Of course I don’t really expect Boehner to remove one of his own caucus members from the House Intelligence Committee for such a teensy-weensy infraction as calling people Islamist infiltrators based on ridiculously flimsy evidence, but saying “I don’t know that that’s related at all” is going a bit too far.
It’s not just that Bachmann is temperamentally unsuited to have a seat on such an important committee, but the fact that she can’t tell fact from fiction, or Muslim from terrorist. How is that level of delusional incompetence anything but a hindrance to the committee’s responsibilities?
One of my biggest disappointments since Obama’s election has been not just Obama’s despicable betrayal of Democratic ideals, but liberals and Democrats’ complete willingness to overlook those ideals simply because he’s nominally a member of the same team. Conservatives did the exact same thing when Bush was president, but I had really hoped progressives were better than that.
When loyalty trumps principles, those principles become meaningless. And right now neither party has any recognizable principles other than supreme executive power and blind loyalty to moneyed interests.
Glenn Greenwald and Taylor Marsh helpfully explain why it is impossible to view Obama as a Democrat in any meaningful way other than “less insane and slightly less awful than the Republican candidates”.
No, I’m not going to support Ron Paul or any of the other Republican candidates, but as Taylor Marsh puts it, “Pres. Obama has helped Democrats deliver a climate that this party has threatened since the ’70s would happen if I didn’t vote for them.”
Two people were killed in Cairo and Alexandria this weekend as Egyptian activists took the streets to protest the military’s attempts to maintain its grip on power. And guess how the state is justifying its deadly crackdown.
April 1st is almost five months away, so I have to assume that James Rosen was dead serious when writing his ridiculous column about how George W. Bush deserves credit for “inspiring” the Arab Spring because he single-handedly created the idea that Arab countries can have democracy too. Seriously, I’m not kidding.
The idea that Dubya’s Soaring Democracy Talk “inspired” Middle Eastern Muslims to do anything other than join al Qaeda is laughable and pathetic. It’s like me taking credit for the Giants winning yesterday because I told them they just had to beat the Patriots.
This whole mess is like a really bad 80’s teen movie.
Pakistan and India hate each other — they’re like two high school cheerleader frenemy types.
Pakistan is messing around with Afghanistan because it wants a buffer against India — so Afghanistan is kind of like the hapless geek-boy who gets manipulated by all of the girls. The USA is the popular but dumb-as-rocks jock who need geek-boy Afghanistan’s help to get passing grades. In order to do so, the USA is courting Pakistan like she’s the only pretty girl in town. Which is dumb, because Pakistan is all, like, “whatevs.” What the USA *should* be doing is playing Pakistan against India. Like, the USA should be all “What’s that Pakistan? You won’t put out? And you won’t stop messing with Afghanistan? OK then, I’m not taking you out to Prom [i.e. spending millions on your military], and you know what, maybe I’ll ask India out to the Prom instead! And maybe India and I will totally make out under the bleachers — what do you think about that?”
We do that, and I guarantee you Pakistan will come around real quick. That stupid manipulative cheerleader bitch.
The US is popular??? No, the US is more like the sneering sadistic asshole dumb-as-rocks jock who beats up on nerds just because he can. And possibly to compensate for feelings of personal inadequacy and/or trouble at home.
6 commentsSeptember 29th, 2011 at 11:31amPosted by Eli
Interesting story in today’s NYT about how al Qaeda has been marginalized by the mostly nonviolent wave of democracy sweeping the Middle East, demonstrating decisively that dictatorships can be toppled without the use of violence and terror – and also, I think, that most Muslims are more hungry for democracy and freedom than in swapping secular oppression for religious oppression.
I believe that one of the reasons nonviolence has been so successful is that it heightens what I call The Dictator’s Dilemma – that is, how do you crack down on an incipient revolution with sufficient force to disperse it without turning your own military and government against you? If the revolution is a screaming angry mob hurling stones and insults at the troops, they will find it a lot easier to use force – in self-defense, if nothing else.
