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Repeat Budget Shutdowns? Negotiating a Bargain version of Capitalism 3.0?

David Rothkopf, the chief executive and editor-at-large of Foreign Policy magazine, has a new book out, entitled “Power, Inc.”
It is about the epic rivalry between big business and government that captures what the 2012 election should be about.
And it’s not “contraception”: It’s the future of “Capitalism” and whether it will be shaped in America or somewhere else.
Rothkopf argues that, while for much of the 20th century the great struggle on the world stage was between capitalism and communism, the great struggle in the 21st century will be about which version of capitalism will win, which one will prove the most effective at generating growth and become the most emulated.

Will it be Beijing’s capitalism with Chinese characteristics?” asks Rothkopf.

“Will it be the democratic development capitalism of India and Brazil?

Will it be entrepreneurial small-State capitalism of Singapore and Israel?

Will it be European safety-net capitalism? Or will it be American capitalism?”

It raises another question: “What is American capitalism today, and what will enable it to thrive in the 21st century?”

Rothkopf’s view is that the bargain that most admired and system tried to emulate about American capitalism is precisely what we’ve been ignoring: America’s success for over 200 years was largely due to its healthy, balanced public-private partnership.

Mainly, the government provided the institutions, rules, safety nets, education, research and infrastructure to empower the private sector to innovate, invest and take the risks that promote growth and jobs.

As the private sector overwhelms the public, you get the 2008 subprime crisis.

When the public overwhelms the private, you get choking regulations.

You need a balance, which is why we have to get past this cartoon argument that “the choice is either all government or all the market”

The lesson of history is that capitalism thrives best when you have this balance, and “when you lose the balance, you get in trouble.”

For that reason, the ideal 2012 election would be one that offered the public competing conservative and liberal versions of the key grand bargains, the key balances, that America needs to forge to adapt its capitalism to this century.

First grand bargain is to repair our long-term structural deficit via tax reform:

by phasing in $1 in tax increases for every $3 to $4 in cuts to entitlements and defense over the next decade. If the Republican Party continues to take the view that there must be no tax increases, we’re stuck. Capitalism can’t work without safety nets or fiscal prudence, and we need both in a sustainable balance.

As part of this, we will need an inter-generational grand bargain so we don’t end up in an inter-generational civil war. We need a proper balance between government spending on nursing homes and nursery schools — on the last six months of life and the first six months of life.

Second grand bargain we need is between the environmental community and the oil and gas industry over how to do two things at once: safely exploit America’s new found riches in natural gas, while simultaneously building a bridge to a low-carbon energy economy, with greater emphasis on energy efficiency.

Third grand bargain we need is on infrastructure.

We have more than a $2 trillion deficit in bridges, roads, airports, ports and bandwidth, and the government doesn’t have the money to make it up. We need a bargain that enables the government to both enlist and partner with the private sector to unleash private investments in infrastructure that will serve the public and offer investors appropriate returns.

Fourth grand bargain should focus on education and health care.

We need grand bargains that better allocate resources between remediation and prevention. In both health and education, we spend more than anyone else in the world — with no better outcomes. We waste too much money treating people for preventable diseases and re-teaching students in college what they should have learned in high school. Modern capitalism requires skilled workers and workers with portable health care that allows them to move for any job.

Fifth grand bargain  among employers, employees and government.  In Germany government provides the incentives for employers to hire, train and retrain labor.

We can’t have any of these bargains without a more informed public debate. Bill Gates said to me in a recent interview “The big thing that’s missing in U.S. politics today is this technocratic understanding of the facts and where things are working and where they’re not working,” so the debate can be driven by data, not ideology.

Capitalism and political systems — like companies — must constantly evolve to stay vital. People are watching how we evolve and whether our version of democratic capitalism can continue to thrive. A lot is at stake here.

