Saturday, March 07, 2009

Obama waging class warfare? Hardly!

Lori Montgomery writes in the WaPo today that Obama's tax plan is "A Shift of Wealth From the Top Down."

Imagine, trickle down didn't work, again! Calvin Coolidge tried it and we got the Great Depression.

W and Co. tried it and we got . . . the Great Depression II.

Now, Obama proposses to tax the top 2% of the population, who have quadrupled their wealth in the last 20 years while the rest of us stagnated.

Class Warfare cry the republicans!!!!

Montgomery reports:

"Some Republicans say they're having a tough time making the case against Obama. Rep. Paul D. Ryan, the senior Republican on the House Budget Committee, said he has found Obama's tax plans to be hugely popular back home in Wisconsin, where people blame Wall Street financiers for the collapse of the economy and the loss of Wisconsin jobs.

'Class warfare makes for good politics,' Ryan said. 'It preys on people's emotions of fear and envy. And, right now, those emotions are running at an all-time high.'"

This is my comment on this article at the WaPo's comments page:

Some republicans are finding it tough going to make the argument that president Obama shouldn't redistribute the ill-gotten gains of the top 1 percent for the benefit of the other 99 percent?


Rep. Paul Ryan claims Obama is waging "class warfare." That's rich, if you'll forgive the pun.

If anything the republicans and their monied base have been waging a full scale nuclear assault on the vast majority of their fellow Americans since the election of George W. Bush, who was the one who excelled at preying on fear to win elections, lead us into a disasterous war and undermine our charished liberies!

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

Such a tone deaf statement is the perfect example of why the republican party is struggling today for its very existence and why it probably shouldn't survive, after all the destruction it's wrought on this country.

As you might expect, the right wing nut jobs are peddling their ususal nonsense, arguing that Obama is a socialist bent on soaking the rich to give welfare to the poor. After all, all these asshats are all vastly wealthy like those top 400 individuals laughing all the way to the Swiss bank with the asshat's hardearned money.

Here's one comment I left in response to one of these knuckleheads:

warhack911 writes: [The writer's screen name is actually warhawk911]

"This will just ensure that NO ONE would want to become successful."

Being successful and living the lifestyle of a British royal are two different things entirely. Asking the top 400 people (that's not you warhack) to pony up their fair share instead of moving their obscene riches into foreign bank accounts and squandering it on Ponzi schemes is not socialism, it's called being an American citizen.

They live here, they rely on the government to protect their property, they rely on the rest of us to create the capital (through our work and productivity) they covet. Therefore they pay through the nose.

They can afford it, trust me.

You're actually arguing against your own best interest, which either means you're a masochist or a sucker. In either case, your opinions are based on ignorance, at best, or willful stupidity, at worst, and no longer worth anyone's precious time.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Whoopse, we did it again. Another Afghan raid goes wrong. Again!

The more things change, the more they seem to stay the same.

AP reports:

"Civilian casualties in Afghanistan are 'significantly higher' today than a year ago, and an intensification of the conflict this year could mean that consequences for many more Afghans will be 'dire in the extreme,' said Pierre Krahenbuhl, the director of operations for the International Committee of the Red Cross . . .

Krahenbuhl said he emphasized to the American commanders the 'constant obligation' to distinguish between 'those participating in hostilities and those who do not.'

'Unless more is done in different ways by the different parties to the conflict ... to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law, the ICRC fears that the Afghan population will bear the brunt of the announced escalation and that consequences for many will be dire in the extreme,' Krahenbuhl said."

Of course, no one would expect the Talibs to respect the lives of noncombatants, but that is sort of why we're supposedly there. We're the good guys. But if you're the average Afghani, it must be really tough to distinguish between the white hats and the black hats.

USA Today reported:

"More Afghan civilians are dying in U.S. and allied operations than at the hands of the Taliban, according to a count by The Associated Press. In the first two months of the year, U.S., NATO or Afghan forces have killed 100 civilians, while militants have killed 60."

And even worse:

"U.S. deaths in Afghanistan increased threefold during the first two months of 2009 compared with the same period last year."

That will lead to even more Afghani deaths followed by more American deaths. And the beat goes on. I think we saw this same sort of thing in Iraq, didn't we? A case in point: Another tactical "success" in the GWOT, and another black eye for the US military's effort to win hearts and minds:

The WaPo reports today on another messed up midnight raid by US soldiers in the Afghan village of Bagh-i-Soltan, Logar province, on Feb 20. US forces forced their way into a house of suspected bomb makers, killing one man and arresting four others.

Mission accomplished. Things didn't go so well after that, though.

Pamela Constable reports from FORWARD OPERATING BASE ALTIMUR:

"By midmorning, hundreds of angry people were blocking the nearby highway, burning tires and shouting 'Death to America!' By mid-evening, millions of Afghan TV news viewers were convinced that foreign troops had killed an unarmed man trying to answer his door . . .

Tactically, the U.S.-led night raid in the village of Bagh-i-Soltan was a success . . .

Strategically, however, the incident was a disaster. Its most incriminating version -- colored by villagers' grief and anger, possibly twisted by Taliban propaganda and magnified by the growing influence of independent Afghan TV -- spread far faster than U.S. authorities could even attempt to counter . . .

A week after the raid, even though U.S. officials had by then met with village elders and released all but one detainee, emotions in Bagh-i-Soltan were still running high, and the raided compound was full of condolence callers

What's wrong with this picture and why haven't we learned anything from Iraq?

More loose thinking on the military's part that seems to indicate they haven't quite learned the lessons of Iraq, yet. This despite 6 years of still dealing with the consequences of getting it so wrong at the beginning of the occupation.

Army Maj. Todd Polk speaking of the suspect shot and killed in the raid explains: "If he were innocent, he would have sat there."

Yeah, that always works in those situations. Someone kicks down your door in the middle of the night and you naturally just sit there while your wife and kids are screaming? Is that what any American male would do? (Isn't that why every American needs to be armed to the teeth to protect their homes?)

To say nothing of the fact that in Afghanistan -- a country constantly at war -- they know a little something about what's happened in the past to many of their countrymen taken in the middle of the night by US soldiers.

If they're lucky they wind up in Gitmo. If they're not, they wind up in Syria or some other human rights poster child locale. Or they just get beaten to death by sadistic MPs, like the Afghani taxi driver, Dilawar, who died a horrible death at Baghram.

Maj. Polk, the piece reports, is frustrated by the lack of communication between his troops and the local police. The policeman he spoke to told him, through an interpreter: "You didn't need to take all those vehicles and people to raid that house. You just needed to make one call." Polk remains skeptical, though.

Why not take him at his word and see what happens? I'd say the lack of communication seems to go both ways. If someone in charge of making nice with the local population is just going to instantly reject the advice of a local constable, the very person we need on our side to have any success with this project of winning hearts and minds, then what's the point?

Maj. Polk's solution, though, is to ignore all that and conclude: "Next time, we just have to be faster putting out the truth."

So, it's just a PR problem then? If Gitmo and Abu Ghraib are any indication of the kind of bad PR we're attempting to surmount, it's probably fair to say, we'd better have a plan B.

It's like the military has to relearn all it's apparently forgotten from doing things right in Iraq. If this is the case, we might as well just pull up stakes and get the hell out of there. This time, much more so than in Iraq, we can't afford another couple years of screwing up in order to get it right.

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Claire Short says there was no discussion about the invasion of Iraq.

You may recall me mentioning the other day the case of the Tories and various media organizations in the UK seeking the release of the minutes of cabinet meetings held in the days leading up to the invasion of Iraq. Specifically, inquiring minds want to see the legal advise the UK Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, gave Phony B-Liar and what was discussed concerning that advise. The Labour government is stonewalling in the courts claiming executive privilege protects consultations the PM gets from his staff and advisers. (Where have we heard that one before?)

In any case, turns out Claire Short, a former cabinet minister (who quit in protest of the invasion), tells the Mail-Online that the reason the current PM Gordon Brown is refusing to release the minutes is because there was no discussion of Goldsmith's legal advise.

News Item:

"Details surrounding two crucial meetings on the eve of the conflict were laid bare for the first time yesterday when former Cabinet Minister Clare Short, who was present at both, gave a full account of what happened . . . 'The bitter irony is that what they are doing is concealing the fact there was no robust decision-making. The minutes will reveal there was no real Cabinet discussion about the Iraq War. That is the real scandal . . .’

Ms Short said: ‘When we arrived, there was a piece of paper in front of each of us, a few paragraphs written by the Attorney General saying the war was legal, there were no problems etc.

‘Lord Goldsmith started reading it out but we said, “You don’t have to, we can read it.” Then Tony said something like, “That’s it.” And that was it. ‘I wanted to know if the Attorney General had any doubts about the legality of the war. ‘They all said, “Clare, be quiet, stop.” No one else wanted to talk about it. I was shouted down.’"

Now that's how you get stuck in a never ending war that's cost a trillion dollars, 4,200 dead and tens of thousands injured. But, hey, we're moving on, things to do people to see. Let's not get bogged down in who did what and who drove us into this ditch in the first place.

That may be the mantra in the new administration, but it looks like Gordon Brown and the labour party have a rendezvous with destiny. Lucky for the criminal enterprise called the Bush administration, there are two NFL players lost off the Florida coast and a huge snow storm headed toward New York, the biggest media market in the US.

More than enough diversion to ensure the ignorance of the American people no matter what is revealed about the march to war in Iraq.

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Sunday, March 01, 2009

I never thought I'd see the day. Obama announces Iraq withdrawl.

President Obama speaking at Camp Lejeune, NC, this past Friday.

"As a candidate for President, I made clear my support for a timeline of 16 months to carry out this drawdown, while pledging to consult closely with our military commanders upon taking office to ensure that we preserve the gains we've made and protect our troops. Those consultations are now complete, and I have chosen a timeline that will remove our combat brigades over the next 18 months.

Let me say this as plainly as I can: by August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end.

. . . I intend to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011. We will complete this transition to Iraqi responsibility, and we will bring our troops home with the honor that they have earned." [Huffington Post]

Wow! Stunning.

We've got something like half a million troops stationed in about 150 countries around the world, so one down and about 149 more to go. But, it's a good start.

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