But if the revolutionaries are singing songs and welcoming the troops as brothers, the line of acceptable brutality moves considerably. Depending on how strong the military’s loyalty to the dictator is, it may be impossible to goad them to sufficient violence to break up the resistance. This is what happened in Egypt, and is partially happening in Libya, although Qaddafi has dampened it a bit with his use of mercenaries.
In any case, I’d like to think that this means that al Qaeda’s moment is past, but I fear it will simply spur them to focus more on the United States, Israel and Europe. Although the fewer US-backed brutal dictators there are in the Middle East, the smaller the terrorist recruiting pool will be. Something our government really should consider but won’t.
So which is it? Is the revolution in Egypt a soaring vindication of Dubya’s belief that the citizens of the Middle East yearn for democracy and freedom? Or is it a telling indictment of Obama’s weak Islamist-coddling foreign policy?
I don’t think it can be both, but maybe my brain just isn’t limber enough.
Will the US government now say, “Well, what do you want from us? We asked them not to do that.”
Is anyone going to be convinced by that? Will anyone say, “well, the U.S. did all it could?”
As the world knows, the U.S. government has two ways of asking governments that receive U.S. military and economic assistance to do things, or not to do them.
Sometimes the U.S. asks these governments to do things.
And sometimes the U.S. asks these governments to do things, and specifies possible consequences if the ask is not met.
And when Secretary of State Clinton asked the Egyptian government not to crack down on protests and not to disrupt social networking sites, it appeared to be the first case. No possible consequence was suggested if the U.S.-backed, U.S.-armed, and U.S.-supplied Egyptian government cracked down on the protesters and blocked social networking sites.
Perhaps, you might think, the U.S. was showing respect for Egyptian sovereignty.
But that doesn’t pass the laugh test. Because we have seen, over and over, that when the U.S. really wants something, it suggests that there will be consequences if the ask is not met. And then, if the ask is not met, the willingness of the U.S. to carry out threats is demonstrated.
This is what the U.S. does when it really wants something. It suggests consequences.
Egypt is the second-biggest recipient of U.S. foreign aid. But judging from press reports, no U.S. official has even so much as whispered that a single penny of that aid might be conditioned on whether the Egyptian government allows peaceful protests. Nor has any U.S. official so much as whispered that a cancellation of a visa might be in the offing.
In other words, Obama opposes a crackdown in Egypt in much the same way that he opposes cuts to Social Security, or in much the same way that he supported the public option. Very inspiring.
In a stunning surprise, the Nobel Committee announced Friday that it had awarded its annual peace prize to President Obama “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples” less than nine months after he took office.
“He has created a new international climate,” the committee said in its announcement. With American forces deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, President Obama’s name had not figured in speculation about the winner until minutes before the prize was announced here.
Reporters at a news conference to announce the prize pressed the committee’s chairman, Thorbjorn Jagland, to explain the reasons Mr. Obama had prevailed over other candidates who included human rights activists in China and Afghanistan and political figures in Africa.
Specifically, reporters asked whether Mr. Obama might not become mired in a war in Afghanistan as Lyndon B. Johnson was in Vietnam.
But the committee said it wanted to enhance Mr. Obama’s diplomatic efforts so far rather than anticipate events in the future.
Mr. Jagland, a former prime minister of Norway, said that Mr. Obama had already contributed enough to world diplomacy and understanding to deserve the prize.
As to whether the prize was given too early in Mr. Obama’s presidency, he said: “We are not awarding the prize for what may happen in the future but for what he has done in the previous year. We would hope this will enhance what he is trying to do.”
Looking back on the Obama presidency so far, Mr. Jagland said: “One of the first things he did was to go to Cairo to try to reach out to the Muslim world, then to restart the Mideast negotiations and then he reached out to the rest of the world through international institutions. “
He mentioned in particular the recent United Nations Security Council meeting on nuclear disarmament and the announcement of the prize noted the special importance the Nobel committee attached to President Obama’s vision of a world without nuclear weapons.
