Occasional News and comments on the situation in Post-Saddam Iraq by an Iraqi-American living in Texas
The reason behind a price spike that caused an 8-month high in oil-prices back in 2009 has been revealed. Not what one might have guessed...http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-burgess/broker-sent-oil-prices-to_b_1922990.html
Had to fix something that was rather insensitive of me...Beautiful presentation, Zeyad. It looks like it would work for the Ministry of Tourism(if there is one).It's nice to see some positive things.
Haven't read the Huff Post article, but if I remember right, the broker who drunkenly bid up oil prices lost his shirt. Far From proving that speculators can just jack up oil prices for their own gain, it proves exactly the opposite.
Well, it seems that some things still need a little work in the cradle of the Arab Spring. Obviously Tunisia's police have a way to go to catch up.Here is the address for anyone who may want to read that, but has a problem with the link.http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/02/world/africa/tunisia-rape-protest/index.html?hpt=hp_t3
...broker who drunkenly bid up oil prices lost his shirt.I wouldn't worry too much about him. He'll sell the movie rights for his story to Hollywood and make a bundle. :(
"Yeah, right. And when one guy gets drunk and crashes his car into a tree it likewise proves that nobody can drive a car sober."Fine trollish answer. Nope, it dudn't prove that. Dudn't prove the converse either, contrary to yer insinuation at 6:55 AM.
"Your current set of positions appear to be mutually exclusive."I think I'll decline the implicit invitation to give y'all free lessons in mathematical logic. We've been there before and it didn't end well for y'all. There's currently a free online course running at Stanford University on "Introduction to Mathematical Thinking" which focuses heavily on logic and might benefit y'all.
♪♫Hoodooo, who do ya think you're foolin’?♫♪Hey look! A singin' troll! :)
There's currently a free online course running at Stanford University on "Introduction to Mathematical Thinking" which focuses heavily on logic and might benefit y'all.Perhaps this advice should be passed on to Romney. From what I have heard his plan on lowering tax rates, and slashing deductions and credits to compensate, doesn't quite add up.
Romney looked good, yes. Obama looked tired and not quite there. But I can see where he might have a little more on his mind at this time.Romney was short on details, though, and he tended to repeat his sales message at the expense of the time limits. That was kind of annoying.I would prefer a real debate where they actually give some details and background facts on their ideas.
Speaking of jobs...there are manufacturing firms hiring. So any engineers or machinists who are looking for work, you might want to check out that link. You'd have to move to Minnesota though. :)
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The War Nerd on Turkey-Syria:http://www.nsfwcorp.co/0ccvjwGreat read as always.
He doesn't have much to say on where it goes from here though. I notice the Turks are upping the rhetoric, demanding the ‘international community’ do something, some unspecified thing. Gotta figure they're thinking mostly NATO does something, and I'm guessing the talk turns to air cover and moving (read bombing) Syrian army positions, driving them back away from the border, back far enough that stray mortar rounds don't land inside Turkish held territory.This would effectively create sanctuaries inside Syria along the border with the Hatay province. I don't know if anybody else is willing to go that far. It would up the ante significantly and we could reasonably anticipate an Iranian escalation in response. This would put the current Iraqi government in an increasingly uncomfortable position
I'm confused as to what actually goes on there on that border. For the syrian regime it seems too stupid to believe to deliberatly be attacking into Turkey. What would be the benefit? For the rebels to launch false-flag attacks seems equally stupid. They could get away with that once maybe but over and over then the odds are they would be caught red handed and lose vital support. For it to be "accidents" there have been too many of them. A consipracy to deliberatly give Turkey a reason to interveen? Nah, can't see Turkey going along with that. So what's going on?
"So what's going on?"There have been suggestions that Assad is only in control of about eight/ten blocks immediately surrounding his palace, and his erstwhile Alawite ‘supporters’ are on auto-pilot. No surrender mode. If this is true, then perhaps a field commander with a too limited view of the future has gotten fed up with having sanctuaries just out of his reach.
That seems plausible Lee. An army unit cut off from command or a militia untit operating, as you say, on auto pilot. Might very well be thye case. I can't see that Assad would have commanded or given the go ahead on such cross border attacks.
Thanks for the better images of Iraq
Sometimes it takes a child to lead.14 year old shot by Taliban for bloggingI wish her a full recovery. The Middle East needs more people like her. http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/10/world/asia/pakistan-teen-activist-attack/index.html?hpt=hp_c1
An army unit cut off from command or a militia untit operating, as you say, on auto pilot.A dangerous situation, that.
Lynnette: "I wish her a full recovery. The Middle East needs more people like her."I wish her a full recovery too. But FYI Pakistan isn't the middle east, it's not even included in the "greater middle east". It's central Asia or sometimes considered to be south Asia. (Afghanistan is central Asia but also sometimes included in the "greater middle east")
"…it's not even included in the ‘greater middle east’."In defense of Lynnette, how that's figured to brake down kinda depends on where one's from.In Europe, Lebanon, Syria and Israel are apparently considered ‘middle east’ although we'd have long considered them ‘near eastern’ or Mediterranean countries over here.Americans have gradually gotten used to the notion that ya'll start the ‘middle east in near eastern countries, but we still kinda figure Asia to include China and Japan, and down into Thailand and Indonesia, in the Far East; then India, Pakistan, Bangeladesh in Central Asia; and the ‘middle east’ goes at least to Persia (now Iran) and into eastern Afghanistan as well.Jordan, Israel, Turkey, Syria, Egypt, those are, or at least were, ‘near east’, or even Mediterranean countries to us, although we've gotten used to using the term ‘middle east’ on account of Europeans consistently do that and it kept showing up in international discussions that way. (If you go back and look you might notice that I've often referred to the area around Israel as ‘the Levant’ on account of I'm still not comfortable designating that as ‘middle east’ territory, and I didn't want to get into an argument about what's ‘near east’ and what's ‘middle east’ instead.)