Rothkopf argues: “If we continue to treat politics as a reality show played for cheap theatrics, we increase the likelihood that the next chapter in the ongoing story of capitalism is going to be written somewhere else.” End of quote

I have My set of Grand Bargain priorities:

First grand bargain: Drop the laws on tax-exempt religious businesses, cancel the privileges that clerics enjoy that common citizens lack, penalize candidates and institutions (private and public) that capitalize on religious “fervor” in order to gain election votes or pressure public institutions…

Second grand bargain: Be candid and make transparent on what capitalism is based on. For example,

1. Keeping 20% of the population poor regardless of surpluses, so that this part of the population keeps maintaining the capitalists interests in low paying-jobs,

2. Inventing preemptive wars in order to capture the surplus in lower middle-class citizens that capitalism claims its inability to absorb in the market place.

3. Appointing a council of 10 members, independent of the government, to investigate financial irregularities in ministries and pinpointing publicly the conflict of interests and biases in public institutions

Third grand bargain in political reforms. For example:

1. Denying the President the right to appoint Supreme Court judges

2. Making election laws fair, affordable, understandable and readable by the common citizen

3. Curtailing the absolute monarchic rights of Presidents

4. Eliminating the incarceration policy of youth in schools for 13 years because they are too virulent for the system to contain their aspiration for change and reforms

5. Setting a cap on upper income and enforcing the concept of reducing inequality image among communities…You may add your alternatives, and they are many…

Note: You may read on private properties

 A different take on the slaughtered US journalists


There’s now two American journalists killed by the Islamic State ISIS.

People will probably be upset by the following words as callous. I don’t want to blame victims for their death, but their paths seem dangerously similar.

Both were freelancers. Both hopped around war zones.

Neither understood the languages of the places they covered. Neither knew those places well.

Tributes to them talk about how they were dedicated to telling the stories of people.

But if they were so dedicated to these individuals, why didn’t they stick around in the places they covered?

Why didn’t they live in these places rather than have “stints” in Yemen, Egypt, Libya, Afghanistan, Syria?

Why didn’t the deaths of far more experienced journalists and local reporters forewarn them?

And why didn’t the news outlets that published their materials give them a contract?

The Global Post had a rather suspect article titled “Here’s what James Foley meant to us.”

The outlet didn’t even sign the guy after he won an award.

And why do we focus on these people? Because they’re American?

Are the 190,000 Syrians killed not worth us knowing their names?

I feel bad for the people who knew them, and if I ever fall victim to their fate then these words may prove to haunt me.

But if we truly abhor the group that killed them, and feel bad for what has happened to these journalists, then let us not glorify them any further. They aren’t “the story.” So many freelancers were just lucky: many went to places they could not locate on a map

  • Note 1: So many didn’t even know the country, or knew the borders of the country or much of its history and culture.

    Lucky because those who assisted them were worth more than gold and barely got a hint of appreciation from the foreign journals
    We all have seen scores of people being slain like sheep and beheaded. But for such method to be applied on US citizens?
    Close combat is not appreciated by US military: the enemy must die by drones and airplanes in order to safeguard the illusion of not “really killing”
    Note 2: The Sotloff family appointed a lawyer claiming to be ready to dialogue with Abu Bakr on religion and Coran and he barely can speak Arabic.

Powerful car bomb kills and injures many in Hezbollah stronghold south of Beirut: Bir Abed and Rouwaiss

The charge was over 100 kilos of TNT and apparently a suicide bomber was driving a KIA truck, stolen in the coastal town of Khaldeh. The security forces have detained a person who confessed. So far, casualties are rising from 8 to17 to 23… and the injured from 30 to 200 to 270…

The Associated Press published this August 15, 2013: 

BEIRUT — A powerful car bomb tore through a bustling south Beirut neighborhood that is a stronghold of Hezbollah on Thursday, killing and trapping dozens of others in an inferno of burning cars and buildings in the bloodiest attack yet on Lebanese civilians linked to Syria’s civil war.
The blast is the second in 40 days to hit one of the Shiite militant group’s bastions of support, and the deadliest in decades. It raises the specter of a sharply divided Lebanon being pulled further into the conflict next door, which is being fought on increasingly sectarian lines pitting Sunnis against Shiites.

