WASHINGTON -- Raised in an individualistic culture, Americans dislike the concept of the "welfare state" and do not use the term. But make no mistake, the United States has a welfare state, and its future is precarious. The true significance of General Motors' bankruptcy lies more with this welfare state than with the battered condition of American capitalism.
Broadly speaking, the U.S. welfare system divides into two parts -- the private, run by firms; and the public, provided by government. Both are besieged: private companies by competitive pressures; government by rising debt and taxes. GM exemplified the large corporation as private welfare state. In contracts with the United Auto Workers, GM promised high wages, lifetime employment, generous pensions and comprehensive health insurance. All this is ancient history: new workers get skimpier benefits.
As metaphor, GM's bankruptcy marks the passage of this model. Companies still provide welfare benefits to attract and retain skilled workers. But these shelters against insecurity are growing flimsier. Career jobs remain, but lifetime job guarantees -- whether formal or informal -- are gone. Last year, about 50 percent of male workers aged 50 to 54 had been with the same employer at least 10 years; in 1983, that was 62 percent.
Health insurance and pensions tell similar stories. In 2007, employer-provided insurance covered 177 million Americans, 59.3 percent of the population; in 1999, coverage was 63.9 percent. Since 1980, companies have gradually moved from "defined benefit" to "defined contribution" pensions, notably 401(k)s. Defined benefit plans provided guaranteed monthly payments; defined contribution plans -- just putting money into a pot -- make workers responsible for managing retirement savings.
What most Americans identify as government "welfare" are payments to single mothers, food stamps and (perhaps) Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for the poor. But that's not the half of it. Since 1960, government has changed radically. Then, 52 percent of federal spending went for defense, 26 percent for "payments for individuals" -- the welfare state. By 2008, 61 percent consisted of "payments for individuals," 21 percent for defense.
Social Security and Medicare -- programs for the elderly -- represented the lion's share: $1 trillion in 2008. Most Americans don't consider these programs "welfare," but they are. Benefits are paid mainly by present taxes; there's little "saving" for future benefits; Congress can alter benefits whenever it wants. If that's not welfare, what would be?
Pressures on private and public welfare won't abate. The economic conditions that encouraged corporate welfare have long since vanished. In 1955, GM, Ford and Chrysler accounted for 95 percent of the U.S. light vehicle sales, reports economist Thomas Klier of the Chicago Federal Reserve. With market dominance and technological leadership, the "Big Three" assumed they could pass along to customers the costs of job guarantees, high wages and fringe benefits.
Eager to defuse the class warfare of the 1930s -- and to avoid unionization -- many U.S. companies imitated the model. They, too, believed that competition would be limited and technological change could be controlled. These conceits are gone (in 2008, the Big Three's market share was 48 percent and dropping). Now, companies are hyper-sensitive to competitive and economic threats. A survey of 141 major companies by consulting firm Watson Wyatt found that 72 percent have recently cut jobs, 21 percent reduced salaries and 22 percent curtailed matching 401(k) contributions.
In theory, expanding public welfare could offset eroding private welfare. President Obama's health care proposal reflects that logic. The trouble is that the public sector also faces enormous cost pressures, driven by an aging population and rising health costs. The Congressional Budget Office projects the federal debt to double as a share of the economy (gross domestic product) to 82 percent of GDP by 2019.
Any sober examination of figures like these suggests that the system has promised more than it can realistically deliver. We are borrowing not to finance investment in the future but to pay for today's welfare -- present consumption. Sooner or later, the huge debt will weaken the economy. Nor would paying for all promised benefits with higher taxes be desirable. Big increases in either debt or taxes risk depressing economic growth, making it harder yet to pay promised benefits.
The U.S. welfare state is weakening; insecurity is rising. The sensible thing would be to decide which forms of public welfare are needed to protect the vulnerable and to begin paring others. Our inaction poses another dreary parallel with GM. It was obvious a quarter-century ago that GM the auto company could not support GM the welfare state. But the union wouldn't surrender benefits, and the company acquiesced. Inertia prevailed, and the reckoning came. The same cycle, repeated on a national scale with sums many multiples higher, would be correspondingly more fearsome.
Frankly, I do NOT consider government programs Social Security and the like, which I have paid into faithfully without choice, which have earned -0- interest and paid -0- dividends since the early 1960's as "welfare."
If the government wishes to toss my payments into the general fund and operate a huge, cross-generational ponzi scheme and piss it away, I am pretty much powerless to do anything about it. It will either be there, or it will not. I'm betting on the latter, but if it returns to me $ .10 cents of thousands of dollars I have paid in...., it will damn sure not be "welfare."
Besoeker: The sad truth is that government lied. It never had the authority to create Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid, but it did so for pragmatic political reasons.
From the very beginning, they were efforts to turn America from a capitalist nation to a socialist one, and both political parties were complicit in the scheme, either overtly, or by refusing to tear down what had been unlawfully created.
Thus it has been an inevitable consequence of the public voting itself the treasury, that one day the bill would come due, and none would be left to pay.
So what we now face is that the US government will have no choice but to renounce its debt, SS, Medicare and Medicaid will end, and the Defense budget will be severely cut, so most of our overseas military will return home.
Domestic production will have to be recreated, because most trade will be over with the renunciation of the debt. However, credit will be only for those with 100% collateral, what today we think of as debit.
The end result will be the restoration of the pre-Frank Roosevelt economy. The only choice will be to minimize the national pain, or to drag it out.
After reading Shales "The Forgotten Man" and watching the recent scenario unfold, I believe you've nearly hit the nail on the preverbial head Moose. Brown rice keeps rather well in Mason jars by the way, or so I'm told at the oriental market.
Physician-written article about huge variations in the cost of care for no apparently good reason. This is not an issue our esteemed leaders are likely to face in their mad rush to screw up US health care and bankrupt the country.
Yeah, the article goes on and on and never mentions that it's on the border (with Mexico), where the market is distorted to hell...
Posted by: M. Murcek ||
06/22/2009 15:44 Comments ||
long article but worth the read. and illegals have nothing to do with it. El Paso with similar demographics and same illegal population is mentioned significantly in the first 3-4 paragraphs. prime difference in cost is the collective mindset of the physicians in the area.
Posted by: abu do you love ||
06/22/2009 16:24 Comments ||
Someone pointed out to me the other day that one reason for the high cost is that its priced by the procedure and not the result.
In other words you are paying for each procedure. prescription, bandage, crutch, miniute of physical therapy, and whatever to get your hip replacement and not for a 'hip replacement package'. And of course along with each of those item is overhead in charging, billing, etc...
If we were a car - you aren't paying for the car, but for each item, Engine, transmission, steering wheel, tires, booth babe, trunk, seats, mirrors, lights, radio, etc...
ION PRAVDA > THE US ECONOMIC RECESSION IS A HOAX/US ECONOMIC INDICATORS ON THE RISE.
Also on PRAVDA > GREENLAND TO BECOME THE 51st STATE OF THE USA. ARTIC = A number of Greenies are forming an independence movement from DENMARK, + USA had been milpol interested in the island since the 1920's. INTERNAT STRUGGLE [future WAR?] FOR ARCTIC RESOURCES HAS ONLY BEGUN???
The Mexican border has nothing to do with the difference in prices. In the article, McAllen TX was compared to El Paso TX.
The article takes into account the fact that procedures are priced individually (pretty much the same for all US communities), yet there are still massive differences in pricing between the two communities. Medicare, in some cases, pays by the diagnosis, not by the procedure, for some hospitalizations, but has the same rules for El Paso as it does for McAllen.
It's amusing to watch the Washington political establishment feign shock, now that President Barack Obama's reform administration has used a clay foot to vigorously kick one inspector general and boot another out the door.
One inspector general foolishly investigated a friend of the president. Another inspector general audited those juicy bonuses given to AIG executives as part of $700 billion federal bailout of the financial industry.
It's a decent man-bites-dog story, at least until North Korea tries lobbing a few missiles toward Hawaii. But until that happens, the political talk shows will buzz about Neil Barofsky, the inspector general overseeing the financial bailout.
Barofsky now claims that his autonomy will be compromised if the Obama Justice Department rules that he is merely a functionary of the Department of Treasury.
"An adverse ruling ... could potentially have a serious impact on the independence of our agency and our ability to carry out our mandate," Barofsky wrote in a letter to ranking senators on Friday.
Just two weeks ago, inspector general Gerald Walpin, who watches over volunteer community programs, was fired. He investigated Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, an Obama pal and former NBA star. Walpin alleged Johnson misused $850,000 in federal youth grants.
The use of political muscle may be prohibited in the mythic transcendental fairyland where much of the Obama spin originates, sprouting green and lush, like the never-ending fields of primo Hopium.
But our president is from Chicago. Obama's Media Merlin David Axelrod and chief of staff Rahm Emanuel come right from Chicago Democratic machine boss Mayor Richard Daley. They don't believe in fairies.
Daley can't wait to be rid of his own inspector general, David Hoffman, who had the audacity to question why Daley's nephew received $68 million in city pension funds to invest. The mayor insists he didn't know anything about it. Nobody with a functioning brain believes the mayor.
The second that Hoffman's term expires, the mayor will change the locks on his office doors and move Hoffman's house plants out into the cold. Daley might even send some of the same political tough guys who helped elect Emanuel to Congress years ago, all in the name of reform.
It's the Chicago Way. Now, formally, it's also the Chicago on the Potomac Way.
One fellow who seems surprised is Walpin. He was transformed from dogged inspector general to alleged drooling incompetent last week in just a few spin cycles.
"I am now the target of the most powerful man in this country with an army of aides whose major responsibility seems to be to attack me and get rid of me," Walpin was quoted as saying.
In a letter to Congress explaining Walpin's firing, the Obama White House complained that Walpin failed to disclose exculpatory evidence that would have helped the mayor of Sacramento, and exhibited "other troubling and inappropriate conduct."
The letter, by White House counsel Norman Eisen, also left the impression that Walpin, 77, was a doddering old man just shy of dementia, describing him as "confused" and "disoriented" and all but incapacitated. I don't know whether that's true. But I do know this:
Walpin alleged that Obama's ally, supporter and fundraiser, Sacramento Mayor Johnson, played games with the $850,000 in federal money targeted for the AmeriCorps student volunteer program. Johnson allegedly paid "volunteers" to work on Democratic political campaigns, run his personal errands and even wash his car.
In an April deal with prosecutors in the Obama Justice Department, Johnson was not charged with a crime. But his St. HOPE Academy charity agreed to pay back half of the $850,000, including $72,000 from Johnson himself.
During the presidential campaign, the message expertly spun by Daley's mouthpiece, Axelrod, was that Obama would bring hope and change and transform the cynical politics of the past.
The Washington Beltway media pack, exhausted after the cynicism of the Bush years, was eager for change. Many fired up their Hopium pipes and waited, glassy eyed, for the rapture, all but chanting "Yes We Can." Now they're coming down hard.
So here's my question:
What's the big surprise? What strange, exotic land do they think Obama comes from?
Do they think Obama learned his politics in Narnia, while cavorting with gentle forest creatures, some of which have hooves and serve tea and cakes to journalists and well-mannered English schoolgirls on snowy winter afternoons?
Did Obama learn politics in Camelot, the magical kingdom where federal czars sit at a great round table, all for the good of the simple peasants? Or did he learn politics along that famous highway, you know, the one that's always paved with good intentions?
[The News (Pak) Top Stories] The sudden projection and tall claims of an anti-Baitullah Mehsud militant leader from South Waziristan, Qari Zainuddin Mehsud, have created many questions in the diplomatic circles of Islamabad.
In interviews to various media organisations on Thursday, Qari Zainuddin and his deputy Haji Turkistan had alleged that Baitullah was an American and Indian agent, he had killed Benazir Bhutto and that the real Jihad was going on in Afghanistan, not in Pakistan. Many diplomats contacted Foreign Office and Interior Ministry officials as well as media persons, seeking answers to their questions. Some Western diplomats were particularly confused over the claim that Baitullah was an American agent and that he had killed Benazir Bhutto. These diplomats were asking a question that if Baitullah was involved in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, does that mean that the American authorities were also involved in the conspiracy.
An East European diplomat also asked that on one side President Asif Zardari visited the Nato headquarter in Brussels while on the same day the Pakistani establishment allowed Qari Zainuddin to speak to the media, defending Jihad against Nato troops in Afghanistan.
Qari Zainuddin had claimed in an interview that he had developed differences with Baitullah after the death of Abdullah Mahsud. However, the story of the real differences between the two is full of allegations and revelations. According to some sources very close to Qari Zainuddin, the Pakistani establishment wanted to kill Abdullah Mehsud because he was involved in the kidnapping of two Chinese engineers. The establishment hired the services of Baitullah in 2005 against Abdullah, who had spent 23 months in Guantanamo. Abdullah was finally killed on July 24, 2007 in Zhob. Close aides of Abdullah alleged that Baitullah had helped security forces in tracing him. One Masoodur Rehman Mehsud had once alleged that Baitullah had killed Abdullah. In the meantime, Baitullah killed Masoodur Rehman through a remote control bomb in South Waziristan.
These tribal elders see no difference between Baitullah and Zainuddin. They fear that the establishment had first used Baitullah against Abdullah, and now they were using Zainuddin against Baitullah and ultimately both of them would be killed.
Qari Zainuddin is the elder son of Masoodur Rehman Mehsud and he has decided to take revenge for the murder of his father.
He is heading the Abdullah Mahsud Group. He is a former Khasadar (member of the tribal police) and active in Shakai area of South Waziristan. He killed Yahya, the younger brother of Baitullah Mehsud, on October 27, 2008 in Bannu. In retaliation, Baitullah killed a close aide of Qari Zainuddin, Muhammad Yousuf, on October 29, 2008 in Tank area.
Zainuddin recently contacted some Mehsud tribal elders but most of them are reluctant to cooperate with him. They question that if Abdullah was killed by Pakistani security forces then why the leader of his group was cooperating with the establishment? These tribal elders see no difference between Baitullah and Zainuddin. They fear that the establishment had first used Baitullah against Abdullah, and now they were using Zainuddin against Baitullah and ultimately both of them would be killed. They also fear that Qari Hussain will replace Baitullah as the new Taliban commander.
Many Mehsud tribal elders were contacted by the political administration of South Waziristan, seeking help for Qari Zainuddin. One tribal elder had reportedly told an official of the administration: "Don't fool us. President Zardari is assuring cooperation to Nato and you are asking us to cooperate with a person who is asking us to go and fight Nato in Afghanistan".
If Pakistan's battle against the Taliban seems difficult, a much tougher challenge lies ahead: deciding what to do about the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LT).
Security experts from the United States and India believe the Pakistan Army and its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency could shut down the group accused of carrying out the Mumbai attacks -- if they choose to do so. "The Pakistan Army could do it and the ISI could tell them where to find those guys in a heartbeat," said Bruce Riedel, a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer who led a review of strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan for President Barack Obama.
Asset: "If they wanted to shut them down they could," said B Raman, a former Additional Secretary at India's Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). "They can do it, but they don't want to do it because they look upon it as a strategic asset."
But Samina Yasmeen, a professor at the University of Western Australia who is researching a book on LT said the reality on the ground might be more complicated.
Over the years, she said, LT had given birth to splinter groups, which had broken free both of the Pakistan Army and the ISI, and even from the LT leadership. "There are elements within the Lashkar that are not under the control of the army anymore. They really moved on a trajectory that people did not expect," she said. "After 9/11, there was a section that emerged within the Lashkar that may not be under the control of its own leadership."
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pushed LT to the top of the agenda last week by effectively telling President Asif Ali Zardari that India would not re-open peace talks until Islamabad acted against the banned organisation.
He seems to have won support in the West, where LT is thought to be, potentially, as big a danger as Al Qaeda. "I think we have to regard the LT as much a threat to us as any other part of the Al Qaeda system," Riedel said.
Like many extremist groups, LT was born out of CIA-backed jihad against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and then began operations in Kashmir in 1993, Indian analysts say.
According to Raman, LT had a larger presence in the country than the Taliban, and a charitable wing, the Jamaatud Dawa, carries out humanitarian work.
With land, property and madrassas across the country, LT collaborated with Al Qaeda while also offering its training infrastructure to Pakistanis from the diaspora, he said.
But unlike other groups, it has been scrupulous in avoiding attacks in the country, thereby avoiding the wrath of the army that has now turned on the Taliban.
For security analysts, the two questions are whether the army and ISI can close down LT, and if they want to do so -- the assumption being that this would have to be done by the country's military rather than the civilian government. Riedel said he believed the capability was there, but said taking on LT would be hard. "It's become more and more difficult but I would not underestimate ISI's knowledge base. They would be able to bring people in," he said.
But Yasmeen said more problems could be created by targeting the leadership. "You limit their ability to have some possibility of controlling those below. The risk of splintering increases," she said. Analysts said giving up LT, seen as a "force multiplier" in case of an invasion by India -- rather like citizens trained in civil defence -- would be another step altogether.
Would the army chief turn against LT? "My sense of Kayani is that he is very pragmatic. He hasn't accepted that India is not a threat to Pakistan," said Yasmeen. "From Kayani's point of view, does he want to deny himself the possibility of using all trained and semi-trained people?"
That question returns to the Catch 22 of India-Pakistan relations. Without peace, Pakistan may never fully turn against LT. And India will not offer peace talks until it does so.
The possibility that the 2002 killing of 11 French engineers, who died alongside three Pakistanis when a car packed with explosives was rammed into their minibus in Karachi, may have been carried out to avenge a failure by Paris to pay commissions to Pakistan on a deal involving submarine sales is shocking.
"Commissions". So that's what they call it nowadays.
See what happens when the man doesn't get his ten percent?
The act of terrorism, close to a five-star hotel, had till now been blamed on extremist militants.
Had it been near a two-star hotel, that would've been different, of course.
An ATC court in 2003 had indeed found two men linked to a 'jihadi' group responsible, although they have since been acquitted by the Sindh High Court due to a lack of proof.
The attack was carried out to punish the French for stopping commission payments. These ended in 1995, after French President Jacques Chirac assumed office. The recipient of the payments on the Pakistan end of the line is stated to have been a certain Asif Ali Zardari, at the time a minister in his wife's second government. Rogue elements in the intelligence agencies are thought to have been involved in the attack, deliberately disguising it to look like the doing of militants.
French investigators and the relatives of the victims seem confident about the dirty deals theory. They claim to have compiled some evidence that suggests that the attack was carried out to punish the French for stopping commission payments. These ended in 1995, after French President Jacques Chirac assumed office.
It took eight years to devise a sufficiently severe punishment? Perhaps if they super-cooled their brains, they'd be able to think faster.
The recipient of the payments on the Pakistan end of the line is stated to have been a certain Asif Ali Zardari, at the time a minister in his wife's second government. Rogue elements in the intelligence agencies are thought to have been involved in the attack, deliberately disguising it to look like the doing of militants.
The entire story in many ways seems ludicrous, especially as the killing took place seven years after the money stopped flowing in.
So I'm not the only one who noticed.
That it happened at a time when Zardari had no place in power and the ruling setup was led by General Pervez Musharraf also raises questions as to its authenticity. But the fact is that most of us will, somewhere in our minds, harbour the suspicion that the French may have stumbled across the terrible truth. Corruption in defence deals is well-established. It takes place in many parts of the world. The Bofors scandal of the 1980s, allegedly involving massive kickbacks to Indian politicians who included former prime minister the late Rajiv Gandhi, shook that nation. Though Gandhi was cleared by a court, echoes from the case can still be heard. Accusations of massive corruption have been heard still more frequently in Pakistan, and the submarine affair acts as a reminder that the president of Pakistan, in a previous incarnation, was known as 'Mr Ten Percent'.
The French probe is of course still to be proven before courts. At the moment it consists of little more than allegations. But the spectres it raises are terrifying. If indeed agency elements have been engaged in mimicking extremists, new dilemmas open up about other murders and other attacks. These are an indication of the dangers we live with and the fact that through our country, many currents flow. A number of them are still unchartered. We must hope the latest case with its startling disclosures can shed light on some of these. At the same time, Pakistan must do all it can to demonstrate the French case is based only in the imagination of lawyers. The damage from it has already been done. It needs to be seen if some of it can be deflected and the name of those named in it cleared.
Byzantium had nothing on Pakistan. I think my brain would break if I lived there.
History teaches us that man learns nothing from history.
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
[Editor's Note: Forty-nine years ago last month, the nation Israel was reestablished in the Land. Thirty years ago this month, as a result of the famed Six Day War, Israel regained Biblical Jerusalem, as well as Gaza, the Sinai, and the Golan Heights. Although these areas were part of the original mandated land, and are undeniably essential for Israel's defense, it has become strangely "politically correct" to assume that peace in the Middle East is dependent upon their yielding these lands-the so-called "West Bank"-back to their enemies which are openly committed to their eventual extermination. Continued on Page 49
It's interesting to note that already in 1938 Hitler was in disagreement with his generals. Netanyahu is quoting from the Churchill Memoirs when it comes to the fortresses of the Sudetenland.
The German Wehrmacht was certainly happy with Munich, but Hitler was not. He wanted war in 1938.
Had he started a war against Czechoslovakia in 1938 that would have incurred heavy losses on the German side, this could have meant a putsch because there were many important people in the German Wehrmacht who despised him and thought his war plans crazy.
But Munich pretty much capped their knees.
Posted by: European Conservative ||
06/22/2009 11:49 Comments ||
Hitler later said that he lost respect of his enemies after he had seen them in Munich.
That was not the case before Munich
Posted by: European Conservative ||
06/22/2009 11:52 Comments ||
Interesting. I didn't know the background behind the Sudetenland and how critical it was.
EC didn't point out that the Czech 38t tank production was taken over by the Germans, superior to the majority of the existing German Pz I's and II's of the time. That tank would aid immeasurably in the German blitz across the French frontier in 1940.
Actually it would have been interesting to see what would have happened had the Czechs ignored Munich (where they weren't invited, which was shameful in itself).
Of course, Britain and France failed to react to the Rhineland remilitarization in 1936. That was the time to finish off the Nazis
Posted by: European Conservative ||
06/22/2009 15:35 Comments ||
The western part of Czechoslovakia was Sudeten and large-majority German. The Czech government couldn't ignore that. Carving off the Sudetenland left the rest of the republic unable to defend itself.
Posted by: Steve White ||
06/22/2009 15:43 Comments ||
I myself have a Czech VZ-24 rifle. This Mauser clone was built by the Czechs to defend their country, and they did not spare any expense with regards to materials or workmanship. A rifle like this would go for a couple thousand today, but I picked mine up for less than a hundred. Never issued due to the betrayal, it sat in an armory for 60 years before being dumped on the American market. A living reminder.
I meant resisting the occupation of the Sudetenland which they had every right to do since France and Britain had no right to give it away.
Actually France and Britain very much acted like the West today, feeling somewhat "guilty" that the St Germain Treaty had denied the German people in the Sudetenland (formerly Austrian-Hungarian Empire their right of self determination, which had split up Europe in 1919.
But the German Sudeten had the same rights as the Czechs, they were not suppressed at all.
Posted by: European Conservative ||
06/22/2009 15:58 Comments ||
#8 I myself have a Czech VZ-24 rifle.
There will soon be coming a....Verordnung über Waffenbesitz im besetzen Gebiet. For those who have not previously made full disclosures, types, calibers, manufacturers and serial numbers!!! Czech VZ-24 collectors to the front of the line please! We have read your postings already.
It is a mistake to assume that the ayatollahs, cynical and corrupt as they may be, are acting rationally. They are frequently in the grip of archaic beliefs and fears that would make a stupefied medieval European peasant seem mentally sturdy and resourceful by comparison.
President Bush said liberating Iraq would have a regional domino effect and give people a taste for freedom and democracy. Is this what we're seeing now in Iran?
As Bush said, liberty isn't American, or British, or French. It is human. No, the morality police in Iran are not just "part of Iranian culture" as some critics of Bush have claimed. Nor are public hangings. Nor are arbitrary detentions of doctors, or Holocaust denial conferences.
Peace comes through the spread of liberalism and democracy. Whatever the "foreign policy realists" or "regime apologists" might claim, there is little doubt in my view that should Iran become a free nation the world will be a safer place for all, not just a better place for Iranians.
I have posted some videos of the Iranian uprising on my website and I would strongly urge you to watch them. They show the reality of Iran's dictatorship, a reality that many international TV networks are refusing to show. Some of these videos are disturbing but I feel they need to be watched to understand the true nature of Iran's regime and why it should never be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons.
I have not included those which are too bloody to watch. To state the obvious, this is not some video game or Hollywood movie. These events really happened, and they happened last week, and the leader of the free world, Barack Obama, has been extraordinarily slow to criticize them.
Where's that nutjob Pelosie and the rest of the idiots in DC on this? The coward Murtha is out for vengance over waterboarding, but murder in the streets is ok.
