Friday, November 30, 2012

L'Affair Du Susan Rice

So for those who have read my prior blogs you will know I like to play myself out and put a method of analysis of the political nonsense of today by inserting me in as a persona worthy of acting in the nonsense.

This latest political nonsense is no different. So the following comes from the mouth of Senator Larry Bernard (R-Florida). And Really Senator Bernard should have beaten Bill Nelson anyway

Ambassador Rice; Thank you for coming. I want to start this off first by stating the fact I think the foreign policy you and the president have designed from the campaign to present is just terrible. That said the voters made a choice and they decided to keep having you and the President rise to the level of your maximum incompetence. I am not opposed to your being secretary of state but I need some answers to questions. You can lie to me, as a lie is a valid answer. But I need you to make the lie seem plausible.

So Ambassador Rice my first question is thus: You helped spin as a member of Clinton's national security team an Orwellian change in policy language to cover your President's behind. And you came forward to present a bunch of nonsense to cover the President's behind again with Benghazi. How can I trust that your going to take your job seriously as administering American Foreign Policy and not covering for the President? 

The White House presented a theory about a video tape. Libya is a country dominated by clan and tribal conflicts, terrorist training camps, former regime thugs, and mercenaries. When you were presented the information about the protests being the source of the conflict how did you square that with your above knowledge and your knowledge as an Africanist?

Libya a country where civil society has been destroyed, and the government have been destroyed by its nature is a security risk. The State Department did not agree with that assessment. Given that we already discussed the terrorism and other forms of political violence endemic in Libya can you explain why the State Department made the wrong choice? And much more importantly can you explain why the State Department under your leadership wouldn't make that sort of Mistake?

The political tensions in the Magreb and rest of North Africa had been brewing since before President Obama came to the White House. Why didn't the White House make an effort to encourage Gaddafi to begin to make reforms to deflate some of the pressures his Government was under? I would ask the same thing about the Mubarak regime. While I am not opposed to helping foment some of the dissident pressures as we did, but why didn't we try to transition these allies into a position where they could with stability make these reforms happen?
As UN Ambassador you pushed for a resolution on the current crisis in Syria. You did this and talked about how the Chinese and Russian Governments would support the US Resolution in the Security Council. So why did you think the Russian and Chinese governments would act so out of character with their historic security council votes? And why given it was so unlikely did you try to put so much PR into a losing proposition?
Do you regret the failure in our Central African Policies that you pushed in the Clinton Administration that we have continued for some 20 years now? How would you try to use the power of US Policy to try to try to help those countries come to a better end?
 With the rise of oil in Africa, and the decline of oil in the Middle East how are you prepared to push  and encourage US firms to take advantage of this change in the energy markets to enhance our security? How will we build those relationships that will secure US Energy security for years to come?
Thank you for your time Ms Ambassador.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Race and the 2012 Race

I forgot there was one last meme from the 2012 election that was driven by people being wrong on the Internet. The GOP is in trouble because African Americans, Asians, and Hispanics vote Democrat in large numbers. This has always been the way that it is but is now worse cause we have more Blacks, Browns, and Yellows in 'Murica.

The problem is not that Republicans hate Black, Brown, and Yellow people. The problem is much more significant and crosses both sides of the divide on race. And I get to speak on this topic from a more informed position because of my own life changes.

But first we must take a look at race and politics through the lenses of oppression and identity. If your Black you are oppressed. Even if you are Oprah you are still feeling oppressed. If you don't feel oppression at the core of your blackness, then your more likely to be voting republican. Because key to being Black as an identity is being oppressed, you look for government to be the mediator and source of relief for your oppression.

The story for Hispanics is also largely the same. Because key to their cultural identity is being oppressed by the white man. But Hispanics also form a bridge to the second culture/identity problem the GOP has. Hispanics are also a distinct cultural group (in a way African-Americans are not) and they want to maintain their cultural distinctiveness and uniqueness.

In this regard to cultural distinctiveness we find Asians and Jews as well. They don't want to go the same route of such immigrants as: Italian-Americans, Irish-Americans, etc. ethnic groups that outside of major cities are indistinguishable from the grand old American ethnic mutt white people. These groups view the GOP as the vehicle of the inevitable borg like force of homogeneity. Resistance is futile, and you will be assimilated.

So when you are a Jew, an Asian, or a Hispanic you have this urge to represent your different nature. And you find yourself confronted at every turn in your life by a world that doesn't always fully accommodate your difference. The Democratic party sells itself as the party that is all about being different. "I'm an individual just like everyone else." But it is a shallow sense of diversity. But that shallow diversity creates a buy in. "I am Jewish so I must be a Democrat, and therefore I must support the issues the Democratic party supports." And you find yourself a plethora of justifications which says your culture means you must agree with the Democratic Party and its issues.

This issue is why in the 80s and 90s we saw Union members (a distinct and oppressed cultural group) supporting the Democratic party on environmental issues that actually threatened their jobs. Its because they embraced a sense of what being a union member means that requires them to buy in to the Democratic party.

And when the Republican Party says "Us to guys" its like Carlton Banks on the fresh prince of bell-air. Dorky, unauthentic, and lame. You aren't going to convince people to go against these cultural biases because in some cases (especially for Jews and Blacks) these biases have been going on for multiple generations. You need to find a way to break the hegemony of thought that says "I am Hispanic, therefore I am Democrat." And you need to find a way to break the hegemony of thought that has Americans viewing their society as oppressive to them. That is the problem and not trying to make Black People understand we don't hate them.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

How the Republican Party needs to change

And now for the last of my people were wrong on the internet posts I saw that I delayed because of NaNoWriMo:

A lot of people were talking about how the Republicans need to more more to the Democrat positions on Taxes and Immigration.

In a word: Malarky.

The problem with Big Government isn't that government is Big , but that government is inefficient and corrupt. And that big government corrupts others.

I was watching a video on how companies hire law firms to set up consultants to "Prove" no American could get a job so they can import foreigners. The truth of this situation (as quite profoundly explained) is EVEN IF they find a qualified person they can always find a reason to excuse him that's permissible under the law. So we have a law to keep qualified Americans from losing jobs to qualified foreigners: but in practice the law is practiced in such a manner that companies go to hire qualified foreigners and invest so much money into the process that they won't hire the qualified Americans even if they find them. This is Big Business working with Big Business to create a crony capitalist solution.

What Republicans need to do (if they want to be successful) is propose a Immigration that is

  1. Simple to understand
  2. takes a reasonable time for potential future Americans to go through
  3. Fulfills our National Interest (in getting in people who will help build our country)
  4. Gets us the type of people our economy needs.
giving a specific benefit to win the electoral support (except OH WAIT IT DOESN'T) of a ethnic voting block only gets us back to the problem of the corrupting nature of big government.

More then Freedom if the Republican Party wants to defeat the ideas and ideology of Obamanism they need to do that by campaigning as the party of REFORM.

Or, how the Republican party was born in the first place, how the republican party dominated the 19th century, and most importantly of all key to its successes in the 20th century.

The Reforms must be in our day and age focused on empowering individuals to make their lives, their families, their communities, and their country better.

We need to level the federal system. We need the federal system to be one that does what it needs to do and does it as simply and cheaply as possible, It needs to do that in such a way that people know their expectations from the state and they don't need an army of experts to navigate the federal system.

Sadly the Republican Party isn't going to go back to what has always been its one of its core competencies.

A late election post mortem

Because I was busy with NaNoWriMo I didn't post my thoughts about the loss of Mitt Romney (in some respects he did worse then John McCain and that really is saying something).

I want to start out with the following thoughts

  1. The truth of the matter is our elections are far more local then we give them credit for. Mitt Romney wasn't running 1 national campaign he was running 50 state campaigns. The Obama team got this in a way that Romney's team never did. If Romney performed as well in Ohio as his national demographics would have indicated we would likely be talking about President Elect Mitt Romney today.
  2. Team Obama pioneered better technology to create better information and put it in the hands of the decision makers. Team Romney was still using national Republican technology thats largely unchanged since election 04/06 (it may even go back to 00).  This means Obama was able to be more efficient with his targeting and outreach efforts (and thats a part of why he won)
  3. Team Romney's ad strategy of playing rope-a-dope ALMOST worked. And if not for hurricane sandy it may have worked. But the problem with ALMOST winning is thats the same as losing. The damage Romney and Ryan took while they were waiting for the money numbers to be there way gave him to much to over come.
  4. 3 or 4 million Republicans stayed home. Part of what Karl Rove did so well for President George W Bush was finding people who should vote republican and get them to vote republican. If those 3-4 million voters showed up on election day and voted for Mitt Romney he would be President elect Mitt Romney. John McCain also had a lot of republicans on the bench and in 2000 George W Bush even had some republican and republican lean voters on the bench (See Florida 2000). The fact this was overlooked was negligence on the hands of the people who ran the Romney Campaign. The fact its been a problem for the GOP in the 21st century (with 02,04, and 10 being exceptions to the rule) 
  5. The election of 2006 is haunting us to this day. The weak primary field in 2008 and 2012 are in large  part because of the bloodbath in 2006. The Gop has also not improved the fundamental mechanics of how parties win elections since 2006. The only reason 2016 will be a little better for us is we have a more mature field that got on the bench in 2010.
These are some of the things that I blame the people Romney hired to run his team for, and I blame the people who have run the GOP nationally for. What I blame Romney for is a different set of matters

  1. The Business of America isn't Business: The truth of the matter is American voters don't care that much about small and big businesses getting their operating capital and wonkish matters like that. What they want to hear is "In  4 years when I come back to you seeking re-election your children will move out of your house and be moving on with their lives." What Americans wanted wasn't to get business back on track but rather America to be normal again. This was a major miss on behalf of Romney and his messaging.
  2. Paul Ryan did a lot to reinvigorate the campaign and did a lot to change the tone of the debate: But Romney didn't close the deal. He didn't close the deal by saying "Yes I am going to put the American government on a diet so we will be healthy again." He picked Paul Ryan but the message that Paul Ryan represented largely faded away. So we couldn't trust Romney to be serious
  3. Romney is a loser: And I don't mean this as a knock on his character. He lost every election he ran in but one. He didn't run for Re-Election in 06 because he knew it was going to be a ugly election for Republicans (an Ugly election he was spearheading for the national Governor's association). When he tried to run the GOP's efforts in the State House on Beacon hill he lost seats. Romney lost the 08 election to a very weak John McCain candidacy. The problem is quite profound: Other then the 2002 election where the Democratic candidate was very bad Mitt Romney has had his behind handed to him in every election he's taken a leadership role in. He doesn't have what it takes to close the deal.
None of the issues that lost the GOP the election are issues about our being out of touch with the electorate. We had a mediocre candidate with a history of under-performing and the Republican party is fundamentally weakened in the ways parties win elections and has been for 6 years now.

We need to build up our O-Line before we draft another Quarterback to lead our team to a title. We don't need a new team.

Why everyone is wrong about Benghazi

I am about ready to restart my NaNoWriMo project (to shoot for 60-75k) but before I do I want to talk a little bit about Benghazi:

The problem is not that President Obama let our Ambassador and his security team die. The true problem is much deeper.

In Libya the state was a totalitarian regime united behind one man. take a look at his regime propaganda

His regime was based on an authoritarian cult of personality which united a country that was largely clan and tribal driven. Furthermore he projected influence outside his country and enforced it within his country with the help of mercenaries. Since the country was held together by his force of personality (and oil money to bribe minions)just like in Iraq there was going to be political violence and instability.

The first scandal about Benghazi isn't that our personnel were killed, but rather that we were not prepared for a situation almost EXACTLY like what we had to deal with in Iraq.

We nuked what was holding the country together, so why were we not prepared for the security crisis?

This is central to the narrative of incompetence of the President that Governor Romney missed out on.

This incompetence is further exemplified by who we assigned security to

"Blue Mountain was virtually unknown to the circles that studied private security contractors working for the United States, before the events in Benghazi," said Charles Tiefer, a commissioner at the Commission on Wartime Contracting, which studied U.S. contracting in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Several British government sources said that they were unfamiliar with Blue Mountain, which is based in Wales. They said British authorities used a different contractor for security protection in Libya.

Fred Burton, vice president of intelligence at the Stratfor consulting firm and a former U.S. diplomatic security agent, said he did not know Blue Mountain, but it likely got State Department work because it was already working in Libya.

"They may have been the path of least resistance," he said.

Blue Mountain was able to work in Libya because it forged a business alliance with a local security firm, as required by Libyan regulations.

The Security firm is deemed to be connected to a local militia further typifying the lack of security

And to go further

BENGHAZI, Libya — Even before the deadly Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, diplomats from other nations and Libyan security officials had questioned the wisdom of a U.S. decision to rely primarily on members of a local militia to protect its compound here.

Many of these militia's were poorly vetted and deemed to have connections to Al-Qaeda

And the hole goes much deeper as Benghazi may have served as a site for "enhanced interrogation" if this allegation is true that makes the lack of adequate security even more problematic.

The death of J Chris Stevens in tragic but what makes it tragic is that even taking out a September 11th anniversary attack and a planned response to the US by Al-Qaeda the factors that lead up to his death were obvious. So the question is not "Why did the President not respond to the attack on Ambassador Stevens?" the more important and vital question is this "Why did the Obama administration fail so totally in the face of such a predictable threat?"

And how far up the chain does this failure go