Open Thread – 24 January 2010

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Madonna
This seems to be a slow news day.  Let's have an open thread.  pl 

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32 Responses to Open Thread – 24 January 2010

  1. JohnH says:

    Now that reality has dashed the neocons’ dream of turning Iraq into a US territory like Puerto Rico, or like Poland was to the Soviets, what can we expect now? Can Washington expect to have a relationship with Iraq like it has with Jordan? How much will Maliki continue to depend on the US for his continued existence?

  2. N. M. Salamon says:

    It appears that Secretary Gates was error prone in Pakistan:
    http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/front-page/16-gates-faux-pas-opens-the-door-to-criticism-hs-05
    Does nopt appear that this is the way to win hearts and minds in Pakistan!

  3. N. M. Salamon says:

    Dr J. Cole has more on Mr. Gates, read and weep!
    Jordan Press has an interesting analysis of freedom opf the press and USA/Israel interest, duplicity in spades??
    http://watchingamerica.com/News/43758/american-censorship-of-arab-news-media/

  4. Patrick Lang says:

    JohnH
    More like Poland in the Warsaw Pact. The WP members were always theoreticaly idependent. PR is not, although that might be a good idea.
    I don’t think that Iraq will cooperate with the US as Jordan does. The creation of a Shia dominated government existing in the shado of Iran ended that possibility.
    If Iraqi Kurdistan bacame a de facto independent state, such a relationship would be possible, but Turkey will never accept that. pl

  5. different clue says:

    I very recently heard an interesting little anecdote about Robert MacNamara from when he worked at Ford. It wasn’t relevant to any recent thread but perhaps it may be permitted on this open thread. Here is the background and then the anecdote.
    I recently attended a lecture on “The Future of Detroit” given at our public library by David E. Davis. David E. Davis is considered the Dean of American automotive journalism…based on his work at Car and Driver Magazine and elsewhere.
    Anyway, the anecdote. He told many stories in passing and one of them was this. Apparently Robert MacNamara spent many hours before each major management meeting studying up all the most obscure arcana of the subject to be discussed, just strictly so that he could develop questions that the other executives would not be able to answer. He did this strictly and only so as to make himself look smarter by making them look dumb. Lee Iacocca (also at Ford at that time) learned to counter-study the same arcana just as hard so as to be able to answer all of McNamara’s “most stupid questions” (David E. Davis’s wording) and shut McNamara down in those meetings.

  6. Fred Strack says:

    D.C.
    I think the key issue relevant to the auto industry is what is in the national interest regarding manufacturing capabilities.?

  7. Fred Strack says:

    What do the readers think of the recent supreme court decision that corporations are ‘persons’ with 1st Amendment rights?
    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/01/21/supreme-court-sides-hillary-movie-filmmakers-campaign-money-dispute/
    There is no wording regarding foreign owned corporations. One wonders if Hugo Chavez or Ahmed Chalabi own any company and want to start making some campaign adds?
    How can anyone equate a creation of politicians (who write the laws allowing corporations to exist) with persons created by God?

  8. With over 1500 in the flag ranks in the three armed services (actually 4 if US Coast Guard included) what is there to say about their selection, advancement, and post-military career employment? What actual training in military civil issues is required to reach that exalted status (flag rank)? And who are the most knowledgable of the flag ranks at interfacing with the civil government of the US? Are we a model for other militaries? Does Samuel Huntington’s “The Soldier and the State” stand the test of time? As the oldest and richest democracy (republic) is the selection and assignment and post-military career employment of the flag ranks transparent and understandable to interested citizens or even academics who study civil military issues? How many actual military protectorates now exist world-wide for the US? With the percentage of GDP spent on health care edging towards 20% was is the actual percentage of GDP that goes to the entirety of the military industrial academic complex? Note that a proposal is now circulating based on the Project for National Security Reform report issued in 2008 that suggests that a national security budget be arrived at first by total expenditures and then subdivided, and not designed in the current building block system where each of the Armed Forces and military civil agencies comes up with their own budget and then consolidated? Is military preparedness still the goal or just warfighting and how does the military define its successes and failures? How do the civilians nominally in charge decide whether the military has been successful in designing its own budgets, missions, and accomplishments? The FIRE sector (Finance, Insurance and Real Estate) in recent years has produced, acquired, absorbed 40% of the total income of the US? Between that sector and the health sector and the military/industrial/ academic sector who is discussing analyzing the tradeoffs between these sectors and the future of the US in the world as it exists now not as we (US)might wish it? We apparently still absorb 25% of the World’s total resources and wondering if this is likely to last over the rest of this century and is that in fact what are military is designed to protect–that level of world resource consumption?

