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Candide’s Latest: Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Baltar-Bush Galactica

The Bush Doctrine spaces out

It was a matter of time. And now Bush has done it. He has taken over the universe. Or announced his intention to do so. The Final Frontier, he’s declared, is his. From today’s Post: “President Bush has signed a new National Space Policy that rejects future arms-control agreements that might limit U.S. flexibility in space and asserts a right to deny access to space to anyone "hostile to U.S. interests." The document, the first full revision of overall space policy in 10 years, emphasizes security issues, encourages private enterprise in space, and characterizes the role of U.S. space diplomacy largely in terms of persuading other nations to support U.S. policy. […]"This policy is not about developing or deploying weapons in space. Period," said a senior administration official who was not authorized to speak on the record. Nevertheless, Michael Krepon, co-founder of the Henry L. Stimson Center, a nonpartisan think tank that follows the space-weaponry issue, said the policy changes will reinforce international suspicions that the United States may seek to develop, test and deploy space weapons. The concerns are amplified, he said, by the administration's refusal to enter negotiations or even less formal discussions on the subject.”

At any rate not introducing weapons in space while forbidding anyone else from operating in space against American wishes amounts to a militarization of space all the same, or worse—it establishes space as an American protectorate. Under what authority? In the absence of clearly defined criteria, the Bush administration is extending its “unitary executive” theory to the universe. One more sign that referring to this presidency as “imperial” is an understatement.


Phony Economy

When a “strong economy” is meaningless if all its windfalls are concentrated at the top: “The U.S. economy is indeed strong,” McClatchy reports, “But through September, the growth in hourly wages was flat or negative for 27 of the previous 29 months, according to Labor Department data. Wages for blue-collar and nonmanagerial workers - 80 percent of the work force - are growing at a 3.9 percent annual rate, the Labor Department reported in September. Consumer-price inflation, however, is rising at the same rate. That means prices are rising as fast as wages. Workers are barely keeping up. Health care, wages and energy prices are consumers' top three economic concerns, according to a Gallup poll in September.” The story, graphically put:

Iraq in Flames

Ten American soldiers are reported killed today, bringing the total so far this month to 69. To Thomas Friedman in his latest column, "what we're seeing there seems like the jihadist equivalent of the Tet offensive. […]. The country has descended into such a Hobbesian state that even Saddam called on Iraqis from his prison cell to stop killing each other. He told insurgents, "Remember you are God's soldiers and, therefore, you must show genuine forgiveness and put aside revenge over the spilled blood of your sons and brothers." When Saddam is urging calm, you know things have hit a new low." Most of the column is rehashed claptrap, the gist of which is this: Jihadists may not be as coordinated as the Vietcong during Tet, but the effect on American politics and public opinion is the same. "But there are only two reasons now for the U.S. to remain in Iraq: because it thinks that staying will make things better or that leaving will make things drastically worse. Alas, it is increasingly hard to see how our presence is making things better. […] While leaving would no doubt exacerbate the civil war, staying in Iraq indefinitely to prevent even more Shiites and Sunnis from killing one another is not going to fly with the U.S. public much longer." We've stayed there this long, uselessly, thanks to the likes of Friedman of course.

From the Editorial Board: Time to Leave: "Iraqis aren't often asked what they think about the American occupation. On Wednesday, President Bush explained why. "There are extreme elements that use religion to achieve objectives. And they want us to leave," he said in a news conference. "They want to control oil resources and they want to plot and plan and attack us again. That's their objectives. And so -- and our strategic objective is to prevent them from doing that." Iraqis hear the message: Their safety isn't the occupation's principal objective. They're treated like pawns of American policy and night watchmen to their oil reserves, rather than like its rightful owners. So when the University of Maryland's Program on Policy Attitudes conducted an opinion survey in September, the results couldn't be surprising. More than 60 percent of Iraqis support attacks against American forces and their allies. That's up from 47 percent in January. Sunnis and Shiites, who form the majority of the Iraqi citizenry, have little more than enmity for each other. But they overwhelmingly agree on how they regard Americans: 78 percent believe the American presence is causing more violence than it is preventing, and 71 percent want American forces gone within a year. Don't for a moment think that they'd cheer Osama instead: 94 percent of Iraqis have an unfavorable view of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida. So it's not an either-or situation that the United States is safeguarding. Iraqis want neither Osama nor Uncle Sam. Read the rest at the News-Journal...


“Christian” Bigotry in Black and Pink

Those Republican bigots on the Religious Right: “In recent years, the Republican Party aimed to broaden its appeal with a "big-tent" strategy of reaching out to voters who might typically lean Democratic. But now a debate is growing within the GOP about whether the tent has become too big — by including gays whose political views may conflict with the goals of the party's powerful evangelical conservatives,” the LATimes reports. Some Christians, who are pivotal to the GOP's get-out-the-vote effort, are charging that gay Republican staffers in Congress may have thwarted their legislative agenda. There even are calls for what some have dubbed a "pink purge" of high-ranking gay Republicans on Capitol Hill and in the administration.” First, let’s not call them “Christian.” That offends the true meaning of the word. Second, let’s call bigotry by its name. A pink purge? It’s Stalinism by other means.



The End of Stuyvesant City: This may mean nothing to most readers outside of New York City. But it should. It signifies the end of New York City as we knew it—as a city of mixed incomes and middle class possibilities: This is the biggest real estate deal in the nation’s history. It is also the worst. Robert Moses would have been proud. Which is just why it’s so awful: “Jerry I. Speyer, who controls some of the city’s most prominent landmarks, from Rockefeller Center to the Chrysler Building, yesterday signed the largest American real estate deal ever, agreeing to pay $5.4 billion for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, a vast corridor of 110 apartment buildings along the East River,” the Times reports. “Built by Metropolitan Life for returning veterans in 1947, with the help of tax breaks and the government’s powers of eminent domain, Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village have served as an affordable redoubt for generations of police officers, teachers, nurses and other middle-class New Yorkers. The unremarkable brick buildings, with 25,000 people living in 11,232 units, are nestled among trees and fountains on 80 acres of some of the most valuable real estate in the world. With rents and housing prices soaring in recent years, the pending sale turned the issue of affordable housing into a cause célèbre among New York politicians, including members of Congress, state legislators and City Council members. And the tenants feared that a new owner would transform the complexes into a luxury enclave.”

Beiruti remnants of 1982, in 2006: The Magen Abraham Synagogue to the left [courtesy of Blogging the Middle East]
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