OK, Lee, perhaps we define it in different ways. I just would never even think about Pakistan as included in the Middle East, which is why I reacted to it.Is it some Iraqi holiday today? Or some reason to celebrate? The whole centre of town here is filled with Iraqis right now who are celebrating something. Music, drums and lots and lots of Iraqi flags.
" just would never even think about Pakistan as included in the Middle East, which is why I reacted to it."Well, I don't either. Other side of the mountains mostly, Indus Valley territory even though it's mostly up out of the ‘subcontinent’. The girl lives in the Swat Valley as I recall. That kinda puts it in Central Asia in my book, but it's right on the edge there. I's just sayin’ the default American view would probably be rather more sympathetic to Lynnette than you'd tend to be.No clue on the holiday thing.
Marcus,When I wrote that comment I was focused more on the blogger and her actions in standing up to the Taliban, rather than the geographical location of Pakistan. Her actions are something people in the Middle East would do well to emulate, though.As to the real geographical location of Pakistan, you are correct. I was lumping countries together according to something other than geography.
Re: American politicsThe Vice-Presidential debate was held tonight. There'll be a lot of people who'll call it a draw, but I think I'd have to give an advantage to Biden. (Biden won on points, but he may have seemed condescending to a lot of folks, which will hurt him with those who grade on style.) I think he reset the subject of conversation a little, in favor of the Obama ticket, and that counts more than points or style. So, I give advantage to Biden here. (Still, it wasn't enough; doesn't make up for Obama's poor performance last week; but then again, one can't expect Biden to get all that back in one veep debate.)
It was one of the better debates I've seen. I give the win to Biden by a nose.Now if I could just select pieces of each candidates ideas and roll them into one person it would be good.
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I think it's been much more quiet in Sweden, possibly in all of Europe, about this election than about the last one. Last time it was Bush leaving and he was really disliked and Obama on the way in who was hugely popular. McCain wasn't even really considered over here and I'd guess that if you polled people today on who Obama's opponent was in 2008 less than half would remember.This time Romney is a good villain for leftist media and the neo-liberals on the right (yup, libruls are on the right here) don't seem to like him that much either. But mainly it's that the excitement over Obama is to a large degree gone.
"But mainly it's that the excitement over Obama is to a large degree gone."The Nobel committee nevertheless managed to make another inexplicable pick for the Peace Prize.As for the ‘excitement’ being gone… I saw a guy on BBC TV the other day who seemed to just assume that Obama had the election in the bag already. (Which is not necessarily true.) I wonder how much that has to do with the complacency?
Lee: "The Nobel committee nevertheless managed to make another inexplicable pick for the Peace Prize."Yes they did.Lee: "As for the ‘excitement’ being gone… I saw a guy on BBC TV the other day who seemed to just assume that Obama had the election in the bag already. (Which is not necessarily true.) I wonder how much that has to do with the complacency?"That may have something to do with it. But overall the interest in our media (at least in Sweden, I don't presume to know about the rest off Europe) is way lower this time around. It's just a few weeks left until the election and it's not in the top news yet, as one might have expected.
"That may have something to do with it."Well, an Obama win is considerably less than a sure thing at this point. Romney's made a serious comeback as a result of Obama's fairly listless performance on the debate stage in Denver. The Republicans are all fired up and happy these days; the Democrats are runnin’ scared.
More re: American politicsMoney numbers are in. Obama raised $181 million last month; Romney raised $170 million. This one's breakin’ all the records. (This doesn't count the super-PAC money, where a whole handful of pro-Romney super-PACs are seriously out-raising the singular pro-Obama super-PAC.)
Marcus, I would agree -- very little fuss in the European MSM about the American election. I think it's been assumed that Obama is a shoo-in. Some fuss was caused over Obama's poor debate performance, but there is nothing like the excitement of four years ago. I think if it comes to public perception that Romney has a chance, things will change. In Ireland and the UK, most people would be horrified at the prospect of a Republican US president. Obama is still the darling of our lefty media.
Obama's very much a darling in our media in Sweden. It's strange because the same newspapers who think our current government is way, way to much to the right are in awe of Obamma who's more to the right than our rightist government (which doesn't include any of the typical European nationalist rightwing parrties). And it's not just that the root for him when compared to the US alternative, they are seriously smitten with him. So far at least.Then again it's not always easy to compare left and right in the US and here because it often means different things. Like I said before, liberals in Sweden belong firmly in the right camp.
*sigh*Really Zeyad, I miss chatting with you. I hope you are well wherever you are.Btw, I am driving a Mazda at the moment while my car is being fixed. A zippy little thing. Gotta watch my heavy foot. :)
Lynnette, I have astronomy exams coming up tomorrow but I managed to find enough time to assess locations for the new observatory. I need it far enough from obstacles that the view of the sky is unimpeded, but close enough that running electricity and carting gear in and out is not too cumbersome.So I needed to measure local elevations but had no idea how to go about it, not knowing anything about surveying. Technology came to the rescue. A phone app captured a 360 panoramic view from the exact proposed telescope location, and it was possible to compute angles from the known camera field-of-view. Then a suitably resized panorama was loaded into some sky simulation software to give me a true-to-life picture of the sky at any time, with my own garden as the landscape, and correct elevations showing which parts of the sky are obscured. Here's an example.In more general astronomy news, a comet has been discovered that could be among the brightest of the last couple of centuries, visible late next year.
"Like I said before, liberals in Sweden belong firmly in the right camp."I presume that's because Sweden has a significant contingent of firmly committed true Socialists? And those you call ‘liberals’ would tend to be to the right of the Socialists?
I need it far enough from obstacles that the view of the sky is unimpeded, but close enough that running electricity and carting gear in and out is not too cumbersome.Is light interference going to be an issue in viewing? Oh, sorry, gotta run. I spent too much time in Brunoland...
