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December 2006 Archives

December 1, 2006

Instant gratification

Straight from Olympus:
Idea of Rapid Withdrawal From Iraq Seems to Fade

...[D]espite the Democrats' victory this month in an election viewed as a referendum on the war, the idea of a rapid American troop withdrawal is fast receding as a viable option.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff are signaling that too rapid an American pullout would open the way to all-out civil war. The bipartisan Iraq Study Group has shied away from recommending explicit timelines in favor of a vaguely timed pullback. The report that the panel will deliver to President Bush next week would, at a minimum, leave a force of 70,000 or more troops in the country for a long time to come.... Even the Democrats, with an eye toward 2008, have dropped talk of a race for the exits....

The group never seriously considered the position that Representative John P. Murtha... took more than a year ago, that withdrawal should begin immediately. The group did debate timetables.... But explicit mention of such a schedule was dropped.

In statements on Thursday, Democrats from former President Bill Clinton to Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, the incoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, seemed to agree that hard timelines could invite trouble....

This is so wonderful. The Democrats aren't even making me wait until they take office to watch them sell out their most devoted, and perennially betrayed, supporters.

I foresee that dedicated Kosniks et sim., who have spent the last few years making anti-war noises and selling the Democrats as the only hope for peace, will emerge as actual apologists for continued war, now that "their" party, with its legislative majorities, has undeniable buy-in and responsibility. This is another subtle effect of the two-party machine and the lesser evil mentality -- they pull the internal Left back into line. People just can't stand the cognitive dissonance, and if they can't give up the institution, they have to give up their convictions instead.

Stop the presses

William Kaufman writes:
Why do incorrigible donkey-sniffers like Greider always profess such amazement and indignation at these inevitable follies?


Same Old Same Old
by William Greider

House Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi ought to find a quiet place where she can sit down and recount the election. She was not chosen by her friends in Silicon Valley or by the friendly investment bankers on both coasts.... So why does Pelosi begin the education of her freshman members with a seminar on Rubinomics? Robert Rubin, the Citigroup executive and former Treasury secretary, will appear solo next week before the party caucus to explain the economy....

When labor officials heard about this, they asked to be included since they have very different ideas about what Democrats need to do in behalf of struggling workers and middle-class families. Pelosi decided against it. This session, her spokesman explains, is only about "fiscal responsibility"... It is seriously unwise for this new Speaker to leave an impression she has already chosen sides.

Much unintentional humor here. Let's start with Greider's blithe observation that Pelosi "was not chosen by her friends in Silicon Valley or by the friendly investment bankers on both coasts" -- but of course she was; can it really be that Greider doesn't know that? Given a choice between this remarkable display of obtuseness and the equally remarkable suggestion that Pelosi shouldn't give the "impression" that she's already chosen sides, it's hard to know which I enjoyed more. The "impression" that she's chosen sides! That's like suggesting to Captain Kidd that he might not want to give the "impression" of being a pirate.

December 4, 2006

Fester Bestertester

To read Josh Frank, you'd think Montana senator-elect John Tester was a cross between ole Bill Bryan and a grizzly bear:
A State Senator and organic farmer by trade.... When I say he's not really even a Democrat, that may be a bit of an understatement. Tester is essentially an NRA approved neo-populist with libertarian tendencies who wants to immediately redeploy troops from Iraq as well as repeal the PATRIOT Act.... [H]is position on international trade is more in line with the protesters who shut down Seattle in 1999 than with the Democratic Leadership Council.
Smitten? I'd say so... if politics is the romance of the possible.

Well, maybe that's unfair, but Frank sure does gush a bit, don't he now? "Organic farmer" is my best of show. I had Josh figured for a cooler head. Personally, your reporter here had Tester specifically in mind while recently disparaging this new breed of rocky mountain high plains class wranglers. My crystal ball shows me a corporate stooge under the Marlboro Country turnout. But we shall see, we shall see.

Rorate caeli desuper

Mark Engler, fair trade hawk, joins the rain dance for a populist anti-globality revival:

Read all the way to the end, where he gestures vaguely at the Rangel-Pelosi "waver". Face it, Mark, for us mites of the jobbled weeblery, this new donk majority is nothin but a downhill mood race, a long run to bummerville.

When will these voices raised in decency start screaming "FOUL" at the Dembos for this filthy stowaway act inside the vast hope-tricked hold of the good ship SS Prog-America?

Hey, the party of rubber turkeys like Steny Hoyer and Baucus Maximus has no intention of betraying its corporate trans-nat backers, just 'cause a vast hunk of the electorate would rejoice and maybe even prosper.

Goliath versus...

Indeed, joust fans, the tournament is on, between the Rubinauts from the vital profit center, and the forget-you-nots of the Union Maid brigade. To the winner goes the heart of dear Nan, and presumably the balls of her whole team of dancing jackasses.

The champion of the party's Right is one Peter Orzag, member in good standing of Wall Street empire's fast response team (donk division). He's coming back hard and soft at the same time, at the "neo-pops'" oafish stabs at a people's economic agenda. Before he closes for the beating, of course, up top there's the mandatory Clintonian candy-flavored poison gas blown out at us just to demonstrate "I know and feel your pain" -- you weeble-feeble jerknecked rubes, he adds in an undertone.

That out of the way, soon enough he's down to biz, using this marvelous pivot into attack mode:

[P]olicy makers who genuinely care about American families' well-being may be tempted to pursue measures... that interfere with the workings of the market, [such as] anti-trade protectionism, constraints on hiring and firing, regulatory protections for specific industries, outsourcing restrictions, or requirements that businesses spend a certain percentage of their payroll on health care.
Now that list may sound swell to a tree frog, or a rubber worker from Akron, but but but.... here come da truth, brothers and sisters:
[T]he evidence suggests it will ultimately harm the economy.
The creep shamelessly bolsters his claim to gospel truth here with a viciously distortionary quote-fragment from none other than that greatest-generation hero of social engineering, Paul Samuelson, who, btw, just two years ago went out of his way to shout "go slow America -- icebergs ahead," warning against the impact on us of trans-nat globalizatioon gone wild and free. Orzag turns Samuelson on his head and gives us this cooked-up forged testimonial:
[L]eaving or compromising free trade policies [will lead to] monopoly, crony capitalism, and sloth.
Yes, my fellow citizens... yes... "sloth"! The torpor of the primordial horde!

Our man here from Rubinonia, having drawn up that horror show, counters with some helpful remedies of the non-market tampering, but of the gubmint tapping, tinkering, and tidying kind -- i.e. compensation schemes -- thicker, softer, gentler, job wreck collision mats -- paid for by Uncle's tax system, which, he adds, by the way, needs a little proggy tuneup.

Sorry, guys and gals... I can write no more about this -- this slop for blind goo goo chuckleheads. Not today, anyway. So i'll just leave you with Orzag's final zing:

Trying to shut down the process of creative destruction creates macroeconomic stagnation.
Translation: it hurts corporate "earnings," as they are somewhat inappropriately called.

Biden channels Palmerston (on Fox News)

Here's strategic mastermind Joe Biden, calling for a little bear hunt:
WALLACE: I'll start with you, Senator Biden: Do you believe -- I understand it's speculation, but do you believe that Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, is involved? And whether we can prove that or not, how should it affect our relations with Russia?

BIDEN: Well, I don't know whether he's involved, but our relations with Russia have to get straightened out to begin with.

Russia is moving more and more toward an oligarchy here. Putin is consolidating power. He's been doing it for the last six years. We have basically been giving him a bye. I think that Russia is sliding further away from genuine democracy and a free-market system and more toward a command economy and the control of a single man.

