Friday, October 31, 2008


I saw Charles Gibson of ABC News argue last night that early voting was a bad idea, because early voters would cast their votes without complete information.

Oh, yeah! Gibson's argument sounds to me much like the Republican line that too many Democrats are voting early and therefore the government should prohibit early voting.

This campaign has been going on for the last two years. Why Gibson would ever imagine that voters deprive themselves of essential information by voting two weeks early is beyond me.

I voted for Barach Obama and have a pretty good idea of what Obama means for the political future. Nothing John McCain could say in the last week is going to change my mind.

I want a progressive change where tax policy is built upon sensible foundations. Where the government does something about global warming. Where health care is provided for all Americans. And above all, where the war in Iraq is brought to a speedy close.

Gibson wants to restrain people like me from voting early. I sense a partisan reason behind his argument. Maybe because he knows that most of the early voters favor Obama.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Stop American raids into Syria and Pakistan. They do much more harm than any benefit of catching some mid-level Al Qaeda sympathizer. They kill innocent women, children and villagers. The arouse intense anti-American sentiment that will last for decades. They spur bystanders to join the insurgency with the goal of killing American soldiers and officials.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Dan Froomkin has a good run-down in today's The Washington Post website of newspaper reaction to the illegal Bush raid of a Syrian village. The result of the incursion was the death of eight people, including one woman and four juveniles.

A survivor on BBC World News last night said that the soldiers ransacked the tents that people were living in, and when they finished and were about to depart, they opened fire without provocation.

Froomkin writes that Bush with this illegal raid is trying to craft another October surprise:

"By approving a U.S. military raid across the Iraqi border into Syria, Bush has changed the rules once again. On Sunday about two dozen special forces soldiers entered the country by helicopter and killed a suspected Iraqi insurgent leader, without the permission or cooperation of the Syrian government. Call it an October surprise -- if not, at least so far, the October surprise."


I caught a fragment of BBC Radio's interview of Richard Perle, notorious supporter of Bush's unwarranted invasion of Iraq, justifying the illegal U.S. incursion into Syria which left at least eight people dead, including one woman and four children.

Perle said it was "hot pursuit." Now "hot pursuit" is the legal doctrine that allows the police to follow someone into his home or onto his property after the police saw the person committing a crime. There is no need to first obtain a warrant.

How Perle thinks it is "hot pursuit" is beyond comprehension. Whomever the U.S. was looking for, that person was not running away. So some other justification for what appears an illegal violation of the U.N. charter and international law needs to be created.

Tell me, what is the difference between some jihadist exploding a bomb in a crowded Baghdad market and U.S. special forces entering tents in this Syrian town and shooting all the inhabitants? Are they not both terroristic acts?

The Syrians claim that the U.S. engaged in murder of unarmed civilians. A surviving Syrian young woman claims that the special forces opened fire on civilians in the tents before departing in their choppers. If the lady's account is true, then the United States engages in terrorism just as much as the crazed bomber in the market.

Monday, October 27, 2008


The BBC reports that a U.S. unmanned drone fired missiles into a house in South Waziristan, killing 20 people.

As I wrote several times before, this illegal U.S. incursion into Pakistan must stop.

First, it is a severe violation of human rights. Each of those 20 people deserved to live and to live in peace and without fear of being blown to bits by an American bomb.

Second. Whoever in the White House thinks that the U.S. has a right to attack an agrarian village in Pakistan has no knowledge or concept of international law. Such an attack violates Pakistan sovereignty and is an insult to all Pakistanis.

Third. A military strike like this one killing ordinary Pakistani peasants does severe damage to the fight against militant Islamism and forever destroys any Pakistani goodwill towards the U.S., at least in the surrounding Pakistan areas. Military action cannot accomplish peace or uproot "terrorism." All it can do is exacerbate ill will between Pakistani Islamists and Americans.

So again I say, ground all U.S. war planes, whether manned or unmanned. Cease firing missiles into Pakistan. Stop the killing of civilians.


The U.S. has finally admitted that it carried out an attack against a Syrian village some eight kilometers into Syrian territory. For the past 24 hours Washington issued no confirmation of the incursion.

