mm468: And the band played on

August 14, 2008
© Catia Amadio | Dreamstime.com

© Catia Amadio | Dreamstime.com

MUDGE’s Musings

In case current events in the nation of Georgia haven’t made the fact crystal clear, yr (justifiably) humble svt is unhappy to inform you that the U.S. military hasn’t exactly covered itself in glory over the past nearly 20 years since the end of the Cold War.

And the diplomatic corps has similarly shown itself to be overstressed and undermanned.

Nicholas Kristof made the point this past weekend: the U.S. has more musicians in its military bands than it has diplomats!

And what Kristof’s story omits, due to rapidly breaking events, is the failure of both U.S. diplomacy and U.S. military strength during the Russian invasion of Georgia this past week.

Military strength? Well, we can’t simultaneously put sufficient boots on the ground to meet our objectives in Iraq and Afghanistan, much less come to the aid of a strategically critical ally, Georgia.

Diplomacy? A strong diplomatic corps might have foreseen (yes, hindsight is always 20:20) that Georgia was simultaneously taking U.S. and NATO support as more than words, while underestimating Vladimir Putin’s urge for regained empire, and warned Mikheil Saakashvili away from his adventuristic invasion of South Ossettia.

Or a diplomatic arm with some heft might have been able to forestall, or at least mitigate, Russia’s response. Putin may now be emboldened to exercise his brand of “diplomacy” over other, West-leaning, former states of the old Soviet empire, and the U.S. will be hard pressed to protect them, diplomatically or militarily, if it even figures out that this would be a useful strategy.

But George III is a happy warrior, as befits a civilian who took giant steps to avoid substantive military service, and diplomacy apparently doesn’t mean much to him, or it appears, to Congress.

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mm433: McCain’s ultimate vulnerability: the economy

July 8, 2008
mccainbush From Daniel Kurtzman, About.com

MUDGE’s Musings

We’ve spent the past month or so watching the candidates come off their primary paces, attempting to rejigger their respective approaches to the general election, and taking some hits for the resulting adjustments.

The mishandled wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been top of mind for many voters since the pointless charade of “Mission Accomplished!”

Paul Krugman reminds us, however, of another paramount issue in this election, the economy, and what its dire condition means to John McCain.

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mm370: How can you tell our president is lying?*

May 5, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

Surprisingly (to me at least) it’s been several weeks since we last looked at the nation’s recession. Maybe we were hoping that we would wake up and find it was all a bad, bad dream.

“May you live in interesting times”

mm347: It’s official, we’re depressed — er, recessed
mm344: Welcome to interesting times
mm337: Dare we trust the guys who got us into this mess?
mm335: Are you prepared for interesting times?
mm334: Rearranging deck chairs
mm333: “Great people shouldn’t have a resume”
mm331: Obama at Cooper Union: Lincoln?
mm328: Today’s economics lesson: Depression 101
mm309: The news Bush really hates you to hear
mm289: Recession: Paying the price for our power
mm285: Mayor Mike tells some hard truths
mm263: This man -so- wants to pull the trigger…
mm257: The R-Word – Not that racy television show
mm256: I don’t hate big corporations, either

Basically, the time since Jan. 20, 2001 has been a bad, bad dream; our collective misfortune is that we’ve been experiencing it together. Okay, people, no more sushi from that place down the street!

But, about our recession. Did you catch the news that the unemployment numbers weren’t as desperately bad as predicted? These are the types of statistics examined by gimlet-eyed economists, whom I’m afraid function in much the same way (just different, more electrified tools) as witch doctors and soothsayers.

Consider the employment numbers as so much chicken entrails.

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mm326: Go figure! Even our robot forces are undermanned!

March 23, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

This nanocorner of the ‘Sphere© is always intrigued when one of its obsessions interests pops up as news.

Danger Room is a military affairs blog (part of Wired.com) we don’t check into sufficiently often, but today we were rewarded with a new Predator tale.

The changing face of military aviation

ninth in an occasional series

The series so far…

No

Title

Link

1

U.S. pilot helped clear the fog of war

mm142

2

Go to war — Play videogames

mm155

3

Osprey: A Flying Shame

mm163

4

Abolish the Air Force

mm183

5

Proxy killers — Can you live with that?

mm211

6

A Maginot Line for the 21st Century

mm215

7

A shared obsession is a satisfying thing

mm225

8

Videogames. Real warfare. An unsettling

mm288

predatorfromdangerroom

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mm315: Blast from the past No. 2

March 14, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

There’s most read, and then there’s favorite. This is a post which yr (justifiably) humble svt is, regrettably, but not regretfully, not at all humble about.

lhc250x46_thumb2

Blast from the Past!

A post we really, really loved to write, and read, and re-read…

From our very earliest days, originally posted May 28, 2007.

mm016: Unimpeachable?

When do we impeach?

Saturday’s Washington Post drove it home once more:

Months before the invasion of Iraq, U.S. intelligence agencies predicted that it would be likely to spark violent sectarian divides and provide al-Qaeda with new opportunities in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a report released yesterday by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Analysts warned that war in Iraq also could provoke Iran to assert its regional influence and “probably would result in a surge of political Islam and increased funding for terrorist groups” in the Muslim world.

The intelligence assessments, made in January 2003 and widely circulated within the Bush administration before the war, said that establishing democracy in Iraq would be “a long, difficult and probably turbulent challenge.” The assessments noted that Iraqi political culture was “largely bereft of the social underpinnings” to support democratic development….

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mm265: It’s a Bush administration; the wealthy get wealthier while the poor suck hind tit

January 25, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

The number crunchers are beginning to weigh in on the administration’s latest economic stimulus plan.

Can one really be surprised that the stimulus mainly impacts those who need it least?

Paul Krugman had the following observations in the NYTimes, and on his blog:

Stimulus Gone Bad

By PAUL KRUGMAN | Published: January 25, 2008

House Democrats and the White House have reached an agreement on an economic stimulus plan. Unfortunately, the plan — which essentially consists of nothing but tax cuts and gives most of those tax cuts to people in fairly good financial shape — looks like a lemon.

Specifically, the Democrats appear to have buckled in the face of the Bush administration’s ideological rigidity, dropping demands for provisions that would have helped those most in need. And those happen to be the same provisions that might actually have made the stimulus plan effective.

In his related blog (linked to in the Times, and full of a series of useful comments on the stimulus plan) he reproduces the chart that the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center created after analysis:

rebateshare

Predictable:the top 40% of income earners would get 58% of the proceeds. It’s just so typically wrong-headed. We’re headed toward rough seas; let’s take the motors off the lower-deck lifeboats, so that the upper deck lifeboats have two!

And the Democratic leaders in Congress, as has been typical for them since they assumed majority status after the 2006 elections, caved. No stomach for a fight, Ms. Pelosi? If not, you certainly are in the wrong place at the wrong time!

Krugman points out that getting money to people who really need it “does double duty: it alleviates hardship, and also pumps up consumer spending.”

The result: a program that isn’t helpful where most needed, and fails in its goal as an economic stimulus.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Stimulus Gone Bad – New York Times

You needn’t be a card-carrying curmudgeon to be disgusted.

I just love the FDR quote, at a time when spats-wearing plutocrats were desperately clinging to their customary piracy – er, business – as usual:

“We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we know now that it is bad economics.”

When will it end, you ask? timeanddate.com tells us: 360 days, 15 hours: Noon Eastern Standard Time, Tuesday, 20-January-2009.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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mm231: mudge deserves some topical credit

December 23, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

We’re not a news organization here at Left-Handed Complement nor do we aspire to be.

But, we can be quick. We posted the following at approximately 8:05pmCST on Wednesday, 19-December-2007, in response to that day’s news of the fire in Dick Cheney’s ceremonial offices in Washington.

mm226: Tricky Dick’s burn bag blew out of control…

… tell me you didn’t think of that!

White House Office Building Catches Fire
Blaze May Have Started in Utility Closet

By Allison Klein, Debbi Wilgoren and Michael Schmuhl

Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, December 19, 2007; 3:11 PM

The historic Eisenhower Executive Office Building next door to the White House caught fire this morning, and D.C. firefighters broke windows and doused the second and third floors with water to extinguish the two-alarm blaze.

At an afternoon news conference, D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and Fire Chief Dennis L. Rubin said security concerns prevented them from saying exactly where or how the fire started.

So here’s a member of L-HC’s blogroll blogroll2 The Raw Story, pointing out that we were hardly the only curmudgeonly comedian on the story:

rawstoryinvestigates

Post columnist jokes: What was Cheney trying to hide with that office fire?

Nick Juliano  | Published: Friday December 21, 2007

Conspiratorial wheels started spinning in plenty of people’s minds this week when a fire broke out in Dick Cheney’s ceremonial offices. The vice president is known for his penchant for secrecy, and between destroyed CIA tapes and missing e-mails, the government he helps run hardly lacks precedent for getting rid of potentially incriminating evidence.

For one Washington Post columnist, Wednesday’s fire sparked reminders of an abandoned plot from the Watergate era, when a young Cheney was cutting his teeth of government service.

“Arson might seem a bit far-fetched to folks outside the Beltway, but it would not be the first time a small conflagration was planned by a White House official,” writes Al Kamen Friday in his “In The Loop” column. “We recall that Watergate burglary mastermind G. Gordon Liddy plotted firebombing the Brookings Institution — ‘as a diversion,’ he writes in his memoirs — to get into the security vault and steal Daniel Ellsberg’s Vietnam War papers.”

Is it a joke?

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

The Raw Story | Post columnist jokes: What was Cheney trying to hide with that office fire?

Remember how we finished up the other day?

… in advance of impeachment, right?

I know there’s only a year left, but you have to send a message to the evangelicals and the neocons that they’ll remember, and you can’t get to George III until you remove his even worse alternative.

We’ve had occasion to make this point previously: the only scenario for which impeachment is really practical eerily mirrors the situation in 1973, when the vultures started circling around our first nefarious Dick; the Senate and Congress couldn’t seriously consider impeachment of Nixon with slimy Spiro Agnew ready to succeed.

They got Agnew on tax evasion charges from his Maryland governorship days, and then the path toward Nixon’s impeachment was clear.

Thus it could be for George III.

Maybe our present Dick is feeling some heat… and feels compelled to do some inflammatory housekeeping.

Faithful reader heard it here first, or at least could have, as early as 8:05pmCST on 19-December.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE