Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Weak = danger

Apart from the eerie similarities to GWB's whirlwind trips to the war zones, accentuated by the costume show, Obama's trip to Afghanistan raises the question, why? and why now?

The patter of the media, consistent as always, is that Karzai needed a talking to because of corruption, that is all his fault. Played down was the visit by Ahmadinejad and his red carpet welcome by Karzai, and Karzai's trip to Beijing. But it's easy to imagine that Karzai making cozy with non-NATO foreign leaders is the real concern in Washington, and the real spur to drive Obama on his visit.

Obama's political weakness, and the health care bill did nothing to hide that from all but the most sycophantic supporters, is continuing to erode the remnants of Bush era policies. Since Obama is unwilling or unable to enunciate anything new, a more fluid diplomatic environment is to be expected.

Weakness is dangerous, especially when a weak leader is fighting wars, threatening new wars, and having his country's closest allies threatening to start even more new wars, while humiliating the leader's emissaries.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The real scam

Billmon has one of his rare posts up at DKos, discussing the latest Republican shenanigans in urging supporters to 'reload', and then inventing attacks on themselves to balance the issue.

After a good analysis of how right wing attacks work, he thought this time the clown show by Rep. Cantor would backfire:
Will the ploy work this time? I don’t think so, or if so, only to a limited degree. The material may have been brilliant, but the performance sucked –- even Cantor couldn’t make himself sound like he actually believed it. Sure, Fox News is ready (as always) to take the baton and run with it, but I think the mainstream corporate media deadheads, brain dead as they may be, have finally picked up on the scam.
He had to follow up with a rueful update:
The New York Times, tonight:
Accusations Fly Between Parties Over Threats and Vandalism
To expect the MSM, particularly the NYT, to penetrate right wing media scams is akin  to expecting the second coming any day. From Whitewater to Dan Rather, to the ACORN fiasco, the NYT is ever ready to jump on any right wing  bandwagon that Karl Rove & Co. is riding. To look at this as an accident, or a poor job reporting is really unforgivably naive. Sure they hide behind their vaunted 'objectivity', but that is the real scam. They are a necessary part of the program, and most commentators still refuse to see it.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Meanwhile, south of the border

Shorter Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Dennis C. Blair, the director of national intelligence, speaking to Mexico:

"Think you're fucked now? Just wait."

Monday, March 22, 2010

Into the black hole

M K Bhadrakumar covers the guilty plea of David Headley to charges he aided the Mumbai attacks and points out that the Indians will be none to pleased about the stone that the guilty plea puts over their investigation into the attack.

AG Holder thinks everything is peachy:
The U.S. attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr., said in a statement Thursday that “not only has the criminal justice system achieved a guilty plea in this case, but David Headley is now providing us valuable intelligence about terrorist activities.”

“As this case demonstrates, we must continue to use every tool available to defeat terrorism both at home and abroad,” Mr. Holder said.

Though reporters here in the US may choose to ignore the fact that Headley worked for the DEA, and in all likelihood the CIA, it has not been ignored in India.

The deal enables the US government to hold back from formally producing any evidence against Headley in a court of law that might have included details of his links with US intelligence or oblige any cross-examination of Headley by the prosecution.

Nor can the families of the 166 victims be represented by a lawyer to question Headley during his trial commencing in Chicago. Headley's links with the US intelligence will now remain classified information and the Pakistani nationals involved in the Mumbai attacks will get away scot-free. Furthermore, the FBI will not allow Headley's extradition to India and will restrict access so that Indian agencies cannot interrogate him regarding his links with US and Pakistani intelligence.
And though it might be that the plea was to avoid the death penalty, and he will receive a life sentence, once he disappears into the black hole of the federal prison system, he won't be talking in any case.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Both the BBC and the LA Times, in their articles on the guilty plea by David Headley to conspiracy charges regarding the Mumbai attacks, neglect to mention the he is former (at least) informant for the DEA.

Too distracting?

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Joe the shmoe

Shorter Joe Biden:
I lovingly condemn thee, O Israel:

What a clown, it's clear the Israelis timed the announcement of the new building in Jerusalem to humiliate him and Obama. But he had to rush in with his love song. I thought that was what Hillary was for.

UPDATE: Joe strikes back! He was late for dinner.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

A question

Will Barack Obama's presidency be a greater failure if the horrible health care insurance bill passes or is defeated?

Clearly, looking at it as pure politics (his only evident concern), passing a bill is success, not passing it, failure.

But since the main goal of reform was supposed to be reducing cost, its real effect will be a continuing transfer of wealth to the parasitic elements of the country, and a corresponding decline its economic health and competitiveness.

Failure, not a bug, but a feature of hope/change!

Friday, March 05, 2010

The 'C' word

Glenn Greenwald covers the last rumored about face by Barack Obama, the decision to reject civilian trial for KSM and others, and calls a spade a spade:
First, although they will try, it will be extremely difficult even for his most devoted loyalists to deny the fundamental cowardice of Barack Obama.  Think about how many times this will have happened: 
He goes on to enumerate the reversals of stated positions, mainly in reference to the 'war on terror' and civil liberties that has characterized his presidency, especially when presented with any political opposition. Of course, that is just scratching the surface with Obama, the health care fiasco, the bankster bailout, the education farce all present a convincing portrait of a man incapable of standing up for anything. Likening him a jellyfish is to insult our cnidarian friends.

So we are stuck with a political weather vane 'leading' the nation. Since the political actors with the most access to mass media are all cut from the same predatory, money worshiping ilk, owned by banksters, the defense establishment, and the drug/health insurance industry, the continuing circular path down the toilet of history will, if anything, accelerate.

If I could discern any ray of light on the horizon, I would jump to the occasion to point it out, but despite the economic happy talk that is the main theme in these days, things are bound to get a lot worse, and sooner rather than later.  

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Just weak

China Matters has a post up, and also an article in the Asia Times about the US's efforts to get China on board with new sanctions on Iran.

What strikes me is that the Obama administration is even less willing than Bush's to look for a quid pro quo with China. Arm sales to Taiwan and trade pressures applied before asking China to work against its own energy interests in the supposed name of nuclear non-proliferation can only heighten pressure on China to push back, at least in some way.

But apart from China, the really interesting part of CM's post is the supposition that the US will propose real changes to the NPT:
It is difficult to understand Israel’s high-profile involvement in the Iran sanctions negotiations unless Israel has come to an understanding with the United States concerning entry into the non-proliferation regime and has been charged with communicating assurances to the various skeptical nations that it is poised to become an NPT good citizen if the Iran problem is dealt with in a satisfactory way.
I seriously doubt that Israel has an intention of getting rid of their nukes, even if all Muslim nations do everything requested. But Obama is obviously willing to be led around by Israel as long as political pressure is not applied in the US.

Obama is a weak president, weak in policy terms in that he has been unable to set out any new direction from the disastrous policies of his predecessor, and even weaker politically because his lack of political courage is now known to his friends and foes alike. When dealing with such weakness, the obvious strategy for just about everyone is to temporize.