Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Monday, March 27, 2006
"The US is now caught between the militias and the guerrillas and the situation will deteriorate quickly.
"Here's a likely scenario for how this will play out: deeper entrenchment within US bases (to limit casualties) and pledges of neutrality (Rumsfeld) will prove hollow. Ongoing ethnic slaughter will force US intervention to curtail the militias. Inevitably, this will increase tensions with the militias and quickly spin out of control. Military and police units sent to confront the militias will melt down (again), due to conflicting loyalties. Several large battles with militias will drive up US casualties sharply. Supply lines to US bases from Kuwait will be cut. Protesters will march on US bases to demand a withdrawal. Oil production via the south will be cut (again), bringing Iraqi oil exports to a halt. Meanwhile, the government will continue its ineffectual debate within the green zone, as irrelevant to the reality on the ground in the country as ever. Unable to function in the mounting chaos and facing a collapse in public support for the war, the US military will be forced to withdraw in haste. It will be ugly."
I watch the talking head morons on CNN prattle on about how the "next few weeks will be critical. This thing is not lost, yet" and I wonder what planet pundits are recruited from. Iraq was lost, when the U.S. invaded without a plan and without sufficient resources or organization to accomplish basic, necessary obvious goals, like provide security, quickly improve electricity production or potable water supplies, restore the Iraqi economy and provide immediate employment.
When Bush said that he would leave withdrawal to a future President, I knew the gig was up. The U.S. cannot possibly sustain 3 more years in Iraq.
The forced withdrawal of the U.S. from Iraq under Bush would be a Perfect Storm, a consequence of bad policy, unmistakeable in its moral lessons for an American electorate, apparently unable to discern the disadvantages of giving political power to a Grand Alliance of the greedy with the stupid.
The Storm is coming. Iraq will get worse and worse. Gas prices are going up. House sales are going down. The corruption scandals will get larger and larger.
Friday, March 24, 2006
What warning, you ask?
"If urgent steps are not taken, Iraq will not become the shining beacon of democracy envisioned by the Bush administration, it will become the biggest corruption scandal in history."
The warning was made last year, and has gone unheeded. Of course, it will only be a faint rumbling, if the Republicans retain control of Congress. But, if they lose, and the investigations, finally, begin in earnest . . .
The hope of the Perfect Storm is that events will teach, that a new majority -- hopefully a sane majority -- can be forged out of the ashes of insanely irresponsible policies. Kevin Phillips' new book, American Theocracy, comes at what one hopes is becoming a teachable moment in American History.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Some liberals have defended Feingold's censure motion as a reasonable and proportional to what we know about Bush's misconduct in the matter of electronic surveillance in violation of FISA.
I am not sure it is "reasonable" at all.
Feingold and his censure motion have been and will continue to be mocked, as an empty and meaningless gesture, which it surely is, coming as it does, from the powerless Democrats. Moreover, although, perhaps, proportional to the FISA issue, censure is inadequate to the whole of Bush's conduct -- I am referring to the probable war crimes of aggressive war and torture.
A majority of the Media elite, of the punditocracy, and the largest part of the People, who elected Bush, are still asleep in a dream world, where Bush is not a very bad leader and where, to save our country further grief, we should not be seeking immediately to remove him from power.
Those of us wide awake, and politically powerless, are left to flail around, hopelessly trying to find a way to wake those people up. Mere events, wave after wave of scandal, endless indications in the news of the day of America's rapid economic and moral decline, appear inadequate to wake them from their slumber. In short, the great political storm, which would sweep Bush into the dustbin of history, like Nixon before him, never comes.
The task, at hand, is, nevertheless, to wake our fellow Americans, and, then, to do what must be done, including to censure the President.
If we could get some important part of the country's political leadership to act as if the President's misconduct was a serious matter, maybe that would wake those people to the reality that the President's misconduct is a serious matter. I suppose this is Feingold's hope, that if he can get some of his fellow Senators, and some of those whose business is the criticism of political theatre (i.e., the pundits) to act as if the President's lawless behavior is a serious matter, then maybe the People -- or a few more of them, anyway -- will awake.
As far as FISA is concerned, that hope is vainglorious, in a way, which illustrates why Feingold is such a quixotic and impractical individual. A minority of the population, who are comfortable with abstract principles in isolation, are convinced by what we know. Feingold, an idealist, is typical of that minority. Bush has succeeded in the obscuring the concrete details of what he did, and it is the concrete details, which would matter to a political majority. You have to practical consequences in evidence, to convince a political majority, not just abstract principles.
Some people, with the Clinton impeachment farce in memory, think that we should find some other way to muddle through 3 years of Bush. Either they think waking the People is hopeless, or, since an awakened People are inherently uncontrollable and unpredictable, possibly counter-productive. I am not one of them.
The country is evenly divided politically, but this divide will not last forever. Eventually, a solid political majority will coalesce. And, either that majority will reject the reactionary authoritarianism of Bush, or it will embrace it, embedding it in the effective political (small c) constitution of the country for a generation or two.
The political theatre of Feingold's censure motion will expose the Democrats as impotent in the present crisis, and they will continue to be mocked as impotent. Those awake to the reality of the situation will seem shrill to those still asleep. And, the shrill will feel their own impotence, and the pain of hopelessness, as long as a majority chooses sleep.
Our "hope", if you can call it that, remains the coming perfect storm -- the moment when the coincidence of consequences (the consequences of foolish Bush policies) comes together in a moment of compelling political theatre, in which the country acts to change direction. That Storm remains beyond the horizon, even as storm after storm passes overhead.
Monday, March 13, 2006
"Middle Eastern anger over the decision by the US to block a Dubai company from buying five of its ports hit the dollar yesterday as a number of central banks said they were considering switching reserves into euros.The decline of the American Empire accelerates. Thank goodness for small favors. Save us from ourselves, if you can, Arab Sheiks and Emirs.
"The United Arab Emirates, which includes Dubai, said it was looking to move one-tenth of its dollar reserves into euros . . .
"the dollar . . . fell against the euro, pound and yen yesterday as analysts warned other central banks might follow suit."
"The Agriculture Department has been considering when to scale back its higher level of testing for mad cow disease. After the first case of BSE, testing was increased from about 55 to 1,000 daily. As of Monday, 652,697 of the nation's estimated 95 million head of cattle had been tested.
The department hasn't decided how many animals to test once surveillance is scaled back but will follow international guidelines, Clifford said."
". . . we made a mistake in the '20s. We let broadcasting in this country develop with commercial broadcasting taking the lead and all other kinds of information on radio or television secondary or tertiary. But the protection of money at the center of everything, including news to the degree that it is now, is that as long as you make the money, they don't care what it is you put on the air.
"They don't care. There are people I know in the hierarchy of NBC, the company, and GE, the company, who do not like to see the current presidential administration criticized at all.
"Anybody who knew anything about American history and stepped out at any point in American history and got an assessment of this presidential administration would say, 'Yeah, I don't know how much they need to be criticized, but they need to be criticized to some degree.'
"There are people who I work for who would prefer, who would sleep much easier at night if this never happened. On the other hand, if they look at my ratings and my ratings are improved and there is criticism of the president of the United States, they're happy."
Media consolidation -- the ownership of all news media by a relatively small number of giant business corporations -- is the single most serious threat to Democracy in the United States. It is the foundation stone for oligarchic control of all politics by the corporate executive class. It is why the Democratic Party is in permanent minority status, and every Democratic Presidential candidate is trashed.
Olbermann is right, and wrong. Ratings and profits are the only thing, which keeps the corporate executive class from turning the screws even tighter. But, at a time when the country is split 50-50, and most of the major media markets are heavily liberal and Democratic, all of the major cable news networks are competing to be more conservative, all of talk radio -- with one exception -- is competing very hard to be more right-wing. This is not accidental. And, the obvious profit incentive is not enough to get these corporations to zig to the right-wing zag of their competitors. MSNBC is not going to put on a bunch of liberals -- Olbermann is not liberal -- just because its market share is poor compared to CNN and FOX.