This is clearly reminiscent of Colombian president Uribe's attack against FARC insurgents in Ecuador. It has no basis in international law and is a sure fire way to start another war, if not regional, even world-wide.

Katherine Zoepf reports in today's The New York Times web site:

"Syria’s state-run media also intensified its criticism of the United States on Monday, with the government newspaper Tishrin accusing American forces of committing “a war crime,” Agence France-Presse said."

I condemn the Bush gang for approving this attack which is a clear violation of Syrian territoriality. If the U.S. had any gripes about this poor Syrian farming village, it could have pursued a diplomatic course by talking to the Syrian government. It could have done so if it chose, but instead, Bush/Cheney resorted to military force.

The result is eight people dead, including one woman and four children. Not only is this a serious breach of respect for another country's sovereignty but above all it is a violation of the eight human beings who were gunned down by American special forces.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


The BBC reports that U.S. airborne troops and four U.S. helicopters attacked a town eight kilometers within Syria this afternoon, near the Syria-Iraq border.

Reports the BBC:

"US helicopter-borne troops have carried out a raid inside Syria along the Iraqi border, killing eight people including four children, Syrian officials say.

"The official Syrian news agency Sana said the raid took place in the Abu Kamal border area, in eastern Syria.

"It said that American soldiers on four helicopters had stormed a building under construction on Sunday night."

Once again, there are reports of civilian deaths, including children. The BBC reports:

"The dead include a man, his four children and a married couple, the Syrian report said, without giving details of the children's ages.

"The village was named as Sukkiraya, 8km (5 miles) from the Iraqi border."

Second, why is the U.S. taking this action now, just 10 days before the presidential election?

And why must the U.S. violate international law by crossing the border into Syria and conducting a military raid? This is against the provisions of the U.N. Charter and international law. It is a clear violation to do this.

Here we see signs of Bush/Cheney machiavellian interference in the coming election. Do anything, even start another war, if it would help Republicans win the election. This is my suspicion until the facts prove otherwise.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Another military fiasco by the U.S. in Waziristan. American drones fired two missiles into a village madrassa, killing eight students.

The BBC reports on its web site:

"The school, in North Waziristan, is close to the residence of a fugitive Taleban leader, Jalaluddin Haqqani, witnesses told the BBC Urdu Service. At least two missiles, reportedly fired by pilotless US drones, hit the school early on Thursday."

Perhaps the U.S. was aiming the missiles at the Taliban leader but that is no consolation to the families of the dead students.

This whole military set of tactics that relies on the use of manned and unmanned aircraft needs to stop. It does more harm than good, and has made ordinary Pakistani villagers into allies of the jihadists and Talibanis.

When Obama is elected, I am hoping that he will put an end to the use of American war planes in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. The dropping of bombs or the firing of missiles from aircraft is notoriously imprecise, and almost always leads to unintended and cruel civilian casualties. It is totally unacceptable.

Writes the BBC:

"Witnesses told the BBC that the missiles destroyed nearly half of the school building in the Dande Darpakhel area near Miranshah, the main town in the North Waziristan tribal region.

"At least six people were injured in the attack, witnesses say. It is still not clear whether there were any foreign fighters among the dead students or whether it is linked to Mr Haqqani or his son, Sirajuddin.

"Local people have said that most of the injured were local students at the seminary. . . "

"In recent weeks the United States has launched many missile strikes against suspected militant targets in the Afghan border region.

"Washington says the strikes are used against militant targets, but correspondents say that intelligence failures have sometimes led to civilian casualties.

"Figures compiled by the BBC Urdu service show that some 80 people have been killed in a number of suspected US missile strikes in South and North Waziristan region over the past month.

"Earlier in October a suspected pilotless American drone fired missiles in North Waziristan, killing at least six people, Pakistani intelligence officials said."


Some thoughts on the comments of several of CNBC's commentators on the crisis with the rating agencies and with the controversy surrounding the 700 billion+ rescue of financial institutions. As to the credit agencies, many observers including myself accuse the agencies, such as Standard & Poors and Moody's, of awarding high ratings to junk bond issues not on the basis of the poor underlying credits but because of the large fees able to be generated.

