State of the Union

Pinocchio Brown in Wonderland

Breaking News: Gordon (Pinocchio) Brown has  connected with Jiminy Cricket at last. She comes in the form Of Joanna Lumley, a british actress who has been championing the cause of the Gurkhas. The Gurkhas are petite and very brave men from Nepal who hire themselves almost exclusively to the British army , and have saved many a British officer’s life in wars which have no interest  to them  beyond doing their duty as conscientious employees. Joanna Lumley’s father was one of these lucky  officers saved by Gurkha intercession, and she has been fiercely campaigning  for them to be allowed to retire to England and live here if they so choose after  serving in our army.  A few weeks ago the government  announced that they could not let the gurkhas retire here because the country would be flooded with small Nepalese speaking men. Maybe they feared that Great Britain would share the  Mexiphone fate of U.S.A by becoming a Nepaliphone country.

But Jiminy Jo went to work, humiliating ministers in front of the camera (easy sport these days), and hey presto! Today capitulation:  Our home secretary announced  that all ex Gurkhas would be entitled to live in the UK if they so chose, and Gordon Brown asked Joanna Lumley to tea with 36 Gurkhas,and she told the 5 Oclock news that it was a bit like Alice in Wonderland, and Instead of 36 Gurkhas turning up, hundreds did and they were all welcomed into 10 Downing street for tea and sandwiches, and Gordon kissed Joanna.  And so… is Gordon’s wooden heart becoming flesh and blood at last? Time will tell.

Did you know that when Texans say what do you figure that coyote is up to, they have taken the word figure from the spanish figurar: to imagine

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Obama’s Crony Diplomacy

We catch another glimpse of Obama the sharp Chicago pol as he appoints Louis Susman, the Democratic (Chicago-based) fundraiser and former vice-president of Citigroup, as the U.S. Ambassador in London. Susman, nicknamed the Vacuum Cleaner for his skill at sucking up cash, is known to have helped raise $500,000 for Obama’s presidential campaign and another $300,000 for his inauguration in January. He has very little foreign experience and no background in diplomacy. But hey, who cares?

Paranoiac Atlanticists are describing the appointment as further proof of Obama’s disdain for the Special Relationship. If only. Susman’s posting to London — as yet unofficial — just proves, yet again, that Obama, like every other globally successful politician, is adept at the dark arts of cronyism.

Still, at least Susman is not Oprah.

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Bad Feith

That Doug Feith, eh? You almost have to admire his chutzpah. Having played such a large part in completely wrecking Iraq, he has an article in today’s Wall Street Journal laying out his new plan for world Utopia.

The big idea is the aggrandizement of the Civilian Response Corps “so the president can mobilize trained civilian volunteers the way he already can mobilize volunteers for the military reserve.” And it just so happens that CRC is in line to receive an additional $323 million, if Congress approves the budget Obama submitted last week.

Oh dear. It merits quoting Feith’s piece at length, to appreciate the lunacy:

The purpose here is to line up civilians with expertise in water systems, police training, road-building, judicial administration, and other relevant fields and prepare them for deployment abroad. When their services are needed, they could partner with our military forces.

Once it’s up and running, the Civilian Response Corps will likely be useful in the fight against terrorism. It will also give our government tools for countering the various problems that arise from territories not under effective sovereign control. These problems include piracy, drug trafficking and attacks against friendly governments.

Historically, when civilians have not been available for such work, it has fallen to U.S. military personnel. In Afghanistan and Iraq, for example, American soldiers and Marines have had to organize municipal governing councils, arrange for basic services (such as electricity), and manage hospitals. These tasks divert the military from its core combat-related missions and could be better done by skilled civilians.

Once it’s up and running, the Civilian Response Corps will likely be useful in the fight against terrorism. It will also give our government tools for countering the various problems that arise from territories not under effective sovereign control. These problems include piracy, drug trafficking and attacks against friendly governments.

While the Civilian Response Corps has received bipartisan support in Congress, legislators have raised some serious questions: Should the Corps be restricted to security-related missions, lest its resources get consumed in humanitarian projects for which there is infinite demand? Who should decide when and how to deploy it? A key, threshold query: Is the State Department’s bureaucracy capable of taking on large-scale operational responsibilities of the kind envisioned by the Civilian Response Corps?

The answer to that last question may be for Congress to direct the Pentagon to lend State a number of planners, especially some with experience in managing the military reserve. This could increase State’s capabilities and help ensure that the Corps’ operational plans are in sync with those of our military commanders.

The administration’s promotion of the Civilian Response Corps is of a piece with the appointment of Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal as military commander in Afghanistan. Defense Secretary Gates evidently wants to emphasize that U.S. forces in theater should transcend conventional thinking and design operations on the basis of military, political, economic and cultural considerations. All of this reinforces an important lesson of recent years: The president’s national security team is responsible for defining and achieving strategic victory, which is a far broader concept than military victory.

The neocon fantasy never stops giving. This is Bushian Global Democratic Revolution propaganda reconceptualized for the new Democratic dreamscape. Feith is proposing nothing less than a radical increase in civilian participation in aggressive nation-building across the world.

