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Inauguration Blues

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Got a txt from a close relative a few nights ago, very excited and enthusiastic about the the inauguration and prelims. This is a hopeful time, and every American to the left of Dick Cheney has a right to feel pride, mixed with hope, optimism and of course relief that the witch is positively, absolutely, undeniably and reliably, most sincerely dead. Obama wears the ruby slippers now and soon we will know if he is a good witch or a bad witch.

I wish I could feel the unalloyed joy that so many are experiencing right now. But I am anxious.

It isn’t just because I am one of the bazillions who lost a good paying job last year (though that reality does put a crimp in my party mood). That just makes me one of many who have a reason to worry about survival, dreams of prosperity to follow.

In fact, it is not any one of the many troubles in a sea of them that face the United States and its citizens and other passengers that strains my peace of mind and robs me of sleep.

The Zen master yogi Berra has famously said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” And that is where we are and what we are going to do. That’s the scary part.

The first priority of the new administration is clearly to revive the economy, and hooray says I. I personally really need that to happen, and there is a plan being prepared for Obama’s signature. Questions nag. is the stimulus proposal big enough? Will it work? Are there too many tax cuts and not enough stimuli?

From the Right come calls for more tax cuts for the rich and less spending to create jobs or modernize the nation. From everyone else come expressions of concern that the package is not big enough or that the spending is not well targeted. I am willing to give the new administration the benefit of the doubt, but my heart meanwhile resides in my mouth.

I may have concerns about what we know of the stimulus package, but I regard the legislation working its way through Congress as a first cut. There will be more to come, I expect.

Progressives will try to improve the package of course, but the Republicans are showing signs that they will obstruct much that is good in the President’s proposals. The corporate media is behaving for now, but their American Idiot shtick is prepared and they are ready to pander, frighten and distort when the time is right.

Why here’s the Idiot now.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Green Day.

Written by slothropia

January 21st, 2009 at 8:26 pm

This, That and the Other Thing

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I am glad that I am still outraged daily by the lies and other outrages perpetrated more than daily by (mostly) conservative politicians and media. It shows I still am suffused with idealism and hope.

In recent days I have been repeatedly outraged by media reports that W is angry with Speaker Pelosi because she visited Syria and its President. Not even NPR bothers to mention that Republican Congressmen have also visited that country in recent days. Not even at the White House press conference earlier this week did any journalist have the curiosity to ask about the apparent inconsistency on the part of the Uniter not the Divider.

Today, Iran released the 15 British sailors they had captured a few weeks ago, seizing the moral high ground from Bush and Blair. Syria claims to have helped. Who knows. But it puts pressure on the Bush administration to talk to Iraq’s neighbours Iraq and other issues. Too bad Bush doesn’t live in anything resembling the real world.

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Why are the Republicans so desperate to discredit Carol Lam? Little Thom’s Blog informs me that Senator Orrin Hatch said the following about the former US Attorney:

She’s a former law professor; no prosecutorial experience; and the former campaign manager in Southern California for Clinton.

Limbaugh repeated the same lies on the radio.

None of these things is true. Furthermore, they are easily disproven. Lam was a prosecutor in San Diego for 15 years before George W Bush appointed her to the US Atty position.

Again, the question is why the GOP is so desperate to discredit Lam that they resort to my dog ate my homework caliber fibs. There must be some real dynamite in Socal about ready to blow up some Republicans. otherwise, this behaviour makes no sense.

Update 4/5/07 – Upon further review, and influenced by a perceptive post from JMM, I am now of the opinion that Hatch and Limbaugh don’t care if they are shown to be making shit up. Swiftboating works, they seem to believe.

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April 4th, 2007 at 10:59 pm

Posted in Iran,Uncategorized

Seven Days inMarch?

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I just found this from the Times Online (UK not NY) on Raw Story:

SOME of America’s most senior military commanders are prepared to resign if the White House orders a military strike against Iran, according to highly placed defence and intelligence sources.

Tension in the Gulf region has raised fears that an attack on Iran is becoming increasingly likely before President George Bush leaves office. The Sunday Times has learnt that up to five generals and admirals are willing to resign rather than approve what they consider would be a reckless attack.

“There are four or five generals and admirals we know of who would resign if Bush ordered an attack on Iran,” a source with close ties to British intelligence said. “There is simply no stomach for it in the Pentagon, and a lot of people question whether such an attack would be effective or even possible.”


(snip)

A generals’ revolt on such a scale would be unprecedented. “American generals usually stay and fight until they get fired,” said a Pentagon source. Robert Gates, the defence secretary, has repeatedly warned against striking Iran and is believed to represent the view of his senior commanders. The threat of a wave of resignations coincided with a warning by Vice-President Dick Cheney that all options, including military action, remained on the table. He was responding to a comment by Tony Blair that it would not “be right to take military action against Iran”

(snip)

A second US navy aircraft carrier strike group led by the USS John C Stennis arrived in the Gulf last week, doubling the US presence there. Vice Admiral Patrick Walsh, the commander of the US Fifth Fleet, warned: “The US will take military action if ships are attacked or if countries in the region are targeted or US troops come under direct attack.”

But General Peter Pace, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said recently there was “zero chance” of a war with Iran. He played down claims by US intelligence that the Iranian government was responsible for supplying insurgents in Iraq, forcing Bush on the defensive.

(snip)

Hillary Mann, the National Security Council’s main Iran expert until 2004, said Pace’s repudiation of the administration’s claims was a sign of grave discontent at the top.

…(A)rmy chiefs fear an attack on Iran would backfire on American troops in Iraq and lead to more terrorist attacks, a rise in oil prices and the threat of a regional war.

One retired general who participated in the “generals’ revolt” against Donald Rumsfeld’s handling of the Iraq war said he hoped his former colleagues would resign in the event of an order to attack. “We don’t want to take another initiative unless we’ve really thought through the consequences of our strategy,” he warned.

If this is what it takes to slow down the mendacious incompetents who run the Executive Branch, I am all for it. Strategically timed resignations from the military might begin the final decoupling of the U.S. from self defeating wars in the Middle East. And they would fall well short of an actual military coup.
I wonder if Petraeus is in on this.

If this is what it takes to slow down the mendacious incompetents who run the Executive Branch, I am all for it. Strategically timed resignations from the military might begin the final decoupling of the U.S. from self defeating wars in the Middle East. And they would fall well short of an actual military coup.

I wonder if Petraeus is in on this.

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February 24th, 2007 at 9:54 pm

Washington ‘Snubbed Iran Offer’ – It’s a Wonder they (Bushies) Can Even Feed Themselves

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This week the BBC reported that way back in ’03, the Bush administration rejected submissive overtures from Iran. Specifically, it was Cheney’s office that said no.

Is Cheney and his nominal boss (GW) that stupid? I guess no. They rejected peace not out of incompetence, but through malice. They would prefer to have open warfare in the Middle East, I think I have a right to conclude.
And yet, the White House gets all pissy when Speaker Pelosi talks about their behaviour in rushing toward the latest escalation:

“The president knows that because the troops are in harm’s way, that we won’t cut off the resources. That’s why he’s moving so quickly to put them in harm’s way,” Pelosi said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

The administration’s response was:

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino retorted that lawmakers are involved in a “sound bite war” against Bush, counter to Democrats’ promises of bipartisanship.

“Those particular comments were poisonous,” Perino said. “I think questioning the president’s motivations and suggesting that he, for some political reason, is rushing troops into harm’s way, is not appropriate, it is not correct, and it is unfortunate because we do have troops in harm’s way.”

Poor dears. They get so upset when someone calls their bullshit.

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January 19th, 2007 at 11:58 pm

Posted in Iran,Iraq

Iran and Other Matters

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It looks like the Iranian reformers (a relative term perhaps?) are making a strong comeback.

We’d better start bombing soon while we can still invent an excuse.

An excuse is what Isaiah Thomas does not have. He instigated the MSG riot involving the Knicks and Nuggets last weekend. I was surprised when he escaped being suspended with the guilty players.

He should not be running a sports team in New York. He should be working in waste management in New Jersey.

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December 19th, 2006 at 11:49 pm

Posted in Iran

Jaw Jaw Still better Than War War

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Found an OpEd piece by Lawrence J. Haas in my local rag (Peoria Journal Star) today. It is headlined “Don’t indulge sponsors of terrorism” and seems to be a neo-con inspired argument about how it would be a mistake for the United States to engage in direct talks with Iran and Syria. Haas begins by arguing thusly:

Why not talk? It seems harmless and it might produce something good, right?

Wrong. U.S. talks with Iran and Syria would give an American stamp of legitimacy to two outlaw regimes, rewarding their deadly behavior and their refusal to stop violating basic international norms – whether it’s Iran’s threat to wipe Israel off the map or Syria’s refusal to respect the territorial integrity of Lebanon.

Let’s stipulate for the sake of argument that Haas has it right about Iranian and Syrian behaviour. Let us also posit that there is an American interest in changing that behaviour. Is it not easier to achieve that goal through diplomacy, even if other means are also used?

Talks also would send the wrong signal to three key audiences:

- U.S. allies in the region would worry that we do not recognize the dangers of a rising Iran that is seeking nuclear weapons.