Larry Kudlow on CNBC's Kudlow & Co. claims that Argentina's president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, is a "socialist" for trying to nationalize private pensions. Has Kudlow ever looked in his mirror and saw himself for what he really is, the "great American socialist" for his support of government ownership of U.S. banks? Kudlow also calls Obama a socialist. Kudlow, the "great American patriot," as he likes to call himself, obviously does not like Obama's sensible tax policy, yet he foolishly supports a multi-billion dollar wasteful government nationalization of AIG and American banks.

As to Michelle Cabruso Cabrera, Kudlow's acolyte, she tries to blame the government for the sins of the rating agencies, claiming that the government is mainly responsible because she claims it has refused to allow new entries into the ratings business, and this lack of competition is what caused the ratings fiasco.

Hey Michelle, please cite chapter and verse to back up this far-out position that the government restricts the number of ratings entities. It turns out that S&P, Moody's, et al., prostituted their role of giving an impartial judgment on the value of credits if they could earn more money. A junk credit could be turned into a golden AAA if enough money were paid to these guys. The whole ratings industry stinks. And you try to deflect blame by saying it is the government's fault.

As to government prevention of competition, I have a test for Cabruso Cabrera. Start your own ratings agency and see how much business you can get. Not a lot I would expect. So much for your silly "the government bears responsibility for not allowing competition" argument.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


The U.S. and the European Union have decided to pledge some 4.5 billion dollars to Georgia for aid in rebuilding the infrastructure destroyed in its foolish war with Russia this past August.

So it seems that if a former Soviet-bloc country starts a war with Russia and then gets trounced, it can rest assure that the Western World will bail it out and extend it aid. This seems a dangerous precedent and a moral hazard.

Furthermore, even though he ordered the war and the shelling of Russian civilians in South Ossetia, Georgian president Saakashvili receives praise from world leaders like Bush who have used him as a front man against Putin, Medvedev and Russia. Saakashvili has it made. Of the 4.5 billion in aid, how much do you think his cut will be?

Forget about Saakasvili's crackdown on Georgian newspapers and dissidents who wanted more freedom of the press and more democratic protections of civil rights. The world does not give a care about these things or lack of civil protections in Georgia, only that Saakashvili has provoked the great Russian bear.

One last point. How come there is no pledging of aid for the civilians in South Ossetia who were on the receiving end of Georgia's unprovoked shelling and lethal missiles?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


The BBC reports that an Afghan court reduced a death sentence to life imprisonment for a journalism student who questioned the lack of women's rights in Islam.

Alastair Leithead writes for the BBC from Kabul:

"Sayed Pervez Kambaksh, 24, was sent to prison in October 2007 after reportedly downloading material from the internet on women's rights in Islam.

"A court is his home city of Mazar-e-Sharif condemned him to death. An appeals court in Kabul reduced the sentence, but Mr Kambaksh's family say they will fight for his full release."

Where is President Karzai in this ridiculously unjust case? And where is the intellectual elite of Kabul? Why has no one stood up to defend the accused and call his sentence a travesty of justice?

Reports Leithead:

"Mr Ibrahimi [the accused's brother] criticised Afghan President Hamid Karzai for not using his power to intervene and to pardon his brother.

"He said despite professing that Afghanistan was now a democratic country, Mr Karzai had not taken steps to protect freedom of speech.

"Mr Kambaksh's case has highlighted the tension between the voices of conservative Islam in Afghanistan and the liberal international backers of President Karzai."

Leithead quotes Kambaksh on his trial:

"In an interview from prison last month, Mr Kambaksh told the BBC that he had not been allowed to defend himself at his original trial, which lasted less than five minutes. "

Monday, October 20, 2008


The New York Times has an article today by John Burns on the lessons that Americans seemed to have missed from the ten-year Russian occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980's.

Burns interviews Zamir N. Kabulov, the Russian Ambassador to Afghanistan and former KGB Afghan section head.

"Mr. Kabulov, 54, is no ordinary ambassador, having served as a K.G.B. agent in Kabul — and eventually as the K.G.B. resident, Moscow’s top spy — in the 1980s and 1990s, during and after the nine-year Soviet military occupation. He also worked as an adviser to the United Nations’ peacekeeping envoy during the turbulent period in the mid-1990s that led to the Taliban’s seizing power."

Kabulov, according to Burns, talks about the Americans today in Afghanistan:

"In fact, it is precisely because of a belief that the Soviet past may hold lessons for the American future that a talk with Mr. Kabulov is valued by many Western diplomats here. That is a perception that has drawn at least one NATO general to the Russian Embassy in Mr. Kabulov’s years as ambassador, though the officer involved, not an American, showed no sign of having been influenced by what he heard, Mr. Kabulov said.

"“They listen, but they do not hear,” he said with another wry smile.

"“Their attitude is, ‘The past is the past,’ and that they know more than I do.” Perhaps, too, he said, “they think what I have to say is just part of a philosophy of revenge,” a diplomatic turning of the tables by a government in Moscow that is embittered by the Soviet failure here and eager for the United States to suffer a similar fate."

The underlying theme of Kabulov's advice is that Afghanis detest foreign invaders, whoever they may be. The more numerous the occupiers, the greater the level of Afghan insurgent violence against them, whether they be Persians under Alexander the Great several thousand years ago or Americans under Gen. David McKiernan today.

Writes Burns of Kabulov:

"The solution, he said, is to shift the fighting as quickly as possible to Afghan troops. This is something the United States and its partners have already embarked on, with a decision this summer to double the size of the Afghan Army. But even that, Mr. Kabulov said, will accomplish little unless the Americans turn the army into a genuine national force, with a sense among the troops that they are fighting for their country, not as “clients” of the Americans, as Mr. Kabulov believes they see themselves now."

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Maureen Fan writes today on the web site of The Washington Post that a court in China has sentenced an Olympic official to death for taking millions in bribes. The court then gave a reprieve from the death sentence.

Reports Fan:

"Liu Zhihua, 59, oversaw construction, real estate, sports and traffic projects for the Beijing Olympic Games until he was fired in June 2006 over charges of corruption and bad morals. His high-profile antics and "decadent lifestyle" attracted the shocked attention of the country's top leaders, according to Chinese media reports."

The official is lucky in receiving a reprieve. How many others in China are sentenced to death, and then suffer the execution of the sentence?

When will "civilized" countries do away with the death sentence? I mean not only China but the United States, Iraq and Iran?

Proponents claim the death penalty prevents and deters other criminals from committing serious crimes. But there is no credible evidence that this is true. Other proponents say that the death penalty is a just penalty, in other words, proportional retribution for crimes that offend society. But why should the state take a person's life, no matter how serious a crime was committed? Saddam Hussein should not have been hanged; that was cruel and violent and unworthy of the state of Iraq. And certainly no one can argue that the death penalty "rehabilitates" because the condemned loses his life and his chance to reform.

The death penalty is cruel and unusual and inflicts horrible physical and emotional punishment on the condemned. A state, given all its power, overreaches its powers when it condemns and then executes the person convicted. And there is no evidence whatsoever that the death penalty deters others.

The United States is just as guilty of inflicting cruel and unusual punishment via the death penalty as the rest of the unenlightened countries that put their citizens to death.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Bush and Cheney and their gang have only three months left in office. The election for a new president is only two and half weeks away. For those reasons, the U.S. government should not be ramming through a status-of-forces agreement with the government of Iraq. Any decision or agreement should be left to the new president.

The proposed agreement calls for U.S. forces to be in Iraq until 2011. This is unacceptable. The world sees Americans as occupiers, not as liberators. The U.S. needs to pull out as soon as possible. Consider the demonstration today by tens of thousands of Shiites against the proposed agreement.

Hamza Hendawi writes in the website of The Washington Post:

"Anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr urged Iraq's parliament to reject a pact that would extend U.S. presence in Iraq for three years as tens of thousands of his followers marched through Baghdad's streets Saturday to reinforce that demand.

"The large turnout points to trouble ahead for the U.S.-Iraqi security deal as Sunni and Shiite lawmakers weigh the political risks associated with the far-reaching agreement."

