The Daily Breeze Blows

No one pays much attention to Torrance, California, a bedroom community in the flats south of Los Angeles. Why should they? It’s all oil refineries, aerospace suppliers, a big mall and lots of car dealers and sad strip malls, and rows of post-war housing. There are nice enough sections of new housing, and an Old Town, and Honda’s North American Headquarters – but it is a forgettable place, even if the hometown of Parnelli Jones and Michelle Kwan, that figure skater, and Quentin Tarantino. They left – there’s no one famous at the local indoor ice rink now. On the other hand, all of America has seen Torrance High School – the façade is the setting for Beverly Hills 90210 and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the school was also used in the movies She’s All That , Not Another Teen Movie and The Wild Life. South High School was used as a location in 1999 for the movie American Beauty. It seems that location managers know a dull, generic place when they see it – a place that provides unobtrusive background, a place no one notices, really.

It wasn’t always so. Torrance was originally part of the 1784 Rancho San Pedro Spanish land grant, issued to Juan Jose Dominguez and signed by King Carlos III of the Spanish Empire. One hundred sixteen years later, a real estate developer, Jared Sidney Torrance, decided to create a mixed industrial-residential community south of Los Angeles and purchased part of the Spanish land grant and hired landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted – of Central Park fame – to design it. Not a bad idea – it just didn’t work out. The City of Torrance was formally incorporated in May 1921, and the place then became obscure.

 

Now it’s not obscure, thanks to its local newspaper, the Daily Breeze. Of course, like all small newspapers, it’s always close to going under; in fact, the Daily Breeze just merged with the Long Beach Press-Telegram – throwing a whole lot of folks out of work. But be that as it may, the Daily Breeze did have a scoop that made the national news.

Now it’s not obscure, thanks to its local newspaper, the Daily Breeze. Of course, like all small newspapers, it’s always close to going under; in fact, the Daily Breeze just merged with the Long Beach Press-Telegram – throwing a whole lot of folks out of work. But be that as it may, the Daily Breeze did have a scoop that made the national news.


They got Geraldine Ferraro, one of Clinton’s top surrogates, to say this:

If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept.

Ferraro is one of Clinton’s top fundraisers, a member of her finance committee, and a former Democratic vice presidential nominee. Her point? Facts are facts – he’s been lucky so far, but we have to face the facts, he’s black.

There was much uproar of course – she was expressing what seemed to be that primal white resentment one feels when a black man gets what you never did, and what you should have had, in her case a real shot at the presidency. Well, she ran with Walter Mondale. What did she expect? But this wasn’t fair – everyone is always bending over backward to be nice to the black man, just because he’s black. All those who hate Affirmative Action got it – you don’t get into that top school, or don’t get that plum job, because do-gooders, wallowing in their absurd collective guilt about early nineteenth century slavery, gave the slot to the black guy, and you’re just as qualified. That seems to be her argument for nominating Hillary Clinton.

 

But then it was back to Torrance. In another interview with the Daily Breeze, Ferraro echoed what seemed to be emerging as the new Clinton line, that it’s the Obama camp that’s played the race card in all this:

“Any time anybody does anything that in any way pulls this campaign down and says let’s address reality and the problems we’re facing in this world, you’re accused of being racist, so you have to shut up,” Ferraro said. “Racism works in two different directions. I really think they’re attacking me because I’m white. How’s that?”

Oh great. Now you should vote for Clinton to defend The White Race. Clinton’s careful refusal to do no more than offer her mild disagreement keeps that meme out there.

 

But it does have its tactical usefulness – you can denounce and reject such stuff later, after Pennsylvania. The Clinton campaign is, one sees, very, very good at these things.

 

Josh Marshall, however, on the night of the Mississippi primary, Tuesday, March 11, thinks the tactic makes no sense:

Can anyone seriously claim that it’s an asset to be an African-American in a US presidential race? Happily what we’re now seeing is that it does not in itself seem to be an eliminating factor in a presidential race. But an advantage? There’s no doubt that Obama’s race is the central factor in allowing him to consolidate almost unanimous support from African-American voters, especially in the South. But African-Americans make up only about 13% of the population. And does anyone doubt that that advantage he gains there is not balanced at least to a substantial degree by resistance to voting for him among white voters? Why is Obama running so poorly among white voters tonight (compared to his rates in northern states) in Mississippi? And in South Carolina? We hear a lot about Sen. Clinton’s bedrock of strength among non-college educated white voters. Do we really think that’s simply a matter of appeal of Sen. Clinton? More speculatively, but I think no less true, is that a lot of the Farrakhan/Muslim/foreign influence stuff has more sticking power because of Obama’s race.

