Obama’s Napoleon Complex

16 Aug

Since the bombs started falling in Central Asia in October 2001, critics of the American Empire warned that the initial “success” in Afghanistan was an illusion. The country was no match for massive US firepower, but the lessons of history would make this war unwinnable. It would drain our resources, create exponentially more enemies, and further destabilize a region that had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11.

Eight years later, as both civilian and US military death counts are surging, even the US’s top torturer/executioner in Afghanistan is admitting this. General Stanley McChrystal is witnessing firsthand the rising casualties and warning that the Taliban are winning:

The Taliban have gained the upper hand in Afghanistan, the top American commander there said, forcing the U.S. to change its strategy in the eight-year-old conflict by increasing the number of troops in heavily populated areas like the volatile southern city of Kandahar, the insurgency’s spiritual home.

This startling admission coming from Obama’s handpicked Afghan ethnic cleanser is just another sign of a undefined and ever changing imperial strategy, all of them with no conceivable chance of success. First, the goal was to tame the Taliban, a ragtag group of poor Muslim fighters who did want war with the US but got it anyway. Now, McChrystal is admitting that the Taliban can’t be defeated, and the job of the US military is now to “defend and protect the Afghan population.” Rather than cut our losses and come home, Obama and his war machine are putting new slogans and rhetoric to justify this imperial overstretch.

At the same time McChrystal is giving these warnings from Central Asia, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is claiming that it is a “mystery” how long US troops will be fighting and dying in Afghanistan:

Defeating the Taliban and al-Qaida will take “a few years,” Defense Secretary Robert Gates said, with success on a larger scale in the desperately poor country a much longer proposition. He acknowledged that the Taliban has a firm hold on parts of the country President Barack Obama has called vital to U.S. security.

Gates’ testimony represents the complete absence of logic behind the “war on terror” and Obama’s proclamation that the war in Afghanistan is “the good war.” Obama excited a war-weary American public with campaign talks of peace and pullouts, but now that the emperor’s torch of power has been handed to him, he sees no reason why this pointless and counterproductive war should end.

More than anything Obama attempts to do domestically, nothing has the chance to bring Obama’s presidency down like this expensive and bloody quagmire in Afghanistan. Critics of Obamacare like to point out the high costs of his healthcare policy and the likelihood that taxes will be raised. But the costs of government healthcare will be minuscule compared to the costs of fighting in Afghanistan: trillions of dollars, thousands of more troops killed or forever maimed, and the continuing growth of Taliban popularity in response to massive US air raids.

Obama did not create this Mesopotamian madness, but he has the power to put an end to it, to seek diplomacy, and to work towards something American foreign policy hasn’t witnessed in decades: genuine peace. President Eisenhower ended the disastrous Korean War, President Coolidge withdrew troops from the Dominican Republic, and President Reagan cut-and-ran from Lebanon; all of these actions secured peace and US security. Obama’s wise engagement with Israel is beginning to extinguish some fires in that trouble region, yet he insists on throwing more and more gasoline on the Afghan flames.

This war will be Obama’s Waterloo, and with its continuing costs and burdens, time is not on his side.

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The BART Parasites Strike

14 Aug

An estimated 340,000 daily BART riders will have to look for a different mode of transportattion starting on Monday, which is when the BART union is expected to strike. The union is in the middle of negotiations with the BART Board of Directors, who are imposing a one-year contract on workers represented Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555.

Carla Marinucci at the SF Chronicle blog notices a surprising reaction in traditionally labor and union frendly San Francisco. BART employees are hoping to gain public support, but there appears to be little sympathy for their union in a time where one in ten Californians is out of a job.

And this city should be angry. This absurdly selfish strike will cause huge and unnecessary disruptions for thousands of Bay Area employees, who now have to find an alternate way in and out of the city. If you’ve ever crawled inch-by-inch across the Bay Bridge at rush hour, you will know how frustrating the traffic can be. I can’t even imagine what it’s going to look like without the BART trains zipping across the bay.

Some may bawlk at calling this strike “selfish,” but let me throw out a few statistics that might change your mind. The average BART employee makes about $120,000 a year, which apparently is not enough for these underworked and overpayed brats. Since it is also run by a parastic union, there is an incredible amount of sheer and utter waste:

Last year, BART installed new seats in 205 train cars as part of a major upgrade of the interior amenities of our system. While we hope the changes are a comfort to our riders, they may be surprised to know that it takes two employees at BART to change out a seat cushion and backing under current contract rules.

The contract allows a utility worker to unfasten the snaps that hold a seat cushion in place. But the two screws fastening a seat back can only be touched by a journeyman mechanic. BART changed some 26,000 seat cushions last year.

Only something run by the government could this be inefficient and incompetent.

There are rumors around the web that there will be a public protest of this strike at noon on Monday, August 17th at noon in front of the BART headquarters (20th and Harrison St.) for anyone interested in voicing their opposition to this madness.

Luckily for me, I don’t take the BART train to work, so this strike won’t directly affect my daily commute. But for the thousands who do, here is a great list of other transit options from the SF Chronicle:

Transit options

Here is what Bay Area transit agencies plan to do in the event of a BART strike. For details, contact the individual transit provider or, for up-to-date regional information, go to www.511.org, or call 511.

Alameda/Oakland Ferry, Alameda Harbor Bay Ferry

Plan: Double the number of daily runs between the Harbor Bay Terminal and San Francisco, and between the west Alameda and Oakland docks and San Francisco.

Contact: www.eastbayferry.com, (510) 522-3300

AC Transit

Plan: Provide extra service between the East Bay and San Francisco based on need and availability of buses and drivers. Run larger buses on transbay routes. Stops at BART stations may be relocated.

Contact: www.actransit.org; (510) 817-1717 or 511

Caltrain

Plan: No added service

Contact: www.caltrain.com; (800) 660-4287

County Connection

Plan: No specific plans to add service but will pitch in if buses and drivers are available.

Contact: www.cccta.org; (925) 676-7500

Golden Gate Transit and Ferries

Plan: Buses that serve El Cerrito Del Norte and Richmond BART stations will have stops relocated nearby. An additional ferry will operate during the morning. Other ferries will operate on regular schedules with room to accommodate additional passengers.

Contact: www.goldengate.org; 511

SamTrans

Plan: Stops at the Daly City and Colma stations will be relocated nearby. A free shuttle will take passengers to Market Street in San Francisco, where they can connect to Muni.

Contact: www.samtrans.com; (800) 660-4287

Muni

Plan: Increase bus and streetcar service on the 14-Mission, 49-Van Ness, J-Church and N-Judah lines; expand the East Bay casual carpool area on Beale Street to include 12 additional East Bay BART stations.

Contact: www.sfmta.com; 311 in San Francisco or 511 from outside the city

Vallejo Transit and Baylink Ferry

Plan: Add a fourth boat, providing three extra departures in the morning and evening. Add express bus service between the Vallejo Ferry Terminal and San Francisco Ferry Building if needed.

Contact: For ferries: www.baylinkferry.com; (877) 643-3779. For buses: www.vallejotransit.com; (707) 648-4666.

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right…

14 Aug

In America’s continuing devolution into a dangerous police state, Bob Dylan was arrested in Long Branch, New Jersey after police recieved a call describing an “old, scruffy man” walking down the street:

Bob Dylan is a legendary singer-songwriter and charter member of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, but to one culturally untutored 22-year-old police officer in Long Branch, New Jersey, he was just an eccentric, suspicious-looking elderly man.

After police received a call that an “old, scruffy man” was acting suspiciously in Long Branch’s Latin Quarter, a 22-year-old female officer stopped Dylan and demanded that he identify himself. Dylan complied and explained that he was visiting the seaside community to perform at a concert with Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp. Not believing his story, the officer detained Dylan in the back of her car and drove back to his hotel to investigate his story.

“She took him back to the hotel to check his papers, then she called us to check who Bob Dylan was,” police officer Craig Spencer told the London Daily Mail.  “I’m afraid we fell about laughing. If it was me, I’d have been demanding his autograph, not photo ID.”

“I offered to bring in some of my Dylan albums,” continued Spencer, “but unfortunately [the young officer] didn’t know what vinyl is either.”

This is what happens when blue-suited government employees are free to arrest and terrorize people on a whim. This is also another consequence of identity polics based on an ugly ethnic and racial groupthink. Dylan was walking in a predominantly Latin neighborhood, and the old legend apparently didn’t “fit in.”

Censorship and tyranny in ‘liberated’ Iraq

13 Aug

I can remember hearing fluffy fairy tales of exporting democracy and liberty to Iraq when the war drums started beating seven years ago. We would be greeted with flowers, as liberators, and as overthrowers of the evil Saddam regime; it would be a “cakewalk.” Saddam’s tyranny may be gone, but six years later, it is simply being replaced under Iraq’s new “free” government:

Moves by Iraq’s government to control the flow of information both in print and online have raised fears of a crackdown on free speech reminiscent of the regime of ex-dictator Saddam Hussein.

A decision to screen imported books and plans for Internet filters are being seen by intellectuals as a sign that the years of freer expression ushered in by the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam could be coming to an end.

Not content with just condoning the stifling of free speech and good, old fashioned book burning, the Iraqi government has also banned smoking:

So once parliament reconvenes next month and approves the law, Iraqis could encounter a sight familiar in New York, London, Hong Kong and every other city where smoking is restricted — smokers huddled outside their office buildings and puffing away. That would have been risky when bombings, drive-by shootings and kidnappings were commonplace.

These trends actually make sense. The US imposes draconian restrictions on free speech and vices here at home, so why not export it half a world away?

The war planners in the White House, Congress, the media, and the Pentagon may cheer on the expansion of our empire, but the 5,000 dead US soldiers (and counting) and thousands more (and counting) crippled and maimed in Iraq may disagree.

No More Regulation!

13 Aug

There has been a lot of bogus explanations for what caused the Panic of ’08 and its ensuing recession, but the most absurd comes from a well-respected financial website, DailyFinance.com, written by Peter Cohan. He blames our current economic mess on, of all things, small government:

The idea [of small government] has influenced American politics for almost 30 years, and helped create the ineffective regulatory agencies which allowed all kinds of questionable practices to thrive in American business, especially in the world of finance. By helping create a record debt bubble, which thrived in an era of weak regulatory oversight, small government nearly ruined the global economy last fall.

There is so much to critique in this nonsense, it’s hard to know where to begin. I don’t know which America he’s been living in, but this country hasn’t seen anything but gigantic and bloated government since since at least the middle of the 20th century. Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush may have paid lip service to small government, but their Administrations vastly expanded the size and the scope of the State.

Cohan also recites that oh so popular catchphrase of “deregulation” to explain our stagnating markets. If only government regulations had been stricter, the evil bankers and businessmen would have never preyed on an innocent American public. This faith in government regulation is extremely naive, since we have had (and continue to have) miles of pages of regulations enforced by thousands of government agents. The list of regulations is exhaustive, and it’s hard to imagine any aspect of our economy that our government didn’t or doesn’t regulate.  Regulators have been nothing more than co-conspirating robots, extorting the public in the name of their interest.

Government is the only institution that when it doesn’t work, it asks for money or control (public schools, police departments, the Post Office, etc.)

Despite extensive oversight and an endless source of funds, regulators, with droning consistency, always fail in their intended goals. When they fail, there is always a demand to come up with new regulations and hire more empty suits to enforce them; a cyclical motion of corruption, residual failure, and waste.

The perfect example of this is the Federal Reserve. The Fed, a central bank operating in complete secrecy, distorts and manipulates the economy with its inflation and easy credit. The resulting effect is an endless cycle of booms and busts. When the economy does bust, like it did last September, the Fed and all of its statist partners blame “capitalism,” “free markets,” and “deregulation,” and then proceed to inflict a sickened economy with the cancers of more inflation and easy credit.

What it boils down to is that the government plays too big, not too small, of a role in the economy, and the financial sector especially. In a truly free-market capitalist economy without the government there to socialize their risks while privatizing their profits, bankers would act a great deal more prudently. They would have to; the disciplines of a free and competitive market combined with a sound currency encourages this. Currently, with our semi-fascist mix of government and private industry, we see banks creating secondary markets for IOU-backed mortgages to people who could never afford them , since the government is there to pick up the tab for these risky investments. No amount of regulations can control the reckless chaos of a Fed fiat-money economy.

For almost 100 years, the American economy has been guided by the destructive, immoral, and evil hands of the statist central planners in DC. Isn’t is time we give small and limited government a try?

Paul Krugman makes me laugh

12 Aug

It’s always entertaining to read Nobel Prize winning “economist” Paul Krugman’s nonsensical rants at his New York Times blog. Krugman, who sincerely believes that all we need to do is have the Fed print trillions of dollars and our economy will magically be fixed, put in his two cents about the ongoing Obamacare debates. Not surprisingly, he argues that opponents of Obama are simply blinded by their racism:

What I think is going on here, at least partly, is that the peddlers of anti-progressive lies are managing to convince a certain kind of American — white, socially conservative, etc. — that the hate-mongers are people like them; and, even more important, that progressives are Those People, people not like them.

Oh ya, we’re also “anti-intellectuals.”

I wonder if Krugman has ever heard of Walter Williams or Thomas Sowell, who are ferocious opponents of Obamacare, and statism in general. They’re also black, apparently mongering hate at themselves and other “thems.”

It is absurd to think that only white people would be against the disasters of government healthcare. Since the proponents of Bush II’s Obama’s massive expansion of the State are running out of arguments, it becomes easy and convenient to call their opponents names and revert to their false sense of moral supremacy.

Any system that is based on brute force and coercion should be opposed, both morally and politically. And what is government other than brute force and coercion, a gang (with lots of guns) with a sanctioned and legalized monopoly of force? The arguments in favor of government healthcare boil down to the expansion of government guns, and any system based on the threat and use of violence is instable, immoral, and  unconstitutional.

The “town hall mobs” are reflexive and knee-jerk reactions to a new Democratic president, but the biggest and most dangerous mob of all is whatever current regime occupies the White House.

US selling arms to both sides of Somali conflict

12 Aug

Despite the fact that a huge majority of Americans oppose the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, these wars continue to rage on under our new emperor’s watch. It is imperative that these adventures in imperial ignorance and arrogance end immediately, but it’s the US Empire’s smaller and less visible war-making that also needs to be exposed and opposed.

The US is pretty busy in the poverty stricken African continent. Since January, Congolese militias have been receiving US guns and money as they raze and rape their way across the country. Now the State Department is informing us that it has provided hearly 40 tons of arms to the Somali government to combat the al-Shabaab insurgency, and Hillary Clinton is promising 80 tons more.

What exactly is being accomplished by this massive transfer of arms? Well, Somali forces bring these guns to market, sell them to traders, who then sell them right to the insurgency at a nice little profit. With all these middle-man markups, it might just be cheaper to sell them directly to the insurgency.

Somalia is a country torn apart by civil war, and was further destabilized by the US-supported Ethiopian invasion in 2006. Poor, hungry, and desperate, Somalis have continuously turned to piracy to feed their families and avoid the constant threat of rivaling militias.

The US response to this increase in piracy has been numbingly typical: threats, threats, and more threats. Talks of imposing sanctions has significant popularity in the Pentagon, and even discussions of a possible invasion of tiny nearby Eritrea, who the US accuses of supplying the insurgents with weapons. Eritrea denies this claim, exposing the Pentagon’s mindset that military intervention in other countries is solely the job of the good and noble US government.

The US war planners refuse to see any possible repercussions in their short-sighted attempts to police and run the world. The US has a terrible habit of funding both sides of ethnic and religious conflicts, and blowback from these interventions aimed at our shores is not a matter of if, but when.