So I'm not a big fan of Putin's, and I think we should have a direct confrontation with Putin politically about the need for him to change his course of action.

WALLACE: I was just going to bring in Senator Graham.

In the time left, your thoughts about Putin and what the U.S. needs to do?

GRAHAM: I think Joe is right on. I think Bush misread his soul. I think this guy is taking Russia backward. He's a problem, not a solution, to most of the world's problems. He could help us with Iran if he chose to. He is becoming basically a one-man dictatorship in Russia. And we need to be tough with him.

Russia needs to be part of the international community in a constructive way. They're going backward, not forward. And now's the time for the international community to speak with Russia with one voice: "Change what's going on in Russia. Help us with Iran."

Together in perfect harmony.

Foregone conclusion

Surely you all know of my Nannikins' invite to der Rubin. This week, in an exclusive engagement, Bond Street Bobby is to lecture the donk congo frosh about frugal fiscality etc.

Some folks sense a bad tilt here: where's the AFL-CIA spokespersonage to give...balance?

Seems this dipsy doodle by madame Pelosi has elements of the Kos-tal artillary engaging in some "cross battery" firing. One side, battery Z:


On Wednesday, December 5, freshman representatives will be subjected to indoctrination in the economics of fucking the people who sent you to Washington ... by Robert Rubin.

The other side, battery A:

Some folk with an actual knowledge of Nancy Pelosi ... and of how Congressional events are set up and scheduled, have tried to stem the Lord of the Flies-like hate frenzy with fact injections, but the problem is that the left in this country has been so tainted with an unthinkingly reflexive, corrosive cynicism...

Blah blah blah, you can supply the rest. --Though "Lord of the Files" is good, isn't it? Not a bad analogy for the Kosniks. Grappling for the conch, worshipping the dead guy....

One hardly needs to wonder which battery has the heavier guns -- and which will prevail.

December 5, 2006

Yahweh: I am NOT a jealous god

Okay, so we disagree with Wall Street's liberals and their DLC sock heads. But... can we work with 'em in a big prog-pop tent? The Max Factor can:


Now to be clear, I like Nancy Pelosi just fine, I am thrilled that she is Speaker of the House, and I look forward to working with all segments of the party willing to work with me, including the Hamilton Project and the DLC.

As I put up at his site, If Moses can call a golden ass a golden ass -- is that enough? Do Aaron and his acolytes get to continue as usual? Or does Moses... thunder? Does Moses rain down ruination?

Hugo Chavez, the Exorcist

To step away from my flaying of the donk-sucking progerry a mo... congrats, Hugo on yer thumping re-election:


Speaking to a throng outside the presidential palace in Caracas, the capital, Chavez referred to Venezuela's No. 1 crude oil customer as the "empire" and to President Bush as the devil.
And with that laid out plain as peas, I can go curl up with a easy-reader account of the Jacobin terror -- comfort reading for the likes of me.

The Hitler-Stalin pact

In the joust between the prog pops and the neo-libs for the honor of wearing the longest pair of ears, here's a show-stoppin' flash: if the block of DLCers and Rubinoid Hamiltonians needs help, reinforcements may appear from, of all places, the "free to choose" and "make Uncle a midget" wing of the GOP. Yup, the Babbit libertarian horde may ride to Bobby and the boys' rescue -- or so sez some buffoon over at the Cato Institute site:


Allow me to hazard a few more specific suggestions about what a liberal-libertarian entente on economics might look like.... (zero) farm subsidies and other corporate welfare....

The president of Cato and the executive director of the Sierra Club have come out together in favor of a zero-subsidy energy policy.... A nascent fusionism on these issues already exists; it merely needs encouragement and emphasis....

Tax reform also offers the possibility of win-win bargains....The basic idea is simple: Shift taxes away from things we want more of and onto things we want less of.... Specifically, cut taxes on savings and investment, cut payroll taxes on labor and make up the shortfall with increased taxation of consumption.... And tax everybody's energy consumption.

...Gore has proposed a straight-up swap of payroll taxes for carbon taxes, while Harvard economist Greg Mankiw has been pushing for an increase in the gasoline tax.

But there's a small cloud...
Entitlement reform is probably the most difficult problem facing would-be fusionists.... Here, libertarians' core commitments to personal responsibility and economy in government run headlong into progressives' core commitments to social insurance and an adequate safety net. Yet a fusionist synthesis is possible nevertheless, for the simple reason that some kind of compromise is ultimately unavoidable.

December 6, 2006

Reyes of sunshine

Here's the latest from Pelosi protege Silvestre Reyes:


Dec. 5. 2006 - In a surprise twist in the debate over Iraq, Rep. Silvestre Reyes, the soon-to-be chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said he wants to see an increase of 20,000 to 30,000 U.S. troops as part of a stepped up effort to “dismantle the militias.”

The soft-spoken Texas Democrat was an early opponent of the Iraq war and voted against the October 2002 resolution authorizing President Bush to invade that country. That dovish record got prominently cited last week when Speaker designate Nancy Pelosi chose Reyes as the new head of the intelligence panel.

But in an interview with NEWSWEEK on Tuesday, Reyes pointedly distanced himself from many of his Democratic colleagues who have called for fixed timetables for the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Oh the humanity

I couldn't wait to see how the Kosniks would react to Silvestre Reyes' call for a troop buildup in Iraq, mentioned here a few minutes ago. I didn't have long to wait:


I think Pelosi will be a great Speaker. I'm hoping that Reyes misspoke. But, this leaves some to wonder from a policy point of view, are we getting different results from what it would be if Harman assumed the post? Are we getting different results from what we would have if the GOP kept the chairmanship?

This does seem so out of the blue that I'm hoping that Reyes was misquoted. His position definitely need to be clarified....

I'm hoping that Reyes was misquoted. It is enough to have to worry about Leiberman betraying our interests.

"Misspoke" once, "misquoted" twice -- this poor soul has gone past grasping at straws; he's grasping at srarws that have only a purely conjectural existence. And he's "worried" that Lieberman might "betray our interests"? That's like worrying that it might be cold at the North Pole. Where does Kos find these people?

A tale of two Bobs

I figure you already know Wall Street Bob Rubin wants a "strong" dollar. But so does a lesser Bob -- Globe columnist Robert Kuttner. I'd never suggest you read Kuttner, but he manages in this one piece to put it all together on the sinking of the strong dollar. Here's my epitomization.

First we have the de rigeur Yellow Peril schtick:

The greenback is sinking mainly because the United States runs an immense trade deficit with the rest of the world, especially East Asia. Countries like China, Korea, and Japan have an unhealthy co dependency with the United States. Their governments help their industries capture leadership in technologies, products, and jobs. They then sell America far more then they buy. However their central banks happily lend those dollars back to us, so that we can finance the trade deficit and keep buying their exports.
Notice, no trans-nat superprofits need be mentioned at this point, even though that's why this super-combine job ripper-dipper and wage compactor keeps going and going and going. Bobby the K continues, with a big warning about "This past week's decline of the dollar against the Euro."

Huh? He was just talking about a deficit vis-a-vis Asia, so how did we segue into the dollar-Euro gyrations?

In fact, it's good for the trans-nats -- now an even stronger Euro will allow old Europe to share in the good-paying job demolition derby. The falling dolar readjusts the deindustrialization rate between the two advanced economies, since the dollar-pegged (and therefore also falling) east Asian currencies are "facilitated" in their "Asian invasion" of Europe.