The BBC reports on the Shiite demonstration:

"Chanting slogans and waving banners, tens of thousands of Shias, mainly young men, marched on the eastern suburb of Sadr City towards the centre of Baghdad.
"The BBC's Jim Muir in Baghdad says Moqtada Sadr's militant opposition to the US presence has strong grassroots support among many Shias - and this was a physical manifestation of that opposition."

I applaud the protesting Iraqis. They want the foreign Americans out of their country. If the roles were reversed and Iraqis were the invaders and occupiers, who would find it strange that Americans would be protesting without end? Instead of trying to saddle the next president with his ill-conceived foreign adventure in Iraq, Bush should quit trying to make a deal on keeping American troops in Iraq. The sooner they come home, the better for both the U.S. and Iraq.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Once more we see the devastating effect of U.S. air strikes in Afghanistan. A report comes in that insurgents are meeting in some small village. U.S. war planes and choppers rush to the scene, usually in the middle of the night. They fire rockets and drop 500 lb. bombs.

The result? U.S. military spokesmen say they killed so many "insurgents." But the townspeople say 18 civilians, mostly women and children, died in the attack. Even the BBC reports that its correspondent saw bodies of women and children.

"At least 18 civilians have been killed in an air strike by foreign forces in the southern Afghan province of Helmand, reports say.

"A BBC reporter in the provincial capital Lashkar Gah saw the bodies - three women and the rest children - ranging in age from six months to 15."

Stop these inhumane attacks on Afghan villagers. Ground all U.S. war planes. End the practice of dropping bombs and missiles from war planes. Otherwise, more children and innocent civilians will be killed, and the U.S. governement could find itself charged with multiple war crimes.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


During these turbulent market periods, I tune into CNBC during the day. Periodically I hear silly and irrational comments. Take CNBC host Dylan Ratigan's assertions that the Treasury is wasting "our money" in its bail-out. Here are my comments sent to Ratigan:

Everytime you say that tax dollars paid in to the Treasury are "our money," it makes me cringe. If those dollars were "your money," then you would have a legal right to recover them. Furthermore, you would be entitled to interest.

But you and I know full well that you have no legal right to monies paid in for taxes. And you deserve no interest.

Of course tax dollars are NOT "your money." You oversimplify and confuse by repeating this meme. You sound just like W in his self-serving political description of of why taxes should be reduced.

So either explain how tax dollars are legally your money or stop your inflammatory mischaracterization.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


I watch CNBC for market information, but I don't appreciate political comments of some of their on-the-air personalities that presume all of their listeners are mean Republicans.

In previous posts, I have mentioned Larry Kudlow and Joe Kernen as being Republican shills, and how they seem to have morphed into pro-government interventionists when their jobs or their 401(k)s are in trouble.

I need to mention another Republican ideologue - Michelle Cabruso Cabrera. Tonight on Larry Kudlow's hour, she indicated that Barack Obama could not raise taxes given the dire shape of the economy and the decline in stock values.

Hey, wait a minute. Barack Obama wants to lower taxes for anyone earning less than $250,000.

So what is Cabruso Cabrera talking about? She wants to convey that Obama wants to raise taxes? This is just plain false for anyone making less than $250K, or 99% of all taxpayers.

Michelle Cabruso Cabrera is just another shill for the Republicans, in the mold of Lary Kudlow and Joe Kernen.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


The say that truth is stranger than fiction. Here's the latest example. All those Republicans who for years have been saying that government can't be trusted, that America is the home of free and unfettered capitalism, that the markets are best left free and unrestricted, . . . these very same people now are crying for government intervention in the credit and equity markets.

Take Larry Kudlow, the host of CNBC's Kudlow and Company. This guy has been a Republican and neo-con shill for the last 30 years. He calls himself a true believer in American capitalism and free markets. He says he is a "great American patriot." He decries government intervention in, say, rescuing those people who face imminent foreclosures on the basis that the marketplace punishes those who overreach or misuse credit. He believes in deregulation and cutting of taxes.

