Archive for May, 2010

will the obama administration destroy the jamaican government?

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

From the Jamaican Herald, worries that the Dudas affair will compromise Jamaica’s ability to meet IMF requirements:

The current civil unrest in the country resulting from resistance to the security forces’ attempts to enforce the arrest warrant for West Kingston strongman Christopher “Dudus” Coke, following the signing of the United States’ (US) extradition request, could affect the country’s ability to meet the fiscal growth and foreign reserves targets for the June quarter outlined in the stand-by agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Revenue flows are projected at $287.2 billion or $797.7 million per day, this fiscal year, using a 360-day year.

The closing down of business activities in Kingston and sections of St. Catherine, for at least two weeks amidst widespread violence, as the police sought to arrest Coke, could lead to billions in revenue loss, challenging the government’s ability to meet future IMF targets. Coke is wanted by US authorities on allegations of gun and drug running between both countries and internationally.

Downtown Kingston is the country’s premier revenue generating area and the attempts by the security forces to execute a warrant for Coke’s arrest has led to an outbreak of violence and the declaration of a state of emergency in Kingston & St.Andrew.


Employment and revenue flows to the government have also been affected, leading to an increase in the country’s dependence and foreign exchange loan inflows from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, Inter American Development Bank (IDB) and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).

Extortion rings operated in the area are also depriving the government of much needed revenues.

Incomparable Enterprises, a company in which Coke has an interest, is set to earn between $25.0 million and $40.0 million by supplying a significant portion of the marl to be used on the Washington Boulevard road extension project. This marl will come from a quarry, which was leased from then Urban Development Corporation (UDC) by Incomparable Enterprises.

And on another front, can the U.S. now indict Prime Minister Golding for harboring Dudas?

It could be argued that the conduct of JLP officials, whether acting within the scope of their parliamentary duties, was in direct violation of several US laws, US legal experts said.

While the decision to delay the extradition was on its face merely political action, the means by which it occurred were something different. They pointed to Golding’s authorization of Harold Brady, a leading JLP member, to contract US law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips and its filings under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which contradict claims that the lobbying was done by the JLP and not the Government.

Such misrepresentations are likely to constitute violations of the act. But a more troubling scenario exists. It is probable, the lawyers argue, for a US grand jury indictment, that the actions, which include potentially fraudulent representations on a FARA filing, could be viewed as conspiracy or obstruction of justice.

It is true that the actions were superficially a delay of the extradition, but they in fact represent what could be an intricate conspiracy to prevent a US Grand Jury investigation.


The US attorney has not on several occasions, denied that sealed indictments exist for Jamaican officials, including members of Golding’s cabinet. While an indictment of a sitting head of government would be an almost unprecedented act, considering the conduct of the Jamaican Government spending a great deal of time shirking its treaty obligations, it would not be unreasonable.

However, there is precedent. Several Caribbean leaders have been indicted by the United States, and their situations can be instructive.

Observers pointed to United States v. Saunders where several officials of the sitting Government of the Turks & Caicos were indicted and arrested by federal DEA agents on charges of conspiracy to import and distribute cocaine. The distinction, however, is that the officials were all arrested in the United States for activities there.

While United States v. Noriega is relevant for the fact that a head of state within the region was indicted and arrested, there are distinctions: namely, Noriega’s own authority to govern was in serious question at the time, and the circumstances of the US invasion make for a drastic difference. Noriega was captured militarily.

Blaming Golding

Former prime minister and Member of Parliament for west Kingston is also blaming Golding.

“I can understand that prior invasions by the security forces in 1993 and 2001 were political, as the PNP tried to weaken me leading up to the elections but I cannot understand what is happening today,” Seaga told host of This Morning Show on Nationwide News Network. Continuing, Seaga who built the garrison constituency said, “The gunmen were told to get out by the Prime Minister who telegraphed what he was going to do and I m blaming the PM for what happened there.”

Blasting Golding’s handling of the constituency, Seaga charged that Golding’s idea of the responsibility of an MP was for them to go to Parliament and make speeches on national and international affairs while leaving the constituency, which has been nourished by “me for 40 years. You cannot leave a constituency, which I have nourished for 40 years and don’t expect the breach to be filled.”

The former politician recalled that in 1994 he gave a list of 13 names including ‘Dudus’ to then commissioner of police, Colonel Trevor MacMillan because they were building a gang in the community and he was laughed to scorn.

Seaga said he offered $25,000 from his own pocket for Dudus capture because “we don’t want

him there then and that is how I feel now.”

One has to wonder how far will they go (or whether it’s already too late). The law firm of Manatt Phelps & Phillips hired by the JLP Golding administration (to the tune of $4000,000) to stall the extradition order coming out of the State Dept. is headed by former Democratic National Committee chairman Charles Manatt – who had numerous contacts with senior White House official and National Intelligence Officer John McShane. And eventually led to, after the association was revealed,  the resignation of  JLP Jamaican Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade minister Ronald Robinson. All of which has been followed by the botched military raid in West Kingston that so far has failed to produce don Dudas and has left the current JLP in a state of complete chaos. It should be noted that traditionally, the U.S. has had linkage to either the JLP by republican administrations or the PNP by democrats. The cynical in me says that the Dudas affair was for the Obama administration a way to kill two birds with one stone, getting rid of a big drug kingpin and the right wing government that he was sleeping with. Never mind that a hundred or so people are dead, or that Dudas  still runs, or the Jamaica is even more impoverished than before, or a democratic operative made a pile of money – at least they know who the real don is.

jane, is that you?

Friday, May 28th, 2010


Unknown woman in the Butler Cafe Revue, Seattle. December 14, 1921.

Image courtesy Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Must have been a former life.

how quickly they forget

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Too broke for job creation, a new stimulus program, or extending unemployment benefits?

Is the Obama administration going deficit hawk?

“Over the past week, top White House officials have been floating a trial balloon for their strategy on the economy. At its core is a decision to put deficit reduction ahead of job creation.

The premise is that the bond markets and allied deficit hawks are demanding action to cut the budget, that Obama lacks the votes in the Senate for a serious jobs initiative, and that polls show voters care more about deficit reduction than about jobs.

So the plan, modeled closely on the work of the Peter G. Peterson foundation and the anticipated report of the president’s own fiscal commission, is a deal that includes cuts in Social Security plus a new Value Added Tax (VAT), in order to get deep cuts in the deficit. As a sweetener to get Republicans to back the VAT, White House officials would cut the corporate income tax.”

I guess the salad days must be over,



because just a few years ago it seemed like an brilliant idea to fly in tens of billions of shrink wrapped hundred dollar bills into Iraq and just give it away. Without any accounting.

contrast loser, rand paul

Friday, May 21st, 2010

Well. I can’t help but latch on to this one, because rarely does an inclination in political musing find itself illustrated so immediately – especially when one slavishly continues writing about something as leaden and lugubrious as Iraqi politics. So the other day I wrote a short post on how the hyper polarized atmosphere in the recent primaries was essentially a good thing, because when the contrast  between the right and left ideologies is thrown into higher relief (or contrast), the underpinnings and differences between  those ideologies become easier to differentiate. Particularly, and especially for the sleepy and sentimentally challenged.

It’s only taken 24 hours for a nice example of this idea to exemplify itself in today’s 360 degree turnaround by Rand Paul. Who  just 2 days ago started crowing about his primary victory in Kentucky as as a huge victory for the Tea Party movement said to be sweeping the country. He must have been fairly giddy about it because the first thing he did was to show up on the Rachel Maddow program (I’m pretty sure he still had confetti in his hair) where she snapped his cracker ass like a fresh Saltine. As in previous posts on the Tea bag movement, I’ve tried to show how thier main impetus is  drinking  that old KKK moonshine of racism and fear of immigrants. And Paul, in the  Maddow interview, couldn’t quite conceal his hangover. He couldn’t bring himself to connect up and follow through as should civil rights legislation also apply (in addition to government itself) to the private sector. He just couldn’t do it. At least until a firestorm raged all day across the blogsphere and the MSM, at which point like a good little Republican sycophant that’s had his magic dog whistle of veiled white supremacy snatched away, he capitulated. And capitulation is a contrast loser.

Here’s the whole cycle

allawi ahead, but falls behind

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

In light of the continuing notion that somehow Iyad Allawi will become the next PM of Iraq, usually seen through the prospects of him allying with Maliki’s party, or some other idea of an all inclusive alliance to form the new Iraqi government I found this article by Sami Moubayed of Syrian outlet Forward Magazine that pretty much encapsulates, in perhaps clearer language, how I think the Iraqi election mess will move toward resolution. In part:

Despite its bickering in the past with Maliki, the INA never lost track of the common ground the two shared. The INA’s religious roots – Muqtada is a key member – mean that neither it nor Maliki have much in common with Allawi, a secular former Ba’athist who would dread seeing a religiously driven government take power.

Both the INA and Maliki’s team are Shi’ites, and both have a desire to create a mini-theocracy in Baghdad modeled after the government in Tehran. Both have scores to settle with the Sunni community for having produced Saddam Hussein, whom they fought for decades until his downfall in 2003. The new coalition is closely affiliated with Iran, which bankrolled their activities and offered them sanctuary during Saddam’s three decades of power. United States ambassador Christopher Hill called the alliance a “Shi’ite mega party”.

Due to this evolving balance of power, there is a good chance that Allawi will not become prime minister. Though Allawi commands the most seats in parliament, he will not be able to form a government unless political heavyweights give him their approval.

If influential politicians decide to side with the opposition, the bloc could make life hell for Allawi, staging riots and demonstrations around the clock to bring him down. Even worse, they could use their militias to create havoc on the streets of major cities.

The Sunnis will not veto Allawi, nor will the seculars, but conservative Shi’ites whose fortunes are linked to those of Maliki will refuse to take part in a cabinet headed by Allawi. Iran will also not accept an Allawi-led government, since he has never missed a chance to remind the world that he will work at curbing Iranian influence in Iraq.

A colorful array of Iraqi politicians – all Shi’ites close to Maliki – were hosted by Tehran in the immediate aftermath of the March elections. Allawi was not invited and made his stance clear by instead visiting Damascus and Riyadh.

As a saying in Iraq goes, “Not everyone who goes to the Vatican gets to meet the pope.” In today’s world, it seems, not everyone who wins a majority of seats in parliament gets to become prime minister.

In Baghdad it is not only about the will of the people. There are layers of interests that overlap and contradict and which can make or break an incoming premier. More so than what the people want, much depends on what the Iranians, the Saudis, the Syrians and the Americans want for the country.

All along it’s this that I’ve seen  as the bottom line in, moving towards, post occupation Iraqi politics. That sectarian wagons will all encircle in defense against secular  pipe dreams of the West. Much like ideological  Communism served as the banner of Vietnamese nationalism as a foil against the contrary designs of the United States. Minds don’t change until minds are free to make up their own mind.

contrast gainer, the primaries

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

This ones from Billmons old Whiskey Bar, passed to him from the advertising business, but probably originated in the Saul Bellow quote; “But one of them will become what (Saul Bellow) calls the “contrast gainer.” No matter how flawed, uninteresting, and unattractive a couple is, one half of the pair always makes the other look better.”

While this is an old and obvious advertising ploy based on the brand X principal comparison, the recent primary results for both parties are shaping up to be a very positive (at least in the short run) exercise in front of the fall midterm elections. So far on the Democratic senate races, upstart Sestak has beaten Republican anointed Democrat favored Arlin Spector in PA, In KY Jack Conway has defeated Mongiardo, and in AK bluenose Blanch Lincoln has failed to get 50% majority against newbe Halter and so forcing another runoff. On the Republican side,Teabag favorite Rand Paul has won in another slap against the old GOP. What we are seeing is that both parties are feeling the pinch of anti-incumbent anti- establishment candidates that are having the net effect of driving  party affiliations further to the left and further to the right simultaneously. This is all good, in spite of how the DC villagers might want to spin the fake lack of bipartisanship as a descent into inky chaos. Because what it really means is that just maybe, the contrast between the two root ideologies might finally evolve into  clear enough distinctions that choices between the two become stark enough to even wake up, air raid alarm clock style, the soporific masses from their slumber. And the contrasts couldn’t be clearer in troubled times, do we choose the egalitarian left with real policies that offer rational tested solutions, or do we choose the irrational remnants of hysterical hyper-media teabag posturing for a past that never existed. What future would you choose?

affimative action, action.

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

President Obama nominates Arab American Rima Fakih to the Supreme Court.


Miss Michigan Elena Kagan wins the Miss U.S.A. Pageant.


So who the hell is this?

And while you’re up, bring me the rest of that Jack Daniels.

leaning on the everlasting arms, night of the hunter

Monday, May 17th, 2010


the other shoe drops

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

Well, it looks like one of the final obstacles to the formation of  a new Iraqi government has been been swept away by the endorsement of the Sadrist trend for Maliki to remain as Prime Minister of Iraq.  Following the recent merger alliance between Maliki’s SOL party and the Shiite religious Party INA there was the remaining question has been who would emerge as Prime Minister. The conventional wisdom  has been  that the Sadrists, still furious over Maliki’s 2008 crackdown on their movement, would never endorse the return of Maliki as PM. This is of course, the same conventional wisdom that thought, following Chalbi’s de-Baathification regimen before the election, that Ayad Allawi’s Iraqiyya party would consolidate enough of the Sunni vote (because all the other Sunni candidates were banned from running) to win first option to form a government – and thereby usher in a new era of secular governance. And after failing that, thought that the Badr/ISIC of the INA would split off in favor of Allawi over fears of a Sadr ascendancy would further diminish their already failing influence. Never mind that such rumors and speculation often originated in the U.S. press or with the Iraqi’s themselves. While its easy to see the appeal of all this wishful thinking, like somehow magically Iraq would deny its sectarian history and culture generally, and embrace the U.S. neo-liberal notion of secular rule, that in particular could be construed as a kind of back door vindication of the previous George Bush Allawi appointed government of 2004. Not to mention setting the context for Obama’s orderly scheduled withdrawal under the (U.S.) friendly leadership of ex-CIA operative Allawi and his secular party as the new and legitimate Iraqi leadership.

Aside from not turning out that way, and that’s a big aside in itself, the larger problem is that the U.S. in taking Chalabi’s sucker gambit  now finds itself in the unseemly position of either standing idly by as Iraq slides ever closer to the Iranian model of governance (literally in many instances) or midwifing another round of brutal civil war, at exactly the same time the Obama administration is looking to ease itself out of Iraq without that nasty “stab in the back” moment of abandoning at the crucial moment, the final opportunity of saving Iraq from Iranian style domination, both figuratively and/or literally. Which in our pop political parlance would equate himself as the “First Black Muslim President” furthering the cause of Islam, by gifting Iraq to Iran on a proverbial silver platter.

However, if we look back at the entire trajectory of the U.S. occupation of Iraq, none of this (outcome) should come as a surprise, as the overall intrusion could at any time be seen to encompass the same general theme of the Sunni faction represented the secular trend and the Shiites representing a trend toward the sectarian model represented by Iranian theocracy. This is especially true considering that the major Shiite parties (now in power) were all the enemies of Saddam’s secular inspired hegemonic rule and formulated under Iranian Revolutionary Guard stewardship to be against it. Why would it be surprising that these same groups would again consolidate against any backsliding toward an occupation controlled secular regime?

In the case of Maliki and Sadr, there is pretty clear evidence, in action as opposed to words,   that at all critical junctions with regards to the U.S. occupation, they have served a mutual interest in both using the occupation to defeat their internal and external enemies, while at the same time, reducing the the occupations ability to control their own agenda of turning Iraq into a long term functional client state.

Should all this be born out, and the Sadr people do (officially) endorse Maliki as the next PM, and he is the next PM, it will be the final undoing of the U.S. adventure in Iraq.

And there will be a lot of blood spilled as a result – both in Iraq and here in the U.S. as well.

So such is the  price of going to war based on an fantasy, and no conception of it’s ultimate consequences.

I believe it was Tariq Aziz who said on American television on the eve of the invasion, “that should the U.S. try to occupy Iraq, it would end up chasing shadows”. He couldn’t have been more right.

blogging toward kingdom, joe bageant style

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Joe Bageant has a thoughtful post in response to a readers query. It draws a thread from drinking to money to spirit to blogging in a way only Bageant can do. Below are a few paragraphs I snipped out;

The brutal way Americans were forced to internalize the values of a gangster capitalist class continues to elude nearly all Americans. Most foreigners too. This is to say nothing of how our system replaced our humanity with ideology, our liberty with money, and fostered fascist nationalism through profound degeneration of the people’s mind and spirit. It’s not as if one can ever escape that sort of thing, either by going to a place like Mexico, getting drunk or whatever. We are made in Americas’ image, whether we admit it or not, and America’s image is the face on a ten dollar bill.

Liberal or conservative, money is what we care about — period. From birth, the empire has made one thing very clear to us: If you do not produce or acquire enough of the green stuff, meet the quota, you will be ground beneath the heel of the machine we call a society. No universal health insurance or higher education, no guaranteed minimum income, no worker rights, nothing for you suckers but the tab. So keep humping.

With such a national ethos, who can blame Americans for caring most profoundly about money? Everything is secondary to money. The future of the world’s children, the planet, everything. I’ve been watching the horrific BP oil spill on CNN (doncha love the way they call it a “spill,” as if it was a cup of coffee?)  The first and biggest ongoing question has been, “Who is going to pay for it?” Right off hand I’d say the fish, birds and wetlands will pay for it, along with future generations. One quart of motor oil will pollute 250,000 gallons of water, and already there have been millions of gallons of oil blasted into the earth’s waters from this single spill. Yet the big question has been “Whose money and how much is going to change hands here?”


Once outside the furious drek of American political and economic life, and having finished the last book I will ever write, I found myself asking: “Why did the good in the American people not triumph? How can it be that so many progressive, justice-loving citizens failed? Their positions were well reasoned. The facts were indisputably on their side. Obviously, there was, and is, more going on than merely losing battles to demagoguery and meanness. Why do we lose the important fights so consistently? What has kept us from establishing a more just kingdom? Something is missing.

I think it is, in a word, the spiritual. The stuff that sustained Gandhi and Martin Luther King, and gave them the kind of calm deliberate guts we are not seeing today. I am not talking about religion, but the spirit in each of us, that solitary non-material essence, none the less shared by all humans because we are human. When we let our capitalist overlords cast everything in a purely material light — as material gain or loss for one group or another — we played the oppressor’s game.

It was always a game with no vision. Just good guys, bad guys, pissed off people, or apathetic disenfranchised ones, amid one helluva lot of money changing hands. Mostly the wrong hands. That game drives us to the petty the larcenies we perform against one another in the name employment, and the atrocities abroad to which none of us lay our rightful claim as beneficiaries of the empire’s pillage. Our purposeful blindness to such things necessarily eliminates any universal vision. All the best ones are universal.

Yet down inside human beings is a love of justice. Honestly. The psyche seeks balance, and therefore seeks justice. Regardless of the perversion of its definition, and therefore the laws, by those who own nearly all of our country and damned well intend to own the rest, we know.

While those elite forces can own everything around us, and have proven they can make life quite miserable if they care to, they cannot own that thing inside us. The one that gives out the last sigh before sleep, and travels the realms of the great human collective consciousness alone. This is the consciousness that ebbs and flows between all external events. There is nothing mystical about it. Go sit in any quiet place with your eyes closed for a half hour or so, and that self will invariably say hello.

This is also the self that our oppressors can never allow a moment’s rest. Because when it finds rest, it finds insight, and can fuse the spiritual, psychological and material worlds into some transcendent vision that can at last seen and sought after. It makes Buddhist monks rebel in Sri Lanka and creates indigenous liberation theologians in Latin America.


Meanwhile, win or lose, we are left with our inner selves to sustain each day (if only because Oprah has not yet gained copyright). In doing so we can discover the only kingdom that was ever ours. The same one gurus, messiahs, martyrs and hairy-assed sages the world over have ever agreed upon. The kingdom within.

I’m sure many readers bailed out back there when I first mentioned the spirit. “That crazy old peckerwood Bageant has finally blown a head gasket!” And as many more said “fuck this” at the mention of a kingdom within us. That goes to show the level of our indoctrination against anything that cannot be measured, counted, computed (and thereby controlled by the corporate state). I find it fascinating that we can so easily bandy terms such as fascism, or American free market capitalism — two of the filthiest concepts ever devised — yet piss all over terms indicating some higher value or quality in human beings.