  9. different clue says:

    Fred Strack, that is a question which both Mr. Davis and some of the audience raised. American-owned companies might be countable-on to convert once again to war production as in World War II. Would foreign-owned transplant car companies be willing to do the same?
    Mr. Davis was not optimistic about the survival of an American-Owned car industry in this country, though when pressed he admitted that Ford has a good chance of survival. (I myself hope that GM has a hope of survival as well).
    About the Supreme Court campaign contributions decision…yes indeed. Why wouldn’t Chalabi be able to set up a cardboard replica Corporation so as to buy himself some political airtime here? And if Chalabi, why not China? China has a lot more money to buy a lot more speech with than Chalabi has.
    I have seen suggestions to the effect that only a Constitutional Ammendment saying that “persons” will only mean “natural persons”
    under this Constitution. And only Natural Persons will be recognized as having rights. It would have to be written in Constitutionally muster-passing language and then grind its slow way through the Ammendment Passage process.
    In the meantime, I have seen suggestions that people be ready to boycott those entities buying the most egregious and obnoxious political speech on the media; if only as a feel-good gesture.

  10. Mark Logan says:

    John H:”What can we expect now..” in regards to the neocons dreams.
    Offered partially for humor.
    I came across something a couple of weeks back, the
    Gaffney “B” team proposal, which he feels Obama needs to advise him on how to handle the threat of Islamic fundimentalism.
    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/01/12/revival-soviet-era-team-b-tackle-islamic-terrorist-threat/
    This led to some interesting reading for me
    about the “old” one that I had been unaware of. What to expect from the neocons?
    “Everything Old Is New Again” in tap-shoes.

  11. Patrick Lang says:

    mark logan
    Yes. What a group that would be! The “Caliphate” would be on everyone’s lips and bomb shelters could be constructed across the country.
    Team B was generally wrong about everything but most spectacularly missed the point that the USSR was still very much a giant 3rd world country with an economy teetering on the verge of collapse.
    pl

  12. JohnH says:

    Now I understand why Washington has pretty much banned the word “Iraq” from official pronouncements.
    It was not just Team B that missed the fact that the Soviet Union was a giant third world country. Everyone in power since JFK seemed to miss that point, too. And to hear them talk about Iraq, Iran, and Al Qaeda, you would think that they represented serious threats, too.
    How convenient! Of course, Just look at the size of next year’s proposed defense budget. Not to be outdone, it’s bigger than TARP.
    BTW, PEW polled the CFR. It turns out that two-thirds of these foreign policy elites think that the US has gone overboard on Israel. And they don’t consider either Israel or Iran particularly important to US interests.
    http://www.counterpunch.org/blankfort12072009.html
    So if the foreign policy elites are not driving US policy, who is?

  13. Adam L Silverman says:

    What’s interesting about the Team B suggestion for the Islamic terrorist threat is that we basically had this implemented back in 2001 through 2006 or so. The vast majority of the people that created the alternate analysis for the Bush Administration were either Team B alumni, their students, or their proteges. And they essentially ran the same form of analytic process: start with a normative conclusion as the query/premise (The Soviet Union is Evil therefore nothing they allow us to see can be trusted/Saddam Hussein is Evil therefor nothing he allows us to see can be trusted) and then worked their analyses from there. This led them back to the premise, which they used as their conclusion.

  14. Patrick Lang says:

    JohnH
    You are a prisoner of a lot of marxist bullshit.
    Fortunately for you, you have not had to struggle with the ideological madmen and women who actually control the general direction of foreign policy. The crazed ideologues of the Cold War were one group. The committed Zionists are another.
    The defense contractors don’t have to do anything but wait for the crazies with agenda to set the terms of the future, then they move in to take advantage of where the “requirements” will drive the money.
    The generals? They just wait to see which way the force structure will follow the fantasies. They know that promotion lies in that direction. pl

  15. KHarbaugh says:

    Is there any reaction to the report/order
    Fixing Intel
    (http://www.cfr.org/publication/21111/center_for_a_new_american_security.html)
    by MG Flynn, Afghan CJ-2 et al.?
    I find several things unfortunate about it:
    First, what does it say that it was released “with the force of a directive” on a Wall-Street-controlled site like the CFR?
    In the first half of the 20th century,
    a knock on U.S. military involvement in S. America was that it was corporate driven, like by United Fruit Company.
    In the 21st century, is the financial complex driving U.S. policy into a perpetual war with Islam?
    For whose benefit, other than Israel’s?
    Second, I must admit to an aversion to attempts at nation-building, feeling it is immoral, arrogant, and impractical.
    Is it now the mission of the U.S. Army?
    Third, at the most practical level,
    is too much being asked of working level intel officers?
    (Flynn extorts his men to acquire the skills of historians, librarians, and journalists, disciplines which have their own professional educational programs.)

