Category Archives: USA

Obama’s Swift Riposte to McCain’s Challenge

NOTE ADDED SEP 8: Gov. Palin’s Vogue cover below is a fake

Denver, Aug 31 (MNN) – Sen. Barack Obama, Democratic Nominee for the 2008 US Presidential Election, has recruited today two well-known characters to fight back the unexpected challenge from the youth/women side by Sen. John McCain and his VP choice, Gov. Sarah Palin.

Sen. Obama said he was very glad to introduce, in the newly-created positions of Vice-Vice-Presidents, Betty Boop and Swee’Pea.

Sarah Palin Betty Boop

His remarks may cause controversy though (“Betty would look better on Vogue!” and “Swee’Pea’s got much less experience in foreign or any other matters“) .

According to uninformed sources, Sen. McCain is planning to up the ante by revealing that he himself years ago was in a Hollywood blockbuster (the second episode of Jurassic Park), playing a character named “Kelly Curtis Malcolm” …

Bastera’ a Obama la Presidenza USA?

Il pericolo costante con la campagna presidenziale di Barack Obama si manifesta nella relazione fra il pericolo di esagerare, e la necessita’ di esagerare. Per “dimostrare” di essere pronto a fare il Presidente, le aspettative sono state gonfiate e gonfiate a dismisura.

Ormai, un discorso di Obama non vale niente se non implica una rivoluzione nel pensiero politico e filosofico occidentale. Non viene considerato avanti nei sondaggi a meno che non dimostri piu’ di 10 punti percentuali di vantaggio. E non lo va a sentire nessuno se non viene riempito uno stadio di 80mila posti.

Il problema e’, il gran risultato di oggi e’ la normalita’ di domani. In altre parole, se sei in vetta puoi solo andare giu’ (o da nessuna parte).

A meno che Obama non abbia altro in mente, dopo la Presidenza: diventare un attore, un cantante rock…oppure il Papa!

Is Obama Too Big for the Presidency?

The constant danger with Barack Obama’s campaign lies in the struggle between the danger of overextending Obama and his image, and the need to overextend Obama and his image. In order to “demonstrate” he’s up for it, expectations have been put up and up to pretty much impossible heights.

Nowadays, an Obama speech is nothing if it doesn’t involve a revolution in contemporary Western philosophy. Attendance is poor if an 80,000-seat stadium is not filled to capacity. A lead in the polls is zero if it’s less than double-digit.

The trouble is, today’s big achievement is tomorrow’s normalcy. That is, if you’re at the top the only way is down (or nowhere).

Unless, of course, Obama plans for a second career as an actor, a rockstar…or as the Pope!

Russia e Georgia: Dick Cheney…in Italia?

E che ci viene a fare il Vice-Presidente USA Dick Cheney, gia’ Segretario (Ministro) della Difesa all’epoca della fine dell’URSS, in visita ufficiale in Italia la settimana prossima, dopo Georgia, Ucraina e Azerbaijan?

President Bush has asked Cheney to travel to Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine and Italy next week for discussions with these key U.S. partners on issues of mutual interest, according to a White House news release.

Per “discutere argomenti di mutuo interesse”. E quali sono gli argomenti di mutuo interesse fra l’Italia, gli USA e le altre tre nazioni nella lista, se non qualcosa che ha a che fare con i contratti ENI per la estrazione e distribuzione di gas e petrolio?

Insomma il Vice-Presidente Cheney, gia’ alla testa di una Task Force sull’Energia nel 2001, sembra voler dire chiaramente che dal punto di vista dell’Amministrazione Bush, tutta la confusione intorno alla difesa della democrazia georgiana contro i bulli di Mosca, e’ quasi unicamente una faccenda di gas e petrolio…

Russia Bashing And The Game of Historical Equivalence

(Letter sent to the International Herald Tribune)

It is the international political game for August 2008 to find an equivalent for the situation between Russia and Georgia after the recent conflict. For example, William Kristol has referred to the 1924 Georgian uprising against the USSR (“Will Russia get away with it?“, IHT, Aug 11).

President Mikhail Saakashvili has not been the only one comparing Georgia with Czechoslovakia in 1938 (James Traub’s “Between Georgia and Russia, tinder is lit“, IHT, Aug 10) although he has gone as far as mentioning Hitler’s invasion of Poland in 1939, the Soviet crackdown in Prague in 1968 and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 (AP’s “Georgian President’s Russia claims raise eyebrows“, IHT, Aug 14).

Today, Gunnar Hökmark, European Parliamentarian, and Johnny Munkhammar, both of the European Enterprise Institute, suggest “the paralles with Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968” may be “not that far-fetched” (Letters, IHT, Aug 25), whilst Simon Sebag Montefiore makes some eery references to that greatest Russian of Georgian origin, Iosif Dzhugashvili (also known as Stalin) (“In the Shadow of the Red Czar“, Aug 25),

========

I am afraid most of these commentaries suffer from the tunnel vision that afflicts the victims of their own propaganda.

The root crisis in Georgia has been lasting since 1991, and it is about defining the borders of a newly-minted independent State irrespectfully of the ethnic composition of its regions.

The real parallel should therefore be with the Versailles conference of 1919, that literally re-drew the map of the world after World War I, nominally in the name of peoples’ self-determination but practically in light of narrow-minded goals mostly by France and the United Kingdom.

Far from being given the freedom and the new world order promised by US President Woodrow Wilson, many peoples found themselves the losers in the great game of the Powers, including the Chinese, what are now VietNam and Laos, the Kurds, the Palestinians, the vast majority of Africans. Others (such as the Albanians) were luckier, and got to get or keep their independence, again due to mere geopolitical calculations and not out of the liberal values purportedly championed by the West.

Once again, in 2008 in the democratic minds of US and European Union politicians some populations are “in” (eg the Kosovars, the Georgians) and others are “out” (the Ossetians, the Abkhazians).

If anybody can find any logic behind that, apart from political machinations between Powers, it would be nice to hear.

And by the way…Mr Sebag Montefiore sees Putin as the heir of Stalin, with the latter’s ghost almost trying “to get out” of his tomb. Why no mention of the real culprit then, the man that has done most to inspire Russia to become a World Power?

And not, I do not mean Czar Peter the Great, rather his enemy of 1709, that King Charles XII of Sweden that managed to lose his own Empire, against Peter, at the Battle of Poltava, thereby kick-starting almost overnight the dream of an Imperial Russia.

With Five Months To Go, Let’s Pray About Iran

For the next five months President George W Bush will remain Commander in Chief of the armed forces of the United States.

In other words, there are still slightly more than 150 possibilities for Iran to be attacked.

And the strange thing is, nobody can really do much to prevent President Bush from taking advantage of any of those opportunities. It’s a danger highlighted by the words of Thomas Powers in the New York Review of Books’ “Iran: The Threat” (July 17, 2008; Powers’ words are in italic ):

  • According to the President, “all options” must remain “on the table.”
  • Last April, information about an Israeli air strike in Siria has been released explicitly with the aim of “sending a message to Iran”
  • According to Administration officials, Tehran wants a bomb in order to dominate the Persian Gulf region and to threaten its neighbors, especially Israel
  • The seriousness of American threats is confirmed by the fact that […] the whole country listens to the administration’s threats with breath held […] in effect leaving the decision entirely to [Bush and Cheney]
  • President Bush has accompanied periodic threats against Iran, supporting them with practical steps—the presence of large American armies just across Iran’s borders in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the dispatch of the world’s largest fleet of warships to cruise along Iran’s Persian Gulf coastline. The Bush administration further accuses Iran of “meddling” in the affairs of its neighbors, of supplying weapons and training to Iraqis who kill Americans, and of being the world’s principal state sponsor of terrorism
  • [Bush and Cheney’s] frequent warnings that the United States does not trust Iran with the knowledge to enrich bomb-grade uranium and will not tolerate an Iranian bomb. Many of these warnings have been issued in the last month or two and we may expect a continuing barrage until their final days in office.
  • The President’s frustration is plainly evident: Saddam Hussein may be gone, but Iran remains defiant, and more powerful than ever. The President’s male pride seems to have been aroused; he said he was going to solve the Iranian problem and he doesn’t want to back down.

Whatever the US Constitution has to say about war, the President of the United States can do pretty much anything he wants, under the guise of “executive power”. For an example, think of the botched rescue attempt of the American hostages in Iran, in 1980. Likewise, the successful invasion of Grenada in 1983.

And so we can literally wake up any day with the “news” of a US attack against Iran. Because as Powers concludes:

if attack is impossible, why does Bush talk himself into an ever-tighter corner by continuing to issue threats? Does he believe Iran will cave? Are these the only words he thinks people will still listen to? Is he hoping to tie the hands of the next president? Or is he preparing to summon the power of his office to carry out the last option on the table? One hardly knows whether to take the question seriously. It seems alarmist and overexcited even to pose it when the realities are so clear. But it is impossible to be sure—Bush has a history

Subtle Irony from Tehran

They did it, or they did not. Well, if James Oberg says they tried but failed to, I will believe in what he has to say.

In any case, the Iranians have played a couple of days ago with the launch of a rocket. And the rocket is called “Safir“.

“Safir” in Arabic (and I suspect, in Farsi) may mean something like “Messenger” or “Ambassador”. Is that a supreme act of irony or what?

Imagine the new US President inviting Ahmadinejad to send a new Legate to Washington…if he asks for the “Ambassador”, will a little misunderstanding cause a salvo of missiles to be sent to bombard the US capital city?

Per Capire il Creazionismo Americano

All You Need Is Love By Ronald Steel – The New York Review Of Books, Volume 53, Number 11 · June 22, 2006

Per chi sa l’inglese, consiglio l’articolo di Ronald Steel come lettura praticamente obbligatoria per capire il rapporto tra creazionismo, evoluzionismo e Stati Uniti d’America.

L’articolo parla della vita di William Jennings Bryan, famoso nel mondo per il processo Scopes (ricordiamo il film del 1960 “Inherit the Wind“, in italiano “…e l’uomo creo’ Satana“, con Spencer Tracy).

In due parole: la teoria dell’evoluzione, arrivata in America come “darwinismo sociale”, fu vista come una minaccia all’ordine morale, in quanto avrebbe potuto essere usata per “divorziare” la moralita’ dagli insegnamenti della Bibbia.

Questa interpretazione catturo’ l’attenzione dell’ormai vecchio William Jennings Bryan, che ne fece parte delle sue campagne un po’ populiste, un po’ demagogiche, un po’ dedicate alla “rabbia del cittadino comune”. Da allora non mi sembra sia cambiato granche’, nel grande dibattito americano pro- e contro- l’evoluzione, un dibattito che comunque al di fuori degli USA non ha assolutamente senso (e infatti rimane confinato agli States).

Curiosamente, nelle idee di William Jennings Bryan si possono trovare le radici del Partito Democratico USA cosi’ come lo conosciamo oggi…

Obama E’ Piu’ Conosciuto dei Beatles

Era 42 anni fa che John Lennon faceva scalpore dichiarando che i Beatles erano piu’ grandi, piu’ popolari cioe’ di Gesu’ Cristo.
 
Chissa’ cosa avrebbe detto a vedere l’ascesa di Barack Obama?
 