Yet this same Larry Kudlow has been in the forefront of those who say that the Fed and the Treasury need to help out the big banks and brokerages. What then do we see here? Kudlow is all for government regulation and intervention when his livelihood is at stake, but against it when the little guy but not himself is at risk.

You couldn't make his stuff up. One of the most vociferous mouths against government intervention in the "free markets" suddenly has a conversion and becomes a most vocal proponent of using taxpayer funds to take a stake in the biggest banks and brokers. Kudlow, the great American patriot in favor of unrestricted capitalism, now supports Bush's socialistic move to have the U.S. government own a piece of private businesses.

And Kudlow is not the only one. How about Joe Kernen, one of the hosts of Squawk on the Street on CNBC? Kernen was always against government regulation of any kind. I assume he meant he was against stuff like SEC regulation of the markets. Well Kernen got his wish. The SEC decided not to regulate collateralized mortgage obligations (CMOs) and other made-up securities. Because of this deregulation, we are now in the mess we find ourselves. Yet Kernen, like Kudlow, now calls for government intervention.

You think these guys would recognize the illogical and contradictory positions they now take, vis-a-vis their former government-keep-away meme. Sorry to say, they don't and they refuse to concede the ridiculousness of their positions.

Monday, October 13, 2008


Congratulations to Paul Krugman for winning the 2008 Nobel Price in Economics. Krugman is an op-ed writer for The New York Times as well as a professor of economics at Princeton.

Catherine Rampell writes in The New York Times:

"The prize committee lauded Mr. Krugman for “having shown the effects of economies of scale on trade patterns and on the location of economic activity.” "

Paul Krugman is a critic of the laissez-faire policies of the Bush gang, especially when it comes to banks and investment banks. Krugman believes, as I do, that this whole financial mess that has resulted in so many people losing their homes to foreclosure, came about because Bush's cronies failed to apply any meaningful regulation to the mortgage sales practices as well as to the securitization of home mortgages in these "collateralized mortgage obligations."

Reports Rampell:

"Mr. Krugman, 55, is probably more widely known as a perpetual thorn in George Bush’s side from his perch as an Op-Ed page columnist for nearly a decade. His columns have won him both strong supporters and ardent critics. The Nobel, however, was awarded for academic — and less political — research that he conducted primarily before he began regularly writing for The Times."

The Nobel award to Krugman, however, can be seen as a rejection of this Bush free-for-all in the mortgage and securities markets. Bush thinks his legacy will be recognized in time, but the rest of the world has already made its judgment, and it is more a condemnation than a validation.


Once again, we hear the drumbeat of those trying to demonize Iran and make it the "enemy" of the United States. This time from Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq.

Ernesto Londono writes in The Washington Post:

"Gen. Ray Odierno said in an interview that Iran, a Shiite Islamic nation eyed warily by the United States and Sunni Arab countries, is working publicly and covertly to undermine the status-of-forces agreement as officials from Iraq and the United States report nearing a deal that must be ratified by Iraq's parliament."

But like similar charges by U.S. military officials against Iran, this one has no proof. We are asked to accept Gen. Odierno's word.

Reports Londono:

"Odierno said he had no definitive proof of the bribes, but added that "there are many intelligence reports" that suggest Iranians are "coming in to pay off people to vote against it." The reports have not been made public."

Remember that Iran and Iraq share a contiguous border, that many Iraqis are Shiites like most Iranians, and that many current Iraqi leaders fled to Iran for refuge during Saddam Hussein's regime. So there are naturally close ties between Iran and the present government of Iraq. That Iran would be exercising political influence should not be surprising. However, it should not be used to stir up anger in the United States against Iran.

We need to see any "evidence" in order to judge Odierno's charges and the level of Iran's influence, if any. Is the influence legitimate or illegitimate? Without evidence, Odierno should quit stirring up the anti-Iranian resentment pot.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


I saw and heard Kathleen Hall Jamieson's analysis of various campaign ads last night on Bill Moyers Journal. Jamieson said that Obama's ad on McCain's proposal to create private accounts in lieu of Social Security retirement income was "dirty politics." I strongly disagree with Jamieson.

I found Obama's take right on, contrary to Ms. Jamieson's description. Those private accounts favored by Bush and McCain would divert contributions of younger workers to their own private accounts, thus depriving older retirees of monies necessary to pay for their SS retirement benefits. While it would take some time for this to affect current SS recipients, it still would occur sometime in the future. Furthermore, in today's market meltdown, all types of assets have been decimated. That includes bonds as well as stocks. So 1) Jamieson is not correct in saying that certain types of accounts would protect against market melt-down, or 2) that McCain/Bush SS privatization would not have an effect on retirees or future retirees.


We need a whole rethinking of U.S. foreign policy, specifically where it comes to military force. Currently the U.S. maintains military bases in over 100 countries. The thinking is that the U.S. is the enforcer of American values and interests throughout the world. No wonder most of the world's population dislikes America and has a negative view of Americans.

Number one problem that must be changed is the U.S. policy towards Afghanistan. To think that military force can re-make or pacify Afghanistan is pure fiction without any basis in reality. Any peace in that troubled country will come from negotiation and compromise, and such negotiation must of necessity include the Taliban who are mostly Pashtun.

Afghanistan is comprised of tribal groups, such as the Uzbeks, the Tajiks, the Hazaras, the Turkmen, the Qizilbash and the Pastun. The Taliban are mostly Pastun. So the Taliban's interests are not only religious but also involve Afghani tribal politics.

There is no way that the U.S. is going to win hearts and minds of Afghanis, no matter of what tribal affiliation, with its current policy of dropping bombs and firing lethal rockets on Afghan villages and homes from war planes. That approach results in the deaths of mostly Afghan civilians and innocent families. Of course, the U.S. military loves to recite how many "terrorists" it killed through such a destructive approach, but upon inspection, the dead incinerated bodies reveal women and children and mostly poor agrarian farmers.

Imagine if you had your child killed by an American rocket or bomb, how you would feel towards the Americans.

The current U.S. military policy, no matter the claims for "terrorists" killed, is cruel as well as counterproductive.

Military force will never obtain U.S. objectives nor will it ever protect "American interests."

The first step must be the grounding of all U.S. bombers and war planes in Afghanistan. A second step would be to officially recognize the futility of imposing U.S. foreign policy by military force.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


This whole stock market crash can be laid to the deregulatory policies of George W. Bush. This boozo has only three months left, but I wonder if the nation and the stock market can survive for that long.

Bush's push for dismantling the regulatory structure of the SEC has everything to do with permitting these unknowable Collateralized Mortgage Obligations (CMOs) to be traded and issued without SEC registration.

In Bush's world, everything goes, and now the stock market and millions of investors are paying the steep price.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Now the U.S. army in Afghanistan is admitting that its reckless air strike last month killed 30 innocent Afghani civilians. Remember that the military's first response was that no civilians were killed. Townspeople say that the air strike killed over 70.

The BBC reports:

"A US military inquiry has found that an air strike on militants in western Afghanistan on 22 August killed many more civilians than first acknowledged.

"US Central Command said 33 civilians, not seven, had died in the village of Azizabad in Herat province.

"While voicing regret, it said US forces had followed rules of engagement. "

So the U.S. Central Command voices regrets but says U.S. forces are in the clear because they "had followed rules of engagement." Oh yeah!

If "rules of engagement" allow the U.S. forces to drop napalm, cluster and other deadly explosives on some poor, rural Afghan town, knowing full well that they will incinerate houses and civilians, then we should get rid of these "rules of engagement."

The first thing that must be done: ground all U.S. war planes in Afghanistan. Cease and desist any more bombing runs, any more attacks from the air. Pull all U.S. war planes and helicopters out of Afghanistan.

Otherwise this reckless and inhumane and entirely counter-productive killing of innocent Afghan civilians will continue unabated.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A federal judge this afternoon has ordered the release of 17 Uighurs from the notorious U.S. prison at Guantanamo.

Del Quentin Wilber reports on The Washington Post website:

"U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina issued the landmark ruling in the case of a small band of captives, known as Uighurs, who have been held at Guantanamo for nearly seven years and are no longer considered enemy combatants by the U.S. government.