The most alarming bit is the section on out-civilizing the baddies in “territories not under effective sovereign control” — ie pirates on the Somali coastline, drug lords Mexico, anybody Americans don’t like anywhere.

No doubt the Civilian Response Corps can accomplish good things, but one cannot simply send in engineers and social workers to fix the world’s security problems without significant military support. And that’s the point.
This is nation-building with liberal twist: send in civilians to cultivate democracy, help the suffering, but send them with enough armed muscle to make sure locals know they can’t mess with us.

Feith is a dangerous and delusional man. In case anyone wants to take his wild schemes seriously, it’s worth recalling — lest we forget — his appalling record in post-invasion operations. On this matter, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, wrote an informative, insider’s review of Feith’s self-exculpatory book War and Decision in TAC last year. Subscribers can read the whole thing, but here is a taste:

I also knew about incompetence with regard to post-invasion Iraq because I was immersed in it. For instance, after the first and only planning meeting for the post-invasion team–Gen. Jay Garner’s Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA)–at the NDU, people from both State and Defense who had attended came to me and said they were deeply concerned. Nothing of consequence had occurred except that everyone met. The situation worsened. I received a call from one of State’s ORHA members in Kuwait, waiting to enter Iraq, who reported that there were no plans, no supplies, no leaders, and no instructions. I then learned that our ambassador in Baghdad, Barbara Bodine, was virtually without resources to do her job. All this exquisite planning lay at the feet of the indomitable energizer bunny, Doug Feith.

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Mutual Respect?

Joe Biden is in Serbia at the moment, offering friendly noises about “mutual respect” and agreeing to disagree over the Kosovo question. His warmness is not entirely reciprocated. “Biden, you Nazi scum, go home,” ordered a poster from the Radical Party. “We believe that the statements and policies of Joseph Biden are contrary to the interests of Serbia and the Serbian people,” said Jovan Palalic, of the Serbian Democratic Party. Another politician, Aleksandar Vulin, added that Biden “is not welcome in Serbia.” Most reports have marginalized Biden’s critics as “nationalists.” But can one entirely blame some Serbs — “nationalist” or not — for resenting Biden? He was, after all, instrumental in ramping up Bill Clinton’s aggression towards them in 1995. As Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, his advocacy of a “lift and strike” resolution encouraged Clinton to initiate the NATO bombing campaign, which killed so many Serb civilians.

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Stop Calling Them ‘Terrorists’!

While everyone was busy eulogizing the Republican Party, it reverted back to Rovian form and managed a huge PR victory on the Hill this week. Repeat a lie enough — and stridently enough — and it becomes the truth. The opposition, also true to form, buckles.

Democrats folded like two-dollar beach chairs over the closing of the Guantanamo Bay prison facility on Tuesday, and effectively forced President Obama to pivot on one of his first official — and possibly bravest –  revocations of Bush Administration policy since taking office. Setting into motion the closure of the troubled detainee camp, a legal thicket and human eyesore fraught with evidence of torture and abuse growing everyday, was as symbolic as it was practical. The symbolism of this political defeat, coupled with the resurrection military commissions, and the awkward flip-flop on releasing abuse photos last week, will hurt Obama’s mantle of transformative “change agent” more than anything he has done in the last 100+ days of his tenure.

In the end, Obama could not “transcend” — as was promised, endlessly — post-9/11 politics as usual in Washington, which is all about fear and manipulation, convincing everyone that there is a missing hijacker behind every bush on Mayberry Street. And repeating a lie enough to make it the truth.

Which is exactly what Republicans did to cow Obama and his weak sister Democrats on the Hill this week — by repeating the word “terrorist” at every chance regarding the Gitmo detainees, even when they know it doesn’t legally apply to even half of them. We know at this point that out of the 240 detainees currently on the island, 60 were cleared of any wrongdoing by the last administration and are just languishing there in a sort of limbo and 80 others have yet to be tried in whatever court the administration finally settles on. According to Sec. Def. Bob Gates, that leaves 50 to 100, who cannot be charged with terrorism but won’t be released because they are supposedly too much of a risk. That leaves how many convicted “terrorists”? Three.

But Republicans recognized early on that this was a winning issue and that Democrats would fall over with the slightest breeze. Turns out it didn’t take much –just some consistent windbaggery helped along by the pliant media who love to give A-team demagogues like Charles Krauthammer and Newt Gingrich a platform and wide berth on this and every other national security issue. Democrats even ceded their best card in the deck: the 17 Chinese Muslim separatists who were cleared of any wrongdoing by the Bush Administration and are now appealing to the Supreme Court for their release from Gitmo. They remain imprisoned because they cannot be sent back to a certain death sentence in China. They symbolize all that is wrong the the Bush-era prison camp. But Republicans on the Hill were effective in making them indistinguishable from al Qaeda. Read More…

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La Majadería of the Pinocchio Parliament

