May 2008 Archives

Bobby Kennedy, Where Are You?

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Sen. Clinton has gone 'there' in her rationalization of why she is continuing her quest for the nomination. In an interview with USA Today,

Clinton cited an Associated Press article "that found how Sen. Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me."

"There's a pattern emerging here," she said.

And what pattern would that be, Hillary?

First of all, the assertion that people who voted for Hillary in the primary would not vote for Obama in the general election is based on highly-malleable opinions which are at a height of emotion given the hard-fought primary contest. Any exit poll numbers on that count will surely change by the time of the general election as they always do.

Second, it is a comparison of unlike contests to suggest that the breakdown of voters in Hillary vs. Obama is comparable to that of Obama vs. McCain. Choosing between Hillary and Obama is like choosing between brownies and chocolate chip cookies for dessert ... which form of chocolate do I like best? Suggesting that there is any comparison between brownies, chocolate chip cookies and brussel sprouts for dessert is absurd.

Third, does the Democratic Party really want to select a nominee based on the fear that there might be some racist Americans who won't vote for the nominee? Does Bobby Kennedy need to come back to life and give them some spine? Did we let racists dictate what happened in school desegregation and the passing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act?

As RFK said,

"Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope..."

It's time for the Democratic Party to stand up and do the right thing.

Hillary, I'm ashamed and angry that you're choosing this path. I thought better of you.

Cross-posted from Dwahzon's Village

The Company They Keep

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Steve Benen summarizes it so well in Judging them by the company they keep that I'll just quote from him.

The Chicago Tribune's Steve Chapman posed an interesting question in his column over the weekend about John McCain having a Bill Ayers-like problem of his own. [...]

What McCain didn't mention is that he has his own Bill Ayers -- in the form of G. Gordon Liddy. Now a conservative radio talk-show host, Liddy spent more than 4 years in prison for his role in the 1972 Watergate burglary. That was just one element of what Liddy did, and proposed to do, in a secret White House effort to subvert the Constitution. Far from repudiating him, McCain has embraced him.

How close are McCain and Liddy? Pretty close. Liddy hosted a McCain fundraiser in '98 at his home. When McCain appeared on Liddy's show in November, Liddy greeted him as "an old friend," and McCain gushed like one. "I'm proud of you, I'm proud of your family," McCain told Liddy. "It's always a pleasure for me to come on your program, Gordon, and congratulations on your continued success and adherence to the principles and philosophies that keep our nation great."

The Cognitive Age

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I rarely agree with David Brooks who I believe is a highly over-rated talking head that's too impressed with himself. Nonetheless, he makes a point in his NYT column today on the changes in manufacturing globally that I think is well-made.

The chief force reshaping manufacturing is technological change (hastened by competition with other companies in Canada, Germany or down the street). Thanks to innovation, manufacturing productivity has doubled over two decades. Employers now require fewer but more highly skilled workers. Technological change affects China just as it does the America. William Overholt of the RAND Corporation has noted that between 1994 and 2004 the Chinese shed 25 million manufacturing jobs, 10 times more than the U.S.

The central process driving this is not globalization. It's the skills revolution. We're moving into a more demanding cognitive age. In order to thrive, people are compelled to become better at absorbing, processing and combining information. This is happening in localized and globalized sectors, and it would be happening even if you tore up every free trade deal ever inked.

The globalization paradigm emphasizes the fact that information can now travel 15,000 miles in an instant. But the most important part of information's journey is the last few inches -- the space between a person's eyes or ears and the various regions of the brain. Does the individual have the capacity to understand the information? Does he or she have the training to exploit it? Are there cultural assumptions that distort the way it is perceived?

The globalization paradigm leads people to see economic development as a form of foreign policy, as a grand competition between nations and civilizations. These abstractions, called "the Chinese" or "the Indians," are doing this or that. But the cognitive age paradigm emphasizes psychology, culture and pedagogy -- the specific processes that foster learning. It emphasizes that different societies are being stressed in similar ways by increased demands on human capital. If you understand that you are living at the beginning of a cognitive age, you're focusing on the real source of prosperity and understand that your anxiety is not being caused by a foreigner.

It's not that globalization and the skills revolution are contradictory processes. But which paradigm you embrace determines which facts and remedies you emphasize.

Of course, he then ends with one of his usual nonsensical summations: "Politicians, especially Democratic ones, have fallen in love with the globalization paradigm. It's time to move beyond it."

David, just how would you describe what the Republican administration and politicians have done for the last 20 years?

Gen. Sanchez: Bush Admin's "gross incompetence and dereliction of duty"

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Another retired general steps forward to tell us just how the Bush administration screwed us over and in the process, screwed over our military forces as well. From Time magazine via Andrew Sullivan:

Ricardo Sanchez, the commander of U.S. Forces in Iraq in 2003-2004, has written a new memoir, Wiser in Battle: A Soldier's Story, an account of his life and his service in Iraq. Sanchez was a three-star general -- and the military's senior Hispanic officer -- when he led U.S. forces in the first year of the war. He was relieved of his command by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in 2004 following the revelations of the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison. In 2005, Marine General Peter Pace, the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called him to say his career was over and he wouldn't get the promotion to a full general -- four stars -- that Sanchez says he was promised. Six months later, at Rumsfeld's request, he showed up at the Pentagon for a meeting with the defense secretary shortly before retiring. In this exclusive excerpt, Sanchez details what happened next:

I walked into Rumsfeld's office at 1:25 p.m. on April 19, 2006. He had just returned from a meeting at the White House, and the only other person present in the room was his new Chief of Staff, John Rangel.

"Ric, it's been a long time," Rumsfeld said, greeting me in a friendly manner. "I'm really sorry that your promotion didn't work out. We just couldn't make it work politically. Sending a nomination to the Senate would not be good for you, the Army, or the department."

"I understand, sir," I replied.

Then we walked over to his small conference table. "Have a seat," he said. "Now, Ric, what are your timelines?"

"Well, sir, my transition leave will start in September with retirement the first week of November."


Secretary Rumsfeld then pulled out a two-page memo and handed it to me. "I wrote this after a promotion interview about two weeks ago," he explained. "The officer told me that one of the biggest mistakes we made after the war was to allow CENTCOM and CFLCC to leave the Iraq theater immediately after the fighting stopped -- and that left you and V Corps with the entire mission."

"Yes, that's right," I said.

"Well, how could we have done that?" he said in an agitated, but adamant, tone. "I knew nothing about it. Now, I'd like you to read this memo and give me any corrections."

In the memo, Rumsfeld stated that one of the biggest strategic mistakes of the war was ordering the major redeployment of forces and allowing the departure of the CENTCOM and CFLCC staffs in May - June 2003.

"This left General Sanchez in charge of operations in Iraq with a staff that had been focused at the operational and tactical level, but was not trained to operate at the strategic/operational level." He went on to write that neither he nor anyone higher in the Administration knew these orders had been issued, and that he was dumbfounded when he learned that Gen. McKiernan was out of the country and in Kuwait, and that the forces would be drawn down to a level of about 30,000 by September. "I did not know that Sanchez was in charge," he wrote.

I stopped reading after I read that last statement, because I knew it was total BS. After a deep breath, I said, "Well, Mr. Secretary, the problem as you've stated it is generally accurate, but your memo does not accurately capture the magnitude of the problem. Furthermore, I just can't believe you didn't know that Franks's and McKiernan's staffs had pulled out and that the orders had been issued to redeploy the forces."

Hillary's War

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The truth about Hillary's stance on the Iraq War and how she's shaded her past statements to protect her candidacy. H/T to LJW and peraspera for highlighting this article.

Hillary's War
By Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta Jr.
Published: June 3, 2007

Nevertheless, on the sensitive issue of collaboration between Al Qaeda and Iraq, Senator Clinton found herself adopting the same argument that was being aggressively pushed by the administration. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other administration officials had repeated their claim frequently, and by early October 2002, two out of three Americans believed that Saddam Hussein was connected to the Sept. 11 attacks. By contrast, most of the other Senate Democrats, even those who voted for the war authorization, did not make the Qaeda connection in their remarks on the Senate floor. One Democratic senator who voted for the war resolution and praised President Bush for his course of ''moderation and deliberation,'' Joe Biden of Delaware, actively assailed the reports of Al Qaeda in Iraq, calling them ''much exaggerated.'' Senator Dianne Feinstein of California described any link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda as ''tenuous.''

The Democratic senator who came closest to echoing Clinton's remarks about Hussein's supposed assistance to Al Qaeda was Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut. Yet even Lieberman noted that ''the relationship between Al Qaeda and Saddam's regime is a subject of intense debate within the intelligence community.''

For most of those who had served in the Clinton administration, the supposed link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda had come to seem baseless. ''We all knew it was [expletive],'' said Kenneth Pollack, who was a national-security official under President Clinton and a leading proponent of overthrowing Saddam Hussein. Pollack says he discussed Iraq with Clinton before her vote in 2002, but he won't disclose his advice.

The lengthy article is well-researched and it cosupports what I recall hearing on NPR. My local NPR station broadcasts to southwestern CT and Long Island hence we get both CT and NY news including coverage of the respective senators Dodd, Lieberman, Clinton and Schumer. I recall yelling at the radio regularly when they reported on Lieberman and Clinton. The real point is that Hillary and Hillary's campaign has done a good job in spinning her into a candidate acceptable to the cultural right. And her stance on the Iraq war and the flag-burning bill and numerous other items were all highlighted as attempts to triangulate, to make herself acceptable to conservatives when they happened. Somehow people have forgotten that.

What concerns me most though is her nuclear umbrella stance and war-mongering concerning Iran. I thought we'd learned our lesson about politicians who talk about war for political purposes. We've just had 7+ years of that. We don't need anymore.