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How We Lost Iraq July 13, 2014

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics.
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Carlton Palmer pointed out this fascinating  article, from a man who was intimately involved; as one of a few Arab-speaking US officials in Baghdad. Click on the link for the full article.

By the closing months of 2008, successfully negotiating the terms for America’s continued commitment to Iraq became a top White House imperative. But desperation to seal a deal before Bush left office, along with the collapse of the world economy, weakened our hand.

In an ascendant position, Maliki and his aides demanded everything in exchange for virtually nothing. They cajoled the United States into a bad deal that granted Iraq continued support while giving America little more than the privilege of pouring more resources into a bottomless pit.

With the Obama administration vowing to end Bush’s “dumb war,” and the continued distraction of the global economic crisis, Maliki seized an opportunity. He began a systematic campaign to destroy the Iraqi state and replace it with his private office and his political party, the most powerful man in Iraq and the Middle East, Gen. Qassim Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, warned that those Iraqi leaders who cooperated, would continue to benefit from Iran’s political cover and cash payments, but those who defied the will of the Islamic Republic would suffer the most dire of consequences.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/why-we-stuck-with-maliki–and-lost-iraq/2014/07/03/0dd6a8a4-f7ec-11e3-a606-946fd632f9f1_story.html

 

Undecided Voters Choose the Next President September 8, 2012

Posted by tkcollier in Humor, Politics.
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The U.S.A. is so evenly polarized that world events, beyond the control of any campaign, should determine the winner of the Presidential election. Today, voters in a handful of swing counties, within a few undecided states, would tip the balance towards Obama. As an example the I-4 corridor through Orlando will decide Florida. It separates the Republican North with the Democratic South. Florida is the only part of the US where as you drive North, you head South.

But one thing to expect in this world we live in is to expect the unexpected – whether its politics, weather, finance…

Hey – That’s My 1st Lady You’re Leering At! May 25, 2011

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Thanks to Xavier Cantenot

Religionization of American Politics August 30, 2010

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Obama isn’t the first president to have to deal with this. Abraham Lincoln, who never joined a church and was notoriously ambiguous and secretive about his religious beliefs, famously said, “The Bible is not my book nor Christianity my profession.” In his later years, despite denouncing those who were “enemies of” or “scoffed at” religion, he reiterated, “My earlier views of the unsoundness of the Christian scheme of salvation and the human origin of the scriptures, have become clearer and stronger with advancing years and I see no reason for thinking I shall ever change them.”

And Lincoln wasn’t alone, either. In fact, the United States was created by a very skeptical group of Founding Fathers. (more…)

The Coming VAT Tax Exemptions Quagmire April 5, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, Food, Politics.
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“Food of the kind used for human consumption,” to a British bureaucrat, is something “the average person, knowing what it is and how it is used, would consider it to be food or drink; and it is fit for human consumption. . . . The term includes . . . products like flour, which, although not eaten by themselves, are generally recognized food ingredients . . . [but] would not usually include . . . dietary supplements, food additives and similar products, which, although edible, are not generally regarded as food.”And so, in the United Kingdom, according to the regulations of Her Majesty’s Inland Revenue Service, crackers made from tapioca starch carry no tax; prawn crackers made from cereals do. Frozen yogurt that needs to be thawed before eating is zero rated, frozen yogurt bears the tax. Get it? If you don’t, too bad—Her Majesty’s tax collectors are not in the habit of offering an explanation for their regulations.

This process of writing regulations for the VAT man when he cometh is more than merely amusing. For one thing, it confers enormous power on faceless bureaucrats.

They can hand a competing product the advantage in the U.K. of a price 17.5% lower (in Sweden it’s 25%) than a close substitute. That invites both lobbying and corruption and sheer, inexplicable arbitrariness. Get your “sweetened dried fruit” deemed to be “held out for sale as snacking and home baking” and your product will bear a tax and have to compete on grocers’ shelves with zero-rated “sweetened dried fruit held out for sale as confectionary/snacking.” Peddle your sandwiches “as a general grocery item” and consumers pay no tax, but offer them as “part of a buffet service” and the VAT man wants his 17.5%.

via Irwin Stelzer: Small Bras and the Value-Added Tax – WSJ.com.

Tom Friedman Is Worried March 4, 2009

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business.
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I’m worried. We’ve just elected a talented young president with many good instincts about how to propel our country forward, extend health care to more people, make our tax code fairer and launch a green industrial revolution. But do you know what I fear? I fear that his whole first term could be eaten by Citigroup, A.I.G., Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, and the whole housing/subprime credit bubble we inflated these past 20 years.