Adesso su Google, una ricerca per “Obama” ritorna 131 milioni di pagine. Per “Beatles”, “solo” 52milioni e mezzo.
 
Il candidato Democratico alle Presidenziali USA 2008 e’ molto piu’ di un Candidato alle Presidenziali. E’ un fenomeno pop, probabilmente globale.
 
ps “Jesus” su Google ha 176 milioni di pagine. Vuol dire che a Obama gliene mancano solo 45 milioni…

Obama: Bigger Than The Beatles

The Democratic Presidential Candidate for the US Elections 2008 is much more than a Presidential Candidate. Obama is on his way to become a pop icon.

Actually, he’s there already.

Google search for “Obama”: 131,000,000 pages

Google search for “Beatles”: 52,500,000 pages

Poor John Lennon…how could he have imagined having the wrong target in mind?

ps btw: Google search for “Jesus”: 176,000,000 pages. Only 45 millions to go, for the junior Senator from Illinois

The Illusion of Foreign Policy Morality

It is disconcerting to read a knowledgeable and experienced person such as Thomas L Friedman fall in an old trap, claiming foreign policy morality for his own country (“Which world do you prefer?“, IHT, July 17).

Mr Friedman is apparently convinced that “America still has some moral backbone” because the USA “put forward a simple Security Council resolution” at the UN, calling for a series of sanctions against the quasi-dictatorial Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe. Such a move failed, however, due to “truly filthy” vetoes by Russia and China. For that matter, Mr Friedman throws in the “pure, rancid moral corruption” of South Africa’s president, Thabo Mbeki.

All hail the USA, then, because “there are travesties America will not tolerate“?

If only!

Doesn’t Mr Friedman know a thing about the US-backed regimes of Egypt and Pakistan, for example? Doesn’t he remember the scores of murderous dictatorships financed by successive US Administrations, on the horrendously immoral belief that it is ok to support a “bastard” as long as he was “our bastard“?

It is telling that a good response to Mr Friedman’s argument has been published in the very pages of the IHT, in the “Letter from China” by Howard W French of July 4, 2008 (“Behind the reluctance to criticize Mugabe“): where we learn for example how a mere twenty years ago, Washington (and London) were “running diplomatic interference for apartheid rule in Pretoria“, going as far as “backing South African guerrilla proxies in places like Angola, prolonging devastating wars there and elsewhere, and staving off independence for South African-occupied Namibia in the name of fighting communism“.

At this very moment, the USA and its “Western” allies are supporting dictators in Equatorial Guinea, and Angola. Is there a need to repeat here what everybody thinks, i.e. that such “travesties” are tolerated, whilst Mugabe’s is not, because Zimbabwe doesn’t have huge oil deposits?

That said, at the end of the day there is little point in starting a USA-bashing rhetorical exercize, just as there is little meaning in Mr Friedman’s clutching at moral straws regarding a particular vote at the Security Council.
This is the world we live in, and if we care for its morality the first step surely is not to delude ourselves into thinking that our side is “of course” the “good side”.

Obama Joke

Is Barack Obama “so polished, he doesn’t seem to have any flaws“, making it impossible to come up with a non-racist, non-religious joke about him?

Let’s hear it from the Saint the Untouchable the Anointed One, oh well, from Obama himself…

Barack Obama: It’s time to begin and to stop a troop pullout
By Barack Obama and Barack Obama

Monday, July 14, 2008
CHICAGO: The call by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki for a timetable for the removal of American troops from Iraq presents an enormous opportunity. I am very disappointed by the call by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki for a timetable for the removal of American troops from Iraq.

The United States should seize this moment to begin the phased redeployment of combat troops that I have long advocated, and that is needed for long-term success in Iraq and the security interests of the United States. The United States should not go down the path of beginning the phased redeployment of combat troops that I have long opposed, and that is not needed for long-term success in Iraq and the security interests of the United States.

The differences on Iraq in this campaign are deep. The differences on Iraq in this campaign are minimal. Unlike Senator John McCain, I opposed the war in Iraq before it began, and would end it as president. Like Senator John McCain, I supported the war in Iraq before it began, and would continue it as president.

(cont.)(end)

Bernanke and the “Too Big to Fail” Syndrome

I am glad to see that the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Bush Admnistration are giving clear instructions on how to succeed in business in America.

Apparently, all you have to do is to make your Company “too big to fail” (TBTF).

Then if anything untowards risks happening to it, Bernanke will step in and save another day. Even if it’s all been your own fault. Even if the Feds have been sitting idly whilst the Company was becoming TBTF.

Directors of TBTFs are surely rejoicing at the idea of unlimited profit opportunities with more or less zero chance of filing for bankruptcy protection, let alone close down the business.

A new wave of acquisitions like there is no tomorrow is surely in order. Obesity does pay, in the US business world.

Ben Bernanke e la Sindrome del “Troppo Grande per Fallire”

Sono lieto di vedere che la Federal Reserve (la “Banca Centrale” conosciuta anche come “Feds”) degli USA e l’Amministrazione Bush stanno dando chiare istruzioni su come avere successo nel mondo degli affari in America.

Apparentemente, tutto ciò che bisogna fare è rendere la propria Ditta “troppo grande per fallire” (TGPF).

Se poi un giorno le cose cominceranno ad andare male, sarà Ben Bernanke, Presidente della Feds, a salvare la situazione. Anche se è stato tutto colpa di quella Ditta. Anche se quelli della Feds sono stati fermi a non fare niente, mentre la Ditta’ è diventata TGPF.

I direttori delle TGPF sono sicuramente molto soddisfatti all’idea delle opportunità di profitto futuro illimitato, accompagnate da probabilità vicine allo zero che le loro ditte dichiarino bancarotta, o addirittura chiudano l’attività.