Nope. This particular location has a limiting visual magnitude of 5.9. That is fairly close to perfect, i.e. no light pollution (once I switch off my own lights ;-). Of course, that's only in perfect weather, which is in very short supply.
"I spent too much time in Brunoland..."That can happen.
Second Presidential debate has just finished. I give the match to Obama, but it was a spirited match. I give it to Obama on points, not so much on style. And, he certainly did not dominate like Romney did in the first one. Romney was right in there fightin’ to the end.The fact checkers are gonna have a field day tomorrow though. And I suspect Obama will come out better on that than Romney will.
Lee: "I presume that's because Sweden has a significant contingent of firmly committed true Socialists? And those you call ‘liberals’ would tend to be to the right of the Socialists?"You could say that. The Social Democrats are the by far largest leftist party. Are they Socialists? Depends on how you define it. In a classical sense not so much, but if you brought them over to the US they would probably be considered socialists.
I'd say that "firmly committed true Socialists" are at about 5%. Now we're talking about those that wish to more or less abolish private ownership of most things, have a basic "citizen-salary" for everyone and then hope that people will still work because it's so fun, and other hare brained schemes. 5% wackos on the left and 5% wackos on the right - you have to expect something like that in any society I guess.The Social Democrats however are a responsible political party. I've never voted for them myself but they are a serious political party and have at times done a very good job of running the country. But they do stand for something of a "nanny-state" for sure.
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@ Marcus,We get something of an education on ‘Social Democrats’ in Sweden, but not much confirmation on my guess as to how ‘liberals’ are on ‘the right’ in Sweden. Question sort of remains unanswered then, ‘To the right of whom?’ Are there no conservatives in Sweden?And I'm gonna take some exception to the notion that we Americans have ‘5%’ wackos on the extremes. That's probably more or less true for the left-wingers, but the hard right-wingers have built up a fairly large following over here in recent years. I'd reckon it at 25-30% of the overall population. Enough of a following that they can control the primaries in the Republican Party; they can control who gets on the Republican ballot for public office. That means we've actually had one of the major political parties publicly tending hard towards right-wing extremism in recent years. (I'm confident that this will sort itself out, it will be self-correcting, in the reasonably foreseeable future.) ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯And, I see the overnight snap polls seem to confirm my initial impression that Obama won the debate, but did not dominate it. That seems to be the majority opinion, plurality opinion at the very least. He won on points though, not so much on style. Something I didn't notice last night though, that seems to be emerging overnight… Romney's ‘style’ appears to have played out not so well with women, specifically not so well with women. I didn't notice anything stylistic at the time that I thought would be gender specific, but it appears many women did. Vive la différence I guess.
@ Marcus - hat tip for the war nerd link :)[lee] "That's probably more or less true for the left-wingers, but the hard right-wingers have built up a fairly large following over here in recent years. I'd reckon it at 25-30% of the overall population. Enough of a following that they can control the primaries in the Republican Party; they can control who gets on the Republican ballot for public office. That means we've actually had one of the major political parties publicly tending hard towards right-wing extremism in recent years."1: I'd agree with Lee2: And here's me thinkin' that HE'S one of them hard-right murkins ... ;)
Lynnette needs to spend more time in Brunoland. It's an educational experience for the whole family! LOL
Post Script:It finally occurred to me to look something up. Wiki say: "The Liberal People's Party (Swedish: Folkpartiet liberalerna, FP)…is currently a minor party in the centre-right Alliance coalition government lead by Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt following the general election of 17 September 2006." (emphasis in original)I think maybe I get it now. But, here in The States, the term ‘liberal’ refers to a socio/political mindset rather than to a political party. (And politically inspired names can be intentionally deceptive, and nowhere near accurate. The ‘National Socialists’, the Nazis, come immediately to mind. They were nowhere near being socialists. ‘The People's Republic of China’ and ‘The Democratic People's Republic of Korea’ are other, more current, examples.) ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯And, it occurs to me that I recently read that the ‘Tea Party’ is only getting a 25% favorable rating in the most recent polls. Figurin’ that includes people who are merely somewhat sympathetic as well as the true believers, I'm guessin’ I should probably cut my estimate of percentage of people who've bought into the right-wing crazie world view down a bit. I should probably go with 15-20% in place of the earlier 25-30% estimate I gave it earlier. Still, that's enough to control the primaries in the Republican Party. ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯And, Bruno is an idiot.
Last Post Script:FoxNews radio is running ‘news’ at the top of the hour (they do a five minute news segment every hour) which runs a sequence of ‘citizens’ telling us, in their own words and their own voices (supposedly anyway), how Romney dominated the debate last nigh. It's almost hilarious; it would be actually hilarious if it weren't being pushed as real news. I just listened to it coming across the air. (And, turns out the Wall Street Journal had a scoop on the subject of the killing of Ambassador Chris Stevens which scoop they sat on, apparently because the news would torpedo one of Romney's favorite current political talking points. I can see no other reason for them to hold back on publication.)
Lee: "Question sort of remains unanswered then, ‘To the right of whom?’ Are there no conservatives in Sweden?"There are very few. The Christian Democrats used to be a conservative party. They sit in the current government but with few seats. They have consistently over the last polls had less than 4% and if they get that in the next election they will not get into parliament and could be said to be finished. My take on it is that they found themselves confused about who they are in a society where the religous elderly are dying off year by year, and where conservatism has become shameful in the media and popular culture. The media here is completely controlled by liberals (the "right") and wacko-commies (the left). I believe that since the Christian Democrats are too chickenshit to dare stand up for their beliefs they have no future.Then there are the Sweden Democrats who are on the rise. They recently changed their core description from nationalistic to value conservative. But they are first and foremost a party against immigration. I think they could be called conservative though, probably the only party in Sweden I'd label that today. Got 5.6% in 2010 and are landing at about 8-10% in polls today.I think a fundamental difference between the US and Sweden is that Sweden is a country where religion is very much a non-issue, or even something viewed with suspicion when combined with politics, for the vast majority.
Lee: "And I'm gonna take some exception to the notion that we Americans have ‘5%’ wackos on the extremes. That's probably more or less true for the left-wingers, but the hard right-wingers have built up a fairly large following over here in recent years. I'd reckon it at 25-30% of the overall population."But there's a difference. In the US hardcore right-wingers just want to reduce the government and kill anyone who dares try to providde them with health care. In Europe hardcore right-wingers, once they get a movement going, start looking for furnaces where they can incinerate people they don't like.
[marcus] "But there's a difference. In the US hardcore right-wingers just want to reduce the government and kill anyone who dares try to providde them with health care. In Europe hardcore right-wingers, once they get a movement going, start looking for furnaces where they can incinerate people they don't like."I'd argue that they're much of a muchness, given what was done to Iraq by those types. But there are subtle differences. Euro far-righties know that they're evil and dress up in black uniforms with skulls and don't beat about the bush about what they're doing. American hard-righties do much the same sort of thing, except for they want gratitude from the folks they crush.My 2c ... ;)
I don't agree Bruno. I think there's a big difference between the hard right-wing Lee talks about and the European far right. I take it Lee is talking about the Tea-partiers, or the right wing of the Republican party (the two seem to largely overlap). The European far right has more in common, but not everything in common, with the US National Alliance type of people who are afaik a small fringe group in the US. They are isolationalists and were very much against the war in Iraq. But that one redeeming fact doesn't exactly make them palatable.I'd say that left/right definitions do not translate well across the Atlantic ocean. Different beasts. Different agendas. Different goals. Both on the left and on the right.
Pete,I read this the other day and thought of that discussion we had once long ago about religion and alternate dimensions. I thought you might be interested.http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/10/07/proof-of-heaven-a-doctor-s-experience-with-the-afterlife.html
Pete, I checked out the picture, that was rather cool. :)Of course, that's only in perfect weather, which is in very short supply.It seems all we have lately is cloudless skies. *sigh*
Lee,Romney's ‘style’ appears to have played out not so well with women, specifically not so well with women.I watched most of it, until I fell asleep, and I agree that Romney came across as irritating. In his zeal to aggressively get his message across he was interrrupting, both the President and the moderator. I gather Obama did some of that as well, but from what I saw of it, it started with Romney. That's why I don't like a lot of panel news programs. Yes, speak your mind, but let others do so as well.The sticking point for me is still Romney's tax program.
[Lee] I'm guessin’ I should probably cut my estimate of percentage of people who've bought into the right-wing crazie world view down a bit.I think Americans may allow their emotions to rule their thinking at times. But once they start to cool down, and look more closely at things, they sway back to a more moderate stance. Or put another way, they just get sick and tired of being emberrased by the poor judgement of the Michelle Bachmanns out there.This is one election where there are some things on our ballot(in Minnesota) that will be really interesting to see how people swing.
Marcus,I think a fundamental difference between the US and Sweden is that Sweden is a country where religion is very much a non-issue, or even something viewed with suspicion when combined with politics, for the vast majority.I don't think it is religion per se that is the issue, it is specifically the abortion issue that becomes a bone of contention here. Fastest growing group in religious circles? The 'Nones'Organized religion itself seems to be waning somewhat.
"I gather Obama did some of that as well…"He did, but he often opened that by arguing with the moderator for more time for his presentation, supposedly ‘cause Romney had taken liberties. Romney just ignored her directions and talked loud over her objections ‘til she understood he wasn't gonna take direction. (At one point advancing on her as he upped his decibel level and kept on talking.) Romney tried to simply overpower her. I gather that difference made a difference to the women. Obama at least acknowledged her role as ref; Romney didn't.
"I take it Lee is talking about the Tea-partiers, or the right wing of the Republican party (the two seem to largely overlap)."Yeah, pretty much. The ‘National Alliance’, Aryan Nation types are pretty much a fringe element, significantly less than 1%, over here. They do have a somewhat larger representation among the long-term prison population. We tend to lock their asses when and if we get the chance.
"The sticking point for me is still Romney's tax program."Here too. Also Romney's intention to ‘unchain’ the financial speculation all over again. (I'm not a fan of the Dodd-Frank solution; I'm for breaking the big banks up instead. If they're too big to fail then they're too damn big; what's so hard to understand ‘bout that? But Romney ain't gonna go there and don't even want to allow for regulation in lieu of the preferable solution.)
^And a lot of those are what constiture the far right in Europe. Today they are strongest in Eastern Europe, but linger in the west as well.The problem with being a European conservative today is that you will, in the media, get lumped together with those nazi fuckers. That's IMO a big problem.
Post Script: "The sticking point for me is still Romney's tax program."Also, I'd like to see the Glass-Steagall restrictions reinstated pretty much in whole. No market speculating by banks with federally insured deposit money. (The ‘Volker Rule’ is watered-down version of that. They might be able to convince me that a sufficiently robustly enforced Volker Rule would suffice, but so far I'm not convinced.) If the bankers want to speculate with their own money, I'm more than okay with that, but not with federally insured deposits.
Final note of the day on last night's debate:I've been wandering through the right-winger reaction to the debate today. They're really pissed at Candy Crowley. (Hint the side that lost bitches about the moderator. It's not good to be caught bitchin’ ‘bout the moderator.) More to the point, they're still convinced they've got a winner issue here. Their argument is that it took too long for Obama to come out and declare that it was indeed an assault by terrorists on the American consulate in Benghazi, and that the vulgar video clips from ‘The Innocence of Muslims,’ which spawned protests in so many Islamic cities, wasn't actually to blame for the violent Benghazi activity. They still think they've got a winner here. They're gonna be all over Romney with demands that he push that one again come the next debate. Which debate is supposed to be on foreign policy.Personally, I think they're deluding themselves. But, we shall soon see. Romney will either try to go there again on Monday, or he won't.
