HAMMERNEWS- Michael Hammerschlag

Current Political Commentary by journalist Michael Hammerschlag; Thoughts on foreign policy, Republican outrages, liberal strategies, science by 8 year correspondent in Russia/Ukraine over 22 years and longtime commentator; Website: http://HAMMERNEWS.com

Monday, May 25, 2009




OBAMA SPEECH June 4: Obama brought the healing vision of his multiracial, tricontinental, polyglot life to Cairo in apologizing for the ignorance and sins of the past and expressing his respect and understanding of the Muslim faith. "I consider part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Muslims, whereever they appear. But that same principal must apply to Muslim perceptions of America.... The Holy Koran teaches that whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind, and whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind."

While he chastised "hateful" Muslim denigration of Jews and America's resolute commitment to them, he then made a clarion call for a homeland for the Palestinians: "They endure the daily humiliations that come with occupation…The situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable and America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own! ...2 states where Israelis and Palestinians each with with peace and security.... The US does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements."

Obama takes a historic tour through the Mideast in a time of great risk: Here is the timeline from a perceptive Haaretz article on the folly of Israel's disgracist hard-liners:
June 2: Civil defense exercise of unprecedented scope in Israel
Scenarios include of hundreds of missiles thundering into Tel Aviv, chemical warheads striking the north of the country. News of the exercise prompts neighboring Arab armies to go on alert.
June 3: Obama visits Saudi Arabia
The president is expected to ask Riyadh as well as moderate Gulf states for preliminary steps toward normalization of ties with Israel. The measures may include granting a limited number of business and perhaps tourist visas to Israelis, anchorage rights for Israeli vessels, mutual air space rights for Israeli and Arab airliners, and opening interest offices.
June 4: Obama, in Cairo, addresses the Muslim world
The speech will be closely watched, intended as it is to quell the seething enmity between the Bush administration and Muslims around the globe.

June 7: General elections in Lebanon
The strongly pro-Iranian and Syrian-allied Hezbollah could win the crucial contest, tilting the precarious balance of power in the Mideast.
MH: Another Bush initiative- to force Israel to attack Syria, which responded by pulverizing Lebanon as a consolation prizein 2006- may bear the bitter fruit of Hezbollah winning their current election June 7th. Everything these people touched turned to dust.
June 12: Presidential elections in Iran
If incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wins a second term, he is seen as likely to leverage the victory into more authoritarianism at home and a clear endorsement of hardline foreign policies, in particular the drive for nuclear capability and upgraded intercontinental ballistic missiles, support for, and perhaps instigation of, proxy wars on Israel's borders with Gaza and Lebanon, as well as steps to undermine the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.
Throughout the month: looming indictment of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman
Two severe tests of the resolve of the Netanyahu government. If Lieberman is brought to trial on a range of money-laundering and other charges, the nation's spearhead of disgracism would be blunted if not rendered moribund.

MH: If Obama wants to effect any solution on Palestine, he must be willing to twist Bibi's arm till it breaks, and the only way to do that is threaten a 50% cut of the $2-3 bil/year US aid that keeps their war machine running. Sadly, nothing in Obama's obsequious history re. Israel shows he has the raw courage to defy the AIPACers, or that he could push it through a slavish Congress, ... and nothing will change till the Palestinians have a real undivided homeland.


Re: Looks like Obama appointed a solid tough untouchable liberal to the Supreme Court; and the Senate may finally have the cajones to crush the expected Repub filibuster. For months now, the Dems have acted like every decision needed 60 votes, when, even with 2-5 conservative Dems, a filibuster is a really tough thing to carry out- they must have real dedication, if the Dems actually force them to speak. I thought Obama should pick a black or Hispanic, but I didn’t care, as long as they can take up the fight against the increasingly extremist Catholic majority.

NYC Hispanic Fed. Appeals Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor seems like a good inspirational candidate that will be difficult for wing nuts to oppose without further alienating another huge voting block. Hopefully she is Bronx tough enough to battle the reactionaries who have been "legislating from the bench", overturning established 30-40 year opinions again and again. As expected, bilious blowhards Rush and Newt have savaged her a "racist", alienating millions of Hispanics from ever voting for Repubs.


Here’s the best reason to prosecute the scumbag Veep- to stop him running around the country (would be world but maybe Spanish Prosecutors will abridge that) undermining (video) Obama in neo-treasonous ways. Considering he is the architect of America’s embrace of torture, the invasion of Iraq, and the granting of tens of billions of no-bid dollars to his own company (the most clear-cut crime), you’d think he might slide quietly into retirement and hope his monstrous constitutional crimes would go unpunished. But the most unpopular person in US political history- at 11% probably lower than Hitler- continues to defend his record for posterity, as if his treachery will sway historians. He is terrified that the full truth of his torture abuses at Guantanamo will emerge if these people are tried in America. Moreover if he did torture people to provide the pretext for invading Iraq, as seems to be, he wasn’t just like Saddam, he was Saddam!

Former Army psychiatrist Maj. Charles Burney testified that "a large part of the time we were focused on trying to establish a link between Al Qaeda and Iraq. The more frustrated people got in not being able to establish this link ... there was more and more pressure to resort to measures that might produce more immediate results"; that is, torture.... [Cheney and Rumsfeld] demanded that the interrogators find evidence of al Qaida-Iraq collaboration...”

A declassified CIA cable later described how al-Libi told the CIA that the Egyptian interrogators had said they wanted information about al-Qaeda's connections with Iraq, a subject "about which [al-Libi] said he knew nothing and had difficulty even coming up with a story."

