Archive for the President Obama category

February 16th, 2011

US fomenting revolt in Argentina?

This from Democracy Now:

Argentina: U.S. Warplane Carried Unauthorized Weapons

The Obama administration is locked in a diplomatic row with Argentina over allegations a U.S. military warplane brought unauthorized cargo to the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires.

The Argentine government says a U.S. Air Force jet was found to be carrying a number of items, including weapons, drugs and spying devices, without proper clearance.

The United States maintains it disclosed the items beforehand and had received approval.

Argentine cabinet chief Aníbal Fernández said an Argentine plane carrying similar cargo to the United States would have led to the imprisonment of its crew at the military base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

Aníbal Fernández: “I want them to tell me what would have happened if an Argentinian plane with Argentinian military or armed men from the Argentinian security forces wanted to enter the U.S. with weapons, with machines to intercept communications, with numbered electronic equipment, with high-potential GPSes and all sorts of other things. They would certainly have ended up in Guantánamo, wearing orange overalls.”

The spat comes on the heels of President Obama’s announcement of his first state visit to Latin America. Obama plans to stop in El Salvador, Chile and Brazil.

February 8th, 2011

Obama unveils
“Prolonged Detention”

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate announces the Executive’s new theory/power to enforce “Prolonged Detention” …

He’s off the deep end. Will say and do anything. Anything he’s told.

January 30th, 2011

Egypt

Ed Note: See comments below to follow events into the third week of the Egyptian revolution culminating in the resignation of Mubarak and assumption of power by the so-called Supreme Council of the armed forces on February 11.

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An amazing month, week and weekend.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mohamed El Baradei this Sunday evening in Cairo took leadership of the … revolution and told the world — Washington — there will be no going back to the status quo ante.

Here is the streaming Al Jazeera English. The only way to go:

The Egyptian demonstrations that began on January 25 were inspired by the Tunisian revolution, itself inspired by revelations in the first huge batch of Wikileaks US diplomatic cables.

The Likud Lobby is surely telling Obama that Israel and the West cannot tolerate a democracy in Egypt — a fortiori in light of the Palestine Papers and the continuing stream of Wikileaks diplomatic cables.

Quite a pickle for the American president, a man of words and little action.

But if he continues to sit on his hands and allows Mubarak to enforce a crackdown, sympathetic eruptions seem certain to occur thru out Arab lands.

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Mub’s appointment of intelligence chief Sulieman as vice president on Saturday seemed a step toward Mub’s departure. But now it’s now clear.

The regular army has been supportive of the demonstrations — which is to say they have not attacked. The violence of Thursday and Friday was initiated by various secret police forces. Al Jazeera reports that the elite Presidential Guard troops number 22,000. I wonder if that’s true. And wonder where the loyalties of all these forces now lie and how they’re divided.

Ayman Nour, another top opposition leader, speaks today of negotiating with the army and other leadership figures, to form a “national unity” government to cross the interregnum to the scheduled 2011 elections. Not clear if he sees Sulieman an acceptable interim leader.

Tourism is essential to Egyptian life. The current status quo cannot go on forever. It’s clear that el Baradei is calling on Washington to pull the plug on Hosni and move forward. We shall see.

January 26th, 2011

Death Notice:
Palestinian State finally stillborn.
Now begins the Terror?

The Palestine Papers are clear: Obama gave the Cairo Speech, then promptly sold the Palestinian state down the river.

( Here is Al Jazeera’s search page for the approx 2,000 diplomatic cables and the like, chiefly out of Israeli and Palestinian Authority offices. )

The extent of the collapse — complete — of support for the UN resolution that recognized Israel in sync with a plan for a two-state solution … Shocking.

It’s now clear that when the Israeli foreign minister gave the UN the finger on Palestine this past September, he had the American president in his pocket.

No wonder Knesset member Zaneen Hoabi simply said “No chance” last year.

