Larry Kudlow was his usual bombastic frothing self today, railing at Obama for causing the stock market crash in the last few days and claiming that Obama was waging war on entrepreneurs and small businesses.
Kudlow is host of his own program on CNBC, and can't help himself in his vitriol towards Obama and Democrats. This guy is a Republican ideologue who will never be happy with a Democrat in the White House.
I say to CNBC, terminate Kudlow and replace him with someone who is less partisan and more concerned with the markets rather than politics.
Unfortunately, CNBC is peppered with people who are true believing mean Republicans - people like Joe Kernen, Michelle Cabruso Cabrera and Maria Bartiromo. Whoever does the CNBC hiring, I guess, avoids people who can think of things other than merely enriching themselves.
Friday, February 27, 2009
Larry Kudlow was his usual bombastic frothing self today, railing at Obama for causing the stock market crash in the last few days and claiming that Obama was waging war on entrepreneurs and small businesses.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
I commend Barack Obama for coming out with a budget that does not try to hide the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But I cannot understand why Obama allows CIA Chief Leon Panetta to claim that firing missiles into small villages in western Pakistan has been "successful." All the rockets do is build up animosity and hatred in the minds of ordinary Pakistanis for Americans and America. If the U.S. and Panetta think it is ethical and otherwise legal to kill 20 women and children if they aim at the one Taliban leader, they are morally blind and guilty of war crimes.
I also want Obama and Panetta to forcefully condemn rendition or extraordinary rendition. This is where the U.S. military or CIA captures a suspected terrorist in some foreign country and delivers him or her to a third country for purposes of harsh interrogation, otherwise known as "torture." So far Panetta and Obama seem to be signaling that the U.S. will continue this illegal and cruel practice.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Ben Armbruster of Think Progress notes an important Obama appointment- Chas Freeman as chairman of the National Intelligence Council.
"Freeman — a former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia who once served as President Nixon’s chief translator in China in 1972 — not only opposed the Iraq war, but has demonstrated a commitment to a well-rounded understanding of key U.S. national security issues and the importance of an even-handed U.S. role in the Israel-Palestine dispute . . ."
Armbruster writes that the right wing is up in arms against Freeman:
"However, Freeman’s views have the right wing outraged (yet some are afraid to go on record) and have “provoked a fierce behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign to torpedo the appointment.” Some examples:
"– Frank Gaffney: “This is a really serious error. …[Freeman] has compromised the objectivity that one would want in the person whose job it is to oversee the production of National Intelligence Estimates.”
"– Steve Rosen: This is a profoundly disturbing appointment. …Freeman is a strident critic of Israel… His views of the region are what you would expect in the Saudi foreign ministry."
Perhaps for once U.S. foreign policy will not respond in knee-jerk fashion and agree with everything Israeli leaders do or say just because they are Israelis. Freeman seems as if he is genuinely open to hear both sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before he makes a foreign policy decison.
Armbruster also notes that these same Freeman critics also complained about Obama's appointment of George Mitchell as his special envoy to the Middle East:
"Gaffney and Rosen echo the right’s discomfort at George Mitchell’s appointment as President Obama’s Israeli-Palestinian envoy. The Wonk Room’s Matt Duss notes, “One of the reasons conservative pro-Israel zealots have been displeased” with Mitchell is because he “has in the past shown that, not only does he recognize how provocative and harmful the [Jewish] settlements [in the West Bank] are, he’s actually been willing to say so in public.”"
Monday, February 23, 2009
The BBC reports that Amnesty International has condemned both the Israeli Defense Forces and Hamas for targeting civilians, in flagrant violations of the humanitarian laws of war.
Writes the BBC:
"The human rights group said it had evidence both Israel and Hamas had used weapons sourced from overseas to carry out attacks on civilians.
"It called for the UN Security Council to impose the embargo on all parties.
"Both Israel and Hamas have rejected the conclusions of the report, in which Amnesty accuses each of war crimes."
Amnesty specifically cites Israel's use of shells containing white phosphorous which causes severe and deep burns once it attaches to human flesh. And Amnesty condemns Hamas for allowing rockets to be fired indiscriminately at Israeli towns and villages, thereby causing civilian deaths and casualties.
Reports the BBC:
"Donatella Rovera, the head of an Amnesty fact-finding mission to southern Israel and Gaza, said: "Israeli forces used white phosphorus and other weapons supplied by the USA to carry out serious violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes.
""Their attacks resulted in the death of hundreds of children and other civilians and massive destruction of homes and infrastructure.
""At the same time, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups fired hundreds of rockets that had been smuggled in or made of components from abroad at civilian areas in Israel.
""Though far less lethal than the weaponry used by Israel, such rocket firing also constitutes a war crime and caused several civilian deaths.""
Many politicians in Israel as well as AIPAC here in the U.S. are always blaming Iran for supporting Hamas as well as Hezbollah. But almost all of the weapons used by Israel and the IDF come from the United States. And when they are used with such devastating effect against people, especially children, in Gaza, the Palestinians must believe that America and Americans hate them and stand with Israel in trying to eradicate them from the homeland.
The BBC reports:
"The [Amnesty] report said fragments and components of artillery, tank shells, fins from mortar rounds and aircraft-launched missiles and bombs were found in school playgrounds, hospitals and homes in Gaza.
"Israel's weaponry predominantly came from the US, the report said.
"About 1,300 Gazans and 13 Israelis died in 22 days of fighting last month."
Saturday, February 21, 2009
So far I am not happy with Barack Obama's policies on certain aspects of George W. Bush's "war on terror." My objections have relied on ideas posted by Steven D. Schwinn writing on Constitutional Law Prof Blog here.
First. I object to the whole concept of "state secrets." This is just a convenient euphemism for keeping secrets reports which would cause government and government officials public scorn and ridicule. Courts should not allow a sovereign to escape inspection by the public of government's actions.
Second. I want Obama to order the release of the 17 Uighurs still in custody at Guantanamo. They have never received any fair trial, charges of aiding terrorists have never been proved against them, they have been held illegally against their will for seven years. Obama, release the Uighurs.
Third. I condemn Obama and the U.S. government for continuing to attack villages in western Pakistan by firing missiles from drones into people's homes and villages. Obama seems to have accepted Bush's strategy that killing people by military means will succeed in making the U.S. more safe from terrorism. This is pure bull. All the killing does is to incite anti-American hatred and an unquenchable need for revenge.
Fourth. Stop the U.S. military build-up in Afghanistan. There has never been a successful invasion and occupation of that country since the time of Alexander the Great. History will not change for the Americans. Military force will only succeed in killing both Afghanis and Americans in larger and larger numbers.
Friday, February 20, 2009
The Obama administration is debating whether to attend the human rights symposium and gathering sponsored by the United Nations. The Washington Post reports that Obama still has not come to a final decision. He does not want to be part of a group that will condemn Israel for its actions against the Palestinians in Gaza.
This is another major Obama mistake. Many countries have no qualms in condemning Israel for its disproportionate and cruel war against Gaza, where the majority of inhabitants are children. When the rest of the world sees that the U.S. and Obama still insist in siding with Israel, notwithstanding the damning evidence against the Israel Defense Forces, the result will be antagonism and suspicion and even hatred generated against the United States and Americans.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
I want to commend Sen. John Kerry and his two Democratic congressmen for visiting Gaza today for the purpose of seeing for themselves the destruction caused to Palestinian infrastructure by the Israeli attack and bombardment.
The BBC reports:
"A former presidential candidate, Mr Kerry was visiting Gaza with US congressmen Brian Baird and Keith Ellison in the first such visit to the Hamas-run Strip since 2007. . . .
"UN relief agency chief Karen Abu Zayd told the BBC the letter had been received by the UN and passed on.
"She did not say if Senator John Kerry had accepted it, and there were no details about the letter's contents."
Cong. Baird said the almost complete destruction defied imagination. The Israelis seemed to have taken special interest in targeting Palestinian businesses and farms. But they also destroyed schools, hospitals, mosques and police stations.
Hamas apparently delivered a letter to Barack Obama. This is a good first step. The outdated bizarre notion that the U.S. should not speak or negotiate with Hamas because it is a "terrorist organization" is left over from George W. Bush. Obama should repudiate it and immediately begin to sit down at the table with Palestinian representatives from both Hamas and Fatah. There can be no peace until and unless Obama is willing to do this.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Obama has decided to send 17,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan. This is a catastrophe to Afghan civilians. Last year, according to a BBC report on figures released by the United Nations, the number of Afghani civilian casualties rose almost 40%.
The BBC reports:
"The UN report into civilian deaths said the death toll in 2008 civilian was "the highest of any year" since the Taleban were ousted in 2001.
"The majority of the victims were killed in the south of the country - where international and Afghan forces are fighting a fierce counter-insurgency campaign.
"In one of the most-publicised incidents, US troops fighting off a Taleban ambush last November bombed a wedding party in the Shah Wali Kot area in southern Afghanistan, killing about 40 civilians - mainly women and children.
"The issue of civilian deaths at the hands of foreign troops is a hugely sensitive issue, says the BBC's Martin Patience, in Kabul, and is something that the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, has raised repeatedly."
Now come the reports that Pres. Barack Obama has decided to send 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan. This is a big mistake. Afghanistan is a bottomless pit that will just chew up and spit out American soldiers. Obama is making Afghanistan his war, and he will surely regret his bad decision.
Mike Allen of Politico reports:
"President Barack Obama plans to announce Tuesday night that about 17,000 additional troops are headed to Afghanistan in the coming months, administration officials said.
"The White House is expected to announce the president is ordering one additional Army brigade and one additional Marine brigade into combat, along with the support troops they need, the officials said.
"Obama has announced a 60-day review of his Afghanistan policy but had to order up these forces sooner because units need to train for their new mission, and commanders want them in place ahead of the traditional fighting season as the weather improves."
The U.S. will never solve its problems in Afghanistan by military might. The more Afghanis U.S. special forces kill in 2 AM raids, the more Afghani children American bombs injures and destroys, the more hatred and revenge will arise in the minds of ordinary mostly uneducated Afghanis towards the United States and Americans.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Several items of importance:
1. JUAN COLE'S POSTING ON SUFFERING OF GAZA'S CHILDREN. If you have not visited or read Juan Cole's Informed Comment, his post today on the plight of children wounded in the Israeli attack on Gaza is a must read. Here is the link.
"Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has ruled out allowing needed goods into Gaza, which Israel has virtually surrounded from land and sea, until Hamas releases captured Israeli soldier Sgt. Gilad Shalit. Olmert is thereby committing a war crime. You can't collectively punish the general Gaza population if you are the occupying authority. It is not allowed to torture that wailing child in the video above by keeping out painkillers, just because some adult somewhere from the same territory captured an Israeli soldier. But Olmert will get a pass on his war crimes. Apparently you only get punished for them if you are weak or lose; it isn't the crime but the power of the criminal that matters."
2. CRASH OF TWO NUCLEAR SUBMARINES IN ATLANTIC. The crash of a British nuclear submarine with a French nuclear submarine someplace in the Atlantic Ocean illustrates why no country should possess a nuclear submarine. There could have been release of hazardous nuclear material into the ocean. For all we know, there might have been, although both France and the U.K. deny any such nuclear leakage. Furthermore, both crews could have been killed. Neither Britain nor France needs a war weapon like a nuclear submarine. No country should possess a nuclear sub, not even the United States.
3. ANOTHER DRONE MISSILE STRIKE IN PAKISTAN. I don't understand how Barack Obama could allow the continuation of these missile strikes in Pakistan's western tribal areas. If the U.S. and Obama think that killing villagers or destroying someone's home is going to win the war against Taliban insurgents, they are mistaken. All these strikes do is to incite hatred for Americans and foment in the minds and hearts of all Pakistanis the urge to take revenge against the U.S.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Barack Obama is doing a review of the U.S. strategy towards Afghanistan. The review should be forthcoming soon because it is plain to all that having U.S. forces in Afghanistan is doomed to failure.
There will never be any military solution to the societal questions faced by Afghan society. Whether to have a closed, religiously oriented, fundamental society is up to the Afghanis, not a decision that can be made by American military power. You can condemn the subservient role of women in Islamic fundamental societies, but you will never change it by killing Mullah Omar or any of his supporters. For every "insurgent" killed by Americans or by their missiles, 10, 20, maybe even 100 poor Afghani youths will rise up, swearing to take vengeance on the U.S. and on Americans.
Furthermore, if Obama does not stop the fighting, there will be hundreds more American casualties. And if Obama sends in 30,000 more American troops, the number of U.S. casualties will rise exponentially.
Since the time of Alexander the Great, numerous nations have invaded Afghanistan, only to come to the grim realization that it is a country that will never allow itself to be conquered or occupied. History's story should convince Obama that it is futile to keep U.S. soldiers there.
