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Thu Apr 09, 2015 at 10:59 PM PDT

Playing with Fire

by Drawline

Since the Republican takeover of the senate Obama has been very combative. I have no problem with that. His strategy seem to be:`winning every battle we can at all costs.' I have no problem with that with internal matters. This may work in some cases.

For international diplomacy this is like playing with fire.

The most successful ever strategy with Iran was that of containment, initiated by Obama. I personally advocated for it on these pages 6 years ago, and it worked (not because of me, I presume... :-)). Of course this is the containment policy that worked against the Soviets and turned Eastern Europe to our side - but it did have the 'trust but verify' phase.

But Obama is too much in a hurry to have a legacy - and that's dangerous. He agreed to way-too-fast lifting of the sanctions, and now, when Iran leaders are putting on the pressure, he has to play the retraction game.

As in internal affairs, the strategy seemed to be: push it quick and hard so that the opposition can't build veto override. What if he succeeds with the Iran deal?

It is evident that changing of course too quickly on Iran, has already resulted in a rush to an all-out war between Iran proxies and Saudi proxies in the Middle East that fear that Iran is taking advantage of Obama's fast track. I am afraid an even more dangerous game is played in the Ukraine.

I believe it is time to use our congress as an excuse for some back paddling, instead of playing with fire.  


Should the Obama administration

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Obama outlined in his speech tonight one principle and 3 (actually more) tactical approaches. After he was done with outlining the "strategy" he emphasized our ethos as a nation, an how our ethos helps the world. That part was at least a template for a strategy.

Great speech. Actually amazing speech. Still, no strategy. No island hopping. No containment. No flexible response. Why no strategy? Probably to appease the Saudis. More on that below. I will also outline below a few suggestions. Many have already suggested some of those strategies. They are in-line with progressive ideals and could maybe save the Democratic party from losing the Senate.

The one principle the president outlined was: "If you threaten America there's no safe haven for you". Fine. Does that mean that we are going after every extremist Islamic organization that threatened us once we intervened? Like all Al-Qaeda affiliates in Mali? Al-Shabab? Bokka Haram? Ansar al-Shariah? The Pakistani Taliban that kidnapped Daniel Perl? Fine. So be it.  It could be part of a strategy, but that's incomplete. Containment, for example, stipulated that communism that cannot expand would shrivel and die. It definitely helped.

His tactical points: Help Iraqis get freedom for their own community with 1000 Americans. Help them with intelligence. Training. Equipment. Coordination. Battle of ideas. Help moderate Syrians rebels.  These are all tactical approaches. What kind of strategy do they belong in?

Work with partners? Combat warped ideology? Now here's one huge self contradiction.


What strategic goal should we pursue?

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Wed Mar 19, 2014 at 05:43 PM PDT

Cold War 2.0, WWIII, or Containment?

by Drawline

" Losing China",My last diary, got such silly responses, calling me "fear troll" and completely avoiding the issue of Kerry playing too-nice in the diplomatic arena, that I was stunned.

But that was before the Russian invasion of Crimea, and today's declaration by a Russian envoy that they would basically consider letting Iran develop nukes if the West does not recognize their takeover of Crimea. That was also before an Iranian ship full of weapons was boarded in an operation the Obama administration agreed to work on WITH the Israelis, knowing full well this may collapse the Iranian talks that I predicted will falter. That was before Russia decided to start preparation for pulling out of the START treaty. That was before Kerry started to play hardball with Sergei Leverov.

But it was NOT before the report on North Korea being as bad as the Stalin Gulags of the 1930's.

So I hope you "Isolationists Without Borders" listen this time, because you got it coming:

The new Cold War, version 2.0, is already here. The similarities to how WWII started are scary: In 1935 The Nazi's organized a referendum in Saar land that led to this neutral region's annexation by Germany. They did something similar in Austria, then in Sudetenland (part of the Czech Republic) in 1938. Bullies need to be contained!

This is NOT the stupid 2003 Iraq war re-visited. This is about progressive values  - not neocon values. WE could hold the high ground.

We have all the advantages, if we don't close our ears and shout ``la la la la la'' at the top of our lungs. If we do, it will be us that reap our fair rewards, instead of a second rate actor that stole Kennedy's thunder the last time around.


How worried are you about the Crimean crisis?

