Through The Static

August 29, 2008

Another Take on McCain

Filed under: Elections,Politics — disciplepete @ 9:21 am

I just posted an article from Alternet about what McCain’s presidency might be like, here’s another article on the same topic from The Economist. It gives a different take…I’m like Fox News, fair and balanced.

When anything happens to remind Americans that the world is a dangerous place, Mr McCain’s stock rises. The murder of Benazir Bhutto in December probably helped him win the New Hampshire primary less than two weeks later. Russia’s recent invasion of Georgia made him look prescient. (Mr Bush once gushed that he looked into Vladimir Putin’s eyes and saw his soul; Mr McCain quipped that he looked into his eyes and saw “a ‘K’, a ‘G’ and a ‘B’.”)

But will foreign policy always be a strength? Deliberately misconstruing a McCain comment, Democrats have suggested that he wants to occupy Iraq for 100 years. In fact, the gulf between the two candidates on Iraq has narrowed since the end of the Democratic primaries. Mr McCain wants to make Iraq stable and then pull out. Mr Obama wants to pull out as soon as possible, provided that Iraq is stable. How far apart these positions really are depends on how differently you think each candidate would react to developments on the ground. Mr Obama would doubtless withdraw more American troops more quickly, but perhaps not much more quickly.

A more fertile area of attack for the Democrats might well be Mr McCain’s general bellicosity. Back in 2000, his keenness to stamp American democracy on the world made him the neoconservative pick ahead of the milder Mr Bush. Mr McCain, whose political hero is the warlike Teddy Roosevelt, would certainly be readier to bomb Iran than Mr Obama would. And although he has a much better record of getting on with allies than Mr Bush, his scheme for a League of Democracies has plenty of pitfalls.

On economics, Mr McCain’s record has been pretty sensible. He has favoured free trade, low taxes, light regulation and fiscal responsibility. He has consistently opposed wasteful pork-barrel spending while Mr Obama has indulged in it. Two problems, however, have emerged on the campaign trail.

First, he has lost some of his reputation for fiscal straight-talking. The man who condemned Mr Bush’s tax cuts as irresponsible now proposes irresponsibly to expand them. On the stump, he sometimes spouts populist piffle, suggesting for example that oil prices might be reduced by cracking down on speculators. (Mr Obama is guilty of this, too.) And sometimes he says things that make no sense at all, such as when he maintains that a cap-and-trade system for curbing carbon emissions would impose no costs on the American economy.

Second, when it comes to the details of economic policy, Mr McCain often seems out of his depth in ankle-deep water. Asked in July if he supported treasury secretary Hank Paulson’s plan to offer a line of credit to shore up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the ailing government-backed mortgage giants, he said: “I do.” Asked to flesh out his answer, he said: “I support it.”

Given Mr McCain’s weakness in this area, his choice of economic advisers matters a lot. His chief economics guru, Doug Holtz-Eakin, a former head of the Congressional Budget Office, is widely respected. But two other advisers, Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman, are businesspeople rather than economists…

…Another part of Mr McCain’s appeal is his record as a maverick. His opponent has never bucked his own party’s orthodoxy on anything important. Mr McCain often has. He pressed for action against global warming when many of his Republican colleagues were still dismissing it as a hoax. He joined hands with a Democrat to enact a campaign-finance reform many conservatives reviled. With Ted Kennedy, he sponsored a bill that would have granted illegal immigrants a path to citizenship, had congressional Republicans not howled it down…

…On social issues Mr McCain takes conservative positions, but without obvious gusto. He opposes gay marriage, but half-heartedly. He says he wants to ban abortion, but once let slip that, if his daughter wanted one, he would leave the choice to her. Such moderation, though appealing to swing voters, is anathema to those who equate abortion with murder. But social conservatives have nowhere else to turn. They might stay at home on polling day, but they are unlikely to vote for Mr Obama, who has a 100% rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America, an abortion-rights group.

