Thursday, November 26, 2009

100,000 troops to chase 100 al Qaeda members in Afghanistan and 300 in Pakistan?

The Washington Post reported that there are 100 members of al Qaeda left in Afghanistan and about 300 in Pakistan. With Obama's troop increase to about 100,000, that will be 1,000 troops per terrorist in Afghanistan or 250 per terrorist in all of the ''AfPak'' theater.

I don't think Obama is stupid enough to believe Fox News that these guys are supermen who could punch through the concrete walls or eat the steel bars of a supermax prison like licorice or take over an airplane while handcuffed so they have to be blindfolded, stripped naked and sodomized during flights to keep them under control.

Does someone want to tell me with a straight face that we are occupying Afghanistan to prevent or punish terrorism? The Taliban are a bunch of illiterate hillbillies that have no capability to harm our troops if we don't go to them, and the rump of al Qaeda would probably need at most special forces and some predator drones to clean up--or simply tell the Saudis to stop giving them money and it won't matter how many are left. They wouldn't be able to buy a bus ticket, let alone a plane ticket to get over here.

Wouldn't it be nice if Obama told us the truth?

Afghanistan sits on a historic trade route from Central Asia to the Indian Ocean and the rest of the world. A few hundred years ago, that route carried spices, cloth, and opium. Today in addition to the income from heroin, oil and natural gas pipelines could flow through those same passes from the Caspian Sea basin as even Colin Powell's former chief of staff confirms. If we can pacify and stabilize Afghanistan, American and European companies could profit from that flow. Would the petroleum that went to the end of that pipeline end up in Europe and America? Maybe some. Most would go the emerging markets of China and India.

Would the income from those pipelines make it to the pockets of average Americans?

Sure. Didn't you get your thank you check from ExxonMobil for their new contracts in Iraq?

If we fail in Afghanistan, the oil & gas will still make it to market through a competing Iranian pipeline project which will end in Pakistan just like the US planned one through Afghanistan. Pakistan's initial agreement on the Iran pipeline is probably why we suddenly noticed terrorists there after years of ignoring their presence and their governments support of them, including Pakistan helping top al Qaeda leaders out of Tora Bora in 2001.

When Obama makes his pitch for more troops in Afghanistan, he could come clean with the American about why we are there, but if he doesn't it will be further proof that he doesn't work for us, but instead works for at least defers to the same handful of business interests that got our economy and foreign policy into its current mess.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Obama: LBJ without the accomplishments

Pardon me for being impolite, but if Obama signs health care reform that looks anything like the deeply compromised and watered down bills in the House and Senate, that will hardly be an accomplishment on par with starting Medicare, most of college financial aid, and finally ensuring the full civil rights of African Americans.

LBJ did all that, and people still hated him for the war, and he was unable to run for a second term of his own.

Obama won't have even the figleaf of a major domestic policy victory to cover continuing and escalating the war in Afghanistan. He will barely have an aphid on a figleaf if he keeps following the path of micro-incremental, semi-reforms of the DLC, and worse, leaving the criminals who caused our economic problems in charge of economic policy instead of throwing them off the roof of the White House.

Wall Street gets EXACTLY what they want, and we get crumbs so long as it doesn't offend Wall Street or more likely, even enriches them further. Cases in point: the no-strings attached bailouts, health care reform BIBI (By Insurance companies For Insurance companies), and now the ongoing war in Afghanistan as order by the oil & gas companies. And even during the campaign, Obama was careful to send signals to Wall Street that he wasn't going to reverse the trade agreements that have decimated our manufacturing jobs.

Obama could theoretically have taken care of average Americans AND most of big business by simply singling out a couple of bad actors in the business world, explaining how their sociopathic behavior hurts not only middle class working people but even other businesses, and then showing them NO MERCY. I would nominate the health insurance industry, big oil for their role in our wars, and of course the economic terrorists on Wall Street.

Instead, he has given all three a big sloppy kiss (do you really think Afghanistan is about terrorists not pipelines and drug money for Wall St?)

Likewise, poll after poll shows that an overwhelming majority of Americans want health care reform that includes a full public option that allows anyone to escape the abuses of private insurance and get into a program like Medicare. Instead, we will be required to buy insurance from those abusive companies with no discernible restraints on pricing, and only a handful will have access to a public program that will be more expensive than private insurance. Do Democrats in Congress and President Obama really think that's a formula to get re-elected? In that case, they might also think being tough on rapists would be forcing their victims to marry them.

I think Obama is a good guy, but our democracy has a serious problem when he can't take the action necessary to correct our problems for fear of offending the people who created the problem, even as their actions are likely to drag us into more debt, war, and poverty.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

We need WAR TAX to force GOP to choose between war & ''no new taxes''

David Obey has stumbled upon a way to further sink the GOP.

He warned Obama that if he continued the Afghanistan War, he would institute a ''war surtax'' of 1% for most people and 5% for the wealthiest to pay for it.. He should add a bracket for businesses too.

I would formalize it and add that when ever troops are sent into harms way, the tax is triggered and stays in place until the war is over, and the rates could be adjusted annually depending on the actual cost of the war.

Bush accidentally set the precedent for this when he continually asked for war spending as supplementals instead of as part of his regular budget (so he could claim his budget wasn't creating as big a deficit as it really was).

Republicans in Congress who want to see any war continue as long as possible should be asked if they support such a proposal to pay for current and future wars or whether we should continue to charge our grandchildren for them.

The current cost of our two ongoing wars:

It was around $937 billion when I posted it, so divided by the 308 million people who live in the United States, it would be about $3000, per man, woman and child. That would be lower for most of us if we charged the wealthy a slightly higher percentage than the rest of us.

And that would be on top of what we spend on the military that's in the regular budget.

