03 January, 2009

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

Israel has taken the plunge and invaded Gaza. Their fearless leaders apparently think they can somehow win. Where they get this impression after watching the United States break its teeth against Iraq, not to mention the Soviets getting their asses kicked in Afghanistan, I'm not sure. The only lesson the idiots who gave the orders seem to have absorbed is Bush's own strategy, which is to say no strategy at all:

The invasion of Gaza has begun. As the bombardment of Gaza has failed to break Palestinian "will," now the gamble is that ground troops will. According to Ha'aretz, a significant portion of Israeli "top commanders" dissented from the decision to invade, arguing that the airstrikes had already dealt Hamas a "heavy blow" and that Israeli casualties could be heavy as well. Clearly they shared the concern that Israel was escalating the war without regard for strategy. How will Israel de-escalate? How can it invade Gaza on the empty goal to engage in an "all-out war" with Hamas and plausibly leave before that unfulfillable end-state is achieved? How can Israeli commanders and politicians who believe a war is going well be persuaded to back down before they commit hubristic blunders that decimate the people of Gaza and make sustainable peace and security less achievable?

This is a plea for what amounts at this point to cynicism. Israel should arbitrarily declare victory and get the hell out of Gaza. Hamas will claim victory too. But it was always going to claim victory, and every hour Israel is in Gaza pummeling them without destroying them is an hour that Hamas will be able to claim that more plausibly, just like Hezbollah did in 2006. That's how these types of asymmetric wars work; and also why it's better for the larger party not to launch them. Israel may not want to hear this now, but it's playing on Hamas' strategic terms. Stepping back is the truer "success" at this point.

It doesn't help that Israel itself set a precedent that will allow Hamas to declare that sniping at Israel with missiles was, in fact, fully justified:
Jonathan Schwarz takes a trip down Israel's Memory Lane and finds something interesting:

The funny thing about the Israeli attack on Gaza following its long blockade is that Israel's original justification for taking over Gaza in 1967 was that Israel was being subject to a blockade. This is from the official Knesset history of the Six Day War:
Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser blockaded the Straits of Tiran on May 21st and 22nd to all shipping from and to Eilat; the area was open to Israeli ships under UN supervision since 1957, and Israel repeatedly stated that such a blockade will be considered as casus belli (justification for acts of war).
Oops indeed. But, y'know, it's like totally different and stuff, because Israel is a democracy and Hamas is just a terrorist organization. Bush says so:

The US president condemned Hamas's campaign of rocket attacks on Israel as an "act of terror" and said no peace deal would be acceptable unless the flow of smuggled weapons to terrorist groups was monitored and stopped.

"This recent outburst of violence was instigated by Hamas, a Palestinian terrorist group supported by Iran and Syria that calls for Israel's destruction," he said.

Um. Excuse me. But I do believe that Hamas is the duly elected government of Gaza. They kinda sorta won the democratic elections that you, George, pushed for. Whether you like it or not, those "terrorists" are the leaders the Palestinian people in Gaza chose to lead them. Things like this happen when you're a clueless fucktard who pushes for democracy and then refuses to face up to the results.

And now even the people you installed in power think you're an outrageous fucking idiot:

Remember Iyad Allawi? The U.S.-installed former Iraqi Prime Minister? He was asked to reflect on George W. Bush, and according to a Reuters report, described the president's policies as an "utter failure" that ultimately helped create the sectarian violence that ravaged Iraq.


"Yes, Bush's policies failed utterly," said Allawi, describing the U.S. administration that once backed him. "Utter failure. Failure of U.S. domestic and foreign policy, including fighting terrorism and economic policy."

"His insistence on names like 'democracy' and 'open elections', without giving attention to political stability, was a big mistake. It cast shadows on Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Egypt, and I believe this will be remembered in history as President Bush's policy," he said.

I do believe he is right.

Not content to push the Middle East over a cliff, Bush and his cronies have also been busy ensuring America is thoroughly and completely raped and pillaged before they leave power. They're pushing through plans for our national forests, and considering it's the Bush regime, you know their rule changes aren't for the benefit of stands of majestic trees:

In yet another potential last minute rule change, “the Bush administration appears poised to push through a change in U.S. Forest Service agreements that would make it far easier for mountain forests to be converted to housing subdivisions.” Though President-elect Obama has opposed the move, Mark E. Rey, the former timber lobbyist who heads the Forest Service, has signaled that he intends to finalize the plan before Obama’s inauguration. As a presidential candidate, Obama vocally criticized Rey’s plan while campaigning in Montana, calling it “outrageous.”

Rey is pushing a technical change that it will have “large implications“:

The shift is technical but with large implications. It would allow Plum Creek Timber to pave roads passing through Forest Service land. For decades, such roads were little more than trails used by logging trucks to reach timber stands.

But as Plum Creek has moved into the real estate business, paving those roads became a necessary prelude to opening vast tracts of the company’s 8 million acres to the vacation homes that are transforming landscapes across the West.

Scenic western Montana, where Plum Creek owns 1.2 million acres, would be most affected, placing fresh burdens on county governments to provide services, and undoing efforts to cluster housing near towns.

Trees? Who needs trees? Certainly not the businesses that would rather cut them down in order to build more subdivisions.

And while we're getting rid of trees, why not let some corporate malefactors off with a mere slap upon the wrist?

The fire sale by the Bush Administration in a last gasp to coddle corporate polluters, crooks and malefactors (i.e. friends and family) is on at the Department of Justice. From Carrie Johnson at the Washington Post:

The Justice Department has reached more than a dozen business-related settlements since the presidential election, with more in the pipeline for January, prompting lawyers and interest groups to assert that companies are seeking more favorable terms before the new administration arrives.
A review of 15 agreements involving corporations since early November suggests that much of the alleged misconduct dates back five years or more, provoking questions about why the cases took so long to mature and why resolutions are coming with only weeks left in President Bush's term.

If you read on, you'll discover that corporations who defrauded the United States to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars not only get a mere slap on the wrist, but retain their ability to scam America all over again. What a deal!

At this rate, I'm not sure there'll even be a country left to salvage when Obama takes over in two weeks. He might want to rethink all that kumbaya post-partisan stuff, as well - we've seen how the Cons plan to obstruct at every opportunity, and you can get some insight into the base that will be egging them on here. And you can tell just what warm-hearted and cooperative individuals they are by noting what their favoritest "news" channel considers an apology:

As part of its New Years broadcast this week, Fox News viewers were invited to send in messages that were then added to the network's on-screen crawl at the bottom of the screen. Presumably, someone at the network was checking the text to make sure FNC didn't air anything too offensive, but that didn't stop Fox News from broadcasting one message that said, "[L]et's hope the Magic Negro does a good job."

Yesterday, a network official responded to the incident.

Fox News VP of programming Suzanne Scott explains, "We received tens of thousands of text message submissions during our New Years Eve special, and this particular viewer submission was inadvertently cleared for air. At FOX we recognize our error as opposed to networks who allow their hosts to utter crude vulgarities to the public."


Fox News can't just admit it made a mistake; it has to take shots at its competitors. It's a like a child who gets caught screwing up, and whose first instinct is to point to some other kid and say, "Yeah, but he screwed up, too."
These people are beyond belief.

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