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Belmont Club

Monthly Archives: September 2010

Outside the Box

September 30th, 2010 - 9:30 pm

Most polls show that the Republicans will make gains in the House and Senate against the Democratic Party. For example, Dick Morris believes that “the Democratic Party is facing the biggest defeat in midterm elections in the past 110 years, perhaps surpassing the modern record of a 74-seat gain set in 1922″. But that does not measure the true variable of interest: the extent to which the grassroots political uprising can make changes to the structure of the system.


Back of Beyond

September 30th, 2010 - 1:45 pm

Eight Germans and four Britons are now reported to be part of a terror operation linked to drone strikes in Pakistan. One of the Britons was killed in the attacks, according to the Associated Press. The Europeans had been making calls back to Europe and plotting “Mumbai-style” attacks from Pakistan. The AP said it underlined the role the Southwest Asian country plays in international terrorism and specifically to attacks scheduled for Europe and perhaps for the US.


All Tied Together

September 29th, 2010 - 2:23 am

Wired says there is a substantial war in Pakistan in all but name. At least one of the drone strikes was aimed at disrupting attacks planned for Western Europe. The targets might have included well known landmarks like the Eiffel Tower.

Spy versus Spy

September 28th, 2010 - 1:34 pm

Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Daniel Huff believe that there ought to be a Federal Law prohibiting death threats against individuals condemned for blasphemy.  Ali herself is under a sentence of death. Recently “Seattle cartoonist Molly Norris, who proposed an Everybody Draw Muhammad Day’” received Islamic death threats for her trouble.  It’s getting to be a crowd. Dozens of people are said to be hiding from similar threats all across Europe. The Norris case shows the phenomenon has well and truly crossed the Atlantic. Ali and Huff believe that new laws should be enacted to make deterrence and legal retribution more effective.


Going Dark

September 27th, 2010 - 10:50 am

The New York Times says the administration want Congress to make the Internet wiretap ready.  “Essentially, officials want Congress to require all services that enable communications — including encrypted e-mail transmitters like BlackBerry, social networking Web sites like Facebook and software that allows direct “peer to peer” messaging like Skype — to be technically capable of complying if served with a wiretap order. The mandate would include being able to intercept and unscramble encrypted messages.” Such requirements are already in place in regular telephone systems, something known as being “CALEA-ready”. The wiretap utilities are often built right into the telephone system and have been used in at least once by unauthorized parties to implement their own intercepts.


After the Ball is Over

September 25th, 2010 - 3:05 am

Charles Krauthammer says a political tsunami will hit Washington in November. He is probably right. But what happens after the wave sweeps over the landscape. That is where certain knowledge ends, because every draft of politicians — even those, perhaps especially those — who have sworn to reduce the capital eventually show a singular reluctance to diminish its power and by extension, themselves.


President as Prologue

September 23rd, 2010 - 11:52 am

Wired says one of major problem with the Afghan campaign is that much of the combat originates and happens outside it. Proxy assets in Pakistan, run by covert American programs, attack enemy forces in Pakistan and elsewhere. If the President cannot find an exit strategy it may be because much of the “war in Afghanistan” is already outside it.


Deep Moat

September 22nd, 2010 - 1:15 pm

Julian Borger of the Guardian says that after reading Bob Woodward’s book about President Obama’s  disputes with his generals over Afghan policy he wondered why anyone was allowed to speak to the journalist in the first place.  The results were not very flattering for the President. “On the basis of these early reports, the book looks so damaging it seems incredible the Obama White House agreed to cooperate in the first place.”


Tipping Points

September 21st, 2010 - 2:02 pm

George Monbiot, a British journalist who won the UN Global 500 Award for “outstanding environmental achievement” and tireless campaigner for climate controls lamented that interest in Global Warming had fallen so low that “the best outcome anyone now expects from December’s climate summit in Mexico is that some delegates might stay awake during the meetings.”  He believes the reason why the wheels have come off the Global Warming bandwagon is the loss of political momentum. “When talks fail once, as they did in Copenhagen, governments lose interest. They don’t want to be associated with failure, they don’t want to pour time and energy into a broken process.” The villain, as ever, are the unhinged members of the Tea Party.


Straw Men

September 20th, 2010 - 5:28 pm

Jay Cost believes the administration’s publicists are looking for something to knock down. It’s what they do best, so they need to go on the offensive, on the attack, to make way again. This was easy in the past when they were in opposition. Now that they’re the Man they need a Straw Man to achieve the same thing. Since they are in power, the idea this time is to portray President Obama the moderate saving the world from the extremists of the Tea Party.