U.S. allies in the region are scared silly thanks to the incompetence of the current administration, and because the administration listens too much top people like Mr. Haas

- Activists in Iran and Syria who risk their lives to replace authoritarianism with democracy at home would worry that we have abandoned that goal.

I am sympathetic to such activists, but harsh Soviet treatment of it’s dissidents did not prevent even Ronald Reagan from talking to them. Nixonh went to China and now the PRCV is like one of the late Milton Friedman wet dreams, an authoriatarian form of capitalism.  Kind of like Chile under Pinochet (another Nixonian project).

- The American people would lose sight of the key roles of Iran and Syria in fueling the global terror that threatens us.

I don’t understand this argument at all.

Americans must understand that Iran and Syria are at war with the United States – Iran’s leaders, after all, often proudly say so. They are run by outlaw regimes that provide critical funding, training, logistics and other support to terrorist groups with which we are doing battle.

I was not aware that either Syria or Iran had declared was on the U.S. I will have to read the newspapers more often I guess. I am aware that elements within the Bush administration are itching for a fight with Iran. Maybe Mr. Haas is confused on this one.

The growing calls for Washington to talk to Tehran and Damascus are rooted in the belief that all three nations share key goals. Surely, we hear, Iran and Syria want a stable Iraq as much as we do, rather than one roiled by sectarian violence that could spill into their countries. Surely, they want a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute that so poisons the region.

Senator Hagel refuted this one on Face the Nation:

HAGEL: No, that’s not the point. Of course the Iranians and Syrians are not going to come to our assistance. Of course not. But they are going to respond in their own self-interest. All nations respond in their own self-interests. Tallyrand once said that nations don’t have friends. They have interests. He was right. Ahh, it’s not in the interest of Syria or Jordan or Iran to have a failed state that would be a complete mess for the middle east.

Here is how Haas concludes:

Rather than talk with these regimes, the U.S. should rally the global community to raise the heat on them, making clear they must either abide by global norms or face growing isolation.

You should have seen the coffee come out of my nose when I read this one. I don’t know if Haas has noticed, but the United States doesn’t have much credibility or support in theh global community right now.  Ironically, it is the U.S. that is growing more isolated, thanks to actions taken  by George  W. Bush, again upon the advice of the Lawrence J,. Haases of this nation.  Heckuva job, neo-cons!

Written by slothropia

December 4th, 2006 at 12:56 am

Posted in Iran,Iraq

Say What You Mean

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In recent days, three men have made provocative statements aimed at an international audience: The Pope, and the Presidents of Iran and Venezuela. All three ignited what it pleases the media to call “a storm of controversy”. I am wondering to what extent each of them did so on purpose, what that purpose, if any might be, and whether or not they achieved what they wanted with their speeches.

To answer these questions fully might require speculation on my part. I am prepared to so speculate if I must.

First of all, the Pope’s September 12 speech is not supposed to have a strategy behind it. It was billed as a discussion of the relationship between science and religion, faith and science.

But some see a political motive in Benedict’s offending quote. The Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for one:

(Erdogan) insisted that the pontiff apologize to the Muslim world. When asked if the flap would affect the planned trip to Istanbul, where the pope hopes to meet with Orthodox leaders who are headquartered there, Erdogan left open the possibility of cancellation.

“I wouldn’t know,” the Turkish premier replied when asked if the trip would go forward. Erdogan said Benedict was speaking “not like a man of religion but like a usual politician.”

It has been reported that Benedict was uncomfortable with John Paul II’s efforts to engage the Muslim world in a dialogue of equals and that he favours a more confrontational approach. This may or may not have been part of his motive in quoting Manuel II Paleologus. The Pope must have been able to anticipate the reaction his neutral use of the offending quote would generate. He may be crazy but he aint stupid.

I am suggesting that Benedict was creating a controversy with some strategic purpose in mind. Right wing commentators like Kathleen Parker in this country have been swift to defend him and attack the demonstrators (Parker, by the way, seems to have missed the point of the Pope’s speech in the same manner as the Muslim demonstrators). Whether they share in a conspiracy or not, there does seem to be some community of purpose.

This week a member of the Pope’s world wide flock spoke at the UN and before he had really approached the substance of his speech had made the sign of the cross and referred to the Devil and the smell of sulfur. He also sold a few copies of Hegemony or Survival for Noam Chomsky.

The big news was that Chavez had attacked W. Bush and his foreign policy right there at the UN. He also had some ideas about the structure of the United Nations and especially the Security Council. Venezuela is in the running this year for one of the non permanent seats on the Security Council but is opposed but the U.S. Duh.

