do believe it took place before the vote. But here is the thing. Young Americans have been dying at the hands of other Americans, Mr. McCain. How long are we going to discuss this for?

2009 is only in its fourth month and already drowning us in a sea of complete and utter absurdity. Oscar Wilde’s infamous words that once decorated this blog’s header  – “if you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you” – have been slightly derided to become a motto closer to the real zeitgeist, something along the lines of “if you want to make people laugh, tell them the truth, because lies have already become facts and there is only room left for jokes.” Sad times indeed, fortunately enough the world is set to come to an end in 2012.

Some of this stupidity comes from the general division between your average “liberal”, as in, technically passive, actively non-plussed, and generally regular voter who would support any Democrat candidate out of habit, reads the New York Times every other day out of habit, and feels a monthly surge of anger at the rampant injustice in Africa out of habit. We all know those people, we all went to school with them, and after several unfruitful weeks/months/years, check what applies to your patience level, we have come to stop trying to transform them into a supposedly better and bigger breed of liberals: us, the “angry liberals”, the ones who burn their pancake calories by marching down the street at every anti-war protest, the ones writing endless blogs about the decline of social commitment within the Democratic party, those losing their hair over voting for Ralph Nader, in short, half-assed activists who could really use a little reality check before getting their word in. Angry liberals have never made decent activists for the simple reason they’re angry out of habit, yell at each other out of habit, and kick the indifferent ass of the aforementioned regular liberal out of habit. This is all severely lacking in ideology to the point it has become pointless to the political scene.

Rahm Emanuel: hell shut you up. oh yes he will.

Rahm Emanuel: he'll shut you up. oh yes he will.

However, real activists, those who gave the Bush Administration nightmares and have been severely targeted by the Texan’s restriction on civil liberties – people from MoveOn, CAP, etc. – are now being the White House’ publicists, an experienced and overeager tool for public relations towards the little remaining skeptics of the Obama Administration. The Huffington Post’s Jeremy Scahill is unambiguous in his point: for him, if war was unacceptable and a constant threat to the american people under Bush, it is now perfectly fine to push for escalation in Afghanistan, because Barack Hussein Obama said so.  Scahill details: “CAP [Center for American Progress, NdlR] has been actively pounding the pavement in support of the escalation in Afghanistan, the rebranding of the Iraq occupation and, more recently, Obama’s bloated military budget, which the group said was “on target.”

Ouch.

Has the Obama-mania gone so far into every liberal’s head we are now selling our hard-earned beliefs for the price of a cheese plate? Or has ideologies shifted towards a “better than worst” political attitude that finds justification in the name of a long lost dream – that of a trusted leadership? Scahill is not having any of it, and believes MoveOn is simply just another bunch of White House staffers with an agenda, a schedule, and a project to sell. Americans Against Escalation in Iraq (AAEI) was one of the new born organizations who spent without counting in order to push Iraq against the Republicans during the campaign, but refused at the same time to pressure and lobby the Democratic Congress – as they should – to cut off funding for the war. Playing on both sides is proof that Karl Rove did not just appeal to the neo-con side of the table, but indeed gave lessons to everyone in matters of hypocrisy, lies and deceit. But what if MoveOn had simply watered down its plan and rationalized Obama’s military strategy and taken it for what it was –  a decision that has to be made? Justifications for the war in Iraq have quickly fade within the year following Desert Storm, but I can bet you the remains of my right leg it won’t be too hard to find a decent rationale behind Afghanistan and the need for a stronger American presence, reinforced and backed up by European contingents (as Obama requested during his rock-star tour of Western Europe last week). The question remains asked as to whether MoveOn and CAP’s former anti-war pamphlets can still be associated and sold along their current pro-Afghanistan rhetoric without sounding like weathervanes in tornadoes.

Here Sustainable Security walks in. This new theory, implemented by your brand new administration, is upholding the values of peace-building and Soldier’s Creed – values, honors, ethics, protection, and the supremacy of the rule of law, walking hand in hand with the protection of national interest and world security. This is the War on Terror with a more trendy vocabulary, fashionable colors and flags, popular support, and even the approval of human rights leagues. Sustainable security means reminding Israel of Annapolis, being firmly convinced that Iraq will one day able to become self-determined, and re-affirming one’s commitment to non-proliferation. It’s a solar system away from Bush’s hardcore and obscene speeches on the necessity to draw blood to fight evil, his Crusade-themed parties at the Pentagon and regular occurances of torture scandals. Barack Obama brought modernity to the White House, but no matter how you sugarcoat it, war is still what it is: a killing machine, with civilian victims on the sidelines. We’re still happy to award points for respecting the Geneva Convention, but truth of the matter is, not having to remind anyone of the silent disaster a war brings on the involved countries and their respective population would be the best policy ever implemented.