Posted by: 49 Pan ||
06/22/2009 17:59 Comments ||
Iran's younger folk may have learned an object lesson from these "Purple fingers" we helped happen - and made sure they were clean elections as well. That's happened a couple times now in Iraq. Compared to the Saddam days, Iraq is thriving now. Awfully hard to ignore that in Iran, just across the border.
Jim Treacher: "For every minute Bush spent reading to kids after hearing about 9/11, Obama has had 1 full day to deal with the Iranian election." At least he's spent his time constructively let's go and get an ice cream! although recent polls are trending south. And he can always rely on the Blair’s Law support of Ron Paul [R-Kos].
The Iranian government has suffered a serious blow to its legitimacy, but that blow is not fatal. Barring dramatic and unlikely changes in the ensuing weeks, the regime will remain intact, by force if necessary. As much as we might like it to be otherwise, that is the reality Washington faces. I agree. They'll likely remain in business as an "Islamic Republic." They're not going to be the same regime when it's all over, however. They're going to have to do something, one way or the other: They're either going to have to tighten up, suppressing future dissent, or they're going to have to loosen up, which means purges and resignations, quiet or otherwise.
Critics, including many advocates of engagement with Iran, who argue that Obama's policy of negotiating with Iran has to be delayed or scrapped entirely misread the situation-as do those calling for rhetorical grand gestures from the White House. Agreed. After all this time, I'm still trying to figure why it's okay and understandable for them to snarl and snap and make demands and not okay for us to even raise our voices.
Lost in the clamor is sober reflection on how best to serve American interests, which sometimes conflict with the desire to make emotionally satisfying but ineffective and even counterproductive declarations in favor of anti-regime protesters. I'd say that "American interests" involve anything that enhances individual liberty for the inhabitants of any country, anywhere. That should be our strategy. Anything else, to include long term alliances, diplomacy, war, or peace, is tactics.
The protests were always going to face an enormous uphill battle against the government, and the Obama administration has given them their best chance for success by refusing to act as their cheerleader. It's not a binary situation. B.O. should be careful not to give the impression that the protests are something funded by the U.S., nor the product of actions by U.S. agents. But we should be unequivocally and wholeheartedly in favor of free and fair elections and the security of the populace -- starting with freedom from having knobs thumped on their heads for wanting transparent elections.
The United States will not and should not intervene with direct action. Nobody's said we should. Words are not direct actions. So far the Brits, Frenchies, Germans, and the president of Israel have somehow found the words our president has been lacking.
Consequently, provocative language from the White House would likely only incite a bloodier crackdown. The protesters are already risking their lives-it would be unconscionable for the President to put them in greater danger by making proclamations that lend them no real aid and serve only to appease his domestic critics. It is ironic in the extreme that the same critics who rail against the President for his so-called "narcissism" should demand that Obama insert himself into an internal Iranian drama with potentially disastrous consequences for the people in the streets of Iran. See above. It depends on what the provocative language from the White House involves. Our problem at the moment is that the White House, I don't think, doesn't believe that rights accrue to the individual. They're closer in philosophy to the ayatollahs, who are of the opinion that states have rights and the citizenry has obligations.
Advocates of engagement have become more skeptical of the wisdom of negotiating with Tehran in light of Ahmadinejad's re-election. However, it is precisely the hard-liners in power in Iran who will be best positioned to deliver a deal and who will be most in need of the international credibility that a deal would bring.
[More at the link] - DANIEL LARISON (Ph.D., History) is a contributing editor at The American Conservative. He also writes on the blog Eunomia.
People are ignoring the lesson of the Soviet block collapse. The regime stays in power as long as its security apparatus is willing to suppress dissent. If even a small part of the security apparatus falters then there is a rapid cascade as more and more the security people do nothing as fear of what happens after regime change grows.
The reported use of 'Arab' and foreign security to suppress dissent indicates to me we may be already be in the cascade.
Look for reports of Army/Police standing by and doing nothing to stop protests.
Note where this is pubished, The American Conservative, Pitchfork Pat Buchanan's vanity rag, a publication that is sympathetic to the various Middle Eastern tyrranies (the House of Saud and the PA, to name a couple) and opposed deposing Saddam Hussein. I would go so far as to say that The American Conservative is probably in sympathy with Ahmadinejad's plans for Israel!
It may be that the bad guys will survive this round. I would, however, keep in mind a quote from that Will Collier piece I posted last week:
The reign of the ayatollahs in Iran has an expiration date, and the ayatollahs know it. Seventy percent of Iran's population wasn't even alive in 1978, and they've had enough of the mullahs and their Basij bully boys. Whether their yoke is thrown off in 2009 or in 2012 or 2020, it's going to happen, probably within the next decade or so.
I hope any sane person would agree that sooner would be better, but here's a question for all of those who are eaten up with concern over "what will they think of us?" Whenever the turn comes, what exactly will they think of us, if we turn our backs on them today? What will they think if we just hedge our bets against the ludicrous idea that we might be burning (nonexistent) bridges with the mullahs otherwise?
...As I see it though, here's our problem: if Dinnerjacket wins, he's going to go all Khomeni on us because we've criticized his stealing an election. If Mousavi wins, he's actually farther out in Mooselimbland than Dinnejacket is (with the exception of wanting to get the lifestyle police off everybody's backs), and he's going to have to do some serious threatening to establish his bonafides. Either way, we don't end up much better than where we're starting. I don't normally have much sympathy for our current POTUS, but when you look at the either/or on this one, we're kinda screwed no matter what we do.
Posted by: Mike Kozlowski ||
06/22/2009 9:44 Comments ||
"Good morning, this is the CENTCOM Revolutionary Guard Targeting Hotline, how can we be of assistance this morning."
"Pardon me a minute while I pull up our Google satellite map to confirm the location you are referring to."
"No sir, we can't guarantee we can get them all, but we can cut them down to your size to deal with."
"Well sir, just like your neighbors in Iraq, every call helps in it own way of separating the predators from the herd."
It took a year of rioting to overthrow the Shah. But at the same time, there is no voice of democracy in Iran, outside of the influence of ideas from Iraq.
Other factors include Iran being something of a colonial power over its large minority regions, the Kurds, Arabs and Baluchs. If there is a major disorganization, these areas could become very unstable.
I am happy this author did not exist when Reagan spoke out over Solidarity and Poland. Rhetoric of this sort ignores the cultural, economic and racial fault lines in Iran.
What happened to the Shining City On A Hill? Is it now a slinking pit of cowardice and blather? Have conservatives such as this given up on supporting freedom in the world? The reasoning this fellow gives could have been used by advocates of "Peace in Our Time" to support accord with Hitler.
Has America truly forgotten all it had learned, is freedom not worth even speaking out for?
Several IRGC officers have been arrested for refusing to carry out orders. When you start depending on foreigners (Lebanese and Syrians) to stay in power, you are close to finished.
The important fact is that this battle is between Islamists. They took 400 potential candidates and allowed 4 to stand for elections (i.e. the most loyal 1%). If you have to rig the election on the most loyal 1%, you don't have a following at all.
Posted by: Frozen Al ||
06/22/2009 11:30 Comments ||
You can bet those old UH-1's drifting around overhead are manned by camera crews loyal to Dinnerjacket filming the "progress" of riot control troops and personnel.
I see "astroturfing" in play here from The Axelrod of Evil. They are covering for BHO already down playing the odds of a successful revolution and creating a skepticism of the "greens" really winning in the long run. This could very easily back-fire especially if Mousavi and his contingent do in fact succeed - it will be Merkel and Sarkozy he will naturally align with first in a toast of success.
Posted by: Jack is Back! ||
06/22/2009 14:18 Comments ||
Revolutionary Guards commander defies Khamenei's orders to use force on protestors.
A commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards has been arrested for refusing to obey Iran's Supreme Leader, according to reports from the Balatarin website.
General Ali Fazli, who was recently appointed as a commander of the Revolutionary Guards in the province of Tehran, is reported to have been arrested after he refused to carry out orders from the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei to use force on people protesting the controversial re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
A multi-volume chronology and reference guide set detailing three years of the Mexican Drug War between 2010 and 2012.
Rantburg.com and borderlandbeat.com correspondent and author Chris Covert presents his first non-fiction work detailing
the drug and gang related violence in Mexico.
Chris gives us Mexican press dispatches of drug and gang war violence
over three years, presented in a multi volume set intended to chronicle the death, violence and mayhem which has
dominated Mexico for six years.