Bush non-presidency

August 27, 2007 § Leave a comment

I’ve been thinking that the Bush presidency is a partial presidency. That is, we normally expect a president to have wide ranging views on the nature of government, the needs of the country, and a long list of things that need to be of concern to a “President”. Bush never had such a list. He never showed interest in the Presidency a such. His approach has been truncated, cut down to a small agenda.

  • Support business friends
  • Find an issue lead so as to be the Churchill of  or Lincoln, or Truman, or whomever..)
  • Make the country conventionally religious
  • Understand that the military is the way to an economy
  • Dont worry about budgets because first we can pay for them, and second it helps spend down the ability of the county to support New Deal things.
  • Attack enemies of whatever kind (throwback to Nixon)
  • Appoint women and short fat men to positions of power. Nobody with any stature.
  • Remember baseball and which team you are on. the others don’t count if they are out of the league, and if they are in the league, watch your back.

Why did we get here? Because real talent in the country went to finance and business (mostly for market intermediaries, not producers or retailers) and that left thugs that needed to be hired to govern. Rich out of the mainstream white guys male and female could be found to play this role extending high school ethos of charm and competition into the national leadership. Minority types are attractive because you get bonus points and they aren’t independent (Rice, Gonzales, Powell).

George Bush never aspired to, did not run for, did not win, and does not govern as a President, but as a posse leader working for the big guys.

How close to tyranny are we?

August 19, 2007 § Leave a comment

Padilla case makes us all very nervous. Scott Horton has a great summary of the issues.

Divided blog in two

August 19, 2007 § Leave a comment

As of today I’ve created a new blog for 

Doug’s raw posts.  Raw Posts and my own reflections were too mixed up and hard to follow, and the reflections will stay here.

august 17 2007

August 18, 2007 § Leave a comment

august 17 2007

A modern crematorium: absence in Buddhist India | openDemocracy

The detour took us into a very traditional India. Villages of mud-brick, daub and whattle, the acridity of dung-fires, string-beds on the stoop, tooth-sticks, washed-out road-beds. There are no unpopulated horizons and no concealing the poverty in this, the poorest state in India. Villagers, men, women and children were out breaking rocks under the cliffs for construction-industry aggregate. The equivalent of £1.50 a day was the going rate – so we were informed. Not all the poverty was evident. The papers in Patna were recording a spate of rural suicides – the victims of money-lenders. For many, this is still the life of misery to which in his time the Buddha brought his message of compassion.

Confronting the New Conservatism: The Rise of the Right in America by Michael J. Thompson [Editor] –

Confronting the New Conservatism: The Rise of the Right in America

by Michael J. Thompson [Editor]

‘Bollywood’ looks at Indian filmmaking through ‘Othello’ adaptation
But Bhatt also points out that as Bollywood gets glossier and more technically sophisticated, catering to its diasporic audiences, the films themselves are changing. “[T]oday Bollywood has erased the rural poor, they’ve disappeared from our films,” says Bhatt, who has produced his share of urban potboilers. Bollywood is now big business, part of global India Inc.The War as We Saw It – New York Times

As responsible infantrymen and noncommissioned officers with the 82nd Airborne Division soon heading back home, we are skeptical of recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable and feel it has neglected the mounting civil, political and social unrest we see every day. (Obviously, these are our personal views and should not be seen as official within our chain of command.)

The claim that we are increasingly in control of the battlefields in Iraq is an assessment arrived at through a flawed, American-centered framework. Yes, we are militarily superior, but our successes are offset by failures elsewhere. What soldiers call the “battle space” remains the same, with changes only at the margins. It is crowded with actors who do not fit neatly into boxes: Sunni extremists, Al Qaeda terrorists, Shiite militiamen, criminals and armed tribes. This situation is made more complex by the questionable loyalties and Janus-faced role of the Iraqi police and Iraqi Army, which have been trained and armed at United States taxpayers’ expense.

Indian Summer: The secret history of the end of an Empire, by Alex von Tunzelmann – Independent Onli

Indian Summer: The secret history of the end of an Empire, by Alex von Tunzelmann

The enthralling story of the personalities behind Britain’s withdrawal from India, 60 years ago this week

Indian Summer: The secret history of the end of an Empire, by Alex von Tunzelmann – Independent Onli

In this impressive debut, Alex von Tunzelmann sets the drama of Britain’s precipitant retreat from her most highly prized colonial possession, the “Jewel in the Crown”, against the intrigue which unfolded with the appointment of Earl Mountbatten as the last viceroy – a love triangle involving his countess, Edwina, and the first premier of free India, Jawaharlal Nehru. The author describes this rapidly developing affair, at the height of the crisis sparked by independence, while also emphasising the considerable influence it had on the partition of the subcontinent.

Indian Summer: The secret history of the end of an Empire, by Alex von Tunzelmann – Independent Onli

Mountbatten, as his papers show, pressed Attlee for a firm date and the premier capitulated, giving the king’s cousin a brief to get Britain out in nine months at most, whether the Indians were ready or not. Attlee willed the end and was not particularly concerned about the means – any chaos wouldn’t happen on Britain’s watch.

Indian Summer: The secret history of the end of an Empire, by Alex von Tunzelmann – Independent Onli
Despite some flowery overwriting, this is a timely and provocative account of the division of a subcontinent which is now giving birth to an Asiatic economic boom, as well as proving an epicentre of fundamentalist revolution and jihad – with disturbing parallels with the events of 60 years ago. *India At 60 – Forbes.com
In fact, as I have tried to argue elsewhere (in my book The Argumentative Indian, Piccador, 2005), India’s long argumentative tradition and toleration of heterodoxy, going back thousands of years, has greatly helped in making democracy flourish with such ease.

India At 60 – Forbes.com

There is reason enough to celebrate many things happening in India right now. But there are failures as well, which need urgent attention. For example, there is still widespread undernourishment in general and child undernutrition in particular–at a shocking level. The failures include, quite notably, the astonishing neglect of elementary education in India, with a quarter of the population–and indeed half the women–still illiterate.

Second Life’s Real-World Problems – TIME

Second Life’s Real-World Problems – TIME
He was kidding, but the site’s failure to live up to expectations is serious business.Second Life’s Real-World Problems – TIME
But some devotees are so upset by increasing commercialization that a group called the Second Life Liberation Army last year gunned down virtual shoppers at American Apparel. So-called griefing, or on-site harassment, is on the rise. Says Gartner research chief Steve Prentice: “Second Life is moving into a phase of disillusionment.”

Sample Chapter for Gourevitch, P. and Shinn, J.: Political Power and Corporate Control: The New Glob
Political Power and Corporate Control:
The New Global Politics of Corporate Governance
Peter A. Gourevitch & James Shinn

Sample Chapter for Gourevitch, P. and Shinn, J.: Political Power and Corporate Control: The New Glob
Corporate governance systems reflect public policy choices. Countries pass laws that shape incentives, which in turn shape governance systems. Some countries have rigorous prohibitions on insider trading, vigorous markets for control, strong protection of minority shareholders (rules on accounting, corporate boards, securities), and effective rules for product-market competition and antitrust. These countries have diffuse patterns of share ownership and managerial supervision through boards elected by their shareholders. Other countries encourage block-holding by allowing pyramid leveraging and cross-shareholding, restricting markets for control, limiting competition, and offering weak protection to minority shareholders.

Sample Chapter for Gourevitch, P. and Shinn, J.: Political Power and Corporate Control: The New Glob
In the late nineteenth century, the U.S. system resembled those of Europe: large “trusts” or oligopolies were controlled by shareholder blocks in the hands of individuals and banks; minority shareholder protection was weak, insider trader scandals common. Then laws were passed: the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890, several laws following the 1905 Armstrong Commission on the insurance industry, the Glass-Steagall Act on banking in 1933, the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934, and now Sarbanes-Oxley of 2002. It is this legislation, regulatory structure, and their enforcement that changed corporate governance in the United States.

August 14 2007

August 14, 2007 § Leave a comment

August 14 2007

Starting by ending

Firedoglake – Firedoglake weblog

David Frum very seriously explains that The Problem With Karl is that he answered the wrong question:

The question he answered so successfully was a political one: How could Republicans win elections after Bill Clinton steered the Democrats to the center?

The question he unfortunately ignored was a policy question: What does the nation need — and how can conservatives achieve it?

The World’s Fair

THE WORLD’S FAIR: The book is about alternative pathways in science and industry, so I suppose the first question is, what are mainstream pathways?

DAVID HESS: You could think about science and industry as composed of fields in Bourdieu’s sense, where there are dominant and nondominant networks. In scientific research fields the mainstream pathways are the networks of researchers who control the major departments that reproduce the field by editing the journals, producing the graduate students, winning the most grants and awards, and running the academic societies. Of course the networks are very porous, and it is not always possible to characterize research fields in this way, but it is a helpful way of thinking about science, especially for the issues that I want to address. In industrial fields the mainstream pathways are the technologies and products put on the market by the leading corporations in each field.

I need to follow up on the above.

Babbitt In Rousseau and Romanticism , 1919 (often claimed by conservatives as their own) :

“The all-roundness and fine symmetry, the poise and dignity that come from working within the bounds of the human law, were taken to be the privilege not of man in general but of a special social class. Take for instance verbal decorum: the French neo-classicists assumed that if the speech of poetry is to be noble and highly serious it must coincide with the speech of the aristocracy. As Nisard puts it, they confused nobility of language with the language of the nobility. Decorum was thus more or less merged with etiquette so that the standards of the stage and literature in general came to coincide, as Rousseau complains, with those of the drawing-room. More than anything else this narrowing of decorum marks the decline from the classic to the pseudo-classic, from form to formalism. ”

McClatchy Washington Bureau | 08/14/2007 | Prices for key foods are rising sharply
MIDLAND, Va. — The Labor Department’s most recent inflation data showed that U.S. food prices rose by 4.1 percent for the 12 months ending in June, but a deeper look at the numbers reveals that the price of milk, eggs and other essentials in the American diet are actually rising by double digits.

The pain for the lower two thirds in income in frightening. Added to this the problems for undocumented workers. Are we not on the cusp of a real tragedy?

White House Watch — News on President George W Bush and the Bush Administration – washingtonpost.co

But few people — including his Republican allies — believe Rove succeeded in what he set as his ultimate goal: creating a long-lasting GOP majority in the country that could reverse the course set 70 years ago by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.”

My view is that Rove had no one who really understood his strategy, no one else who wanted to play for keeps. Bush is really beholden to Bush senior and tha Catalyst Group, and Cheney to Haliburton. Rove was really alone.

White House Watch — News on President George W Bush and the Bush Administration – washingtonpost.co

Opinion Watch

This is a great survey of editorial writing about Rove. Worth reading.

aug 13 2007

August 13, 2007 § Leave a comment

aug 13 2007

Scott Horton

is bringing to us the best of German humanism. Here is a part of one of many resources he is laying out for us.

“What Is, and To What End Do We Study History?” by Scott Horton (Harper’s Magazine)

And finally we come to Wallenstein. This trilogy of plays is central to Schiller’s work. He is describing the birth of the modern European state system, the horror of religious warfare which gave rise to it. War may indeed be the father of many things, Schiller tells us, but those who launch wars in the expectation of the fulfillment of simple designs are fools. A powerful lesson for Americans and Britons today, lodged in a fool’s errand in the Middle East. Schiller reminds us of the essentially Saturnine and unpredictable quality of these wars. Horror and misery are certain; something positive may flow. But rarely if ever will it match human designs. And then he turns to the curious character of Wallenstein, the Bohemian nobleman who came to make princes, kings and emperors tremble, but who was himself the prisoner of remarkably primitive superstitions. With Wallenstein, Schiller issues a warning to posterity.

Beware of religious war, which knows no bounds and only brutality. Religious war breeds fanaticism, and fanaticism breeds violence with no conscience or limits. (Heads are rolling on the Place de la Concorde in Paris; is Schiller writing about the Thirty Years War—or is it the Revolution which is eating it own children, as Danton said?) Beware of the times when an old state system fails, when states go under and an old way of live falls to the wayside. This is the time of the opportunist, of the Wallenstein. He may offer a clear vision, a seeming dynamism—and this may be a great illusion. Is Wallenstein an example of human greatness? Or he is a simple opportunist? Schiller asks questions, compellingly. And his advice is that the only protection against the meteoric opportunist in time of crisis is skepticism—keep asking questions. Do not be taken in by charisma; least of all by charisma attached to power.

The problems with Rove:

Like a Whisper

Is it me or is the most remarkable thing about Karl Rove’s resignation that it seems almost like a non-event? I had the feeling as the day wore on that all of us in the news and commentary business were trying to make it a big event. But somehow it just wasn’t there

The problem is that with this administration, nothing seems noteworthy. they can bomb, lie, undo the constitution, and it seems rather bland, or, yes, severe, but what is one to do? I think it is a combination of the misuse of language and the impenetrability of the administration. these two work together to make no response the only adequate response.

Perhaps we should add that we know the press will not do much abut it but treat it like “he said she said..”

aug 9 2007

August 13, 2007 § Leave a comment

aug 9 2007

LUCRETIUS – BOOK V COSMOLOGY AND SOCIOLOGY about 50B.C.
The next stage in the argument is this. I must first demonstrate that the world also was born and is composed of a mortal body. Then I must deal with the concourse of matter that laid the foundation of land, sea and sky, stars and sun and the globe of the moon. I must show what living things have existed on earth, and which have never been born; how the human race began to employ various utterances among themselves for denoting various things; and how there crept into their minds that fear of the gods which, all the world over, sanctifies temples and lakes, groves and altars and images of the gods. After that, 1 will explain by what forces nature steers the courses of the sun and the journeyings of the moon, so that we shall not suppose that they run their yearly races between heaven and earth of their own free will with the amiable intention of promoting the growth of crops and animals, or that they are rolled round in furtherance of some divine plan. For it may happen that men who have learnt the truth about the carefree existence of the gods fall to wondering by what power the universe is kept going, esf pecially those movements that are seen overhead in the borderland of ether. Then the poor creatures are plunged back into their old superstitions and saddle themselves with cruel masters whom they believe to be all-powerful. All this because they do not know what can be and what cannot: how a limit is fixed to the power of everything

White House Watch — News on President George W Bush and the Bush Administration – washingtonpost.co
What could be more challenging today than spinning the Bush legacy? I fully expect Rove to start taking on Bush’s critics with vigor and venom.

Rove’s departure can’t help but increase Cheney’s clout at the White House. In fact — who knows? — Cheney may even have engineered it.

Asia Times Online :: Asian news hub providing the latest news and analysis from Asia
Thanks to last week’s events in the financial markets, we now know the price at which the world’s three largest central banks will drop their posturings about the importance of setting good examples regarding sound banking, lending and credit policies and put their principles up for sale. Instead of putting out, the Fed, et al, should be holding out.

Informed Comment
Sunni Arab guerrillas deployed an explosively formed projectile (a kind of roadside bomb) against 4 soldiers who had come in a humvee to investigate the sniping death of a fifth soldier. All four were killed. Unfortunately the LA Times calls the guerrillas “al-Qaeda-allied.” This terminology is from the Bush administration lexicon. I very much doubt that the LA Times knows whether the group that set the bomb is allied with al-Qaeda or not. Indeed, for all we know, this cell belonged to the Baath Party.

A group of corrupt businessmen with ties to the Italian Cosa Nostra was discovered to have arranged for the shipping of 100,000 sophisticated machine guns to the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior, allegedly to be supplied to the police in al-Anbar Province. The MoI was supposed to inform the US military about any such purchases, in accordance with America’s colonial role in Iraq. It did not. The deal was worth $40 millon. Since the US has heavily armed the al-Anbar police, it is not plausible that they would need massive numbers of machine guns. The special police commandos of the Ministry of the Interior were largely recruited from the Badr Corps paramilitary of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council. It is likely that the weapons were for them and their friends on the outside in Badr.

MPs query US ‘surge’ strategy | UK Latest | Guardian Unlimited

Welcoming growing engagement with Iran over the situation, the committee’s report also demanded to know what evidence the UK had the neighbouring country was supporting terrorism.

The committee also hit out at aspects of the UK and allies’ approach to the Palestinian situation and called on former Prime Minister Tony Blair to engage with Hamas.

It said the collapse of the unity government had been hastened by the failure to relax a financial boycott imposed after the election victory of Hamas. British ministers should “urgently consider ways of engaging politically with moderate elements within Hamas”, it said.

And the MPs called for Mr Blair to be given a wider mandate in his new role as envoy for the “Quartet” of peace negotiators – the US, United Nations, European Union and Russia.

No Comment (Harper’s Magazine)
In the post-9/11 world, a real leader would have seen the opening for bipartisanship and would have put the government on a solid foundation. However, for Karl Rove it was a tantalizing opportunity for partisanship run wild.

No Comment (Harper’s Magazine)
In the end, the verdict on George W. Bush may be as simple as this: He never questioned the big, booming voice of Oz, so he never saw the little man behind the curtain.

A psychoanalyst for his age (but not ours)
This year, Erikson is the subject of a poised and sympathetic study by Daniel Burston, an Israeli-born, Toronto-raised psychologist at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. Erik Erikson and the American Psyche: Ego, Ethics, and Evolution (Rowman & Littlefield) not only describes why he once mattered but why, in many places, he ceased to matter.

More important, as Burston says, the world changed, radically. Youth, Erikson’s great subject, was transformed by the media, by new attitudes to sex, by changed views of authority — and by prescription drugs. To Erikson’s generation of therapists, an adolescent crisis offered a way to explore family history and social context, then carefully ease the patient back to health. “In that dimly remembered long-ago time,” Burston writes, “psychotropic drugs were viewed as a treatment of last resort.” Nowadays they are every MD’s panacea. The chance to grasp what a disturbed adolescent is communicating can be drowned in pharmaceuticals.

Skeptic: eSkeptic: Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

Bonobos, Left & Right
Primate Politics Heats Up Again as
Liberals & Conservatives Spindoctor Science

by Frans de Waal

Asia Times Online :: China News, China Business News, Taiwan and Hong Kong News and Business.
The interactions among China, Japan, India, Russia and the United States have crucial importance for Asian and global stability. The New Asian Power Dynamic is an edited volume by eminent Indian scholars and diplomats on the complex interplay of the five states whose actions matter the most for 21st-century international politics.

To prime domestic economic growth, China has normalized relations with all its rivals of previous decades. Acharya believes that “if the forces of globalization are assisting China’s rise, they are also simultaneously constraining it” (p 22). Caught in the throes of economic modernization, a confrontation with the US is eminently avoidable for China. Chinese thinkers are particularly sanguine about cooperation with the US on counter-terrorism since the September 11, 2001, terrorist strikes.

China is stressing multi-dimensional approaches to security in contrast to the US way of military alliances.

Acharya notes that China is popularizing alternative norms of inter-state relations such as the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence that resonate better in Asia than US unilateralism.

Asia Times Online :: China News, China Business News, Taiwan and Hong Kong News and Business.
China’s upgraded air and naval power, involving plasma, laser and microwave weapons, stems from “a desire to project power well away from its shores” (p 56). To counter Washington’s overwhelming conventional military superiority, Beijing is pursuing “acupuncture warfare” with a yen for information attacks and computer-virus onslaughts. In light of the growing military gap between China and India, Kanwal urges the latter to graduate from a position of “dissuasion” to “credible deterrence”.

However, the CCP’s long-term vision rates the US as “an untrustworthy, duplicitous superpower” (p 85). Chinese scholars hold that the US is following a “hedging strategy” to prevent their country from rising too rapidly. Washington’s use of Japan as a frontline state and its efforts to “draw India against China” whet Beijing’s suspicions.

Harinder Sekhon’s appraisal of US-India relations revolves around the declared US aim of “assisting India’s rise as a major world power” (p 121). Since September 11, the relationship stands on strategic heights, buttressed by matching foreign-policy objectives. To Washington, a powerful India would block the domination of Asia by any one power and ensure a stable equilibrium on the continent. A major problem lies with the US goal of assisting Pakistan to become a “successful state” while propelling India to great-power status.

The survey by M K Bhadrakumar (a regular contributor to Asia Times Online) of worsening Russia-US relations impugns Washington for trying to eliminate Moscow’s influence in the post-Soviet space.

Delhi will have to realize the full promise of cooperation with Japan “in a non-confrontational Asia-Pacific framework” (p 290). Likewise, the much-broached India-China-Russia strategic triangle will need to be received as a non-adversarial enterprise in Washington.

Asia Times Online :: Asian news hub providing the latest news and analysis from Asia
CHAN AKYA
Asia and the vicious
cycle of bank bailouts


As with every market crisis, recent upheavals in global markets have claimed a host of victims in both US and European banking. The penchant of central banks to bail out their constituents undoubtedly predicates future crises for such banks as well as their countries. Asians can help end this vicious cycle by cutting their holdings of US and European bonds, and focusing on investments with high total returns.

No Comment (Harper’s Magazine)

Where there is no justice, there is no freedom, and where there is no freedom, there is no justice. And should freedom and justice be for all eternity nothing more than the fleeting glimmerings of a breaking dawn, then I would rather die with that dawn than allow the rays of a sky of blind despotism to burn my skull.

Johann Gottfried Seume, Apokryphen (1811) in: Werke, vol. 2, p. 30 (Jörg Drews ed. 1993) (S.H. transl.)

Engadget
NASA has (thankfully) been working on various asteroid diverting measures for some time now, but the agency apparently still isn’t satisfied with its options, and it’s now showing off its newest bit of potential world-saving technology. Designed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, this latest system would consist of six missile-like interceptor vehicles that would launch aboard an Ares V cargo launch vehicle, each carrying with them a 1.2-megaton B83 nuclear warhead. That, NASA says, should be enough to deflect an asteroid the size of the Apophis asteroid that’s expected to pass within the orbit of the Earth and the Moon in April of 2029. So as not to make the problem even worse, the warheads apparently wouldn’t actually strike the asteroid directly, but instead detonate at a distance of one-third of its diameter, generating a force that would (theoretically) deflect the asteroid out of the Earth’s path.

Think Progress

– Nearly all Democrats (97%) and 70% of Republicans agree that America’s standing has suffered in recent years.

– Democrats (91%) and Republicans (78%) agree that the United States also needs to improve diplomatic relations by doing more to help improve health, education and opportunities in the poorest countries around the world.

– Democrats (90%) and Republicans (85%) agree that it is in keeping with the country’s values and our history of compassion to lead an effort to solve some of the most serious problems facing the world’s poorest people.

Where Am I?

You are currently viewing the archives for August, 2007 at Reflections on GardenWorld Politics Douglass Carmichael.