"At a hearing packed with Uighurs who live in the Washington area, Urbina rejected government arguments that he had no authority to order the men's release. He said he had such authority because the men were being held indefinitely and it was the only remedy available. He cited a June decision by an appellate court that found evidence against the Uighurs to be unreliable."

The Bush administration protested the ruling that orders the Uighurs to appear in Judge Urbina's court this Friday.

Reports the BBC web site:

"Justice department attorney John C O'Quinn's request to delay the detainees' release pending a possible appeal was denied by the judge.

"White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said the ruling "could be used as precedent for other detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, including sworn enemies of the United States suspected of planning the attacks of 9/11, who may also seek release into our country". "

I will have more to say on this wonderful and correct decision in future posts.

Monday, October 6, 2008


The BBC reports on the dire strait of residents of Mogadishu, capital of Somalia. Just today 12 civilians at a market were killed in a fire fight between the U.S. backed "government" and insurgents from Islamic Courts.

Reports the BBC:

"The world should be shocked at the systematic destruction of Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, and its residents, says lobby group Human Rights Watch.

"The organisation told the BBC the city had become a zone of free-fire between government and insurgent forces.

"It said if such a situation was happening anywhere else in the world, like Georgia or Lebanon for example, it would be considered a travesty.

"Instead Somalia was the most ignored tragedy in the world today, HRW said."

And who is responsible for the carnage and destruction of the city? George W. Bush and Dick Cheney who so fear an Islamic government in northeast Africa that they would try to overthrow a legitimate government and install their own non-Islamic friends. Bush and Cheney also persuaded Ethiopia, an enemy of Somalia, to invade and occupy Mogadishu. In Bush's eyes, all Islamic peoples are terrorists.

The result is that Somalia is a burnt out shell where the poorest and the most vulnerable still reside because they have no place to go and don't have the wherewithall to get out.

The BBC's Mark Doyle reports on visiting Mogadishu:

"BBC World Affairs correspondent Mark Doyle recently visited Mogadishu and says the city on the Indian Ocean, which was previously one of Africa's trading hubs with the Middle East, is dying.

"Now whole swathes of it are rubble or skeletons of buildings without doors or windows or roofs, he says.

"He adds that the most shocking, eerie aspect of it is that in many parts of the capital all the people have fled."

Sunday, October 5, 2008


The agreement to sell nuclear technology to India is another of the Bush/Cheney foreign policy disasters.

India is not a signer or party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It has not agreed to use nuclear energy only for peaceful purposes. Contrast India's refusal to join the NPT with Iran which is a member. Yet the U.S. Congress just last week went along with Bush's illogical and dangerous agreement to give India full access to nuclear technology.

Now Pakistan wants the same deal. India is its arch rival and potential lethal enemy. It makes nothing but sense for Pakistan to ask its "ally" in the "war on terror" to extend the same access as Bush has now extended India.

And what must Teheran be thinking? Bush and Cheney froth at the mouth over Iran's pursuit of nuclear power, yet so cavalierly give a non-signer to the NPT full access.

And what must Russia and China be thinking? I suggest both these nuclear powers interpret the move as a ratcheting up by the Americans of the nuclear arms race. The lesson for both Russia and China is clear - stop dismantling your nuclear arsenals; instead, fortify them!

Bush has done great damage in lives and resources with his foolish war in Iraq. But his legacy of disasters surely will include this dangerous and unwise nuclear agreement with India.

Friday, October 3, 2008


Do we really want Sarah Palin a heart beat away from the highest political office? I don't think so. Yeah, she's savvy on talking into a TV camera, she memorized her talking points, she made no big mistakes.

But . . . she knew nothing about stuff like how Cheney has exercised secret powers as VP "on the dark side," what relief could be offered on home mortgages under water for those in bankruptcy, or the causes of the current financial crisis in the credit markets (other than "predatory lenders" and/or those evil-doers on Wall Street).

It shows what a gambler McCain is and was for having selected her as his running mate.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Over the last few days, I have been out of the blogging loop, dealing with a root canal and an attendant infection. I hope to be back on the circuit in the next day or two.