[marcus] "I'd say that left/right definitions do not translate well across the Atlantic ocean. Different beasts. Different agendas. Different goals. Both on the left and on the right"I defer, then, to your first hand knowledge. I guess its sort of like here, where our "right wing" would be raging socialist lefties in the US ... ;) (Not talking about our small far-right, which has mostly evapourated into a sullen silence.)
If the bankers want to speculate with their own money, I'm more than okay with that, but not with federally insured deposits.I agree. There was a time when bankers were the responsible ones. Not anymore.Their argument is that it took too long for Obama to come out and declare that it was indeed an assault by terrorists on the American consulate in Benghazi, and that the vulgar video clips from ‘The Innocence of Muslims,’ which spawned protests in so many Islamic cities, wasn't actually to blame for the violent Benghazi activity.I would think the timing of that news is a non-issue for most Americans. The question of the level of security being provided for our people abroad is more to the point. And whether it was a pre-planned attack to coincide with 9/11, or an attack of opportunity, is probably only a concern for intelligence types.
Lee: "Also, I'd like to see the Glass-Steagall restrictions reinstated pretty much in whole. No market speculating by banks with federally insured deposit money. (The ‘Volker Rule’ is watered-down version of that. They might be able to convince me that a sufficiently robustly enforced Volker Rule would suffice, but so far I'm not convinced.) If the bankers want to speculate with their own money, I'm more than okay with that, but not with federally insured deposits."That needs to be implemented globally. I'm hardly an expert but it seems to me Glass-Steagall worked well enough when it was in place. The easiest solution to a problem would IMO be the cure that has a proven track record.
Lynnette: "I would think the timing of that news is a non-issue for most Americans. The question of the level of security being provided for our people abroad is more to the point."I'd agree. But there's the question of whether there were advance warnings and pleas for better security that were ignored. If there were then the current administration has uncomfortable questions to answer. The problem for Obama is not only if that was really the case but if opponents decide for political reasons, not reasons based on reality, that there were advance warnings that should have been listened to. The question is: can they credibly make that case?
And, since the next debate will be on foreign policy I thought I'd relay an opinion from one of our pro-Obama puntits. Obama should, in the next debate, basically say that "I killed Bin Laden". (as if saying to opponents: what have you done for us lately?)I'd be interested in you Americans' view on this. Should Obama come out strong and credit himself for killing Al Qaedas leader? Will that go down well with his target audience? Or do they already know this and pressing it will seem ridiculous? Or do they credit this to the security services regardless of who was in the Oval Office at the time, in which case it might seem like Obama's taking credit that doesn't belong to him? Or is it not such a big deal that it needs to be pressed? Or is it just not that big a deal in the whole foreign policy picture to warrant special attention?I confess I have little insight into the mind of the undecided US voter, which is why I ask.
"I would think the timing of that news is a non-issue for most Americans."Nevertheless, the right-wingers are adamant that they want Romney to go there. Glenn Beck was all over it this morning. Shawn Hannity was all over it yesterday afternoon. I presume he'll be doing more of it today, and Rush Limbaugh has demanded Romney must fight that fight. Romney spox, John Sununu, was fighting it out with Soledad O'Brien yesterday. And Ben Stein (you remember him don't you?) is still apoplectic about it today. ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ "But there's the question of whether there were advance warnings and pleas for better security that were ignored. If there were then the current adminis- tration has uncomfortable questions to answer."They have a problem with that. Embassy and consulate security is, by default, decided within the State Department. That makes it Hillary Clinton's ballgame, unless they can show that Ambassador Stevens went over her head and made a plea straight to the White House (which he could do as a Presidential appointee), or unless they can show that the question got bumped up to the White House from the State Department. (Hard questions sometimes get sent upstairs.) There's no evidence of either. That makes it Hillary Clinton's ballgame. And they don't wanna mess with Hillary.
"Obama should, in the next debate, basically say that ‘I killed Bin Laden’."Whether he ‘should’ may be a moot point. He will; there's almost no chance the subject won't come up. If he's smart, it'll be a passing part of a larger subject, re: al-Qaeda in general. And, it won't be ‘I killed bin Laden’, but rather, al-Qaida central has been decimated, bin Laden included. Everybody already knows bin Laden's dead. The Republicans are still pissed as hell that Obama got Osama; that really pisses them off. They hate it when he mentions it. He may dwell on it just a little just to see if he can piss Romney off. (Romney gets pissy way too easy and doesn't look good when he's feelin’ pissy.) But, I'd recommend against trying to force that.
Post Script:The Republican right-wingers don't seem to know this, but Obama's got more to hit them with if they try to go back for more of that crap ‘bout how long it took Obama to call it an ‘act of terror’. He's got more stuff they've forgotten about already. (Bet he hasn't forgotten though.) I'll get back to that later if they keep this up going into the next debate.
"Or do they credit this to the security services regardless of who was in the Oval Office at the time, in which case it might seem like Obama's taking credit that doesn't belong to him?"The credit Obama is due is the credit for making the decision to send in the commandos to look bin Laden in the eye and then take ‘im out. The alternative was to level the building with him in there, and not know for sure that he was in there for several months, and meanwhile have al-Qaeda claiming he'd never been there, and was still alive and all that. And bin Laden would live forever in fable, just like Elvis. That was the hard choice Obama made, take the risk, and see the body, and know we got ‘im. If it had gone bad, Obama could have kissed off his re-election. (See Jimmy Carter.) But it was the right thing to do.
Post Script:Shawn Hannity just opened his three hours of radio today with more of trying to hang Benghazi on Obama. They're gonna insist that Romney go there again. Whether he will or not is still an open question, but they're certainly gonna demand it. (They don't know it yet, but Candy Crowley actually saved Romney from making an even bigger fool of himself the other night.)
