Ayn Rand Was Wrong! Greed Killed Our Economy

February 28, 2009 at 9:14 pm | Posted in American politics | 38 Comments

Read it and weep, Rand-philes. Capitalism failed.

The Lamest Bunch of Students NYU Ever Had

February 27, 2009 at 5:06 pm | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

Painful. For a short backstory, go here.

A group of NYU students decided to protest a bunch of stuff but they couldn’t think of anything so they said, um, scholarships for Palestinian students. Huh? Then they made a wall out of garbage cans and sat there for few days, eating food and refusing to leave. Eventually the campus security said, “[Screw] this” and threw them out. Now they’re expelled.

Enjolras and Marius they ain’t.

Conservatives WANT Terrorists To Strike American Cities With Nuclear Weapons

February 27, 2009 at 9:31 am | Posted in American politics | 2 Comments

Their leaders say so, and their followers laugh along when they do.

A few years ago, TV preacher Pat Robertson said he welcomed a nuclear attack on the State Department, telling a national television audience, “Maybe we need a very small nuke thrown off on Foggy Bottom to shake things up.” A couple of years later, Bill O’Reilly welcomed a terrorist attack on San Francisco. The Fox News personality told al Qaeda, “You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead.”

And yesterday, the Bush administration’s former U.N. ambassador, John Bolton, generated wild applause joking about a nuclear attack on Chicago.

And you wonder why I call conservatives today stupid and deranged. Are the saner bunch of conservatives out there going to ask their fellow conservatives why this kind of talk is even okay?

Why do conservatives want terrorists to strike America?

It Doesn’t Take A Genius To Figure This Out

February 22, 2009 at 4:28 pm | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

From the Washington Post, on a Gitmo detainee gone suicide in Iraq:

Or is the answer potentially more alarming: Was his descent into unrepentant radicalism an unintended consequence of his incarceration?

Gee, ya think?

Take Back NYU–WHAT??

February 21, 2009 at 4:08 pm | Posted in American politics | 1 Comment
Tags: ,

This post was written by Jaime, Dan’s wife.

So let’s review the top news stories this week:

1. NY Post’s completely inappropriate, offensive cartoon and subsequent lame apologies and public protests.  See here for one of the recent articles.

2. The horrific attack on a Connecticut woman by a chimpanzee

3. Various star sightings at Fashion Week or while traveling to the upcoming Oscars this weekend.

4. Two tragic ends of life: a junior jumps (?) to his death at Dalton and a man writes his suicide note as a Facebook status.

5. President Obama’s stimulus package being signed into law.

6. Rihanna remains strong, despite the horrific beating at the hands of a man who claims to love her, and the LAPD’s lax handling of the image of her.

And then there’s my favorite:

7. NYU students taking back their campus with a laundry list of demands for University personnel.

Now I’m the child of two peace-loving hippies.  I grew up raging against the man, and learning the methods of non-violent protest.  Continue Reading Take Back NYU–WHAT??…

This Is Not What I Voted You In For, Mr. Obama

February 20, 2009 at 10:15 pm | Posted in American politics | 4 Comments

you better change fast.

America Will Lose Afghanistan

February 19, 2009 at 12:04 am | Posted in American politics | 7 Comments

Chalk up another negative for George W. Bush. Because of his actions, because of his misdirections, because of his distractions, the United States of America will lose Afghanistan when this was the one we should have one, and easily. Current “top” American military leaders are calling it a stalemate, and given how averse American military brass are to really telling citizens how bad things are, if they call it a stalemate, you can bet it is far far worse.

See, here’s the problem we face.

1. We’re still in Iraq.

We did not need to go there in the first place. We’re wasting billions upon billions of dollars in a country we never should have invaded. Obama wants to get us out of Iraq within sixteen months (I still think that is too long), but the military brass think we should stay there for another seven to ten years! What is the cost of such an action both financially and military assets? Financially the war in Iraq is costing us $4-10 billion a month (don’t know the exact figure—George W. Bush wasn’t exactly very transparent with his government). In any case, that’s between $50-130 billion a year. Multiply that by seven to ten years and you get a range from $350 billion to $1.3 trillion. That’s in addition to the $600 billion we’ve already spent so far on Iraq. All together, Iraq could cost us anywhere from $1 trillion to $2 trillion dollars. That’s more than Obama’s economic stimulus. Just think of that. What exactly are we doing in Iraq? Keeping us safe from, well, whom exactly? Our real enemy is hanging out in Pakistan right now. The rate of return of our investment in Iraq sure doesn’t look very good right now.