According to Bob K, American trans-nats are hapless, myopic dupes of the heathen Chinese, since their low costs are

enticing US manufacturers to locate production in China to take advantage of the cheap labor, government subsidies, and depressed currency...
Enticing! That's good, isn't it? Hellooo, sailor!

Of course, you write long enough, sooner or later you say something that's true. Here's Bob again:

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson goes through the motions of pressuring the Chinese to let their currency trade like normal currencies, but Paulson doesn't really want that outcome...
Our man quickly covers this lapse into veracity, however. Paulson is said to be reluctant because "a big jump in the value of the Chinese yuan could trigger a run on the dollar."

Pure purple-spotted horse feathers. A run by who and toward what? it's pure piffle. A controlled rise of the yuan/rmb against all North currecies over, say, five years, to twice its present value presents no problem, if the North central banks do another accord like they did in the mid-80's for the final yen rise. This is easy as slicing a banana.

After much more of this gas-baggery, Kuttner finally gets to the heart of the matter, straight from Hamiltonian central:

Paulson's predecessor as treasury secretary in the Clinton administration, Robert Rubin, now a senior executive at Citigroup, confirmed to me in an interview that Wall Street wants only the most modest dollar adjustment...
...and for obvious reasons: they make a profit fatter then Jerrold Nadler's ass.

Here's the peroration:

Due to our dependency on foreign financing of our trade imbalance, which in turn requires confidence in the dollar, we can't behave like normal countries... let our currency fall, and thereby make our products cheaper in world markets... improve the trade imbalance.
That's the rock-bottom line here, folks -- we "can't" stop the job loss and the wage squeeze, we "can't" defend ourselves against industrial decline, we "can't" let the dollar sink till we're in trade balance, and the domestic market is safe again for domestic production.

It gets worse: Bob wants us to Rubinize the federal budget, because "The precarious dollar is also weakened by the big federal budget deficits." That is, we buy overseas stuff with the tax cut money and higher take-home. Conclusion: cut, cut, cut. Mister president, tear down that entitlement.

To the Max

Sometimes Max is worth a million. Read this, apropos what I call the bipartisan Great Convergence on Iraq:


The function of the Democratic Party from the standpoint of elites is to channel dissent into support for elite discourse. In the present context, the framework for such cooptation is advice against "precipitous" withdrawal from Iraq. The alternative to such a policy is continued, open-ended, mucking around.

A secondary objective is to prevent a complete meltdown of the Republican Party by entangling Democrats in the purported phase-down of U.S. involvement. The meltdown implied by the continued stubbornness of the Bush White House would unbalance the American two-party duopoly, a development which would strengthen dissent among Democrats and widen the space for third parties and for more basic criticism of U.S. foreign policy.

Rubin: so, what's your sign? Do you come here often?

Daniel went into the lions' -- err, that is, Bob Rubin faced the new donkey caucus behind closed doors today. And according to party sax player and incipient beetle-brow Dave Sirota -- who, btw, has more donkey hoof marks on his face than a Sicilian bedroom floor -- the blue team spoke back to power in no uncertain terms! One by one, they rose to the challenge, and gave Wall Street Bobby the hoot and holler. Yup, the gang gave old Bob a pronging ... or so the source claims.

Read Sirota's redaction for yourself, but sounds to me like a year's supply of bologna. As reported, and as I read 'em, each one sounded less and less like Brutus at the fall of Caesar, and more and more like Falstaff's account of his woodland "mugging " by Prince Hal.

It's really "vastly amusing," isn't it, as an ex-girlfriend of mine use to say, 35 years ago, after watching a string of farcical little pipsqueaks approach and try to impress her, on a Friday night in one of those early 70's era dating bar settings.

December 7, 2006


J Alva Scruggs writes:
Matt Stoller runs down a list of excellent reasons why a small "d" democrat and a gate-crashing, netroots, big swinging "D" Democrat would never want an Obama candidacy. Then he concludes that he'll support him.


I can't read this stuff without feeling a need to start gesticulating wildly and screaming, "of course! Of course that's why we'll support him! It's the antithetical, stupid!".

Obama cult

Reechard writes:
Democratic Underground, pwog blogging's squeaky Hervé Villechaize to KOS's Ricardo Montalban, has opened a special Barack Obama section. Membership in this shrine to the man of the people is, however, a tad restricted. As the site owner explains, even dues-paying at "DU" is no pass unless the heart itself prove pure:
"The mission of the Barack Obama Group is to discuss this rising star in the Democratic Party and to share news and information about his life, career and political future. DUers who are supporters of Senator Obama for President, or have a positive view of the Senator and are open to an Obama candidacy in 2008 are welcome."
All others to the back of the bus.


Simple arithmetic

This simple calculation might interest you.

Domestic oil production in barrels per day" ~9 million. The 30$ Iraq war price premium means the owners of those wells are making an extra 100 billion a year, give or take a few cents. Nice ride if you can get a dunce like Uncle to put the war and occupation's cost on his credit card.

Cheney is the saber toothed prat boy for these m'fucks.

Mission accomplished -- but now a forced course correction? As in... peace, asap, in the oil mideast?

Sorry, wrong call.

December 8, 2006

Dems vs. DOOM

Alan Smithee writes:
Ya know, I was getting kind of worried about what mischief the democrats might be up to since the election. So you can just imagine my relief when I ran across this news item:


Clinton, Lieberman 'team-up' with gaming industry to tackle video game violence

Concerned about violence in video games aimed at teenagers and young children, Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), along with the president of the gaming industry's Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), announced the launching of a new nationwide television public service announcement campaign at a press conference held on Capitol Hill this afternoon.


Crackpot Stakhanovites...

... was the learned tag that the esteemed J Alva Scruggs gave to this snippet:


Congress faces longer hours

WASHINGTON -- Forget the minimum wage. Or outsourcing jobs overseas. The labor issue most on the minds of members of Congress is their own: They will have to work five days a week starting in January.

The horror.

I have to admit that a more homespun reference came to my mind -- was it Mark Twain who said that "No man’s life or liberty are safe while the Legislature is in session”? And now it's going to be five days a week instead of three -- Oh Jayzus, shure we're doomed altogether.

December 9, 2006

All quiet on the internal front

Reader correspondence from the mailbag:
A while back, you posted an excellent column asking where the nationwide black uprising was in response to the State-assisted suffering of black, poor Hurricane Katrina victims.

Perhaps now you should write one asking where the upsurge of nationwide Black rage is after the murder of Sean Bell by the NYPD death squads. Not one riot, not one mass mobilization, not one general strike, not anything. Pathetic.

When Martin Luther King was murdered, when Rodney King was brutalized by LAPD thugs, this nation was on fire. These days, what's Black America doing...waiting around for the goddamn' CBC, or Kweisi Mfume or somebody to give 'em permission to rise up?

Hell of a good question. Is it related to the question of why there's no anti-war movement worthy of the name?

Of course you could argue that there's no anti-war movement comparable to the Vietnam period, because there's no draft, and so most people's ox simply isn't gored, actually or prospectively, by the Iraq folly. That argument doesn't hold for the Sean Bell case, though -- it's pretty clear that NYPD has declared open season on black men. Declared it some time ago, and has been acting on it with impunity since. Every black man in New York is walking around wearing a target these days.

The generally despicable Bloomberg did at least react a little more intelligently, on this occasion, than his gangsterish predecessor Giuliani would have done. It's possible that that deflected some of the fury.