Well it has happened. The Pinocchio Parliament has terrorrized Michael Martin into jumping. But don’t fear. It will be a bungie jump. He will bounce back up again. He has an enormous pension fund, and some handsome expenses to be earned in the House of Lords. Arise Sir Michael!
There is something about this affair that smacks of the moribund. First there is the dying Newspaper: The Daily Telegraph which cannot even afford to pay its contributors. It has had to halve the wages of all it`s journos, but has found the money to buy the information about m.p.s expenses to give one last dying kick to the ungrateful world that has turned its back on it. Then there is the insanely greedy top echelon of our society, the bankers and politicians, who seem to be there just to steal whatever they can. In the last few years the dubious saying “You pay peanuts, and you get monkeys” has been the catch phrase of the Kleptocracy that rules us, but it is now apparent that if you pay loads’ a’ money you get swarms of rats. Gordon Brown has suggested that the regulation of M.Ps pay be farmed out to a committee from the private sector. The M.Ps will be awarded more money than they currently receive to prevent them from being tempted to steal it, and the jobless and poorly paid will see it as a stitch up.
I despair of being English. I am in the process of learning Spanish, a wonderful language, the equal of English as a literary language. I loved the article by Fred Reed in May’s issue of the Amcon about Alabama colloquialisms. I would like to share it with fellow bloggers, but alas it is necessary to subscribe to read it. Is it true that Pat Buchanan has prophesied the death of the English Language in the American Continent? I do recognise that when you Americans have finally to abandon English as your first language you may mourn the passing of those colourful provincial colloquialisms that you so treasure, but Spain and its ex empire offer every bit as much variety of self expression. Example majada = sheepfold, majadería= silliness, or rather sheepfoldiness. We dont have a word for it. Can anyone do any better?

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Dr. Total State

One of the dangers of nationalized health care (outside of the cost concerns) the potential explosion for litigation once health care becomes a right.  Such litigation helped to increase health care costs from the 1980s onward and could make things more expensive in future, only this time its the taxpayers that will bear the brunt.

Not only could such litigation require hospitals and clinics to preform various surgeries, cosmetic or otherwise, regardless of their impact on the bottom line, but it can also force patients to receive certain treatments whether they want to or not. Judges and or juries become de facto doctors.

Read More…

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Ugly Truth about India

In the wake of yesterday’s defeat of Hindu nationalists in India’s elections — and the resultant euphoric market surge — Gideon Rachman gives a timely reminder of the nasty side of every international capitalist’s favorite South Asian nation:

In most countries when politicians are slammed as “criminals” this is simply vulgar abuse. In India, it is often the literal truth. The British public, currently hyperventilating about expenses fiddles in the UK parliament, might be interested to know that 128 of the 543 members of the last Indian parliament had faced criminal charges or investigations, including 83 cases of murder. In a poor society, gangsters can and do use muscle and money to force their way into parliament.

That does rather put western political corruptions into perspective, doesn’t it?

More importantly, the grim reality of Indian democracy somewhat undercuts the great globalists’ delusion, which portrays India as the marvelous democratic “success story” of recent years. The West has pinned so much false hope on this idea, seeing India as our one great ally in the South Asia region — a bulwark against Radical Islam and the sinister East. In doing so, we have largely ignored the ugly truths behind India’s triumphant democracy.

PS Here again is an excellent review by Septimus Waugh on the subject of India. (Subscribers only, I am afraid. Why not sign up?)

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The Pinocchio of Parliaments

Yesterday Michael Martin, the speaker of the UK House of Commons, finally got it. He APOLOGISED, but too late: just as the electorate are not forgiving the members of parliament, so the honourable members will not forgive Mr. Martin. He should have been their Jimminy Cricket, but when they needed a conscience, he was not there for them. They will get him out. Perhaps they will impeach him for their sins. Meanwhile the noses of the party leaders grow longer by the day as they swear vengeance on all expense fiddlers (including themselves?). Self employed people such as farmers and building tradesmen have a sneaking sympathy for the scams of the politicians, as they have themselves been using tax loopholes and the like as part of every day management of their businesses. But it is tempered by the justifiable feeling that those who make the laws that they seek to evade should not be evading those very laws themselves. As for those who are on Pay As You Earn tax, for whom there are no tax breaks or expense accounts, their rage is truly awesome. The danger is that electorate will turn to parties of the extreme right (the British National Party for example)
This is something that I have warned about in my review of “1848 Year of Revolutions” by Mike Rapport.

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Bibi’s Dead End

If there are no peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians for an independent Palestinian state, war next year is inevitable.

So King Abdullah II of Jordan has told the London Times: “If we delay our peace negotiations, then there is going to be another conflict between Arabs or Muslims and Israel in the next 12 to 18 months.”

Whether the king’s timetable is correct, endless cold war, erupting into hot wars, seems the fate of Israel if “Bibi” Netanyahu holds to his pledge never to allow a Palestinian state on the West Bank.

For, as John Mearsheimer, author of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, writes in the May 18 American Conservative, if there is no Palestinian state, there are only three possible alternatives.

All involve “creating a ‘greater Israel’ … that effectively controls the West Bank and Gaza, or all of what was once called Mandatory Palestine.”

What are Bibi’s three remaining options? Read More…

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