Una nuova ondata di acquisizioni senza alcun ritegno è sicuramente in arrivo. L’obesità paga, negli Stati Uniti, nel mondo imprenditoriale.

Duck Season? Rabbit Season? No, It’s Obama Season!

One should have seen it coming…Barack Obama has begun attracting all sorts of attacks, and not just from the usual suspects, including John McCain or even the last remaining Hillary Clinton fans.

Has Obama peaked too soon? Is Obama going to transform the Oval Office into an al-Qaeda den? Is flip-flopping the main characteristic of Obama? Is Obama not a liberal candidate, in the US definition of the term?Has Obama not moved enough to the center?

More probably, it’s the equivalent of the “August silly season” playing up in July as the Democratic National Convention starts at the end of next month.

It’s still 113 days to go before the Presidential Elections. Who knows how many more stories we will be entertained with…

Jackson vs. Obama – a Complex Relationship

Some background details about Rev. Jesse Jackson’s “unkind remarks” about Barack Obama:

The relationship between Jesse Jackson and Barack Obama is multifaceted. For example there is Jesse Jackson, Jr., son of Jesse of course, Representative for the State of Illinois.

Obama is in the Senate in Washington representing exactly Illinois. Furthermore, Jesse Jr. is national co-chairman of the Obama electoral Campaign (as mentioned on International Herald Tribune/New York Times).

There is also Michelle Obama, Barack’s spouse and a long-time friend of one of Jesse’s daughters and once even babysitting at the Reverend’s home (it’s been recently talked about on The Economist).

One should also keep in mind that Jackson, recalcitrant but participant to Farrakhan’s Million Man March in 1995, didn’t have problems at the time in denouncing the large number of African-American absentee fathers, something Obama is currently talking about.

On the other hand isn’t Jesse Jackson an expert in the topic, having has an extramarital daughter himself in 2001?

Poor Reverend: second to Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X, and to Farrakhan, second to Mondale and even Dukakis, and now at risk of disappearing behind Obama and (shcok! horror!) Jesse Jr…

Jackson vs. Obama – Un Rapporto Abbastanza Complesso

Un’integrazione alla notizia apparsa nei giorni scorsi delle pesanti considerazioni del Reverendo Jesse Jackson nei riguardi del Candidato Democratico alle Presidenziali USA, Barack Obama:

(questo testo e’ stato gentilmente letto in maniera quasi integrale venerdi’ 11 all’inizio della trasmissione di Radio24 “Jefferson Ming“; un sentito grazie per l’apprezzamento al conduttore Stefano Pistolini e a tutta la Redazione)

Il rapporto fra Jesse Jackson e Barack Obama e’ sicuramente interessante da esplorare. Innanzitutto c’e’ Jesse Jackson, Jr., figlio di Jesse naturalmente, eletto alla Camera dei Rappresentanti (per l’Illinois, lo stesso Stato in cui Obama e’ stato eletto Senatore).

Jesse Jr. e’ co-Presidente Nazionale del Comitato Elettorale di Obama (come riferito anche dall’International Herald Tribune/New York Times).

Poi c’e’ Michelle Obama, moglie di Barack evidentemente, amica di lunga data di una delle figlie di Jackson e che addirittura fece da giovane la babysitter per la famiglia del Reverendo (e’ su un numero recente dell’Economist).

C’e’ anche da ricordare che Jackson, recalcitrante ma partecipante alla Million Man March di Farrakhan nel 1995, non ebbe all’epoca tanti problemi a denunciare anche lui il gran numero di padri afroamericani che abbandonano figli e famiglia, proprio come sta facendo in questi giorni Obama.

D’altronde ne e’ quasi un esperto, avendo avuto una figlia nel 2001 da un rapporto extraconiugale…

Povero Jesse: surclassato da Martin Luther King Jr e Malcolm X, e da Farrakhan, surclassato da Mondale e poi da Dukakis, adesso rischia di scomparire dietro Barack e (orrore!) anche dietro Jesse Jr…

Is America the First Culprit in the Death and Suffering of US Veterans?

Is America the first culprit in the Death and Suffering of US Veterans?

Has anybody caused the deaths of more Muslims than Osama bin Laden? Who’s killed a greater number of Russians and of Communists than Stalin? Who’s been directly and indirectly responsible for the massacre of millions of Germans but Hitler? When did a bigger mass of Chinese met their final destiny than under Chairman Mao?

Such examples are too many to mention. Wouldn’t it be a nice headstart towards global peace, say, if we would all stop killing our own let alone the purported enemies? Some hope! For now, history will continue its history as a murderous farce.

Back to Basics on Iran and the Bomb

Oceans of ink are being wasted without addressing the most basic issue regarding Iran and its nuclear weapons program. The latest example is Peter D. Zimmerman’s op-ed, “Nearer to the Bomb” (IHT, July 8), where we are treated to 674 words in order to state the most obvious of facts (“the real purpose of Iranian enrichment is to provide fuel for weapons, not reactors“).

However, not a comma is dedicated to the problem of Iran’s own security, regularly and openly threatened with talks of war and mentions of foreign-supported “regime change”.

Have we learned really nothing from years of negotiations going nowhere, of sanctions resulting in nothing, and of incentives regularly failing to persuade successive Iranian Presidents and negotiators? Does anybody seriously think that Iran can afford, at this stage, to remain nuclearly unarmed?

Mr Zimmermann rather tellingly is able to contemplate harsh sanctions but only “modest low-calorie sweeteners“. That is exactly the kind of attitude that has brought the “Iran Bomb” issue where it stands at the moment.

When and where will the EU or the USA find instead the courage to offer full security guarantees to the Islamic Republic, in order to achieve a less nuclear, more secure world?

