Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mumbai in Perspective

As an article on notes, the recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai signal a shift in Islamist terrorist tactics from suicide bombings to guerrilla warfare style tactics such as those being practiced in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This brings up a rather disturbing point. In the build-up to the Iraq War, some opponents warned that Iraq could turn into a training ground for terrorists, where they could learn new tactics to be exported to other countries. As Robert Baer notes, the professionalism of the terrorists indicates that they had actual combat experience. Could it be possible that the predictions of more hardened, professional terrorists are coming true?

Never Underestimate the American Desire for Cheap, Foreign-Made, Plastic Crap

A Wal-Mart worker was trampled to death yesterday in a stamped at a New York-area Wal-Mart store. Police cite a lack of security for dealing with the crowd as a contributing factor in the death.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

If You're Wall Street, You're Fine; If You're Detroit, You're Screwed

The recent bailout of Citigroup while the automakers are left hanging is a testament to the warped priorities of financial experts both left and right wing. As Robert Reich points out, Citigroup has little real effect on the economy, while the collapse of General Motors and other Big Three automakers could trigger a massive economic collapse. The other major difference is that while a Citigroup collapse would mainly harm Wall Street, the loss of the major automakers would harm the country in general, and the working class in particular.

This is not to say that there should be a no strings attached bailout of the major automakers. At the very least, they should be required to put a real effort into integrating green technology into their cars, and to look into mass production of electric cars. However, it is only common sense that mass employment enterprises should be bailed out before we bail out Wall Street firms. Needed economic stimulus should come before corporate socialism. As Paul Craig Roberts recently pointed out, "A country that doesn't make anything doesn't need a financial sector as there is nothing to finance."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Lack of Gratitude

Matthew Yglesias notes that National Review Online blogger Andrew McCarthy claims the Iraqi people are "ingrates" because they are not happy about the presence of American troops. Written in the context of an article about the recent Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), he claims the Iraqis are too friendly to Tehran and too interested in prosecuting American soldiers.

Gee, maybe we should have fought about that before we invaded their country.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Case against Hillary

On Hardball with Chris Matthews, Christopher Hitchens lays out a devastating indictment against Sen. Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. The conflicts of interest and lack of experience she will bring will potentially undermine President Obama's foreign policy, and badly serve our nation.

The only good side I can see to all this is that it will leave her in a position where she cannot harm President Obama politically.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Tax 'Em

A Catholic priest in the Carolinas has told his parishioners that they should repent before receiving Communion if they voted for President Obama. If he wants to go that deep into politics and civil society, let him set aside a portion of his weekly collections for taxes to support said civil society.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

President Obama Speaks

President-elect Obama gave a weekly address yesterday highlighting the nation's economic difficulties, embedded above. It rings with his typical confidence, but also with a realization of the great challenges faced by the American economy.

As Juan Cole points out, we are still in the rough as long as President Bush is in office. There is always the possibility that he could further screw things up, creating a bank collapse as happened at the end of the Hoover Administration.

It is also worth noting that although President-elect Obama has a general idea of what needs to be done, he does not give much in the way of specifics. We will need to learn more before we can assess his economic plan in detail.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Hillary for SecState?

The NPR program Day to Day has reported that President-elect Barack Hussein Obama is considering Sen. Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State. Although I can see the political reasons he would have for doing so, I do not think she is the best choice. As the primaries revealed, she does not have much foreign policy experience. She would be far better off as Attorney General or a Supreme Court justice.

I think a far better choice would be former Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson. As Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Dan Simpson notes, Richardson has foreign policy experience, having served as Ambassador to the UN. Furthermore, he is tough enough to stand up to any foreign opponent.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense

An article on Politico discusses the controversy over whom President-elect Obama will select as his Secretary of Defense. Although much talk has focused on current Secretary Robert Gates as a transitional figure, there is also opposition to this from the anti-war movement, who regard him as too implicated in Bush Administration policies.

The best alternative candidate that I have seen mentioned is former Sen. Chuck Hagel. He has been critical of Bush Administration policies, while also coming from the Republican side of the aisle, which would complement the Obama Administration's drive toward bipartisanship.

The latter is an especially important point. The Democrats have a unique opportunity to reduce the Republicans to the status of a regional, minority party for the foreseeable future. To do that, however, they will need to capture the moderate Republicans. There are already signs of this happening, if one can judge by the concerns of the more intelligent Republican columnists such as David Brooks. However, a few prominent Republican appointees to the Cabinet might deal the needed blow.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Barack Hussein Obama Is My President

Recently, right wing fanatics have taken to relentlessly pointing out the fact that our president-elect is named Barack Hussein Obama. The most recent expression of this is a letter by Jude Pohl in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, claiming Barack Hussein Obama's election as one of the three greatest disasters to befall America, the other two being Pearl Harbor and 9 / 11. (Forgetting the Civil War, Mr. Pohl?)

