by citizen k
Sat Jan 12th, 2008 at 08:28:03 AM EST
Right at the moment that the financial sector is digesting massive bailouts for their latest Ponzi scheme, Moody's announced that the US AAA bond rating is imperiled by spending on social services. I'm not sure how much further irony can be pushed.
The Moody's report
"The combination of the medical programmes and social security is the most important threat to the triple-A rating over the long term,"
If this were normal times, one might be struck by the bad economic analysis or the peculiar way in which, for example, tossing a trillion or so into the toilet for the Iraq war is not an issue for Moody's - perhaps because Moody's has now made a habit of assuming "off the books" expenditures and liabilities don't count. But in the middle of a financial crisis that was aided and abetted by Moody's willingness to assign high credit ratings to obvious flim-flam, ordinary measurements of hypocritical double talk can't even start to convey the astounding levels reached now.
Here is a lecture on fiscal rectitude, a stern reminder that the US cannot go on providing medicine for poor and old people or pensions for its citizens, from a rating agency that has spent the last 10 years reassuring investors that papers backed by transparent sleight of hand and repeating pyramids of debt based on a foundation assumption that real-estate prices never drop and insured by insurance agencies that had nowhere near the assets needed to actually pay in case of loss, could be considered to be absolutely rock solid. And now, as its financial partners and customers crowd 'round the public treasury, weeping for bailouts, Moody's wags its finger at the irresponsible gluttons who want, you know, health care!
Kissinger winning the Nobel Peace Prize was clearly just a prelude to our modern levels of irony.
by citizen k
Sat Nov 5th, 2005 at 10:39:44 PM EST
51 years ago - this november, the French started operation castor which ended with the Vietnamese victory at Dienbienphu. In fact, one of the things that bind the US and France is our shared history of losing guerilla wars - France started first in Spain during the Napoleonic era - but the US and France have been tied together on several post WWII fiascos. High points include Eisenhower's sensible decision to refuse French requests for nuclear assistance during the collapse of Dienbienphu (of course, one wonders what Dick and Wolfie will do in the event of such a problem in Iraq) and the French government's contribution of Algeria experienced interrogation trainers to what later became called the School of the Americas. Isn't it grand that Salvadoran insurgents would learn about la mission civilitrice from US trained heirs to the Algerian war?
Here are some points from Professor Lovett's web page
The Status of the French Military
- The French could not use draftees to serve in Indochina.
- The French Command only had approximately 100,000 troops to draw upon.
- French foreign legionnaires, colonial troops, or from the Regular Army.
- The French would eventually use Vietnamese and that was hard for them and the Vietnamese.
I thought of Dienbienphu when I read this
cited in DailyKos (http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/11/5/18230/5582)
In recent months, American officers have been saying it will be years before the Iraqi Army is able to operate on its own; in September, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top American commander in Iraq, told the United States Senate that only one Iraqi battalion at that time was able to fight alone. President Bush has said a significant drawdown of the 160,000 American troops here will not take place until the Iraqis are capable of providing some security for their own country.
Well, the US has 160K soldiers, much better than 100K so there are, of course, no comparisons. The French used ex-Wermacht troops in Dienbienphu, the US employs ex Rhodesian and South African soldiers as mercenaries. Can we look forward to establishment of a major base in this far off corner of Iraq just before the summer sandstorm season begins?
by citizen k
Sun Oct 30th, 2005 at 10:11:57 AM EST
How is it that Jaques Chirac and George Bush, representatives of the aristocracy
have been able to run and win on populist themes?
How can Sarkozy get up and say of the socialists:
I understand why the people have turned against you," he said. "It's because you
forget the people. You don't talk like them, you don't understand them and you offer
no response whatsoever to what they experience on a daily basis."
Thomas Franks wrote a book about about the right wing in Kansas. He says
By "backlash" I mean populist conservatism of the kind pioneered in the Sixties by
George Wallace and Richard Nixon, perfected by Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, and
crafted into an entertainment form by Fox News. Instead of selling conservative
politics on economic grounds, it imagines conservatism as a revolt of the little
people against a high and mighty liberal elite.
Franks goes on to say:
There is no doubt that liberals bear a lot of the blame for the backlash. Back in
the Sixties and Seventies, Democratic Party leaders decided to turn their backs on
the working-class voters who until then had been the party's central constituency,
and to try to find a new constituency in groups like college students,
environmentalists, and so on. They called this the "New Politics," and it was a
terrible mistake. Among other things, it is one of the sources of the "liberal
elite" stereotype, in a historical sense. And while there have been numerous
Democrats who have tried to resurrect the alliance with the working class over the
years, the dominant, Clinton wing of the party clings to this failed strategy. They
essentially agree with the Republicans on economic issues, write off the working
class, and try instead to win the votes (and the campaign contributions) of
educated, professional people by taking liberal stands on social issues. Their idea
of politics is a war of enlightened CEOs versus backwards CEOs.
This strategy has been disastrous in the extreme. While stripping away any economic
reason for working people to vote Democratic, it has simultaneously played into the
"liberal elite" stereotype which is the Republicans' strongest weapon. The result is
what you see around you: Republicans talk constantly about class grievances, albeit
in a coded and inverted way, while Democrats never bring it up at all, desperately
trying to prove their "centrist" bona fides. What liberals must do to beat the
backlash, it seems obvious to me, is to resurrect old-fashioned, upper-case-P
populism, and to wage non-coded, non-inverted class war. They must at the very
minimum counter Republican appeals to social class with their own appeals to social
And this brings us the bar on the corner.
Let's take a look at this interview with Daniel Cohn-Bendit published in the British
Cohn-Bendit argues that the French left has refused to come to terms with the existence and predominance of the world market. This is the opposite of Franks who is arguing that the US liberals have become apologists for the world market, buthere are two very different analysts with two very different points of view, both agreeing with Sarkozy. Are they both dupes? Foolish retransmitters of right wing talking points?
The discussion takes place in the bar, where the patron announces he also took part
in 68. Here is a quote from the patron:
"... we still need a revolution in France. We should be
more like your country, like Britain. France will never succeed until we have the
right to hire and sack people whenever we like."