Meh Culpa

Fandango Friday: Chas Freeman’s appointment to NIC


Scaramouche from Early Dance Circle

While I’m waiting for my laundry before I head out to print an exam and Fed-Ex it (::gasp::) to the East Coast, I thought I’d mention a few things about Chas Freeman’s appointment to the National Intelligence Council (NIC). Really, it’s not all that bad. Israel would like you to think so, as would all the legislators and lobbyists who would say I’m anti-Semitic if they knew I existed, and thank goodness they don’t, but that doesn’t mean the appointment is bad for the United States.  And the United States’ interests are what we need to be worried about.  We are in far more danger from what folks are now calling Islamic extremists than we are from Israel.  Sure, the Israelis have The Bomb–in fact, Israel has a number of Bombs–but I’d like to see them get one over here.  (NOT. That was a rhetorical device)

On the other hand, there are Muslim extremists sympathizing with Palestinians, ticked off about our occupation of Iraq as well as about the war in Afghanistan, and threatening to overthrow Pakistan, which is right next to Afghanistan if you hadn’t noticed. Understanding how Arabs, Persians and various other Muslim groups think is rather crucial for protecting the interests of our country. It is actually Rocket Science.

Contrary to the way they’ve been portrayed in the past, Arabs aren’t fools.  Neither are Muslims. There is no Al-Farabi for Dummies published anywhere in the world, nor should there be.  Muslims / Arabs/ Persians had a lock on the Greek philosophers while Europe was in the so-called Dark Ages.* No Christian philosopher would even come close until Thomas Aquinas, and then, not so much, because people in the Middle Ages liked to make everything fit into nicely arranged pigeonholes. (The world is less scary when you can do that.)  Anyone who can understand how Arabs and Persians and Muslims in General think–and if anyone can, it’s Freeman–is bound to be good for the US.  We just haven’t been able to do it before, or at least not so’s you’d notice.

Let’s not forget that not understanding Iraqis got us into a passel of trouble we’re still paying for. We didn’t even have enough translators to fight the war we started, and that hurt us. We also didn’t trust our own Muslim citizens to help us out and that hurt us, too. The neo-cons stuck us with what’s-his-head, Chalabi, and he was a nightmare. Talk about lousy intelligence!  Oy vey.

And another thing–I’ve mentioned this before in a rhetorical device-y sort of way–Israel’s policies don’t seem to be helping Israel at all, and they haven’t for as long as I can remember.  (That would be way back to the 1967 War, mind you.)  The missiles from Gaza (and sometimes Lebanon) haven’t stopped.  Iran is still fulminating.  And Syria would really like the Golan Heights back.  Egypt is quiet because we give ’em money.  Let’s see what happens when their fearless dictator leader dies.  Mubarak’s over eighty, so it could happen at any time.

I don’t see why we need to duplicate Israel’s mistakes. We don’t need to use unnecessary force against “enemy combatants,”**  or occupy countries full of Arabs, Persians, or Muslims.  We need diplomacy and good intelligence.  Charles Freeman can help with both. You know, when I get the time and read a bit of Israeli news, I see lots of tweaking over various things Israel complains are jeopardizing our alliance.  Some of the stuff is really minor. (You should check it out some time.)  Sure, the Israelis were angry when Bush 43 wouldn’t join them in a war against Iran and only gave them a wildly expensive defensive missile detection thingy, but they freak when Obama (or anyone else with a little influence) sneezes, and that’s just silly.

I could pretty much say the same about Freeman’s relationship with China that lots of people are complaining about because they’re scared of his pragmatism.  He’s the guy who translated for Nixon on the Epic Trip Going Where No President Had Been Before.  We could use a little understanding of China, too–and yes, it’s more Rocket Science–because we owe the Mainland a bajillion (not a technical term) dollars and are likely to owe much more as long as  we’re on  China’s good side.  See, the deal is that we’re involved in a Struggle To Survive and if we muck  it up with ideology, we’ll be full of fail.  Bigtime fail.

Besides, I don’t think we have a whole lot to brag about in the human rights department after the last eight years.  Do you?  😦


* You can blame that on the folks who torched the Library in Alexandria, whoever they were.

** Wait until you hear what I think of Obama’s current policies about torture, state secrets, and expanding US Air Bases.

March 6, 2009 Posted by | Afghan War, appointments, Arab world, borrowing, Bush administration, China, diplomacy, Economy, Egypt, Foreign policy, National Security | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Nouriel Roubini: “What’s happening in the world now is scary.”

Contrary to what Bernanke believes–are we surprised?–Roubini believes a 36 month recession is possible (see video that doesn’t work on WordPress), with the danger of settling into a Japanese-style period, which looks L-shaped on a graph instead of a V-shaped (fairly quick recovery) or a U-shaped recovery (slower recovery).

Snagged from the glittering eye, a graph that compares the Japan’s “lost decade” to what’s happening now in the U.S.:

Check out how much the federal government is borrowing…  Egads. Why don’t we just call it a depression and get it over with?

(h/t: digby)

March 3, 2009 Posted by | bailout(s), borrowing, Depression, Economy, Federal Reserve, Japan, National Security, recession | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

New McCain Campaign ad

There’s a new McCain campaign ad in Northern California now. I’ve seen it twice. Makes me want to throw a shoe at the TV. I’m not going to give it more air time, but I will provide the link to the analysis on FactCheck.org.

I agree with most of what FactCheck says, but I will quibble about the characterization of the Democrats as the party that can’t balance a budget: the budget hasn’t come even close to being balanced in eons; the last time a Democrat was in office, during the Clinton years, the United States had a budget surplus. Can’t say that about Republicans in recent memory. In fact, no matter what they’ve said or promised, Republicans since Ronald Reagan have been fond of deficit spending.


National Debt as % of GDP

And the tax thing just chapped my hide. As if the Republicans never thought of increasing taxes. Check this out: an excerpt from The 1960 Presidential campaign, 2nd joint radio broadcast between the two candidates:

MR. NIXON. Well I think we should be under no illusions whatever about what the responsibilities of the American people will be in the sixties. Our expenditures for defense, our expenditures for mutual security, our expenditures for economic assistance and technical assistance are not going to get less. In my opinion, they’re going to be be greater. I think it may be necessary that we have more taxes. I hope not. I hope we can economize elsewhere so that we don’t have to. But I would have no hesitation to ask the American people to pay the taxes even in l961, if necessary, to maintain a sound economy and also to maintain a sound dollar. Because when you do not tax and tax enough to pay for your outgo, you pay it many times over in higher prices in inflation and I simply will not do that.

Nixon also said:

We’re the best fed; we’re the best clothed, with a better distribution of this world’s goods to all of our people than any people in history.

Now, in pointing out the things that are wrong, I think we ought to emphasize America’s strengths. It isn’t necessary to run America down in order to build it up.

Stop the presses: Nixon is talking about raising taxes.

Here’s Kennedy’s reply:

MR. KENNEDY. Well, Mr. Nixon, I’ll just give you the testimony of Mr. George Aiken, Senator George Aiken, the ranking minority member–Republican member, and former chairman of the Senate Agricultural Committee, testifying in 1959 said there were 26 million Americans who did not have the income to afford a decent diet. Mr. Benson, testifying on the food stamp plan in 1957, said there were 25 million Americans who could not afford a elementary low-cost diet, and he defined that as someone who uses beans in place of meat.

Now, I’ve seen a good many hundreds of thousands of people who are not adequately fed. You can’t tell me that a surplus food distribution of five cents per person, and that nearly 6 million Americans receiving that, is adequate. You can’t tell me that any one who uses beans instead of meat in the United States, and there are 25 million of them according to Mr. Benson, is well fed or adequately fed. I believe that we should not compare what our figures may be to India or some other country that has serious problems, but to remember that we are the most prosperous country in the world and that these people are not getting adequate food, and they’re not getting in many cases adequate shelter, and we ought to try to meet the problem.

Secondly, Mr. Nixon has continued to state, and he stated it last week, these fantastic figures of what the Democratic budget–platform would cost. They’re wholly inaccurate. I said last week I believed in a balanced budget. And unless there was a severe recession and after all the worst unbalanced budget in history was in 1958, $12 billion dollars larger than in any administration in the history of the United States. So that I believe that on this subject we can balance the budget unless we have a national emergency or unless we have a severe recession.

Darn J.F. Kennedy and his wanting a balanced budget.

Another Democrat who balanced the budget? Surprisingly, Lyndon Baines Johnson. Apparently you can have a Great Society and a strong economy at the same time.

* During his presidency, Nixon didn’t care about balancing the budget. He just happened to have a surplus. Not the same thing as actual balancing. (Stein, Herbert. Presidential economics: The making of economic policy from Roosevelt to Clinton American Enterprise Institute, 1994. p. 169)

September 5, 2008 Posted by | 2008 presidential race, Economy, politics | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment