Politics and Whatnot

Just another liberal political blog

Monthly Archives: February 2012

Stratfor emails show US government conspiracy against wikileaks

Take down the money. Go after his infrastructure. The tools we are
using to nail and de-construct Wiki are the same tools used to dismantle
and track aQ. Thank Cheney & 43. Big Brother owns his liberal
terrorist arse.

– burton@stratfor.com, email dated 2010-12-07 14:55:40

Well actually, as this is on the Wikileaks website now, it looks like his liberal terrorist arse owns Big Brother.

But there it is – pretty much about as much direct proof as you’re ever going to get that the US government, with the help of outsourced work to apparent very right-wing corporations, is involved in a secret plot to destroy Wikileaks.

If there is no investigation of this, Obama is a fraud.  Here we have direct evidence that government resources are being used to destroy a legitimate and important organization because of what the report on.  We would expect as much from Stalinist Russia, not the United States of America.  I mean freedom of the press in the fucking FIRST AMENDMENT for crying out loud.  Find who’s responsible and ensure they never work in government again.


Afghanistan: not that bad

With all the coverage of the recent violence in Afghanistan arising from the Koran-burning incident, it’s easy to think that Afghanistan is hopeless.  It’s embarrassing, as an American, to see so many taking this view – that we can’t win, that we are as bad as the Soviets, that we are unable to defeat the Nazi-like scourge that is the Taliban.  I’d expect as much from a nation of Frenchmen, but not Americans.

But, everyone says, Afghanistan is hopeless, they are too violent, there has been no progress, etc., etc.  Except that’s not really true.  Here’s a few reasons to think that we’re reaching the light at the end of the tunnel in Afghanistan:

  • Believe it or not, this was taken in Kabul

    Completely transformed Kabul: In 2001, Kabul was a smouldering  ruin with Taliban religious police roaming the streets.  Today, it’s a modern city, with shopping malls, five-star hotels, and is usually rather peaceful, being situated far from Afghanistan’s troublesome border with Pakistan.  Of course, there is still a ton of poverty and other problems, but the progress is still quite amazing.  Kabul can be an incubator for a modernized Afghan middle class that will fight the Taliban’s regressive beliefs on its own.

  • Way better education: During the two decades of war and Taliban rule prior to the American intervention, there was virtually no education in Afghanistan of the kind that we would ordinarily think of as “education.”  The Taliban would “indoctrinate” kids by making them memorize the Koran and hate everything but the Taliban, and that was all.  But over the last decade, that has drastically changed.  7 million Afghan children attend school today, including 37% of Afghan girls (that was 0% under the Taliban), and there is even an Afghan version of Sesame Street being broadcast.  The students growing up in post-Taliban Afghanistan will be entering their teenage years soon and will be having a massive impact on Afghan culture.  As long as the have a sort-of-secure environment to do so, it may completely shift attitudes throughout the country.  That’s not to say there aren’t still difficult challenges – but there is also a huge amount of progress.
  • Political antipathy towards the Taliban: A common misperception in the US is that the Taliban is an Afghan resistance group – it is not.  Even when it ruled Afghanistan it was considered a foreign occupier originating from Pakistan by the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance.  That view remains prevalent in Afghanistan today, especially in the North.  Therefore, many Afghans have responded to the likely end of the US occupation – or even the possibility of reconciliation with the Taliban –  by re-arming their old militias and re-creating the united anti-Taliban resistance.

Of course, you don’t here about these signs of progress in the alarmist media, where fear rules the day.  However, you also don’t hear about how much of a disaster failure would be – if the Taliban retakes Afghanistan with ISI backing, it resets all the progress we made to square one.  The winners would be the extremists responsible for 9/11 and the losers would be everyone else.  This is not an option for us as Americans, no matter how long it takes to set things right again.  All we would need to do to support Afghanistan is keep American air power in support of the government.  If we can muster up enough support to keep that up until the government is stable, I can’t imagine how a lasting victory will not happen.