"The cable went on to say that al-Libi indicated that his interrogators did not like his responses and then "placed him in a small box" for approximately 17 hours. When he was let out of the box, the cable states that al-Libi was given a last opportunity to "tell the truth." When al-Libi's answers did not satisfy the interrogator, al-Libi says he "was knocked over with an arm thrust across his chest and he fell on his back" and was then "punched for 15 minutes." It was then that al-Libi told his interrogators that Iraq had trained al-Qaeda operatives in chemical and biological weapons, information that was later used in Colin Powell's speech to the UN Security Council to justify war with Iraq."

They kept America safe alright, from 200 fatalities in some as yet unknown plot, by killing 4300 American soldiers, maiming 35,000 more, destroying the sanity of maybe 200,000 more, and killing 400,000 Iraqis for the mistake of having Saddam Hussein for a leader and a load of oil.

Shut this walking piece of excrement up: prosecute him and send him to some disclosed location deep in the US penal system, maybe some South Carolinan brig where a little enhanced interrogation would do his heart well. Has any journalist ripped into this American disgrace for his lies and treason????? I think he and Bush co-conspirators are forever at risk from the cruelly used soldiers in Iraq, like the snipers that they had killing farmers from a mile away… because they violated curfew tilling their fields when the power came on. Think they might have nightmares? Maybe he should take that South Korean leader’s way out and commit hari-kari, but these vermin have never acknowledged a single error, let alone the bankruptedness of their whole philosophy.

Obama rebutted Cheney in an almost simultaneous national security

speech (audio download 46 min) in the presence of the Constitution at the National Archives, but that dignifies the dirtbag Veep, who has set up a situation where Obama is responsible for any terrorist attack. The only way to settle this is prosecute him for what were war crimes, and Obama’s desire to avoid the “distraction”, however understandable, is more and more seen as cowardice. This must be settled as a crime or any other President can do it again. Coupled with Obama's continuation of renditions (when you rip up meat), and legal defense of Bush secrecy, privilege, "prolonged detention", and spying claims, many are deeply disappointed at his reluctance to boldly chart a new course. Simple, when defending some egregious Bush policy in court, conceed their claims and standings were false and specious; and throw in the towel. Bizarrely, Obama seems to be respecting precedent in the Presidency, like a lawyer, that previous decisions of the Bushistas should have legal weight, no matter how radical, criminal, and destructive. 46 min mpg audio download


While the Iraq Invasion was treason pure and simple, I don’t share the notion that the war in Afghanistan is evil or unjustified. That said, Bush fouled it up so completely by the strategically insane war in Iraq and it has gone on so long that it has probably provoked an immune reaction from the fearsome Afghan tribal body politic, which has driven out every foreign invader and destroyed 3 empires. The one smart thing Bush ever did was let the War be run by Special Forces with a low profile and use and pay the locals, who fight as a sport and profession. Now we are killing from little robot drones- to simple tribal people, cowardly technological techniques that must enrage them to great acts of revenge. The idea that America must control any area of instability in the world is a crazy infinite challenge… but Afghanistan/Pakistan is the nexus of Al Qaida and must be engaged by us. Reducing the war to targeted anti-terrorist actions is a good direction, though somewhat countermanded by bulking up the undermanned regular military. And Pakistan, with it’s nuclear arsenal, is every apocalyptic nightmare nuclear scenario rolled into one- I think it will have the first nuclear war with India or terrorist detonation.

So we must be there in some capacity- we should hope Obama is as smart there as in other places.


Well, North Korea just exploded a second nuclear bomb underground that actually worked: 10-20 kt, a Hiroshima sized device that could kill 250-500,000 in Manhattan, launched 5 short-range missiles just to carelessly intimidate neighbors, and arrested 2 Al Gore network reporters. Wrap that with a little lithium deuteride and you have a 400kt hydrogen bomb, that could take out a city and kill 3-4 million. There were serious risks in trying to destroy North Korea’s nuclear facilities, but fewer in bombing Iran’s, which will have the Bomb within a year, I believe. They now reportedly have enough enriched uranium for a bomb, with some 4000 centrifuges spinning.

With the mindlessly brutal destruction of Gaza, and the proliferation caused by NK and Iran (Japan, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Brazil), I think it sadly is just a matter of time before Israel is nuked, even if that fries the Palestinians themselves (which the crazies don’t really care about). Not by any missile of course, Bush’s obsession, but from smuggling, probably by boat, as it would in NYC. Though the threat of an Iranian nuclear missile would cause immense psychological distress in Israel.


President Yushchenko is inline to be removed in new elections in October, his popularity is 3-5%, but his likely successor is thug mugger Yanukovich, the guy who stole the 2004 election that provoked the Orange Revolution. Yulia Timoshenko, she of the infinite braid, has lost so much credibility in her bitter internecine war with Yushchenko, that she possibly can’t win, but she has at least done some necessary things to settle the gas war with Russia, and get the next tranche of a $14 billion IMF loan.


Saw Angels + Demons with great delight, having watched them film it all over magnificent Rome in the 3 months I spent there last year + 2007. Could even identify the scenes I watched in Piazza Popolo, where I came off the train from the hostel-campground north, and shot some nice pics of Tom Hanks. Almost everyplace they run in the movie (and they are always running because the evil Illuminati are killing a Cardinal an hour)… I been there. Tried to get in it (been in 6 movies w 1 cu speaking scene with the stars), but Italians don't speak any other language and nobody could point me to casting director. It is a mindless fun romp, far more sympathetic to the Catholic Church than the DaVinci Code.