Archive for March 2008

Bush Does Jordon

March 31, 2008

Our gallant President is off on another foreign trip, this time to Eastern Europe.  I wonder if he thinks he is Michael Jordon and this is a farewell visit.  If he is lucky, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condi Rice have already obtained the Russian concessions to placing radar and missiles in Poland and Czech Republic.  The President can prance around, make pontifical statements, and plunge the US down another dead end path. 

What foreign country could (or would) launch a missile attack on Europe or the US and think for a minute that they would not be wiped out?  The countries most often cited are Iran and North Korea but I simply wonder about North Korea.  Is not Russian air space in the way, and wouldn’t North Korea come over the North Pole to strike the US?

When you factor in the technical difficulty of a missile hitting another missile, especially one carrying multiple war heads, you must conclude that the threat of retaliation is the only sensible (bluff-wise and economics-wise) counter measure.  (It is true that Dick Cheney and his merry men might want to invade first and ask questions later.) 

At a time when the US budget is hopeless tipped towards larger and larger deficits, and the quagmire of Iraq is adding each year to the national debt, you would think the Government would take measure of what we can afford as well as what we need.  But not this President.  He has not even considered that his 28% approval rating means something.  All Americans would be better off with George spending the rest of his term riding his mountain bike in Texas.  At least that way we could save the cost of jet fuel for Air Force One. 

China and Tibet

March 30, 2008

What would you say if the healines read, “North Philadelphia black community declares independence”?  The report went on to say that Black Leaders claimed City, State, and Federal agencies had conspired to keep the free people of North Philadelphia in poverty and were robbing these free people of their cultural identity.  Pointing to the rate of incarceration, Black Leaders said there were 10 blacks for every white prisoner.  This oppression has to end.   Venezuela, Yemen, Iran, and North Korea moved to recognize the independence of North Philadelphia, while Russia and China urged US officials to use restraint in dealing with this situation.  Russia and China suggested an international fact finding mission be established.  US Government officials declared that this was a domestic issue and did not involve the international community.  One official said that North Philadelphia was an intrinsic part of the US and could not be separated under any conditions.

Sound a little strange?  Well it should not because the international community has found plenty of time to speak out against China in its handling of the Tibetan monks uprising.  There is probably plenty of blame to go around in Tibet.  The Chinese seem obtuse at times in dealing with issues such as Hong Kong or Taiwan that are functioning quite well.  Those in Hong Kong or Taiwan who seek independence do it for money or more accurately, their ability to obtain and retain it.  In Tibet, you must be kidding yourself that it is about “praying”.  Tibet is about money too and specifically about the monks’ ability to make it and keep it without Chinese merchants taking too much of a share.  Tibet is a poor country and there is not so much to go around.

This is a time for international restraint.  The world leaders can say what they wish in private with the Chinese Government but in public, the wise should keep quiet.  There is a “Tibet” in almost every nation.

A Pointless Occupation

March 30, 2008

This weekend we have seen in Basra the previews of what Iraq will be when the occupation ends.  There will be militias fighting each other for revenge and for the spoils…  There will be not a hint of Democracy not moderation.  With respect to moderation, that will come when the various factions have reached their limits on how much of Iraq they can control.  If you fast forward, you will see Iran supporting the Shiites, Syria and Saudi Arabia supporting the Sunnis, and just maybe, the US supporting the Kurds (although it will be tempting for the US to sell out the Kurds for some concessions from the other two factions).

All this under scores the pointlessness of the current occupation.  For sure the US had a duty to help put Iraq back on its feet after the US stupidly deconstructed the country under “regime change”.  This duty, however, has limits, and those limits have arrived.  We need a total make over of our Middle East policy and a new focus on where the world will be in 25 years.  If we do not, very soon we will be bankrupt as a country and we will be working for Indian and Chinese companies.

The candidates should transition from messages about the troops and keeping them or taking them home, to a message about the future US Middle East policy.  Our troops will come home with sensible policy. 


March 29, 2008

It is probably a no brainer to predict Hillary’s decision should she lose the Pennsylvania primary in late April.  My guess is that she would withdraw her candidacy in favor of Barack Obama and wish him all the best.  Under these circumstances, Hillary would return to the Senate and wait to see what happens in 2012.  McCain would be 76 assuming he won, and Barack would be one time loser and not necessarily a good pick for a second run.  On the other hand, if Barack won this time, McCain would be too old to run and it would all depend upon how Barack’s first term was going whether Hillary would even think of contesting.

