The Mother of all Flip-Flops

At first, I was startled that Bush was giving what seemed to be an honest assessment: we cannot win the war on terrorism. Even if we construe that to mean what it really means–a geopolitical “warm” war between secular western technocracies and reactionary Islamic jihadists–it could not be won militarily absent the greatest genocide in recorded history.

Bush’s mistake was that he framed this “war on terror” as something that could occupy his entire eight-year term, thinking it would be a political capital ATM, when instead its very vagueness has rendered it a road with no mile markers, except for the capture of Osama bin Laden. If he had simply said, “We will destroy al-qaeda” he could have made history as fighting a not-hot, yet not-cold “warm” war against non-state terrorist groups that could have defined 21st century American triumphalism.

Instead, Bush followed a Victorian-era riff of imperialism. And why not? This isn’t really about defeating terrorism. When was the last time we concerned ourselves with Preuvian terrorists, or even the goings on in Central America, much less Africa?

No, even if this isn’t directly about oil, it’s only about terrorism near oil.

But instead, Bush engaged in the mother of all flip flops (“MOAFF-2004”). He declared today, that we will win the war on terror. Even the John Kerry of the imagination of late-night comics never made anything to compare with the MOAFF.

But, snickering a haw-haw I told you so, and he does it too isn’t going to do any good in a double-standard media world. (Where the outing of a New Jersey governor dominates several news cycles, and the gay-sex-chat of a homophoic bornagain congressman makes no headlines.)

There are two places we can be in, say, 2030. The democratic nations of the world, having rejected the use of fossil fuels, are mainly engaged in suppressing environmental security threats–such as the illegal importation of oil by developping nations–and other non-military destabilizing forces like poverty, water-scarcity, and ethnic strife. Or … we can be living in a time when the twentieth century is looked back upon as a Gold Age that frittered away in a Gilded one, where two different non-state actors, corporations and terrorists, war against each other.

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Is Iraq The End of Globalization?

I’ve never been able to fully commit myself to either a pro- or anti-globalization position. On the one hand, I find it hard to believe that we will ever return to an era of isolationsim, and I do believe that trade can open up societies. On the other hand, you don’t have to look very far to see the negative consequences at home or abroad. Plus, any free-trade regime inevitably drifts toward oligopoly, in a sort of Aristotelian way (ie the way pure democracies become oligarchies etc.)

So, in the end, I come down supporting “fair trade” or some variation of it, whereby we keep the trade but have the kinds of international institutions that we have in the US. To the industry side, this is the same as isolationism, because it denies the benefit of multinational status: limited regulation

But, one of the unofficial “institutions” that has had to enforce trade arrangments, formal or informal, has been the US military. Protest all you want, but the only reason Iraq is on our radar, the only reason that Islamists might target us, is because of our history of exploitation in that region, which is, at least over the last 100 years or so, been connected with oil (as opposed to slavery before).

And to be sure, once we’re done fighting over oil, we’ll find something else… water maybe, to fight over, so long as there is a growing population in a limited and ever more used-up world.

But, given the present situation, there will probably have to be another 9/11 level event with a clear source to get the US politically ready to mobilize for another trade-poicing action again.

Given that, I ask, is the Iraq situation the end of globalization? Is it (if Viet Nam wasn’t) the end of American exceptionalism?

Willie Horton Was Real; SBVFT Aren't

Michael Dukakis, perhaps the Jove of the 20th century pantheon of Democratic losers, didn’t think he had to reply to Bush’s Willie Horton ad. He could have pointed out, for example, the furlough program that the federal government had used. He could have pointed out a dozen other ugly things about Bush, and, in the end he might have preserved his 20 point lead. But, he was a douche. Just like Mondale, just like Gore, just like McGovern… and the rest of the crew up on Loserlympus.

The image of a [fnord] black [fnord] felon [fnord] getting out of prison to desecrate your milky-white daughter was enough to forget Iran-Contra, the “Wimp,” the deficits, and Black Monday.

The thing is, whether or not that should have been, anyone with a brain knows that that kind of image would terrify white America. It was an effective, if dirty and racist, ad.

John Kerry is a different kind of Democrat. First of all, he has some balls. He’s killed people within a small radius of himself. I think the last Democratic presidential candidate to have done that was … ok, I’ll ask KenJen from Jeopardy, but I’d guess you’d have to go back a ways. (Submariners and air force pilots don’t count. I’m talking shooting someone with a gun). Well, ok, besides Vernon Jordan, if you’re a Republican.

In fact, I think Kerry baited the Republicans into attacking his Viet Nam record — how could he lose as long as anyone was smart enough to compare Bush’s [lack of[ service? They took the bait. And now Bush is, I daresay, flip-flopping on his response to the ads.

Above all else, these ads are simply untrue. Kerry saved that guy. Kerry had war wounds. End of story.

Apparently people agree. Look at the latest Zogby poll. If the election was held today, Kerry wins in a landslide.

Restore the Hetch-Hetchy.

The Sacramento Bee, which is quickly becoming my favorite paper for all things California, starts a series today on restoring the Hetch-Hetchy valley. (Depending on how you look at it, Hetch-Hetchy is either the other Yosemite valley, or San Francisco’s Mono Lake.)

I’ve been interested in this cause since I was younger than 10. It makes sense on many levels, and it may actually be reality one day. It may not even signify a single step towards a saner water policy in the west, but it at least remedies one of the ill-effects of the myopic decision to abandon the riparian system. (Too much water in Hetch-Hetchy, water at all in the Central Valley, no water in the Owens Valley, and the existence of Los Angeles are some of the bizarre effects of this policy.)

Update: This article was actually posted yesterday. The next in the series should be next Sunday.

EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it! NEWS NEWS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – One-third of President Bush (news – web sites)’s tax cuts have gone to the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans, shifting more burden to middle-income taxpayers, congressional analysts said on Friday.

Gee, I was just waiting for someone to announce this, since I had no idea.

Time to worry.

I think Kerry’s strategy of sitting back and let Bush screw up is going to start costing him in the coming weeks. I’ve seen encouraging polls from Florida and Michigan today, but I can’t help but freak out a little bit. It’s looking too good and there’s still too much time left.

The Bush attack machine is getting traction on Kerry’s war record. Stupid, yes, but they are.

I’m going to predict this: we’re close to tied after the RNC, and the debates better do some good for Kerry in Florida (I don’t see how Bush can win without Florida and Ohio).

Fed Hike: Call me "Stunned in San Luis"

Back in the days when you had to wear a tin-foil hat, hang out with Ayn Rand, and despair at the over-regulated ways of the Hoover administration, it was considered mainstream to believe in the twin pillars of the Fed: price stability and full employment.

Now, of course, every economist looking to make his name post-Keynes has developed more and more Ptolemaic gobbeldygook that has old Occam, rolling in his grave, despairing that his razor can’t be used to kill him again. And a big part of that theory is that full employment is really secondary, after all, to inflation control.

Because if you’re on the side of capital (as all supply siders are) you don’t want your capital to bleed away into oblivion. And, ahem, the richer the capitalists, the more money there is to trickle down, if only we could quit paying those silly taxes!

Of course all of that is nonsense, and none of the economic models that these ideas are founded on hold up to the data without above-said Occam-sickening epicycles.

Eventually we are just going to have to realize that we have to pay for some things. If we don’t want full employment, then we have to have a Euro style safety net. Otherwise, America will be a sewer.

That said, I haven’t seen him in a tinfoil hat lately but I know that he hung around in [sic] Ayn Rand, and I have seen Hoover restored in him: Alan Greenspan. The pure insanity of yesterday’s rate hike has me stunned here at home in San Luis Obispo.

Of course, not doing it after he had signalled he would would have made it clear that this is no soft patch, and probably cancelled irrevocably Hoover II’s second term (oopse, I mean Bush II).