Bush wants history to see him as a liberator of millions

George W. Bush hopes history will see him as a president who liberated millions of Iraqis and Afghans, who worked towards peace and who never sold his soul for political ends.

"I'd like to be a president (known) as somebody who liberated 50 million people and helped achieve peace," Bush said in excerpts of a recent interview released by the White House Friday.

"I would like to be a person remembered as a person who, first and foremost, did not sell his soul in order to accommodate the political process. I came to Washington with a set of values, and I'm leaving with the same set of values."

Keep Reading (if you haven't died laughing)...

Punditman says...Oh, George, you are such a funny guy!

Chomsky: Is There Truth in Obama's Advertising?

In a fascinating speech, Chomsky warns, "Changes and progress very rarely are gifts from above. They come out of struggles from below."

Let's begin with the elections. The word that the rolls off of everyone's tongue is historic. Historic election. And I agree with it. It was a historic election. To have a black family in the white house is a momentous achievement. In fact, it's historic in a broader sense. The two Democratic candidates were an African-American and a woman. Both remarkable achievements. We go back say 40 years, it would have been unthinkable. So something's happened to the country in 40 years. And what's happened to the country -- which is we're not supposed to mention -- is that there was extensive and very constructive activism in the 1960s, which had an aftermath. So the feminist movement, mostly developed in the 70s - -the solidarity movements of the 80's and on till today. And the activism did civilize the country. The country's a lot more civilized than it was 40 years ago and the historic achievements illustrate it. That's also a lesson for what's next.

What's next will depend on whether the same thing happens. Changes and progress very rarely are gifts from above. They come out of struggles from below. And the answer to what's next depends on people like you. Nobody else can answer it. It's not predictable. In some ways, the election -- the election was surprising in some respects.

Read on...

Peacenik is not very encouraged by Chomsky's speech. Why can't Chomsky be more upbeat?

Indian Crisis "Tests" Obama

by John Nichols

This transition period was supposed to be all about getting a grip on the financial crisis -- and it looked this week as if Barack Obama has succeeded sufficiently to take the Thanksgiving holiday off. But on Wednesday, the president-elect was reminded that he is inheriting messes far beyond Wall Street.

The devastating attacks in Mumbai -- which have left more than 100 dead and three times that number seriously wounded -- have put the war on terror back in competition for Obama's urgent attention. And the reported focus of the attackers in U.S. and European visitors to India makes this anything but a foreign affair.

Wednesday's developments do not quite qualify as the "test" famously anticipated during the fall campaign by Joe Biden, the outgoing Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair who will now serve as Obama's loose-lipped vice president. But Obama and his aides are scrambling to refocus after a key American ally suffered a devastating attack that John McLaughlin, the former acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency refers to as "India's 9-11."

Just because someone says this is "India's 9-11" doesn't make it so. Just because someone says this validates Obama's choices of Clinton and Gates doesn't make it so. And just because someone says this is a test of Obama doesn't make it so. Peacenik thinks the U.S., Obama, and the world need a whole new approach to "terrorism". Peacenik thinks everyone should re-read the Rand Report on fighting terrorism before embracing more of the same. Peacenik thinks the neocons should shut their pie holes.


The Famine Of 2009

by Stranded Wind
Thu Nov 27, 2008 at 08:18:15 AM PST

Last week I received a very concerned call from South Dakota farmer and agronomist Bryan Lutter. "Neal, we're out of propane!" I figured this was personal distress – he and his family farm over three square miles of land and I know this has been a tough year for many people. He promptly corrected my misconception when I tried to console him. "No, everybody is out, all three grain elevators, we can't get fuel for the bins, and we're coming in real wet this year."

There are equally dramatic issues due to the bankruptcy of Verasun and the apparent insolvency of the nation's largest private crop insurance program. Payments that would have come in June or July of a normal year are still not dispersed at the end of November and this has grim implications for next year's crop.

I started digging into the details and unless I'm badly mistaken people are going to be starving in 2009 over causes and conditions being set down right now. It's a complex, interlocking issue, and I hope I've done a good job explaining it below the fold ...

Peacenik was looking for something upbeat to post after Peacenik's earlier frightening post about the fiscal black hole. Then Peacenik found this article. Now Peacenik has something else to be frightened about. Is Peacenik a scardy cat, or is Peacenik a realist? Everything seems to be intertwined. Everything seems to be imploding. Wall Street's meltdown means farmers can't dry their corn. This means? Peacenik will stock up on Corn Flakes on the weekend.

Debt Rattle, November 26, 2008: From the top of the great Pyramid

Stoneleigh: Everyone has heard of pyramid, or Ponzi, schemes. In their simplest form they are short-lived deliberate frauds where a small number of existing members are paid from the buy-in of a larger number of newer members until the supply of newer members is exhausted, whereupon they collapse. Typically, the founders, and perhaps a few others who got in early and out before it was too late, end up making a lot of money at the expense of later entrants, who end up holding the empty bag. There are always many more losers than winners. What most do not realize, however, is that Ponzi dynamics are far more pervasive than people think. There are many human systems that ultimately rest on the buy-in of new entrants, and every one of them will ultimately meet the same fate, although it can take far longer for complex constructions than for simple pyramid frauds.

What allows a more complex pyramid to last for longer than a simple one is a supplementary source of funds to pay members, besides merely the buy-in of newer members. The more such sources there are, legitimate and otherwise, the more complex the pyramid can become and the longer it will last, as the apparent on-going success of early entrants will attract many more new ones. There's nothing like seeing one's friends and neighbours seemingly making a lot of easy money for a long time to eventually overcome the mental defenses of even the most skeptical.

Peacenik remembers reading about the blow up of the Albanian Ponzi economy a few years ago. Peacenik wondered how they could be so stupid. Now the global economy has been exposed as a giant Ponzi scheme created by Wall Street, the corporate media, compliant politicians and stupid greedy citizens. The wealth and prosperity of the last 25 years has been an illusion. Peacenik lived it. Peacenik prospered from it. But now Peacenik and everyone else will suffer from it. 60 trillion dollars of "wealth" has turned out to be worthless. And now it is sucking all the wealth in the world into a black hole. The banks, pension plans, insurance companies, auto companies, are all insolvent. The only way forward seems to be to pretend that the black hole does not exist. Do not look in the black hole. Peacenik looked.

Karzai Wishes He Could Shoot Down US Planes


Afghan President Hamid Karzai used a visit yesterday by a United Nations delegation to hit out at the international forces over their conduct in the war, expressing disbelief that after seven years “a little force like the Taliban” is continuing to flourish.

But today the Afghan President took his complaints to a new level, publicly lamenting that he was unable to shoot down the US planes which have been bombarding Afghan villages. Karzai added that if he had a rock attached to a piece of string, he’d use it to try to down the planes, “but that’s not in my hands.”