  16. Patrick Lang says:

    KHarbaugh
    I agree. pl

  17. Cold War Zoomie says:

    Bought a bottle of this last week.
    Not bad, and I needed it.

  18. JohnH says:

    Re marxist bullshit. I agree the crazed ideologues are leading the charge–Cold War, GWOT, Iraq, etc.
    But you cannot make a living doing that. And you can’t afford to create the media narrative, either.
    Somebody is paying the bills…big time! That’s not marxist–that’s pure capitalism. Question is, who’s paying? Hmmm–who’s got really deep pockets? And whose business model depends instigating wars?

  19. DE Teodoru says:

    We are pummeled with propagandistic fraud as never before because both sides know that the other is at max limit. What is clear is that Obama seeks retreat from the catastrophic Iraq/Afghan screw-ups in order to rationally restore and defend America. The Shias in control of Baghdad rightly told Obama: stay out of our business. The Iran-Iraq border has dissolved, thanks to neocon advice to Bush, into a joint Shi’ite determination to be rid of our oil thieving presence. As for the Afghans, they realize that Obama escalated in order to deescalate to get out. Both struggles are now way beyond our means; China’s takeover of our finances is a far more dangerous threat. Into all this process a depressed kid botches blowing himself up and suddenly a joint fraud is perpetrated upon us by our Pentagon and Zawahiri’s command post. It is the audio-shop synthesized voice of binLaden speaking from the grave.
    As Pogo said: WE HAVE SEEN THE ENEMY AND HE IS US. 9/11 was an assault on us allowed to happen by a supposed ally. It proves that those we assume to be friends are bloodsuckers who could have prevented it, for they were fully informed through paid Palestinian and Afghan informants in binLaden’s inner circle. Now the dead is revived on tape because they fear American retraction from our anti-Islamic wars more than they fear our bulls-in-a-china shop generals. We can no longer be turned against fictitious Muslim enemies that we create by insisting that “we had better get them there before they get us here (homefront).” Only historians of our grand-children’s generation will lay bare the fraud perpetrated on us to encourage the destruction of a lot of Islamic world in the interest of a very little place. That little place’s role in letting us fall prey to 9/11 and exhausting ourselves chasing Muslim “terrorists” all over the world will bring about, I fear, a cataclysm from in which many very valuable and loyal Americans will suffer on the absurd assumption that their ethnic roots make them a part of the conspiracy. How soon that happens depends on leaks and a dying news media that considers such “scoops” transfusion and will not resist rumor mongering at the expense of the American ethnic group at issue at it did not hesitate to mendaciously feed the cause of anti-Muslim crusades. That the dead binLaden speaking to us now is big headlines only bespeaks how near-death is the media. We all must continue to struggle in defense of innocents against their scapegoat for the policies of three irresponsible politics-first presidents. But it’s an uphill-fight given that most Americans, in the words of EJ Dionne, are STILL “on a long vacation from complexity.” I just don’t know if the criminal “entrepreneurs” that profited from our national oil avarice and warfare will choose to use their newfound corporate (a non-existent artificial individual) freedom of speech to dupe the public into scapegoating. Listening to the long dead binLaden it is obvious that we are prone to rationalize seeking “victory” to appease our addiction to tinker-toy warfare until we run out of ammo and are overwhelmed. The “Indians” may yet witness their long awaited revenge against the cowboys, but as loyal Americans they too will share in the cowboys’ fate.

  20. isl says:

    Dear KHarbaugh:
    IMO the FIRE sector is conflict averse, because unlike manufacturing, it needs no resources. Conflicts can be very profitable; however, they are difficult to model (i.e., predict and profit) as opposed to creating resource scarcity of like, say, petroleum.
    Also, I would argue that unlike old-time manufacturing (before globalization), FIRE is minimally attached to any one country (it needs only a tiny tiny fraction of the population as trained workers, and in which country they are located is not particularly important). I think FIRE is agnostic on US foreign policy.
    Thus, I think other economic sectors (and external forces) are pushing the policy. True campaign reform could change most of that – our system of electoral financing makes the US far more susceptible to manipulation internally and externally than other competing countries – but talk of finance reform has been a persistent since the 80s (before?) yet the system only seems to get worse and more dependent on cash.

  21. Allen Thomson says:

    A random wonderment about the SCOTUS ruling: Will the increased ability of the business wing of the GOP to buy votes mean that the social/religious conservative wing’s importance in the coalition will decrease?