Finally, Afghanistan is by and large a rural composite of agrarian villages, populated by a simple, uneducated people that wants to be left alone. If Obama is afraid of Afghanistan-supplied jihadists intent on killing Americans, he should mount a police action in concert with other nations.
But Obama should stop the war with its attendant bombings, killing of Afghani civilians, and 2 AM raids by overeager special forces. Don't increase U.S. troop levels. Take all U.S. forces out of Afghanistan.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Today we receive another report of the U.S. firing missiles from drone aircraft aimed at Taliban and jihadists living in the Wahiristans in the tribal territories in western Pakistan. The latest strike reportedly killed 27 "insurgents."
The BBC reports:
"The missile strike hit a house in the South Waziristan area, near the Afghan border, which officials said was used as a hide-out for Taleban militants.
"The US has carried out more than 20 air strikes from drones in north-western Pakistan in recent months. . .
"Islamabad has long argued that US air strikes complicate its own fight against insurgents, and violate its sovereignty.
Pakistani leaders had expressed hope that the new US administration of Barack Obama would halt the controversial manoeuvres."
When the U.S. government reports death tallies like the one above, the important question is how many of the dead were women and children? And how many were just ordinary Pakistanis just eking out their traditional lives in a remote rustic village?
These U.S. raids do no good, but, in fact, cause much resentment and hatred by Pakistanis universally for the Americans and for the U.S. Pakistan is a proud country, and the Pakistanis are never going to forget how the U.S. violated their territorial integrity by sending in the drones as well as Special Forces. Just as Americans would be outraged if Russia sent its missile-firing drones into U.S. airspace, so Pakistanis feel about the U.S. actions, which, by the way, clearly and totally Pakistani national law.
Obama needs to bring these raids to an end, once and for all. Military might raining from the sky will never make Pakistani villagers allies of America.
The Washington Post has an op-ed today by Edward Schumacher-Matos on Hugo Chavez.
Schumacher-Matos advises the Obama administration to simply ignore Chavez, rather than scheme against him.
"Obama should merely ignore Chávez and let Venezuelans take care of him. Much is made of how Chávez is a troublemaker who has enlisted Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Honduras and Cuba in an anti-American leftist alliance. Who cares? None of these small countries is a threat or wants to be. There is no Soviet Union to use them as a platform, and Chinese dabbling in the hemisphere is purely commercial."
But while plotting against Chavez would certainly be another gringo administration political disaster, ignoring Chavez is equally not sound. Obama should open a dialogue with Hugo Chavez. There is nothing to be gained from ignoring him. Chavez is respected in Latin and South America and has good relations with Chile, Argentina, Brazil and yes, even with Cuba. And Chavez has always respected the voters' will on the many elections held since he took office some nine years ago.
Chavez has made many mistakes and has an inordinate desire to be president for life. But on balance Chavez has done many good things for the poor in Venezuela. That's why his many supporters love him and would vote to make him president for as long as he wishes.
Furthermore Chavez has done much to improve cooperation among South and Central American nations. Chavez has worked to free the hostages from FARC in Colombia, an effort his right-wing enemies claim without basis, shows his support for "terrorist organizations," and has extended aid to the poorer Latin nations. Chavez has also befriended Cubanos and has shown that the brothers Castros are not, as the right would portray, incorrigible devils.
Obama should meet Hugo Chavez and try to improve diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Venezuela.
Friday, February 13, 2009
The Washington Post had an editorial yesterday entitled "Mr. Chavez vs. the Jews," about the plight of Venezuelan Jews after the attack on a synagogue in Caracas.
The attack on the synagogue was indeed unfortunate and indicative of anti-semitic forces in Caracas. But the WashPo went on to decry the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador by Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez as a sign of displeasure with Israel's attack upon the Palestinians in Gaza.
Writes the WashPo editorial:
"Then there is the assault on Venezuela's Jewish community -- which seems to have replaced George W. Bush as Mr. Chávez's favorite foil. After Israel's offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip last month, the caudillo expelled Israel's ambassador and described Israel's actions in Gaza as "genocide." Then Mr. Chávez turned on Venezuela's Jews. "Let's hope that the Venezuelan Jewish community will declare itself against this barbarity," Mr. Chávez bellowed on a government-controlled television channel. "Don't Jews repudiate the Holocaust? And this is precisely what we're witnessing.""
First of all, Chavez is not alone in condemning the barbaric and cruel attack upon Gaza. Israeli war planes and tanks destroyed schools, mosques, police stations, and even shelled safe houses such as those run by the U.N. Many, including myself, think Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) perpetrated serious war crimes for which they should be punished. The constant screaming of war planes overhead day and night surely traumatized Gaza's children who make up more than 50% of the total population. Even homes and apartment buildings were not safe from Israeli bombs and tank shells. It did seem that Israel, not successful in killing off the Palestinians by a food and fuel blockade, decided to do the job with an outright military attack.
So the Washington Post should not blame Chavez for his stern reaction to "this barbarity." It is wrong to attack a synagogue in Caracas but Chavez's government has made timely arrests of those it believed executed the contemptible destruction. But it is equally or more wrong for Israel to attack Gaza, not allow any of its inhabitants to flee the fighting, and kill over 1,400 Palestinians in the process.
Hugo Chavez may be politically wrong for trying to amend the Venezuelan constitution to allow him to overcome term limits, but he is not wrong for condemning Israelis for their bombardment of Gaza.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Juan Cole in his Informed Comment has a good take of the Israeli vote. Cole says the big winner is Avigdor Lieberman head of the racist Israel Beteinyu party, and this means that any solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is dead, meaning forget about any two-state solution.
"With Lieberman emerging as kingmaker in the new government, logically speaking, there are only three other plausible future relationships of Israel and the Palestinians:
"1. Apartheid, with Israeli citizens dominating stateless Palestinians and controlling their borders, land, water and air. Apartheid would be accelerated under Lieberman's baleful influence. Over time, this outcome would break down, since it will be unacceptable to the rest of the world over the coming decades).
"2. Expulsion. The Israelis could try to violently expel the Palestinians (and possibly Israeli-Palestinians as well), creating a massive new wave of refugees in Jordan or Egypt's Sinai. (This option would almost certainly end the peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan and might well push the Arab states into the arms of Iran, creating a powerful anti-Israel military coalition and a huge set of threats to the United States.)
"3. One State. The Israelis could be forced over time, by economic and technological boycotts, to grant citizenship to the Palestinians of the occupied territories."
I cannot see that Israel will ever take in Palestinians as full-fledged citizens. Most Israelis have a loathing and hatred for Palestinians and classify them not only as terrorists but as belonging to a lower social caste, as if they recently arrived from nomadic existence in the desert.
I suspect that many Israelis would prefer expulsion, but this would likely cause a pan-Arab quest to attack and eliminate the state of Israel.
And Israelis, out of their sense of revulsion at the word, could never accept a de jure state of apartheid on the Palestinians, even though that's exactly what Israel has now de facto imposed.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Why did the Justice Department under Obama attorney general Eric Holder decide to adopt the scandalous Bush argument that "state secrets" prevent a plaintiff from suing and recovering damages suffered when he was transported and rendered to a third country (Morocco) which then proceeded to torture him?
Yesterday even the judges on the panel of the Ninth Circuit seemed perplexed and surprised by the Obama government move.
There should be hardly any state secrets. If information is embarrassing to the government for what it would show about policy under Bush and Cheney, it should come out and not be hidden under "state secrets." Otherwise the government can get away with anything it likes, no matter how offensive to the rule of law, because it can always conceal its mistakes under "state secrets."
Monday, February 9, 2009
Tomorrow is a fateful day for the Israeli/Palestinian relations. It is election day for parliament in Israel. It appears that Likud's war monger Bibi Netanyahu might win the most seats over Kadima's Tzipi Livni. And the ultra conservative and Arab expelling party of war monger par excellence Arigdor Lieberman is posed to pick up influential seats.
Both Netanyahu and Lieberman would think nothing of restarting Israel's attack on Palestinians in Gaza, wanting to eradicate and eliminate any vestige of Hamas. But because Hamas really represents the people in Gaza, this means elimination of the Palestinians themselves, including all men, women and children.
Furthermore, Lieberman and Netanyahu are constantly accusing Iran of aiding terrorists because Iran sends monies into Gaza for charitable purposes, and Iran also does the same thing for Hezbollah in Lebanon. Hezbollah's adherents are Shia Muslims, as is the majority of Iranians. It is natural that Iran would want to come to the financial aid of its co-religionists in Lebanon who have seen their infrastructure, roads, bridges, apartment buildings and private homes, destroyed by Israeli war planes several years ago. But the Israeli hardliners try to portray Iran as aiding terrorists, a charge that in these guys' minds, justifies starting a war by attacking Iranian cities and people.