Yes, we had relied on those think-tankers to push forward the agenda we were a little bit too fragile and too shocked to announce by ourselves. Yes, we have trusted them to be the anti-war voice for whatever it takes – but are we ready to keep on fighting someone we elected so as to not fight anymore? The answer should be a tough, unambiguous, block-lettered yes. There is no democracy without fight, and there is certainly no legitimacy without a proper opposition. Jeremy Scahill may be raining on everyone’s Obamaparade,  but he is doing so with the help of Politico’s Ben Smith, who recently reported on the very down-and-dirty relationship between those organizations and Rahm Emanuel, all regrouped in the same Common Purpose Project bed: “The Common Purpose meeting every Tuesday afternoon at the Capitol Hilton brings together the top officials from a range of left-leaning organizations, from labor groups like Change to Win to activists like MoveOn.org, all in support of the White House’s agenda. The group has an overlapping membership with a daily 8:45 a.m. call run by the Center for American Progress’ and Media Matters’ political arms; with the new field-oriented coalition Unity ’09; and with the groups that allied to back the budget as the Campaign to Rebuild and Renew America Now.”

Smith insists that Common Purpose is meant to enforce a “message discipline”, which is a coalition of words slightly too close to propaganda for comfort. “Angry liberals” trying to call more traditional liberals ones on their bullshit, like it happened before, like we described in the first paragraphs, are kept on a tight leash in order to make sure no big names are caught in the midst of the battle. Recently, a liberaliest-than-thou association asked to “Dog the Blue Dog” as a campaign against conservative Democrats, supposedly hindering the Change We Can Believe In in a desperate attempt to make change a little less… changing. In what could have been an interesting inner challenge prompting debate and progress, the White House interfered – Smith explains: “[The White House] was in the midst of discussions with members of the congressional Blue Dog caucus, and objected to the slogan, which was promptly changed, and the page describing the drive is gone from CAF [Campaign for America’s Future, a participant in the Common Purposes calls]’s website.”

It’s one thing to vote, but now that you’ve won, please sit down, boy, we don’t need any more of that violent and vehement vaucus. It’s all in good fun when your candidate is thrown out to the Republican dogs to eat and destroy, but it is less enthralling when you are actually trying to push your own agenda in the hands of those you helped get there in the first place. So, is MoveOn eating from Rahm Emanuel’s hand like there’s a cookie in it? Hamsher concludes: “There’s a big problem right now with the traditional liberal interest groups sitting on the sidelines around major issues because they don’t want to buck the White House for fear of getting cut out of the dialogue, or having their funding slashed. Someone picks up a phone, calls a big donor, and the next thing you know…the money is gone. It’s already happened. Because that’s the way Rahm plays.”

The only choice left is to become even angrier.

I sat down on a bench in a neighborhood park today with my friend Rachael. We ate icecreams watching an overwhelming crowd of infants and children enjoying the first warm days of spring. A group of rowdy 7 years old boys were fighting each other with waterguns. One of them, smaller but definitely more agile, climbed up to the top of the spiderweb with a giant neon orange gun with which he sprinkled water in the eyes of his assailliants. “That’s Iran”, I told Rachael. “and the fat kid with the red hoodie is the US, trying to catch him by the seams of his tshirt, but it’s always two steps behind.” The kid in the red hoodie was indeed panting and sweating, trying to recharge his gun to fire back, but failed to do it fast enough. As Iran declared victory on top of the spiderweb, a small boy wiped his sweaty forehead with the sleeve of his blue tshirt and sighed away his sidebangs. “That’s the UK”, said Rachael. “Kicking pebbles out of frustration.”

The Leader and The Attention Whore

The Leader and The Attention Whore

Rolling on the recent G20 summit’s wave, Barack Obama settled the score with the most prominent European leaders on topics pertaining to american foreign policy, the biggest obstacle to smooth, fluid and satisfying transatlantic relations. First stop on the Obamatrain was Russia, where Dmitry Medvedev, the long forgotten Russian president, received the gift of change by being told that the former enemies both had to divide their weapons of mass destruction by three, focusing on what Obama called “loose nukes” – missiles and other massively dangerous weapons retrieved from enemies and terrorists. This should not satisfy Prime Minister Vladimir Putin who is probably using said stockpile to hunt bears in Siberia.

A treaty already signed by Russia, Britain and France, prohibiting nuclear bomb trials, has been routinely avoided by both Clinton and Bush – but the climate is about to change as Obama promised he would pressure the Congress to approve of this treaty. Of the word’s 24,000 estimated nuclear weapons, the US and Russia are sharing the lion’s 99% (10,000 for the United States and 13,000 for Russia), which prompted the new President to lay down a list of three fundamental goals in order to achieve a decent peace-keeping reputation: 1. “ensuring the security of existing nuclear weapons”, as in, keeping track on their location, their owners, and reducing to complete nihilism the situations in which they might be called to use. 2. “reducing and eventually eliminating all nuclear weapons”: this includes letting Iran president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad know he’s very likely to be voted off the island if he doesn’t get on the program.  Side participants such as India are not yet mentioned. 3. “preventing the spread of nuclear material to new countries”. For once, this list  gets rid of the blatant and obnoxious hypocrisy of the previous non-proliferation treaties that called for a dire restrictions on the acquisition of new weapons, without having any plans to suppress or throw away the existing ones. The big toys were still kept within arms reach of any Western president, but any other leader willing to place their greedy hands on a red button was greeted with the nose of a rifle. At least this time, balance and fairness prevails. A spring cleaning is in the air?

On his way to France, towering over Nicolas Sarkozy, Obama reiterated his need for european back-up in Afghanistan. About to ship a thousand more soldiers up until this summer, he is expecting Europe to back up this contingent with 3,000 more British and French troops.  He believes that the EU should “share the burden” of the war on terrorism: “I’ve come to Europe this week to renew our partnership … America is changing but it cannot be America alone that changes”, adding that he believes Al-Quaeda is more of a threat to european countries than it is to the United States right now. John Hutton, the defence secretary, believes that France’s very recent entry into NATO could help the European Union make bigger of a move towards the United States in terms of defense against aggression and common development of security measures against international terrorism. “The president is making the choices clear to Europe on Afghanistan. This is a moment of decision for Europe, and it should support the American strategy. There are very few places now to go. He is going to challenge Europe a lot. He is going to confront the anti-Americanism that is still very strong in some parts of Europe. I think he has taken away all the excuses that some could hide behind.”

Guess the kid in the red hoodie is ready to start sharing the playground now. Now if he could lay down the waterguns, that would be a definitive improvement.

America has found a new hero. Bill Kristol has taken up arms against the weak-minded peacemakers ruining America’s best military intentions in the Middle East and beyond by calling them “embarrassing”. In a column written for the Weekly Standard, Kristol makes an unabashed and unashamed diatribe against those who have so desperately and distressingly fought for justice and human rights. The meek might inherit the earth, and Kristol is not too happy about that.

Bill Kristol: happily living in his three-way marriage with botox and neoconservatism.

Bill Kristol: happily living in his three-way marriage with botox and neoconservatism.

In his address to Iran on the event of the Persian New Year, Barack Obama celebrated Persian history, its great civilization and the “continuous strain” on their relations with the United States for the past three decades. Bearing great expectations on Obama’s willingness for change, spiritual leader Ayatollah Al-Khomeini remains unimpressed with Obama’s reinforcing statement on the need to address tough issues sooner rather than later. An adviser to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad commented: “We welcome the wish of the US President to put away past differences. But the way to do that is not by Iran forgetting the previous hostile and aggressive attitude of the United States. If Obama shows a willingness to take action, the Iranian Government will not show its back to him.” Confusing commentary on top of a very slow and tense shuttle diplomacy: is that strong-headed and macho enough for Kristol, or should they compare the size of their baionettes too?

Last Sunday, on Fox News (where else?) Kristol has mocked Barack Obama continuously, fueling presenter Hume’s pan who then added that the speech implied “U.S. has now joined the rest of the world and practicing the diplomacy of talk.” The diplomacy of talk is a new Fox News-coined term describing diplomats talking instead of, say, overriding United Nations resolutions. Probablyignorant of the usual ways in which diplomacy operates, FoxNews is reinventing the century-old profession and giving it its own spin. We couldn’t be happier that such a reliable and valuable news source has decided to make a foray into a vision of foreign policy it never has, or never will, possibly understand. FoxNews is to diplomats what the mentally challenged bully was to the smart kid in grade school – punching you in the face for having an extended vocabulary. It didn’t make sense then and it surely doesn’t make sense now.

Strengthened by his newfound asset, the diplomacy of talk, Barack Obama is actually doing what he does best – preemptive verbal war, ie, dividing and conquering with the simple power of rhetoric. By calling to the Persian history and the strong identity of a pre-religious revolution in Iran, Obama is dividing Ahmadinejad’s electorate. Where George W. Bush diplomacy of non-talk had united Iran against the United States, regardless of Ahmadinejad’s rights to pursue the nuclear weapon, Obama is lending a hand to whomever is willing to listen and restore Iran to its deserted seat of culturally enlightened and historically rich nation – as well as turning his back on shameless leaders tricking the international community into believing they are not actively chasing destruction when it has been on their agenda the whole time. Expert Karim Sadjadpour tells the New York Times, “Obama […] is accentuating the cleavages in Iran,” Mr. Sadjadpour said. “It makes the hard-liners look increasingly like they are the impediment.” Peacefully strip a leader of his already doubtful legitimacy and you’ll gain the popular support you need for progressive change, something Rumsfeld and his other Bush aides never understood.

As ThinkProgress puts it, Kristol seems “happily wedded to neoconservatism”, a sentimental and romantic tie that probably stops him from seeing the quite obvious light at the end of the diplomatic tunnel. Well, we’ll keep on walkin’ the diplomat talkin’, yeah. We’re getting a divorce, Kristol. You keep the diner.