“Obama has as president created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play,” the committee said.
That’s all well and good, but it still seems a little thin to be grounds for a Nobel Peace Prize, especially for someone who’s dragging his feet about withdrawing from Iraq, looking at escalating in Afghanistan, and appears to be in no hurry at all to close Gitmo. Maybe all the other candidates totally suck this year?
He seems awfully worried that the Russians are taking advantage of Obama in nuke-reduction and missile defense negotiations, and laments “President Obama’s seeming indifference to the beneficent effects of the United States’ nuclear deterrent.”
I’m really not sure what it is he thinks will happen. Does he think Russia or China will attack us if we don’t have enough nukes? Is there any other potentially hostile country that we couldn’t wipe out with the tiniest fraction of our nuclear arsenal? And does he actually believe that our missile defense system works?
Apparently Republicans are aware of all kinds of secret codes that the rest of us are unaware of, although usually they do everything they can to keep them secret (states’ rights, anyone?). But here Frank Gaffney explains that Obama bowing to King Abdullah and talking about “respect” for the Muslim world is actually code for “We will submit to sharia law.” Who knew?
OMG! Obama offered to give up an unproven and probably ineffective missile defense system in exchange for help with Iran’s nuclear program! No wonder no-one takes Dems seriously on defense – they just don’t have a strong enough commitment to throwing billions of dollars at impractical and unnecessary weapons systems.
Interrogators are lauding President Obama for signing an executive order that will shut down secret CIA prisons and place the use of coercive interrogation techniques completely off limits.
“[The order] closes an unconscionable period in our history, in which those who knew least, professed to know most about interrogations,” said Joe Navarro, a former special agent and supervisor with the FBI.
“Some die-hards on the right – who have never interrogated anyone — are already arguing that forcing interrogations to be conducted within army field manual guidelines is a step backward and will result in ‘coddling’ dangerous terrorists,” retired Colonel Stuart Herrington, who served for more than 30 years as a military intelligence officer, said soon after the order was signed. “This is a common, but uninformed view. Experienced, well-trained, professional interrogators know that interrogation is an art. It is a battle of wits, not muscle. It is a challenge that can be accomplished within the military guidelines without resorting to brutality.”
Getting a suspected terrorist to talk is much more subtle than what one typically sees in the movies or on TV. A new book, “How to Break A Terrorist” by Matthew Alexander (a pseudonym), provides an inside look at how interrogation can yield more information if it is done humanely.
Alexander developed the intelligence that led U.S. forces to Al Zarqawi, the former chief of Al Qaeda in Iraq. While some were using abusive techniques to try to crack detainees, Alexander used a smarter, more sophisticated approach. He learned what the detainees cared about and then used that information to get what he wanted.
To illustrate how torture can lead to poor intelligence, Nelson cites the case of Al Libi, a detainee who was tortured and, under duress, gave misinformation about a connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda. (Secretary Colin Powell quoted intelligence gained from Al Libi as justification to go to war with Iraq.)….
“The challenge we face does not have to do with so-called ‘enhanced interrogation techniques,’ ” said Nelson. “We don’t want those. What we do need is to build a world-class interrogation corps. To do that, we need to pay more attention to recruiting, training, and managing interrogators. President Obama’s executive order is an important first step but there is still more to do.”
Better interrogation, yes. “Enhanced” interrogation, no. They are not the same thing. Torture is certainly easier – any sadist orsociopath off the street can do it.
One hesitates to say this will amount to anything, but Marc Lynch notes that Mohammed Essam Derbala, a leader of Ayman Zawahiri’s Egyptian terrorist group that merged with Al Qaeda in 1998, today urged his former confederates to declare a unilateral ceasefire to “test Barack Obama’s pledges to establish a new relationship with the Islamic world and to close Guantanamo.”…..