Time to Indict George W Bush for War Crimes?

Requests periodically recur for the indictment of U.S. President George W Bush, perhaps in front of an International Court, for various charges of war crimes, from the making-up of the “evidence” against Saddam Hussein to the list of abuses by American soldiers in Iraq and at Guantanamo against their prisoners, to the use of torture to extract information and confessions from terrorist suspects.

What is the feasibility of all that? It depends. Of the fact that the build-up to the war in Iraq in 2003 was based on nothing, I do not think there can be any doubt. Furthermore, it was definitely not me the one in charge whilst abuses and torture were (are?) being practiced. If Bush were a private citizen, the whole thing would already be in the hands of prosecutors and defense lawyers, trying to establish the boundaries between law, crime and ineptitude.

But Bush is no private citizen. Instead, he has spent eight years at the top of the Superpower. What hope could then be in getting him indicted, let alone sentenced?

First thing to be clarified is, would there be any role for an International Court? I do not think so. What future U.S. Administration would take the responsibility of establishing a precedent, sending a former president abroad to answer for war crimes? The only possibility is via the American own justice system.

Even in that case, one would have to present shock-and-awe evidence of criminal intent. It is true that, however slowly, the Congress is publishing reports very critical of the choices and behaviour of members of the Bush Administration, such as the results of the Senate Intelligence Committee chaired by Senator John D. “Jay” Rockefeller IV (D, W Va.), published about a month ago. But first of all, behind all that it’s simple partisan struggle, Democrats against Republicans in a fight which little interest in finding the truth about the President: because the only thing they care about is of course, getting re-elected.

To leave everything in the hands of various parliamentary committees, from this point of view, only serves to hush-hush the whole thing, with potential defendants more likely to die of old age than of attending a single hearing in a court of law. Ah, and to polarize the electorate for no overall gain (another positive opportunity for the politicians, and a pernicious disaster for the electorate itself).

One should therefore more than welcome the latest proposal by Nicholas D Kristof, from the pages of International Herald Tribune: forget the parliamentary committees, the courts, the discussions on the legality of Presidential decisions, in favor of a “Truth Commission” (TC) modeled on the one that helped South Africa become a democratic nation without bloodshed.

The TC would be something coming out of the U.S. themselves, thereby dismissing suggestions of “international interference”; it would only establish a single precedent, namely the fact that Presidents are responsible for what they do, and for what they leave behind; many of the “crimes” would be out in the open, because perpetrators just as in South Africa would prefer sincerity in front of the TC, to the danger of being brought in front of a criminal court.

At the end of the day, what Justice is the one that never comes to conclusions? It is much better to “know the truth”, because it allows us to dream to be able to avoid repeating the same mistakes in the future.

John “4 Luglio” McCain Alla Riscossa

Ci sono molte coincidenze nell’entusiasmante recupero di Ingrid Betancourt e altri 14 ostaggi: tra quelle, il fatto che il Candidato, a corto di soldi e di seguito in patria e’ in visita in Colombia proprio in questo periodo.

McCain e’ talmente fortunato che gli sara’ possibile accompagnare in patria tre ex-ostaggi americani giusto in tempo per la celebrazione del 4 luglio, il giorno dell’indipendenza USA. Inoltre, adesso si sa che il Presidente Colombiano Alvaro Uribe si fida tanto di McCain, al punto da rivelargli la sera prima i piani per il rischiosissimo salvataggio.

Insomma manca solo una foto con Obama con una maglietta inneggiante al terrorismo, e poi il voto di Novembre diventera’ per McCain una pure formalita’…

John “July 4th” McCain to the Rescue

Coincidences pile up in the extremely good news of the rescue in Colombia of Ingrid Betancourt and 14 other hostages: among them, the fact that US Presidential Candidate John McCain, outspent at home and behind in the polls, is visiting Colombia in the same period, just by pure chance of course.

McCain is so lucky he will be able to bring home three American hostages just in time for the 4th of July. Furthermore, it is now known that Colombian President Alvaro Uribe considers the US Senator trustworthy enough to reveal all details of an extremely risky rescue attempt, the night before.

The only thing missing is a picture of Obama with an “I love FARC” t-shirt and the White House will see another Republican President.

US Supreme Court’s Double Blow Against Death Penalty

With a 5-to-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled yesterday June 25 against the capital punishment of child rapists.

Of course those rapists better spend a few decades in prison. But it is quite momentuous finally to hear affirmed in the USA the principle that the death penalty cannot be applied to crimes where victims have not died.

One may start wondering if, according to the Supreme Court, capital punishment is “just” a “State revenge”, a death to compensate another death. But we can leave that to a more appropriate time.: because the other important achievement in the majority’s opinion, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy:

When the law punishes by death, it risks its own sudden descent into brutality, transgressing the constitutional commitment to decency and restraint

Justice Kennedy has thus confirmed what already known to those fighting for the abolition of the death penalty: the very application of capital punishment means (running the risk of) brutalizing the entire legal system of the whole nation, including the professional executioners, the prosecutors arguing to terminate a human being’s life, and the judges and juries deciding to end that life.

Three “hoorays” for Justice Kennedy.

Corte Suprema USA: Doppio Colpo contro la Pena di Morte

Con una decisione 5-contro-4, la Corte Suprema americana ha stabilito ieri 25 Giugno 2008 che non e’ possibile applicare la pena capitale a chi ha violentato uno o piu’ minori.

Naturalmente i violentatori si devono passare i loro decenni in galera, ma insomma e’ passato il principio secondo il quale la pena di morte non si applica ai delitti che non comportino la morte delle vittime.