  22. Twit says:

    Cold War Zoomie,
    Looks like you will be having a happy Burns Night!
    Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face, Great Chieftan o’ the Puddin-race!

  23. ked says:

    “Will the increased ability of the business wing of the GOP to buy votes mean that the social/religious conservative wing’s importance in the coalition will decrease?”
    I expect the opposite – the more money in the offing, the more it is spread around.
    The “social wing” delivers the shock troops… witness the selection of Palin as VP nominee, unleashing much needed Evangelicals & Fundamentalists in McCain’s poorly manned (& womened) campaign.
    Note the careful co-opting of the Tea Party movement by GOP operatives to leverage that source of soldiers (yes, & voters too).
    The critical matter is to hold social-wing elites on-board ($ works), while keeping the minions happy (a nice pat on the head & a place in heaven) who elect the policy-making staff.

  24. Pat Lang, et. al.
    I have a different subject, but still on the line of “wars and rumors of wars”, etc. I was cogitating about the Russian invasion of Poland in September of 1939 yesterday. The basic story line handed down through the decades since, if I may abbreviate, is that the two dictators met and cynically agreed to divide Poland between them and to establish their respective spheres of interest in Eastern Europe. I have a different take I’d like to throw out there. First one can assume that, by the spring/summer of 1939, the Russians knew that a German invasion of Poland was a virtual fait accomplis. The pre-war eastern border of Poland was well to the east of the Bug River and on the doorstep of Minsk and the road to Moscow through Vitebsk and Smolensk. Stalin was thus faced with the choice of allowing the Germans to occupy all of Poland, entering into a coalition with the British and French in an attempt to forestall the invasion, or, by agreeing with Hitler to mutually invade and divide Poland. The approaches to the western powers foundered for several reasons and the Non-aggression Treaty was agreed to in August. Had the German start line in June of 1941 been the eastern border of pre-war Poland, one may conclude that there is a very real possibility that Operation Barbarossa would have succeeded in early autumn and the outcome of the Second World War quite different. Looked at from that point of view, the Russian participation in the Polish invasion wasn’t for a simple and cynical division of spoils, but, rather, a realistic matter of survival.
    WPFIII

  25. Fred Strack says:

    Allen, The Democrats have planty of business support nor is labor support 100% to democrats. See Jane Harman and Diane Fienstein’s business intereset supporters (and thier spouses), not to mention John Kerry.

  26. DE Teodoru says:

    Allen Thompson, you can count on it, for the lemindgs are the first to go when the whole forest is in their hands.

  27. different clue says:

    Not to change the subject or anything, but…
    I read and heard a couple of things recently that made me think about a possible way to find buried land mines after the war they were placed for is all over. The first thing I read was that apparently African elephants in the war-torn parts of Africa are apparently able to sense the presence of mines and avoid stepping on them. I had also seen a TV nature show describing how elephants have recently been discovered to communicate with eachother over miles of distance by means of low growls and rumbles which are deeply subsonic to us. I began to wonder, what if elephants were using this subsonic elephant ground-penetrating sonar to detect the mines? Obviously elephants haven’t had time to evolve such an ability for mines, but what if they had evolved such an ability over eons to detect aardvark burrows and other invisible holes? An elephant stepping into an aardvark burrow is like a horse stepping into a prairie dog hole. Bad for the horse, bad for the elephant.
    What if elephants are detecting mines by the same sonar methods by which they detect aardvark burrows, if that is how they detect aardvark burrows? Do semi-tame Indian elephants have this same sonar-based ability? If so we could train them to alert us to the where the mines are. If not, we would have to somehow measure what frequency the African elephants are blasting into the ground when they detect aardvark burrows or land mines. If we could find out what that frequency is, could we build a machine to do the same thing?

  28. Allen Thomson says:

    > The Democrats have planty of business support
    The effect the SCOTUS ruling may have on the Democratic coalition is an interesting topic to be sure and worthy of discussion.(*) But to my eye the more immediately interesting one is whether the balance within the GOP will be affected one way or another.
    (*) Even, just to stay slightly on topic, as it affects military and security matters.