Hitting out at the war on terror as “unclear,” Karzai criticized “a war which is unclear what it is for, and what we are doing.” Addressing the media after today’s meeting with NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer he called for a firm timeline for withdrawal, insisting “this war cannot be endless and forever and the Afghan nation cannot burn in a war of which the end is not clear,” and adding “we did not welcome the international community in Afghanistan so that our lives get worse.”

Karzai warned that if a timeline is not set, he feels Afghanistan has “the right to find another solution for peace and security, which is negotiations.” He also accused international troops of having set up a parallel government.

punditman says...

Afghanistan is never far from our minds, but what a headline! Is this some blunt, off-message honesty from a Western puppet that shows signs of a very real schism in a once solid alliance? Or is it an orchestrated front? You decide...


The Pentagon Represents Astounding Excess in Spending and Firepower: Can Obama Take it on?

By Frida Berrigan, Tomdispatch.com. Posted November 26, 2008.

Tackling the Pentagon, with its mega-budget and its mega-power, may be the hardest task Obama faces.

Even saddled with a two-front, budget-busting war and a collapsing economy, President Barack Obama may be able to accomplish a lot. With a friendly Congress and a relieved world, he could make short work of some of the most egregious overreaches of the Bush White House -- from Guantanamo to those Presidential signing statements. For all the rolling up of sleeves and "everything is going to change" exuberance, however, taking on the Pentagon, with its mega-budget and its mega-power, may be the hardest task he faces.

The Mega-Pentagon

Under President George W. Bush, military spending increased by about 60%, and that's not including spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Eight years ago, as Bush prepared to enter the Oval Office, military spending totaled just over $300 billion. When Obama sets foot in that same office, military spending will total roughly $541 billion, including the Pentagon's basic budget and nuclear warhead work in the Department of Energy.

Peacenik thinks there just isn't going to be enough money to maintain a bloated Pentagon. Yesterday when John Brennan withdrew his name from consideration for head of the CIA the blogosphere celebrated. The press is now on to stop Gates from being allowed to continue as Secretary of Defense. Obama can send a message to the Pentagon, but Peacenik doesn't think he will.


Living the Good Life on $5,000 a Year

By Kevin O'Connor, Rutland Herald. Posted November 25, 2008.

Today's global financial cloud got you feeling gray? Vermonter Jim Merkel sees a silver lining.

Back in 1989, the Long Island native was a weapons engineer who helped design a cutting-edge computer that could transmit military secrets, survive a nuclear blast and, a decade before the dawn of the BlackBerry, fit in the palm of his hand. Sitting at a hotel bar in Stockholm, Sweden, he was drinking in his accomplishment when a bulletin flashed on television.

An oil tanker had hit a reef half a world away in Alaska, spilling 11 million gallons of crude oil, contaminating 1,300 miles of coastline and killing more than 250,000 seabirds, otters, seals, bald eagles and whales. Video showed the culprit to be the Exxon Valdez. But peering into a mirror behind the bar, Merkel saw only himself.

Is this the solution to societal, financial collapse? Is this the future? Peacenik thinks he'll take a look at Merkel's book. For future reference.

Psychologists to Obama: Don't Name Torture Apologist John Brennan CIA Director

By Stephen Soldz, Psyche, Science, and Society. Posted November 25, 2008.

An open letter from 200 psychologists and allies who are urging Obama not to select John Brennan to be Director of the CIA.

November 22, 2008

Dear President-Elect Obama,

We are writing to urge you not to select John Brennan as Director of the CIA. We are psychologists and allies who have long opposed the abuses of detainees under the Bush administration. We are just concluding a successful several-year struggle to remove psychologists from their roles in aiding or abetting these abuses. It has been a distressing fact that, while the Bush administration resorted to abuse and torture of those in our custody, often psychologists have been put in positions to use their psychological expertise to guide these unconscionable practices.

We look forward to your administration as an opportunity for genuine change -- in this case for our country to take a new direction in its treatment of prisoners. We applaud your commitment to closing Guantanamo and are encouraged by your clear statement from your “60 Minutes” interview last Sunday, “America doesn’t torture, and I’m gonna make sure that we don’t torture.” This fuels our hope for a decisive repudiation of the “dark side” -- the willingness to use or abet illegal and unethical coercive interrogation tactics that sometimes amount to torture and often constitute cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

Read on...

Peacenik thinks this will be another big disappointment if Obama selects Brennan for the CIA. Obama's foreign policy team and financial team are hawks, status quo. I guess the verdict is still out on his social policy team although Dean seems to be a good choice. Obama's speeches still sound great but Peacenik wants to see some follow through on those speeches. Progressives are getting nervous. Peacenik is getting nervous.

Update: Score one for the progressive blogosphere and the above psychologists. Brennan has withdrawn his name from consideration for CIA director.


Zombie Economics

by Jim Kunstler

Though Citicorp is deemed too big to fail, it's hardly reassuring to know that it's been allowed to sink its fangs into the Mother Zombie that the US Treasury has become and sucked out a multi-billion dollar dose of embalming fluid so it can go on pretending to be a bank for a while longer. I employ this somewhat clunky metaphor to point out that the US Government is no more solvent than the financial zombies it is keeping on walking-dead support. And so this serial mummery of weekend bailout schemes is as much of a fraud and a swindle as the algorithm-derived-securities shenanigans that induced the disease of bank zombification in the first place. The main question it raises is whether, eventually, the creation of evermore zombified US dollars will exceed the amount of previously-created US dollars now vanishing into oblivion through compressive debt deflation.

My guess, given the usual time-lag factor, is that the super-inflation snap-back will occur six to eighteen months from now. And the main result of all this will be our inability to buy the imported oil that comprises two-thirds of the oil we require to keep WalMart and Walt Disney World running. At some point, then, in the early months of the Obama administration, we'll learn that "change" is not a set of mere lifestyle choices but a wrenching transition away from all our familiar and comfortable habits into a stark and rigorous new economic landscape.

Read on...

Peacenik was feeling kind of discombobulated this morning when Peacenik realized Peacenik hadn't read Kunstler's Monday morning eye opener. Yes, all is well, everything is still going to hell in a handcart. But Kunstler at least prescribes a few remedies.


We've Been Down This Road Before: A Great Depression Quiz

by Jacob Savage

Half of these quotes are taken from Arthur Schlesinger Jr.'s "The Crisis of the Old Order," about the Great Depression and the coming of the New Deal; the other half are taken from media sources during the last four years. All proper names and specific dates are underlined and have been replaced with their generic counterparts. A small portion of the text has been edited for concision and clarity, with any obvious anachronisms removed.

Your task is to decide what era and person each excerpt refers to: a) Herbert Hoover, Calvin Coolidge, Franklin Roosevelt, and the events of 1929-1933, or b) George W. Bush, John McCain, Barack Obama, and the events of the last four years.

Read on...