Questo potrebbe suggerire ulteriori argomenti di discussione: vuol forse dire, la Corte Suprema, che la pena di morte e’ “solo” una vendetta di Stato, una morte per compensare un’altra morte? Ma non e’, probabilmente, il momento giusto.

E’ il momento giusto invece di sottolineare quanto scritto nell’opinione di maggioranza dal Giudice Anthony Kennedy:

“When the law punishes by death, it risks its own sudden descent into brutality, transgressing the constitutional commitment to decency and restraint”

Quando la Legge punisce con la morte, rischia di far precipitare se stessa verso la brutalita’, trasgredendo al dettato costituzionale della decenza e della moderazione”

Insomma, il Giudice Kennedy ha confermato quanto ripetuto da anni da chi lotta per l’abolizione della pena di morte: l’applicazione di questa significa (rischiare fortemente di) brutalizzare tutto il sistema legale di una nazione, dai carnefici di professione ai procuratori che discutono del perche’ terminare la vita di un imputato ai giudici e alle giurie che a quella vita decidono di porre fine.

Tre “hooray” per il Giudice Kennedy.

Bush: Right about the Surge?

I usually appreciate David Brooks’ peculiar take on many subjects, but am not sure I follow his reasoning about the Surge (“Look at that surge…“, IHT, June 25).

Brooks tells us President Bush and VP Cheney have made the “right” decision when they increased the US presence in Iraq by 20,000 troops. That may be correct but…wouldn’t it be more meaningful to discuss why exactly they made the right decision?

As the saying goes, not even the astrologer can be wrong all of the time. Among the hundreds and hundreds of decisions made by the Bush admnistration over the course of more than seven years in office, surely some “have” to be “right”, whatever the astuteness and courage of the people in charge.

Does the fact that the Surge appears to have achieved “large, tenuous gains” help build up confidence for the remaining six months of President George W Bush? One wonders what Brooks would say about that…

Iran: Finiamola con l’Interventismo

Esprimo tutta la mia contrarieta’ all’irresponsabile articolo di Antonio Stango “Iran libero unica alternativa alla guerra imminente” su Notizie Radicali di oggi: irresponsabile, perche’ Stango con la sua proposta non farebbe che precipitare, e non prevenire, sia le condizioni di una guerra, sia lo stesso sviluppo dell’atomica in Iran (e non solo!).

C’e’ un unico motivo per cui l’Iran cerca di costruire la bomba atomica: per garantire la sicurezza nazionale. Questa e’ un’opinione diffusa fra tutti gli esperti di strategia internazionale. Prova anche ne sia il fatto che il programma atomico e’ stato cominciato da ben prima della Rivoluzione Islamica di Khomeini, ai tempi dello Shah Reza Pahlavi.

L’Iran non e’ certo il solo o il primo Stato a proseguire su quella strada. Gia’ India e Pakistan hanno sviluppato la Bomba per difendersi l’una dall’altro. Non e’ poi un caso che le guerre convenzionali contro Israele siano cessate allorquando e’ stata resa nota l’esistenza di ordigni atomici sotto controllo del Governo di Tel Aviv/Gerusalemme.

Il fatto poi che la Corea del Nord, con la sua micro-atomica, non sia stata ne’ invasa ne’ attaccata dagli USA, sorte invece toccata al nuclearmente disarmato Iraq di Saddam Hussein, non puo’ che spronare le autorita’ di Teheran a premere l’acceleratore affinche’ anche una sola Bomba sia disponibile al piu’ presto: per salvare la propria vita, piu’ che per attaccare chicchessia.

Cosa propone invece Stango? Di “[non] concedere tempo agli ayatollah al potere“? Di pretendere “entro pochi mesi, un governo iraniano che tuteli le libertà e i diritti umani, fermi la corsa all’arma nucleare e rinunci alle manovre terroristiche all’estero“?

A parte che mi sembra avessimo smesso di sognare di esportare la democrazia…possibile che non ci rendiamo conto che rischiamo di vedere gli Ayatollah, come chiunque farebbe al loro posto, una volta messi all’angolo con il rischio di essere eliminati da un momento all’altro, fare quanto di piu’ logico e mettere insieme una bomba nucleare, magari rudimentale, magari “sporca” ma ovviamente pronta all’uso?

E non e’ vero che militarmente, gli innumerevoli motoscafi da guerra iraniani sono paradossalmente, tatticamente superiori alla potente flotta americana, come dimostrato gia’ nel 2002 dal Lieutenant General Paul Van Riper dei Marines in un significativissimo “war game” puntualmente messo nel dimenticatoio? (ne parla Roger Stern della Princeton University in questo articolo)

Dov’e’ la Verita’ in tutto questo? Non e’ quasi banale dire che per uscire fuori da questo circolo vizioso, ed evitare un conflitto di qualsivoglia genere, bisogna andare alle radici del problema, che rimane la questione della sicurezza per l’Iran stesso, islamico o democratico che sia?

Chi lo dice? Lo dice il famoso Hans Blix. Lo dicono George Perkovich, Direttore del Programma di Nonproliferazione al Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, e Pierre Goldschmidt, gia’ vice Direttore della International Atomic Energy Agency. Lo dice Zbigniew Brzezinski, gia’ consigliere di Carter.

Lo dice lo scrittore e giornalista Christopher de Bellaigue. Lo dice il New York Times, in un editoriale senza firma del 28 Maggio 2008.

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L’unico modo per evitare la tragedia di una guerra e’ condurre dei negoziati seri con l’Iran: e l’unico modo per essere seri e’ garantire all’Iran che l’Europa, e gli USA smettano di appoggiare tentivi piu’ o meno segreti di colpo di Stato violento in Iran.

Ogni altro atteggiamento portera’ a morti e distruzione. Ovviamente, e logicamente.