And no wonder the New York Review of Books (our finest periodical) has just published a notice of surrender:

It’s now clear that the American war in the mideast, pinched upon Iran’s eastern and western borders, was coeval and is conjoined with a final solution in Palestine.

Alan Sabrosky, a Vietnam combat vet, former intelligence officer with the Marines and former director of the Army War College, talks plainly about how the American war got off the ground.

And it’s now clear how the Army of God comes to appoint the Prime Minister of Lebanon. I wonder if Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle, Feith, Zakheim et al. — the creators of the American war under Bush-Cheney — are laughing or crying.

These are the days of miracles and wonder. These are the days when the Justice Department proceeds beyond the bounds of law against Anti-War demonstrators and the free press.

Little wonder, of course, that the American media are all but silent on the truth of 9/11 and, now, the Palestine Papers.

One effect of the latter’s publication in freer worlds abroad seems all but certain: A true war of terror, born of final despair re the fate and treatment of the Arabs of Palestine, in the angry half of the Islamic world. Hope dies last, as Alexander Dubcek observed, but now it is dead.

No more Mr Shoe Bomb. No more Mr Underpants.

It’s well known amid intel types that nuclear devices are loose in the underworld. Every now and then an attempt to sell one surfaces. 1994 was the beginning of this game. It now seems to me only a question of time before angry young men try to set one off in Tel Aviv or New York.

January 25th, 2011

State of the Union:
Activism is a crime

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Maureen Murphy writes:

I have been summoned to appear before a federal grand jury in Chicago on January 25. But I will not testify, even at the risk of being put in jail for contempt of court, because I believe that our most fundamental rights as citizens are at stake.

I am one of 23 anti-war, labor and solidarity activists in Chicago and throughout the Midwest who are facing a grand jury as part of an investigation into “material support for foreign terrorist organizations.” No crime has been identified. No arrests have been made …

January 22nd, 2011

Obamarama: Internet IDs
coming this year

Obama will be unveiling a “National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace” in the next few months.

The “White House Cybersecurity Coordinator” practiced Doublespeak while breaking the news a few weeks ago, pointing out that the Commerce Department:

is “the absolute perfect spot in the U.S. government” to centralize efforts toward creating an “identity ecosystem” for the Internet ….

“We are not talking about a national ID card. We are not talking about a government-controlled system. What we are talking about is enhancing online security and privacy, and reducing and perhaps even eliminating the need to memorize a dozen passwords, through creation and use of more trusted digital identities.”

January 13th, 2011

Leader of Spanish communists mad that FBI used his photo
to concoct Most Wanted pix
of Osama Bin Laden

You can’t make this stuff up.

Or …

January 9th, 2011

Tombstone
Arizona

Admiral Mike Mullen, the Pentagon boss, whom I admire, is worried about the declining character of the armed forces:

“We’ve learned a lot about ourselves in the last decade; some of it’s been pretty unpleasant stuff,” Admiral Mullen said in an interview. “I want us to understand what we’ve seen, to a depth that we can ensure that our moral compass stays true, our ethical compass stays true.”

Mullen’s worries bear relation to the mass assassinations yesterday in Tucson, in that across the past decade the society has being trained to accept perpetual war as a way of life.

Our kids, our soldiers, growing up, are trained to envision life as a video game. And Obama’s Secretary of Education spent most of the past decade turning five Public Schools in Chicago into military academies.

The Spectre of the Gun haunts the society’s blood, born as we were coeval with Industrialism, with no time, as in Europe, to prepare for that onslaught, in a protracted war for control of the continent against nature and its natives.

Armies destroy countries — often their own.

Japan and Bismarck’s Germany — reduced to cinders by 1945, having provoked with their martial successes and crimes the remainder of the industrialized world into alliance.

The Russian empire in its Soviet phase — an elephantine Military-Industrial Complex riding the backs of an impoverished and well policed working class, an inverted pyramid, an unstable equillibrium nevertheless held in place for several generations by secret police, radio and television.