But there's the question of whether there were advance warnings and pleas for better security that were ignored.Lee is right, that falls within the State Department's job duties. Hilary Clinton is on the hook for that.Should Obama come out strong and credit himself for killing Al Qaedas leader?Not if he is smart. The effort to capture/kill Bin Laden was truly a joint effort by many people on both sides of the aisle. Lee is again correct in that Obama made the tough call on how to do it, but it was not his effort alone.If he really wantes to make an effort to heal some of the divide between Republicans and Democrats so that we can get some work done, giving credit where credit is due might help in some quarters.
"…but it was not his effort alone."Of course it was not ‘his effort alone’, but it was his call. It's not at all clear that Dubya, Romney, or McCain would have challenged the Pakistani government so openly over bin Laden. Obama took a case load of shit from the Republicans for even saying it, in the 2008 campaign, that we'd go into Pakistan to get bin Laden if that's where we found ‘im, and it didn't matter whether the Pakis liked it or not. The Republicans called that ‘irresponsible’. But, when the time come to back that up, he did. Not at all clear that others would have done the same. They say now that they would have, but that's what they say now, after it worked out well. Before, they were calling it an irresponsible, dangerous and needlessly inflamatory position to be taking.
More re: American politicsThe Republican pundits are still at it. This time it's Charles Krauthammer insisting that Romney go after the Libya story again in the coming debate (supposedly on foreign policy matters although one may reasonably anticipate they'll try to tie foreign policy to domestic considerations like the economy and the budget and their tax plans): "The burning issue will be Libya and the scandalous parade of fictions told by this administration to explain away the debacle." WaPo OpEdFriday morning before the coming debate Monday night, and they're still insisting that Romney must revisit that, and win it this time. It remains to be seen whether he's got the balls to stand up to his right-wingers on this, after having his head handed back to him over this last time. Mostly he's not shown much of that.
Lee: "They have a problem with that. Embassy and consulate security is, by default, decided within the State Department.[...]And they don't wanna mess with Hillary."Why? I thought they detested her. Is it because they want to try to keep any negative focus on Obama himself, or are they reluctant to mess with her for some other reason?
"Is it because they want to try to keep any negative focus on Obama himself…"That's the first reason; fighting Hillary is a waste of seriously limited time and energy, wrong target. (And it will be a fight; Hillary will fight back. She fights back; that's just what she does. That's what impressed Obama; that's why she's Secretary of State in the first place.) Furthermore, her stock has gone up a bunch in the last four years; she's done a good job as Secretary of State and has avoided any blame for the economy sputtering along. She's now considerably more popular than either Romney or Obama. And (and this is a big deal), Hillary is especially popular with women; they will take it badly if he starts in after her. Romney has a problem appealing to women already, one that he does not want to exacerbate.
Post Script:(English lesson for today--meant friendly) Brackets are considered redundant around the ellipsis. Ya don't need ‘em.
^I Googled that since I didn't even know what ellipsis was and you're right. I take these corrections without any bad feelings I assure you. Even John taught me to spell believe not as beleive a few years back and I learned from that. And I do NOT like John. Still, if he can tutor me in English once in a while I like the opportunity to better my second language. Even if it comes from someone like John who is seriously limited in his use of his first language it doesn't mean I'm not willing to learn.
Lee: "Furthermore, her stock has gone up a bunch in the last four years; she's done a good job as Secretary of State and has avoided any blame for the economy sputtering along."I can see that. It's actually quite impressive how she's become one of Obama's biggest assets after their fight in the primaries in the upmarch to the last election. Obama must be happy today that he included her in his government the way he did and she must be equally pleased that she accepted the task. I'd love to be a fly on the wall when they had their first meetings after the Democrat primaries.
"Obama must be happy today…she must be equally…"It's worked out well for both of them.
Nobody likes John; I don't think even John likes John.
More Amereican politics:New wrinkle on the politics of Benghazi. House Republicans are trying to get in on the act. No doubt they figure this will be supportive of Romney, with the added advantage of shielding him from any potential blowback. But this has the serious potential to backfire. If they make it official congressional business, well, official congressional business takes time; it just does, and Romney don't got a time; he's gotta hit that lick by Monday, or let it ride and upset Glenn Hannibaugh no end.This gives Obama an easy out--‘It's all being handled folks, never fear; we'll get to the bottom of this. We're lookin’ into it already, and there'll be hearings to be held in congress just as soon as they're back in session.’And, it just happens that they don't take up in congress until after the election. So, this doesn't actually help Romney that much if they'd bothered to think it through.
typos! leave the typos… who cares?
No, I'm sure John actually, but sectretly, hates John more than he hates everyone else. And he hates everyone else a whole lot.
Re: American politics (late Friday)I think I see signs: It appears that the Romney campaign has probably, finally, figured out that their right-winger supporters have been demanding they walk straight into a knockdown punch yet once again, and now they're probably not gonna do it, no matter what Glenn Hannibaugh demands..So… Here's what Romney didn't know before last Tuesday's debate when he insisted that Obama had refused to identify the attack that killed Ambassador Stevens on 09/11/12 as a terrorist attack, but that he probably does know by now: "On September 12, the day after the attack…Obama said: "‘Our country is only as strong as the character of our people and the service of those both civilian and military who represent us around the globe,’ he said. ‘No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. *** We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done.’" CNN fact check (emphasis added)Obama repeated the description of the Benghazi attack as an ‘act of terror’ the next day, the 13th at an early campaign event in Las Vegas, Nevada. "As for the ones we lost last night: I want to assure you, we will bring their killers to justice. (Applause.) "And we want to send a message all around the world -- anybody who would do us harm: No act of terror will dim the light of the values that we proudly shine on the rest of the world, and no act of violence will shake the resolve of the United States of America." (Applause.) White House transcript (emphasis added)He again called it an ‘act of terror’ later that same day, in a speech given in Golden, Colorado: "I wanted to begin tonight by just saying a few words about a tough day that we had today. We lost four Americans last night, who were killed when they were attacked at a diplomatic post in Libya. *** " As for the ones we lost last night: I want to assure you, we will bring their killers to justice. (Applause.) "And we want to send a message all around the world -- anybody who would do us harm: No act of terror will dim the light of the values that we proudly shine on the rest of the world… *** "We will not be deterred." White House transcript (emphasis added) (more to follow later perhaps)
Thanks for posting that video Zeyad. I watched the Hurt Locker tonight for the first time and appreciated the contrast!