At least 21 killed in Beirut blast

Loveday Morris and Suzan Haidamous 1:33 AM ET

Syria-based Sunni rebels and militant Islamist groups fighting to topple Syria’s President Bashar Assad have threatened to target Hezbollah strongholds in Lebanon in retaliation for intervening on behalf of his regime in the conflict.
Thursday’s explosion ripped through a crowded, overwhelmingly Shiite area tightly controlled by Hezbollah, turning streets lined with vegetable markets, bakeries and shops into scenes of destruction.Video.
Dozens of ambulances rushed to the site of the explosion and firefighters used cranes and ladders to try to evacuate terrified residents from burning buildings. Some fled to the rooftops of buildings and civil defense workers were still struggling to bring them down to safety several hours after the explosion.The blast appeared to be an attempt to sow fear among the group’s civilian supporters and did not target any known Hezbollah facility or figure.Hezbollah’s Al Manar TV and Red Cross official George Kattaneh said the death toll was at least 18 and more than 280 were wounded.The army, in a statement, said the explosion was caused by a car bomb. It called on residents to cooperate with security forces trying to evacuate people trapped in their homes.

Syria’s conflict has spilled across the border into its neighbor on multiple occasions in the past two years. Fire from Syria has hit border villages, while clashes between Lebanese factions backing different sides have left scores dead.

But direct attacks against civilian targets were rare until Hezbollah stepped up its role in Syria. Since then, its support bases in southern Beirut have been targeted.

Since May, rockets have been fired at suburbs controlled by the group on two occasions, wounding four people.

On July 9, a car bomb exploded in the nearby Beir al-Abed district, wounding more than 50 people.

However Thursday’s explosion was much deadlier than those, and was the bloodiest single attack in south Beirut since a 1985 truck bomb assassination attempt targeting top Shiite cleric Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah in Beir al-Abed left 80 people dead.

It came despite rigorous security measure taken in the past few weeks by Hezbollah around its strongholds, setting up checkpoints, searching cars and sometimes using sniffer dogs to search for bombs.”

The deadly blast came a day after Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasr Allah gave an interview to Al Mayadin and before a scheduled major speech marking the end of the month-long 2006 war with Israel.

Hassan Nasr Allah delivered his speech this August 16 and said the following:

1. In the last two months, Lebanon witnessed many rockets launched at Dahieh and around the Presidential Palace and Army headquarter… and many road bombs planted in the Bekaa, Zahle, and Maj Anjar… harvesting civilians and army soldiers.

Hezbollah refused to engage in polemics, or talk to newspapers or comment in media in order to diffuse the planned scheme for destabilizing Lebanon. In the meanwhile, Hezbollah was conducting independent investigations and sharing our intelligence pieces with the army security services…

2. The investigations by the army and Hezbollah security forces have arrested many of the perpetrators and identified the network of terrorists and their foreign funders

3. The Takfiri terrorists don’t believe in nationality or in any religion: They hired assassin hired by international forces to destabilize the region… (Probably meaning Saudi Arabia, USA and Israel…)

4. Those terrorists have already killed far more Sunnis in Syria than Shia or Christians: They executed the wounded and the prisoners and killed the civilians, children, women and elderly.  The  purpose of these terrorist attacks are meant to enflame a civil war through rash counter attacks based on sectarian reasons…

5. In order to save the security and stability of Lebanon and Syria, it is primordial to locate and annihilate these terrorist groups and hit hard on their hired masters…

6. If we had 100 Hezbollah fighters in Syria we will now double that number. If it is required to engage 10,000 fighters in Lebanon and Syria to exterminate these terrorists groups we will do it.