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Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 08:36 PM PST

The next "Losing China" moment?

by Drawline

One of the reasons for the loss of the white house by Democrats in 1952 was the Communist takeover of China in 1949. We can agree  that "Losing China" was a nasty racist campaign based on the assumption that we owned China prior to 1949 - but it worked.

Domestically, I don't see us losing the congress, senate or white house - but internationally we are in danger.

 We are now on the verge of FOUR plausible `Losing China' scenarios.

1. The first is "Losing TO china" scenario: North Korea human rights report
not leading to immediate serious action will make us lose our supposed good-guy stance, something Obama has started to rectify. Don't underestimate this!  

America is still the country that eventually comes through, EXCEPT for the Iraq debacle and Vietnam. This recent proof of a Nazi-like regime that no one does anything about will make Obama look as bad as Bush - something the Republicans will exploit.

2. A possible descent into chaos in the Ukraine, something Putin may leverage to indirectly take over this and other former Soviet Union republics. Imagine Ukraine becoming another Belarus.

3. Another Syrian chemical attack. Imagine the embarassment

4. The collapse of the Iran nuclear agreement.

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Dear Tea Party members:

You are our brethren, and we would love to have you with us - but you need to learn a few things on how our democracy is different from Canada. You require this from every naturalized citizen, so we thought you should know it too. We believe you would like Canada better. Here is why:

1. In America we have something called due process. You seem to hate that.

2. In America, if you don't like the constitution you amend it. There are 27 amendments. They are part of the constitutions. If you don't want to live by these, that's ok. You move to Canada.

In Canada you ARE allowed to change the laws and shoot down the government with 50.1% of the vote in parliament. It is called "A vote of no confidence".

In Canada the conservatives are allowed to attack the other parties as liberals. One is actually admitting to being liberals! (They are called liberals). The other is called `New Democrats.' Are you in heaven yet?  

OH.  You carry the US constitution in your pocket? Lovely! Including the XIII, XIV, XV and XXIV amendments, right? Oh, not those? Why don't you like them?

That's OK. You can change them.

So, if you are still not persuaded about Canada? Here is how you change them: You get the presidency, two thirds of congress, and get 3/4 (that's three fourths, for those of you that can't count. I know you are there) of states to agree. We have 50 states, so only 38 states needed. We may even be the one moving to Canada if you do that!

There is even a way to do this without getting the presidency: Get the 3/4 of the governors, and 2/3 of congress in those 38 states, and have them call a convention, and if it passes those, the senate can approve without the president.

Oh, you may just try that?

Go ahead! Make my day!


Tea Party members of congress should be encouraged to immigrate to:

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The main goal of any action in Syria as far as The West is concerned is to get rid of Chemical Weapons. I agree with this goal, and international agreements agree with this goal, but is it doable without a war? You betcha!

I believe repeated attempts in the UN security council that make the Russian position more and more bizarrely embarrassing has a chance. They may even join some efforts (see below. War never goes according to plan, and diplomatic efforts must minimize the numbers of friends of our enemies. So far we have done the opposite.)

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Sat May 04, 2013 at 08:53 PM PDT

Insane! Hold the NRA accountable!

by Drawline

The head of the NRA, LaPierre, said that: "Let them first enforce the laws on the books, and fix the mentally health system".

It's a contract, isn't it????????

Now the NRA MUST hold Republicans feet to the fire if they don't pass laws to support mental health!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If a congressman votes against funding clinics and health care for the mentally ill - that means they didn't vote with the NRA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Why don't we call them to task on that!

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Boehner is in trouble and may lose re-election because of his "Plan B" failure. The constitution does not say that the speaker of the house has to be a house member- and we all know that the speaker is the third in line for presidency.

So the Repubs can, in principle, circle the wagons and choose a bozo to replace Boehner. Then, since they will have the house, they can run 3/4 of the government (they do have the supreme court).

So let's see who will be our next president...


So who will it be?

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Today Mitt Romney, trying to divert attention from the revelation that he strongly believes half the people in this country are both gullible and free-loafers, said that he can actually help more than Obama can.

He said: “The question of this campaign is not who cares about the poor and the middle class. I do. He does. The question is: Who can help the poor and the middle class? I can! He can’t!”

I am going to perform a (slightly sardonic) experiment here: Let's take him at his word!

Let's assume for a minute that Mitt really believes what comes of his mouth, or that at least some republicans out there do. Let us also believe that he will DO what the republicans say they'll do, what Mitt Romney said he would do and actually did in the past, what Bush did in the past, or what Romney's VP candidate said he'll do in the past. Let us even assume the most rosy scenarios for each choice. Let's see, then, how they compare in lowering the number of poor Americans and increasing the number of entrepreneurial Americans. Let's start with the last...


What, do you think, would be the most successful plan from the ones outlined in the introduction?

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The most important characteristic of a truly free society is minority rights. The best way to eliminate those rights is to have someone in position of power choose what's acceptable.

This blog used to be the best thing on the web for me since I discovered it in 2004. It probably helped elect a democratic congress in 2006 and Obama in 2008. Do you know why? Because in addition to Markos, a variety of other anti-corporate, pro social change, pro reason and anti-war voices were heard loud and clear. If the idea was good, readers read it and commented. Ideas got better with honest exchanges of opinion.

Now, when we really need it so that we may reelect a great president, its just as bad as FOX news, and I think its because of this silly "Community Highlights".

There are a few  Markos Moulitsas admirers that think for all of us what KOS would have liked, and place it on the "community highlights" part  - and its usually not very important.  Its entertaining -  its baffoonery - its tooting our own horn - but who the !@#$ cares? (Unless you really think that the KOS is just a cheer leaders outlet.)

(example: the brilliantly funny but useless:
. If this entertainment or passion-arousing diaries were few, so be it. but its the only thing of note here anymore).

Even if it was Markos himself that chose those diaries, its still wrong. Its anti progressive. Its pretentious. Its like Pravda in the Soviet Union and Fox News choosing to only show what the Kremlin and the Murdochs family think is important.

Those that tried to keep this progressive outlet going by keeping it honest were demoted to diaries that no one reads, and no one of opposing progressive opinions is recommended by the die-hards teacher pets.

 I am back to old fashioned support of the ACLU and some local politicians, but honestly,  Citizens United means we are going to lose congress, and the senate, and, god forbid, maybe even the presidency. Oh how I wish the true KOS was back!

So if you are really trying to help the president re-elected, and get progressive causes back on the agenda, kill the bloody community spotlight, and start responding to opposing views with an open mind. In times of crisis, those creative people and creative ideas are the only chance we have!.

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Tue Jan 31, 2012 at 02:05 PM PST

Obama got this one wrong: Higher Ed

by Drawline

I hope this will make many of the readers here, too many of whom come from social sciences, really mad.

I love Obama. I think he is a wonderful president. I think he has done everything right until now, except for one thing: His complaining about university tuition being too high during the state of the union was absolutely wrong.

The problem is that stupid students and their parents pay for degrees such as psychology and exercise science in a market with 20% unemployment for graduates instead of computational science related studies where 80% of the jobs are. The problem is a government that subsidizes students in useless fields by giving them too long a period for returning their loans.

Paying for someone to go to a community college where they would teach you the basics you should have learned in our ``wonderful'' No-Child-Left-Behind-Somalia high schools system is throwing bad money after bad. We need advanced skills to compete in the world, not Calc 101 that should have been studied in tenth grade.

Of course Republicans solution is way nuttier: they want to cut all expanses by gov, pray for businesses to create something out of nothing, such as figure out new ways to get MORE healthcare money out of poor and sick people and into the pockets of HMO stock holders, and let those that fall off a cliff live in the streets or die. Oh. Newt wants us to teach kids how to sweep floor. Are we supposed to export the dirt to China?

Our universities are STILL (but not for much longer) the best in the world in computational science, engineering, and natural sciences. If you are studying engineering or science you will be able to pay back. If not: its your own damn fault.


How can we increase the number of skilled workers in technological and computational fields?

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Thu Nov 10, 2011 at 05:23 PM PST

Occupy Justice

by Drawline

This ground swell called the "Occupy" movement is not about Capitalism. This is not about Rich vs. Poor. Not even about health care.

It is about Justice.

In a wonderful book by Milan Kundera, "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" (much better than the movie), the protagonist publishes a letter that compares the "moderated" post-Stalinist communists rulers of Czechoslovakia (1967) to king Oedipus - the guy that killed his dad and married his mom without knowing who they were. When he found out, Oedipus burned his own eyes as a self punishment.

Its not enough, says Kundera, to claim that "you are sorry". You should offer proof of being sorry. Taking out your own eyes is proof enough.

That's justice.

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