Wednesday, March 31, 2010


The U.S. call for sanctions on Iran is hypocritical insofar as the U.S. and the Obama administration continue to support tyrants in the Middle East. Consider American support and "friendship" with Saudi Arabia where it is still a crime for an unmarried female to be with a male not a relative. Or where the punishment for certain crimes is to cut off a hand or a foot. Next consider the friendly relations of the U.S. with Musharraf in Egypt or with the royal family in Jordan. In both Egypt and Jordan, don't even think about freedom of speech or freedom from search and seizure. There are no human freedoms in either country.

So when Pres. Obama or his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton call for sanctions on Iran because it wants to develop its own nuclear power, unspoken is American support for leaders of countries in the same neighborhood as Iran that deny human freedom and impose draconian punishments on their citizens.

Mohamed El Baradei, former head of the IAEA, says the same in a report in The Guardian by Jack Shenker today.

""Western policy towards this part of the world has been a total failure, in my view. It has not been based on dialogue, understanding, supporting civil society and empowering people, but rather it's been based on supporting authoritarian systems as long as the oil keeps pumping."

"The 67-year-old added: "If you bet on individuals, instead of the people, you are going to fail. And western policy so far has been to bet on individuals, individuals who are not supported by their people and who are being discredited every day.""

Instead of supporting the people in each country, El Baradei says that the western countries wage war against individual heads of state, no matter that in the process, they kill hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens of that state. Ahmadinejad of Iran might be a terrible leader but that is no reason to impose sanctions on the population at large, or even to consider a military strike, as in "all options are on the table."

"The popularity in the Middle East of Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, he said, should be seen as message to the west that its "policy is not reaching out to the people. The policy should be: 'We care about you, we care about your welfare, we care about your human rights.'""

Sunday, March 28, 2010


Henry Porter writes an interesting opinion piece on Pres. Barack Obama for The Guardian in which he says that Obama's speech to House Democrats on the eve of their historic vote on health care reform will go down as one of the best most-principled speeches in American politics.

Writes Porter:

"These days, when you hear so much from people about what, or who, they are going to vote against, while they complain bitterly that no politicians or set of policies match their particular requirements, it is worth listening to the words Barack Obama used to rally his Democrat troops before the health care vote last week. They represent the highest political endeavour and give the sense of a cause that remains just and noble despite all the compromises he had to make."

Republicans are foaming with anger over the very idea of health care reform, using words such as socialism, disaster, armageddon, budget buster. But Obama sees health care as the most pressing issue because it affects so many people and causes so much distress and misery when a person gets sick but does not have coverage.

Porter quotes from Obama's speech:

""Every once in a while," he said, "a moment comes where you have a chance to vindicate all those best hopes that you had about yourself, about this country, where you have a chance to make good on those promises that you made in all those town meetings and all those constituency breakfasts and all that travelling through the district, all those people who you looked in the eye and you said, you know what, you're right, the system is not working for you and I'm going to make it a little bit better.

"And this is one of those moments. This is one of those times where you can honestly say to yourself, doggone it, this is exactly why I came here. This is why I got into politics. This is why I got into public service… we are not bound to win, but we are bound to be true.""

Health care reform is not some peripheral marginal subject for Obama. It goes to the very identity of the American people, the fabric of American society.

Porter comments:

"What a wonderful phrase that is about vindicating all your best hopes for yourself and the country. This is the finest of political aspirations and as a whole the speech tells you a lot about the tough commitment required from politicians and the public to make democracy work properly today. The speech will bookmark the history of his presidency and do what the proclamation on the emancipation of slaves did for the presidency of Abraham Lincoln in 1862, and the Civil Rights Act for Lyndon Johnson in 1964."

Now the health care reform bill as passed is far from perfect, but it is the first step towards revising and re-creating health care in the U.S. We still need a government-run option offering low-cost plans to those who wish. We need insurance covering Latinos, documented as well as those without proper papers. We need the ability to buy in to Medicare or Medicare for all.

But health care reform as passed by the Congress goes a long way to make health care a right of all Americans, getting rid of the foolish laissez faire idea that it is only a privilege.

