Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Day of Reckoning – 4 November 2008

Republican rats deserting a sinking ship to support Obama? No one questions the proposition that politicians are opportunists, but when Cakewalk neocon Ken Adelman, big-time promoter of the Iraq invasion, jumps the GOP ship to swim into the Obama camp... it should scare the hell out of the Democrats – you do not want this rat to contaminate your tent. Some, like Adelman, search for redemption as a fig leaf to cover opportunism. Others, like right-wing journalists, Peggy Noonan and George Will, are just embarrassed over the McCain/Palin ticket and want to make it clear they are not part of that ridiculous self-destructive traveling circus.

General Colin Powell's motives endorsing Obama are more complicated. Powell was a product of affirmative action. He was picked by a black Secretary of the Army, Clifford Alexander who pushed qualified black field grade officers for promotion over equally qualified and better qualified white officers. Powell was assigned to the White House OMB office where he drew the attention of the President Harold Walker Bush's operatives.

Powell, though having almost no policy national security experience or an academic back-ground to qualify him, rose to head the National Security Staff and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Bill Clinton even kept him on for a while as OJCS Chairman. Powell had issues in these billets over Gulf War I and Somalia intervention. His insistence on use of overwhelming force in the Gulf invasion and extended time required for force build up branded him as a civil war McClellan by eager-for-war Bush pistoleros. Right wing hawks still blame him for not going to Baghdad in the invasion of Kuwait. He later developed the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy on gays in the military.

He was to reach his level of incompetence as GW Bush's Secretary of State. Up until then his career pattern had been meteoric and astounding.

Powell, because of his mixed race, was appealing to the Bush republicans as a token of inclusiveness for the party. He was always a gentleman, tactful, loyal and like most military men of his generation, a republican heart beat in his chest. He was intelligent. Best of all, he was not imbedded in the civil rights movement and was not a freakish, sometime preacher. His great failure was to lie for GW Bush publicly before the UN on the Iraqi threat – in this process he grievously ignored his own State department (INR) documented, opposite intelligence on Iraq. He has been deeply haunted by this tarnish on the blade since he left government.

His MEET THE PRESS interview several days ago was his day of reckoning when he categorically supported Obama against McCain. If there was a racial component in his support, it was minimal. Instead, there was redemption by supporting one of the politicians who was against the Iraq war. Expiation and the satisfaction of finally doing the right thing were his main reasons for turning on his Party – a Party hollowed out by excessive self-indulgence, recklessness, and ideological and religious fanaticism.

Neocons, the oleaginous David Frum whose claim to shame as a White House speech writer of the Axis Of Evil and Bill Kristol, the resident Likud columnist in the US are up in arms against their own party. Frum is upset that Bomb Bomb's tactics are destroying other Republican candidates and Kristol, over Bomb Bomb's mishandling of Palin. Republicans devouring their own – Obama should beware of neocons bearing gifts.

Obama has crushed the republicans like an anaconda. First, he coiled around his blue states with a firm squeeze by eliminating Hillary. Second, he focused on the battle states, bringing them tightly toward him. And he now is compressing Bomb Bomb in many of the solid red states to include Arizona.

Despite this, Bomb Bomb claims he has got Obama just where he wants him. Is this 72 year old man galloping to senility? YOU BETCHA.

When Obama wins, there will be something for most elements of American society; that is, except for the social conservative/religious right; but even those will have Pentecostal Palin. Question remains will she be their prize or surprise or consolation prize. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA ret

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

End Game – Iraq

It is still uncertain whether the Iraq war is four-act or five-act tragedy. On December 31, 2008 the UN mandate ends authorization for the US intervention in Iraq. After that date unless the Iraqis agree to the extended presence of US troops, the US becomes a rogue nation, if it continues its occupation.

Bush is desperately driving his policy to retain troops there until 2012. So far the Iraqis are deflecting his efforts by procedural maneuvers and calling for Shiite mass movements against any agreement that fosters US troop presence. General Ordinero, commander of US forces in Iraq, has publicly complained that elements from Iran are bribing Iraqis to resist agreement. Ordinero is right, but so what? The whole country is greased by bribes. Cynically concluded, the most effective bribers win the issue.