Let’s be clear about a few things. Derbala has no power to call for or enforce any Al Qaeda ceasefire. But consider how overwhelmingly significant it is that a former terrorist of such obvious credibility would say something like this. And why’d he say it? Because Barack Obama just renounced torture. He put the United States on a clear path to repudiating the detentions, interrogations and, as important, humiliations that Muslims consider the U.S. to have inflicted not just on terrorists, but the entire Muslim world. Part of Al Qaeda’s entire propagandistic message is that the U.S. is an unchanging brutish entity determined to subjugate the Muslim world. What Obama did today severely complicates that narrative. But it’s not enough for us to consider the narrative to be complicated — it takes Muslim figures of credibility to say so. That’s what Derbala just did.
This is what Carl Levin was getting at earlier today when he said that renouncing torture would have security benefits for the United States. It’s, of course, unclear what Al Qaeda would do. But in an important sense, Al Qaeda isn’t the target audience here. It’s the pool of potential Al Qaeda recruits. In March, an Air Force colonel in Iraq briefed reporters on what motivated foreign fighters to come to Iraq instead of remaining in their home countries living a normal life. The answer was often “an image from Abu Ghraib.” That’s what Obama’s actions today have taken off the table for the U.S.’s adversaries. Its importance shouldn’t be underestimated.
Torture is not just ineffective and morally wrong; it makes the Muslim world hate us, and makes al Qaeda’s recruiting easier. It may have been very satisfying to Dubya and Cheney’s thuggish mentality to know that Bad Things were happening to people they don’t like, but it compromised both our intelligence-gathering capabilities and our moral standing. And forwhat?
Well, in all fairness, I can see where a lot of people might get the wrong idea, what with you indiscriminately bombing them to a pulp and all. But I’m sure the Gazans will all be very relieved to hear that it was all just a big misunderstanding, and you only want to wipe out the government that they democratically elected. Bygones!
1 commentJanuary 18th, 2009 at 12:42pmPosted by Eli
Amid the usual pathetic attempt at legacy-laundering by – hmm, if it’s Tuesday it must be Condi, there was this bizarre little tidbit that she threw in as some kind of evidence of what a huge success Free Democratic Iraq is:
Arguing that Iraq shows signs of becoming an inclusive state — it even “declared Christmas a national holiday” — Rice said that if the country eventually emerges as a democratic, multiethnic state that has friendly ties with the United States, “that will be more important than what anybody thought in 2002 or 2003.”
Um, is Iraq making Christmas a national holiday really a sign of Super Awesome Democratic Inclusiveness, or is it more of a dead giveaway of the degree to which it is nothing more than a wholly-owned subsidiary client-state of the U.S.?
I’ll be honest with you. I don’t think journalists should be [allowed anywhere near] war. I mean, you guys report where our troops are at. You report what’s happening day to day. You make a big deal out of it. I-I think it’s asinine. You know, I liked back in World War I and World War II when you’d go to the theater and you’d see your troops on, you know, the screen and everyone would be real excited and happy for’em. Now everyone’s got an opinion and wants to downer–and down soldiers. You know, American soldiers or Israeli soldiers. I think media should be abolished from, uh, you know, reporting. You know, war is hell. And if you’re gonna sit there and say, “Well look at this atrocity,” well you don’t know the whole story behind it half the time, so I think the media should have no business in it.
“Only cheerleaders and partisan hacks like me should ever be allowed to report or comment on wars.”
(Before I begin, let me just point out that I’m Jewish, so the proper epithet would be “self-hating” rather than “anti-semitic” – just wanted to clear that up in advance.)
Nazis killed Jews.
Hamas kills Jews.
Ergo, Hamas are just like the Nazis, and anyone who opposes Israel bombing Gaza into tiny bloody pieces is objectively pro-Nazi. (Because if there’s one thing the Nazis were known for, it was their excessive pacifism and compassion.)
