Monthly Archives: November 2010

Diplomacy, not so diplomatic. What a shock!

If you have a basic nature that is suspicious and cynical about politics and politicians, Cablegate/Wikileaks left you rather unsatisfied. Nothing in there that I did not suspect, or consider is happening.  Yes, diplomats from the beginning of time spied for their nation.  It’s their job, they are not there just for ribbon cuttings and wreath laying ceremonies on tombs.

I looked at the cables on the Wikileaks site, the Guardian, Le Monde, the Times and following the #Cablegate and #wikileaks items on Twitter, I am still looking for the world breaking news and frankly nada.  Of course there are over 251,287 cables with more to come.  Now I think you can understand the problem, we have way too much information flying around and way no process on how decision makers can digest or use this information.   To my surprise, at first glance I agree with Timothy Gordon Ash, from the Guardian.

Yet, from what I have seen, the professional members of the US foreign service have very little to be ashamed of. Yes, there are echoes of skulduggery at the margins, especially in relation to the conduct of “the war on terror” in the Bush years. Specific questions must be asked and answered. For the most part, however, what we see here is diplomats doing their proper job: finding out what is happening in the places to which they are posted, working to advance their nation’s interests and their government’s policies.

In fact, my personal opinion of the state department has gone up several notches. In recent years, I have found the American foreign service to be somewhat underwhelming, reach-me-down, dandruffy, especially when compared with other, more confident arms of US government, such as the Pentagon and the treasury. But what we find here is often first-rate.

For my point of view, I loved the gossipy bits.  The stuff that we all think and it’s so great to have experts, diplomats, put it in diplomatic language.

How to enjoy the cables:

1.  Start at Wiki Leaks, be careful, you will not find it there, these gems have their own location:  Cablegate.  On the left side, you can choose how to browse.  Date the cable was created, origin (which embassy), tags, classification.

2.  For a more interactive, not so raw data version, go to UK Guardian, Browse the Database Interactive. Der Spiegel offers another interactive Atlas in the German fashion, there are graphs, and numbers of all types.  If you love statistics and graphs with dates and incidents, this is the place for you.

3.  Then you will find a scattering of articles about specific cables, with different points of view.  For example, each nation obsesses on it’s own stories, and it seems that the Germans, are not surprised the Americans think that Merkel is not creative, courageous and is a Teflon leader.  Just browse the various papers and the level of outrage and panic is nation specific.  It does not seem that America is the boogey man, the Chinese of course immediately shut everything down.  The Iranians, think it was a plot by the US and so do the Italians.

4.  For me, I love the chatter:  Quadaffi’s Ukranian blond nurse who goes with him everywhere, his fear of long flights ( duh, he know that airplanes can explode in mid-air).  Putin and Berlusconi finding entering into a simpatico relationship of the corrupt mafiosi variety.  Prince Andrew being a total upper class English prig, or prick, you choose.  Andrew went on, the simpleton he is, claiming that Americans don’t know cause they have bad geography teachers.  A commenter on the Guardian site, said, of course England has great teachers, how else could they sort out their shrinking empire.

5.  In what I call the: “Duh, we knew this ”  the Arab dictators, Mubarek for example, advises US against Democracy in Iraq, “slap a military government and forget democracy”.  I guess I am shocked based on the long history of Democracy in Egypt.  Mubarek is not an advocate of Democracy.

6.  The right-wing, yesterday clicking through Fox, Dick the prick Morris, was accusing Hillary of betraying her personality of wanting to spy on everyone.  First, if you read the actual cable, it was a US policy/Law under all the security stuff passed by Bush.  She did not pull this out of her head, it’s an American law.  Second, everyone spies on everyone’s diplomats, are you effing kidding me?

Diplomats and nations gather gobs of information to support their national interests.  Their interests are usually economic interests that are supported via military power.  The rights of people, the value of life, the sense of justice, humanity and freedom, frankly do not matter.  It’s all about a group of world leaders filled with psychological and personality shortcomings, using their nation and its resources to stay in power.  This is the ugly history of human politics.

We of the cynical variety, always knew this and are therefore not shocked or upset. I hope the lesson that citizen’s of democracies learn, “YOUR LEADERS LIE TO YOU’.  Your press does not do it’s job, trying to figure out how and when they lie, (The NY TIMES, vetted the cables with the government, the people who brought us the Iraq war).  It’s all about power and how to keep it. I feel that there are many people who look like little children who were told that Santa does not exist.  Wow, our diplomats are human and they look at other nations through human eyes.


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Zizek on the Failures of Liberal Capitalism

If you have fifteen minutes, watch this interview.  The guy makes my brain dance and spin, in a good way.  Then if you really have time and want to get away from the same thinking that we are stuck in, read his book, Living in the End of Times, Slavoj Zizek.