Separating war spending from the rest of the budget would force Republicans (and business-owned Democrats) to make a Sophie's Choice between two of their cherished policies: endless wars and no new taxes.

I suspect they would try to have it both ways or call for cuts in social programs instead, but since so many people are struggling right now, that might not go over so well.

It would also help people re-connect taxes to actual government action, rather than the current disconnect between what people want, and their GOP pavlovian conditioning to assume any tax increase is bad. Maybe people would start to wonder what percentage of the budget goes to other issues too.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Is Rahm Emanuel Karl Rove's retarded cousin?

I would submit that he is equally amoral as Karl Rove but less competent.

Rove at least seemed to have a coherent plan to keep his guy in office: smear and fear. Smear your critics, make the public and legislators fear terrorists and crossing Bush. While the corruption and incompetence of the Bushies at actually governing or conducting a war led to their eventual train wreck, Rove's smoke and mirrors were enough to get Bush into his second term.

By contrast, whatever political advice Rahm Emanuel is giving Obama seems solely designed to appeal to corporate patrons with little thought to how it will play with average Americans, particularly, no thought to how the public will react if the final form of health insurance reform is perceived as a gift to insurance companies instead of helping the rest of us.

It is really dishonest to say they are ''moderate'' or ''pragmatic'' when in reality, they are serving their corporate donors and future corporate employers rather than the wishes of their constituents.

This has been made most obvious in polls of voters in blue dogs' states and districts about the public option in health care reform: /

Even voters who reside in more conservative districts are not retarded or prefer being raped by insurance companies to having access to something like Medicare as an alternative.

In fact, one CBS poll found that even Republican voters favor a public option.

Even in places where people have drunken the conservative KoolAid and think they don't want a public option, once they had it given to them, they would probably cling to as tenaciously as the teabaggers cling to Medicare, even as they decry ''socialized medicine.''

Giving people a real public option would yield long term dividends for the Democrats.

Even severe compromises on health care would have been easier to swallow if Obama had taken swift action to punish, rein in, and neuter Wall Street--especially after giving them the second half of the Bush no strings attached bailout.

Obama has certainly done good things on less visible issues like student aid and repairing our image abroad although even the foreign affection for Obama will wear off if he continues Bush like policies in Afghanistan and starts a new Operation Condor in Latin America.

And if corporate compliant Rahm is calling the shots, that is likely to be the trajectory.

Even on the pragmatic level of giving Obama's base a reason to pound the pavement and open our wallets for him in 2012, baldly corporate first action seems stupid.

So my question is, is Rahm brilliantly playing some long game of chess on behalf of the American people, or is he so syphilictically corrupt that he can't help but do a Bush-like corporate smash-and-grab robbery of the treasury on behalf of big business?

NOTE: no offense meant to the retarded, those with syphilis, or Karl Rove

Is Rahm Emanuel more short-sighted than Karl Rove?
NO--Rahm has some brilliant strategery that hasn't played out yet
YES-- Rahm thinks he is Karl Rove, but he's really the Dem's Palin--everything he touches turns to shit
Free polls from

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Jobs Program? How about a Clean Energy Conversion Corps?

President Obama has announced a forum for brainstorming on ways to create jobs.

How about a program modeled on the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression only with a more specific focus: converting our power grid to clean energy to break the backs of oil and power companies that blackmail our economy, and in the case of oil, demand our tax dollars and the lives of our troops to increase their assets?

Call it the CECC: the Clean Energy Conservation Corps.

To be most effective at meeting that goal, as much as possible, solar panels should be installed on homes rather than in large scale power plants, to make it more difficult for any one corporation to monopolize power production or game the market.

This should also be done with installers directly employed by the government, not contracted out for the simple reason that if it was contracted out, the work would go to the usual corrupt suspects, who would underpay their workers, do a shitty job, then stash as much of the money as possible in the Cayman Islands--and only bring the money back into the country to buy corrupt politicians, cocaine, and whores (and buy cocaine and whores FOR corrupt politicians).

Directly employing people by the government is also preferable to the other scam of giving tax credits to businesses that create jobs. Too often, businesses get it who are going to hire people anyway, or they do hire additional new people, they figure out how to pay them as little as possible, give them the fewest benefits, and fire them whenever they like.

A directly government run program could give pay and benefits that force the private sector to treat their employees better to compete for workers with the public sector.

I'm sure conservatives and corrupt Blue Dog Democrats will complain about the cost, but within the last year, we had both a Republican and Democratic president write blank checks to Wall Street with absolutely no strings attached, and as thanks to the American taxpayers, they went right back to shitting on us and using our money to party. No politician should ever be able to say they are worried about spending again. What they are worried about is who that spending helps: most want it to go to the already wealthy who can reward them not only with campaign donations but jobs with fat paychecks when they leave office as lobbyists, CEO's, and do-nothing board members--NOT to empower the middle class.

Capitalism can still work, but right now, corporate America, the banks, and Wall Street are like a drug or gambling addict, who hasn't admitted they have a problem and checked into treatment. We shouldn't give them any more money when it is just going to go up their nose, in their arm, or out the window in Vegas.

Monday, November 09, 2009

What kind of health care insurance reform (if any) should America have?

I know it's a little late in the process to ask, but this is just a quick reality check.

What kind of health insurance should America have?
Our current system of largely unregulated private insurance with public programs for some of the poor and elderly
Tightly regulated private insurance to prevent abuses that cost lives and cause bankruptcies
Private insurance competing with a public option that people can ONLY buy into when they have no other insurance
private insurance competing with a public option modeled on Medicare (or a part of it) that anyone could CHOOSE to buy into
ONLY government run health insurance as Canada and many other advanced Western Countries have
Government employs the doctors directly, doing away with the need for insurance as the system in Great Britain does
Free polls from