Virtual Front Page, Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2011

Busy day today; went to the Green is Good to Business Conference at the Convention Center. Good turnout, impressive array of businesses engaged in saving the planet and saving money. Here are your headlines:

  1. U.S. poverty rate hits highest rate since 1993; 1 in 6 are now poor (WashPost) — Yeah, and a lot of us who don’t technically qualify feel it, too. One of my kids asked me the other day if the U.S. was on it’s way down. I think I mumbled something meaningless in response. Next day I told someone to hang onto their investments because the market will inevitably rise again. Optimism is a habit.
  2. Kabul attacks continue into night (BBC) — Squeezed out for the lede by poor folks in the U.S., Taliban who attacked the U.S. embassy battle on.
  3. Palestinian Plan Puts U.S. In A Bind (NPR) — The report says, “The U.S. favors Palestinian statehood, but doesn’t think it should be done at the United Nations.” Makes sense, given that body’s lack of, shall we say, detachment in dealing with anything having to do with Israel.
  4. S.C. GOP primary will remain first in South, chairman says ( — This announcement that SC will move up its primary was apparently prompted by an early move by Arizona. This confuses me. Arizona is the West, not the South.
  5. Cheney: Time to Rein In Iran (WSJ) — I guess he just felt like somebody had to say it, and the people who will hate hearing about it already hate him, so…
  6. Iran’s president says two U.S. hikers jailed for two years will be released (WashPost) — Too late. The ex-veep’s already on your case. What? You think he needs to be in office to act? Ever hear of Blackwater (or whatever it’s called now)?

21 thoughts on “Virtual Front Page, Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2011

  1. Phillip

    Re #3, a couple of thoughts. One: I think I get what you are trying to say vis-a-vis the UN and Israel, but I wonder if you are conscious of the irony of your words, given that it was the 1947 UN partition plan that gave the green light for the creation of Israel in the first place. Secondly, “lack of detachment in dealing with anything having to do with Israel” is surely not limited to the UN. That “lack of detachment” is on display quite frequently in the United States Congress (both parties), and especially by our current crop (save Ron Paul) of GOP presidential “hopefuls.”

    And re #5: Does this guy ever know when to shut up? Iran is more isolated than ever in the last few years, especially given the events of the Arab Spring. Cheney is one of the main architects of the policies (see “Iraq War”) that left Iran in a stronger position than ever in the region, and now HE presumes to give Obama advice on how to deal with Iran? Cheney should just be content to count his millions from Halliburton and should also be incredibly grateful that he is not spending the latter part of his life behind bars.

  2. bud

    Dick Cheney lives in a world of make believe. He continues to espouse the fiction that somehow invading Iraq enhanced our security. The way he twists the actual facts is remarkable. Now he give advice on how the president should handle Iran? Phillip is 100% correct in stating the Iran situation is what it is becuase of the Neo Cons.

  3. Kathryn Fenner

    @Phillip. re: Cheney — see, the two wars he started are possibly petering out (please, Jesus!), so it’s time to foment another!

  4. Brad

    Some of our very nicest liberal friends seem to think that military action arises from a vacuum. That it’s totally up to us what happens, that there is nothing to which we need to react. That once the left and the right in this country sort out their differences and decide what to do (usually by one side or the other getting a majority of 50 percent plus one) the matter is settled. Nothing is up to anyone else in the world.

    They also believe that a nuclear-armed Iran, which scares the hell out of the entire Mideast, is not our problem, but let’s set that aside — separate discussion.

    It reminds me of the way antiwar folks talk about Iraq and Afghanistan. They call American withdrawal “ending the war.” As though it wouldn’t continue without us. As though everything would be totally hunky-dory without the nasty Americans.

    One other point: “100% correct in stating the Iran situation is what it is becuase of the Neo Cons”? Really?

    Nothing is 100 percent in the real world. Cause and effect don’t work that way. Even if I thought like Bud, I would NEVER say something was 100 percent anything. OK, excuse me: ALMOST nothing, and ALMOST never. Because I don’t want to be guilty of absolutism, either. But (almost) everything in life is a judgment call, and arises out of thousands if not millions of causes. Particularly in relations between nations.

    Take the causes of wars (please). It’s very, very difficult ever to pin them down to one or two things. That’s what makes out own Civil War stand out so. It’s hilarious (in a tragic way) to hear people with a rudimentary understanding of history (perfect examples of how a little knowledge is a dangerous thing) insist that the war was NOT about slavery, because they can point to other causes. Of course they can. You always can. But the unusual thing about the Civil War is that it is one of the few that you can fairly sum up, without exaggerating or unacceptably oversimplifying to one word: slavery. There would NOT have been war without it, period.

    But that’s unusual. The causes of most wars, including the “good wars” that even most antiwar folks endorse, such as what Lenny Bruce called “the good war, the war against Hitler,” arise from a huge array of causes.

    If we go to war with Iran — and Lord, I certainly pray that we don’t (but if there is a country where it is likely, it’s that one) — it will be to a certain extent because of an easily-articulated cause: nuclear weapons. There is no question that they want them and are working like crazy to get them, and there is less question that none of their neighbors want them to have them (add to that the fact that with the possible exception of Israel, none of those neighbors has the military capacity to stop it from happening). But even there, once again, you can count to quite a few other factors (i.e., that country’s off-the-wall political leadership) without which the situation wouldn’t be nearly as volatile.

  5. bud

    Some of our very nicest liberal friends seem to think …

    I’ll glad Brad considers liberals as both friends and nice. Maybe we should be a bit more ruthless like the neocons. But then we wouldn’t be liberal would we?

  6. bud

    There is no question that they want them and are working like crazy to get them.

    Is that the same as saying you’re 100% sure “they want them and are working like crazy to get them”? Maybe they do but I doubt sabre rattling will change that. Going to war would actually make things worse.

  7. bud

    Frankly, I’m far more scared of the neocons than the Iranians. After all they only spend about 1/50 the amount on arms as the U.S. Not sure why so much fear attached to this wacky regime.

  8. Phillip

    I agree of course that relations between nations are the result of a complex mixture of many, many factors. Therefore, dealing with a challenging foreign policy situation (e.g., Iran) requires action (or at least, attention) on many fronts, not all of which are military in nature. To me the Obama Administration understands this on a much deeper level than did Bush/Cheney. (Witness the revival of the State Dept. under Hillary and its relative influence in this administration). It’s a straw-man argument to claim that “liberals” necessarily think that a nuclear-armed Iran is “not our problem.” Not true, of course: it’s about how best to deal with the situation. It’s precisely that awareness of the “volatility” of “quite a few other factors,” to use your words, that distinguishes this Administration from the last, which had a tragic propensity for NOT calculating the multifarious outcomes and effects of various American actions. True, we can’t predict what may happen within Iran; but we can say quite confidently that Iran grew stronger on Cheney’s watch, in large part (OK if not 100%) because of the actions and decisions W and he took. So he has no legitimacy to dispense advice on how to deal with Iran.

    However, I’m glad to see you ridiculing the idea that “it’s totally up to us what happens” in world affairs…because I always thought that was a central tenet of neoconservatism.

  9. Karen McLeod

    Shall we not wait until we have some proof that they have nuclear weapons (not nuclear power, and the ability to construct weapons, but actual weapons)? Or shall we bomb them then go in and look for WMD’s (“and comfirm world opinion that we’re dangerous bullies)? You want other choices? How about N. Korea? We know that they have weapons, and they are certainly willing to use them. What? Not them? They hate us. Their leader is a whack job. It couldn’t be because they don’t have any oil, could it? And how about Pakistan “our friends.” They have nuclear weaponry, and they’ve demonstrated the worth of their friendship. What? No? We’re buying them off?

  10. j

    Brad. rationalize Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and North Korea’s with their neighbors. If I were an Iranian, I would be in fear of Israel and their nuclear weapons that the US supplied. If you were Iranian, what would you do in your own self-interest given that we undermined Iran thru CIA intervention into their democracy. Egypt has driven out the Israeli ambassadors, and now with no ambassadorial relation with Israel from Jordan, Turkey, Syria and Lebanon about to cut them out, the US is going to oppose statehood for Palestine in the UN.

    Israel has a historical problem with their neighbors given 1947 (image our reaction to the UN carving out a portion of the US to set up a new country and your land and livelihood being confiscated) and what they did in the Golan Heights and now in Gaza. What a hell of an irrational situation and a position for a “democracy loving” country that has supported dictators in the Mideast. A vacuum in the Mideast given the current dynamics?

    The “none of their neighbors” comment realistically relates to the Saudis. With former Sen Graham’s recent call for a new investigation into 9-11 and the relationship with the Saudis and the implications that the majority of hijackers being from Saudi Arabia, I wonder if that will be investigated. How about the dynamic of Saudi fundamentalists who did not want US forces on their soil and the dynamics that these people have wrought.

  11. bud

    Let’s put all this Iranian “fear” into some perspective. Remember it was back in the 1950 when the US engineering a coup designed to put the US-friendly Shah into power. That worked fine for about 25 years, or seemingly so, until the festering resentments finally boiled over into the very predictable takeover by the mullahs. The US was now Satin in their eyes.

    Then when the Iraqis invaded we tacitly supported Saddam Hussein, even to the point of turning a blind eye to all the atrocities he committed against his own people. Eventually those same atrocities would be prominently featured as justification for the war against him.

    In the meantime though Iraq and Iran fought themselves out in a bloody, drawn out war that settled nothing. This carnage should be layed directly at the feet of US interventionist policy. This essentially was the birthplace of the Neocon movement.

    I’ll continue late.

  12. Juan Caruso

    “Some of our very nicest liberal friends…”

    A very tactful attempt at pacifying the truculent in order that they learn to think more factually.

    The war with Iraq was (check your maps) significantly about depriving Iran of its longstanding takeover target – Iraq.

    Although common knowledge at the military staff level, that little detail was somehow unfit for public consumption. Why? Because the House of Saud wanted it that way?

    Had Iran pounced on Iraq, and then gone on to develop its nascent nuclear arsenal, the Middle East may already have been in extremis years ago:. the price of gas Bud put in his gas tank would have risen to a range of $12-$15/ gal.

    Remember who has been exercising the power at OPEC – the House of Saud. When the U.S. officially requests, the Saudis have unilaterally increased oil output driving the world price down. They also buy unneeded weapons systems (ships, planes, armaments) by the 100 $billions so our defense contractors maintain critical employees during times of severe defense cutbacks (like now).

    In return, the Saudis have told the U.S. publicly that they feel imminently threatened by Iran’s power grabs and really want our help in stabilizing the M.E.

    Now consider, is it any wonder our president (and the Saudis) want oil prices to go higher (payback can be He!!).

    Our political problems are not as much about one political party or the other as about global realities from which voters have been kept intentionally ignorant thanks to the mutual benefit of two teams in the same league (the Dems and Repubs).

    Now that you know that the world is not as simple as some political leaders’ sound bites have suggested, maybe its time for you to wonder what the deal is with America’s doorstep -Mexico.

  13. bud

    Duging the Clinton years the relationship between Iran and the US moderated to some extent. The real problem in the 90s was with rogue terrorist organizations rather than state-sponsored terrorism. The neocons squirmed at the supposed softness by Clinton but the fact was he recognized the difference between state and rogue terrorism. Hence the decline of tensions between the US and both Iraq and Iran.

    The came Bush and the neocons who used the 9-11 attacks as an excuse to invade Iraq and indirectly threaten Iran. The predictable result was a disasterous war and a fearful Iran who now regarded the US as a serious threat. And it need not have been. Iran was in fact sympathetic to the Americans following 9-11. But once Iraq was invaded the radicals in Iran were once again became a more powerful force. The nuclear issue is a dangerous threat to the region but it must be dealt with through diplomacy. If they ever to get a nuclear device we’re all in trouble but if we use force to prevent it we are likely in trouble anyway. It’s a pickle and a pickle created by the neocons, not the Iranians.

  14. Juan Caruso

    Bud, you are confusing some of us. Can you be more specific about identifying the rogue terrorists?
    As someone working in the WTC, I remember what occurred in 1993.

    Would you say the perpetrators of that attack were fundamentally the same rogue organization Clinton’s laissez-faire terrorist management plotted to finish the job in 2001?

    If not, some of us are not following your theories.

  15. bud

    Had Iran pounced on Iraq, and then gone on to develop its nascent nuclear arsenal, the Middle East may already have been in extremis years ago:. the price of gas Bud put in his gas tank would have risen to a range of $12-$15/ gal.

    By what mechanism would that occur? I would assume the Iranians are interested in making money off their oil. That would require customers. The only the price goes up is if supply goes down and that could only occur be if oil production was dramatically reduced on a world-wide scale. By depriving the world of oil the western economies would likely collapse. That collapse would then reduce demand and the country affected most would be the country that started the whole oil war in the first place, Iran. Eventually the price would fall along with the world economy.

    Let’s face it folks, we’re all interconnected. The Iranians have no self interest in seeing the western nations destroyed. Unlike the North Koreans the Iranians are reasonably rational and they want to sell their oil at a high price, but certainly not so high as to destroy the world economy.

  16. Phillip

    @Juan: I’m not sure I understand your thesis…the Iraq War was about preventing the Iranians from conquering Iraq? Seems like Iran tried that for 6 years in the 1980’s with absolutely no success, thousands upon thousands dead. And since Iran’s sworn enemy from that war, Saddam Hussein, was still in power at the time of the American invasion of Iraq, whereas the aftermath of the war has clearly enhanced Iran’s influence in Iraq with little or no military effort involved, how exactly was this supposed to have worked?

    It’s pretty clear I have a low opinion of the Bush Administration’s grasp of geopolitics and military strategy, but even I wouldn’t accuse them of such a far-fetched purpose for invading Iraq…but perhaps I misinterpreted your premise.

  17. Juan Caruso

    At the moment I am unable to expound on this thesis, which has been presented on PBS.

    You eem to have totally ignored my question about identifying the “rogue terrorists”.

    Thank you, guys. -Juan

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