  29. Cynthia says:

    I must say that when the Right and the Left come together and agree on something, more than likely they are right. So they are probably right that Bailout Ben should be thrown out of the Federal Reserve before he does even more damage to our already damaged economy. What worries me most about Ben Bernanke is that he comes across as someone who’d like to pattern our economic system after something you’d find in plutocratic Russia.
    Cass Sunstein is someone else that the Right and the Left can agree upon. So they are also probably right that he should be thrown out of the Obama Administration before he influences Obama to do even more damage to our already damaged Constitution. What worries me most about Cass Sunstein is that he comes across as someone who’d like to pattern our judicial system after something you would’ve found in Nazi Germany.
    I think it’s safe to say that the Rahm Emanuel is someone who wouldn’t mind seeing our country turn into a fascist state. But Cass Sunstein, I’m afraid, as Glenn “Glennzilla” Greenwald points out, is someone who is willing to use his power in the Obama White House to turn our country into a fascist state:
    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/01/15/sunstein/index.html
    Gun-totting teabaggers are afraid that if Sunstein gets his way, he’ll take away our right to bear arms. But if you think about it, they should have little to fear that he’ll do this because Obama has a strong track record for 1) supporting gun rights and 2) caving to teabaggers’ demands. So for these reasons, Obama isn’t likely to appoint Sunstein to the Supreme Court, where he could do lots of damage to the second amendment.
    Leftist civil libertarians, OTOH, are afraid that if Sunstein gets his way, he’ll take away our freedom of speech. They really do have reason to be fearful of him doing this not only because Obama has a strong track record of undercutting liberals, but also because he has done next to nothing to scale back, much less give up, any of the ill-gotten, anti-American, unconstitutional presidential powers that Bush so ruthlessly accumulated during his years in power. So for these reasons, Obama may indeed extend his presidential powers to Sunstein so that he can silent those of us who speak out against our government.
    I find it ironic that loud-mouthed media pundits, like Beck and Limbaugh, are making a lot of noise about Sunstein being a threat to our second amendment rights, when he’s really not much of a threat to this, while media pundits, right and left alike, remain silent about him being a threat to our first amendment rights, when he is very much a threat to this. So I find this to be doubly ironic that media pundits depend on our first amendment rights in order stay employed, but they’d rather use these rights to defend our right to bear arms than our right to free speech.

  30. kao_hsien_chih says:

    Fred Strack, that is a question which both Mr. Davis and some of the audience raised. American-owned companies might be countable-on to convert once again to war production as in World War II. Would foreign-owned transplant car companies be willing to do the same?
    I think I have a sort of answer to that question: during WW2, local subsidiaries of US corporations in Japan and Germany were called upon by local governments to produce war materials for them and they complied as demanded–so much so that the Ford truck was among the most common German military vehicles, for example. This made me wonder about all sorts of legal/business issues–i.e. whatever happened to all the money German and Japanese governments owed American corporations for military equipment they used to fight the US military, whether Ford Motors or Douglas Aircraft could collect them postwar, etc. Nevertheless, it seems to be evidence enough that, regardless of ownership, local factories/operations can be called upon to supply stuff for the local authorities.

  31. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    Just seems to me an attack on Iran would — actually, “will” — lead to increased resistance to USG’s neo-con-Coin efforts throughout the Muslim world, both Sunni and Shia. Neocons and those of the B. Lewis school who favor a clash of civilizations usurped coin for this very reason: to embroil the US in a clash of civilization…in the name of promoting democracy and freedom of course.
    If I were a Jacobin and desired a clash of civilizations, I would do everything possible to place as many USM personnel and assets in traditional Muslim lands for this very reason. One way to do so is through usurping and repackaging COIN to make sure that those of the Muslim world see the USM as occupiers, certainly not “liberators”.
    Possible analogy: Fort Sumter may have galvanized opinion in the Northern States but it certainly increased resistance to Jacobin efforts among the Federals in such places as Virginia, Arkansas, Tenn, and NC. (h/t Shebly Foote). And, with that historical example of Shock and Awe, the clash of civilizations began and ultimately, out of necessity, ended with a military strategy that involved the collective punishment of civilians — the 19th century version of a State using weapons of mass destruction. Possible analogy re: collective punishment: Goldstone report, although I don’t think NY lefties see it that way and I just threw that one out there to stir the pot.

  32. different clue says:

    kao_hsien_chi,
    Your reminder that subsidiaries of US companies in Germany and Japan built war materiel for Germany and Japan offers some hope that the same may apply with the transplant car companies here; though hopefully we never have to find out.
    Still, I wonder if the transplants hire highest-level engineers and designers here the way the American car companies do (or did before the Big Shrinkdown). An Americacentric car company might be more likely to maintain design and engineering staffs here which would preserve a pool of talent and engineering-thinking.
    I believe truck-making in America is still more American-owned than car-making is (though I may be remembering truck brands which no longer exist). Still, I sometimes wonder…what if several American truckmakers created some kind of consortium to build cars? If Mack Truck made cars, what kind of cars would Mack Truck make?

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