For people like Gore Vidal, whom I admire, it’s a given: the American empire was born in 1898 with our adventurism contra Spain in the Philipines and the Caribbean. We then built a huge permanent army to help win the world wars. That work done, the monster turned upon Dr Frankenstein. The republic’s cancer exhibited itself in 1963. We’ve been watching it die all our lives. The installation of Bush-Cheney, in retrospect, seems the end. The full-page tombstone in the New York Times.

However one might parse our history, no Western society could withstand in perpetuity the things we’ve done here and abroad for the reasons we’ve done them since October 2000. Mullen seems to sense this, and indeed, almost to be saying as much out loud.

And the eloquent Sheriff Dudnick of Pima County yesterday echoed him:

“This has not become the nice United States of America that most of us grew up in and I think its time we do the soul-searching,” he said. “The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous and unfortunately, Arizona has become the capital. We have become the mecca of prejudice and bigotry.”

November 3rd, 2010

Michael Moore
talks turkey Election Night

Wow. The gosh darn truth, it seems to me.

He’s talking late night election night (November 2010) at Democracy Now, with John Nicolls and Laura Flanders in the studio with Amy Goodman.

He touches on the blackout, during the autumn campaign weeks, on the wars — indeed, foreign policy in toto. This was the first thing that came to mind as Jon Stewart concluded his interview with Obama two weeks ago. Not a word about Pakghanistan, Iraq or Israel. Not a fucking word. Clearly Obama demanded that silence in exchange for the appearance.

It’s also noteworthy, when he speaks of the Left’s guilt for its early support of the Iraq war, 2002-04, and names a few names and nods at institutions, that what he’s pointing to are prominent Jews of the Left, who supported the war persuaded in good part that it served Israel’s interest, and then recanted.

But Michael daresn’t say that to Amy. Not right out.

The recantation of Tom Friedman of the Times suddenly comes to mind as one of the most spectacular. But he was nothing like alone within the New York media. The New Yorker itself, of Remnick and Hertzberg. Perhaps I’ll find links.

Most broadly, the so-called Left here will never mount the kind of power challenge its constituency needs until it faces the huge ideological chaos within its ranks.

I mean, in nutshell: Identity Politics vs (marxian!) Universalism.

This came to mind again yesterday watching a group of three at Busboys & Poets Cafe in DC on Democracy Now. Nothing but racism. Seeing everything thru that narrow lens. Calling themselves Progressives even yet, after 30 years of getting fucked in the ass by the rich.

But … their ideas are so rooted in Academia, where so many people of lefty persuasion retreated after the assassinations, Vietnam, Watergate, that what seems necessary also seems all but impossible. At least in my time.

But … it’s no wonder the Left is so powerless. Most Americans listening to the guys at Busboys & Poets would just shake their head and vote no.

Laura Flanders, following Moore, is also good. Maybe go buy her book (she gives the website during the chat — not available at Amazon etc):

And here’s something re his most recent — and, he suggests, his last — documentary, Capitalism: A Love Story.

November 3rd, 2010

2010 Midterms:
No big deal

If one turns off the idiot box one sees it was not such a bad night for the Donkeys. The Tea Party in the House will make the GOPhers look like assholes for two years, and will hurt Palin 2012.

2009 and 2010 were clearly going to be nuclear winter after the Bush-Cheney bomb. It seems the Donkeys have survived it, with the ability to continue to govern.

If only the president had the vision and will of Michael Moore, speaking here late night of election night to Amy Goodman and friends.

Obama’s attitude upon ascension 22 months ago — scolding the people of the Congress as “children” (which he repeated later in 2009) — bespeaks a kind of Beautiful Soul naivete that has no place in DC. Getting his nose broken by Boehner a few times may learn him some Lefty values and in any case will make him a better president.

It occurs to me that Obama has probably never been in a fight.

