Canadian Opposition Topples Tories

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20081130.wottawa1130/BNStory/National/home

NDP+Liberal Coalition to boot Harper. Go visit your butt boy in Crawford, Steven.

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Polemic 4 Days Ahead On India (;

On November 27, 2008, just after midnight, I wrote:

To say this is fnord al Qaeda fnord is accurate but imprecise. It may be connected to the larger Qaeda movement, but the point of destablizing India is a different, though related, front in their jihad. Pakistan is now on the verge of becoming a failed state, much like Afghanistan, and they are working hard on pushing India into a corner where they might have to militarize their border, or make limited incursion

Let’s nor [sic] forget that this comes right after Obama’s election, who promised to escalate in Afghanistan to go after bin Laden, who is most likely in Waziristan, Pakistan. While I agree with that policy, I also believe that Obama’s policy, his election, and this attack are NOT a coincidence. 

December 1, 2008’s Times of London:

Other Indian analysts said the attack appeared to be an attempt to undermine US policy towards India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“There’s a lot of clamour for action against Pakistan from India,” Pratap Bhanu Mehta, the head of the Centre for Policy Research. “This attack was not just an attempt to scuttle India’s peace process with Pakistan. It was in many ways a pre-emptive strike against [Barack] Obama’s strategy for the region.”

The U.S. President elect has proposed increasing troop levels in Afghanistan and stepping up the pressure on Pakistan to attack militants on its territory. In exchange, he has suggested appointing an special envoy to help resolve Pakistan’s territorial dispute with India over Kashmir.

A crisis in India-Pakistan relations would scupper both plans.

Doctor Antonio Giustozzi, an expert on Afghanistan at the London School of Economics, said Washington could weather such a crisis, but concurred on the militants’ aims.

“I think that the terrorists have made a calculation that aims to worsen relations between India and Pakistan and embarrass the Pakistan government, in the hope that the Indians make an uncontrolled response,” he said.

That, he said, would “strengthen the militants’ hand and compromise the campaign by Islamabad against extremists by diverting troops back to the Indian border.”

The Subcontinent is a hobby of mine. It’s the most dangerous place in the world, and it has been for a long time. More dangerous than Israel/Palestine, more dangerous than Iraq or Iran, more dangerous than any of the former Soviet Republics. This is simply because there are over a billion people living under the threat of a nuclear conflict, with a billion more next door in China ready to throw in.

 

UPDATE:

India’s second strike ability is indeed non-existent. They are currently developing submarines, but claim that their land and air based weapons are only for retaliation. But because their stockpile is so small, it is not a very creidble retaliation. India claims also not to have weapons on hair-trigger alert, but does not rule out having a first-strike capability.

India claims that only the civlian government, i.e. the prime minister and his Nuclear Command Authority, and their chain of command successors have control.

So, in sum, either they are extremely vulnerable to a first strike, or this is bullshit and there is field control and ready alert for some of their forces. Their estimated stockpile is a mere 50-60 nukes. Pakistan possibly has twice that many.

Pakistan doesn’t have a well-defined policy and only has shitty missiles and some olf F-16s to deliver them, but it’s more than enough to hit Delhi. Their maximum range missile goes about 1,200 miles. India probably has one that can reach twice that far.

I doubt Pakistan could effectively retaliate if India’s intelligence is any good. The scary part is their command and control.

Oil Prices

Does anyone out there still think the price of oil wasn’t inflated by speculation? I love Paul Krugman, but I think he was being too cerebral on this issue. Calculated Risk summed up the debate back in May, here.

Lots of people have agendas. The Texas Conspiracy (my term for Bretton Woods/PNAC/Neo-Cons/WTO/World Bank/Oil Empire etc.) has two big dogs in this fight: market fundamentalism and petroimperialism. Any economist associated with market fundamentalism will be sneeringly dismissive of anything that points out a massive market failure. Markets are innocent until proven guilty, and the “purest” among them won’t even acknowledge standard textbook failures like monopolies.

The oil companies, of course, love the profits because it didn’t get more expensive to extract, especially from the preexisting facilities, than it did at $10 a barrel back in the 90s.

Oil is the lynchpin of America’s empire. That’s why when politicians say they’re going to “reduce our dependence on foreign oil” they look at it as a mere energy policy question. Without oil profits, most of our empire loses its motive. Literally dozens of dictators we’ve propped up lose their raison d’etre. Castro, Chavez, and Morales will look like puppy dogs compared to the people who would replace dictators not backed by the Texas Conspiracy. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, I’m just saying it’s the simple most complicated problem in the world, and can’t be reduced to a BTU balance sheet.

Oil is also controlled largely by a cartel, OPEC. How can anyone talk much about market forces here? What isn’t controlled by OPEC is so connected to other elite institutions that it might as well be looked at like a government when running your macroeconomic formulae.

Anyway, here’s the nut of my argument: if there’s a credit crisis and people can’t get leveraged to throw their money where there’s profits (tech stocks, real estate… oil) and suddenly the price of oil goes down 67% suddenly, maybe it’s because no one can speculate!

The news says it’s because of diminished projections in the economy. But the economy is not going down 67%. Demand is not down 67%—is it? That would be the Mother of All Depressions, not just a Recession of Unusual Size (ROUSes? I don’t believe they exist. ARRRRRRR (Insert Robert Rubin joke here)).

Some of the peak oil people were telling us that it was just supply and demand fundamentals—so, what? is this a reverse bubble? and if it is, doesn’t that just prove the point about speculation?

Look, the economy is down, but not down even close to the relatively limited proportion that economic growth is.

Take The American Hostages, Kill The Jews

 There are a lot of things about Chabad that I don’t care for in the political arena. But, even in the relatively remote part of California where I live, when the recent fires struck, the Chabad folks were the first ones to help and they operate with low overhead compared to the Red Cross.

Chabad was not in India to spread Zionism or Judaism. Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg were there to offer a way station for traveling Jews, who might be looking for some kosher food or a place to relax on shabbat. They weren’t there to save souls, convert people, or impinge on anyone else’s religious beliefs.

And they weren’t even Israelis–they were New Yorkers, and they were killed by fanatics in order to destablize the Subcontinent further, probably by trying to draw Israel into a muslim-annoying alliance with India.

Thanks, Bush for ignoring al Qaeda for 7 years.

India: Good morning, America.

Nightline says that this attack caught Indian services “off guard.” It appears to have caught America off guard as well, because it’s all over. But the thing is, India has been heating up for a while, as Juan Cole explains.

The Subcontinent has been a hobby of mine for over 10 years. I have dozens of pages of a draft of a novel whose primary historical background is a nuclear war between India and Pakistan. I will update this, but last I checked, India and Pakistan lack second-strike capability and other early warning systems that created the deterrence in the US-USSR cold war. In other words, (I have no idea for sure, of course) it is possible that when these countries reach a certain level of alert, strike authority descends to field commanders, because the central command would not survive a first strike. If that’s the case, the risk of mistakes is huge.

To say this is fnord al Qaeda fnord is accurate but imprecise. It may be connected to the larger Qaeda movement, but the point of destablizing India is a different, though related, front in their jihad. Pakistan is now on the verge of becoming a failed state, much like Afghanistan, and they are working hard on pushing India into a corner where they might have to militarize their border, or make limited incursions.

Now, at 11:49 pst, another explosion.

Let’s nor forget that this comes right after Obama’s election, who promised to escalate in Afghanistan to go after bin Laden, who is most likely in Waziristan, Pakistan. While I agree with that policy, I also believe that Obama’s policy, his election, and this attack are NOT a coincidence. 

Deepak Chopra just demanded that India “quit blaming” Pakistan on CNN. Maybe the Pakistani government–the recognized one–isn’t behind this, but Pakistanis are, and Pakistan has no effective government to blame. Their Taliban-linked Intelligence Service *is* to blame in part, almost for sure for this, and for 9/11.

Bush’s deal with the devil Musharraf was the second worst blunder in the “war on terror,” and I can only say that now because Iraq is a bigger one. Ultimately, not taking the bull by the horns (and following the non-neo-con approach of addressing failed states) may grow into a situation that dwarfs Iraq, including, as previously mentioned, the world’s first nuclear exchange. (Which cannot but escalate with Chinese, Russian, American, and Iranian intervention.)

The Chabad center in Mumbai was attacked, and Israeli citizens, as well as American and UK citizens, were taken hostage, I’m reading. Jews are being targeted–but Hindus have been targeting Muslims and Christians elsewhere in India (see the Juan Cole link above).

In 2002, I worried attacking Iraq would take the eye of the ball that I thought might be Iran. Well, that may prove true. But, it may make us unable to deal with the nascent conflict that could be WW3 two countries over.

Fucking Bush. His lame duck session is doubling down on worst president ever: play chicken with Great Depression II and leave us vulnerable to World War III.

Polemic Analysis: California Supremes Won't Strike Prop 8

With the original In re Marriages case only sporting a 4-3 majority, it is simply required that each of those 4 votes hold fast in order to support striking Proposition 8.

Justice Joyce Kennard voted against reviewing Proposition 8. There are more details in this L.A. Times article, but the upshot is she is an independent voter on the Court. Lost amongst the very strong voices on each side is the reality that right or wrong, with or without the threat of a recall, many judges are extremely reluctant to override the democratic process. 

Only Justice Moreno voted to immediately suspend the effect of Proposition 8. There is little to suggest that any of the 3 in he minority would be inclined to take the more radical step of overriding a popular vote, unless, somehow they are persuaded that the principle of stare decisis demands it. That seems unlikely.

Chief Justice George seemed to be making an appeal to history in his In re Marriages opinion. 

Kennard and Corrigan are not up for reelection until 2018. Werdegar, Moreno, and Baxter are up again in 2014. But I’m fairly sure George is up again in 2010, and so is Chin, a solid ‘no’ vote. 

My guess is that Prop 8 is sustained 6-1, Moreno dissenting. There will be a repeal proposition in 2010 and an effort to vote Chin out.