I, for one, am proud to say that Barack Hussein Obama is my president. This represents a step to a more tolerant, cosmopolitan America. It is not the final step, but it is a damned good midway step. I think we should all start calling him President Barack Hussein Obama to show our pride in this, and to show the closet racists that their time is up.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A Scene from Election Day

The above picture was taken by me yesterday on the campus of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. It shows a group of young pro-choice students asserting their position in the face of a display of fake tombstones put up by a campus pro-life group. The display accused Sen. Obama of complicity in genocide. Unfortunately for the pro-lifers, the unborn have a notoriously lousy turn-out rate.

Not Quite So Graceful

Two days ago, conservative blogger (and lukewarm Obama supporter) Ann Althouse speculated about whether liberals would be able to handle it if Sen. Obama did not become President. Taking her cue from a rather condescending article by William Kristol, she mocks the enthusiasm of young Obama supporters, saying they should all learn from her example of not being able to choose a winning candidate. Unfortunately, McCain supporters haven't been as stoic as she hoped.

Let's start with the fanatics at Little Green Footballs. Although the moderator, conscious of scrutiny by liberal watchdogs, attempts to keep a moderate tone when informing his readers of the election of the man he calls Barack Hussein Obama, the hoipoloi aren't taking it. The comments section, which borders eight hundred entries, is crowded with proclamations that they would not consider Obama a true president, repetitive obscenity, predictions of economic and international disaster, and claims that President-elect Obama is a Marxist / Communist. And those are the comments that did not have to be deleted. Even if one considers the notice that comments do not necessarily reflect the views of Little Green Footballs, the reaction does not reflect well on the site's creators.

Similar dissatisfaction is evident on Michelle Malkin's website and blog. She claims the real winner of the election is "Peggy the Moocher," an African-American woman on a YouTube clip who hopes that President Obama will pay for her gas and mortgage. The comments section features a comment about "forty acres and a mule." Hmm, I wonder if racism is a factor here.

Rush Limbaugh is also rather unhappy, rejecting any chance of "unity" with President Obama. Althouse, addressing this statement, tries to pass it off as an attempt to "define the conservative position." However, it should be pretty obvious by this point that conservatives are not quite living up to Althouse and Kristol's expectations.

It's Over, We've Won

Best Election Night Post by a Conservative

The usual gang of idiots at Little Green Footballs tries to hold out some rather unlikely hopes.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Some Congressional and Non-National Endorsements for This Election

Although the majority of this blog's attention has been naturally devoted to the presidential race, it would be worth our while to look at some state and congressional officials on the ballot.

For the 14th District Congressional seat, I am voting for the Green Party's candidate, Titus North. This was a somewhat difficult decision given Democratic Rep. Mike Doyle's laudable positions on the War in Iraq and the genocide in Darfur. However, I have chosen North, a University of Pittsburgh professor, in protest against Rep. Doyle's positions in favor of the death penalty and an anti-flag burning amendment. Furthermore, Rep. Doyle is running basically unopposed, so either way we win.(i.e. no Nader factor to put a Republican in office.)

For Pennsylvania Attorney General, I am endorsing Marakay Rogers of the Libertarian Party. She has an anti-death penalty, liberal drug law position that I highly admire, and has fought for the right of third-party candidates to get on the ballot. In contrast, the Repblican incumbent, Tom Corbett, is mainly concerned with using Bonusgate as a cudgel to attack Democrats, something that even his endorsers implicitly concede, while the Democratic candidate, John Morgannelli, has a conservative position on the right to bear arms that would prevent cities like Philadelphia to take measures against skyrocketing murder rates.

The Best Defense

Andrew Sullivan posts an essay on why we must elect Barack Obama. In a nutshell, he captures the damage Bush and Cheney have done to our national security, and what an Obama presidency could mean. This is the best defense of Obama I think I have ever read.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Another Case of Religious Fanatics on the Rampage

According to MSNBC, a young Somali girl, Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow, either thirteen or twenty-three years old depending upon reports, was stoned to death in front of a stadium crowd of one thousand people because she had been raped. This report, which has been documented by Amnesty International, demonstrates the growing power of Islamic militias in the government-less state of Somalia. Although some bystanders tried to save her life, militiamen drove them away with gunfire, killing one.