“Keeping us safe” should not have to cost this much. It will eventually bankrupt us, just as Osama Bin Laden promised. We are also incurring a very steep cost with our soldiers. Not just in deaths but in injuries and psychological damage. These have very real and very negative effects on our nation in the long run. The more we keep them in a battle zone, the more we weaken them, and the less safe we make ourselves, particularly against bigger threats.

2. Iraq is not going to be a pro-western democracy

Not because Iraqis can’t handle a democracy, but because the conditions are not right. The mistrust between different factions is high enough so that the different factions feel it is better to wage war against other factions than trust that a political solution will solve the problem. There is a reason why Baghdad is a city of massive walls. See, in flourishing democracies, rival factions have enough trust in each other that if one faction gets power, the other factions have enough sense of trust that the ruling faction won’t send their country to hell. (For my own self, right now I don’t believe Republicans should rule, because they are so ideologically driven that they will wreck this country; however, I trust that the system has enough checks in place that even with Republicans in power, this country won’t be too badly damaged). This kind of check and balance is not found in Iraq. Why should a Sunni Arab trust a Shi’ite with ties to Iran to run the government of Iraq properly? I wouldn’t. I would feel very threatened. I would keep a gun close by.

Most of the political violence, the civil war, of Iraq has already occurred. Few neighborhoods in Baghdad or really anywhere, are tribally mixed. There has been enough sharing of power between Sunnis and Shi’ites that has kept continual political violence at bay, at least reduced it somewhat. But this is still highly unstable, and will not endure for long. Nothing the Americans will do can help this. But, we’re stubborn prideful people. We’ll stick at it, waste our money and our soldiers because of our highly nationalistic pride.

3. Afghanistan is hell.

Obama is right to be highly critical of Karzai. He is corrupt. He rules barely out of Kabul. He has little to no influence outside of Kabul. The United States military has little to no influence in, well, anywhere in Afghanistan. They continue killing civilians! They continue failing to understand the most important principle of a successful counterinsurgency. Protect the civilian ABOVE the priority of protecting your own soldier. If a car is coming toward your outpost, and you don’t know if it is a civilian or a terrorist, what do you do in a successful counterinsurgency? Do you shoot the vehicle and ask questions later? NO! You have to be willing to sacrifice your soldier to protect the possible civilian in that vehicle.

The reason counterinsurgencies are not successful for the most part, is because the group that attempts to counter an insurgency is unwilling to sacrifice his own to succeed. See, the insurgency group is definitely willing to sacrifice his own so that he succeeds. The more he sacrifices of his own, the greater the chance his insurgency will be successful. The less the counterinsurgency group is willing to sacrifice his own, the greater the chance for failure.

Afghanistan is a losing cause, with the number one reason being this. We are more willing to sacrifice the civilians of Afghanistan than we are the soldier of America.

When we are willing to show Afghans and Pushtuns of Pakistan that we care more about them, when we show them that we value their lives more than we value our own, we will finally start to see the fruits of success.


February 18, 2009 at 11:12 pm | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

There is no better word to describe the result of Bush’s 2001 tax cut in light of what happened in 2008 (and what will continue to happen as the economy slides away further). Anonymous Liberal says it best in his post putting Obama’s stimulus in perspective. He notes that Bush’s 2001 tax cut was for 1.35 trillion dollars, almost double the size of Obama’s stimulus package. That’s quite the cost to the government. And, where did that money go?

The Bush tax cuts were skewed dramatically toward the wealthy. In 2004, 60% of the tax cuts went to the top 20 percent of income earners with over 25% going to the top 1% of income earners. Those numbers have increased since then as the cuts to the estate tax have taken effect.

And where did that money go? Well, when already wealthy people get additional income, they generally invest it as opposed to spending it (which is why upper income tax cuts are generally ineffective as stimulus). The majority of this money likely went into the stock market or into various kinds of hedge funds. And with the worldwide crash in equities over the last five months, much of that money has now evaporated. It’s just gone. Indeed, the tax cuts — by flooding the investment sector with additional capital — likely contributed to the very frenzy of risk-taking that led us to where we are today.

It’s just gone. Lost. It no longer exists. It used to. But then the rich, who were given this money by George W. Bush, gambled it and lost it. It’s gone.

And the most tragic part about it is that we have virtually nothing to show for all that spending. No bridges. No infrastructure. No college degrees. No reduction in the national debt. Nothing.