I hope my fears are exaggerated. But ask yourself this: Why couldn’t former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson solve this problem? And why does it seem as though his successor, Tim Geithner, won’t even look us in the eye and spell out his strategy? Is it because they don’t get it? No. It is because they know — like Roy Scheider in the movie “Jaws,” when he first saw the great white shark — that “we’re gonna need a bigger boat,” and they’re too afraid to tell us just how big.

via Op-Ed Columnist – Obama’s Ball and Chain – NYTimes.com.

Thomas Friedman’s Five Worst Predictions

USA – The Great World Hope February 25, 2009

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Johns Hopkins University foreign policy expert Michael Mandelbaum in his book, “The Case for Goliath.

” When it comes to the way other countries view America’s pre-eminent role in the world, he wrote, “whatever its life span, three things can be safely predicted: they will not pay for it; they will continue to criticize it; and they will miss it when it is gone.”

A senior Korean official remarked to Tom Friedman

“No other country can substitute for the U.S. The U.S. is still No. 1 in military, No. 1 in economy, No. 1 in promoting human rights and No. 1 in idealism. Only the U.S. can lead the world. No other country can. China can’t. The E.U. is too divided, and Europe is militarily far behind the U.S. So it is only the United States … We have never had a more unipolar world than we have today.”

Yes, many Asians resent the fact that Americans scolded them about their banking crisis in the 1990s, and now we’ve made many of the same mistakes. But that schadenfreude doesn’t last long. In random conversations here in Seoul with Korean and Asian thinkers, journalists and business executives, I found people really worried: Could it be, they ask, that the Americans don’t know what they are doing, or, worse, that they know what they are doing but the problem is just so much bigger than anything we’ve ever seen?

via Op-Ed Columnist – Paging Uncle Sam – NYTimes.com.

The US Started And Now Has to Fix The Economic Mess February 4, 2009

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, Geopolitics.
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Decisions taken in the next few months will shape the world for a generation. If we get through this crisis without collapse, we will have the time and the chance to construct a better and more stable global order. If we do not, that opportunity may not recur for decades.

We are living on the cusp of history. The priority is to reverse the downward spiral of despair through overwhelming and concerted action. That will only occur if the US now gives the leadership we need. Mr Obama may even find, as many presidents have found before him, that leading the world is easier and more rewarding than cajoling a recalcitrant Congress. This may not be the challenge he expected. But it is the challenge he confronts. History will judge his presidency on whether he dares to succeed

via FT.com / Columnists / Martin Wolf – Why Davos Man is waiting for Obama to save him.

France’s Obama December 24, 2008

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Born in France to poor Muslim immigrant parents, French Justice Minister Rachida Dati is a powerful symbol of a society that is changing rapidly, if reluctantly. Intelligent, young, ambitious, attractive, she is a fighter driven by outsize ambition and cheekiness in a country where immigrants rarely attain stellar heights in business, academia, the media, or government. Her ascendance is the French version of “Yes We Can.”

via The Storm Around France’s First Muslim Cabinet Minister, Rachida Dati – US News and World Report.

Obama’s Double Found In Nicaragua December 12, 2008

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hijo

Barack Obama’s Speech Writer – Jon Favreau December 6, 2008

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He is too busy to read much. “I’m embarrassed to say that since college” — Favreau graduated from Holy Cross in 2003 — “I’ve been so busy speechwriting for Kerry and then Barack that I haven’t been reading all the good literary stuff I used to read back in the day.” As for speechcraft, while he says the speeches of Bobby Kennedy are his favorites, he also says Peggy Noonan is his all-time favorite speechwriter. He cites Ronald Reagan’s Pointe du Hoc speech marking the fortieth anniversary of D-day as his favorite of hers,

via Barack Obama’s Speech Writer – Jon Favreau Writes Speeches for Obama – Esquire

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The Image of “The Audacity Of Hope” November 26, 2008

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Barack Obama's former pastor Jeremiah Wright once referenced this 1885 painting as a symbol of 'the audacity to hope.' Tate, London/Art resource

Muse: Barack Obama

Entitled “Hope,” the canvas hanging inside London’s Guildhall Art Gallery as part of an exhibition by Victorian painter George Frederic Watts might appear unremarkable to some.

In drab browns and grays on a blue background, it depicts a young blindfolded woman strumming on the last unbroken string of a harp, her ear to the instrument.

Obama’s controversial former pastor Jeremiah Wright invoked the image as a symbol of inspiration during a sermon in Chicago 20 years ago.

The harpist, he preached, “is sitting there in rags … her clothes are tattered as though she had been a victim of Hiroshima… [yet] the woman had the audacity to hope.”

via A painting called ‘Hope’ wins fans as Barack Obama’s inspiration | csmonitor.com

Obama & Race November 12, 2008

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Obama had done it one last time. Having cast himself in Selma twenty months ago as one who stood on the “shoulders of giants,” as the leader of the Joshua generation, he hardly had to mention race. It was the thing always present, the thing so rarely named. He had simultaneously celebrated identity and pushed it into the background. “Change has come to America,” Obama declared, and everyone in a park remembered until now as the place where, forty summers ago, police did outrageous battle with antiwar protesters knew what change had come, and that—how long? too long—it was about damned time

via A Reporter at Large: The Joshua Generation: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker

The Rich Elected Obama November 11, 2008

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Top Clinton advisor Mark J. Penn points out that…the exit poll demographics show that the fastest growing group of voters in America has been those making over $100,000 a year in income. In 1996, only 9 percent of the electorate said their family income was that high. Last week it had grown to 26 percent — more than one in four voters. And those making over $75,000 are up to 15 percent from 9 percent. Put another way, more than 40 percent of those voting earned over $75,000, making this the highest-income electorate in history.

The poorest segment of the electorate, those making under $15,000, has shrunk from 11 percent to 6 percent over the past dozen years. And those making $15,000 to $30,000 annually — the working poor — also shrunk from 23 percent to 12 percent of the electorate.

President Clinton got 38 percent of the vote among those making over $100,000. This year Obama earned 49 percent of that vote. He also got 52 percent of a new polling category — those making over $200,000 a year who were no longer among the top 1 percent of earners, as they had been in past elections, but were now the top 6 per cent. (more…)

Tom Friedman on Obama & The World’s Praise November 10, 2008

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So to everyone overseas I say: thanks for your applause for our new president. I’m glad you all feel that America “is back.” If you want Obama to succeed, though, don’t just show us the love, show us the money. Show us the troops. Show us the diplomatic effort. Show us the economic partnership. Show us something more than a fresh smile. Because freedom is not free and your excuse for doing less than you could is leaving town in January.

via Op-Ed Columnist – Show Me the Money – NYTimes.com

Election Day USA November 4, 2008

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election

What the Candidates were Briefed by CIA October 31, 2008

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The next U.S. president will govern in an era of increasing international instability, including a heightened risk of terrorist attacks in the near future, long-term prospects of regional conflicts and diminished U.S. dominance across the globe, the nation’s top intelligence officer said Thursday.

Competition for energy, water and food will drive conflicts between nations to a degree not seen in decades, and climate change and global economic upheaval will amplify the effects, Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence, said in a speech here.

McConnell, who has given security briefings to both major-party presidential candidates, said the list of worries will soon drown out the euphoria as the next occupant of the White House settles into the job.

via Intelligence Head Says Next President Faces Volatile Era (more…)

Conservatives For Obama October 30, 2008

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When Conservative Blogger Andrew Sullivan endorsed Obama back in November, he became the darling of TV land’s talking heads. Now he gives 10 good reasons why Conservatives should vote for a Democrat for President.

I could add ,he left out reaction to the Democrats over-reaching , just as their Republican brethren did “Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely”. Then maybe the Cato institute wing of the party will replace the Bush/Cheney ideological wing, which so disdains his homosexuality, and be swept to power by a public revulsion to the probable Liberal excesses.

via The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan (October 27, 2008) – The Top Ten Reasons Conservatives Should Vote For Obama

Obama – The Next Kennedy? October 26, 2008

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Remember that the one thing countless millions of people around the world “know” about the United States is that it is controlled by a cabal of white bankers and Jews who use police with fire hoses to repress blacks. To them, Mr. Obama’s rise triggers severe cognitive dissonance.

Europeans like to mock the vapidity of American politics, but they also acknowledge that it would be difficult to imagine a brown or black person leading France or Germany.

As for Africa, Mr. Obama’s Kenyan father was of the Luo tribe, a minority that has long suffered brutal discrimination in both Kenya and in Uganda (where it is known as the Acholi). The bitter joke in East Africa is that a Luo has more of a chance of becoming president in the United States than in Kenya.

Yet before we get too far with the self-congratulations, it’s worth remembering something else.

Jamaica’s 95 percent black population elected a white man as its prime minister in 1980, and kept him in office throughout that decade.Likewise, the African nation of Mauritius has elected a white prime minister of French origin. And don’t forget that India is overwhelmingly Hindu but now has a Sikh prime minister and a white Christian as president of its ruling party, and until last year it had a Muslim in the largely ceremonial position of president. (more…)

Will Obama Still Raise Taxes? October 13, 2008

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AN OBAMA PANIC? – New York Post
Recently, Obama said he wants to expedite loans to small businesses, so he seems to have a clue that they produce much of the country’s job growth. Yet his income-tax hike on upper brackets will hit vast numbers of small businesses (Sub Chapter-S Family Corporations) – they’d face the highest rates they’ve seen in decades.