But I have a bad feeling that the core reason why there isn't more resistance either to the war or to the police death squads is simply that the repression has worked -- worked on all the dimensions where it's been applied. The roll-back-the-sixties campaign which has driven so much of our politics for the last thirty years or so has been largely successful.

There's the very visible and concrete dimension of over-policing -- too many cops running around, too many jails, way too many people in them, brutal mandatory sentencing right out of the Judge Jeffries playbook. Then of course there's the vast expansion of police powers and the reciprocal narrowing of civil liberties and privacy. On top of that is the ideological offensive -- the terrorist scare, the moral panic du jour about child molesters, Internet predators, carjackers, etc. -- all the bogeys that persuade people to embrace the whips and chains of their prison-house.

Finally, I think that in spite of all the cliches about our "polarized" political culture, the fact is that elite consensus is really quite strong, thorough-going, and almost universally agreed-upon. All the shouting, red-faced popinjays on TV, and their spittle-spewing rants about feminazis, scheming liberals, surrender monkeys and so on, ultimately reinforce, by exaggeration, core principles of that consensus; and the violence of the ranters' language and demeanor is just show business. Violence sells; Bill O'Reilly is the modern equivalent of a bear-baiting, and as with a modern execution, he's a pale, paltry shadow, comparatively poor in entertainment value, of the real good old Renaissance original. All talk and no action, like a liberal Protestant church service.

As for the political parties -- the frenzy of elections is pure factional struggle, a contention among indistinguishable gangs of opportunists for the spoils of office. The various slogans they deploy, as they pursue the same brass ring with the same strategies, are like street gang colors -- ball caps from different, arbitrarily chosen teams, worn so you can tell the contenders apart.

When our rulers are undivided, it's much harder for us to gain any traction against them. Looking back at the Sixties, I think we can see that the elite consensus that dominated the immediate postwar period (I mean World War Two, kids) had rather broken down. We seen, or sensed, our opportunity, and we took it. But no such opportunity exists now, and so our rulers have us boxed up but good.

I don't imagine that's the end of the story. I don't think history is over, not quite yet, and there are still a lot of us and not many of them -- in fact, there are fewer and fewer of them, every day, compared to the more and more there are of us. That's the strategic picture. But there's no denying that just at the moment, the tactical picture is pretty bad, and our troops are mostly pretty discouraged.


J Alva Scruggs passed this along:

Legislators may reconsider suspending habeas corpus for detainees

WASHINGTON - President Bush's victory in getting the rules he wanted to try suspected terrorists could be diminished.

The top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee signaled this week that he'll join prominent Democrats in seeking to restore legal rights to hundreds of suspected terrorists confined at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and elsewhere.

While the measure to restore the right of habeas corpus has almost no chance of passing before Congress adjourns later this week, the message is clear: When Democrats take over in early January, the issue could resurface.

J Alva comments:
Partial restoration of Habeas Corpus is really keen. Peachy even, but the entire Military Commissions Act is bad news and needs to be repealed. "Moderating" its effects is impossible. It's beyond fatuous to try to ensure proper procedures for activities that are illegal to begin with.

I checked a few blogs and it doesn't look like the liberal are buying any effort at sincerity from Leahy, yet. But I doubt anyone would care to take the bet that "half a loaf" arguments are coming down the pike.

December 12, 2006

The purloined letter

Good ole Ralph joins the anti-globality chorus, calling for a grand coalition, and he throws in a nice bashing of "dictatorships" both corporate and commie. He ends with a lovely quote:
as Public Citizen's director of Global Trade Watch, Lori Wallach, demonstrates, holding up a giant compendium of NAFTA and WTO rules: "If there was 'free trade,' a couple of pages would do. This is about who write the rules. This is about corporate managed trade."
I like the slogan "its about who writes the rules, stupid."

But may Johnny hit his one note again here? Despite Ralph hitting on the union and green beats, once again there's no mention of the overvalued dollar.

Okay, so it's one note -- but Keerist almighty, mates, its high C!


Condi vs. Baker:
Dueling Views Pit Baker Against Rice

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 - Many of the blistering critiques of the Bush administration contained in the Iraq Study Group's report boil down to this: the differing worldviews of Baker versus Rice.

Clash of titans worthy of Virgil, or Alexander Pope material?

My take away: the Bush regime must play hard to get here, so the jerk-off majority can feel it forced a move on 'em, by its stentorian voicing of preference for withdrawal in last November's ballot bout.

The second front

Remember the union bumper sticker: "the guys who gave you the weekend"?

Amidst all the hugger-mugger by both branches of organized labor, where's the shorter job week movement? Are the so overstuffed with the heath-bennie trip they can't recall their greatest triumph?

Knocking off the axiom that Saturday is job day number six, like the eight-hour premium barrier, are class wide jobbler progress. Raising the minimum wage and tying it to an index, hey, that's grand, but it don't cut to the quick, brothers and sisters -- hour Maxie is wage Minnie's hot fraternal twin.

The monopoly of mass destruction

Catholic prog columnist and erstwhile Pope-bopper James Carroll writes on another hidebound insitution, America's unitary security state, whose
... nuclear double standard is the issue. Iran's nuclear ambition is only to have what America has. Hence the impasse.... Washington must renounce the nuclear double standard, recommitting itself to nuclear abolition.
He's completely right, of course.
The reason Iran should not have nuclear weapons is that no country should.
But remember, only the threat of total destruction -- a national omnicide -- can counter an anti-empire insurgency, like the one "we" face in Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq these days. If you're emperor, it's good to have nukes -- or no, it's maybe "totally" necessary.

December 13, 2006

Max populi

Max "Factor" Sawicki wades into the pleb drowning pool with five boxes of populist economics -- poponomics, for short:
  1. Trade is most prominent, but it may be the least important of my top five. Measures to protect better-paying jobs in the U.S. are feasible but only promise results to a limited extent.
  2. Deficit dementia. The dirty secret in economic policy is that most economists, radical, liberal, moderate, and conservative, understand that the Federal budget need never be balanced, that moderate deficits can be sustained indefinitely. The implications of tolerating deficits of two percent of GDP -- over $200 billion in today's terms -- rather than a deficit of zero are huge.
  3. Social Security. Forget "there is no crisis," the clarion call of anti-Bush campaigners. The new slogan should be, there is no problem. No benefit cuts are necessary for the foreseeable future. If anything, there is a projected shortfall of income tax revenue required to repay debts to the Trust Fund, as per current law, as well as for maintaining other Federal programs.
  4. Health care. There is no crisis. There is, rather, huge projected growth in demand for an ever-expanding menu of treatments, and the burden of managing efficient, ample, and fair public sector finance of this care.
  5. The Imperial Fed. Our true economic overlords, the Federal Reserve Bank's Board of Governors, have arrogated to themselves the right to ignore their mandate for full employment, elevating slow-growth anti-inflation policy over the unparalleled benefits of tight labor markets. Trade is important, but in the grand scheme of economic security, it is also a pigeon-hole.
I'll rip this apart in the comment section -- but I'd like to give some of you wolverines out there first bite. All I'll say here is, go look at Max's picture at the link -- he looks like one of those Sundays-with-my-Harley club types: accountants in love with their own personal Sonny Barger impression.

Dennis the Menace

Bill Kaufman writes:
Dennis Kucinich has once again announced a doomed antiwar campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. Unless he vows not to support any prowar nominee of the party (and of course he will not), the whole business will amount to another charade--designed, it seems, expressly to siphon off energy from the independent progressive movement until such time as Kucinich throws in the towel and once again dutifully lines up behind the prowar nominee. Perhaps he will even earn a minor cabinet appointment in the Hillary War Machine as a reward for doing his part toward sabotaging the emergence of an independent left.

Nice job, Dennis!

Scare the bear (and the dragon?)

Boot bulking is the plan under discussion on today's docket -- and maybe after Xmas, we'll hear the callup horn:
Army, Marine Corps To Ask for More Troops
By Ann Scott Tyson

The Army and Marine Corps are planning to ask incoming Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Congress to approve permanent increases in personnel, as senior officials in both services assert that the nation's global military strategy has outstripped their resources.

In addition, the Army will press hard for "full access" to the 346,000-strong Army National Guard and the 196,000-strong Army Reserves by asking Gates to take the politically sensitive step of easing the Pentagon restrictions on the frequency and duration of involuntary call-ups for reservists....

We've seen this coming, haven't we? But here's something new:
If another crisis were to erupt requiring a large number of U.S. ground troops... -- as in some scenarios such as the disintegration of Pakistan -- Army and Marine Corps officials made clear that they would have to scramble to provide them....
Now that's a real teaser: Pakistan "disintegrating"? Would the Hindu bullock butt in, as it did when Bangladesh self-liberated? And if so... mayhaps... enter the dragon? What a fruit salad that would make.

So I ask the source, my mole embedded deep in the Ivy ranks of the US Foreign Service, who testily replies, "Jayso, you imbecile, that's fantasy island stuff -- the Pak military is as solid as Turkey's. Don't bug me with these stupid questions." Click!

Maybe. But then why mention it? There's plenty of phantom hot spots where a mere mention would make the other side a lot less uneasy.

So I call my Bengali friend, Ja Ja Bose, and he sez, "Well, here in Bengal, we see this as real. You, Paine, and your buddies there inside the beast may just see this as idle fatuous body building by the brass hats, but maybe not, comrade. Maybe talk of Pakistan in conjunction with a boost in main force capablity is not puff up -- maybe it's precisely what you say and do if you want to threaten the Russo-Chinese axis now, and not in ten years.

"What if today you wish to rattle the sabre? What if the near term prospect of another potential Yankee blitzkreg force deployed in the area is meant to get the other guys to rattle back?

Imagine a conventional ground force ready to sweep over Iran, and roll straight up through central Asia by way of the Caspian slot.

Sure some of the terrain is a trifle nasty. It wouldn't be like Hitler into the Ukraine. But maybe that's not the problem it was for Queen Vickie's Raj, when it faced the bear across the mountaintops. Maybe they end-run 'em thru Iran, or at least pretend to...."

Hmmm, the Great Game gets... greater. But hey, what does he know? He's still a Maoist insurgency fan.

December 14, 2006

Baker and the butchers

This is a joint JSP/MJS production.


My pal and fellow towering intellect Mike Whitney sez Baker and his oil friends' plan for a slow fading dance in Iraq is up against... the Lobby!


The tension between the Bush administration and the members of the Iraq Study Group, illustrates the widening chasm between old-guard U.S. imperialists and "Israel-first" neoconservatives. The divisions are setting the stage for a major battle between the two camps....

On one side we have James Baker and his corporate classmates who want to restore order while preserving America's imperial role in the region. And, on the other side, we have the neo-Trotskyites and Israeli-Jacobins who seek a fragmented and chaotic Middle East where Israel is the dominant power.

...[R]ight-leaning Israelis will be informing their friends in the Democratic Party about the anticipated attack on Iran, as well as discussing strategies for sabotaging Baker's report. If we see the Democrats lambasting the ISGs recommendations next week; we'll know why.

Not my view, but give my bud a look-see here.
Over at the Huffington Post, one Dan Gordon, a Hollywood screenwriter and former soldier in the Israeli army, writes as follows:


One of the Study Group's co-chairs, Lee Hamilton, is a good, decent, and principled man. The other co-chair is James Baker. James Baker is to politics and diplomacy what J.R Ewing was to oil. Thus what one has is a decent face masking a much more cynical if indeed not sinister one....

This then is the Jim Baker back room deal. By committing the United States to assigning the issue of Iran's nuclear program to the UN Security Council, we are virtually guaranteeing that no action will be taken to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon!

... But like the famed ginsu knife set commercial, that's not all! What else do you get if you're one of the first two state sponsors of terror to call the one eight hundred number? Well, if you're Iran and Syria you get Lebanon and the Golan heights!

...What does Israel and Lebanon, Israel and Syria and Israel and the Palestinians have to do with Shias killing Sunis in Baghdad? ... The only reason for including Lebanon in the conversation at all is to signal to Iran and Syria that it will be offered up for grabs to them on a silver platter as well.... It is a way of saying to Iran, help us out for just a little while only in Iraq and you will get in return a swath of Shia domination that stretches from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean.... [and] if you're Syria YOU GET THE GOLAN HEIGHTS!

...That is why from Abu Ayman to Assad to Ahmadinijad, they are breaking out the banners proclaiming "Jihad accomplished."

December 18, 2006

Surprise, surprise

Bill Kaufman sent in this tidbit (sorry I can't find a URL for it):
This one falls under the category, "Wanna run that one by me again?." Reid should really consider an appearance on Letterman's "Stupid Human Tricks": "Talking Out of Both Sides of Your Mouth":
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate's top Democrat offered qualified support Sunday for a plan to increase U.S. troops in Iraq, saying it would be acceptable as part of a broader strategy to bring combat forces home by 2008....

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, whose party campaigned in the November congressional elections on changing course in Iraq, said he would be open only to a short-term increase....

"The American people will not allow this war to go on as it has. It simply is a war that will not be won militarily. It can only be won politically," Reid said.

What I particularly love is that he's still talking about winning!

Not always incurable

Thus James Boyce, on the Huffington Post:
James Boyce
I Fubared Iraq.

I can't believe how dumb I am....

I really and truly believed that the Democratic leadership would read the results of the elections properly - and push every single day to end the war....

I even thought that that the political pressure would be such that in the end Iraq would not be the issue in 2008 that it would have been if the Democrats had not regained control of Congress....

I am complete idiot.

Sounds like a good start. I will follow Boyce's recovery with interest. Is there a twelve-step program for sobering Democrats, I wonder? What would the steps be?

December 19, 2006

All the little Wilsons

There's a wonderfully comic kaffeeklatsch of self-important thumbsucking over at TPM Cafe about this "concert of democracies" scheme that recently floated out of the Woodrow Wilson school of international affairs, at Princeton, midwifed by ten pages' worth of professors, think-tankers, Pentagonians, and the odd journalist. They're all such mighty thinkers, these folks, and the noise of little mental wheels spinning is enough to deafen you.

The Princeton document weighs in at a hefty 96 pages, and it is written in a slightly more sprightly style than the average Foreign Affairs article -- perhaps one of the odd journalists lent a hand on the wordsmithing. Still, it's pretty soporific. Fortunately, the TPM Cafe popularizers have broken it down into digestible little amuse-bouche nibbles, suitable to the attention spans of the Netroots. Here is Rachel Kleinfeld, director of something called the Truman National Security Project, who is shown top right above:

For a progressive politician, ranking national security priorities should offer two things: One, a hard-headed assessment of our top threats and challenges, and how he or she will address them--to prove seriousness of purpose and the necessary toughness on national security. Two, a vision of progress that offers hope, optimism, and a show of how America can lead as part of a team.