Indeed. What we get out of it is more debt and economic collapse.

I’ve been convinced for a long time now that historians will look back on the early part of the Bush administration as the biggest missed opportunity in modern American history. An unexpected economic boom in the 1990s put us in a position to finally put our national fiscal house in order. We could have paid back much of our debt and taken steps to shore up our future liabilities. But instead of we took a bunch of money and lit it on fire, and now we are in worse fiscal shape that we have ever been in as a nation, and there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you, President Bush.

I was convinced of this in 2000 when Bush was out campaigning on electing him for his tax cut. He was promising he would give tax cuts to the rich in 2000. I knew it was a big mistake then. That money is lost.

When historians judge George W. Bush, they will have very little to say positive about him. Very very little. Maybe his aid to Africa. In terms of foreign policy, we have a negative return. In terms of domestic challenges, we have a negative return. In terms of economic challenges, there can’t be a starker difference between what his predecessor left him and what he left Obama. He came into office with a budget surplus and a fairly healthy economy. He has given Obama a crumbling economy. Even when things start righting themselves… say Iraq becomes a nice place. Say al-Qaida surrenders. Say the economy turns around. Even when these things happen, historians will rip George W. Bush up for wasting an opportunity like no other to fix our national financial situation when he had such an opportunity that few presidents ever have. Instead of paying off debt, reducing government spending, and THEN giving money back to the citizens, George W. Bush enriched the rich who gambled the money given to them by their government, and lost it.

The irresponsibility…

California, Held Hostage By Fundamentalist Republicans, May Go Under

February 17, 2009 at 5:55 am | Posted in American politics | 2 Comments

Well Republicans want small government… They’re about to get NO government in California. In general, today’s Republicans are pretty off their rockers, but no group of Republicans is more extreme, more irrational, and more hardcore, than those found in California. Those Republicans are certifiably insane.

More Testimony of Reprehensible Torture

February 16, 2009 at 4:02 pm | Posted in American politics | 3 Comments

sickening stuff. All done in the name of the United States of America.

Army Private Brandon Neely served as a prison guard at Guantánamo in the first years the facility was in operation. With the Bush Administration, and thus the threat of retaliation against him, now gone, Neely decided to step forward and tell his story. “The stuff I did and the stuff I saw was just wrong,” he told the Associated Press. Neely describes the arrival of detainees in full sensory-deprivation garb, he details their sexual abuse by medical personnel, torture by other medical personnel, brutal beatings out of frustration, fear, and retribution, the first hunger strike and its causes, torturous shackling, positional torture, interference with religious practices and beliefs, verbal abuse, restriction of recreation, the behavior of mentally ill detainees, an isolation regime that was put in place for child-detainees, and his conversations with prisoners David Hicks and Rhuhel Ahmed. It makes for fascinating reading.

Neely’s comprehensive account runs to roughly 15,000 words. It was compiled by law students at the University of California at Davis and can be accessed here. Three things struck me in reading through the account.

First, Neely and other guards had been trained to the U.S. military’s traditional application of the Geneva Convention rules. They were put under great pressure to get rough with the prisoners and to violate the standards they learned. This placed the prison guards under unjustifiable mental stress and anxiety, and, as any person familiar with the vast psychological literature in the area (think of the Stanford Prison Experiment, for instance) would have anticipated produced abuses. Neely discusses at some length the notion of IRF (initial reaction force), a technique devised to brutalize or physically beat a detainee under the pretense that he required being physically subdued. The IRF approach was devised to use a perceived legal loophole in the prohibition on torture. Neely’s testimony makes clear that IRF was understood by everyone, including the prison guards who applied it, as a subterfuge for beating and mistreating prisoners—and that it had nothing to do with the need to preserve discipline and order in the prison.

Second, there is a good deal of discussion of displays of contempt for Islam by the camp authorities, and also specific documentation of mistreatment of the Qu’ran. Remember that the Neocon-laden Pentagon Public Affairs office launched a war against Newsweek based on a very brief piece that appeared in the magazine’s Periscope section concerning the mistreatment of a Qu’ran by a prison guard. Not only was the Newsweek report accurate in its essence, it actually understated the gravity and scope of the problem. Moreover, it is clear that the Pentagon Public Affairs office was fully aware, even as it went on the attack against Newsweek, that its claims were false and the weekly’s reporting was accurate.