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Per una volta, perche’ non proviamo a lasciare la societa’ iraniana evolversi dall’interno, in maniera nonviolenta, ritornando appena possibile alla democrazia di Mossadeq cosi’ stupidamente soffocata dagli USA e dal Regno Unito nel 1953?

Dopotutto, OGNI nostro intervento in Iran dopo la II guerra mondiale e’ stato un fiasco completo: dal golpe contro Mossadeq appunto, passando per l’appoggio ufficiale alla polizia segreta dello Shah, e ufficioso/intellettuale per l’esiliato Khomeini, per arrivare all’incoraggiamento a Saddam Hussein a scatenare una guerra contro la Repubblica Islamica che causo’ un milione di morti, e alla dichiarazione dell’Iran come “Stato Canaglia” spezzando le gambe ai riformatori e spianando la strada a quel furbacchione di Ahmadinejad.

Obama’s True “Dream Ticket”

How can Barack Obama win back the core Hillary Clinton voters, namely hispanics, women and “white men without a college education”?

It’s easy, because the question contains its own answer: just select as candidate VP a hispanic woman able to elicit interest among white men of whatever schooling.

If Obama wants a “Dream Ticket”, his dilemma is therefore quite simple…

Salma Hayek, or Eva Longoria?

Obama: Il Vero Dream Ticket

Come potra’ il povero Barack Obama attirare a se’ tutti quelli che hanno votato per Hillary Clinton, e cioe’ gli “ispanici”, le donne e gli uomini bianchi, specie quelli senza una “college education”?

La soluzione mi sembra ovvia: basta scegliere una donna di origini ispaniche che possa suscitare l’attenzione dell’elettorato maschile.

Il dilemma riguardo il candidato Vice Presidente per l'”Obama Dream Ticket” e’ quindi questo…

…”Salma Hayek” o “Eva Longoria”?

Obama: Come Sbarazzarsi del “Veleno Billary”

Che cosa dovrebbe mai fare Barack Obama adesso che sembra che Hillary Clinton non voglia apertamente riconoscere la propria sconfitta se non dopo che le sia stata offerta la candidatura alla Vice-Presidenza (VP) USA, fino al punto di organizzare urla di “No-bama” in una sua apparizione pubblica?

Come può Obama togliere dalla scena la rivale, e con lei quella rana dalla bocca larga, suo marito Bill Clinton, scomodo, prone alle gaffe, odiato dalla stampa, deciso a distruggere la propria reputazione, circondato da tante donne e sempre piu’ pieno di rabbia? Una coppia cosi’ vicina da essere definita Billary (Bill+Hillary)…

Questo perche’ se Obama accettasse la signora Rodham come suo candidato VP, egli sembrerebbe debole, incapace di stare in piedi sulle proprie gambe, troppo pronto al compromesso con qualcuno che, dopo tutto, non e’ riuscito ad eliminare dalla competizione.

Se invece, tutte le fusa fatte dalla Clinton riguardo la sua disponibilità a provare a diventare VP saranno ignorate o respinte, Obama sembrera’ debole, naufrago fra i suoi istruiti supporters senza neanche un Latino-Americano o un Bianco povero in vista.

(Si dice che fino al 27% dei Democratici non vogliano votare a favore di Obama… si dice anche che la la madre degli idioti e’ sempre incinta)

Tutto questa campagna elettorale di Hillary e Bill Clinton li ha quindi trasformati in una “pillola avvelenata”, la migliore notizia per il candidato repubblicano McCain dopo che Rudy Giuliani si e’ dato la zappa sui piedi.

Cosi’ come stanno le cose adesso, Hillary Clinton è indispensabile, e il Partito democratico non sembra potersi muovere se non dove scelto da lei.

Ma nel suo piu’ recente momento di gloria, ci sono anche tutte le ragioni perche’ Hillary diventi irrilevante.

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E’ buona pratica in materia di gestione delle risorse umane, l’individuare quelle risorse di cui uno “non può fare a meno”… al fine di sbarazzarsi di loro.

Chiunque sia capace di diventare “indispensabile” è infatti un “centro di potere” senza controllo, un fastidio per tutti coloro che gli stanno intorno, una minaccia per la coesione del gruppo e un rischio incontrollabile nel caso la persona decida di passare ad un diverso posto di lavoro o scompaia per qualsiasi motivo (ad esempio, se viene fuori un altro scandalo sessuale che coinvolgono il Signor Bill C).

E non si deve trascurare la possibilità di una sfida alla leadership, da un momento all’altro.

(Sono certo che Hillary Clinton sta sognando che i delegati del Partito la preghino a Denver il prossimo agosto, di diventare il Candidato Presidenziale per acclamazione. Ma non c’e’ proprio nessuno che riesca a trovare una foto di Obama con una prostituta, un’amante (o un amante), mazzette di denaro sporco, o cocaina sul naso? In preghiera in una moschea? A cena con il Presidente Iraniano Ahmadinejad? tsk tsk!)

Ecco dunque perché, se qualcuno è indispensabile, deve essere subito messo alla porte, invece di lasciare la situazione appesa a un filo, con il rischio di una colossale, ingestibile crisi in un clima di reciproca diffidenza e di leadership debole,

(Come sbarazzarsi di qualcuno che per definizione “non si può” eliminare? Ma l’indispensabilita’ non e’ quasi mai tale: la società americana non crollera’ se Hillary Clinton diventa domani una monaca di clausura. Se uno è “indispensabili”, licenziarlo sarà doloroso, ma un esercizio di gruppo, che ispirerà il massimo sforzo da parte di tutto il resto della squadra)

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Obama può liberarsi da Billary scegliendo una di queste tre opzioni: (a) andando giu’ duro, nominando immediatamente qualcun altro come candidato VP; (b) andando tranquillo, non facendo niente, nella speranza che di Hillary non si occupi piu’ nessuno; (c) andando morbido, lasciando apertamente aperte tutte le possibilità, giusto in caso, senza una reale intenzione di scegliere Hillary per la Vice-Presidenza.