I really do believe that this false equivalence is at least a piece of the psychology behind Israel’s Gaza policy and those who cheerlead for it – it’s a massive loss of perspective.
In the late 30s and early 40s, Nazi Germany was a heavily industrialized military power, and the Jews had no country, and no army – they were completely defenseless. Today, the Jews have their own country and not just any army, but the fourth-most powerful military in the world. They can defend themselves just fine now.
And Hamas and the Gazans? They’re raggedy and starving, and their Wehrmacht is mostly rocks, light arms, and a few rockets. Yes, they wish Israel ill, but they are not an existential threat. (It’s probably also worth mentioning that the Jews in 30s and 40s Germany weren’t restricting the Nazis’ movements or food, much less bombing them. The Nazis hated the Jews solely for being Jewish.)
But as long as Israel and their apologists can conflate Hamas with the Nazis, then no action against them can ever be excessive. Bombs away!
2 commentsJanuary 8th, 2009 at 09:54pmPosted by Eli
Mr. Klaus, the 67-year-old president of the Czech Republic — an iconoclast with a perfectly clipped mustache — continues to provoke strong reactions. He has blamed what he calls the misguided fight against global warming for contributing to the international financial crisis, branded Al Gore an “apostle of arrogance” for his role in that fight, and accused the European Union of acting like a Communist state.
Now the Czech Republic is about to assume the rotating presidency of the European Union and there is palpable fear that Mr. Klaus will embarrass the world’s biggest trading bloc and complicate its efforts to address the economic crisis and expand its powers. His role in the Czech Republic is largely ceremonial, but he remains a powerful force here, has devotees throughout Europe and delights in basking in the spotlight.
An economist by training and a free marketeer by ideology, Mr. Klaus has criticized the course set by the union’s departing leader, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France. The ambitious Mr. Sarkozy has used France’s European Union presidency to push an agenda that includes broader and more coordinated regulation by the largest economies to tame the worst of the market’s excesses.
Even those who worry about Mr. Klaus’s potential role as a spoiler concede that his influence over policy in the European Union will be circumscribed, given his largely symbolic functions as president in the Czech Republic.
But Mr. Klaus’s sheer will and inflammatory talk — the eminent British historian Timothy Garton Ash once called him “one of the rudest men I have ever met” — are likely to have some impact.
“Klaus is a provocateur who will twist his arguments to get attention,” said Jiri Pehe, a former adviser to Vaclav Havel, Mr. Klaus’s rival and predecessor as president.
A fervent critic of the environmental movement, he has called global warming a dangerous “myth,” arguing that the fight against climate change threatens economic growth.
Perhaps his greatest ire has been reserved for the European Union. In 2005, he called for it to be “scrapped.” Now, he is a vocal opponent of the Lisbon Treaty, which aims to help Europe become more of an international player, but which he argues will strip countries of sovereignty.
Born in 1941, he obtained an economics degree in 1963 and was deeply influenced by free market economists like Milton Friedman.
Mr. Havel recalled in his memoirs that Mr. Klaus had an aversion “to the rest of us, whom he had clearly consigned to the same Dumpster, with a sign on it saying ‘left-wing intellectuals.’ ”
I really do hope that his powers are as limited as the story says – this guy sounds like seriously bad news.
Still, good thing Klaus wasn’t EU prez sooner – he and Dubya would have been like soulmates.
The victory of Barack Hussein Obama that we, along with the rest of the world, are witnessing today is another historic moment, not just for America but for the whole world by virtue of America’s huge influence, whether we like it or not. Personally I, like others, doubted Americans’ ability to overcome racism, but in electing “Abu Hussein,” they created a historic moment by accepting the first black president to govern not just America but the white West as a whole. With this, they removed all such doubts and the impossible dream of Martin Luther King became possible.