We need Obama to make it clear that U.S. foreign policy opposes such disastrous and catastrophic ideas and plans. Obama should also lay down the law that the U.S. will totally oppose any Israeli scheme to start another world war by initiating an attack against Iran.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Is there any serious observer who does not consider Israel's persistence in locking the borders into and out of Gaza a typical case of collective punishment? This is a classic and long-recognized war crime.
Because Israel blames Hamas democratically elected by the Palestinians in Gaza in January 2006 the "enemy" and "terrorists," it is determined to punish ordinary people who elected Hamas and who now more than ever support Hamas after Israel's disproportionate destruction of infrastructure, schools, police stations, universities, mosques, ordinary apartment buildings and homes.
Thus Israel's locking down the borders, and the consequent blockade of food, medicine, fuel, building materials into Gaza.
After killing over 1400 Palestinians who were unfortunate enough to live in buildings targeted by Israeli war planes and tanks, or whose homes adjoined those buildings, Israelis are now determined to keep the Palestinians in a continuous state of eking out their existence amidst the ruins and rubble of Gaza.
Obama needs to visit Gaza and see for himself. Remember when the Israelis scared Tony Blair on the verge of doing just that thing. They told Blair there was a secret Palestinian plan to kidnap him or even kill him. Blair cancelled his visit spooked by Israeli scares.
Good news as to Obama's decision to postpone a surge of 30,000 additional U.S. troops into Afghanistan. ThinkProgress.com reports on an ABC story saying that Obama is delaying any surge until he can figure out what the endgame is and what is U.S. strategy in Afghanistan.
Juan Cole in his Informed Comment writes:
"While the attention of the US public and the news media here has been consumed (understandably enough) by the congressional debate over the economic stimulus plan, America's war in Afghanistan has nearly collapsed because of logistical problems."
Saturday, February 7, 2009
The arguments of Israelis defending their attack upon the Palestinians in Gaza is truly puzzling. We all know that Israel has suffered rocket attacks emanating out of Gaza for many years. But the issue is how most Israelis justify military bombing and shelling as an intelligent response.
Surely Israelis don't think that they can solve a vexing political question by armed military conflict. If the goal is to stop the rocket attacks, then the means has to be something other than killing more Palestinian children. Why? Because that is what caused the rocket attacks in the beginning.
Furthermore, severe military punishment by means of tanks and war planes does not and will not cause a targeted population to stop an insurgency or to begin treating Israelis as friends or brothers. All it does is exacerbate the hatred and blind retaliation that ratchets up the conflict.
So how come most Israelis supported the war crimes against the Palestinians?
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Prof. Juan Cole has an important post today on the relations between the Obama administration and Iran.
In his blog Informed Comment, Cole writes:
"Meanwhile, it is rumored that among the main shapers of Obama's Iran policy will be Dennis Ross, the head of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the think tank of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. During Ross's tenure there, the WINEP website carried a call to bomb Iran; a paper arguing that nothing bad would happen if the US did bomb Iran; and it listed as a WINEP associate Daniel Pipes, who spent most of his waking hours during the past year decrying Barack Obama as a stealth Muslim and an apostate (which was it?) and who has repeatedly said racist things about Muslims. Turning Iran policy over to the Israel lobbies, the major agitators for a US war on Iran, is a very bad idea, and if this goes forward Obama will be signalling that there will not in fact be a new US-Iran relationship."
How has this come to pass? I voted for Obama because of his pledge to sit down and talk with Iran's leaders. Instead of considering Iran the "enemy," the United States needs to consider Iran a friend and an ally. Enemies go to war against each other, killing hundreds of thousands of ordinary people. This can't be the way forward for Obama foreign policy.
Yet Obama has signaled that he has chosen Dennis Ross to be his point man on Iran. Why? What does Obama think is going to happen with Ross controlling U.S. policy towards Iran?
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Dick Cheney is still at it, threatening the country with destruction unless Obama retains harsh interrogation methods (i.e., torture), the hated Patriot Act, as well as unconstitutional eavesdropping of Americans' telephone calls without warrants.
Politico interviewed Cheney today, and among other things, Politico reporters John F. Harris, Mike Allen & Jim Vanderhei quote Cheney as follows:
"Protecting the country’s security is “a tough, mean, dirty, nasty business,” he said. “These are evil people. And we’re not going to win this fight by turning the other cheek.”"