Some of the points that I find interesting:

  • We personalize capitalism, oh, it’s just those greedy guys, when in truth, it’s inherent in the system. Don’t blame morality and look for a fix in the laws, blame the real culprit, capitalism.
  • Tolerance, “a notion of disorientation”, “don’t harass me remain at the proper distance from me… the liberal tolerant is ready to tolerate only the decaffeinated other” ” products deprived of their poisonous substance”” I don’t want tolerance, I want militarist spirit for a good cause”
  • He calls this the non political era.  We deal with issues as moral and legalistic, that there are culprits, when it’s the system, he brings up BP and the Oil spill.  BP became the criminal,
  • Then he talks about how the middle  of the political spectrum with the only real opposition is from the extreme right.  He uses Europe as an example, but I think it applies in the US as well.  What we have done with making politics mainly a cultural ethical issue, is that we have silenced, actually repressed the socio-economic dimension of politics.  In some ways, as long as laws are obeyed and people are not discriminated against, class inequality seems to be acceptable in this new realm of politics.

By the way, notice that the interview is on Al Jazeera, would our free press expose his thoughts to the people? 

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Homeland Security Stops At Our Crotch

Seal of the United States Transportation Secur...

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Our politics and national issues have been reduced to our genitals, how we use them and how they are property.  Americans, as a nation we stood by as the government violated our civil rights, started a war, bankrupted our treasure all in the name of stopping terror from coming back to America. In truth, the populace, politicians and the media, we had no problem with any of the atrocities of the Bush years, all in the name of “Homeland Security“.

But, what got us mobilized, outraged and offended:  our genitals.  First, we don’t want our genitals photographed, then we don’t want to be groped.  It all comes down to our junk, package, or crotch.

You see, when we made class warfare not an issue, along with the Fundementalists of all hues, we reduced our politics to genitals.  Telling people how to use their genitals.  Defining people’s politics by their biological sexual orientation.  The intrusion into women’s reproductive rights, is nothing compared to some tea bagger getting groped.  Yep, we have limits.  Proto politic is about genitals.

Blasting Iraqi society back into the 19th century,  because our President lied about terror, was fine with our complicit politicians and media.  But, digital images of your cunt, prick, balls, pussy, vjay jay, muff, dick, penis or vagina, is the issue that mobilized us.  Tapping our telephones and tracking our emails, no problem.  Just don’t get into our pants, or the pants of our women.

Go ahead, torture and order the murder of US citizens, extraordinary renditions, pffft, go ahead.  It’s just them Arabs/Muslims anyway.  No, wait, taking the computers of peace activists and such, could be us, but heck, it’s not my genitals.  Habeas corpus?  who cares, he is probably some foreigner any way.  Why can’t he have an American name.

Congressman Mica, one of the great voices who is fueling the outrage, thinks that if we privatize TSA, meaning if his friends get the contracts and we don’t have union public employees doing the job, another robbery for bad privatized service,

I think we could use half the personnel and streamline the system,” Mica said Wednesday, calling the TSA a bloated bureaucracy.
Mica is the ranking Republican on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Once the new Congress convenes in January, the lawmaker is expected to lead the committee.
Companies that could gain business if airports heed Mica’s call have helped fill his campaign coffers. In the past 13 years, Mica has received almost $81,000 in campaign donations from political action committees and executives connected to some of the private contractors already at 16 U.S. airports.

Stand up Americans, protect your crotch, but give up your civil liberties, cause after all, what are we without the privacy of our crotch.  Genitals are common and look alike, brains and thoughts are unique.  But, fight for the genitals. 


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Senator Simpson vs. Paul Krugman

Listen to this NPR interview of the Catfood Commissioners, Bowels and Simpson:  Debt Commission Co-Chairs, Won\’t Bow To Criticism.

I’d love to meet Paul Krugman, cuz sometimes he looks like he lost his marbles, I know he won the Nobel Prize, I respect that, but let me tell you his ideas are not going to go anywhere, in this atmosphere because, because it’s a different time than he wrote before when he was just dinging on George Bush, more fun to ding on Bush economically than anyone else, and he loved that, but let me tell you, if he can’t realize what we are doing with social security ….he will lose his relevance.  (emphasis mine)

My fellow Americans, these are the words of a commissioner chosen by the President to talk about how we will discuss the budget issues.  Krugman was one of the strongest voices that stopped the campaign to privatize Social Security under the Bush administration.

If the respected politicians, chosen by a Democratic President, speak this way about the most respected economist from the Democratic/Left side, I say the game is fixed  and it does not look good for the poor or working class.   What he basically said, if you don’t agree with us, “shut the fuck up”.

Not once did Simpson critique the Krugman analysis .  He just basically attacked Krugman and marginalized him.  If this is bipartisanship, beating up our side each and every time, get ready for the complete capitulation.

The Simpson tone was that of the typical bully from the GOP.  Thank you President Obama, for legitimizing this creep and bringing him back in our midst as some savior.  If this is how the national conversation on the budget will start, I don’t think we have a chance.

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Spitzer Vs. Rand Paul

Elliot  Spitzer has a new show on CNN,  he has a pleasant silent sidekick.  I guess they could not give him an hour alone, who wants to have a show with a savvy attorney ex-governor.  No, we cannot have someone who can catch other politicians when they lie, or divert.  Yes, yes, I know he went with a hooker, now can we move on?

Here is an example of his interview with Rand Paul yesterday.

What is interesting is that in a few minutes Spitzer basically exposes Rand Paul for what he is, just another politician.  Matter of fact, just another politician who lived on the dole for all his life, 50% of his Tea Partying, Libertarian income came from Medicare.  Now, how come this was not an issue?

When pushed about across the board cuts for programs that benefit him and his state, Paul does the dance.  The dance of “cut them, not me or mine”.  Paul throws in of course the favorite Red Hearings, the Affordable Healthcare Bill, which he now a Senator, gives it the purposefully derogatory name, Obamacare.  Mr. Paul, this is an actual act voted and passed by Congress, not a right-wing meme.  Learn to respect our Democracy.  ( more on that later)

Spitzer, has been drilling all the “cut spending, cut taxes” people, actually all his guests, what would they cut.  He starts with the graphic of the budget, Paul, unable and unwilling to really deal with the issue at hand, ‘it’s not easy to cut the budget”, starts attacking and posturing.  My favorite is the actual indignation at being asked real issues of governance.

Of course, people focus on the Paul cheap shot about Spitzer’s past when asked about his income.  The intertubes and the boyz in the Libertarian frat houses see this as a knock out punch a victory.  Yet, it was not.  He was specifically asked what is his annual income so that we can deduce the level of subsidy and how much he is supported by the “nanny state” that he disparages.

Paul then he seemingly lists the four things he would do to look at the budget after he acknowledges that there are thousand of books and people who go into preparing the budget.  Honestly, Mr. Paul, it’s not a sound bite “cut and spend”, a sound bite to get elected by?  :

  1. Can it be downsized?
  2. Can it be privatized?
  3. Can it be eliminated?
  4. Or is it off the table.

Boy genius, Rand Paul, is going to do this, allegedly to each program.  My take away is the prominent position of “privatized”.  Privatizing does not make it cheaper, or free.  It throws it out there, for the Libertarians to sanitize it and chomp on it for life.  A free ride, for the mediocre business men, who cannot compete in the global market, and survive by sucking the blood of the American people.

What of the 11 billion, that his state gets from the federal government is he willing to cut?  He was so sure on the campaign trail, that snip, snip and he had the answers.  Now, he squirms, wants time, wants to study.

He is eager to cut everyone else, but the Doctor subsidies, not on the table.  Gee, I guess they were already cut in 93, who was the new President then?  Oh, Clinton.  Not a Republican.

Consider this, the state of Kentucky for each dollar they contribute to the Federal budget, gets back $1.50, compare that to my state, California, for each dollar we pay, we get back .78 cents.  (source, Tax Foundation State by State, 2005).  Now, I want to see, how Paul will explain to his impoverished citizenry, that they have to give up about one-third of what they get from the Federal Government and that he will do it.

Get your engines started and watch if they start cutting the money that sustain their bankrupt business and mediocre doctors like Paul.  Wonder why he could not make it without Medicare patients?

I hope Spitzer continues in the path of sticking to the questions and exposing the real issues.  I do think that they will not come on his show, cause they will not get away with a chit-chat.  They will get asked questions.  Unfortunately, I don’t think this show will survive.

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Creating Jobs, The Real Housewives Way

I do realize that we the Democrats, have fallen into a collective malaise.  Time to pick up and get out of the malaise.  Stop resisting the tax cut to the rich and super rich, embrace it.  You see, they will create jobs.  So, get ready for the jobs.  As I watch the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, I learned a thing or two, I saw the jobs that they create.

The GOP and their populist front, the Tea Party, will be in charge.   Poised  to eliminate the Affordable Healthcare Act, extend the tax cuts to those making over $250,000 per year, erase the banking regulations, castrate the EPA, privatize public education and Social Security and create jobs I thought it was time we look at the jobs that will be created.  They say, the American people have spoken.  This imaginary monolith that changes from election to election, the American People’s Voice.  By the way, the most populous state in the union, was not speaking the same words, but what the heck, the sparsely populated hinterlands spoke.

What did they say:  extend the tax cuts to the rich and super rich.   If we extend the tax cuts to the rich, they will have certitude (this is the new catch word, bear with me) , when the rich have certitude, (something that the rest of the country does not get cause we basically pulled the safety net away) they will create jobs.