Of course it was not ‘his effort alone’, but it was his call.I certainly don't dispute that it was his call and as it turned out he made the right one. But he would not even have had the chance to make it were it not for the efforts of many other people, some of whom are Republicans. That is what should be noted.
"But he would not even have had the chance to make it were it not for the efforts of many other people, some of whom are Republicans. That is what should be noted."I'm sorry, but I simply cannot agree. The private political party affiliations of the spooks and soldiers who've served this country has never been an issue before now, and I can't seem to agree that the established customs should be abrogated and it should be made an issue especially for this this case. They're supposed to do their jobs irregardless of where the CinC is of their preferred political party and without reference to their party affiliations.
typo correction: ‘…irregardless of whether the CinC is of their preferred political party…’
The private political party affiliations of the spooks and soldiers who've served this country has never been an issue before now,...That's kind of my point. For Obama, or his campaign manager, to insert the killing of bin Laden into the political debate by taking credit kind of negates what has always been a truly American effort.
"That's kind of my point. For Obama, or his campaign manager, to insert the killing of bin Laden into the political debate…"That's odd. I could have sworn your point was that Obama should be sharing credit with Republicans. It certainly read that way to me. But, no matter, I will simply address this point instead.First thing, he most certainly did talk up the spooks and soldiers when announcing the killing of bin Laden. He's never hinted that he charged up those dark stairs himself or that he should be given credit for that part of it. Granted, on the political trail where it's been mentioned since, he's not brought up the non-political contribuitions of those who take orders instead of give them. But, I don't see why he should.I suppose then that your point would be that he should not bring it up in a political context? I can only say that's the extremely naïve and demands of him a standard that doesn't apply to anybody else. Obama was savaged in the last election for being irresponsible and dangerous for even saying he would go after bin Laden like that. His was politically savaged for saying he'd make that choice. Nobody suggested it was innapprpriate for McCain to bash him for that last time around. It wasn't too ‘political’ then. Nor has anybody ever suggested it was ‘too political’ for Romney to have said, on the debate stage, that getting bin Laden shouldn't be a priority (And sure as hell nobody believes that Romney wouldn't right now be hanging it around his neck if it had gone badly instead of turning out well. You do remember how they played out the supposedly ‘hapless’ Jimmy Carter after the failed Iranian hostage rescue, do you not?)
"I can only say that's the extremely naïve and demands of him a standard that doesn't apply to anybody else."On second thought… I suppose you may have been equally upset about Obama having made just that threat in the last presidential campaign and about McCain (and Romney too, who was also running that year, but did not get the nomination) having bashed him for it. Perhaps this isn't so much naïvitey as a personal preference that campaigns avoid foreign policy matters. I think it an uncommon position though, if that's what we've got here. You might be fairly unique in this regard, if that's what we've got here.
Lee,Perhaps I should go back to Marcus' original comment to make the intent of my comment clearer.Should Obama come out strong and credit himself for killing Al Qaedas leader? Will that go down well with his target audience?To win in this election a candidate will need the support of others besides his base. Obama is currently the President. He has a unique opportunity to dial back some of the divisive rhetoric that flows within any campaign. To give credit to others before himself might go a long way to garnering the respect of those who are tired of the toxic atmosphere surrounding politics. It is a fair statement that there were many people on both sides of the aisle who played a role in killing bin Laden...even Dick Cheney. To make it is to rise above the petty bickering that we see today.
"To give credit to others before himself might go a long way to garnering the respect of those who are tired of the toxic atmosphere surrounding politics."Perhaps it might. I am quite aware of the efforts made to date to faerie tale up a role for the Bush administration in the demise of bin Laden. It is BS of the first order. Briefly: "Bin Laden himself is not that big a threat." Dick Cheney, 27 January 2002 "I don’t know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don’t care. It’s not that important. It’s not our priority. I am truly not that concerned about him.” G.W.Bush, 13 March 2002In mid-summer of 2005 the Bush administration finally disbanded the CIA unit that had been tasked with finding bin Laden (and it is safe to say it had been hamstrung long before that, losing essential resources, and both funding and talent, to the war in Iraq, beginning in early 2003). There was no further concerted American effort to find bin Laden from that point forward; there was no one in the American intelligence community whose one job it was to find bin Laden. They gave up on the hunt for bin Laden as an objective in and of itself. If it happened that they stumbled across bin Laden, or evidence of him, during the course of other business, that would be fine. But nobody was actually looking for bin Laden. Not suprisingly, nobody just happened to stumble upon bin Laden in the course of other business.That didn't change until newly sworn-in President Obama called newly appointed CIA chief, Leon Panetta, into his office and told Panetta that getting bin Laden, kill or capture, was Panetta's highest priority item. From there it took just over two years years to get it done.It might be politically expedient to spread some of the credit around to Bush and Cheney anyway; that might help politically. It would, nevertheless, be bullshit of the highest order.