I can honestly say that we can finally wave goodbye to the overwhelming anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bigotry that we have suffered with for the past eight years under the Bush administration. We can expect less wars, less corruption, less political abuse. It won’t be perfect, but it will get better. I am so happy and proud of all the Americans who worked extremely hard for Obama, understanding fully well the importance of change in every sense of the word. This moment is not just historical but crucial to us here in the Middle East.
This is a win for all of us, not just America.
This is a win for civil rights and justice.
For all the pessimists out there, allow us to enjoy this moment. If you learned anything from this campaign, you would learn that it starts with hope — not cynicism. And hope is what I have right now, for America and the Middle East.
We can do it, and this time, we can be sure that we can do it together.
I haven’t said this in a really long time, but I am loving America right now.
My take on this is that he is the president of the United States, and not Barack Obama. That said, I would really like to hope for change. After all, Obama showed that change was possible: he himself changed from a supporter of Palestinian rights into a man who believes that Jerusalem is the historic capital of Israel. He also changed during his campaign from “No Iraq war for me please, I’m trying to quit” into “All right I’ll have some, but a tiny piece please.”
But the question that really interests me is about the relationship between Obama and the true center of world power, Kapital. There was an awful lot of money in Obama’s campaign … A great chunk must have come from carefully planned investments by C.E.O.’s and multinationals. Will Obama be able to confront the mega-corporations? Does he want to? The poor and the colored population of the world, including that of the U.S., is the one that suffers most from malnutrition and hunger and food insecurity. We know now that mega-corporations, pushing for more profit at any cost, are responsible for most of the damage. Will Obama do something about that? Does he want to? Can he?
I also said that Obama will strike a deal with Ahmadinejad on Iraq and in particular southern Iraq.
And lo and behold, the vice president for the booma Obama is none other than J. Biden. J. Biden, the Zionist, is an ardent supporter of the partition of Iraq into three statelets. No wonder Maliki & Co. were also backing the booma along with Iran. I also know that Iran had generously contributed to the Obama campaign.
… I shall not congratulate you on your 44th president. He will simply finish off what the other Zionists had started — the final partition of my country.
To hell with all of you and all of your presidents.
For me, this is not just about history, this is about someone who was able to bring down the very people that broke my country. It’s a great punch to the very people that destroyed the individual Iraqi. And that to me is an enough victory.
I will only have to say to Mr. Obama, don’t let us down.
There’s a lot of hope, but also a lot of well-earned bitterness and cynicism. I think the reality is probably going to be somewhere in the middle. I don’t think Obama will stray outside the bounds of our historical Middle East foreign policy, but he also won’t be nearly as callous or malevolent towards Arabs and Muslims as his predecessor.
It won’t be The Dawning Of A Brand New Day in American foreign policy, but at least we won’t be trying to rule by fear and gratuitous violence. Who knows, we might even stop bombing weddings.
She continued: “And there must be something about San Francisco and he because it’s like I heard on Fox News today, it’s like a truth serum where when he’s there, he seems to be more candid, and remember it was there that he talked about, there you go, the bitter clingers, the cling-ons, all of us, I guess, you know holding on to religion and guns and, um, so something about he being there in San Francisco.”
It sure would explain their foreign policy, although not their complete lack of courage or honor.
ASHLEY MARTELLA: Alirght, Iran has sworn to exterminate Israel as well as attack the United States. Does Barack Obama have the right stuff to bomb Iran if it came to that level?
SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN: Well, I worry about that. I worry that Sen. Obama’s world view is naive. Sen. McCain has been around awhile. He’s learned some things. I’ve traveled the world with him a lot. He’s, he will be the kind of president who our allies will trust, but who our enemies will fear. And in a dangerous world, al Qaeda, Iran, Iran trying to get a nuclear weapons, we want a president who our enemies will fear. I don’t believe that Sen. Obama will be that kind of president.
I share Lieberman’s faith that John McCain has the right stuff to bomb Iran, so much so that he wouldn’t even need a reason. Only I don’t think that that’s a good thing.