Overall, his plan includes some of the most lethal tax increases imaginable, including a jump in the capital-gains rate. He’d expand government spending massively, with everything from new public-works projects to increases in foreign aid to a surge in Afghanistan – plus hand out a token $500 welfare check that he calls a tax cut to everyone else. (more…)

What the Candidates Drive October 1, 2008

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Obama’s lone vehicle also is a green machine, a 2008 Ford Escape hybrid. He bought it last year to replace the family’s Chrysler 300C, a Hemi-powered sedan. Obama ditched the 300C, once 50 Cent’s preferred ride, after taking heat for driving a guzzler while haranguing Detroit about building more fuel-efficient cars.

We knew about Palin’s government-provided Suburban, a hockey-mom prerequisite. Her SUV ownership reminds us that for some ever-growing families, a seven-passenger car is truly the most efficient means of transport. Plus, it’s big honkin’ V8 is great for hauling snowmachines and a quick getaway during a Russian attack. It’s also surprising that such a strong proponent of offshore drilling drives a car that can get better gas mileage than a Prius. (more…)

How Florida Could Screw Up The Election Again September 26, 2008

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Back in 2002, Congress passed something called the Help America Vote Act, which was supposed to prevent eligible voters from being turned away at the polls because of unresolved paperwork issues. Under the act, these voters are entitled to cast a provisional ballot on Election Day, and their status is later investigated to determine whether their votes should be counted.

Sounds voter friendly. But a lot of things can go wrong with a provisional ballot, especially in Florida. (more…)

Inflatergate Exposed – Tire Gauge Co. Funds Obama August 12, 2008

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Tire Gauge Industry Pumps Up Obama Campaign Coffers | Autopia from Wired.com

On June 16th, 2008, John Zimmerman, chief financial officer of Tomkins, gave nearly $7,000 in campaign contributions to Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Lo and behold, nary two months later Obama’s in Springfield, Mo, suggesting drivers inflate their tires to save gas (and, by the way, curb CO2 emissions). Coincidence? We think not. Does it come as any surprise that Tomkins owns the Syracuse Gauge Company, which bills itself as manufacturing the “largest selection and variety of tools in the United States for filling tires [and] checking tire pressure”?

Perhaps the most shocking part of Inflategate is the politicization of a suggestion so simple as following the instructions found in your car’s owners manual. It’s also something of a tempest in a teapot, seeing how all new cars must have tire-pressure monitors.

Will Europe Understand President Obama? July 27, 2008

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Democracies Can’t Compromise on Core Values – WSJ.com
To Europeans, identity and democracy are locked in a zero-sum struggle. Strong identities, especially religious or national identities, are seen as a threat to democratic life. This is what Dominique Moisi, a special adviser at the French Institute of International Relations, meant when he said in 2006 that “the combination of religion and nationalism in America is frightening. We feel betrayed by God and by nationalism, which is why we are building the European Union as a barrier to religious warfare.”

This attitude can be traced back to the French Revolution, when the forces fighting under a universal banner of “liberty, equality and fraternity” were pitted against the Church.

In contrast, the America to which pilgrims flocked in search of religious freedom, and whose revolution amounted to an assertion of national identity, has been able to reconcile identity and freedom in a way no country has been able to match.

(more…)

All Hail The Coming of Obama July 25, 2008

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He ventured forth to bring light to the world | Gerard Baker – Times Online
And it came to pass, in the eighth year of the reign of the evil Bush the Younger (The Ignorant), when the whole land from the Arabian desert to the shores of the Great Lakes had been laid barren, that a Child appeared in the wilderness.

The Child was blessed in looks and intellect. Scion of a simple family, offspring of a miraculous union, grandson of a typical white person and an African peasant. And yea, as he grew, the Child walked in the path of righteousness, with only the occasional detour into the odd weed and a little blow.

When he was twelve years old, they found him in the temple in the City of Chicago, arguing the finer points of community organisation with the Prophet Jeremiah and the Elders. And the Elders were astonished at what they heard and said among themselves: “Verily, who is this Child that he opens our hearts and minds to the audacity of hope?”

In the great Battles of Caucus and Primary he smote the conniving Hillary, wife of the deposed King Bill the Priapic and their barbarian hordes of Working Class Whites. (more…)

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