Chavez apparently upset a lot of people with his remarks. The entire political establishment, leaders of both major parties, columnists from right to leftish, right wing talk radio all let him have it with both barrels. Even the Daily Show piled on.

The Fox news right wing hack panel last night laughed about how he had really blundered by offending so many Americans – or words to that effect. But of course, Hugo Chavez is not running for anything in this country. And having own a couple of elections and referenda in Venezuela, I would wager that he knows how to think and act strategically.

I would be very surprised, and so would Hugo Chavez, if Venezuela won the Security Council seat this year. I do not doubt, however, that Venezuela has a constituency in the General Assembly that includes the 118 nations in the non-aligned movement. Whether or not Venezuela wins its seat this year or whether or not the UN reforms itself the way Chavez wants, the campaign – to limit U.S. power and to enhance the power of the Third World nations – has begun, and it looks like it is going according to plan.

The other spotlight hog at the UN this week was of course the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He played good cop to Chavez’ bad cop, but they had their story straight. Both criticized the current UN system and argued for a broader distribution of power (or what passes for power at the UN) within it. Ahmadinejad also said, and I hope he got a laugh, that Iran did not want to acquire nuclear weapons.

While in New York, the President of Iran also gave an interview to Brian Williams of NBC, during which he danced around his infamous Holocaust remarks and attacked the U.S. for its actions in the Middle East. And he doesn’t want the bomb.

Right wing opinion leaders are trying hard to make Chavez and Ahmadinejad look like crazed dictators. That is a mistake, even from the neo-con propaganda point of view. They are formidable and they are following a strategy. They are sitting on decade’s worth of oil revenue in a time when oil is growing scarcer.

The right likes to call foreign heads of state it does not like ‘dictators’. That won’t work with these two. They were both elected on more or less populist platforms; however flawed elections might be in their countries. Furthermore, they have a growing list of allies among Third World nations, and that is who they were both appeling to in their UN speeches and other events this past week.

When the Cold War ended I thought of Orwell’s 1984 and how Oceania was always at war with either East Asia or Eurasia over resources in less developed countries in Africa and Asia. I thought that a new model of perpetual warfare would eventually develop. I thought then that at some point a broad conflict could develop between the U.S. and some allies vs. the Third World. I wish I had documented those thoughts, because it looks like I was right.

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September 23rd, 2006 at 9:44 am

Black Gold; Texas Tea; Eyeracky Blood

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George Will accidentally got something right in his column today. Maiking the argument that the U.S. cannot quit the war in Iraq the way Eisenhower decided to end the war in Korea, Will notes that:

(Senator John Warner R – 19th Century)Warner defines the U.S. objective in Iraq not in terms of a glittering achievement, democracy, but as avoiding something appalling — the Iraqi oil fields in jihadists’ hands.

The war is about oil. Not WMD, not democracy for the Middle East, not Saddam’s nasty governance. Just oil.

Thanks for the news flash George. Where the devil was this insight three years ago? Some of us thought from the beginning that the real casus belli was oil.

I do admit, however, that it is not really easy to see what the objective of the mission in Iraq is since nothing is being achieved or accomplished. If the U.S, is forced out of Iraq and the Middle East largely because of blow back from the occupation of Iraq, it wll also be hard to see how our excellent adventure there makes any strategic sense.

Come to think of it though,  I think Bush might have had an easier time selling the war domestically and internationally if he had been as up front as his father was in 1990/91 and admitted that he was emerely trying to protect the American way of life, which involves using more energy per capita than any other country in the world.  At least we would have understood that argument.

Lately of course, Bush and his followers have tried to mix terrorism and Iraq into a war with Islamic fascists. A few days ago, Trudy Rubin wrote a very good column dissecting the Adminsitrations use of the term “Isamic Fascism” and the rhetoric uses to which this term has been put. Recommended highly. Here’s a good bit from the end of the column:

Raising the “Islamo-fascist” cry fosters false hope that terrorism can be halted with one great military strike – a Berlin or Hiroshima. I keep getting e-mails suggesting we can win if we bomb Tehran. On the contrary, al-Qaeda would get thousands of new recruits who, while they despise Shiites, would join up because America was killing Muslims. In the meantime, the Iranian regime would grow stronger. There is still a chance to change Iran’s direction through diplomacy – backed by carrots and (economic) sticks.

The term “Islamo-fascism” has political wings and plays to the president’s mantra of good vs. evil. But it obscures the complex nature of the struggle Americans will face over the next decade. It misleads more than it informs.

Would that be the first time Bush has mislead rather than informed his constituents?

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September 3rd, 2006 at 10:45 pm

Posted in Iran,Iraq