Peacenik was caffinating the cobwebs from Peacenik's mind when Peacenik came across this quizz. Are we in a depression? What metrics would you use to decide? Peacenik took the quizz. Peacenik had fun. Peacenik is posting from a new location on a new computer. This is a test.


Time for a Bank Holiday


By William Greider

Henry Paulson's $700 billion plan to save the world is dead or dying, but the bailout was not killed by his arrogance or his grossly misleading claims about what the public's money would buy. The plan collapsed because it didn't work. The Treasury secretary has launched a PR offensive to revive his falling influence. Too late. The Democrats should be equally embarrassed. In September their leaders in Congress rushed to embrace the Paulson solution, no hard questions asked. They now claim they were duped.

Paulson's squad at Treasury pumped $250 billion into the largest banks, buying their stock at inflated prices on the assumption it would persuade investors to step forward with their capital too. Instead, savvy financial players realized Paulson was spitting into a high wind, trying to save a system with stout talk.

In the absence of any reasonable plan Peacenik thinks Greider may have a good idea. Global capitalism has failed. North America is about to become third world like. Its time for some radical, progressive leadership. The crisis can't wait for Jan. 20. Peacenik thinks Peacenik will go to a hockey game, drink some beer and forget about Wall Street. Have a good weekend.

America in Free Fall

By Robert L. Borosage, Campaign for America's Future. Posted November 21, 2008.

Congress might adjourn without acting on the deepening economic crisis, leaving Obama to inherit the catastrophe.

Free fall. The U.S. has lost private sector jobs for 10 straight months. One quarter of all businesses in the U.S. plan to cut payroll over the next year. Retail sales fell in October by the largest monthly drop on record. Auto sales have collapsed, driving the auto companies towards the precipice. Unemployment is up to 6.1 percent, with most analysts predicting it will soar past 8 percent over the next year. (That translates into unemployment among young minority men at rates of 50 percent or more). States are now facing $100 billion in deficits in operating budgets for the next fiscal year. Twelve million homes are "under water," worth less than their mortgages. The U.S. has joined Germany and Japan in what is becoming a global recession.

"The era of big government is over" is over. In the crisis, we are, as Richard Nixon once said, "all Keynesians now." Former Clinton Treasury Secretaries Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers, until recently notable deficit hawks, now call for substantial fiscal stimulus -- deficit-funded federal spending -- to get the economy going.

Peacenik cannot overstate the severity of this financial crisis. Apparently this morning the Dow futures are modestly up. Asia didn't collapse more overnight. But no one thinks this is the bottom. Like Punditman, Peacenik is seriously considering stocking up on necessities. Is Peacenik crazy? Is today financial armageddon?


Antiwar Groups Fear Hawkish Cabinet

As President-elect Barack Obama’s national security team begins to take shape, there is increasing disquiet among antiwar activists that his appointees and rumored appointees have thus-far, without exception, favored the Iraq invasion and held hawkish foreign policy positions.

The persistent reports that Obama is in talks with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates about keeping his position in the new administration had already prompted loud complaints that keeping him on was not in keeping with his campaign’s mantra of change. His apparent preference to make Sen. Hillary Clinton his Secretary of State, despite all the times he publicly trashed her position on the Iraq War during the primaries, has only added to those concerns.

But nowhere in Obama’s “Team of Rivals” cabinet is any suggestion of an appointee less-hawkish than himself, meaning his increasingly tenuous claim to being an antiwar politician will serve as the base-line for his administration’s foreign policy, with his cabinet pulling it in ever more bellicose directions.

Keep Reading...

punditman says...

Punditman is adding to Peacenik's bad economic news with this bad political news, which can only be construed as a disappointment to those who hoped for some sort of progressive foreign policy out of Obama (Punditman is not one of those naive types). Oh well. Perhaps the economic mess will constrain any further military adventurism?

On the bright side, Punditman scored a nice goal on a slapshot through the five-hole today and is therefore happy with his new hockey shaft purchase, which he got on sale. He recommends that everyone stock up on sporting goods of all kinds -- before world shipping grinds to a halt and store shelves become bare. In the days to come, recreational equipment may well be scarce -- and God knows we'll need it.

Debt Rattle, November 19 2008: Full Metal Coffin

Ilargi: Hmmmm. It’s starting to look like we're about to see a harbinger moment of sorts, isn't it? I see no indication that the Motown Big Three will get what they want. Flying in on private jets may well be the last nail in the full metal coffin.

A free hand-out now seems to be entirely off the table, and that would leave only the option of a loan. But what could the Three put up as collateral for that loan? For every million dollars a factory might be worth, and that is a big if once the stones start a-falling and a-rolling, there are many millions more in obligations.

Read on...

Peacenik has never seen so much bad financial news as there is today, November 20. Yesterday the DOW closed below 8000 and now there is talk about it going to 6400. GMAC wants to reclassify itself as a bank so it can get financial aid. The North American auto industry is on the verge of disappearing. Banks and Insurance companies are bankrupt but hiding the information from he public. Consumer confidence is at record lows. The people trying to solve the problem....Bernake, Paulson, Harper etc. are flopping around like fish on a dock. There is no plan. There is no leadership. Peacenik thinks Peacenik needs some escapist entertainment.

25 Most Important Stories the Media Isn't Reporting (w/ poll)

by StanMO Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 09:00:37 PM PST

Need a break from talk of Joe and Hillary?

Project Censored conducts research on important national news stories that are underreported, ignored, misrepresented, or censored by the US corporate media. Each year, Project Censored publishes a ranking of the top 25 most censored nationally important news stories in the yearbook, Censored: Media Democracy in Action.

Here is this year's list:

Peacenik gets most of his news and information from blogs, plus a few online mainstream media sites. Peacenik thinks the MSM deserves to go out of business. The MSM rarely gets a story right. The MSM has its own agenda. The MSM hates bloggers. This is an interesting list of MSM failures or I suppose from their point-of-view, successes.


Debt Rattle, November 19 2008: He'll have to go


A 1930s style depression is not impossible by any means. If governments could avoid a depression merely by printing money, then one would never have happened. Unfortunately, depressions do happen, because ‘money printing’ (monetizing debt) doesn’t cause inflation (ie an increase in the effective money supply) during a hurricane of credit destruction. Traditional money supply measures don’t capture the full picture.

Credit functions as a money equivalent during the expansion phase, but loses the quality of ‘moneyness’ once expansion morphs into contraction. As the vast majority of the effective money supply is currently credit, the collapse of credit will crash the money supply. As is already happening, ‘printing’ merely send money into a giant black hole of credit destruction, thanks to the hoarding mentality that has taken hold amongst banks due to the collapse of trust. Banks know what toxic waste they hold in their own vaults, and certainly aren’t going to trust their colleagues who almost certainly hold the same.

Peacenik thought Ilargi was frequently downbeat but his blogging partner Stoneleigh may top Ilargi's sense of doom in this piece. You have to scroll down a bit to get to Stoneleigh's article. Peacenik wonders what comes after fear.