You play to fear – that always works. But that’s double-edged:

Most of the same points could be made about the advantages and disadvantages Sen. Clinton is under because of her gender. In fact I think there’s a pretty striking symmetry. It’s clearly helping her with her big advantage among women voters, especially her generational peers. But we’d be foolish not to realize that some of Obama’s big margins among white men are not simply a reflection of support for Obama.

You might support Obama or not, think he’s qualified or an empty suit, but suggesting he’s only where he is now because he’s black is something much worse than outrageous. It just seems obviously false.

Sometimes false works just fine, doesn’t it? And who knew that Torrance would be at the center of all this? Sigh.

The same day there was another odd thing. That third-rate black comic, Sinbad, who accompanied Hillary Clinton on a trip to Bosnia with Sheryl Crow, a trip that the former first lady has cited as an example of her vast foreign policy experience, isn’t buying it. He rips her to shreds. It was a USO tour – that was it.

So, consumed with a new race war, started in sleepy Torrance, California, everyone missed the big news. The result of reviewing 600,000 Iraqi documents found that there was no link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. Period – end of story:

The Pentagon-sponsored study, scheduled for release later this week, did confirm that Saddam’s regime provided some support to other terrorist groups, particularly in the Middle East, U.S. officials told McClatchy. However, his security services were directed primarily against Iraqi exiles, Shiite Muslims, Kurds and others he considered enemies of his regime.

The new study of the Iraqi regime’s archives found no documents indicating a “direct operational link” between Hussein’s Iraq and al Qaida before the invasion, according to a U.S. official familiar with the report.

Put that up against the documentation that the Iraq-Al Qaeda link was asserted in hundreds of the 935 false statements the Bush Administration made in the run-up to war. Obviously with no link there would be no pivot from Afghanistan to Iraq, no case made to the public that both wars represented the same fight against terrorism:

Then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld claimed in September 2002 that the United States had “bulletproof” evidence of cooperation between the radical Islamist terror group and Saddam’s secular dictatorship.

Then-Secretary of State Colin Powell cited multiple linkages between Saddam and al Qaida in a watershed February 2003 speech to the United Nations Security Council to build international support for the invasion. Almost every one of the examples Powell cited turned out to be based on bogus or misinterpreted intelligence.

As recently as last July, Bush tried to tie al Qaida to the ongoing violence in Iraq. “The same people that attacked us on September the 11th is a crowd that is now bombing people, killing innocent men, women and children, many of whom are Muslims,” he said.

Add to this that the now-discredited “evidence” – such as it was – came from a new way of gathering “intelligence.” It came from suspects who were tortured by the CIA, as Jack Cloonan, who worked as a special agent for the FBI’s Osama bin Laden unit from 1996 to 2002, explains:

Intelligence failures had much to do with the atrocity of September 11, but those had nothing to do with a lack of torture. Let me be clear on one crucial point: it is the terrorists whom we won over with humane methods in the 1990s who continue to provide the most reliable intelligence we have in the fight against al-Qaeda. And it is the testimony of terrorists we tortured after 9/11 who have provided the most unreliable information, such as stories about a close connection between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. I never regret that the FBI didn’t abuse its detainees. Had we done so, we would have had much less reliable intelligence, and we would have been morally debased. By instituting a policy of torture in the years following 9/11, we have recruited thousands to al-Qaeda’s side. It has been a tragic waste.

And so it goes. See “dday” at Hullabaloo here:

It is not just that torture is a dehumanizing and a debasing act, a recruiting poster for our enemies, and something that makes our own troops less safe. It’s that the information extracted as a result is completely unreliable. But of course that’s the point. Bogus intelligence making the President’s case for war is, to the Administration, the best intelligence money can buy.

See Andrew Sullivan:

The current main goal of the war in Iraq is to defeat an enemy we didn’t have in Iraq before we got there. It is a war that has generated its own rationale. How many more will it generate?

Who knows? Everyone was more concerned about the news out of normally dreary Torrance.

As for the next war, there was a hint of that in Esquire, with this about our top commander in the Middle East, Admiral William Fallon, who thinks starting a new war, with Iran this time, would be rather stupid:    

 

Last December, when the National Intelligence Estimate downgraded the immediate nuclear threat from Iran, it seemed as if Fallon’s caution was justified. But still, well-placed observers now say that it will come as no surprise if Fallon is relieved of his command before his time is up next spring, maybe as early as this summer, in favor of a commander the White House considers to be more pliable. If that were to happen, it may well mean that the president and vice-president intend to take military action against Iran before the end of this year and don’t want a commander standing in their way.