Third, the Nelly account shows that health professionals are right in the thick of the torture and abuse of the prisoners—suggesting a systematic collapse of professional ethics driven by the Pentagon itself. He describes body searches undertaken for no legitimate security purpose, simply to sexually invade and humiliate the prisoners. This was a standardized Bush Administration tactic–the importance of which became apparent to me when I participated in some Capitol Hill negotiations with White House representatives relating to legislation creating criminal law accountability for contractors. The Bush White House vehemently objected to provisions of the law dealing with rape by instrumentality. When House negotiators pressed to know why, they were met first with silence and then an embarrassed acknowledgement that a key part of the Bush program included invasion of the bodies of prisoners in a way that might be deemed rape by instrumentality under existing federal and state criminal statutes. While these techniques have long been known, the role of health care professionals in implementing them is shocking.

Neely’s account demonstrates once more how much the Bush team kept secret and how little we still know about their comprehensive program of official cruelty and torture.

Sexual deprivations. Com’on all you Mormons who read my blog. Tell me, how this can be justified under the Gospel.

The Arrogance of American Military Strategists

February 15, 2009 at 3:45 pm | Posted in Iraq | 7 Comments

Thomas Ricks is a fairly intelligent guy, and his pieces on Iraq are generally quite good. But his current one about Iraq really bothers me. It bothers me for a couple of reasons.

One reason is that he (like all his military buds) think American citizens don’t understand enough of what is going on, and we should “trust them” to get it right. These are of course the very same guys who said we should trust them at the start of the war. These very same guys have not yet been punished for being wrong. They have not been fired from their jobs. They continue to spout their trash, and we’re supposed to somehow trust them.

Secondly, note the language he uses:

The thought of having small numbers of U.S. troops dying for years to come in the country’s deserts and palm groves isn’t appealing, but it appears to be better than either being ejected or pulling out — and letting the genocidal chips fall where they may…

…Many worried that as the United States withdraws and its influence wanes, the Iraqi tendency toward violent solutions will increase.

Because of course Iraqis only know “genocide?” What a bunch of arrogant American bull crap. We’re supposedly a more “civilized” nation, and a substandard nation like Iraq cannot be trusted to finding ways outside violence to deal with things. We, the United States. The one that goes around interjecting in the affairs of other nations. We, the United States, who have a lot of blood on our hands. We have killed a hell of a lot of people these past eight years (let alone the past sixty years since World War II in our attempt to “civilize” the world).

It should be noted, for remembrance, that Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party was supported by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States of America. It also should be noted, for remembrance, that it was the set policy of the United States of America, during the 1980s that if Saddam Hussein needed anything against the Iranians, he would get it from the Americans, or America would avert attention from such things as chemical weapons. It also should be noted, for remembrance, that during those same 1980s, the United States of America also sold weapons to the other side, the mortal enemy of Iraq, the fundamentalists of Iran, essentially making the United States play both sides against each other. For what purpose exactly? Who the hell cares. The point was that we ADDED to the violence in the region. And WE’RE supposed to be trusted to reduce violence in the region?

Maj. Matt Whitney, who spent 2006 advising Iraqi generals, predicted that once U.S. forces were out of the way, Iraqi commanders would relapse to the brutal ways of earlier days: “Saddam Hussein taught them how to [suppress urban populations] and we’ve just reinforced that lesson for four years,” he said. “They’re ready to kill people — a lot of people — in order to get stability in Iraq.”

Major Whitney hit it right on the nail, the problem of having the Americans involved in the region. “[Americans] are ready to kill people — a lot of people — in order to get stability in Iraq.” We’re teaching Iraqis how to solve problems through violence and we expect the Iraqis to NOT use violence to solve their problems?

In other words, the events for which the Iraq war will be remembered probably haven’t even happened yet.

And that is just sad. I hope President Obama sticks to his campaign promise to remove troops from Iraq within the first sixteen months (or so), and not listen to commanders like these who have CONSISTENTLY been wrong about Iraq. Most Americans want out. It is not up to us to decide for the Iraqis how violent they need to be in order to produce a good outcome for them. It is up to them to decide that. We already introduced enough violence upon them. Let them continue the killings amongst themselves if that is what they deem best. We need our soldiers back here to defend our homes, not the homes of Iraqis.

You Try To Be Nice To Republicans…

February 12, 2009 at 5:57 pm | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

and this is what you get.

More Conservative Stupidity

February 11, 2009 at 11:07 pm | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

They must grow these guys on special trees:

U.S. Rep. Steve Austria said he supports a scaled-down federal economic-stimulus proposal, but the Beavercreek Republican told The Dispatch editorial board that the huge influx of money into the economy could have a negative effect.

“When (President Franklin) Roosevelt did this, he put our country into a Great Depression,” Austria said. “He tried to borrow and spend, he tried to use the Keynesian approach, and our country ended up in a Great Depression. That’s just history.”

You can’t blame Republicans and conservatives for not knowing history, what with the way they deride education, but still, you’d expect some rudimentary, even elementary knowledge of history before opening your mouth.

To those conservatives who get upset when I call conservatives stupid, I have to just ask, what do you expect me to say? You elect individuals who are stupid. It is hard not to call them stupid when that is what they are. Steve Austria is stupid. If you don’t want stupidity to represent you, DON’T ELECT STUPIDITY!

Never Trust A Banker With Your Money

February 11, 2009 at 8:08 am | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

Because they don’t want you to know what they do with it. That’s essentially the argument the big banks are making, as they are now desiring to return public money back to the government. They’d rather go down in flames non-transparently than remain alive but have to be transparent. Filthy banks.

Must Be A Conservative Arab

February 9, 2009 at 2:09 pm | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

From Fail Blog.

Maybe If Israel Stops Killing the Leaders of Their Enemies…

February 7, 2009 at 5:27 am | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

they might just have someone to talk to on the other side.

Since the peace process collapsed into violence in 2000, said Asher Cohen, an analyst at Bar-Ilan University’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, there has been “an increasing consensus that there is nobody to talk to” on the other side.

Just a thought. I mean seriously, consider this point carefully, dear Israelis and supporters of Israel’s actions. The more you kill off the seasoned and experienced leaders of the Palestinians, who do you think will be taking their places? From where will Palestinians get responsible leadership? You keep killing them off! No wonder you don’t think there’s anyone to talk to. They’re dead!

America Needs To Stop Intervening

February 7, 2009 at 5:20 am | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

Chalk this up as another failed intervention.

The American military helped plan and pay for a recent attack on a notorious Ugandan rebel group, but the offensive went awry, scattering fighters who carried out a wave of massacres as they fled, killing as many as 900 civilians.

The operation was led by Uganda and aimed to crush the Lord’s Resistance Army, a brutal rebel group that had been hiding out in a Congolese national park, rebuffing efforts to sign a peace treaty. But the rebel leaders escaped, breaking their fighters into small groups that continue to ransack town after town in northeastern Congo, hacking, burning, shooting and clubbing to death anyone in their way.

So let’s count the ways. Afghanistan. Iraq. Somalia. Uganda. How many others am I missing?

Maybe the Americans should start teaching people how to live together in peace instead of teaching people how to better kill each other. I’m just taking a guess, but methinks that will probably be more effective at getting people to live together who otherwise have irreconcilable differences.

Cheney: “We’re Not Going To Win This Fight By Turning The Other Cheek”

February 4, 2009 at 10:51 am | Posted in American politics | 1 Comment

Dick Cheney is making a good case to be considered the anti-Christ.

Protecting the country’s security is “a tough, mean, dirty, nasty business,” he said. “These are evil people. And we’re not going to win this fight by turning the other cheek.”

Actually, protecting this country’s security is really not a tough, mean, dirty, nasty business. Anyone who thinks so should not be put in charge of protecting this country, frankly.

And how does a believer in Christ reconcile what this man says about protecting this country, that we can’t do it by turning the other cheek (which is what Christ taught those who expressed to be followers of His). At what point do you no longer actually follow Christ? If you no longer follow Christ’s teachings, can you call yourself a Christian any longer?

Who Cares What Republicans Think!

February 3, 2009 at 9:46 pm | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

Democrats got 58 votes on a vote to add $25 billion for mass transit, and other such things. They got 58 votes, and they LOST! What the hell is wrong with these Democrats! Dude! Who in the hell cares what Republicans think today! Get off your asses you stupid Democratic leaders in the Senate. Don’t even listen to what the Republicans say. They LOST! They lost where it counted. Americans gave you a fairly clear mandate guys. Get off your asses and give Americans what they asked for, damn the Republicans.

Let me say that again. DAMN THE REPUBLICANS!

The Stark Difference Between Democrats and Republicans

February 3, 2009 at 6:39 pm | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

Can you tell the difference? (Via Feministe)

The Partial Birth Abortion Act of 2003

The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009

Who is more representative of America, and who is more representative of, well, rich, white, old religious men?

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