Here Cheney admits that he engaged in activities which he himself describes as "mean, dirty, nasty ..."
Harris, Allen and Vanderhei quote Cheney on national security:
"“When we get people who are more concerned about reading the rights to an Al Qaeda terrorist than they are with protecting the United States against people who are absolutely committed to do anything they can to kill Americans, then I worry,” Cheney said."
In other words, Cheney is proud and stands by his implementation of torture on the captured Al Qaeda suspects held at Guantanamo and elsewhere.
But what if the "Al Qaeda terrorist" is only a farm boy or a rustic Afghan villager picked up in Afghanistan and sold to the Americans for U.S. dollars? What if Cheney's "terrorist" turns out to be unconnected with any jihad or has never even heard of Osama bin Laden? Can the U.S. torture this person without any accountability? And what does it say to the rest of the world when everyone finds out that the hard-core" prisoners in U.S. detention camps are totally innocent?
I have a good suggestion what to do with Cheney. Let's subject him to "harsh interrogation methods" and see if he confesses. If waterboarding is no big deal to him, let's try it out on him. To stop the ordeal, we must insist that Cheney confess to be bin Laden's undercover counsellor. I predict Cheney will confess within 30 seconds.
Remind you of anything historical? Oh yes! The Inquisition in Spain and Portugal and the rest of Europe used this very technique of water torture on all those accused of being in consort with Satan. Almost everyone confessed.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
I applaud Tom Daschle for taking himself out of consideration for nomination as head of the department of health and human services. His tax failings have seriously destroyed his credibility, and his continuing to want the HHS post would do more and more damage to Obama's pledge to employ higher levels of ethics in government.
How Obama decided to pick Daschle after his team trumpeted the 50-page vetting required of all nominees is anyone's guess. Surely Obama or someone on the team who drew up the pretentious 50 pages remembered to put a question about paying taxes!
Why Obama picked Timothy Geithner to be Treasury Secretary is also another question for historians. Geithner conveniently did not pay FICA tax for his self-employment with the World Bank for two or three years. And by the way, why Geithner agreed to be considered an "independent contractor" with the World Bank raises other questions that IRS should investigate. Incidentally now that he is confirmed, Geithner is in charge of the IRS!
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Israeli leaders can't be serious in thinking that "disproportionate" military force is going to make the Palestinians in Gaza stop their unfortunate rocket attacks aimed at Israeli towns and villages.
If anything, the Israeli Defense Force's (IDF) response is sure to increase Palestinians' hatred for all things Israeli and make them even more determined to keep up their rocket firings.
What Israel needs to do is to open all borders, allow unconditional free flow of food, medicine, building materials and trade. Israel also needs to quit referring to the Palestinians and their democratically elected government Hamas as "terrorists."
After thousands of years of recorded wars and killing the other side, has any country or entity or people ever really "triumphed?" The answer surely comes back in the negative. Wars and killings accomplish nothing but exacerbate the desire and need for retaliation and revenge.
There are reports today that Barack Obama has decided to allow the CIA to continue with its rendition program, meaning that the CIA can kidnap someone off the street, without any involvement of a court, and transport and deliver that person to torturers in some foreign country.
Greg Miller reports in today's The Los Angeles Times:
"Under executive orders issued by Obama recently, the CIA still has authority to carry out what are known as renditions, secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the United States.
"Current and former U.S. intelligence officials said that the rendition program might be poised to play an expanded role going forward because it was the main remaining mechanism -- aside from Predator missile strikes -- for taking suspected terrorists off the street."
How can this be? We elected Obama because he promised to close Guantanamo and stop the war in Iraq. Part of the whole appeal of Obama was that he would bring a shameful legacy of George Bush to an end. It is hard to believe that Obama could back slide and keep the hated rendition practice.
"The rendition program became a source of embarrassment for the CIA, and a target of international scorn, as details emerged in recent years of botched captures, mistaken identities and allegations that prisoners were turned over to countries where they were tortured.
"The European Parliament condemned renditions as "an illegal instrument used by the United States." Prisoners swept up in the program have sued the CIA as well as a Boeing Co. subsidiary accused of working with the agency on dozens of rendition flights.
"But the Obama administration appears to have determined that the rendition program was one component of the Bush administration's war on terrorism that it could not afford to discard."