Maliki, the Iraqi government chieftain, has surprisingly called Ordinero out on his declaration. The Iraqi Shiite hetman rebuked Ordinero publicly saying he has lost his effectiveness in Iraq. This does not auger well for agreement between the two parties. As a matter of fact, it does just the opposite unless either Maliki or Ordinero unlikely find other work.

The Iraqis understand the pressure on the US to get an agreement. This is real leverage despite the fact they have US guns pointed at their heads. What makes the dice roll faster is the US presidential election; it is clear that if Obama wins, the process of US withdrawal is accelerated; if Bomb Bomb McCain succeeds, from the Iraqi stand point, a 100 years more of control by infidels. The Iraqis are astute enough to understand that under any case, it is better that there is no agreement now than a deal with the Bush/McCain/Neocon regime which is always available; there is a good chance with an Obama win, the Yankees will go home and Iraqis can kill each other without US interference.

No kind of American/Iraqi security deal is expected until after the US presidential election November 4, 2008.

One of General Saveus Petraeus's legacies is over 100,000 Sunnis of the Awakening Movement armed and paid 300 USD a month by the US. Only about 5000 have been put under Iraqi government control. Now the US is insisting the Shiite-controlled central government pay these Sunni militias instead of the Americans – you wanna bet on whether it will? My money says it will not and let the US hold the bag it created. General Petraeus left a ticking time bomb.

Progress towards political reconciliation made by Iraqis is underwhelming; just three of the 18 Bush bench marks have been made; and, only 12 of the 18 Iraqi provinces are under Iraqi control. President Bush said all would be secured by Iraqis as of November 2007. In this context Maliki has called for the 4500 UK troops at an airport near Basra to get out because they are no longer needed in the Basra region.

It is difficult to find reporting on Iraq. Over 120 journalists have been killed there. Those who remain reside in the safety of Green Zone which is another world away from the bloody Red zone where all the action occurs. The bravest journalists are the dead ones and no one is eager to join their ranks.

My sense is that the war is ending and there is little the US can do to control its outcome. Oil and security deals inked now under duress will be curtailed or renegotiated under future Iraqi regimes. Our many bases will be turned over to the Iraqis. Our Baghdad embassy, 5 times larger than the Pentagon, will be made into an air-conditioned grand souk and draw millions of shoppers from Islam. Who knows? Perhaps a new mosaic floor with GWB’s image will be installed to walk on in the Rahshid hotel to replace the one of Bush's father installed by Saddam, and torn up by GW Bush. This HWB floor was demolished immediately as US forces entered Baghdad – ah, the priorities of the invasion.

The Bush/McCain /Neocon WHITE PAPER on Iraq would read along these lines: 1. Looting of Baghdad National Museum and Library of up to 10,000 items – IT WAS UNTIDY, STUFF HAPPENS; 2. Over 85,000 Iraqi killed – WAR IS HELL; 3. Over 2 million Iraqi refugees – FOG OF WAR; 4. Over 4180 US KIA and 35000 wounded – DEMOCRACY IS NOT CHEAP; 5. Over a trillion dollars spent on the Iraq war – IT WAS A GW BUSH ECONOMIC STIMULUS PACKAGE; 6. Abu Gahrib – JUST A FEW BAD APPLES; 7. Iraqi slaughter at Fallujah II – THE IRAQIS ASKED FOR IT.

The biggest future story will be the massive corruption by US and Iraq officials and contractors. Perhaps the journalists will get out of their bunkers to cover it.

Given the enormous human suffering on both sides and the outrageous financial costs to the US, you can spin the Iraq war anyway you wish, but dare not call it victory. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bomb Bomb McCain in his Temple of Doom

As a military aviator, Bomb Bomb McCain crashed three aircraft. As a professional politician seeking the presidency, Bomb Bomb crashed in three separate presidential debates. We probably never will know whether Bomb Bomb was shot down over Hanoi because of bad luck or his failure to follow procedures to avoid surface-to-air missiles. But there is no question he has personally contributed to the shooting down of his quest for presidency of the US.