Note: This article follows the same pattern of dailies that are regurgitating the same proposal: “the terrorists attacks in Lebanon are the consequences of Hezbollah military participation in Syria…”  But Lebanon has been the scene of such terrorist attacks before the entrance of Hezbollah to liberate the city of Qusair,10 miles from Lebanon borders, and North Bekaa was subjected to missile attacks from the Syria borders and the inhabitants in the North region of Akkar were harassed by the takfiri mercenary “resistance” who were dispatched from the 4 corners of the world into Syria since 2011.

The most helpless US President in the face of Middle East reality

I have published lately six articles related to Robert Fisk book “Affliction of a Nation” and focused on chapters that connect dots on how Lebanese resistance forces, particularly Hezbollah, got motivated, organized and managed to kick Israel occupation forces from Lebanon in the year 2000, without negotiations or any preconditions.

On Friday, 23 September 2011, Robert Fisk published the following piece in the British daily The Independent:

“Barack Obama made the ‘preposterous’ suggestion that Palestinians and Israelis were ‘equal’ parties to the conflict

Today should be Mahmoud Abbas’s finest hour. Even The New York Times has discovered that “a grey man of grey suits and sensible shoes, may be slowly emerging from his shadow”.

But this is nonsense. The colorless leader of the Palestinian Authority, who wrote a 600-page book on his people’s conflict with Israel without once mentioning the word “occupation”, should have no trouble this evening in besting Barack Hussein Obama’s pathetic, humiliating UN speech on Wednesday, in which he handed US policy in the Middle East over to Israel’s gimmick government.

For the American President who called for an end to the Israeli occupation of Arab lands, an end to the theft of Arab land in the West Bank – Israeli “settlements” is what he used to call it – and a Palestinian state by 2011, Obama’s performance was pathetic.”

Let us listen to what, even GW.Bush wrote on the Palestinian cause:  “The more I thought of the troubles in the Middle East, the more I was convinced that the fundamental culprit is lack of liberty in the occupied Palestinian territories. Without a recognized State, the Palestinians could not find their place in the world community; as long as the Palestinians have no say in their future, the extremist elements were going to fill the void; without legitimate leaders, democratically elected, dedicated to fighting extremist movement, peace with Israel will be compromised… I was the first US President demanding a recognized Palestinian State by the UN…”  What Obama has to add to what Bush Junior have recently said?

This is the same GW. Bush who also wrote in his autobiography “Decisive moments”: “I gave Israel Ariel Sharon PM my assent for constructing a separation wall (Wall of Shame) between the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel: I believed that this Wall will prevent Palestinians to trespass into Israel. After I received vehement reproach from Arabic leaders, I warned Sharon: “You have to know when to stop your execessive military responses”, but Sharon refused to budge in surrounding the headquarter of Arafat in Ramallah. (Sharon had entered the Palestinian camp in Jenine in the West Bank and committed genocide there in 2003; he had committed genocide in the Palestinian camps of Sabra and Chatila in 1982…).  Bush Junior gave the green light to Israel Olmert PM to committing genocide in Gaza in 2008…

The US Barack Obama has been wasting his presidency convincing the US citizens that a Black President is not necessarily a moral entity (who has assimilated the roots of racism and apartheid), and who might take moral stands in the world community, but just a continuation of the US political system in foreign policies… Obama is failing internally and externally, simply because he refuses to taking the high ground with respect to human rights, everywhere in the world, fairly and equitably. Obama has refused to test the goodwill of the US citizens by expressing practically what changes need to be done in US foreign policies…

Note 1: You may read

Note 2: I have published on my blog several articles related to chapters of GW. Bush “Decisive moments”

So you won’t say: “Adonis49 failed to follow-up on the recognition process of the Palestinian State”

Can you imagine any sane and rational person denying the Palestinian people a recognized State?  Sure, individual opinion is not the same as “doing local politics” such is the case of Barack Obama and France Nicholas Sarkozy.

Even in 1947, the UN has officially partitioned Palestine into two portions.  It was not fair by a long shot: The very minority Zionist Jews  were allocated 53% of the territories.  The borders were pretty much a Swiss-cheese puzzle, taking into consideration a few Zionist colonies here and there and accommodating them in such a ridiculous partition.

The main question is: “Why Israel was recognized a State my a majority of one vote in 1949, and Palestine was not recognized?”  Technicalities set aside, it was an implicit green light from the Colonial powers of the US, France, and England to Zionism to expand their territory, on the ground that Palestine does not exist officially. Fundamentally, the Colonial powers planed to erase Palestine from the map.

In 1963, the Palestinians got their destiny in their hands and instituted the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), under the leadership of Yasser Arafat.  The PLO challenged the claim of Israel Golda Meier PM “What! There is no Palestine. There is no Palestinian people. Period”  That sentence was ejaculated a few months before the joint armies of Egypt and Syria overran Israel forces in the Sinai and the Golan Heights within three hours.

Yasser Arafat and Rabin PM signed the Oslo accord in Camp David during President Clinton:  Palestine was to be recognized gradually.  But first, Arafat has to accept the self-autonomy of Gaza and part of West Bank Hebron and Ramallah…), until further negotiations iron out the many difficulties within a year.  Israel assassinated its Prime Minister and reneged on the deal and began accelerated colonization of the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Maybe Barack Obama thinks that local politics take priority to global politics (for re-election), and is willing to take the chance and high risk of jeopardizing US interests in the Middle-East.  Obama is assuming that the Arab Spring uprising is under control and can be contained.  Maybe for the short-term, since the old political structures of the dictators’ regime are still holding.  Truth is, the powerful genie in the Arab World has awakened, and he refuses to be humiliated any further and spoken in his name by Obama and Sarkozy.

Watch out Obama for vetoing the Palestinian State:  You have no excuses Obama, and this is not a run of the mill veto game.  Anyway, Obama is not slated to be re-elected; so why not take a vigorous stand for human rights and dignity and let the American people reflect and review old stands that are no longer sustainable?

The Palestinian people have suffered 63 years of indignities, humiliation, living in refugee camps, and being treated as unwanted people anywhere in the world.  Enough is enough.

Part 2. Genesis of Hezbollah of Lebanon: Accounts of Robert Fisk

It is recommended, in order to appreciate the facts, eye-witness accounts, and reports of Robert Fisk, which points to the creation of Hezbollah and how it started to resist Israel occupation of Lebanon from 1982 to 2000, to read

Robert Fisk wrote the book “Affliction of a Nation” and I am reading the Arabic translated version. Fisk was the correspondent to the British The Times in Beirut and covered Lebanon civil war for nine years.

“The Moslem Shias in south Lebanon believed the claims and pledges of Israel that Israel invasion was meant to “liberate the south from Palestinian occupation”.  Very quickly, the claims didn’t match what they inflicted on the Shias on the ground.  During the siege of West Beirut, most of the casualties were Shias living in the suburbs of Bourj Barajneh, Shiyah, and Hai Selum.

Sheikh Ali Mahdi Ibrahim (64 year-old) of the town of Adlun knew Ayatollah Khomeini intimately:  He studied in the Iraqi city of Najaf, where Khomeini spent 15 years of his exile. Sheikh Ibrahim said: “It is the Iranian revolutionary clerics who learned from us in Tyr…”  Many of Ibrahim students presented themselves as members of Hezbollah.  This was in 1984, and most of the kidnapping were claimed by “Islamic Jihad” before they adopted the name of Hezbollah.

When the Shia inhabitants in the south asked me “Are you a spy?”, it was less of their animosity against the western States behaviors, but rather relevant to their endemic isolation:  The successive Lebanese governments ignored the regions in the south and totally forgot to budget in any development resources.  It was incumbent on the “citizens” to shoulder the central State responsibilities in building schools, and hospitals…, even before the total collapse of the government in the civil war that started in April 1975 to 1991.

Before the Lebanese resistance got organized and spread to the south, most of the attacks and ambushes targeted the Israeli brigade 162, stationed in the Druze Chouf district, and commanded by Brigadier General Amnon Lifkin (39 year-old).  Ten years earlier, Lifkin commanded a terrorist team of the Mossad:  This team entered Beirut and assassinated three Palestinian officials; two Israeli soldiers were killed in this infiltration (Read “Searching for the red prince” by Barzhar Whitan Haber).

As of February 1983, this brigade was ambushed eight times.  I arrived in March to a headquarter located in a villa.  The Israeli soldiers were celebrating their Jewish Easter.  One soldier told me “There is no future to Lebanon”. Suddenly, a detonation like a thunder-clap shook the villa.  The second detonation got the soldiers scrambling for their guns and running outside.  Two Jeeps were ambushed and a rocket missile killed two soldiers and injured many others.  The spirit in the villa had changed: Up until now, it didn’t yet sink in the Israelis that they were an occupation force, and unwanted in the land.

By mid May, all hopes had evaporated to staying in the Chouf. Lifkin was making plans to withdraw his troops to north Saida.  Already, brigade 162 had lost 118 soldiers in 6 months (one-fourth the total loss during the invasion). In the south, the Israeli defense line extended from the Awali River, crossing the valley of Bisry River, all the way to the Baruk Mountain. Israel had built helicopter fields, radar stations, and depots for tanks…

In June 1983, Israel Shin Beth secret agents, in civilian cloths, and backed up by soldiers rounded-up 60 young men in the city of Tyr Palestinian camps.  In one month, the Lebanese resistance ambushed the occupation troops 35 times on the regular roads lounging the Karawon artificial lake.  Israel started constructing a highway to avoid old roads.

Israel adopted blackmail tactics:  Mayors of towns and villages had to cough up $5,000 per month in order to hire Israeli appointed “guards” to secure “law and order”.  Otherwise, the sons of the village will not be released from the Ansar prison, and the militias will barge into town, ransack it and round-up more people to prison…

Mayor (mokhtar) Ahmad Shebli of Beit Leef wrote to the UN Netherlands peace force contingent saying: “Are we living within the State of Israel?”  The mokhtar of Yater disbursed the first installment and refused to pay more. Consequently, Israel set up check points at the exit of the town and levied fees on every car and truck leaving town.

In June 10, an Israeli convoy was ambushed by 10 resistance fighters and three soldiers killed.  The town of Gebsheet was stormed and its religious cleric sheikh Ragheb Harb arrested and detained in Tyr.  Gebsheet was thus on the resistance path. When I visited Gebsheet the next day, a banner said “Death is part of our attributes. Martyrdom is a grace from God”.  The Mosque displayed large photos of Khomeini and Imam Moussa Sadr.  A bearded young man named Jihad, a member of Islamic Jihad, was talking of “America the greatest Satan”  Jihad said: “For months, Israel secret service agent, code-named Abu Nour, tried hard to meet sheikh Ragheb, who refused any communication with this occupation officer.  On March 17, sheikh Ragheb was arrested.

A week later after the arrest of Ragheb, ten militia “guards” drove to the Shin Beth headquarter in Nabatieh and returned their guns:  They refused to be part of Israel watch dogs.  Israel appointed Lebanese to head selected associations in order to facilitate communications; for example, requesting the freeing of prisoners in exchange of favors…

On September 4, Israel withdrew its forces from Chouf to north of Saida.  It re-organized the 25,000 occupation forces, and maintained 300 tanks, and 100 field guns in 5 brigades.

In November 4, a Lebanese kamikaze blew up his car, packed with explosive, in the Israel military headquarter in Tyr; over 75 people were killed instantly.  It was time for Israel to regroup its troops and shrink its occupation territory.  (to be continued)




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