The US Chamber of Commerce is trying to fool you with lies and half-truths because it thinks you’re a sucker

The US Chamber of Commerce has been unleashing a massive ad barrage in local elections, exclusively targeting Democrats and supporting Republican candidates.  The US Chamber of Commerce is America’s largest lobbying and political corruption organization.  It is frequently confused with the US Department of Commerce, a government organization to which the Chamber probably owes any trust it is given by the American public.  Starting in 2008, the Chamber began taking an aggressively anti-oversight, anti-environment, and pro-corruption stance, spending millions in local races to attack politicians that did not cave to their will and support those that do.  The Chamber refuses to say who its members are, and Toyota (a Japanese company) is the only member that I am aware of explicitly acknowledging membership in the shadowy federation.  FedEx and Sam’s Club also sponsor the Chamber’s webpage and offer discounts to members that help the Chamber advance its pro-corruption agenda.

In 2012, the Chamber has embarked on a massive campaign to attack candidates that have stood in the way of its attempt to get the entire government in its pocket.  Do they do this by informing you of their positions, and fairly comparing their beliefs with those of the candidates they’re opposing?  Of course not!  Their beliefs are that the government should be a corporate dictatorship where industry is free to pollute at will and taxes are exclusively paid by impoverished unregulated workers that die when they get sick.  Those beliefs could never fairly compete, so they have to lie.  That is why, out of seven Chamber statements rated by Politifact so far this election cycle, not one has been above the level of “half true”, and  5 of 7 have been “false” or “mostly false”.  Frankly, Politifact’s ratings have given a lot of slack to the Chamber, straining to find an “element of truth” in some statements that really should be “false” or “pants on fire”.

Why does the US Chamber of Commerce lie to you and give you partial information?  Because they think you’re a sucker.  They think they can fool you into voting against those who take a stand against corporate corruption and into voting for corporate puppets that will turn around and screw you over once they get into office.  Are they right?  We’ll find out this election season.

UPDATE 5/15/12:

The Chamber of Commerce’s atrocious record on the truth continues with a well-deserved “pants on fire” from Politifact.  They claim the new health care bill will kick 20 millions seniors off medicare, which doesn’t even have a grain of truth to support it.  It’s just a flat out lie.  Their record is now among the worst on Politifact.  Even Newt Gingrich, whose record I previously attacked as the worst, has some true and mostly true ratings.  Yet, because they sound like “Department of Commerce,” the dumber among the seniors this ad targets will trust this right-wing scam organization as it seeks to enslave them.

Time to eat crow on gold (sort of)

I make a lot of predictions, usually wrong predictions, but somehow I feel a need to make them anyway.  One such prediction was a few months before the end of 2011, I predicted that gold would be below $1000 by the end of the year.  Now we’re a bit over a month into 2012, and gold’s actually a bit higher than it was back then, at $1723/ounce.  Oh well.

However, I wasn’t wrong about one thing – it looks like the gold bubble is about done.  The price has stopped increasing at a thoroughly ridiculous rate, and is now staying about level at throughly ridiculous prices.

Still, the price is almost double my prediction, which is kinda horrible.  I think I made two fundamental errors:

1. I assumed that once a bubble runs out of steam, it will lead to a sharp drop in price.  Here the gold bubble ran out of steam, but strangely, has been staying at the same hyper-inflated price ever since.  I won’t try to explain it.

2. I tried to predict something I did not understand.  I don’t get gold.  I don’t get why anyone would $1723/ounce for a metal with very low strength-to-weight ratio, just because it’s slightly prettier than other metals and is rare.  I don’t get why that same metal is worth $1723/ounce now when it was worth just $35/ounce in 1970, and had been fairly steady at about that level for decades.  I mean, the inflation rate since 1970 has been 500% – so there’s a good argument for gold being worth almost $200/ounce now, but I don’t see anything beyond that.  Frankly, I think even $200/ounce is way overpriced.  In other words, I tried to predict the actions of people – gold traders – who operate by logical rules that are quite different from my own. Why should I know what they’re going to do?

This same idea probably also explains why I’m so bad at predicting what Republicans will do.  It looks increasingly like my long-standing belief that Republicans cannot elect Mitt Romney is going to be proven false in a matter of months.  Of course, I’m holding out until the end, but I can’t help but think that maybe Republicans just work in mysterious ways.  Thump the bible all day and fear-monger about Muslim extremists, yell about how “RINOs” are failing your party, but then vote in mysterious religion guy from the North who has a quite liberal record among Republicans, and is blatantly changing his public statements to fit conservative views.  Whatever.  I don’t get gold, I don’t get Republicans, and I’m going to stop trying to get either of these.


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