So, on Tuesday, March 11, while all eyes were on normally obscure Torrance, there was this – Fallon Resigns as Mideast Military Chief. Something is up.

See Digby:

His resignation letter mentions the Esquire article and how it makes it impossible to continue. He was arguably insubordinate, but this is such a high profile firing that it seems clear that this disagreement over Iran was very real.

… CNN military expert General David Grange (ret.) says that this is how an officer responds when he disagrees with an administration’s policies and feels decisions have been made that he can’t in good conscience carry out. I don’t know if Grange knows Fallon or knows his motives, but he seems to think that Fallon resigned in protest – which is actually worse than if he were fired. Read that Esquire article and you’ll see why.

She then points to Spencer Ackerman with this analysis:

For a good summation of Fallon, the Esquire piece, and the resulting furor, check out this Tom Ricks piece in the Post from last week.

Gates said in a press conference just now that no one should think the move reflects any substantive change in policy. That sure won’t be how Teheran sees it. The Iranians will consider Fallon’s resignation to indicate that the bombing begins in the next five minutes. If the new Central Command chief is General Stanley McChrystal, who ran special operations in Iraq until recently (read: responses to Iranian activities), that’ll be a pretty solid indicator that Bush is going to make the most of his last months in office. McChrystal just got a different command, but that, of course, was before the military’s most prestigious combatant command just opened up. Teheran will look verrrrry closely at who gets the job.

The job goes to the guy who sends our special-ops guys across the border into Iran, to mess things up there. You see where this is going. No – you’re still reading the Daily Breeze?

There’s more analysis of this all here, at The Washington Independent. Matthew Yglesias summarizes:

Basically, there seems to be a mobius-strip like quality where it’s awkward for people to think Fallon is dissenting from the administration’s Iran policy, so he’s on his way out, though the administration and Fallon both deny that there is any such dissent or that any Iran policy changes are in the works. Got that?

No, not really. It’s just troubling.

And even more troubling is the new bootleg video of George Bush’s “farewell song” at last weekend’s Gridiron Club dinner. That was all over the news the same day too. It’s rather appalling. Watch it.

Okay – done now? See this summary, from “dday” again:

He hits all the high notes, treating tragedy, destruction and the end of any pretense of justice in America as misty water-colored memories, like he was some disinterested observer, like Billy Joel just recounting the history in “We Didn’t Start the Fire.”

Okay, forget Billy Joel. We get what Chris Matthews said of it on MSNBC:

Well, that was quite a hoot. All that joking from the President about Brownie, that guy in charge of the New Orleans disaster, and of course Scooter Libby, the guy involved in the CIA cover-up. If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s reporters, the best of them, laughing at events and political acts that warrant anything, I mean, anything but laughter. There is nothing, nothing funny about Bush’s reference to Brownie, that disastrous appointment followed by that catastrophic handling of the Katrina horror in New Orleans. Nothing funny about a war fought for bad intelligence, and a top aide, Scooter Libby, who committed perjury and obstruction of justice to cover it up. Nothing funny about a President, who commuted that sentence to keep the cover-up protected. Otherwise, I’m sure it was an enjoyable get-together between journalists and the people they’re charged with covering.

 

Was Matthews the Excitable and Shallow really the right guy to deliver this message? Our “dday” doesn’t think so, but one of his readers does:

Nah, he can be right from time to time, but the sackless part of this is that Bush is on his way out. The players can find that spine because the fucker isn’t up for re-election.

If McCain gives this speech, Chris becomes butter. Funny. Ironic. Only a real-man can do this.

Instead, look at Bush’s WMD hilarity from the 2004 thing – only David Corn was pissed that everyone found it uproarious. Or look at how Matthews reacted to the Colbert situation from 2006.

It’s the measure of the man that he waited until just now to be sickened by the president’s cavalier attitude toward death, destruction and lies.

Yeah, it’s easy now. See this clip from that 2004 White House Correspondence Dinner, where Bush jokes about those missing WMD, and everyone dissolves in laughter – with lots of cut-away shots of the grinning Joe Lieberman. And there was Matthews’ reaction:

MATTHEWS: The funniest line of the night last Saturday night at the press dinner, which was – the president was excellent. We’re going to show a piece of the president and his body double, which is really funny, and quite nice of the president to do it, because it was kind of humble.

You can read on, if you’d like. No one, particularly Matthews, would take a shot at him then. It was charming.