The latter is an indespensible part of a progressive presidential candidate's political portfolio. It is that vision, that show of difference between the left and the right in our view in what will keep our nation secure, that the country is hungry for. It also offers a middle way between unilateralism (leading with no team) and the permission-slip style multilateralism that the electorate tells pollsters they prefer, but then votes against time after time. Being a quarterback within a like-minded team provides a positive role for America....

Rachel's homely sports analogies definitely strike a more demotic note than James Lindsay, lower left, but he too is clear enough:
So why not improve existing institutions? We should. But don’t get your hopes up that such reform efforts will be enough, especially when it comes to the UN. It is chic to blame the UN’s problems on the United States. Kofi Annan did just that today in a valdevictory speech in Harry Truman's hometown. But even if Washington were on its best behavior the UN would continue to disappoint its fans because what is touted as its great strength is also its great weakness, namely, the fact that it is a universal organization....

But why a Concert of Democracies? One reason is effectiveness. Simply put, democracies possess the greatest capacity to shape global politics. They have the most potent militaries. (The 20 largest democracies account for three-quarters of all defense spending.) They dominate the global economy....

A second reason is legitimacy. The UN is often presumed to have the monopoly on legitimacy [but] would anyone seriously argue that efforts to stop the slaughter in Darfur lack legitimacy because Sudan, China, Iran, Russia, and North Korea refuse to go along?

In short, what we have here is a thoroughly Wilsonian project -- wonderful, really, how institutions like Princeton University and the Democratic Party can maintain such a remarkable level of consistency in their patterns of thought and behavior across the chances and changes of almost a century. The 96-page doorstopper even manages a stylistic echo of Wilson's own smarmy grandiloquence:
America must stand for, seek, and secure a world of liberty under law. Our founders knew that the success of the American experiment rested on the combined blessings of order and liberty, and by order they meant law.

Internationally, Americans would be safer, richer, and healthier in a world of countries that have achieved this balance – mature liberal democracies. Getting there requires:

Bringing Governments up to PAR: Democracy is the best instrument that humans have devised for ensuring individual liberty over the long term, but only when it exists within a framework of order established by law. We must develop a much more sophisticated strategy of creating the deeper preconditions for successful liberal democracy – preconditions that extend far beyond the simple holding of elections. The United States should assist and encourage Popular, Accountable, and Rightsregarding (PAR) governments worldwide.

...Had enough? I don't want to make anybody ill. In a less seraphic register, the report notes that
At their core, both liberty and law must be backed up by force. Instead of insisting on a doctrine of primacy, the United States should aim to sustain the military predominance of liberal democracies and encourage the development of military capabilities by like-minded democracies in a way that is consistent with their security interests. The predominance of liberal democracies is necessary to prevent a return to destabilizing and dangerous great power security competition; it would also augment our capacity to meet the various threats and challenges that confront us.

America must dust off and update doctrines of deterrence.... America should develop new guidelines on the preventive use of force against terrorists and extreme states.... The preventive use of force against states should be very rare, employed only as a last resort and authorized by a multilateral institution – preferably a reformed Security Council, but alternatively by the existing Security Council or another broadly representative multilateral body like NATO.

There's some inadvertent comedy in that last line, don't you think? "Preventive force" needs to be exercised through a multilateral institution -- and in a pinch, any one we can find will do.

These profs, in the course of blueprinting the latest New World Order, have not neglected the home front:

The United States must build a stronger protective infrastructure – throughout our society, our government, and the wider world – that helps prevent threats and limits the damage once they materialize. In our society, we must strengthen our public health system, repair a broken communications system, and reform public education so that students attain the skill sets required to achieve our national security objectives. In our government, we need to create “joined-up government;” de-politicize threat assessment; integrate relevant but neglected portfolios, such as economics and health, into the national security policy-making process; and reach out to the private sector. In the wider world, we must work through networks of security officials to contain immediate threats before they reach our shores and should consider defining our border protections beyond our actual physical borders.
Education for national security! "Networks of security officials!" I have always felt that the professorate has much in common with the police, but seldom have I seen the family resmblance so clearly displayed.

Note, one and all: these are the "progressives."

December 22, 2006

Make nothing look like something

Got a call last night at some ungodly hour. It was The Source himself, my inside guy at Foggy Bottom, Mr. Y himself:

"Jaybo, this troop buildup biz in Iraq is pure schnizzle -- like the private account gig. It's a way to make the status quo look like victory." Click!

I guess that's the way the great bipartisan convergence works -- make the two-year boot-dragging look like the do-nothing donkery stopped an escalation.


About two minutes after JSP's most recent post went up -- the one about Democrats making the Iraq status quo look like victory -- Mike Flugennock passed along this bit of crowing from Code Pink:
Dear CODEPINK Supporter,

Many thanks to those of you who took action this week to contact Senator Harry Reid about his remarks that he would support sending more troops to Iraq. His office was flooded with calls and emails on Tuesday! Below is a statement Senator Reid posted yesterday, saying that he does NOT support an escalation of the conflict and wants to bring out troops home. Let’s be clear: He only backed down because of the pressure he felt from the grassroots. Let’s see this as an important victory....

Reid's statement is a characteristic slab of Democratic doubletalk:
Frankly, I don't believe that more troops is the answer for Iraq.... We obviously want to support what commanders in the field say they need, but apparently even the Joint Chiefs do not support increased combat forces for Baghdad.
And if they did, Harry? Note also the carefully hedged phrase "combat forces," which recurs:
I believe we should start redeploying troops in 4 to 6 months (The Levin-Reed Plan) and complete the withdrawal of combat forces by the first quarter of 2008. (As laid out by the Iraq Study Group)
I seem to recall that the ISG envisioned a more or less permanent presence for something like half the troops we have there now. Mike F comments:
My DW has done some work with Code Pink, and I even designed a cartoon mousepad for them, back a few years ago when they were doing some really fun, creative action -- back before they attempted to hand the entirety of the American Anti-War Cargo Cult (I won't call it a 'Movement' anymore) over to the Democratic Party in '04.

They seem tickled pink -- ha, hah hah -- that in response to their high-school civics class tactics (call/fax/write your 'elected' politicians), Harry Reid (who really does remind me of some dickless, namby-pamby bank-examiner character from a WC Fields picture) has sorta kinda backed down on his comment that we need more troops in Iraq, even though his statement includes the term 'redeployment'.

What really gags me is that Code Weak is calling on the goddamn' President -- that is to say, the President of the US, not Venezuela (sadly) -- to come up with a plan to get us out of Iraq.

Jeezus. I need a bong hit or two. Or three. Or twelve. And, a couple of Guinnesses.... Ahh, hell, make that eight Guinnesses.

December 27, 2006

De mortuis... veritas

What is it about the death of a President, no matter how vile, that makes so many Americans, even relatively intelligent ones, go all quiver-chinned and dewy-eyed? Amid all the treacle from every side about the late and unlamentable Gerald Ford, Dennis Perrin provides a much-needed and well-deserved dollop of vinegar:

The other legacy that Ford left behind is of course his backing and bankrolling of Indonesia's invasion and dismemberment of East Timor. On the eve of this invasion, Ford and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger were in Jakarta, dining with the murderous Indonesian General Haji Mohammad Suharto, doubtless discussing what was to come. After all, over 90% of Indonesia's weaponry was supplied by the U.S., and there is simply no way that Suharto could have launched that invasion without Ford and Kissinger's approval.

Suharto did have the good manners to wait until his imperial sponsors had left Indonesian airspace before ordering the assault, which commenced on December 7, 1975. Within a few years, the Indonesian military and its proxies had slaughtered over 200,000 Timorese out of a population of 700,000 -- about a third of the overall Timorese population.

Think about those numbers for a moment. Try to imagine something similar happening in the U.S. For all of our national anguish and anger over what happened on 9/11, East Timor endured countless 9/11s on a steady basis. We paid for it and provided cover and excuses for it. And it was Gerald Ford's administration that gave Suharto the green light and the means to do the grisly job.

Meanwhile, those fighting pwogs over at myDD.com contributed this trickle to the Mississippi of eulogistic syrup:
As someone born after Gerald Ford's presidency, my sense of his tenure is more shaped by history books than personal experience and memory. In hindsight, his decision to pardon his predecessor, Richard Nixon, appears to have been the right one, even if at the time it cost him politically. And although he was thoroughly a conservative, he seems to have been someone who treated his political adversaries with respect and genuinely fought to better America.
Fifty-two comments on this one so far, and only one mentions Indonesia and Timor. Most of the rest are obsessed with the Nixon pardon. I guess if you're really a thorough-going, committed Democrat, the pardon must have represented something like coitus interruptus: just when you thought it was Fucker Re-Fucktus for the original stick-it-to-em American politician, the old fox got away. Oh, they must have been so mad -- and they've stayed mad for thirty years, mad as hell over this essentially insignificant event. Even the ones who weren't born yet are mad; they've imbibed this silly, trivial, ancestral grudge from their godfathers in the faith, and they're as worked up and ready to go to the mats about it as Arians choking on the filioque clause. Or if that's a little too dusty, Hatfields and McCoys ready to kill each other over a pig who became sausage three generations ago.

Perhaps I'm being unjust. Perhaps the problem is that pwoggies really believe all the pleasant lies they're told in civics class, and the Nixon pardon epitomizes the divergence between that Panglossian best of all possible worlds, and the dirty realities of actual politics.

In any case, I think the Nixon pardon was the best thing Ford ever did. Crazy as a bedbug, that Nixon, and crooked as a country road; but he and Johnson were the only interesting human beings ever to occupy the Oval Office in my lifetime, and I was deeply delighted, on a purely personal level, when Reynard slipped over the wall and left the hounds slavering with impotent rage.

Non-intervention, Truman style...?!

File this under "almost, pal, but no cigar": this bright young spark Micah Zenko, a grad student at Brandeis and "research associate" in Harvard's Kennedy School, calls for a "no occupations anywhere" policy:
.. by making the opposition to military occupation a principle of US foreign policy it would end a vital rallying cry of Al Qaeda and its affiliates.... Nothing further unites and expands the international jihadist movement more than the prospect of opposing a perceived foreign occupation of Islamic lands.... outside military forces that control a foreign territory end up tarnishing the political character of that country. They employ violence to achieve their goals retard social and economic development and inevitably incite armed resistance....

And while he's at it Uncle oughta end other guys' occupations too, like

... India in Kashmir, Morocco in Western Sahara, Turkey in Northern Cyprus, and Israel in Palestine....[with a] full array of diplomatic incentives.
That last bit is a little queasy-making -- it sounds a lot like trying to suppress the Mafia by the force of moral exhortation. A US commitment to ending occupations everywhere would certainly require something a little more muscular than "diplomatic incentives" -- and just what is a diplomatic incentive anyway? A second helping of petits-fours?

In fact it does turn out that Micah is not quite ready to renounce the big stick; he just wants to keep it in ready reserve:

There should, of course, be exceptions to a non occupation doctrine: international peacekeepers or foreign militaries authorized by the UN Security Council, peacekeeping or stability operations recognized by the consensus of international organizations such as NATO, short-term humanitarian interventions intended to prevent future mass killings.... and deployments welcomed by the recognized government of a state.
Oh Micah, Micah. You had me going for a minute there. But each one of these loopholes is big enough to fit Bill Clinton's brass ass through. And sniff this telltale twist of phrase -- he's calling this "a commitment to the Truman Doctrine." Father Smiff would no doubt have seen the cloven hoof right up top, when the guy used the word "jihadist."

On second thought, let's go ahead and hand the guy a cigar -- just make it an exploder.

Bush channels Feingold?

One war, two wars, three wars, more.... The latest US proxy war, in Somalia, appears, as usual, to be a thoroughly bipartisan affair. Here's Man of Peace Russ Feingold earlier this month:
Feingold faults Bush on Somalia policy
Coleman argues 'robust strategy' needed
Associated Press

Returning from a recent trip to Africa, Sen. Russ Feingold faulted the Bush administration for what he called a failure to develop a policy on Somalia....

Feingold, a Wisconsin Democrat who will lead the Senate Foreign Relations African Affairs subcommittee next year, visited Ethiopia and Kenya, two countries that neighbor Somalia, during a weeklong trip. An Islamic militia has taken over much of Somalia, including the capital, and the country's prime minister said this week his troops were bracing for war.

"The stakes are very high for us," Feingold said in a telephone interview....

Feingold warned that the militants could have an impact not just in Somalia but in the entire region....

"So this is just the kind of situation that we should be paying real attention to, instead of only obsessing about Iraq," Feingold said. "Our failure to have a policy in this area is a threat to the American people...."

Feingold seems to gotten what he asked for from Bush: a "policy", and a suitably assertive one. I only wish those Ethiopian troops were marching into Feingold's office and showing him first hand just what kind of "attention" they pay to these "threats."

My prediction: not one single Democrat in Congress will have a bad word to say for this US-sponsored bloodbath. And indeed, why should they start now?

December 29, 2006


Mike Flugennock writes:
Is it just me, or are the Democrapic candidates really taking a cue from the Chri$tmas marketing hucksters who keep trying to push back the beginning of the Chri$tmas shopping season*?

Is it just me, or are the Democrapic candidates really working in a similar fashion as the Olympic hucksters taking advantage of the new staggered schedules for Winter and Summer Games, so that there are Olympics happening every two years -- meaning, basically, almost non-stop Olympic media hype?

Also, am I the only one here who was absolutely revulsed by John Edwards' announcement for the Democrapic nomination, live on NBC 'Toady' the other day -- complete with the obligatory foto-op B-roll of ex-Senator Breck Boy pretending to help out with cleanup operations in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans?

*earliest I'd ever seen: in 1989, a 'Radio Shack Merry Christmas' commercial during the seventh-inning stretch of the last game of the World Series.

Darfur du jour

Mike Flugennock writes:

Darfur: the issue for liberal activists who don't want to run a chance of ending up at Club Gitmo. Here's a note I received from Africa Focus:

-------- Original Message --------
To: flugennock
Subject: Sudan: Why Doesn't Bush Act on Darfur?
From: africafocus@igc.org
Date: Fri, 29 Dec 2006 07:18:27 -0800

Sudan: Why Doesn't Bush Act on Darfur?

AfricaFocus Bulletin
Dec 29, 2006 (061229)


"The crisis in Sudan's Darfur region is intensifying without a meaningful response from the White House [despite President Bush's promise not to allow genocide 'on his watch']...

Why doesn't Bush act?

Jayzus, AF, give the Chimp a break. He's trying to gin up a pretext to bomb the living piss out of the Sudan and take the oil -- uhh, that is, 'save Darfur' as fast as he can:

'Save Darfur? Not So Fast', by Joshua Frank in CounterPunch, 05.11.06

You've seen it, you know it, you love it, 05.17.06

Oh, and just a quick rundown of some of the reasons why Darfur is a distractive, bullshit 'crisis':

  1. The US media are all over it like it was Terry Schiavo. Anne Curry of NBC's 'Today' show has done several live remotes from Darfur -- in true 'embed' style, sitting in the back of a jeep hauling ass across the desert. George Clooney of NBC's 'ER' has also done several live remotes from Darfur that aren't so much journalistic segments as knock-offs of 'Save The Children' ads.
  2. The US media are fighting tooth and nail to avoid mentioning US genocide in Iraq and Afghanistan, but when it comes to Darfur, you'll hear them blurting out the G-word more times than you've had hot dinners. (see no.1)
  3. They've got their own goddamn' TV commercial now, f'cripesake, airing heavily during NBC 'Today' and 'Meet The Press'. Anyone here remember what happened to MoveOn and assorted other outfits who raised the cash to shoot and buy time for pro-peace PSAs and 'issue ads' against the US genocide in Iraq?
"Ah res' mah case." --H. Ross Perot

John Edwards: 2-1/2 thumbs up from The Nation

One of the oddest institutions of our society is the "reviewer". There are respected and powerful book reviewers who have never written, or could ever write, a book. There are theater reviewers who couldn't play Yorick's skull, much less Hamlet. There are music reviewers who can't play a kazoo, and judging by some of the nonsense they publish, probably can't even read music.

But the oddest reviewers of all are the Politician Reviewers -- people like John Nichols of The Nation, who could never be elected dogcatcher, and has no conception whatsoever of the sacrifices in personal integrity, autonomy, and cleanness of mind that it takes to become a Senator, much less a President. The Nicholses of the world will never have a marble Commendatore coming to drag them down to hell, but every politician knows in his heart that Beelzebub has the reversion of his soul.

But you've got to admire the Nicholses. Their fingers fly without inhibition over the keyboards of their laptops, handing out A's and F's and carefully calibrated C-pluses to men and women who have sold their souls. I hate the politicians, hate 'em more than I can tell you, but at least they have some major skin in the game -- if a soul means anything. What's the price of entry for the Nicholses? What have they put on the line, apart from their ear for Engish prose?

Here's a bit of Nichols' latest report card on John Edwards:

The John Edwards who today announces his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination is a very different contender from the fresh-faced young senator who in 2004 bid for the party nod....

By any measure, he has a lot more to offer progressives than he did in 2004.... Edwards struggled to craft a message in 2004. After stumbling frequently.... he finally developed the "two Americas" stump speech that identified him as a candidate who was serious about broadening the national debate to include a serious discussion of the dangerous gap between rich and poor in America.

Even as he improved as a speaker and debater, however, Edwards remained a vague and frequently ill-defined candidate. He condemned President Bush's management of the war in Iraq.... But Edwards took no clear stand on the war....

Despite his flaws, Edwards did well enough in 2004 to merit another look in 2008.... Most indications suggest that Edwards gets it. That does not mean he is the perfect contender, nor that he is the perfect progressive. But he has grown a great deal over the past several years, and that growth has been in a serious, smart and savvy direction that progressives would be wise to note at this relatively early stage in the 2008 contest.

I dunno. Maybe it's not so much like a movie review as it is like a bond newsletter. And as with the writers of bond newsletters, one has to ask, how exactly have they gotten rich, apart from subscriptions to their weekly bulletin? Why should we believe them? Where do they get the confidence to hand down these... evaluations?

One thing I do know: anybody who can give John Edwards a passing grade, and promote him to "progressives" as somebody who might possibly be taken seriously, has an even tinnier ear than the average reviewer. In fact, I believe we might say, with some confidence, that he has his head up his ass so far that he's starting on his second lap.

December 30, 2006

Boxer called to heel;
Complies with alacrity

Sweetheart of Daily Kos Barbara Boxer has sinned against the Israel lobby, but seems to have done her penance willingly. According to Newsweek's drolly titled "Terror Watch!" column:
CAIR Play?
Sen. Barbara Boxer recalled an award she recently gave to an Islamic activist because of his ties to a major American Muslim organization—that critics say has ties to terrorist activities.

Dec. 29, 2006 - In a highly unusual move, Sen. Barbara Boxer of California has rescinded an award to an Islamic activist in her home state because of the man’s connections to a major American Muslim organization that recently has been courted by leading political figures and even the FBI.

Boxer’s office confirmed to NEWSWEEK that she has withdrawn a “certificate of accomplishment” to Sacramento activist Basim Elkarra after learning that he serves as an official with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). After directing her staff to look into CAIR, Boxer “expressed concern” about some past statements and actions by the group, as well as assertions by some law enforcement officials that it “gives aid to international terrorist groups,” according to Natalie Ravitz, the senator’s press spokeswoman.

CAIR, which has 32 offices around the country and bills itself as the leading Muslim-American civil- rights group, has never been charged with any crimes, nor have any of its top leaders. But a handful of individuals who have had ties to CAIR in the past have been convicted or deported for financial dealings with Hamas—another reason cited by Boxer for her action....

Ironically, just last month, Boxer had sent CAIR a letter in connection with its 10th anniversary fundraising dinner endorsing the group as a “constant support system for the American Muslim community” and praising it for its work on civil liberties. "As an advocate for justice and greater understanding, CAIR embodies what we should all strive to achieve," Boxer wrote in the Nov. 18 letter.

Boxer tells NEWSWEEK she never saw the letter to CAIR signed in her name or was even aware of the award to Elkarra before it was sent out. "I feel terrible about this," she says. "We just made a mistake. I was not in the loop. That was an automatic signature [on the letter]." But Boxer stands by her decision to withdraw the award and to distance herself from CAIR, saying she was influenced by previous critical statements about CAIR made by her Democratic colleagues Sens. Richard Durbin of Illinois and Charles Schumer of New York....

After review by her staff, Boxer was particularly concerned by claims that CAIR had refused to condemn Hamas and Hizbullah and recognize those groups as terrorist organizations,” Ravitz said.

The story so far is that la Boxer was frightened by a Chihuahua, admittedly a very loud and fierce one, namely blogger Joe Kaufman. Kaufman belongs to a genus of fauna very numerous on the margins on American Zionism; hyperkinetic one-man bands who make it their mission to follow and persecute pro virili some selected foe of Israel. Kaufman's bete-glatisant is the aforementioned CAIR. Kaufman seems to have found out about Boxer's glancing contact with this treyf organization, and trumpeted it from the rooftops, with the assistance of that eminently entertaining scourge of the liberal professoriate, David Horowitz.

It's a very rich and remarkable thing that loons like Kaufman and Horowitz can stampede a US Senator. Incidents like this always put me in mind of that wonderful scene in the movie Dumbo, where the little mouse who becomes Dumbo's pal walks out into a mean-spirited gossip-fest among half-a-dozen dowager elephants, and the massive creatures fly into hysterics, climbing tent poles, perching on chairs, cowering in horror, etc.

Apart from the entertainment value, there's some intellectual profit to be had in reflecting on the role that little saprophytes like Kaufman and Horowitz play in the ecology of American Zionist political thuggery. They're marginal, and no respectable figure in the establishment has to be compromised by any contact or association with them. At the same time, it's a shining testimony to the Lobby's hegemony that even its most base, degraded, and contemptible elements can strike fear into the heart of a prominent member of the Empire's Areopagus.

About December 2006

This page contains all entries posted to Stop Me Before I Vote Again in December 2006. They are listed from oldest to newest.

November 2006 is the previous archive.

January 2007 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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