Google, Haiti, and Taxachusetts

Saturday, January 23, 2010

There have been so many juicy topics to cover, it’s been difficult to keep away. Every time I’m moved to write, though, I really have something else to do or simply don’t want to devote the time to it. That said, here is, in summary, how to think about the following issues:

Google/China: Yes, if Google was #1 in China this wouldn’t have happened, but they’re not and it did. As a result, this is one of the great humanitarian corporate moves of all time. Perhaps the greatest (there’s not a lot of competition, I’m guessing). Google should follow through and close their business there. As arguably the most important corporation in the world, the move will properly shame China and the many companies that remain in that authoritarian country. Here’s a question that any one doing business there should ask: Would I want to live here?

Haiti: Nothing to do in the aftermath but help. In the long term, I’m with David Brooks and Bret Stephenson. Let’s stop giving money to countries “in need.” It does nothing, and may actively do harm. It’s difficult, because it is human nature to try to help fellow humans in need, but it’s also the right thing to do. Certainly, what the first world has been doing for decades has not worked.

Taxachusetts: I would have voted for Scott Brown too. Seriously. I would have voted for a cardboard cutout against Coakley. Although she was inept, I would have done it to send the message. I have said, many times, that if Obama and this Congress can’t get it done, then there is no hope for us. Year one has been an epic, unmitigated failure. Iraq, Afghanistan, secrecy, deficit spending, bank coddling, and worst of all, the healthcare nightmare. I blame Obama for not using his robust post-election strength to strong arm Pelosi (failure) and Reid (failure) immediately. Weak, poorly managed, pathetic. Obama, where are your balls? It’s time to lead.

And, btw, why do you need the 60 votes? Make an exceptional bill and let the GOP filibuster. Call their bluff. If they do it, and the bill dies, you hang it around their neck. Now, the bill dies, and it’s a Dem failure. Disgraceful.

(But then there would be no healthcare bill, someone wails. So fucking what? Paul Krugman can cry to his cats. This is not the most pressing issue in America. Budget restraint, financial reform, and confiscatory, punitive taxes on very wealth bankers, should be the priority. Followed by a 10% spending cut across the entire government, no exceptions.

We are going to have to suffer, period. Let us start suffering already so we have a shot at not fucking our children.)

The bottom line for me, in all this, is that I have really given up hope. I don’t believe our Congress (and the state legislatures) are capable of introducing the change (ethics, responsible spending) that is necessary.

Something very, very bad is going to happen in the next ten or twenty years. War with China, epic depression/inflation/default, or, in the best case scenario, a benevolent military coup (and a draft) that reforms the government in a way that makes it possible for America to function properly.

David Petraeus, are you out there? Rome needs you. Cross the Rubicon. Cast the die!

P.S. I can’t believe I just wrote that. Nevertheless, letting it stand.

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Link Rodeo

Friday, April 17, 2009

I apologize for posting so sporadically. Here’s some of what I’ve been reading lately:

Record unemployment in NC and California. Rising everywhere else. [Calculated Risk]

Bond market warning of worse to come. [WSJ via The Pragmatic Capitalist]

One month T-Bill at .01%. Hmmm? [Zero Hedge]

Gripping account of an effective U.S Army ambush of the Taliban in Afghanistan. [New York Times]

The anti-Goldman Sachs. This guys is being sued by GS and is counter suing. Juicy reading. [GoldmanSachs666.com]

What do women want? (This is a few weeks old now) [New York Times]


U.S. Military Spending vs. the World

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

And oft told story, true…but no matter what, we’ve always got the military…

Courtesy of The Economist.


Iraqi Cabinet Approves U.S. Withdrawal Plan

Sunday, November 16, 2008

It goes to their parliament now, but the agreement was approved almost unanimously by the cabinet and that, apparently, bodes well for parliamentary approval. If passed, all American troops will be out by the end of 2011. From the New York Times:

The draft approved Sunday requires coalition forces to withdraw from Iraqi cities and towns by the summer of 2009 and from the country by the end of 2011. An earlier version had language giving some flexibility to that deadline, with both sides discussing timetables and timelines for withdrawal, but the Iraqis managed to have the deadline set in stone, a significant negotiating victory.

So is this surrender? Cause it smells like victory to me. I hope the neocons will accept it as such and stop trying to dishonor the work of our Armed Services by claiming otherwise. It’s disgraceful to belittle the progress they’ve made – enough that our presence is no longer thought necessary – by insisting that we haven’t won.* We should plan a big victory parade for our troops in 2011.

As for the future of Iraq, well, call me cynical, but I think there’s a lot more blood to be shed. I can’t pretend to know how it will turn out, especially Iran-wise, with all of their trouble, and the world in economic turmoil, but to me, it seems the likeliest conclusion that after a civil war a Shia strongman will rise and take Saddam-like control of the country (excluding the Kurds). In that event, we will actually be worse off than we were before the war.

I just hope that Bush and company will face punishment for their crimes. For the tens of thousands of lives lost and for the tens of thousands of wounded and for the millions who have lost their homes. As we unwind all of the foul corruption and dishonor of the Bush administration, we must make sure that those who are most responsible pay the heaviest price.

*Btw, I definitely want Joe Lieberman booted from his committee chair. Don’t care if he caucuses with the Dems or not, I want his downfall. The day he loses his Senate seat, I will drink a toast to his failure.


Petraeus Backs Obama: Talk to Your Enemies

Friday, October 10, 2008

One of the few things I agree with John McCain on is in venerating GEN. Petraeus. I think he is an incredibly smart, honorable, decent, and courageous man. Without knowing his politics, I would be inclined to support his candidacy for any office. I hope he is a Democrat, but I could live with him as a centrist Republican.

At any rate, watch the video. Petraeus supports the Obama “doctrine” of talking to the people who are shooting at you.

McCain is virtually alone in his stupidity on this front.


Heroic POW Calls McCain Undisciplined, Spoiled Brat

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Air Force Lt. Colonel John Dramesi, a former POW in Vietnam who withstood a month with daily torture sessions that nearly killed him, and who never, unlike John McCain, said a disloyal word about America to his captors (he was awarded two Air Force Crosses), calls John McCain a phony:

McCain says his life changed while he was in Vietnam, and he is now a different man,” Dramesi says today. “But he’s still the undisciplined, spoiled brat that he was when he went in.”

This guy is a true hero. No one faults a POW for saying anything under torture, but to withstand that torture and still maintain your honor is truly heroic. John McCain pales in comparison to this man.

Dramesi, who served as chief war planner for U.S. Air Forces in Europe and commander of a wing of the Strategic Air Command, relates this anecdote about McCain:

On the grounds between the two brick colleges, the chitchat between the scion of four-star admirals and the son of a prizefighter turns to their academic travels; both colleges sponsor a trip abroad for young officers to network with military and political leaders in a distant corner of the globe.

“I’m going to the Middle East,” Dramesi says. “Turkey, Kuwait, Lebanon, Iran.”

“Why are you going to the Middle East?” McCain asks, dismissively.

“It’s a place we’re probably going to have some problems,” Dramesi says.

“Why? Where are you going to, John?”

“Oh, I’m going to Rio.”

“What the hell are you going to Rio for?”

McCain, a married father of three, shrugs.

“I got a better chance of getting laid.”

Whose word are you more like to believe? The truly heroic Dramesi or the shameful politician McCain?


Who is the Real John McCain?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

This article by Tom Dickinson in Rolling Stone is required reading for understanding the real John McCain. Here are the opening paragraphs:

Walking along the grounds at Fort McNair, McCain runs into John Dramesi, an Air Force lieutenant colonel who was also imprisoned and tortured in Vietnam.

McCain is studying at the National War College, a prestigious graduate program he had to pull strings with the Secretary of the Navy to get into. Dramesi is enrolled, on his own merit, at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in the building next door.

There’s a distance between the two men that belies their shared experience in North Vietnam — call it an honor gap. Like many American POWs, McCain broke down under torture and offered a “confession” to his North Vietnamese captors. Dramesi, in contrast, attempted two daring escapes. For the second he was brutalized for a month with daily torture sessions that nearly killed him. His partner in the escape, Lt. Col. Ed Atterberry, didn’t survive the mistreatment. But Dramesi never said a disloyal word, and for his heroism was awarded two Air Force Crosses, one of the service’s highest distinctions. McCain would later hail him as “one of the toughest guys I’ve ever met.”

On the grounds between the two brick colleges, the chitchat between the scion of four-star admirals and the son of a prizefighter turns to their academic travels; both colleges sponsor a trip abroad for young officers to network with military and political leaders in a distant corner of the globe.

“I’m going to the Middle East,” Dramesi says. “Turkey, Kuwait, Lebanon, Iran.”

“Why are you going to the Middle East?” McCain asks, dismissively.

“It’s a place we’re probably going to have some problems,” Dramesi says.

“Why? Where are you going to, John?”

“Oh, I’m going to Rio.”

“What the hell are you going to Rio for?”

McCain, a married father of three, shrugs.

“I got a better chance of getting laid.”

Dramesi, who went on to serve as chief war planner for U.S. Air Forces in Europe and commander of a wing of the Strategic Air Command, was not surprised. “McCain says his life changed while he was in Vietnam, and he is now a different man,” Dramesi says today. “But he’s still the undisciplined, spoiled brat that he was when he went in.”

Undisciplined, spoiled brat just about sums it up, doesn’t it?