La scelta è una questione di strategia politica a lungo termine. Si può sostenere che (a) è un segno di debolezza, ma prima si cava il dente, prima passerà il dolore (e più tempo ci sarà per la campagna contro McCain). L’opzione (b) necessita di molto sangue freddo e molti amici fra i giornalisti. L’opzione (c) è una scommessa, e solo i candidati più forti e più determinati dovrebbero pensarci.

Le opzioni b, c presumono che i Clinton faranno venire la nausea a tutti, con Bill troppo latrante, e Hillary troppo lamentosa.

(Io sceglierei l’opzione b ma solo dopo aver preparato una campagna stampa cosi’ massiccia da seppellire letteralmente ogni articolo su Hillary Clinton)

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Ovviamente, quanto detto presume che Obama sia in grado di dimostrare sufficiente tenacità (e cinismo) da essere il suo stesso antidoto contro il “Veleno Billary”. Lo stesso fatto che questa domanda sia ancora posta, può essere un sintomo della stessa incapacità di trovare quel colpo da KO politico che potrebbe avere risolto tutto molto tempo fa.

Barack Obama può ancora scegliere Hillary Clinton come candidato VP. Ma se questo dovesse accadere, nessuno dovrebbe prendersi in giro parlando di una “Presidenza Obama”: alla Casa Bianca, quello con i pantaloni non sarebbe l’attuale Senatore dell’Illinois.

Getting Rid of Poison Billary

What is Barack Obama supposed to do now that there is little sign that Hillary Clinton will openly “concede” without being offered the Vice-Presidency, to the point of organizing “No-bama” chants at a very public appearance?

How can he get rid of the lady, and of her big-mouthed, inconvenient, gaffe-prone, press-hated, reputation-tearing, ladies’ favorite anger-bag of a husband?

For were Obama to accept Ms Rodham as his VP candidate, he would appear weak, unable to stand on his own, way too ready to compromise with somebody that after all he has been unable to shrug off. If instead, all the purring from the Clinton campaign about her readiness to have a shot as VP were ignored or rebuffed, then Obama would appear weak, cast adrift among college-educated Americans with not a single Latino or poor White in sight.

(Perhaps up to 27% of Democrats do not want to vote for Obama…isnt’ there a saying about the mother of the idiots being always pregnant?)

All this campaigning by Hillary and Bill Clinton has then turned the couple into a “poison pill”, the best thing that happened to McCain since Giuliani started excelling at foot-shooting practice. As things stand now, Hillary Clinton is indispensible, and the Democratic Party cannot go anywhere she doesn’t like it to go.

But in her latest moment of glory, there are also all the reasons to make her irrelevant.

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It is good practice in people management to identify the resources that one “cannot do without”…in order to get rid of them.

Anybody able to maneuver themselves into an “indispensable” position is in fact too loose a center of power, a practical nuisance for everybody around, a threat for the cohesion of the group and an inordinate risk were the person to move to a different job or disappear from view for any reason (eg due yet another sex scandal involving Mr C).

And one should not disregard the possibility of a leadership challenge at every single minute that passes

(I am sure Hillary Clinton is dreaming of the Party delegates begging her in Denver this coming August,to become the Presidential Candidate by acclamation. Can’t anybody find a picture of Obama with a prostitute, a lover, a wad of dirty cash, cocaine on his nose? Shaking hands with OJ Simpson? Praying at a mosque? Having dinner with Iran’s Ahmadinejad? Anything would do…)

That’s why if anybody is indispensable, they must be dispensed with asap, instead of letting things hang by a thread, with a possible major unmanageable crisis looming every day in an atmosphere of mutual distrust and weak leadership,

(How to get rid of somebody that one cannot ged rid of? By definition, it may look impossible. But that’s really never the case: US society would not collapse were Hillary Clinton to become a hermit tomorrow. If one is “indispensable”, dispensing of them will be painful, but a group exercise, that will inspire the best effort of the rest of the team)

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Obama can free himself from Billary by choosing one of three options: (a) going hard, immediately nominating somebody else as VP candidate; (b) going safe, doing nothing in the hope few will care about an also-ran with no hope to be anybody; (c) going soft, openly leaving all possibilities open, just in case, with no actual intention of choosing Hillary for the Vice-Presidency.

The choice is a matter of long-term political strategy. It can be argued that (a) is a sign of weakness, but the sooner the tooth is pulled out, the sooner the pain will go (and the more time there will be for campaigning against McCain). Option (b) needs plenty of nerve and plenty of friends in the media. Option (c) is an absolute gamble, and only the strongest and most determined candidate should think about it.

Options b and c assume that the Clintons will make a nuisance of themselves, with Bill growling too much, and Hillary squeaking too often, so that among the general nausea only their staunchest supporters will remain loyal. And so on and so forth.

(Personally I would choose option b but only after preparing a massive media campaign, in order to bury any Clinton news item by sheer force of numbers)

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Obviously, the above presumes Obama can show enough toughness (and callousness) so as to be his own antidote against Poison Billary. That’s something still open to question, a fact that in itself may be a symptom of the same inability to find that single final political punch that could have stopped all this Democrat squabbling long time ago.

Barack Obama can still choose Hillary Clinton as VP Candidate. But if that happens, nobody should kid themselves by talking of an “Obama Presidency”.

At the White House, the one with the trousers wouldn’t be the current junior Senator from Illinois.