Monday, March 15, 2010


Israel's prime minister, Bibi Netanyahu, claims that building 1,600 housing units in East Jerusalem would in no way "harm Palestinians," Matthew Weaver and Daniel Nasaw report for The Guardian today.

"Speaking to Israel's parliament, Netanyahu said the construction of homes for Jews in the city's eastern sector "in no way" hurts Palestinians. His comments came after an admission by the Israeli ambassador to Washington that Israel's relations with the US are at their worst for 35 years."

I guess Netanyahu means that building settlements on someone else's land is not as destructive as exploding white phosphorous in the streets or shooting missiles at someone's roof.

But if you were Palestinian and you had your land seized during the 1967 War, and then you saw Israelis building settlements on your land and moving in, I think that you would feel the pain.

Friday, March 12, 2010


I tune into CNBC to see how the markets are doing but I studiously avoid checking in anytime I know that "the great American patriot," Larry Kudlow, is on air.

Kudlow is insufferable in his defense of capitalism and its attendant "values." Keep government out of health care, job creation, stimulus, financial regulation, ad nauseam.

I can only imagine how Kudlow feels about Social Security Retirement Income. I bet that he still opposes having the government return salary deductions to Americans who are over 65. This guy would deny his own mother social security retirement checks if they have the U.S. Treasury's seal on them.

And don't even mention Medicare. Kudlow is surely against it. If he had his way, there would be no Medicare for seniors. Just let the free market take care of itself.

Kudlow hates the stimulus, hates the unions, hates the proposed Obama health-care overhaul. If Larry Kudlow represents true Republican values, how can any thinking and caring person ever vote Republican?

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Karl Rove's defense of water-boarding and other "harsh interrogation techniques" in a BBC interview shows why Obama needs to come out and order the prosecution of all the Bush/Cheney people who adopted and defended torture. Otherwise, when these guys (i.e., almost Republicans) come back into power, the U.S. government will once again employ these same immoral, ineffective and cruel methods.

Monday, March 8, 2010


The New York Times today runs a story today about the travails of Blanche Lincoln, conservative senator from Arkansas. Shaila Dewan writes that Lincoln is getting negative feedback from both the right and the left. But I argue that this is no justification for characterizing Lincoln as a "centrist Democrat."

Blanche Lincoln is more conservative Republican than true Democrat. She voted against Obama's health care as well as against almost every Democratically-inspired proposal. I say, good riddance to Blanche Lincoln at the coming primary elections.

Blanche Lincoln is of the same cloth as Cong. Jim Matheson of Utah. Matheson likes to call himself a "Blue Dog," meaning he likes to portray his voting record as fiscally conservative. But look at Matheson's sorry record. Matheson voted for Bush's tax cuts, for funding the war in Iraq, for authorizing Bush's unjustified and immoral invasion, for making it harder for desperate people to file for bankruptcy relief, for a constitutional amendment barring gay marriage, and on and on.

Just as Democrats in Utah should boot Matheson out of elected office, so too Democrats in Arkansas should put an end to Blanche Lincoln's quest for re-election. Democrats simply cannot afford elected officials who call themselves "Democrats" but who vote like Republicans.

Monday, March 1, 2010


Radovan Karadzic calls the Serbian wars "just and holy." This is a most ridiculous and senseless assertion.

How could any war be just? All wars necessarily involve killing civilians and terming the result "collateral damage." The scholastics argued that a war was just if the ratio of civilians to combatants killed was "proportional." That argument can come only from scholastics and others who are on the winning side. Even if only one non-combatant is killed, that makes the war unjust. There can be no proportionality when even one civilian is killed.

Al Jazeera reports:

"Karadzic stands charged as the "supreme commander" of an ethnic cleansing campaign of Croats and Muslims in the Bosnian war in which 100,000 people were killed and 2.2 million displaced.

"He is facing 11 counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, but though he denies any wrongdoing, he has refused to enter a formal plea.

"Among the charges against Karadzic are the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of more than 7,000 captured Muslim men and boys, and the 44-month siege of the capital Sarajevo that ended in November 1995, leaving about 10,000 people dead."