Tuesday, June 22, 2010

This Bud's Not For McChrystal, Revolutionary Guard Offers To Fix Gulf Spill, Gaza Smugglers Will Have To Diversify

David Brooks
Joe Klein
Spencer Ackerman
"Liberals may see themselves as the champions of the little guy, but in the new age of austerity, many voters see them as protectors of the special interests, as the guardians of the unaffordable promises... But the big story is that liberals have failed to create a governing center-left majority. If they can’t do it in circumstances like these, when will they ever?" - David Brooks

David Brooks enlarges my argument from yesterday, creating a modern parable with the same conclusion, that the liberals have failed to create a governing majority. This will be reflected in the next election, where it's being predicted that the Republicans could take back the House majority. Unfortunately for them, they will then try to force through more right wing legislation, which will remind people of the ugly reasons they voted against them during the last two election cycles...

The big stink this morning is over a gonzo Rolling Stone profile of General Stanley McChrystal. If your read it, be warned that it is over 6 pages long. The upshot is that General McChrystal is being summoned back to the White House and the debate is whether he should be fired or not. But the statements and attitudes the author attributed to McChrystal have all been reported before, so what's the big deal? Here's a sample of the tone of the article, trying to be hip and edgy. That it has created such a controversy is a writer's wet dream: "The general's staff is a handpicked collection of killers, spies, geniuses, patriots, political operators and outright maniacs. There's a former head of British Special Forces, two Navy Seals, an Afghan Special Forces commando, a lawyer, two fighter pilots and at least two dozen combat veterans and counterinsurgency experts. They jokingly refer to themselves as Team America, taking the name from the South Park-esque sendup of military cluelessness, and they pride themselves on their can-do attitude and their disdain for authority." The war in Afghanistan is doomed to military failure even if we stayed for another 30 years, no matter who is in charge. At least the counterinsurgency theory is trying to establish some kind of responsible local government. It, too, will probably fail because the overriding structure of tribal leadership and warlord militias will take reign once we leave, the primitive, feudal ways mistakenly being labeled Muslim... But the administration has been wholly committed to General McChrystal's vision, and I just don't see him being fired. He got in trouble before, when he promoted his strategy in print before the President had made his mind up, this time he is paving his way back to town by e-mailing an apology to reporters: “It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never have happened,” McChrystal emailed reporters instead. “Throughout my career, I have lived by the principles of personal honor and professional integrity. What is reflected in this article falls far short of that standard.” The only crime I see is that he has surrounded himself with glib, sarcastic staff members who have the bad habit of being themselves in front of a reporter busily scribbling notes... But, is it a good thing or bad that now we know Barack Obama reads Rolling Stone? As TPM sums it up in a headline: "What Happens When You Mix A General And His Aides With A Reporter ... On A Bus Ride From Paris To Berlin ... With Case After Case Of Bud Light Lime..."

The idea of using bombs to blow up the spilling pipeline in the Gulf of Mexico is gaining some support. It would stop the spill by burying everything under tons of rock, mud, and debris. It has been done twice before in Russia to success. BP doesn't want to do this because they would no longer have the possibility of extracting oil from that site, and explains why they would rather let hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil gush out on a daily basis. But my favorite solution is one that you may never hear about, an offer from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard to come to the Gulf, fix it, and end our national shame: "This is a shame and a disgrace for America, Britain and those who think they are the cradle of technology and superpowers in the world's industrial and economic fields," said Qasemi who himself is a target of U.S. sanctions.

"Two months after the oil rig was destroyed, they are unable to contain the oil spill. It is a mark of crisis for Western technology and the arrogant experts from American and British companies have reached a dead end." He said Khatam al-Anbiya can send its experts to end the crisis if asked, boasting that "three decades of sanctions has led (the Guards) to acquiring the capability" to fight such disasters. "They can ask and after due consideration, we will send experts from Khatam al-Anbiya to end the major crisis and put an end to the environmental disaster," Qasemi said. "Despite the recent sanctions, the Guards will embark on its humane mission and take its exclusive and indigenous ability to the Gulf of Mexico." Of course, no mention how they would accomplish the task, other than using their indigenous ability, and it really is mighty nice of them to offer from their hearts, or hopes to get off the blacklist for sanctions...

Iran had recalled its first cargo ship that it was sending to Gaza, brought it back to port to reconfigure the cargo, less controversial items to be replaced with foodstuff, cooking oil, and dolls for children. They also plan on having only 10 people on board, none of them military. It seems as though they are trying to make nice rather than butt heads on one level, while denying a visa for returning nuclear regulators.

When I was reading an article on the impact that opening the borders into Gaza might have, I was struck by two things: one, the huge amount of goods that have been smuggled through the tunnels, everything from new cars to refrigerators and stoves, a little dented and full of sand, but serviceable. And two, most of the appliances are of Chinese origin. There's no doubt that the smuggling rings will be affected, and better quality goods will soon arrive, but what extent has the Chinese triads worked with the Egyptian mafias to bring cheap goods to the people of Gaza, and what areas will they look to diversify to keep the cash flow going? Hmmm, I wonder what is going on in the Sudan and Somalia? By now, they have already dug themselves about halfway to China and back, no more smuggling Chinese immigrants in container ships...

Back here at home, the banking and insurance industry are trying their best to make the reforms of their industries before Congress impotent. See, the age of the cigar-smoke filled back room deals are long from over. They really need to enlist a successful lobby - the NRA... And there is a cry to have Paul Krugman replace the resigning Budget Director, but he might feel he has more clout writing his columns for the NY Times. I wouldn't mind letting him into the administration because he is a champion for transparent and responsible economics. His detractors won't want him for his stance on needing a bigger stimulus, but his writing has always been crystal clear and persuasive. Guess that's why he won a Nobel and I'm sitting here writing this blog that nobody reads...

late night political jokes...

"A congressman actually apologized to BP's CEO for the way the company has been treated. How stupid are you when the CEO of BP is in the room and people think you're the moron?" –Jay Leno

"To be fair, it's not easy for a lot of these congressmen. It's got to be hard to bite the hand that bribes you." –Jay Leno

"It was the 36th anniversary of the Watergate scandal, when the Republicans broke into the Democratic headquarters looking for their long-term plans and strategies. It also marks the last time anyone thought the Democrats had a plan worth stealing." –Jay Leno

"There are rumors that the CEO of BP is saying they might go out of business. Then who will be in charge of not stopping the leak?" –David Letterman

"A couple in California got married at Home Depot. I hope they find happiness, because you can't find anything else at Home Depot." –David Letterman

"Sarah Palin called marijuana a 'minimal problem' in America. She admitted that she herself has tried pot, which could explain some of the things she has said over the years. It's all baked Alaska talk." –Jimmy Kimmel

"I'm not going to do any jokes about oil spill-related news, because I thought it might be nice to just pretend for a few minutes that the oil spill isn't happening. You know, kind of like BP does." –Jimmy Fallon

"While testifying before Congress yesterday, BP CEO Tony Hayward called the oil spill a 'complex accident caused by an unprecedented combination of failures.' Then he realized he was reading notes left on the stand by a Goldman Sachs executive." –Jimmy Fallon

"This is the first time that two women have been on the International Space Station at the same time. That can only mean one thing: zero-gravity pillow fight." –Craig Ferguson

"NASA says that there may be 100 times more water on the moon than they thought. There's so much water that BP is planning to go there and ruin it." –Craig Ferguson

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