Will Beer Be the Next Casualty of the Crisis?

The downturn could hurt high-end brewers

By Kimberly Palmer
Posted November 18, 2008

The beer industry is often described as immune to economic downturns. After all, when people get laid off, they want to nurse their sorrows with a cold one, right?

It turns out that, as the beer industry has gone increasingly upscale, the answer to that question is no longer simple. In recent years, beer sales have been relatively flat except in one category—craft beers, which are made by small, independent brewers. Amy Mittelman, author of Brewing Battles: A History of American Beer, says that the heyday for such high-end, specialty beers could soon be over as consumers look to cut costs. Mittelman spoke to U.S. News about the future—and history—of the American beer industry. Excerpts:

Peacenik is shocked. The auto industry, the insurance industry, the banking industry, all fall down. But beer? Peacenik senses total meltdown by Friday. Peacenik may start brewing Peacenik's own beer.


No For An Answer

By: Spencer Ackerman Tuesday November 18, 2008 9:10 am

Yesterday Hamid Karzai offered Taliban leader Mullah Omar safe passage to Afghanistan for peace talks, a move that I considered a thrown gauntlet. Now Omar's deputy, Mullah Brother -- inhale the gloriousness of that name and let it waft through your nostrils -- says no. And not just no, but hell no. Reuters reports:

"As long as foreign occupiers remain in Afghanistan, we aren't ready for talks because they hold the power and talks won't bear fruit ... The problems in Afghanistan are because of them," Brother said.

"We are safe in Afghanistan and we have no need for Hamid Karzai's offer of safety," he told Reuters by satellite telephone from an undisclosed location, adding that the Taliban jihad, or holy war, would go on.

Peacenik just wants to declare victory and bring the troops home.

Operation Enduring Disaster

Breaking With Afghan Policy
By Tariq Ali
November 17, 2008

Afghanistan has been almost continuously at war for thirty years, longer than both World Wars and the American war in Vietnam combined. Each occupation of the country has mimicked its predecessor. A tiny interval between wars saw the imposition of a malignant social order, the Taliban, with the help of the Pakistani military and the late Benazir Bhutto, the prime minister who approved the Taliban takeover in Kabul.

Over the last two years, the US/NATO occupation of that country has run into serious military problems. Given a severe global economic crisis and the election of a new American president--a man separated in style, intellect and temperament from his predecessor--the possibility of a serious discussion about an exit strategy from the Afghan disaster hovers on the horizon. The predicament the United States and its allies find themselves in is not an inescapable one, but a change in policy, if it is to matter, cannot be of the cosmetic variety.

Can someone remind Peacenik what Canada is doing in Afghanistan. Peacenik really hopes that the one silver lining of the current financial crisis is that no one will be able the afford to fight in these crazy wars. What is more important to Canadians? Helping Bush in Afghanistan or having universal health care and a viable social safety net? Peacenik knows where the Harper government stands.

Obama, Iran, and the US-Iraq SOFA

posted by Robert Dreyfuss on 11/17/2008 @ 05:22am

Why, after so many months, was the US-Iraq security pact approved now? True, the two countries were facing a deadline of December 31, when the UN authority for the occupation expires, but they could have gone back to the UN for a temporary extension or simply signed a bilateral statement not nearly as involved as the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA)approved yesterday by the Iraqi Cabinet.

Here's the reason, in my opinion. The election of Barack Obama changed Iran's calculus, and so Iran decided, very subtly, to shift to neutral on the pact. As a result, many politicians in Iraq who are either influenced by Iran or who are outright Iranian agents now support the pact. It's an important sign from Tehran to Obama that they're willing to work with the United States.

Peacenik wonders if Obama could do a Nixon, travel to Iran, and change the whole calculus of the middle east. Right now, in the post election feel good days, anything seems possible. Can you U.S. change its policy? Maybe. But watch the media, the neo-cons, and the military try to cut Obama down to size. Peacenik hopes Obama fires a few generals quickly. Unfortunately, if the democrats leave neo-con Lieberman in a chairmanship it sends a bad message.


Scott Horton Interviews Eric Margolis

November 16th, 2008

Eric Margolis, author of American Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the West and the Muslim World, discusses the repeating of history in Afghanistan, India’s under-the-radar regional influence and sweetheart nuclear deal, ramifications of a future “Pashtunistan”, the precarious economic and political conditions in Pakistan, the possibility of Obama using Bill Clinton as Kashmir peacemaker, the need for a waxing Department of State and waning Pentagon in the foreign policy realm, the Caspian oil pipeline as “Great Game” prize, new accusations about Syria’s nuclear program and the supreme importance of U.S./Russia relations.

MP3 here. (53:49)

Eric Margolis is a foreign correspondent and columnist with the Quebecor Media Company and author of War at the Top of the World and American Raj.

punditman says...If only policy makers in Washington would listen to what experts like Eric Margolis have to say.

In the Reality Lounge

by Jim Kunstler

The G-20 came to Washington for the weekend and sucked all the air out of the city before announcing that they were really serious about patching all the leaks in the foundering ship of globalism. Well, they have to at least pretend that they are doing something. Meanwhile, the former bit player known as reality has taken center stage in the ship's main lounge. It is putting on an act even gnarlier than the Kit Kat Klub show in Cabaret.
This reality show is sending some clear signals to the denizens of the real and really crowded world. The main signal is that the trade and financing rackets of recent decades are over. The extravaganza of economic hypergrowth based on cheap resources is over. The promiscuous swapping around of risk and rewards is over. There is no global institutional framework for managing the impairment left in the wake of this binge. It will be up to the individual nations now to figure out their national lives and livings.

Peacenik can't not post Kunstler on a Monday morning. Enjoy.

How Did We Ever Let This Guy Get Away with Being a War President?

By Gary Brecher, eXiled Online. Posted November 17, 2008.

Only a fool like Bush could pick an anti-American Arab country, add an invading army, and expect a nice fluffy democracy soufflé.

What George W. Bush loved best about his job was being a war president. Playing war, that is, as opposed to making war like a grown-up. Remember him strutting onto that carrier in his little flight jacket? You never saw Eisenhower, a real general, playing out his martial fantasies this way. You can take the drink out of the drunk, but you can't take the swagger out of a fool.

Compare Bush's eight years to Clinton's, and you see how much he loved to play the soldier. No one expected that from a Republican: Reagan and Bush senior were cautious about betting America's chips. Liberals used to make fun of Reagan for picking on tiny helpless nations that couldn't fight back. Now they are remembering with pure nostalgia Reagan's invasion of Grenada, air raids on Libya, and even our 1984 withdrawal from Beirut.

Peacenik thinks this article is almost funny if the consequences weren't so bad. And the economic collapse is tied to all the money wasted in Iraq.

Debt Rattle, November 16 2008: Everybody Now!

Ilargi: Now the G20 meeting is finished, we see confirmed once more what I've said all along: the whole circus was an emtpy charade from the start, and nothing was achieved. Except perhaps for one notion that stands out: the vast majority of so-called leaders (isn't that a title you need work to deserve?) understand that it's everybody for himself.

The best illustration of this is provided by the fact that all participants agreed that a lot of studying and talking is left to do, before they meet again. Which is supposed to be in April 2009 (?!). That’s half a year away. Until then, the world will supposedly stand still. May I suggest you look back 6 months, to April of this year? Try some of the media headlines in those days. It'll give you a good indication of how much change can occur in such a relatively short period, and how useless therefore an agreement like this is.

Peacenik watched the Sunday morning talking heads, went to the mall, did some shopping, and everything seemed "normal". The talking heads were more interested in Obama's new dog than they were in the G20 meeting. Lots of bonhomie. The mall was busy. The liquor store was busy. People enjoyed the Santa Claus parade. Meanwhile the economy continues to evaporate. While the ideologues argue about whether or not to save GM, GM is vaporizing. Peacenik thinks all this is very weird. It should be an interesting week.


A Phenomenon of Systemic Criminality

Obama and the Rogue Regime

By Ralph Nader

Barack Obama is receiving lots of advice from many people these days about the collapse of Wall Street, the sinking economy and the quagmire wars he will inherit from the Bush regime. However, there is one important matter that he alone can address with his legal training and the sworn oath he will take on January 20 to uphold the Constitution. That phenomenon is the systemic, chronic lawlessness and criminality of the Bush/Cheney regime which he must unravel and stop.

To handle this immense responsibility as President, he needs to bring together a volunteer task force of very knowledgeable persons plus wise, retired civil servants to inventory the outlaw workings of this rogue regime.

Much is already known and documented officially and by academic studies and media reporting. In the category of “high crimes and misdemeanors”, are (1) the criminal war—occupation of Iraq, (2) systemic torture as a White House policy, (3) arrests of thousands of Americans without charges or habeas corpus rights, (4) spying on large numbers of Americans without judicial warrants and (5) hundreds of signing statements by George W. Bush declaring that, he of the unitary presidency, will decide whether to obey the enacted bills or not.

To its everlasting credit, the conservative American Bar Association sent to President Bush three reports in 2005-2006 concluding that he has been engaged in continuing serious violations of the Constitution. This is no one-time Watergate obstruction of justice episode ala Nixon that led to his resignation just before his impeachment in the House of Representatives.

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punditman says...
Ralph Nader is at his best when doing what he does best: documenting injustice (as opposed to running for election). Will Obama do anything about the Bush administration's crimes? Punditman is doubtful.

Mary Dejevsky: Why did the West ignore the truth about the war in Georgia?

The US and UK left the impression that Russia was the guilty party

Thank goodness, they might be thinking at the US State Department and the British Foreign Office, for the financial crisis. Were it not for the ever-blacker news about the Western world's economy, another scandal would be vying for the headlines – and one where the blame would be easier to apportion. It concerns our two countries' relations with Russia and the truth about this summer's Georgia-Russia war.

Over the past couple of weeks, a spate of reports has appeared in the American and British media, questioning many assumptions about that war, chief among them that Russia was the guilty party. Journalists from the BBC, The New York Times and Canada's Embassy magazine, among others, travelled to South Ossetia, the region at the centre of the conflict, in an effort to establish the facts.

Not the "facts" as told by the super-slick Georgian PR machine at the time, nor the "facts" as eventually dragged from the hyper-defensive and clod-hopping communicators of the Kremlin. But the facts as experienced on the ground by those who were there: civilians, the local military commander, and the small number of unarmed monitors stationed in the region by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

The journalists travelled to the region separately and by different routes. They spoke to different people. But their findings are consistent: Georgia launched an indiscriminate military assault on South Ossetia's main town, Tskhinvali. The hospital was among the buildings attacked; doctors were injured even as they operated.

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punditman says...

Where were these reporters when it really mattered? Punditman has been documenting the blatant use of propaganda by Western governments in the Georgia-Russia war — accompanied by hopelessly biased reporting in the western press — since that conflict occurred last summer. This occurred despite the indisputable fact that Georgia launched an indiscriminate military assault on South Ossetia's main town, Tskhinvali — which led to a Russian response.

It seems there is now some pull back from the official position.

Nevertheless, a recent case in point: In a November 12th broadcast, BBC's HARDtalk programme host, Stephen Sackur accused Russia alone of starting the war when he interviewed Konstantin Simonov, Director General of the National Energy Security Fund, Russia. It was as if the West and Israel played no role whatsoever in stirring up and training Georgian forces, and Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili is all lilly white.

So this is all old hat. Does that make us "pro-Russian"? No. Does it make us truth-seekers? Yes, because we smelled a rat from the beginning — and we were right.

Krugman: Return of Depression Economics

From Professor Krugman: Depression Economics Returns. A few excerpts:

I don’t expect another Great Depression ... [but] We are ... well into the realm of what I call depression economics. By that I mean a state of affairs like that of the 1930s in which the usual tools of economic policy — above all, the Federal Reserve’s ability to pump up the economy by cutting interest rates — have lost all traction. When depression economics prevails, the usual rules of economic policy no longer apply: virtue becomes vice, caution is risky and prudence is folly.

Peacenik thinks this is an optimistic post for a Friday. Krugman, recent winner of a Nobel Prize for economics, doesn't think there is going to be a depression. Yippee!! Have a good weekend.

Paulson can't buy toxic mortgages, b/c they don't exist

I'm not an economist, and although I have a 401K and a few paltry investments, I mostly don't follow the stock market or speak the lingo. But since I'd been diligently listening to the news, I thought I understood a little bit about what was happening in the subprime mortgage meltdown.

It turns out, I understood much less than I thought, and maybe I'm not alone... follow me over the jump.

So we've been hearing it's the fault of greedy home buyers who ran out and purchased homes they couldn't afford. Or, conversely, maybe it was the fault of predatory lenders who made bad loans. Round and round the blame seemed to go. So I was completely baffled by Henry Paulson's announcement yesterday that it wouldn't help to buy up the toxic mortgages as promised in the bailout.

Peacenik understands that there will be serious consequences if something isn't done to try and halt the collapse of the financial system. Peacenik is not vindictive. But shouldn't someone be charged with something by now? Shouldn't there be some high profile investigations going on? This financial collapse is the direct result of fraud. And taxpayers are now trying to save the people who committed the fraud. This post on Daily Kos links to a long story about what happened. It is worth reading.


Two signs that something is seriously wrong

by gjohnsit

Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 12:50:56 PM PST

Every once in a while in the world of economics an economic indicator will suddenly go crazy. One day the charts all look normal and easy to understand. The next day it suddenly launches into an entirely different world.

What a massive swing in the index means is always open to interpretation (a whole industry exists to analyze these movements), and no one is certain if they are correct until years afterward. Sometimes what it means is more obvious than the why, but the 'why' is ultimately more important.