And everyone thought Colbert wasn’t funny at all, when he addressed the 2004 White House Correspondence Dinner – see Bush’s reaction.  Matthews and the rest decided Colbert bombed – you do not criticize the president to his face. It’s bad form.

The times have changed. On the other hand, a few hundred tactical nuclear missiles taking out this and that in Iran will change things back.

Ah, but you now want to read the Daily Breeze and think about Hillary Clinton’s cleverness. Fine – do so. There are other things going on.

 

About Alan

The editor is a former systems manager for a large California-based HMO, and a former senior systems manager for Northrop, Hughes-Raytheon, Computer Sciences Corporation, Perot Systems and other such organizations. One position was managing the financial and payroll systems for a large hospital chain. And somewhere in there was a two-year stint in Canada running the systems shop at a General Motors locomotive factory - in London, Ontario. That explains Canadian matters scattered through these pages. Otherwise, think large-scale HR, payroll, financial and manufacturing systems. A résumé is available if you wish. The editor has a graduate degree in Eighteenth-Century British Literature from Duke University where he was a National Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and taught English and music in upstate New York in the seventies, and then in the early eighties moved to California and left teaching. The editor currently resides in Hollywood California, a block north of the Sunset Strip.
This entry was posted in Attack Politics, Bush, Chris Matthews, Feminism, Foreign Policy, Hillary Clinton, Iran, Iraq, Military Matters, Nasty Politics, Obama, Presidential Hopefuls, Race and Politics, The Primaries. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Daily Breeze Blows

  1. Rick (from Atlanta) says:

    How you manage to fit two totally different comment-worthy subjects within one column is beyond me, but here are my responses to both:

    Geraldine Ferraro:

    The temptation is to say her comments were racist, and/or that she herself is a racist, but I think I can easily resist that temptation just to point out that her comments were stupid, and she herself may be stupid for even thinking them, much less saying them.

    Yes, what she said about Barack Obama only being where he is in this race was true about her when she was chosen as the Vice Presidential nominee, but no, it should be obvious to anyone who’s not been in a coma for the last year that it’s not true of Obama.

    First of all, nobody ever heard of Ferraro before she got tapped in 1984, and the excitement that resulted was almost 100% because she was a woman.

    On the other hand, Barack Obama is not the first black person to mount a nationally-watched run for the presidency, but he’s the only one almost everyone (except maybe Geraldine Ferraro, it seems) is taking seriously. And the reason he made it to the semi-finals, with a great chance of going all the way, is that (as has been mentioned often) he, unlike Jackson and Sharpton and others, is not seen by most of us as the black candidate but a candidate who appeals to almost everybody but who also happens to be black.

    More to the point, he is where he is because he has it. Ferraro is probably one of that sizable minority who don’t seem to see this. They don’t hear it when he speaks. They think he must be just a good talker. She doesn’t see what most people seem to see in him, so she figures it must all be just the novelty of his being black.

    No, Geraldine, being black ain’t enough. Maybe you’re just so into the possibilities of a woman becoming president that you can’t see that Obama really does have what it takes.

    Iran:

    For some time, I’ve been trying to imagine a situation in which, even after the Iraq debacle and that nobody in the world listens to them anymore, the Bush administration actually attacks Iran and gets away with it. What’s starting to bother me lately is that I can actually imagine it.

    I’m thinking it’s probably just us old people who remember back in the early 1980s when several hundred marines died in a suicide bombing in Lebanon, which turned out to be, other than just a huge tragedy, a terrible embarrassment to the Reagan administration. One reason people today don’t have many memories of it was that they were wiped away a week later when we invaded Grenada, some previously-unknown little island in the Caribbean that nobody could pronounce.

    How much resistance was there here to this somewhat obvious wag-the-dog move? Virtually none. After all, the deed was already done, and there is a strong and long tradition in this country to support the president in “time of war”.

    I’m thinking that if Bush and his people want to do anything in Iran, they have to do it in such a way that we don’t hear about it until the following morning. If they try to build up to it, there will possibly be too much negative talk to keep it from happening. But even if resistance builds up, he and his have learned that there is nobody but nobody who can stand in the way of a president who is determined to carry out his own foreign policy.

    How will we know when this is coming? Maybe Seymour Hersh will give us a heads up in The New Yorker. Failing that, we need to just watch to see if this General Stanley McChrystal guy is named to replace the departing William Fallon.

    And if that happens? I suppose there’s nothing to do but make sure your passport is up to date.

    Rick

  2. Pingback: On Character « Just Above Sunset

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s