Bomb Bomb has lost key elements of the Republican intelligentsia mainly because of his campaign decisions. They now treat him as an embarrassment. His worst mistake was the selection of Sarah Palin as VEEP. She is down to about 32% approval rate – that is just about the percent of the Christian Right in the Republican Party. So win or lose, he has shored up his base, but in the process he opened himself to being irresponsible. Ms. Palin has ethical problems with her abuse of power in Alaska. Her apparent shallowness and her husband's association with anti-American Alaskan successionist movement further illustrate her unpreparedness to assume the presidency.

Some have speculated that Palin's husband could not even qualify for White House security clearance.

Bomb Bomb's reaction to the economic crisis was inept – he was a man with his hair on fire and initially did not recognize the problem. He said the US economic fundamentals were just fine. He then rushed to Washington, allegedly to suspend his campaign. He made no impact as the first bailout bill failed. He subsequently voted for the second bailout bill that was loaded with earmarks, undercutting his own campaign. Bomb Bomb even threatened to not to attend the second debate. His foolish panic was contrasted sharply with Obama's cool methodical approach to the problems. Bomb Bomb acted like one of the Marx Brothers in Harum Scarum.

Bomb Bomb's temperament has become an issue. He comes across as a cranky old fart. Obama's coolness drives him crazy. He cannot resist sarcasm. He grits his teeth and rolls his eyes. He blinks his eyes as if he is sending semaphore signals. All this is compounded by the fact that old age is not pretty in the US; it is a society obsessed with youth.

With the economic crisis mushrooming under Republican leadership, and GW Bush colossal failures, Bomb Bomb has to swim up stream. Under most circumstances Bomb Bomb would have difficulty winning, but his goofiness plus his bad judgment with the selection of Palin has jeopardized the election of even safe Republican congressional seats.

Efforts to destroy Obama through guilt by association has backfired. Net result is that Bomb Bomb inadvertently went Kamikaze – so what is new? He is one of those who waves the red flag and then charges it. As president, one can expect the same weird conduct by him. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Debates, Bailouts & False Profits

In the past several days the US has been fixated by two national level debates and two federal bailout bills. Two cases, the Palin/Biden debate and the first bailout bill, were complete failures. As the stock market continues to plummet, it is an open question on how much the second-passed bailout bill has had on the financial crisis. There are, however, meaningful conclusions from the second McCain/Obama debate.

Palin/Biden debate was an opéra bouffe. Ms. Palin demonstrated a subjective shallowness during the debate. To compensate for her ineptitude, she brazenly avoided answering a majority of questions, instead robotically pumped Republican campaign talking points. Her screeching voice was probably recorded by VEEP Cheney to torture prisoners at Guantanamo. Her Voice is like a screwdriver in your ear. One columnist characterized the expectations for Palin so low that even a grasshopper could not slip under if a limbo bar.

As as far as Senator Biden's performance at the VEEP debate, he should be awarded a medal for forbearance for having seriously endured a vapid nincompoop like Palin without crushing her like a bug.

For the record, my opinion of Biden was never high. Like Palin, he hopelessly is enamored with Israel. During the debate, Palin even mentioned their mutual love for Israel. He is an interventionist; he foolishly is very proud of his record of establishing permanent US garrisons in the Balkans.

During this debate he advocated a US no-fly zone over Darfur. Perhaps he forgot what it costs to maintain such a regime and that it does not inhibit slaughter; and, it invites military counter moves. His farcical conduct of the judicial hearings on Judge Bork and Judge Thomas goes down in history as ideological pandering and cheap partisanship.

Despite my reservations, compared to Palin as a choice as a possible president, Biden is an overwhelmingly qualified.

The Wall Street Bailout is one more of GW Bush's miscalculations; another MISSION ACCOMPLISHED that is not accomplished. Since GWB signed the bill, the stock market has tumbled – has not mitigated credit crises. Demands for credit are mushrooming. No relief for the mortgage market. The Bailout Bill is clearly welfare for Wall Street with earmarks.

No one appears to know or admit how the $800 billion plus price tag is to be paid. A Democratic congressman from California put the process along these lines: the administration created panic, foreclosed all other solutions and demanded their plan in the main be accepted. Creepy congressmen's knees buckled.

Bomb Bomb McCain voted for the bill packed with earmarks that undercut one of his main campaign promises.

The second presidential debate was won by Obama based on nearly all methods of evaluation, i.e: hope over despair, youth over age, brains over rage, health over infirmity, grace over rudeness, peace over war, diplomacy over intervention, negotiation over threats and smiles over frowns. Stick a fork in Bomb Bomb McCain. He is cooked. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret

* Etching of Ship of Fools by German artist Narrenschiff (1549)

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Bamboozled Wall St. Bailout

GW Bush figured if he changed the Wall Street Bailout to Wall Street Rescue, it would make the medicine go down easier. It did not. The voters on both sides are still enraged over charity for the rich. Since last week, a cortiere of House Republicans formed to block passage. These free enterprise, small government champions did not want to become part of the big government Socialist Democratic Vanguard in America. Three quarters of the Republicans and 40% of the Democrats voted against the bill. At last, VOX POPULI.

Anyone at this stage who believes anything GW Bush says, whether good news or bad news, simply is confessing that he is part of the 30% in America that put his mind in Jehovah's field of dreams; that person is not concerned with reality. After embarrassingly over-the-top Bush cheer leading for the bill and the rejection of his grim prophesies, his cogency is gone, gone... Bush's latest miscalculation just adds to his presidential record of abject failure. You have to wonder why Bush's religious right base would support saving money lenders, especially after Jesus Christ's problem with them at the temple as described in the New Testament.

Bells should have sounded early when it became apparent that Democrats Chris Dodd and the lisping congressman Barney Frank, overnight, became the main force in Bush's bailout scheme; over the years these two senior Democratic legislators have raked in close to 16 million in contrbutions from special interests, mainly banking and real estate interests.

US Treasury Secretary Republican Henry Paulson was an eagle scout who worked his way to CEO of Goldman Sachs. On retirement in 2005 he received a 37 million dollar compensation and, an additional payment of 16.4 million in 2006. After his recent exploits in the Wall Street Bailout, he may want to rewrite the first line of the Boy Scouts of America oath to read: ON MY HONOR I WILL DO MY BEST TO HELP MYSELF AND CHEAT THE REST.

Doctor Ben Shalom Bernake is a scholar; he has Havard, MIT and Princeton on his resume but, he has never met a payroll. As best that it can be determined, his economic philosophy depends on the government printing more money to solve problems. My own bias is that never permit a professor to have policy formulation – they just try to prove their theories and screw reality in the process. We still suffer from the excesses of Professor Doctor Kissinger.

Bernake is a devout Jew. There was a clamor to rush the bailout negotiations, because of the iminence of the high Jewish holidays. GOP Whip Blunt even noted this pressure after the bill's defeat. Key bailout players are also Frank, Emanuel and Eric Cantor who also attend services on Saturdays. The bailout is on hold until Thursday when these people are expected to return – three days after the bill's defeat. So where is the urgency? Religion or country first?

You got to wonder why the haste. There was no cogent reason to rush a bill of this import without public hearings and very careful considerations. It is typical of a Bush Bums Rush – it worked for the invasion of Iraq; why not try again. Stock market fell over 770 points on the news of failed bailout; the following day the market regained 480 points. You think the bailout might have been used to prop up an over-valued stock market? It is getting sicker by the moment. Bush apparently needs a Saveus Patraeus illusionist for his economic war front. It ain't eagle scout Paulson for sure.

No one can argue against the fact that in the federal intervention of a $700 billion bailout, the foxes were assigned to guard the henhouse. This bailout, as the stimulus package and the surge in Iraq, was designed to prevent massive collapses during GWBush's term. This was an expensive pallative action that was not a solution, but a delay of deeper crises. Most economists readily admitted this and in the end this spelled doom for this bailout. Moreover, many of these experts believed the bailout would make the situation even worse. Many Republicans still contend they had a better plan than presented by the defeated bill. There will be a Bailout Bill. The question is who among those who had their fingers in the till will be rewarded.

General Saveus Petraeus, to cover his ass, told journalists on Iraq as he departed for his new command, TELL ME HOW THIS IS GOING TO END. Henry Paulson may want to repeat this statement as he failed to implement his flawed bailout package. Both the general and the treasurer were just kicking the can down the street hoping in some way to convince the American people to salvage GW Bush's disastrously inept presidency while he is still in office. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret.