Sunday, June 27, 2010

Panetta Sounding Off, Afghanistan and Iran, Republicans Intentionally Ruining Economic Recovery

Thomas Friedman
David Frum
Doyle McManus

"At home, Obama has been a largely hands-off president. The major domestic initiatives of his presidency were designed by others with limited presidential input." - David Frum
"We still have one problem," one official told me. "Who's running the show?" - Doyle McManus
"Congressmen have been saying from the beginning that BP is either lying or grossly incompetent. Well, why can't we have both?" –David Letterman

A lot of activity this weekend while Obama is in Canada visiting the G8 conference, which is a warm-up for the following G20 conference, where nothing gets done. Leon Panetta gave a press conference today, supposedly giving us news that the CIA has gleaned from their covert sources. He said that al-Qaeda is the weakest it has ever been as an organization. Many of its funding sources have dried up and instead of being the happening, sexy organization for rich Muslims to finance, it has become a general pain in the ass. Especially since Osama has gone to ground and become addicted to Turkish soap operas.
Its estimated that there are less than a hundred al-Qaeda operatives left in Afghanistan, maybe even 50, which will be the targets of the extra 30,000 troops this Summer, and the billions of dollars that we will be spending.

With the disappearance of General McChrystal, Hamid Karzai is freaking out a bit, feeling that he's now surrounded by US staff who are hostile towards him and his objectives for his family and country. He is supposed to have had a secret face to face meeting with the dreaded Haqqani Network, the fiercest, most organized, and smartest of the American trained Taliban, searching for a peaceful way to end the war. Also, the two top Pakistani general will be visiting him in Kabul on Monday, so some intense negotiations are going on that is bound to screw over any ethnic tribe other than the Pashtuns. This means that the Indians didn't win any mineral contracts, and their influence will be limited in the coming months.

Leon also said that Iran has enough uranium for two nuclear bombs. This explains the increasing concentration of American and Israeli troops in Azerbaijan and the fleet of 12 American warships along with a couple of Israeli ones that entered the Persian Gulf for "war games." Iran has quickly recalled one ship enrouts and stopped its plans to send  more ships to Gaza, and has gone on war alert along the Azerbaijan border. Also, this is the area where the rumor that Osama bin Laden was living, and I would love to be the fly on the wall for the conversations that is taking place between Iran and Azerbaijan right now.

Iran could be saving one of those bombs for Pakistan, who is also riled up at them. First, the Iranians gained the Pakistanis trust and went into Pakistan and obtained a rebel leader who's ethnic group were raiding into Iran. Then, they quickly had a trial that was held in secret, and then they hung him. Pakistan is upset at the injustice of it all, and that's another border that iran has to secure. At least the Revolutionary Guard has something other to do than arrest and torture their own citizens. Leave that specialty to the Egyptians, dammit...

The 86 year old Saudi King Abdullah is on his way to meet with President Obama at the White House, and that is another conversation I would love to overhear. Obama should be taking notes, as he's about to be schooled in Middle Eastern foreign policy. Usually, when a head of state visits the White House, a member of their entourage is also visiting our military arms brokers, buying the latest in technology and drones. Here's hoping they come up with a working plan to keep the Palestinian negotiations going, because it looks like the Israelis are turning back an awful lot of trucks trying to get into Gaza lately...

Theda Scocpol writes in TPM Cafe about the Republican strategy for running the country: "Republicans have figured out that if they undercut economic recovery and increase unemployment rates, they will gain in the 2010 elections -- and probably have a much better shot in 2012. They want to repeat the old cycle: Republicans undercut the economy and run up debt to pay for reckless wars and upper class tax cuts, then hand the mess to Democrats just long enough for them to take a few small steps and get the blame, then Republicans get back in office as the economy recovers. Repeat same recipe after that. It works! So why should they stop doing it?"

Its bad enough that the economic sins of American companies have affected the global economy, and Obama has to take a lot of guff at these G8 and G20 conferences. Its bad enough that the recovery is so shaky and taking a lot longer than expected. If you are angry or frustrated at the slow rate of economic recovery, or angry that your unemployment benefits have ended, or that your Medicare payments have been lowered, or that your doctor is no longer seeing Medicare or Medicaid patients, realize that it is all a part of the Republican strategy to get back in power come this next election. Naturally, when new troubles happen with the government, we will blame the Obama administration, but it actually comes from the current conservative strategy to obstruct every fix, every bill, every extension of payments that is being put through Congress. Then they complain how there was no real bipartisan support, and that the Democrats are arrogantly trying to ram legislation past them. They want the public to perceive the Obama administration as inept and amateurish, well, more amateurish than they actually are. Of course, Democrats also keep shooting themselves in the foot by adhering to this dysfunctional process: "The same old story happens again and again. Dems in the House pass reasonable legislation, and Senate Dems dicker with centrists and Republicans over "compromises," weakening the legislation step by step over many weeks, only to find zero Republican support in the end."

Theda ends her piece for a call to get the lead out of their pants and to start shouting to the public how and why these things are being done: "The failure of Democratic leaders to own the language of national economic recovery, to visibly propose and demand bold steps to deal with a genuine economic crisis involving prolonged job loss and slow growth, will go down as the big tragedy of the early 21st century.

It is past time for President Obama to pin the tail on the Republican obstructionist elephant -- and do it loud and clear all the way to election day. So what if a few conservaDems are part of the problem, too? The real issue is 41 Senate Republicans who will not help the nation's economy recover fast, because they want political advantage. Say so." If she's right, then our lives are cynically being toyed with just to get votes, a perverted twist to negative campaigning by creating and prolonging the economic crisis. Add in the perception that Obama hasn't done anything to plug the BP spill, and it will be a wonder if any Democrat gets elected. Unfortunately for the Republicans, most of their candidates are really right wing crazies who may turn off voters once they open their mouths on televised debates.

Of course, I live where there are more tea partyers than any other part of the nation, and so we have debates over who loves the Constitution more, who hates everything that Obama says or
 does or thinks more, who wants to take their country back more ( can't we just give them the part of the Gulf that has been oiled up, so they don't have to take anything back?), who hates immigrants more, and who can wrap themselves up in the flag and spout more jingoistic phrases that are ignorant and devoid of real meaning... It's a limited palette to paint from, but it's all I have to make fun of, in primary colors... The weirdest part is that most of our flaky candidates are all women this year. Usually its the men who are deranged and their wimminfolk have to calm them down. Since all traditions have been flung aside, the new breed of extreme women can run for office, just not give news interviews where they might get caught, or even allowed to speak in public until after they get elected. Then, they can sound off like a Michelle Bachmann or Sarah Palin. Then, they can be as crazy as they wanna be, and have the authority of an elected office behind them...

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