The more interesting question is what happens if Hillary wins.  Should she keep fighting (and spending money she would need later against McCain) or should she throw in the towel and give the nomination to Barack?  WWHD? 

1. If you have paid any attention to the Hillary campaign staff, you would bet your mortgage that there is no way she will withdraw before (1) the convention deadlocks and she sees there is no chance for her, or (2) there is a sweet, face saving deal made for the Hillary side to retire.

2. The super delegates could meet and decide to throw their support to Barack in total.  This would make it impossible for Hillary to maintain a position that there was hope.  She would then withdraw.

3. It is also possible that Hillary might meet privately with Barack and broker a deal.  Given Barack’s lead and Hillary’s faulty memory, the deal would be Barack for President and Hillary for VP.  I think there is a good chance she might do this just before the super delegates met.

An Obama-Clinton ticket would have a number of virtues

  • It would be the first black President and the first female Vice President.
  • Hillary would be only a heart beat away from the Presidency.
  • Bill Clinton could still have access to inside the beltway deals.
  • Hillary would get a small, but meaningful portfollio, like healthcare leadership.
  • Hillary might also get to pick (Obama would say there were his picks) 3-4 cabinet positions and maybe 10-20 Ambassadorships.
  • Together, they could combine their current supporters and easily beat McCain

Why Troop Withdrawal is not #1 Priority

March 28, 2008

As the campaign grinds on, the issue of bringing the troops home gets center stage billing.  There are some who say that Iraq is not the most pressing issue and point to the failing economy, or to our failing healthcare system as more pressing.  I also do not think bringing the troops home is the number one issue and instead believe changing our Middle East and our “War on Terror” policies are together the most broken of our foreign policies.  If the next President fixes them, then the troops will come home quickly.  Here’s why:

1. Under co-Presidents Bush and Cheney, the US Middle East policy has been based upon a greedy grab for oil and a “biased broker” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  The interests who are served well by big energy, are being aided by Bush and Cheney through their failed Iraq War disgrace.  Bush and Cheney could not care less about peace in the Middle East and only sought to stir up confusion so that their friends could get a disproportionate share of the oil.  The current mess in Iraq simply reflects the incompetence of Bush and Cheney as leaders and thinkers.  

The Israeli situation is a little more complicated in that the current stalemate is minimally acceptable to the Israelis.  While outright peace would be better, the necessary negotiations and compromises to bring about peace would not satisfy all the radical and fundamentalist groups in Israel and as a result, it is difficult to imagine a fair agreement coming from the Israelis.  Conversely, the Hamas faction (and before the Fattah group) are pawns for other nations such as Syria and Iran who prefer to have disorder in the region.   Disorder helps them control their own countries better.

The route to a quieter Iraq and a more peaceful Palestinian situation is the same road and it runs through Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.  The US must concentrate attention on these countries and bringing them to realize they are better off with a more moderate Middle East.  The Israeli Government must learn that our financial support will sharply decrease if they are not willing to abandon the settlements on the occupied lands and make some compromise on returning Palestinian refugees.  Both of these events will not happen overnight but should be put in play on day 1 of the next Administration.

2. The term “War on Terror” should be thrown in the garbage can on day 1.  It is a term without a proper definition and has served to bring fear and less critical thinking to the American people.  You can not have a “war” on “terror” anymore than you could have one on sunsets.  In a free and open society, there will always be the chance of someone acting violently.  Consider the many tragic shootings in our high schools and universities.  Is that not terror?  Should we institute check points at each intersection and search those on foot or in cars for weapons or other WMD?

When we invaded Afghanistan in “hot pursuit” of Al Qaeda, we acted against a State that was haboring these extremists.  This is a rationale foreign policy.  When we invaded Iraq, which had no connection with 9/11, US policy went off track.  The “War on Terror” was simply “spin” to dress up a shameful decision and confuse the American public.

Radicals and extremists are as much of a concern to Russia, China, Great Britain, France, and Germany as they are to the US.  Common sense would tell us that there needs to be a coordinated action to control these elements.  This change in policy could be announced day 1 also.

The problem in Iraq is a US policy problem, not a terrorist issue.  We may owe some continuing aid to Iraq, including military support, since we destroyed Iraq’s ability to govern itself with our regime change.  Be assured that this continuing support can be done at far less cost than the war today.

So, on Day 1 following the innaugeration, the next President needs to announce these policy changes.  Then on day 2, he or she can announce that the troops are coming home.

Is McCain Moving?

March 27, 2008

In a speech yesterday, John McCain said something and did not say something else.  He did say that he thought the US should consult with other Countries before embarking on foreign policy ventures.  McCain said further that if you discuss with others, you must be willing to listen and be influenced by their comments.  This seems analogous to what the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld gang did not do before the invasion of Iraq.

There is no sensible person who would not opt for a free, moderate, and Democratic Iraq over the despotic regime of Sadaam Hussein.  Certainly most if not all Europeans would raise their hand in favor of that.  What would have also been conveyed from Europeans (and most people not drenched in neoconservative rhetoric and ideology), is:

1. Democracy and moderation can not be expected to take hold in any country in a short period of time if that country has never experienced it and, especially if that country is extremely poor.  You could add that Democracy is also in great danger in any country that has a strong religious factions who seek power.  The citizens of Iraq fell into this description and will not see Demcracy or moderation for generations.

2. Removing Hussien was like uncorking a gas filled bottle.  You have no idea what will be destroyed and you will have no idea how to get a cork back in the bottle.

All this could have been available for consideration by the Bush Administration but was flat out rejected as something worthy of consideration.  Look around and see what a mess that has developed.

The thing that was not said was any mention in McCain’s speech of George W Bush.  This should not be surprising from a common sense perspective but politically the question is whether this is a sign of a bigger break to come, or just a trial balloon.  The only route for McCain to the White House will be for him to walk away from the values and principles of the Bush White House and focus America on how to fix things now.  Without this confession of great sin, there can be no hope for McCain.

Bush and Sisyphus

March 26, 2008

The Surge got another report card today as the Shiite militias in Baghdad and Basra fought openly with each other and the Iraqi Army for control.  The mark was a C+ like George W Bush, “the Iraq decider”, scored at Yale.  With all the pondering going on about a pause in the troop withdrawal schedule, few are looking to see the rapid decay that is going on and should be expected when you build a house of cards with some pretty low numbers.

Dick Cheney will have to hurry home so that George does not say something off script.  Dick will also have to tell George what next steps should be taken in order to assure an American “victory”, what ever that is.  It is clear that these two will do anything to make sure the next President get the mess to clean up and when Iraq resolves into civil war after our troops withdraw, that President (not W) will get the blame for “losing”, what ever that is.

Bush was ill prepared both emotionally and mentally for the responsibilities of the Presidency.  The “bosses” knew that and stack his Administration with experienced heavy weights and amazingly a group who have gone down the wrong path whenever givien a chance.  It is strange indeed to see such a total deviation from common sense.  Iraq is just one of their cock-ups but it is the center piece of the Bush legacy.

I wonder whether the God that Bush talks to all the time will listen to the older Greek Gods and provide George (and Cheney too) with the eternal punishment they deserve.  Like Sisyphus, they should spend their time rolling large heavy stones up a hill only to see the stone roll back down and they have to return to the bottom and roll it back up again.  I am not sure George’s God is that smart.


March 25, 2008

What a waste of time.  With all the important events happening every day, some news reporter took the time to interview James Carville and ask him about Bill Richardson’s endorsement of Barack Obama.  Carville is among the worst of the worst for spin.  He and Karl Rove could be a wonderful addition to Fox News… “Fair and Unbalanced”.

Carville pronounced Richardson a modern day Judas for announcing his support for Obama.  What point was Carville trying to make?  It is a matter of public record that Richardson held two cabinet positions in the Bill Clinton White House and watched this year’s Super Bowl game with Bill too.  For Richardson to endorse Obama is clearly a blow to the Clintons and one that is hard to explain.  But Carville calling Richardson “Judas” is the pot calling the kettle black.  Carville will sell anyone out in order to keep himself in headlights of public attention.

The irony is that if Hillary were to be elected President, Carville would be an influencer within the Clinton circles.  If John McCain were to be elected President instead, Carville’s wife Mary Matalin would retain her influence in the Republican Administration.  The only option that is bad for both of them is an Obama Presidency.  With his divisive cry of Judas, Carville is only digging the hole of “divider not uniter” that Hillary is in, a little deeper, and making his chances of gaining access to the White House that much less.

News Bites

March 24, 2008

Dick Cheney, our de facto President is still traveling in the Middle East and has not authorized George W Bush to say anything while the Veep is out of the country.  This is did not prevent Cheney from attending church services on Easter Sunday.  I am sure he is a better man for this.  Here are three news bites.

1. Vice President Cheney speaking to a group of Fattah Palestinians said that Hamas was set on ruining the current negotiations with Israel.  Cheney went further to say that Syria and Iran were backing Hamas with arms and money.  This was really breaking news and one can only ask, “what’s your point?”  Hamas won the most recent “democratic” vote in the Palestinian territories fair and square.  Cheney lead an American (read Israeli) drive to isolate Hamas and cut them off at the knees by denying them international aid and customs revenue that was theirs.  And Cheney lead the efforts to ignore both Syria and Iran and not speak to them either.

For sure the Hamas wing is not using tactics that would want you to have  them living next door.  But the Israeli-Palestinian situation is undecipherable.  There has been so much tit for tat that who shot who is irrelevent.  The only route to a solution will involve bringing in all parties and revisiting all issues including boundries and rights of return.  We do not get this type of leadership from our man at the top.

2. Yesterday marked the 4000th death of American service men and women in Iraq.  The Bush/Cheney Administration is soley responsible for the exposure of American soldiers to a war they did not need to fight, for a victory that will not come, and at a cost that is shaking our Country to its roots.  Surprisingly, there was no statement from either George “I am not flying if means going to Vietnam” Bush and Dick “5 deferments” Cheney our two super chicken hawks.

3. The oddest news bite comes to us courtesy of the Wall Street Journal again.  This time John Yoo has written a piece called The Democrats’ Super Disaster.
Yoo writes about the Democratic Party’s use of something called “super delegates” in their primary process.  In his piece, he points out that the Constitution did not have this method in mind for picking a President or Congressional members.  There are two points to ponder.  (1) The Democratic primary is a device for those who belong to the Democratic Party to select their standard bearer and there are no standards set out in the Constitution.  Not so long ago the nominee often was selected after many rounds of delegate voting when party bosses made deals with each other.  If the super delegate method is flawed (and it may be), it is only the Democrats who will lose.  (There is not a tissue paper of difference between Obama and Clinton when put in perspective of the candidacy of John McCain.)  And (2), John Yoo served in the Bush Administration’s Justice Department, and in 2002 issued an opinion that gaining intelligence information warrented strong measures and that extraordinary means were ok since “torture” was akin to pain experienced in organ failure.  Yoo’s opinion opened the door for the “ends justify the means” gang (whose leader is Darth Vader Cheney) to bring us rendition and enhanced interrogation including water boarding.  Yoo would do a lot of good to do some remedial work on values before trying to ply his trade as a Constitutional expert.

Politics of Friendship

March 22, 2008

Governor Bill Richardson endorsed Barack Obama yesterday driving a spike into Hillary’s back.  Richardson, who held two different positions in the Bill Clinton White House, felt he could not endorse Hillary or hold a neutral position any longer, so the time was right to endorse Barack.  To be sure, Richardson is a serious and thoughtful politician, so his endorsement can not be taken lightly.  It is a blow to Hillary’s chances.

Richardson’s endorsement is likely to have little or no affect on the upcoming Pennsylvania primary.  Those who will vote for Hillary will not be swayed by Richardson’s reasons.  They are supporting Hillary either because she is a woman or because they feel she is more likely to deal with their economic situation.  They are actually not too concerned about who answers the red phone at 3 am.

If we play out this primary battle, we should expect Obama and Clinton to arrive at the convention without sufficient delegates to win.  It will be up to the convention to decide.  Richardson’s support adds to a growing list of Party leaders who see Obama as a uniter and not a lightning rod.  These leaders feel more certain that Obama can win (in a year when there is no excuse for a Democrat to lose).  They also believe Hillary could win and would undoubtedly be an excellent President (heads and shoulders better than “W”), but Hillary could lose too.  Hillary looks to them as to big a risk.

Unless there is some revelations about Obama that come up soon, the nomination is tilting more and more to him.  John Edwards is one voice that could change this inevitability (or at least put the outcome back in question) should he endorse Hillary.  On the other hand, Edwards’ endorsement of Obama would seal the deal.  And speaking of deals, I wonder what Richardson and Edwards would get from the Obama camp?  They could play the “politics of friendship” game.