Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Sunday, November 28th, 2010.


The New Wikileaks Leaks

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Obama Administration

I’ve been terribly busy doing other things today and am just now catching up on the new “leaks.” And one of the first wikileaked bits I found in the New York Times was this:

Thinking about an eventual collapse of North Korea: American and South Korean officials have discussed the prospects for a unified Korea, should the North’s economic troubles and political transition lead the state to implode. The South Koreans even considered commercial inducements to China, according to the American ambassador to Seoul. She told Washington in February that South Korean officials believe that the right business deals would “help salve” China’s “concerns about living with a reunified Korea” that is in a “benign alliance” with the United States.

And I’m thinking, what kind of irresponsible shithead would leak something like that? Especially when the two Koreas are as close to war as they have been for many years. The world would be a far better place if North Korea imploded, and if the Koreas could be united under democratic government without China getting bent out of shape about it, so much the better. But stoking the paranoia and instability in Pyongyang is not what anyone needs right now.

Another leak describes a “highly secret effort” by the U.S. to get some highly enriched uranium out of Pakistan, where it could fall into the hands terrorists. Yeah, thanks loads for blowing that cover, bozo.

Other stuff described in the Times comes under the heading of stuff we already knew, even if we didn’t know details. Someone thinks the government of Afghanistan may be corrupt? This is news? China’s Politburo engages in global computer sabotage. There have been several news stories about Chinese government hacks over the past few years.

Sean Paul Kelley of the Agonist points out that some of the leaks have possibly set back the effort to close Gitmo. Further,

It’s fine and well to sit on your high horse and talk *tsk* *tsk* about bribery and ethics and morals but the disclosure of these cables will harm your interests. Let me put it this way: do you want to see the US invade Yemen? How can the disclosure of President Saleh of Yemen lying to his own people (and laughing about it) do us any good? How will it do the cause of peace any good at all when it will more than likely destabilize Yemen further and subsequently add momentum to the “do something crowd” in the Beltway? Do you think a Yemen post-Saleh will be less inclined to radical Islam? Do you honestly think these disclosures are going to stop that? This is just one example.

Keven Drum writes that the fallout in the Mideast could be huge. See also The Arabist.

For once, reactions from much of the right and left blogospheres appear to be in the same ball park — that much of what has been reported from the leaks so far is either stuff everyone pretty much already knew, or else was secret for a good reason. But today’s “even dumber than Jim Holt Hoft” award goes to Donald Douglas of Right Wing News, who writes,

I continue to be amazed at the fawning credibility Assange gets on the progressive left. Anything that tears down the military — even putting at risk the lives of Americans and our allies — is totally cool with these freaks. But maybe something good will come of all this, in the end.

And I thought, who on the progressive left is “fawning” over this stuff? And it turns out the link goes to Charli Carpenter of Lawyers, Guns and Money, who wrote,

Wow. Iran’s neighbors are threatened by its rise! Many governments think Pakistan may not be able to secure its nuclear arsenal! The US attempts to use its leverage with its allies to achieve its political objectives! China has engaged in a cyber-campaign against Google and other American companies! Yemen approves of US’ targeted killings on its soil (but claims otherwise to quell domestic opposition)! Also, governments routinely spy on United Nations officials!

Who knew all this stuff, eh? Thank the stars for Wikileaks.

[cross-posted at Duck of Minerva]

Yes, it’s true. Donald Douglas is too stupid to recognize obvious sarcasm, mistaking it for “fawning.” Like I said, even dumber than Jim Hoft.

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Leslie Nielsen, 1926-2010

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entertainment and popular culture

Just don’t call him Shirley.

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Are We Too Cynical? Or Not Cynical Enough?

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Obama Administration

Frank Rich is wrong:

The previous transient scapegoat was the Democrats. They were punished in yet another “wave” election — our third in a row — where voters threw Washington’s bums out. But most of the public remains bummed out nonetheless. In late October, the NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll found that only 31 percent of respondents believed that America was on the right track. When the survey asked the same question after the shellacking, the percent of optimists jumped to … 32. Regardless of party or politics, there’s a sense a broken country can’t be fixed. Few have faith that even “wave” elections are game-changers anymore.

He’s not wrong that people are bummed out. But I think he’s wrong that Democrats are the previous transient scapegoats. Dems are the standard default scapegoat, seems to me.

I think Rich is wrong here, also:

… the big money that dominates our political system, regardless of who’s in power. Two years after the economic meltdown, most Americans now recognize that that money has inexorably institutionalized a caste system where everyone remains (at best) mired in economic stasis except the very wealthiest sliver.

He’s right that big money has inexorably institutionalized a caste system where everyone remains (at best) mired in economic stasis except the very wealthiest sliver. But I think he’s wrong that “most Americans now recognize” that. I’m not sure they do. Or, if they suspect something, too many don’t suspect the big money supporting their end of the political spectrum and pulling their strings; they just suspect the other side’s big money.

To answer the question in the post title — I do think progressives may have gotten too cynical. This is not to say there isn’t plenty to be cynical about, but that an overload of cynicism has turned us into defeatists. Our politicians are slaves to The Sytem like everyone else. Democrats always will betray our expectations. Nothing will ever change.

But the teabaggers, for all their outrage, aren’t cynical enough. They’re like backwoods rubes lining up to buy what the traveling snake oil salesman is selling. And at the moment they’re the useful tools helping the more pernicious malefactors of great wealth become even more inexorably institutionalized. Palin, Beck et al. are the 21st century version of Rome’s bread and circuses — although less bread, more circus.

The New York Times reports that Senator Dick Lugar has been bucking the Republican Party on some issues lately, and for this some “tea party” groups are planning a primary challenge when he runs for re-election in 2012. The teabaggers say they are independent of the Republican Party, but of course only a teabagger would be gullible enough to believe that.

Remember John Danforth, former Reublican senator from Missouri? Danforth said that if the GOP ditches Lugar, “we have gone so far overboard that we are beyond redemption.”

Senator Lugar has been trying to get Republicans to put national security ahead of political games and support the START treaty. Ben Armbruster writes for Think Progress:

Lugar has been reluctant to criticize his colleagues’ obstruction. When asked last week if they were just playing politics, Lugar said, “I am not ascribing motivations to anybody.” But other Republicans don’t seem to be holding back. Brent Scowcroft served as national security adviser to two Republican presidents and has been pleading with Congress to ratify New START. Profiling Lugar’s awkward position vis-a-vis other Senate Republicans on this issue, Politico reports today that Scrowcroft isn’t being as diplomatic as Lugar on the GOP’s incentive for holding up START:

In an attempt to rally bipartisan support for the treaty, the White House has enlisted the kind of GOP foreign policy wise men that Lugar exemplifies – among them former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and James A. Baker. But they have had no success with members of their own party, and it has left them scratching their heads over the source of the GOP opposition.

“It’s not clear to me what it is,” said Brent Scowcroft, a former national security adviser to President George H.W. Bush who noted that this START treaty is not very different from previous ones negotiated and ratified under Republican presidents. “I’ve got to think that it’s the increasingly partisan nature and the desire for the president not to have a foreign policy victory.”

Considering that the Republican Party is deliberately trying to destroy the economy, the health care system, and now national security just to win elections, maybe we can’t be cynical enough.

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