And gee, men in splendid uniform and pin-striped suits have always treated him so well …

It’s time indeed he gets kicked in the balls.

Jeb Bush will be very hard to beat in 2012 if the GOPhers have the wisdom to nominate him.

Ralph Nader talks a lot of sense election day. He seems certain that Bloomberg will run as an Independent.

If Palin were to somehow get the GOP nod, Bloomberg would run Independent to the wire, my own crystal ball says, and thus help return Obama to office. Much like 1992 with Ross Perot in the mix. But would he bow out if Jeb came out of the convention the nominee?

September 30th, 2010

Pakistan shuts Khyber Pass
to US war machine as
September to Remember closes

Ed Note: See here for background reaching back to August 2008, when the CIA commenced bombing Pakistan with drone missiles.

And see comments below to follow events henceforth, including the Peace Talks that turned out to have been attended by a Flim Flam Man in the guise of the Taliban. How long can this travesty go on?

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Pakistan today closed off the main Khyber Pass portal that the US and its meagre coalition-of-the-willing use to supply their war efforts in Afghanistan, after the latest of recent US helicopter attacks killed three uniformed Paki servicemen.

Across the three days prior to the latest attack, Islamabad had expressed outrage at the helicopter raids, which at that point had killed many civilians among some sixty dead.

As the border closing was announced,

The Pakistani interior minister, Rehman Malik indicated that NATO strikes in Pakistan were being taken extremely seriously. “We will have to see whether we are allies or enemies,” he said Thursday.

The move to challenge the Americans also comes just two days after Pakistan’s top generals and American officials all expressed loud displeasure with the Islamabad government led by Benazir Bhutto’s widower, Asif Ali Zardari:

American officials, too, say it has left them increasingly disillusioned with Mr. Zardari, a deeply unpopular president who was elected two and a half years ago on a wave of sympathy after the assassination of his wife, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. …

In a meeting on Monday that was played on the front page of Pakistan’s newspapers, the army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, confronted the president and his prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, over incompetence and corruption in the government.

According to the press and Pakistani officials familiar with the conversation, the general demanded that they dismiss at least some ministers in the oversized 60-member cabinet, many of whom face corruption charges.

The civilian government has so far resisted the general’s demand. But the meeting was widely interpreted by the Pakistani news media, which has grown increasingly hostile to the president, as a rebuke to the civilian politicians and as having pushed the government to the brink.

After the meeting, the president’s office issued a statement, approved by all the men, saying they had agreed “to protect the democratic process and to resolve all issues in accordance with the constitution.”

A Pakistani official close to the president who was familiar with the conversation but did not want to be identified, said, “The president made it clear that he would not leave, come what may.”

“Sanity had prevailed,” the official added. …

In his most recent visit to Pakistan, Richard C. Holbrooke, the American special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said the international community could not be expected to provide all the billions of dollars needed to repair the flood damage, a warning interpreted here as a rebuke of the civilian government and its mismanagement.

But Washington, not unlike Pakistan’s military, is caught, American officials say, because there is no appetite for a return of military rule. Nor is there desire to see the opposition politician and former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, resume power.

The last is interesting in that Sharif would be popular and even more difficult for Washington to control. But the Times report reports he has no interest in stepping up at the moment given the general chaos.

So it seems that just as Washington has abandoned President Karzai in favor of a perhaps imaginary reprise of Northern Alliance (non-Pashtun) so-called warlords, so across the border it may be looking for a collection of Men We Can Work With.

And as Fletcher Prouty pointed out (while discussing the assassination of President Diem of Vietnam in 1963), when Washington withdraws support of an allied leader, the latter’s native enemies soon swarm and conduct a coup. This may be the week that President Zardari became a walking dead man slated to join his wife in martyrdom. Or perhaps friends in Paris.

Along those lines, note that two weeks ago, September 17, in London, emigre Paki leader Imran Farooq was murdered, leading to great unease in Karachi (the New York of Pakistan), where the MQM party, which he once led and still helped manage, is a major power:

As [Robert Mackey's] colleague Carlotta Gall explained last week, the M.Q.M. represents families who moved to what is today Pakistan when India was partitioned in 1947:

“Political power struggles in the country’s sprawling port city of Karachi have degenerated into an ethnic turf war between two parties in the governing coalition, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, whose support base is drawn from Urdu-speaking immigrants, and the Awami National Party, whose base is mostly Pashtun. Targeted killings left 165 dead people in August, including some senior political figures.

Now tens of thousands of people displaced by the floods, most of them ethnic Sindhis, are arriving in Karachi, adding a volatile new element to the political dynamic there. While Sindhi nationalists are welcoming them, opponents, like M.Q.M. members, warn that they will create more violence.”

In 2007, the BBC explained that the M.Q.M.’s leaders have effectively run large parts of Karachi from London for years. At the time, a party spokesman said it was not necessary for the city’s leaders to actually be in Pakistan, since, “in these days of high-tech communication why not govern Karachi from London? It’s a new form of outsourcing.”

And note that two days before Farooq was killed, the former Paki president General Pervez Musharraf announced he would return from friendly exile to start a new political party.

Meanwhile the long delayed NATO offensive to cleanse Kandahar of people who don’t side with the Kabul government of Karzai (whom the americans themselves have been steadily defaming for more than a year) seems to have muddled but continues. It began in mid August. Two days ago the American commander Petraeus told the press of peace talks of some sort . between Karzai and that loose coalition of unwilling various Afghans in arms referred to in the press as the Taliban.

All this comes against the great disaster of the summer in Pakistan — flooding of biblical proportions, which the western world reacted to largely with a yawn, but which since beginning in late July has (says the Times) “ruined just about every physical strand that knit this country together — roads, bridges, schools, health clinics, electricity and communications.”

Has Pakistan this September, under such pressures, begun to cease to exist as the state we’ve dealt with since the Soviet invasion next door?

August 21st, 2010

A terrible thing to waste

This new ad on the NY subway (like Starbucks) seems asking and aching for a stencil campaign.

The old NAACP (if memory serves) motto comes to mind: “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” I see it stenciled, shouting, across this wannabe actress’s face.

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The caption up top (clipped as I snapped the photo) reads in full: “Education for the Real World.”

Indeed:

– The world of Arne Duncan, our Secretary of Education, who spent the first decade of the New American Century turning five public schools in Chicago into ‘military academies.’ No need to even begin going through the motions of education. Just teach’em how to spit and shoot and salute and send them off to patrol the mideast.

– And the world of our First Lady — who a few weeks ago explained that America’s kids need to lose weight so they qualify for military service.

June 28th, 2010

Obama’s new Space policy:
Shades of JFK

The administration’s newly announced Space policy, looking mostly to undo Bush-Cheney unilateral militarism and return to the norms of Reagan, Bush pere and Clinton, modest as it seems, echoes a bit ominously.

To begin, it seems intended to put NASA out of the spaceship business.

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NASA in 1963 was a deeply Cowboy institution. And when the president that year signed National Security Action Memo No 271 — headed “Cooperation with the Soviet Union on Outer Space Matters” — the reaction from the national security apparat was pale.

The same day Kennedy signed a less well known memo headed “Classification review of all UFO intelligence files affecting National Security” which referenced NSAM 271 and directed the CIA, which had recently taken over the UFO beat from the Air Force, to begin declassifying UFO files with an eye toward partnered investigation with the Soviet Union.

Jim Marrs, author of worthwhile books on both JFK and UFOs, reports:

In this memo Kennedy stated, “I have initiated [blacked out] and have instructed [then NASA Administrator] James Webb to develop a program with the Soviet Union in joint space and lunar exploration. It would be very helpful if you would have the high threat cases reviewed with the purpose of identification of bona fide as opposed to classified CIA and USAF sources. It is important that we make a clear distinction between the knowns and unknowns in the event the Soviets try to mistake our extended cooperation as a cover for intelligence gathering of their defense and space programs.”