The Baltic Dry Index dates back to 1744. To put it roughly, it is the price of moving raw materials by sea.
Peacenik suspects that people sitting around the campfire in new Hoovervilles will be talking about the Baltic Dry Index as one of the earliest harbingers of economic doom. And today the Globe and Mail reports that Canadian banks are getting an increase in the same type of government support that the U.S. banks are getting. This is the same Canadian banking system that we were recently told was one of the strongest in the world. Gjohnsit says the second harbinger of economic doom he sees predicts hyperinflation. But the price of gold is not going through the roof...yet. Peacenik is paralyzed as Peacenik continues to contemplate inflation/deflation scenarios.


Last Chance


Go read the previous Ticker.

Here's the fundamental and market picture.

There were many who said that we would not have a recession in 2007, including Bernanke, Buffett, Paulson and dozens of others. The government and its minions took actions that would "promote moderate growth over time."

In the first part of 2008 we heard the same siren song - there will be no recession, there will be no cataclysm. "The economy is fundamentally sound."

Actions continued to be taken that amounted to giving whiskey (looser credit) to a drunk (the credit junkie that is America.) The drunk developed cirrhosis and liver cancer from all the extra booze, which he readily consumed. The warning signs continued to pile up, I and a few others reported them, but we were universally ignored.

Denninger of the Market Ticker suspects the Bush administration has been printing money and lying about it. Peacenick would not be suprised. Deflation? Inflation? Save? Go as deep into debt as possible? Peacenik doesn't know. Does Obama know?

Debt Rattle, November 11 2008: The Words ain't as Good as the Music

Ilargi: With all the attention for GM and Ford, most people would be inclined to think they are the biggest story in the US economy. But I'm looking at Circuit City, and the fall-out from its Chapter 11 filing yesterday. Circuit City managed to get a $1.1 billion temp loan to carry it over till after January 1. It is then suppsed to use the proceeds from the shopping season to pay off the loan.

Bit of a gamble, I'd say. They'll run into the same problems that keeps GM away from Chapter 11 in the first place: who'll buy your products if they fear you won't live to honor service contracts? Plus, once the loan is paid back, will Circuit City be a healthier company? More likely, they’ll be lucky to be back to square one.

Peacenik has read a lot of stuff about this ongoing crisis and the most frightening thing is that no one seems to have any idea how to stop it. No one has any answers or solutions. Certainly not the U.S. government. Obama doesn't seem to have a new idea. Commentators are at a loss. Newspapers report the bad news but offer no ideas how to stop it. The Canadian government is paralyzed. If the consumer society is truly dead, what will replace it? Bush's answer to 911 was to encourage people to go shopping, to go further into debt. Peacenik worries that Bush will try to hyperinflate this debt away. Peacenik worries that Zimbabwe is the model that Bush is following. Lunch in Zimbabwe costs $2 billion.


Was Georgia a Neo-Con Conspiracy? A Lesson for Obama

By Tom Hayden - November 10, 2008, 12:33PM

New revelations about Georgia's August war with Russia should send a warning to president-elect Barack Obama about how a commander-in-chief can be manipulated into war.

It now appears that the same neo-conservatives who manipulated the US into the Iraq war on false evidence were directly involved in backing Georgia's ill-fated operation on August 7-8, which eyewitness military observers have described as indiscriminate attacks by Georgia on Russian and civilian positions. The observers reports, first made in August and then October to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, were disclosed in the New York Times three days after the presidential election. [NYT, Nov. 7]

Read on...

There are so many pitfalls awaiting Obama, notwithstanding a totally defunct economy, that Peacenik wonder's if McCain lost the election on purpose. Who in their right mind would want to be president of the United States?

The First 100 Days

posted by Katrina vanden Heuvel on 11/07/2008 @ 3:31pm

At the end of this remarkable week, we're starting to look ahead to the First 100 Days of the Obama presidency. Already, we're hearing calls in the mainstream media warning the new administration "not to overreach." And working overtime, the Inside-the-Beltway Punditocracy continues to reveal its ability to ignore reality--even while describing itself as "realist"--with its claims that this is still a center-right nation, despite all evidence to the contrary.

But as Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman writes in today's New York Times, "Let's hope that Mr. Obama has the good sense to ignore this advice...this year's presidential election was a clear referendum on political philosophies--and the progressive philosophy won."

Peacenik thinks this would be a good beginning. And Peacenik is keeping a scorecard.

Intelligence Policy to Stay Largely Intact

WASHINGTON -- President-elect Barack Obama is unlikely to radically overhaul controversial Bush administration intelligence policies, advisers say, an approach that is almost certain to create tension within the Democratic Party.

Civil-liberties groups were among those outraged that the White House sanctioned the use of harsh intelligence techniques -- which some consider torture -- by the Central Intelligence Agency, and expanded domestic spy powers. These groups are demanding quick action to reverse these policies.

If this article is accurate, Peacenik will not be happy. The article is from the wingnut Wall Street Journal and may just be some wingnuttery. Obama has to make a break with illegal, immoral, corrupt policies of Bush. Peacenik washed his Obama t-shirt on the weekend and is ready to wear it again....or burn it.


Conned Again?

Obama, Rahm-bo and the End of the New American Century


If the change President-elect Obama has promised includes a halt to America’s wars of aggression and an end to the rip-off of taxpayers by powerful financial interests, what explains Obama’s choice of foreign and economic policy advisors? Indeed, Obama’s selection of Rahm Emanuel as White House chief of staff is a signal that change ended with Obama’s election. The only thing different about the new administration will be the faces.

Rahm Emanuel is a supporter of Bush’s invasion of Iraq. Emanuel rose to prominence in the Democratic Party as a result of his fundraising connections to AIPAC. A strong supporter of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, he comes from a terrorist family. His father was a member of Irgun, a Jewish terrorist organization that used violence to drive the British and Palestinians out of Palestine in order to create the Jewish state. During the 1991 Gulf War, Rahm Emanuel volunteered to serve in the Israel Defense Forces. He was a member of the Freddie Mac board of directors and received $231,655 in directors fees in 2001. According to Wikipedia, “during the time Emanuel spent on the board, Freddie Mac was plagued with scandals involving campaign contributions and accounting irregularities.”

Like everyone else Peacenik is very concerned about whether Obama will be a progressive, and a peace president. There is lots of evidence he may not be. But this may also be the last chance to implement some progressive policies and roll back some of the damage done by the Bush years. Peacenik can only hope that Obama delivers.

Three Zeros: Circuit City, GM, Fannie Mae

Circuit City (CC) is now trading at 11 cents. CC beat the Christmas rush by filing Chapter 11.

Circuit City Stores Inc. filed for bankruptcy amid rising competition from Best Buy Co., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and online electronics retailers.

The petition for Chapter 11 protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Richmond, Virginia, listed $3.4 billion in assets and $2.32 billion in liabilities, driving the shares down 56 percent before the New York Stock Exchange halted trading. The company said it is entering court protection owing Hewlett-Packard Co. $119 million and Samsung Electronics Co. $116 million.

Read on...

Peacenik can't keep track of the carnage and doesn't have a lot to say. What can you say? How is this going to get turned around? Mish is very pessimistic.

Presto Change-o

by Jim Kunstler

As the election campaign ground on like a 3000-mile race between a greyhound and an armadillo, the media kept harping on Barack Obama's vague promises of "change." We now know what the main promise was: regime change, right here in the USA, not in some place where the natives wear strange headgear. Mr. Obama's victory was a moment of epochal exhilaration, not least because he appears to be a decent and intelligent person self-made from a humble background -- someone who has personally bought tube socks in the K-mart, worried about money, and made many trips in a subway car.

The current occupant of the White House, however, has sedulously prepared for his successor the biggest shit sandwich the world has ever seen, and there is naturally some concern that Mr. Obama might choke on it. The dilemma is essentially this: the consumer economy we all knew and loved has died. There will be pressure from nearly every quarter to keep it hooked up to the costly life support machines even though it is dead. A different economy is waiting to be born, but it is nothing like the one that has died. The economy-to-come is one of rigor and austerity. It is not the kind of thing that a nation of overfed clowns is used to. Do we even have a prayer of getting to it, or are we going to squander our dwindling resources on life support for something that is already dead?

Peacenik wonders how long before the public seriously wakes up to the enormity of the financial/industrial crisis sweeping the globe. China is shuttering factories at a breakneck pace. 130,000 people a day are departing the city of Guhanzhou in China. Many of them newly unemployed. In North America the question isn't how to try and save the automotive industry, the question is whether it is worth saving. AIG needs another huge bailout. Kunstler of course wraps it all up in today's post. And the Bush wrecking machine still has two months left to continue wrecking.


Peace Activists Welcome Obama, Will Push Him

by Aaron Glantz

An organization that has made headlines heckling George W. Bush and other prominent politicians for their support of the Iraq war has declared "victory" after Barack Obama's election as president of the United States.

"After almost eight years standing outside the White House with a bullhorn and screaming at someone who wouldn't listen who's totally impervious to popular opinion, I think it's going to be great having someone in there who hopefully will be interested in what we have to say," said Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the group CODEPINK: Women for Peace.

Since the Sep. 11 attacks seven years ago, members of CODEPINK have been a regular presence on Capitol Hill – opposing the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, decrying a proposed American attack on Iran, and pushing for the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney for illegally manipulating intelligence reports to justify the Bush administration's attack on Iraq.

Full Article...

punditman says...
If President Obama doesn't get out of Iraq in just over a year, as promised, (all parties in the Iraqi parliament want a short time-line for withdrawal of US forces); if he doesn't do something about all the civilians the US is killing from the air in Afghanistan (namely, stop! -- as requested by the Afghan government); and finally, if he does increase bombing in Pakistan's tribal areas, (as he has hinted), then he will be no better than Bush. And that would be a great disappointment.

Debt Rattle, November 6 2008: Building Character

Ilargi: As Obama builds an economic team consisting entirely of Wall Street insiders, a decision he, and all of us, will come to deeply regret, the economy keeps on tanking like there's not even a tomorrow morning.

A 1.5% rate cut in England, an 0.5% cut in continental Europe with a promise of more, and none of it has any positive effects anymore: shares tank regardless. Governments will have to start buying companies outright, or let them go down, that is all that's left. The Dow Jones lost 5.1% yesterday, and is so far today well on its way towards shedding another 5%.

Peacenik hopes that Ilargi is being a little bit alarmist, but the top headline in the Globe and Mail on Friday screams "Auto makers plead for 'survival' loans." Yesterday the Dow and TSX were down bigtime....again. Oil is below $57 a barrel. Reality seems to be asserting itself in the financial/industrial markets. Does anyone have a plan? Does anyone know what is going on? Can this implosion be managed? Like you, Peacenik can only watch and hope.


Daunting Set of Crises Face First “Wartime” Transition Since 1968


President-elect Barack Obama will be the first United States President inaugurated during wartime since Richard Nixon won the 1968 presidential election in the midst of the Vietnam War. And while the Pentagon says that they are prepared to make the transition as smooth as possible, the new administration faces a myriad of challenges both foreign and domestic that won’t lend themselves to the new president taking his time getting comfortable with his new position.

Technically, of course, neither was a “wartime,” as neither was a declared war. The last time Congress issued a formal Declaration of War was on June 5, 1942, when they declared war on Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania.

Obama will work to repair the harm done to trans-Atlantic ties by the Bush Administration and seems eager to increase the number of US troops in Afghanistan as soon as he can. As for Iraq, however, US Ambassador Ryan Crocker says the US policy there will not change on January 20.

But the challenges don’t end with Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama will also be expected to tackle growing unrest in Pakistan over the unilateral US strikes he has been a staunch advocate of. He will face decisions on improving diplomatic ties with North Korea and Cuba. He will likely also have to do something about Syrian relations harmed by a US raid just nine days before the election.

And then there’s Iran. President-elect Obama left open the possibility of talks with Iran, though not without preconditions, during the presidential debates. But he’ll also struggle with his promise to ratchet up sanctions on the nation, and may face decisions on whether or not to back a new Israeli administration that may wish to launch an attack on the Iranians.

punditman says...I wish Obama all the good fortune he can muster. But be under no illusions. Hope for the best but prepare for a rocky road.

"Personal Survival Skills: Life at the Twlight of Empire

By Michelle Fealk, Adriana Guillen, Colin Peacock, Sarah Rios, and two anonymous contributors

We are a small group of students with diverse backgrounds and life goals. We began this journey relatively uninformed about the impacts of peak oil and other end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it scenarios, and our opinions differ as to how accurate or biased those scenarios are. But we share a common interest in personal survival as the chance of civilization collapsing increases, and we wish to share our newly accumulated knowledge with others who are similarly concerned about their own futures.

This report is intended to serve as a guide along the path we have, thankfully, already trodden and worn down, along with several thousand scientists, conspiracy-theory crackpots, and average frustrated chumps as we have come up against a world in turmoil. Specifically, we face an ambiguous future in a world that grows increasingly dependent on oil even as global supplies fall.

After yesterday's doomsday article by Ilargi Peacenik thought that Peacenik should offer up something useful and upbeat. A survival guide. Enjoy.


Debt Rattle, November 4, 2008: There Ain't no Cure

Ilargi: Yeah, stock exchanges are edging higher, how could they not? There's hope in the air, there'll be a new "leader of the free world" [sic bleeding sic] early tomorrow morning. And people everywhere, from Wall Street to Spent Soiled Syringe Alley, are so desperate for a sign of redemption that it would take some major disaster to get them to face reality today. And who am I to rain on their parades?

Obama will be elected the next president of the US, a country that was once the greatest nation on earth, and has now descended into depths from which it will never recover nor return. And if for some reason Obama loses, we will face, as early as midnight tonight, the worst domestic American violence in 145 years. Not something to look forward to.

Ok, Peacenik was still savoring the Obama victory, when Peacenik read Ilargi. This is some serious piece of financial doomsday writing. Not recommended for the faint of heart. Everybody knows that the world's banks are bankrupt. Everybody knows that the North American auto industry is bankrupt. Everybody know that insurance companies and pension funds are full of worthless assests that everyone pretends are worth something. On the other hand Peacenik walked through Toronto's entertainment district on Peacenik's lunch hour. Everybody looked happy. The restaurants were full. No sense of doom. Ilargi, Obama. Ilargi, Obama. Obama, Ilargi. Peacenik is all mixed up.

Iran warns U.S. not to violate Iranian airspace

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran's military has warned U.S. forces in Iraq that U.S. helicopters had been spotted flying close to the Iranian border and that Tehran would respond to any violation of its airspace, state radio reported on Wednesday.

The statement from Iran's army headquarters comes just hours after Americans elected their next president, Barack Obama, who has said he would toughen sanctions on Iran but has also held out the possibility of direct talks with Tehran.

The warning also followed a raid by U.S. forces into Syria last month, a move that was condemned by Damascus and Tehran.

Read on...

Obama wins big as Peacenik predicted. And Peacenik moves on. Will anyone test Obama? Does Obama have to respond as president-elect? Does Bush do anything as a lameduck? Is this a dangerous time? Peacenik hopes the world takes time to savor what just happened in the States. At least for a day or two. And what is happening in the markets, will there be a big Obama rally? Peacenik is excited.


Obama Wins

As of 11 PM EST tonight, Democratic Party Presidential nominee Barack Hussein Obama has been declared by all major networks to be the victor of the 2008 campaign, and the junior Senator from Illinois will be inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States of America.

Starting tomorrow, he will transition from a hotly contested battle for the White House which lasted over a year to a President-elect preparing to take control of the nation’s executive branch in time of war. The Pentagon reported early today that it is prepared to begin briefing the new President-elect’s foreign policy team on the situation across the globe.

(from www.antiwar.com)

McCain is on the verge of a defeat that marks the end of the Republican era

Sidney Blumenthal

Today's election is poised to end the Republican era in American politics - an era that began in reaction to Lyndon Johnson's Great Society, the Vietnam war and the civil rights revolution, was pioneered by Richard Nixon, consolidated by Ronald Reagan, and wrecked by George W Bush.

Almost every aspect of the Republican ascendancy has been discredited and lies in tatters - its policies, politics, and even its version of patriotism - down to the rock-bottom notion that progressive taxation itself, initiated by a Republican president, Theodore Roosevelt, who John McCain hails as his personal icon, is unpatriotic.

Peacenik enjoyed this post mortem of the Republican era, even before the body is cold.


by tristero

I just saw a headline in the NY Times that scared the daylights out of me: Networks May Call Race Before Voting Is Complete :

At least one broadcast network and one Web site said Monday that they could foresee signaling to viewers early Tuesday evening which candidate appeared to have won the presidency, despite the unreliability of some early exit polls in the last presidential election.

A senior vice president of CBS News, Paul Friedman, said the prospects for Barack Obama or John McCain meeting the minimum threshold of electoral votes could be clear as soon as 8 p.m. — before polls in even New York and Rhode Island close, let alone those in Texas and California. At such a moment, determined from a combination of polling data and samples of actual votes, the network could share its preliminary projection with viewers, Mr. Friedman said.

Peacenik is wearing Peacenik's Obama'08 teeshirt today and is very excited as the news starts to roll in. Long lines everywhere. Faulty voting machines being reported. This is a model of democracy? tristero in this post highlights the importance of every vote today. The neocon wingnuts and their ideology must be repudiated. Obama needs every vote.

Bruce and Barack: The Rising in Cleveland

punditman says...the Boss backs Obama.


Thanks to Sarah Palin, We Get to See the Cruelness of the GOP as It Really Is

By Larry Beinhart, AlterNet. Posted November 3, 2008.

Palin has helped reveal to the public pit-bull snarl that rouses GOP supporters to cry out, "Traitor!" against Obama, and "Kill him!"

It was Jesus Christ, if Matthew is to be believed, who said, "Love thine enemy." It is in that spirit that I write this belated valentine to Sarah Palin.

Sarah, I love you for having revealed unto the media the snarling heart of the beast that is the base (and the soul) of the Republican Party. Yes, you have the lipstick and the heels, not to mention the calves and bosoms, that send Republican men into swoons, but you have more; the pit-bull snarl that rouses your supporters to cry out, "Traitor!" against Obama, and "Kill him!"

George Bush kept those folks in their kennels, ran as a "compassionate conservative," and always masked his most heinous plans in double speak. Bush the Elder, Ronald Reagan, and even Richard Nixon never explicitly ran on hate and fear of "the other." They used words that were coded enough that it was possible to pretend that they were true.

A nice bit of history here, leading up to tomorrow's vote. Peacenik may watch The Gangs of New York tonight.

A Nervous Nation

by Jim Kunstler

This is a nervous nation. Though I'm usually allergic to paranoia, something makes me think that there's a back office in the US Treasury that is buying the entire Dow Jones Industrial Index at opportune moments -- like fifteen minutes before the closing bell -- at the direction of Mr. Paulson. He seems to easily spend $50 billion a day on other dubious hand-outs. At that scale, buying the whole Dow would just take his walking-around money. The idea behind it, my paranoid fugue goes, is to jack up the stock market enough around election day to give the dimmer members of the voting public the idea that the financial fiasco is over and happy days are here again. You can't put this past the Republican party, despite John McCain's friendly turn on Saturday Night Live, consorting with "the enemy" for laughs.

Apart from that, McCain has run the flat-out most scurrilous campaign I've ever seen, despite his reputation as a war hero and a sterling fellow among the senators. He's run a campaign of malicious innuendo and slander, seemingly aimed at voters who would have trouble qualifying for the Special Olympics. And you have to wonder whether he actually requested Vice-president Dick Cheney to lay that "kiss-of-death" endorsement on him at the last moment. It could only have been better if Mr. Cheney borrowed some trick-or-treater's Darth Vadar costume for the grand occasion.

Peacenik remembers watching hour-after-hour of the voting fiasco in Florida in 2000. And after all the talk and 8 years of George Bush, the voting problems remain; Diebold machines, no paper voting trail, voter suppression etc. etc. None of the problems have been solved. Many states have recently passed laws allowing citizen challenges of your right-to-vote. This is sure to encourage turn out in the redneck states. Will it stop Obama. Peacenik doesn't think so. Will Obama be able to solve the problems of society. Kunstler isn't sure.