Archive for September, 2010

“Afghan Security Growing Worse, Aid Groups Say” (TIMES, 9/12/10)

September 29, 2010

          “The Afghan NGO office says that by almost every metric it has, Afghanistan is more dangerous now than any time since 2001.” A display of United Nations maps graphically substantiated this quote.

          Unfortunately, for every impartial report of the actual situation in Afghanistan, some senior officer in the U.S. armed forces will claim that progress is being made, that the war can be won.

          How will the United States ever get out of this quagmire after Obama identified it as a “necessary war”?


“Paying the Price” by Bob Herbert (TIMES, 9/11/10)

September 29, 2010

          It is not too late for Obama to “seize the moment” and win back the progressives who voted for him two years ago. That “moment” will arrive in the first week of October when the unemployment rate is revealed.

          If that figure remains around the official 9.6 per cent (a gross underestimate) or worse, Obama can step up before the off year election the way Franklin Roosevelt did after the Democrats’ landslide victory in 1934.

          The measures of the famous New Deal that brought relief (e.g., social security and the Wagner Act) went into effect in 1935. In his first week in office (March 1933), FDR bailed out the banks; then his administration offered help to business. However, unlike Obama, he maintained the trust of those who voted for him in 1932.

          The final deadline for Obama’s action will be Friday, October 8, 2010. By that day, he has to announce his intention of implementing some kind of massive federal jobs program, the only measure capable of jump-starting an economic recovery.

“U.S. Urges Iraqis To Try New Plan To Share Power” (TIMES, 9/10/10)

September 29, 2010

          Six months after the election in Iraq, when there is still no government in place, the Obama administration is advocating a policy that will undermine the authority  of their prime minister. How can a weak government with a weakened prime minister function effectively?

          If the Iraqi government cannot function effectively, won’t it be difficult to withdraw anymore U.S. troops? 4409  U.S. service members have died in this “unnecessary war.” What will that number be when the polls open on November 2nd?

          Hear that echo from the shadow presidency? It is the gruff voice of a would-be American prime minister. “I don’t do quagmires,” he boasted.

          Will Donald H. Rumsfeld ever be called to account for this tragedy?

“Obama in Rally Mode, Steps Up Jabs at GOP” (TIMES, 9/9/10)

September 20, 2010

          President Obama thinks Democrats are “fighters for the middle class” and Republicans are “protectors of millionaires, billionaires and special interests.” 

          Who then, speaks for the workingclass?

          Though there are some who are in denial about its existence, the USA has a large number of people who depend on a wage for their survival. Probably 17 percent of them are unemployed.

          If the unemployment rate is not reduced, there will be no real economic recovery. Therefore, Obama should act like a sitting president, not like a candidate for office. He should advocate the implementation of a massive federal jobs program. His re-election should not be his main concern.

“Obama Opposing Any Compromise On Bush Tax Cuts” (TIMES, 9/8/10)

September 20, 2010

          Help big business; it’s the centrist thing to do! Preserve the tax breaks of the wealthiest of U.S. citizens. Let them hide their money in offshore banks and, by all means, reward them for their wasteful business practices.

          It’s a good thing there’s no workingclass in the USA. They might protest against how they are being exploited, The middleclass (i.e., not the very wealthy) can be relied upon to placate the rulingclass (i.e., the owners of the means of production, the banks, insurance companies, transportation titans, etc.). 

          When the political leaders of both major parties have been ignoring the workers so consistently and for so long a time, is it any wonder that they have disappeared? With the workingclass made invisible by the thieves who run the economy, there is no urgency in addressing their needs. 

          Ain’t democracy grand?

“Rising to the Occasion” by Bob Herbert (TIMES, 9/7/10)

September 20, 2010

          In commenting favorably on Obama’s $50 billion proposal for infrastructure improvements, Bob Herbert lamented that the “plan won’t help Democrats in November. It’s already too late for that.”

          I wonder. It seems to be enough of an effort to give hope that Obama is finally addressing the economic  downturn in a more vigorous way. It very well might breathe some life into the Democrats’ election campaign. 

          There are still 55 days until the voters go to the polls, plenty of time to make it clear that the administration is seriously  seeking a way to put people back to work.

          Moreover, if the Republicans oppose Obama’s proposal too vigorously, they could hurt themselves badly.

“1938 in 2010” by Paul Krugman (TIMES, 9/6/10)

September 20, 2010

          Kudos to Paul Krugman for attempting to learn from history so as not to repeat it. 

          Unfortunately, contemporary economists and politicians are making the same mistakes FDR did at the beginning of his second term in office. 

         To halt the current economic downturn, it is necessary to engage in deficit spending, not cut the budget. The best way to use that borrowed money would be to finance a massive federal jobs program that would not only put the majority of the unemployed back to work repairing a crumbling infrastructure, but would also quickly circulate their earnings into the marketplace.

          Obama needs to take the lead in pushing this economic strategy. If he can get it started in some way right now, it might even enable the Democrats to win this off-year election.

“Inside Corrupt-istan” by Dexter Filkins (TIMES, 9/5/10)

September 20, 2010

          Congratulations to Dexter Filkins for still another exposé of the rampant corruption in Afghanistan and the continued U.S. connection to questionable “leaders” there.

          Apparently, it is the CIA that favors doing business with such gangsters, arguing that someone like Mother Theresa would be of no value. This cynical view, often portrayed as “realistic” by CIA spooks who are rarely identified, has guided U.S. foreign policy for far too long.

          Sometime soon the “agency” will need to be exposed as an organization of Cold Warriors still peddling their stale dictums about how to defend “freedom” throughout the world.

          The CIA was never about freedom; it was about winning. Wild Bill Donovan, its founder, was a well-connected Wall Street lawyer who would have had Mother Theresa strangled to advance a CIA program.

          For all the ink expended about the agency, how much is known about its actual objectives? Does it seek the triumph of democracy or the protection of capitalism?

“30 False Fronts Won Contracts For Blackwater” (TIMES, 9/4/10)

September 20, 2010

          Isn’t there some way that Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater Worldwide (now known as Xe Services) can be subpoenaed to testify before the Levin Committee? 

          Why is the “big government” so feared by conservatives and reactionaries unable to rein in the activities of mercenaries like Xe Services?

           The commander-in-chief of the USA outranks the CIA head, the Secretary of Defense, the highest senior officer in the armed forces, even those with political ambitions, so what is holding him back?

          During the Korean war, President Truman fired a “supreme commander” of the Army because that pompous ass forgot who was the commander-in-chief.

          Can’t Obama at least remind Gates and Petraeus how the chain of command is supposed to work?

          If the U.S. president says all American forces will be out of Iraq by late 2011, that is the way it is going to be, and no ifs, ands or buts about it!

“The Alternate History” by David Brooks (TIMES, 9/3/10)

September 20, 2010

          David Brooks is back from his leave just when I was thinking he might have landed a job with the Republican Party.

           Today’s fare is another of this “moderate” conservative’s short stories (imagining a scenario, he calls it) that should have been titled “No Quick Fixes.”

          After the disastrous eight years of a shadow presidency, the United States desperately needed immediate relief. Alas, the well-meaning Obama administration has been moving at a snail’s pace: a very slow “withdrawal” from Iraq (the unnecessary war) matched by a very slow response to the economic downturn inherited from the Republicans.

          What’s the rush? Brooks is still on the payroll, so there is plenty of time to “rebuild the core.” Meanwhile, the workers can eat cake.