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What a McCain Victory Could Mean: No Money for Health Care and the End of Our Volunteer Army

Filed under: Eeeeep!,Elections,Politics — disciplepete @ 9:06 am

Alternet:

In judging the shape of a future John McCain presidency, there are already plenty of dots that are easy to connect. They reveal an image of a war-like Empire so full of hubris that it could take the world into a cascade of crises, while extinguishing what is left of the noble American Republic.

McCain has made clear he would continue and even escalate George W. Bush’s open-ended global war on Islamic radicals. McCain buys into the neoconservative vision of expending U.S. treasure and troops to kill as many Muslim militants as possible…

…McCain’s global war strategy is as hawkish, if not more so, than Bush’s. In late 2001 and early 2002, McCain took the lead in pushing the neocon plan of a rapid pivot from the invasion of Afghanistan toward the prospective invasion of Iraq…

…the Bush-McCain-neocon neglect of Afghanistan has contributed to worsening instability in nuclear-armed Pakistan, where the Taliban and al-Qaeda are expanding safe havens and increasing influence…

Another casualty of McCain’s endless Middle East wars, which soon could include Iran, would almost surely be America’s volunteer army. Though McCain officially opposes a restoration of the draft, it is nearly impossible to envision how his multiple wars could be waged without one.

And McCain also had made clear that he favors a neo-Cold War confrontation with Moscow over another part of the neocon agenda — the encircling of Russia with pro-U.S. regimes and the placement of strategic missile systems near Russia’s borders…

From the perspective of U.S. taxpayers, the neocon strategy of permanent global dominance means funding the military-industrial complex at levels never before seen, especially when one factors in the simultaneous costs of the “war on terror,” the Iraq War, the Afghan War and a possible Iran War.

The combined price tag for McCain’s military adventures, at a time when the federal government is already running about half a trillion dollars in debt, would mean that virtually every other national priority would have to be short-changed or neglected.

There will be little money left to address the energy crisis, global warming, retooling the auto industry, health care, Social Security, education, infrastructure repairs, etc., etc.

 

August 28, 2008

Putin accuses U.S. of orchestrating Georgian war

Filed under: Politics,War,World News — disciplepete @ 12:35 pm

CNN:

SOCHI, Russia (CNN) — Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has accused the United States of orchestrating the conflict in Georgia to benefit one of its presidential election candidates.

In an exclusive interview with CNN’s Matthew Chance in the Black Sea city of Sochi Thursday, Putin said the U.S. had encouraged Georgia to attack the autonomous region of South Ossetia.

Putin told CNN his defense officials had told him it was done to benefit a presidential candidate — Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama are competing to succeed George W. Bush — although he presented no evidence to back it up.

“U.S. citizens were indeed in the area in conflict,” Putin said. “They were acting in implementing those orders doing as they were ordered, and the only one who can give such orders is theirleader.”

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino blasted Putin’s statements, saying they were “patently false.”

“To suggest that the United States orchestrated this on behalf of a political candidate just sounds not rational,” she said.

U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Robert Wood concurred, and labeled Putin’s statements as “ludicrous.”

August 27, 2008

As Food Prices Soar, Brazil and Argentina React in Opposite Ways

Filed under: Economics,Food,World News — disciplepete @ 1:00 pm

NYT:

SÃO PAULO, Brazil — Luciano Alves planted beans, corn and grain on about 7,500 acres of his farm in southern Brazil last year. This year, he is planting 8,600 acres. And he credits Brazil’s president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, with the increase.

“The government is helping us finance the purchase of new machinery,” said Mr. Alves. “They reduced the interest rates we pay and have given us more time to pay off the loans. It’s vital.”

Rising food prices mean many farmers around the world are reaping record profits. And South America’s agricultural powerhouses, Brazil and Argentina, are responding to the farming windfall in exactly opposite ways.

Mr. da Silva’s government recently announced record farm credits, in an effort to get Brazil’s farmers to produce more while the price of their exports are high on world markets, a move that should improve Brazil’s economy. But Argentina, Brazil’s economic and political archrival, decided to share the agricultural windfall at home.

Worried about the wave of inflation rippling around the world, the government of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner increased export taxes on some crops, a move meant to keep down domestic food prices by encouraging farmers flush from global profits to sell more at home.

“In our country the government is trying to get money to subsidize other sectors of the economy,” said Eduardo Cucagna, president of FN Semillas, an Argentina seed company, objecting to the policy. “I think Brazil is doing the opposite, adapting to what the world is offering now. They’re doing it right.”

August 26, 2008

Pastor conned followers with his fake cancer ‘over porn addiction’

Filed under: Religion,WTF — disciplepete @ 10:31 am

Pretty bizarre….this guy in Australia was a pastor who pretended he had cancer, he would sing inspirational songs and even wore an oxygen tube during his performances…but it turns out it’s all a hoax, and he’s really just a porn addict. Umm..yeah, don’t ask me, I don’t know either. Herald Sun:

THE father of a disgraced Melbourne preacher who faked a two-year battle with cancer says his son’s porn obsession fuelled the deceit.

Shocked father Danny Guglielmucci – also a minister – said his son Michael’s bizarre double life was underpinned by the 16-year addiction.

Michael Guglielmucci, until recently a preacher at the popularPlanetshakers youth church in Melbourne, inspired Christians around the world with a hit song, Healer.

The song featured on Sydney church Hillsong’s latest album and debuted at No. 2 on the ARIA charts.

But the high-profile church leader was stripped of his credentials this week after he admitted fabricating his battle with terminal illness.

The deception included conducting performances with an oxygen tube in his nose and telling audiences he had broken bones and other unexplained symptoms.

In an exclusive interview with the Sunday Herald Sun Mr Guglielmucci said he, his wife and Michael’s wife had no idea about the deception until recent days and they were all in “absolute shock” to discover Michael wasn’t terminally ill.

“My wife and I, over the past two years, have watched him vomit in buckets, having nose bleeds and even his hair fell out in clumps at one stage,” he said.

“As a professional minister I’ve stood in front of my congregation and cried and said to pray for my son.”

Mr Guglielmucci revealed his son had suffered “mystery illnesses” since the age of 12 — about the time his porn addiction began.

 

August 22, 2008

India’s New Partnership: Bollywood and Hip-Hop

Filed under: Music,World News — disciplepete @ 2:54 pm

NYT:

NEW DELHI — Is Bollywood ready for Snoop Dogg?

The rapper once dubbed “America’s Most Loveable Pimp” by Rolling Stone makes his debut in India this summer, with a guest appearance on the title track of a highly anticipated Bollywood movie, “Singh Is Kinng.” The movie is set to open in August, but the title song is already in heavy rotation on some radio stations in India.

 

A fusion of hip-hop and bhangra with a simple chorus (“Singh is Kinng, Singh is Kinng, Singh is Kinng”), it features Snoop Dogg giving “what up to all the ladies hanging out in Mumbai” and rapping about “Ferraris, Bugattis and Maseratis.”…

…“I really dig how much music is infused with the movies” in Bollywood, Snoop Dogg said in an e-mailed response to questions. “Lots of hip-hop tracks sample Indian music, and a lot of their music sounds like it was influenced by hip-hop,” he said. “We’re putting together something real big” in India, that will include collaborations, live shows and “more movies with some of my Bollywood homies.”

“I’m coming to take over Bollywood,” Snoop Dogg promised during the video shoot. “I’ve never been able to come over there and do shows for you all, but now I’m going to come and do shows,” he said in a clip that the video’s promoters put on YouTube. “This is just the beginning.”…

…Snoop Dogg added: “Snoop Dogg’s got love for everybody. I like how the Punjabis get down; the way they dress is fresh and they got a real appreciation for music.” 

Check out the music video…well, fast forward like a minute, I don’t know what’s up with that intro. The track is pretty fresh, it’s cool to see Snoop rockin a Sikh turban. There have been hip hop elements in Indian music for quite a while, I haven’t heard of any American rappers appearing on Bollywood songs before though. I think Snoop definitely has what it takes to blow up in India…he’s just got that star quality about him.

Oh, I would be remiss if I didn’t add one of my favorite (fake, I’m assuming) pics of Snoop:

Indian Sitar Player

August 21, 2008

For America’s Scholars Of Race, An Obama Dilemma

Filed under: Elections,Politics,Race — disciplepete @ 9:34 pm

This article from Black Agenda Report talks about the effect on race relations an Obama victory in November would have. The article reports the viewpoints of American race scholars on the issue. I really dug it cuz I’m a big fan of Derrick Bell, whom they quote, also they got input from Joe Feagin and David Roediger whom I also like. I was pretty surprised though by what some of em had to say. Anyways, I’ll quote the article and then I’ll throw my 2 cents in…

For scholars of race, Barack Obama presents a new American dilemma. On the one hand, his election as president would be a breathtaking symbol of racial progress. On the other, an Obama victory could prove illusory, doing little to dismantle racism while crippling their ability to call attention to it…

…”At this point, any conflict I might have is more than eased by the knowledge that Barack Obama, if elected, could be the salvation of a country in free flight failure,” Derrick Bell, a professor of law at New York University, who taught Obama when he was a student at Harvard Law School, replied via e-mail.

Pete’s note: Derrick Bell, in an awesome book he wrote called Faces at the Bottom of the Well (you must read it…extremely creative) argued that racism is a permanent feature of American life. So yeah, I guess I’m a bit surprised that he seems optimistic about Barack. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised, I mean he’s not saying that racism will be over or anything.

Anyways, back to quoting..oh wait, the article mentions what I just said about Bell’s view of racism..ahh well, I’m keeping what I wrote! Ok:

In books like Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism, Bell, who is black, offers a bleak view of the possibility of racial progress in America, a view much at odds with the hopeful promise of Obama.

“If he sounded as I might wish him to sound, he could not be elected,” Bell wrote in his e-mail. “And he may not be elected even as his intellect and savvy puts him worlds ahead of his Republican counterpart. And that is all I wish to say on the matter.”

Another renowned pessimist — University of Pennsylvania political scientist Adolph Reed Jr. — did not respond to an interview request.

But in a blistering recent post on blackagendareport.com, Reed, who is black, argued that while Obama might be better than John McCain in the short run, in the long run he might be worse. This, Reed reasoned, is because, having co-opted so much of the left, Obama may move the boundary of acceptable discourse on race and class well to the right.

“I’m not arguing that it’s wrong to vote for Obama, though I do say it’s wrong-headed to vote for him with any lofty expectations,” wrote Reed, indicating his intention “to abstain from this charade.”

David Roediger, a race historian at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, evinced a particle more enthusiasm for Obama’s candidacy. “I feel this sometimes has something to do with something I care about and, as things go in U.S. politics, it’s not the worst thing to happen,” said Roediger, who is white.

But, as he notes in the conclusion of his book – How Race Survived U.S. History: From Settlement and Slavery to the Obama Phenomenon, due out this fall – “Obama does not represent the triumph of an advancing anti-racist movement but rather the necessity, at the highly refracted level of electoral politics, of abandoning old agendas, largely by not mentioning them.”

Hey, they quote a scholar from UCSB!!….

And [Howard] Winant, a leading race scholar of the left and director of the Center for New Racial Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara, called this “a very promising moment.”

“It’s hard,” he said, “to give up that thrilled sense of possibility, that thrilled sense that something really big might be changing in this area, which is so long overdue.”

There’s more stuff in the article, check out the link if you wanna read it.

I’ve thought about this question a bit, and right now I think an Obama presidency would be a positive thing for race relations. Certainly not a revolution, but when you know the history of this country, I can’t help but see a Black president as a significant thing. But like I read someone else saying in the blogosphere, Barack Obama in the White House isn’t gonna stop a single dude in the ghetto from selling crack. I think that’s a good way to put it: it’s just business as usual with a Black face. And to me, that’s some type of progress, although far less than I think is possible.

Anyone out there reading, I’d love to hear what you think…

McCain unsure how many houses he owns

Filed under: Elections,Politics — disciplepete @ 11:29 am

Don’t be too hard on the guy…I mean, do you think YOU could recall how many houses you own off the top of your head? Politico:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said in an interview Wednesday that he was uncertain how many houses he and his wife, Cindy, own. 

“I think — I’ll have my staff get to you,” McCain told Politico in Las Cruces, N.M. “It’s condominiums where — I’ll have them get to you.”

The correct answer is at least four, located in Arizona, California and Virginia, according to his staff. Newsweek estimated this summer that the couple owns at least seven properties. 

In recent weeks, Democrats have stepped up their effort to caricature McCain as living an outlandishly rich lifestyle — a bit of payback to the GOP for portraying Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) as an elitist, and for turning the spotlight in 2004 on the five homes owned by Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry. 

US Rep. Tubbs Jones of Ohio dies after hemorrhage

Filed under: Politics — Tranimal @ 12:27 am

AP:

Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, the first black woman to represent Ohio in Congress and a strong critic of the Iraq war, died Wednesday after a brain hemorrhage, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Tubbs Jones, 58, died Wednesday evening of a brain hemorrhage caused by an aneurysm that burst and left her with limited brain function, said Eileen Sheil, a spokeswoman for the Cleveland Clinic, which owns the Huron Hospital in East Cleveland where Tubbs Jones died.

Tubbs Jones represented the heavily Democratic 11th District and chaired the ethics committee in the House. She was the first black woman to serve on the powerful Ways and Means Committee, where she opposed President Bush’s tax cuts and his efforts to create personal accounts within Social Security.

“After making history as the first African-American woman elected to Congress from Ohio, the congresswoman worked to expand the rights of all Americans,” President Bush said in tribute. “Our nation is grateful for her service.”

Tubbs Jones was a firm supporter of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton during the primaries until throwing her support behind Sen. Barack Obama in June. She was to have been a superdelegate at next week’s Democratic National Convention in Denver.

Sadness…

August 19, 2008

Taliban Escalate Afghan Fighting

Filed under: War,World News — disciplepete @ 11:56 pm

NYT:

MIYAN, Afghanistan – Taliban insurgents mounted their most serious attacks in six years of fighting in Afghanistan over the last two days, including a coordinated assault by at least 10 suicide bombers against one of the largest American military bases in the country, and another by about 100 insurgents who killed 10elite French paratroopers…

…Taken together, the attacks were part of a sharp escalation in fighting as insurgents have seized a window of opportunity to press their campaign this summer – taking advantage of a wavering NATO commitment, an outgoing American administration, a flailing Afghan government and a Pakistani government in deep disarray that has given the militants freer rein across the border.

As a result, this year is on pace to be the deadliest in the Afghan war so far, as the insurgent attacks show rising zeal and sophistication. The insurgents are employing not only a growing number of suicide and roadside bombs, but are also waging increasingly well-organized and complex operations using multiple attackers with different types of weapons, NATO officials say.

NATO and American military officials place blame for much of the increased insurgent activity on the greater freedom of movement the militants have in Pakistan’s tribal areas on the Afghan border. The turmoil in the Pakistani government, with the resignation of President Pervez Musharraf on Monday, has added to the sense of a vacuum of authority there.

But at least as important, the officials say, is the fact that Pakistan’s military has agreed to a series of peace deals with the militants under which it stopped large-scale operations in the tribal areas in February, allowing the insurgents greater freedom to train, recruit and carry out attacks into Afghanistan.

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