Big Media will have to be destroyed.
I wonder which superior the official is in fear of angering.
It really is not a good idea to elect a moron, President. It is as simple as that.
Even if he were competent as a leader, I, personally, would be opposed to this President, because he does not want what I want. I actually think a competent leader would want more of what I want, simply because some of what I want, is competent, responsible leadership.
The deficit is partly a policy to reward the very, very Rich, who are Bush's base, but partly it is a failure of responsible leadership.
The mess in Iraq is partly just another episode in the nightmare, which is the oil-rich Middle East. But, the war in Iraq, and its disastrous consequences for the U.S., are a consequence of really bad leadership from Bush. The corruption and incompetence of Halliburton and the failure of the reconstruction, the catastrophic conflicts between Rumsfeld and Powell over policy, Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, etc. -- all of it starts with Bush.
And, now, in his childish immaturity, he is holding onto staff, until they are beyond worn out.
I listened to Bush the other day. I do not do that often. But, he, himself, is deteriorating. I mean neurologically. His speech is now one big, long slur. The difficulty in constructing logical thoughts continues.
And, now, his staff is exhausted.
This is going to end, very badly.
Stirling Newberry considers the "black event horizon" that is the apparently inevitable U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.
Friday, March 10, 2006
"The powers of the presidency have been eroded and usurped to the breaking point. We are engaged in a new kind of war that cannot be fought by old methods. It can only be directed by a strong executive who alone is not subject to the conflicting pressures that legislators or judges face. The public understands and supports that unpleasant reality, whatever the media and intellectuals say.'
"These words came from a White House aide defending U.S. policies on Guantanamo Bay prisoners, secret renditions and warrantless eavesdropping in a conversation with me. A few days later, I heard a Russian official use nearly identical terms to defend his country's coercive merging of private energy and media companies under state control.
"Both Putin and Bush swim against the tides of their time as state power fragments or atrophies everywhere, not just in Moscow or Washington. The spread of technology and global communications weakens all governments. The better policy choice is to take those changes into account and use them in nimble fashion, rather than simply lashing out against them in strong-arm fashion.
"U.S. public trust and confidence in the Bush White House are slipping toward the threshold of self-sustaining political disaster. A serious schism within the Republican Party itself is no longer unthinkable if the White House cannot demonstrate minimal competence in managing Katrina, Guantanamo, Dubai Ports World and other controversies. There is a point, . . . where even those who wish you well will give up."
That's certainly a subtle way of slamming George W. Bush, who has seen a great many previous supporters abandon him over the years.
Hoagland is wrong, though, to suppose that the spread of technology and communications "weakens" government. Quite the contrary, control is cheap for the first time in history, and getting cheaper by the minute. Control is power. Because control is so cheap, it is available to anyone with resources, and that does favor a certain decentralization, but decentralization is not a weakening of the center. The center is gaining cheap control at, at least, the same rate, and for the same reasons, as the periphery, and the total power of the whole system is, potentially, available to the center.
Wednesday, March 1, 2006
According to Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Democrats are not willing to sacrifice their core values—indecision, incoherence, and disorganization—for the sake of short-term electoral gain.
"Don't lose faithlessness, Democrats," Kennedy said. "The next election is ours to lose. To those who say we can't, I say: Remember Michael Dukakis. Remember Al Gore. Remember John Kerry."
Kennedy said that, even if the Democrats were to regain the upper hand in the midterm elections, they would still need to agree on a platform and chart a legislative agenda—an obstacle he called "insurmountable."
"Universal health care, the war in Iraq, civil liberties, a living wage, gun control—we're not even close to a consensus within our own ranks," Kennedy said. "And even if we were, we wouldn't know how to implement that consensus."