You see, the new economic model is that government must provide a certainty to business, cover their losses and clean out all the obstacles along the path.  DO YOU GET IT?  Certitude, you get when you have gobs of money, if you are one pay check away from Armageddon , you get the school of zero tolerance and tough love.  WTF, you with your Nanny state notions, wanting to be cared for by the society.  Stop it, bear it and give the rich certitude, then they will give you serfdom.

The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, my current favorite,  are the rich who will get the tax cuts.  Let’s see how they spend the money:

  • Jobs:  Nannies (Camille has 4) , surrogate mothers ( you think they carry their babies), trainers, house managers, party organizers ( $50,000 for 4-year-old party) , animal handlers, assistants, fancy cake makers, Barbie Jewelery makers, body guards, giggolos, friends, boyfriends, chefs, caterers, cabana boys, plastic surgeons, spa workers, bartenders, stylists, decorators.
  • Consumables:  opportunities for Gucci, Hermes, Dolce Cabana,  clothing with glitter, Mercedes, BMW  (German cars), Italian shoes, vacations.  Renting venues for events.  Champagne, pinot grigio, tequila.  Italian decorating fabrics.  See, they buy stuff, not American stuff, but stuff.  You get to work in the shops, you can be shop girls and boys.

What are you complaining about, the rich and super rich will create jobs for your college educated kids and those with twenty plus years of experience. They will buy stuff–not American stuff– but they will buy stuff.  They will not hire an engineer, but a surrogate, or a lactation consultant they will hire.

What is the government gonna do with the money?  Invest in infrastructure and create high paying jobs, but what kind of reality tv can you make with bridge building?

President Obama, please, give it up for the rich, give them the tax cuts.  You see, they had the tax cuts all these years and they created so many jobs.  We need the jobs the rich will create, this is part of our public policy:  ” We have always relied on the kindness of strangers”.  Who needs the nanny state?


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What California Voters Learned

After the  trouncing the Democrats got from the new BFFs, the Independents— a 15% swing away from Democrats–everyone is urging a move to the right for Obama.  Blaming progressives and real Democratic party issues seems to be the mood of the day.  Well, it seems the real lessons to be learned, were learned by California voters. What happened in California?  As always, it was different.

California voters, around 2003,got mad and went ballistic on their Democratic governor,   Gray Davis. They recalled the governor and elected a citizen billionaire celebrity politician, Arnold the Terminator.  Arnold made all the promises that tea baggers are making.  He  promised to blast his way through the political gridlock, cut taxes, bring jobs, wealth, defend the borders and make everyone wealthy.   Arnold’s first act was to send everyone about  $500 check,  that worked for a few months.  Yep, that money from increased auto fees, sure made the immediate gratification, don’t tax me citizen happy.  But, it did not solve anything in the state.

His inexperience and outsideriness, the exact things that made him desirable, led to six years of gridlock with no end in sight.  Having a split government with a constantly changing term limited legislature, ( all the anti- politician and government gimmicks in one pot) does not work.  This time the GOP ran two other outsiders,  Meg Whitman and Fiorina, billionaire, women outsiders, somehow thinking that women would be fooled.

California women were not fooled, they broke 56-40 Democratic compared to 48 -51% nationally.  Neither were the young people Neither were the Latinos, Blacks or Asians.  Californians chose experience:(CS Monitor).

Analysts credit an intense burst of support by longtime Democratic allies – plus the party’s edge among the many racial and ethnic subgroups here – for turning out the Democratic vote.

I realize that the Mainstream Media does not care to pay attention, but the old Democratic Machine kicked some serious ass in California.  John Burton, unions and the – Democratic alliances, did their work against the new money.

After Whitman spent $168 million trying to destroy Brown, her own words buried her.  After Fiorina, with the help of Palin and the outside Chamber and Rove secret funds blasted Boxer with television advertisements, Fiorina lost by 10% points.  The Democrats had about a 900,000 vote advantage. These were not squeakers.  Fiorina, would not conceded last night at midnight, she gave a speech and said that she was going to crunch the numbers some more.  Dear Carly, these are not corporate earning numbers, you can crunch all you want, you lost.

So, do not despair.  Do not lose sight.  Do not listen to the punditocracy telling us that the Democratic alliances fell apart.  In time, the citizen politicians, who will be starry-eyed newbies for the lobbyists, will disappoint.  They will lash-out, investigate, gridlock and pontificate and will come up with zero.

Politics is a business for politicians.  Crusty ones like Jerry and feisty ones like Boxer.  Inexperienced ideologues are of no use and ultimately just are the tools of the real powers that be, the Corporatists, who control the lobbying industry.

Crusty, as we lovingly call Jerry, is still around and still willing to do the service needed for California.  eMeg, with her managed focus group consultant driven campaign, could have bought an island for that money and made her self queen.

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