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Archive for January 2011

Sadr and Duvalier – Bad Guys Check in at The Democracy Motel

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Chalk it up as a bad week for democracy.

A few days ago, Muqtada Al Sadr comes back from his extended vacation in Iran to restore a little of his special brand of sanity to the Iraqi Government in Baghdad. And yesterday, Jean-Claude Duvalier, retired evil dictator who along with his evil dictator dad drove what was left of Haiti into a ditch checks into a luxury hotel to plot a return engagement in Port-au-Prince.

Neither of these characters has the words “avowed believer in democracy” on their blood-stained resumes.

So I’m guessing in both cases, Washington is none too pleased. In the case of Sadr, we’re talking about a guy who whipped up a very nasty insurgency and cost us plenty in lives and treasure. And as for Haiti, we’ve been dabbling with much failure in the place, since Duvalier was turfed out, and are powerless to do anything to stop him raiding the hotel mini-bar.

In both cases, an exhausted and disillusioned populace might well reinforce our own fears. They want these guys back, and they don’t want us. The fact that they’re wrong on a thousand different levels only points to something more fundamental. We did a terrible job of convincing the locals that we were the guys to make their world right. This despite many billions thrown into the maw of their catastrophes.

We shouldn’t have been there, but could still have done so much to effect serious change, because American power is best expressed through its economic and diplomatic influence. We could have exposed Saddam Hussein’s shell game on WMD without losing a man and brought him low by continuing to choke his regime with sanctions. And in the case of Haiti, we could have made simple changes to our trade treaties with the Haitian government to bring much wanted jobs to the Island nation, jobs that are currently outsourced to our arch-enemies in China.

But we didn’t. Not because we couldn’t but because we didn’t have the balls to extend our reach the right way, the smart way, the American way. It was America that helped coordinate the Stuxnet virus that has set the Iranian’s back a critical 3-5 years in their quest for nuclear weapons. Did we have to bomb the place? No. Did we have to spend billions? No. Did we succeed by being plain smart. Yes.

And what happens when we’re not.

Bad guys come back home and raid the mini-bar.

Let that be a lesson to those of little imagination.

Written by coolrebel

January 17, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Why Isn’t Obama Giggling at GOP Healthcare Repeal?

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After a short, and barely respectable lull in their nasty ‘rhetoric’, the GOP is once more gearing up to repeal Obama’s Healthcare overhaul in the House.

Nobody seems to notice that the Senate spent a year watering the current law down to weak tea, but still has a Democratic majority, and that sitting in the White House is a President who called Health Care reform a landmark piece of legislation.

I think it’s a fair bet to suggest that whatever lunatic scrawl the House pass is going to be regarded with nothing less than utter disdain by the Senate and President.

In short, the whole Repeal Health Care shenanigan is a total waste of time. Talk about the bridge to nowhere. This is the fart to nowhere.

I can understand the lazy-ass media taking it seriously, because the twenty-two year olds in the White House and Capitol Press Corps don’t know any better, and will juice the story that isn’t because their bosses tell them to.

And I can understand the GOP taking it seriously, because they’ve designed the whole charade to fail to show the American people how the Democrats and bad old Obama just won’t see sense even when they get a second bite at the cherry.

And I get why Harry Reid and his Senate hosers are steering clear of the business of the “other house” but that still leaves the President.

We know, that Obama knows, that we know that the GOP joke plan is going to be nutzo and that it doesn’t have an ice-cube’s chance in hell of getting by Harry, so why doesn’t he say so? Why is the Prez so silent?

The brain trust in the West Wing – so brilliant and yet so wrong in the past – have got their chess moves all lined up no doubt. And that worries Thereisnoplan, because the silent game the White House is playing seems risky.

Rather than taking advantage of the natural and silent majority in support of the original legislation and calling the GOP maneuver for what it is – which is ‘wasteful politics for the sake of it’, he’s banking on the GOP making fools of themselves first.

But that’s a dicey move. After all, if there’s one thing the GOP propagandists have proved time and time again, it’s this. If you give them the stage and don’t face them down, they can whip up the public any which way to Sunday. And there’s already a rent-a-mob on stand-by ready to get noisy on health care yet again.

Which brings us to what the President should say, and it goes something like this.

POTUS calls a press conference on something else, like the fact that his Iran strategy is actually working, and takes a question about GOP health care plans to which he replies…

“They’re wasting their time, and for all their talk about deficits, their wasting the people’s money too. Because its taxpayers that pay their salaries up on the hill, and I doubt they’re too happy about them re-opening a done deal. The Senate’s not going to look at it, and even if they do, I’m not budging an inch. This legislation will help all Americans, it will drastically lower the number of uninsured in this country, and it will lower the deficit – unlike GOP time-wasting up on the Hill. The GOP always accuses us of playing politics. If this Health Care Repeal deal isn’t a political game, I don’t know what is. Call off the dogs boys. Bring me a plan on immigration, or education, or tax reform, that I can take seriously”.