And just to follow up, short version; I've looked into this some… Our right-wingers are quite fond of insisting that the torture of a couple of the detainees at Gitmo led to them them telling us that bin Laden used couriers to communicate with the outside world, and thus led to bin Laden's ultimate demise. The problem with this theory is, we already knew about the couriers. Our guys had been tracking bin Laden electronically up until 1998 when Clinton tried to take him out with a cruise missle attack. Bin Laden put down his satt phone and quit all electronic communications the very next day. Bin Laden thereafter relied exclusively on couriers to carry his messages, and we've known that since 1998. They further like to claim that we got the name of bin Laden's favorite courier ‘The Kuwaiti’ from torturing Kahlid Sheik Mohammed and Abu Faraj al-Libbi, and some also name Mohammed Qahtani. What they don't want us to know is that Kahlid Mohammed claimed that ‘The Kuwaiti’ had long since ‘retired’ to civilian life and was no longer a courier, which was not true. Libbi likewise provided disinformation, dismissing ‘The Kuwait’ as a bit player, and giving them a fake name for his contact, so they could chase ghosts instead. Another guy, less often mentioned as a prized example for the value of torture is Mohamedou Slahi, he told them that ‘The Kuwaiti’ had died, and that he, Slahi, had been there when he died. How any of this was supposed to have helped remains yet to be faerie taled up by the right-wing mystery machine.More to the point: It is further known that the above three above named bad guys didn't give up even the nom-de-guerre of ‘The Kuwaiti’ under duress. We only got that limited bit information after they quit torturing the guys and went back to more conventional interrogation techniques. And none of them ever admitted to knowing the guy's real name. Either under duress or afterwards.And, there's more, there's Hassan Ghul… Ghul actually did give them a real handle on how the courier system worked. Ghul was also subjected to ‘enhanced interrogation’ at a black site in eastern Europe. However: "[T]he Senate Select Committee on Intelligence… says, ‘The CIA detainee [Ghul] who provided the most significant information about the courier provided the information prior to being subjected to coercive interrogation techniques.’" (emphasis added)They finally got the guy's real name from a so-far unspecified foreign ‘intelligence service’. No hints that torturing anybody played a role in acquiring the name. But, once they had the name they located the guy and eventually followed him to the compound in Abbottabad where bin Laden was hiding, and you know what happened after that.Now our right-wingers are fond of telling us again and again that these guys gave up information on ‘The Kuwaiti’ after they'd been tortured. That's true so far it goes. (They generally leave Ghul's name out of the mix entirely ‘cause he didn't give up squat after being tortured, although he had been giving up info up until then. This is most definitely not the way they want the story to get out.) What they don't want people to know is that ‘after being tortured’ means after the interrogators gave up on that and went back to conventional interrogation techniques.So, I'm not much inclined to give ‘em credit for contributing squat.
And, to close:We didn't get much of anything of value from torturing those guys. When pressed hard the apologists for torture will fall back on the argument that the guys gave up the limited info on the courier that they did give up (his nom-de-guerre) only because they'd been tortured earlier. But, while this can't be completely disproved (logically one cannot prove a negative) the circumstances surrounding acquisition of the info suggest strongly that torture only delayed the acquistion of what limited info they eventually gave up. (In short, they let the nom-de-guerre slip while talking too long trying to circle round-a-bout on other subjects. When they realized they'd let slip something that might be useful--the nom-de-guerre they then added the additional disinformation about him having retired or died or just being a bit player of no value to know about.)Personally, I see a moral problem with trying to credit torture for beneficial results it did not produce. And I don't give a damn if it would be politically expedient to ignore that moral problem. I'm dead set against it.
"Bin Laden himself is not that big a threat." Dick Cheney, 27 January 2002 "I don’t know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don’t care. It’s not that important. It’s not our priority. I am truly not that concerned about him.” G.W.Bush, 13 March 2002I don't see where denying AQ and bin Laden the attention they craved for recruiting purposes to be inconsistant with trying to capture or kill him. They gave up on the hunt for bin Laden as an objective in and of itself.Perhaps this was because they came to understand that AQ and its adherents were more than one man and needed to be addressed in other ways. But I suspect that bin Laden was still a very strong goal.Personally, I see a moral problem with trying to credit torture for beneficial results it did not produce.I think there were far more people involved in this effort who did not use those methods, and they most certainly do deserve credit.
"I think there were far more people involved in this effort who did not use those methods, and they most certainly do deserve credit."The Republicans (and Glenn Hannibaugh) aren't worried about getting credit for these unsung heros you're thinking about. They'd let that pass without a fuss (if they weren't so damn upset that Obama got Osama and nipped away at their farorite ‘Democrats are soft on security’ theme.)They want credit for Bush and Cheney and the boys and vindication for having tortured people. And I think we both know that. They'd not be putting up the fuss otherwise; certainly not just to get credit for the perennially unsung heros in service.
They want credit for Bush and Cheney and the boys and vindication for having tortured people.Ahh, I see. You are thinking that any credit given to the other party would be defacto support of all of the methods used by them. Personally I think there is wiggle room on that. You can throw out the bathwater without the baby. :)The Republicans (and Glenn Hannibaugh) aren't worried about getting credit for these unsung heros you're thinking about.Now that's a great pity. They do more to keeping this country together then Glenn Hannibaugh and some Republicans I can think of. :(
"You are thinking that any credit given to the other party would be defacto support of all of the methods…"Am I ‘worried’ ‘bout that? Oh hell no. They've been pretty explicit about what they want here, and that's what they want. Cheney himself (I think Rumsfeld, although I'm not sure I remember that right), Glenn Hannibaugh (and the girls), that Oriental laywer fella from Stanford U., name escapes me just now, Yoo or Yee or something like that, more…. That's what the fuss is about in the end. They're after a public expression of support, of a public acknowledgment of vindication for their methods.And, it's not true. (I could hunt up the quotes, except I don't have time today, maybe later, if you insist--ought not be here now--gotta run.)
Post Script:We can also find quotes from folks who mention Seal Team Six and such when they demand sharing of the credit, and do not explicitly mention going on to credit the 'enhanced interrogation’ methods, but most of those folks just hate it that Obama's getting any credit on what used to be a favorite Repubican theme point, national security. We're talkin’ fairly serious partisans here, although some of them are sincere. Problem is, nobody disputes their importance and contributions; that's not an issue for anybody. Acknowledging their importance isn't gonna make the criticism go away. We know this because it's been acknowledged and yet that's not helped put the issue to bed.The force keeping the issue alive politically are the guys tryin’ to get vindication for the torture.Ciao for now.
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