Kennedy then asked for all files on “Unknowns” to be turned over to the NASA authorities and an interim report be forwarded to the White House no later than February 1, 1964.

Kennedy signed the two memos on November 12 and ten days later was dead.

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Werner von Braun and his President

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After running in 1960 as a Colder Warrior than Nixon, then nearly getting sunk by conniving brass and spooks at the Bay of Pigs some 70 days after taking office, after being embarrassed and outfoxed by Khruschev in Vienna then outlasting him at the psy ops battle of West Berlin, and after defusing the Cuban missile crisis by outfoxing his own warmongering brass while brokering a back-channel compromise with the Reds …

After all that, Kennedy during his last summer confirmed his fundamental turn with a commencement address at American University. For a few months it was rather in the news:

“Among the many traits the peoples of our two countries have in common, none is stronger than our mutual abhorrence of war. Almost unique, among the major world powers, we have never been at war with each other.

“And no nation in the history of battle ever suffered more than the Soviet Union suffered in the course of the Second World War. At least twenty million lost their lives. Countless millions of homes and farms were burned or sacked. A third of the nation’s territory, including nearly two-thirds of its industrial base, was turned into a wasteland — a loss equivalent to the devastation of this country east of Chicago.

“Today, should total war ever break out again — no matter how — our two countries would become the primary targets. It is an ironic but accurate fact that the two strongest powers are the two in the most danger of devastation. All we have built, all we have worked for, would be destroyed in the first twenty-four hours.

Kennedy then voiced clear comprehension of what Eisenhower had been struggling with since making his truce in Korea with Peking and then had spoken of with quiet thunder in his farewell address days before Kennedy took office.

“And even in the cold war [Kennedy said in '63], which brings burdens and dangers to so many countries, including this nation’s closest allies — our two countries bear the heaviest burdens.

“For we are both devoting to weapons massive sums of money that could be better devoted to combating ignorance, poverty and disease. We are both caught up in a vicious and dangerous cycle in which suspicion on one side breeds suspicion on the other, and new weapons beget counterweapons.

“In short, both the United States and its allies, and the Soviet Union and its allies, have a mutually deep interest in a just and genuine peace and in halting the arms race. …

“So, let us not be blind to our differences — but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”

The speech, written by young brain-truster Ted Sorenson, had opened more abstractly, contesting the notion that war was the inevitable condition of modern states, taking clear cue here from FDR’s speech at Chicago in 1937.

Kennedy then broke some surprising news, announcing that the US would henceforth refrain, unilaterally, from testing nukes in the atmosphere, and that talks had been set in Moscow “looking toward early agreement on a comprehensive test ban treaty.”

He then concluded:

“Finally, my fellow Americans, let us examine our attitude toward peace and freedom here at home. The quality and spirit of our own society must justify and support our efforts abroad. … ‘When a man’s ways please the Lord,” the Scriptures tell us, “he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.’

“And is not peace, in the last analysis, basically a matter of human rights — the right to live out our lives without fear of devastation — the right to breathe air as nature provided it — the right of future generations to a healthy existence?

“The United States, as the world knows, will never start a war ….”

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It’s only against JFK in June 1963, and Eisenhower in 1961, and FDR in 1937, that one can fully appreciate the depths to which we’ve been pulled by the Bush-Cheney doctrine and practice of preemptive war. Indeed, the contrasting lines of argument are so strong that Vladimir Putin at Munich in 2007 reminded the world of FDR at Chicago, in long, loyal paraphrases, while trying to organize the international community in opposition to the American warmongering.

It bears repeating that the Baby Bush Doctrine was promulgated for the most part by the American Likud Lobbyists gathered under the umbrella of The Project for the New American Century in DC.

And lo. Unilateral and exclusive military exploitation of space is high on the agenda of the manifesto published by the group in 2000, two months before the failed election. Half a dozen leading PNAC “Vulcans” were then advising baby Bush’s campaign and months later two dozen would take command of his War Room.

And so it’s only natural to wonder what today’s Apparat thinks of Obama’s announcement about peacefully sharing the last frontier.

March 18th, 2010

Health Dare dead:
Dennis Kucinich gives up
“A dangerous moment …”

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more remarkable interview from Washington.

This sad concession signals the death of the movement for health care reform in D.C that began during the Long Campaign and then crested — Who knew? — with Obama’s inauguration.

Poor Dennis looks dead on his feet.

This comes against news stories in the past two weeks reporting that Obama made explicit promises to the insurance companies last summer to reject a bill with a public plan.

The other shoe will drop with the hopeless wars, leaving Obama toast. Romney seems a shoe-in as successor.

Then we revisit Highway 61.

I was talking to someone in Dennis K’s office Thursday, suggesting that he might be more effective in Ohio, as a governor, working the angle he repeatedly holds hope out for in the interview here.

If he thought the same, his argument for voting Yes here would falter. He could go out with a significant NO, like Eliot Richardson and Wm Ruckelshaus in 1973, and use it as a rallying cry back home.

But I guess Dennis still thinks there is a reason to be in Washington. He chairs an important subcommittee. Although that comes and goes with the Donkey majority, and the latter is hardly a clinch in November.

It’s March 2010. Do you know where your future is?

January 21st, 2010

Obama sides with Volcker, finally, contra the Zombie Banks

Is Tiny Tim going to cry? Gonna get a spanking when he gets home to Broad and Wall tonight?

Poor Paul looks like he’s STILL not sure the Prez’ll give the word.

January 18th, 2010

Gitmo Sgt blows whistle: Prisoner “suicides” were murder

Major piece in February’s Harper’s. Hats off to them.

The center does not hold.

Obama has done nothing but talk on this.

January 10th, 2010

Gaza a year after
and then some

Ed Note: See comments below to follow events into 2011

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1. Noam Chomsky talks about Gaza a year after the Israeli attack.

2. Meanwhile Israel complains because George Mitchell has threatened to cut off the cash trying to pressure Netanyahu — a precise echo of the Bush-Baker years.

3. And the Israeli general who once headed their nuclear weapons program says that Iranian nukes are seven years distant.

Team Obama this year has enacted a betrayal of the Cairo speech.

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January 8th, 2010

Daniel Ellsberg re Obama /
Bell helicopters in Vietnam & Predator drones in Pakghanistan

Another in Sibel Edmonds’ Boiling Frog interviews on the National Security Apparat.

Very worthwhile — as they’ve all been. This is number 18. She’s leading one of the most important discussions around.

Ellsberg is measured in assessing Obama, and even so the judgments are bleak. Syncs well with my own black-biled broodings.

Touches on the political consequences of allowing high hopes to fail for lack of leadership. Ellsberg doesn’t mention the Carter-Reaganism dynamic, but what he says brings it to mind.

And he puts the puzzle of the escalation decision in clear terms, observing that neither the top Pentagon brass, nor NS Advisor Jms Jones (retired four-star general), nor Rahm Emanuel — with the fine DC instincts and his eye on the 2010 elections — were pusihng the escalation. (Nor Biden.) And some were on record against it.

Is Obama more of a militarist than Petraeus, whose recent interview in Newsweek shows a mind less than persuaded of any successful outcome over there? Where did the decision come from?

Westmoreland and LBJ

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Recall Col. Flectcher Prouty’s history of the Pentagon’s war in Vietnam (which, note, began in 1965) — and which Prouty thinks began almost accidentally, with a big push by Textron and its lobbyists to get the Gov to start buying Bell “Huey” helicopters en masse.

As conglomerate Textron — then as now a major war supplier — was preparing a corporate takeover of Bell Helicopters, a guy from Yale working on Wall Street kept showing up at Prouty’s office atop the Air Force staff in the Pentagon — trying to sell the notion that tactical helicopters would revolutionize counterinsurgency ops …

The Air Force kept saying no. Finally somebody got to somebody on the Nat’l Security Council staff in the White House, and the order came across the river: Let’s buy some more helicopters — and let’s base them across the border from Laos, rather than where all the shootin’s going on. Yeah, let’s put them in Vietnam.

The Huey program was greenlighted — but under CIA auspices. Which perhaps rounds around to explain why a banker out of Yale was lead salesman.

The CIA had opened its first official spy store in Saigon in 1954 (post French defeat at Dien Bien Phu) but our involvement there reached back into the war, when the OSS helped to arm Ho’s nationalists against the Japanese. Some say that the same guys, now wearing CIA badges, including Ed Lansdale, were covertly on the ground again well before ’54, working again with locals but this time to oust the French.

However that may be, Prouty writes that each early CIA Huey base in Vietnam needed some 500 (if memory serves) pairs of Pentagon boots to provide pilots, maintenance, security and support.

And when the bases started drawing fire from local insurgents even more Advisors were needed to Keep the Peace.

Wasn’t long before 16,000 soldiers were in country, under CIA command, shooting at insurgents from behind barricades as the choppers bounced and bombed around the South as Lansdale & company tried to figure out how to win their hearts and minds.

Then, in late ’63, a new President took office persuaded that it was time to let the Pentagon clean house.

Obama and Stanley

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The obvious parallel is the CIA’s drone campaign, based in Afghanistan, attacking Pakistan, which began under lame duck Bush-Cheney, August 2008, rather late — perhaps to be sure it was online fait accompli before the new prez came in.

The latter again brings to mind the Bay of Pigs — in particular the panicked revisions to the plan that went on between November 1960, when Kennedy shocked the planners by defeating Nixon, and January when he took office.

Steps were taken to downsize the scheme (quite consciously beyond hope of success) and to persuade the new White House team that the raid had been approved by Eisenhower (not so — rather, by VP Nixon, who headed the CIA oversight committee in Ike’s White House).

The raid came 70 days into Kennedy’s presidency. He wasn’t quick enough to choke it off, but deserves great credit for frustrating the prime motive by refusing its gambit — ie, refusing to send in the Marines to rescue the raid (and execute regime change).

And, of course, he never escalated with the Pentagon in Vietnam. That came after Johnson won his ’64 election.

Obama within weeks of taking office enlarged the CIA drone program.

And now, against the advice and/or instincts of Jones, Mullen, Eikenberry, even it seems Petraeus (four four-star generals) as well as VP Biden and CoS Rahm, he’s escalating the war.

Ellsberg pointedly compares Obama’s decision to that of Johnson (under whom and closely with he worked) in 1965 — and sadly laughs at the notion of turning on a dime and getting out in July 2011. The commitment, he insists, cannot but be anything but indefinite re both time and manpower.

More than puzzling. Why did subordinate Stanley McChrystal win this policy debate? Why was he even involved in it?

And what is the War Aim over there? I STILL don’t see one, and neither it seems does the senior brass.

Let’s see, who makes the Predator drone? Expensive little bombs ….. Who’s their anchor banker …?

In the Land of the Blind …

January 7th, 2010

An excuse to can Geithner?

Posted in Money, President Obama by ed

This story about AIG and 2008, although in essence not important, could be used by the White House to begin the business of easing Tiny Tim into the dumpster.

If the White House were so minded. No evidence yet that it is. Reactions worth watching.

October 26th, 2009

Armies destroy everything,
build nothing, neither communities nor nations

The USA: No longer a country for man, woman or beast.