Written by coolrebel

January 17, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Who Cares About Haiti?

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Answer: Nobody.

But they should.

Because Haiti is a living – and dying – lesson in the importance of strategic significance.

When a country has nothing going for it. No oil, no nukes, no commies, no Muslims, no industry, no diamonds, no gold, no minerals, no traded commodities, and most of all no terrorists, then nobody will care about that country.

Haiti only has a lot of people, brave, struggling, dying, people. And that counts for nothing.

Unless you’re a threat, nobody cares and you become a PR project.

What Haiti represents is a low-risk way of looking good by saying an awful lot and doing very little.

Which just happens to be the world’s biggest industry right now.

Welcome to the Bullshit Era.

Written by coolrebel

January 12, 2011 at 7:27 am

Posted in Washington

The Arizona Shooting – A Reassessment

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A few days later and we’ve got a nice little fire burning in the blogosphere.

On the left, the bloggers tell us that the ‘eliminationist’ rhetoric of Beck, O’Reilly et al, had created a tinderbox that was just waiting to explode.

On the right, we’re being led to believe that the Arizona shooter was just a lone nut and Congresswoman Giffords and the citizens who attended her parking lot meeting were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Beck et al? How dare you impugn their good names!

Not so fast.

It’s rare for Thereisnoplan to say this, but I’ve had a chance to consider both sides of the argument, and as much as I hate to sound like the Barackslider, I now realize the truth probably lies somewhere between these two extremes.

Clearly, the shooter is very mentally ill. Indeed, reports this morning, suggest that Jared Loughner may have met Congresswoman Giffords at a public constituent meeting in 2007, continually holding a ‘grudge’ when he found her response to his perplexing and unanswerable question unsatisfactory.

But part of mental illness is to experience reality through a distorted prism. In other words, the nature and detail of one’s craziness, except in the most extreme cases, is unlikely to be formed in a vacuum.

With that in mind, it’s therefore fair to assume that the constant incendiary garbage constantly spouted by Beck, Rush, O’Reilly et al, did at the very least help to form the worldview of Loughner, and allow any ‘grudge’ against Giffords to focus and fester, as his mental problems became magnified. Indeed the conspiratorial nature of far right propaganda is ready-made fodder for a schizophrenic mind.

Add in a few other important factors, such as the assassin’s isolation, plus an apparent lack of familial support, and you have the makings of a tragedy. It’s almost certain that what seems now to be a clear onset of severe mental illness was not seriously noted until it was too late.

And there’s one other element in the mix. Guns. A deranged individual was able to go into a store, and legally purchase a handgun without any hinderance, without which this assassination attempt would have remained a fantasy.

To make matters worse, Arizona has the most lenient gun laws of any State in the Union so not only was Loughner able to get a gun, but he was able to get a semi-automatic with extended clips that enabled him to turn an attempted assassination into a slaughter.

It’s become very fashionable to express politics in the US as a blame-sticking game. The left is trying hard to pin this tragedy on the invective of new Know-nothing mobs that have cropped up ever since McCain decided to cast his lot with the right in the 2008 contest.

That’s a stretch. Yes, there’s been a rise in threats against public figures, and Arizona is ground zero for much of it, but there remains a vast chasm between the delivery of invective and assassination. It takes a nut to go over the top. And you can’t blame crosshairs on a website for that.

On the flip side, the right can’t simply deny the danger of feeding conspiratorial propaganda to fire up a mob, among which are many mental casualties of a harsh winner-takes-all society to whom firearms are easily accessible.

America is a vast experiment, and one of its uglier sides is a profound culture of violence, spoken, fantasized, and acted upon.

That culture ebbs and flows in the public consciousness. School shootings, which are an almost weekly occurrence now are a classic example of how the cocktail of mental instability, cultural bombardment, lack of communication and guns can spill over into tragedy.

Nobody denies, that in the well-documented case of Columbine, for example, the shooters were influenced by something. It may have been bullying, it may have been video games, and it may (according to some on the right who would probably deny it now) have been Marilyn Manson.

But add politics into that mix, and another expression of American violence is re-ignited. Assassinations are few and far between in America, and as Ross Douthat rightly suggest in this morning’s NYT, the dots are never that easy to connect.

Just about everything that’s wrong with America is on display in this tragedy, including this. As usual nothing will change?

After their mourning period of peacemaking platitude, will there be a genuine, permanent reduction of rightist invective? Don’t make me laugh.

Will mental illness be addressed faster and more effectively?  Forget it.

Will there be a serious attempt to reenact the semi-automatic weapons ban? Not a chance.

There’s one caveat to these predictions.

This tragedy is probably an isolated incident, but if there’s another serious attack on the life of a Democratic politician, all bets are off.

My guess is that Beck and company are hoping like hell that doesn’t happen.

Written by coolrebel

January 9, 2011 at 10:23 pm