Monthly Archives: December 2008

Balls-goyevich.

I have to admit that I am beginning to admire this guy’s balls. After all, isn’t it really about the appointee, not the Governor?

The Democrats are so fucking retarded. Again.

This whole scandalette is designed to cost them a Senate seat. A “fair” special election will simply hand the seat to the Republicans, because everyone there will have some kind of phantom tie to Blago. And let me ask you—how soon did Wide Stance Craig or Diapers Vitter get out of town?

Its OK If You Are a Republican. (IOKIYAR) Again.

Pussies.

Fair Enough, Mrs. Bush

Laura Bush says that history will judge whether her husband was the worst president ever. Fair enough. That story can’t be written until the end of the American Republic. Of course, Bush II’s hastening of that should count for something.

And, heck. Who knows? It might turn out that Karzai and Al Maliki could end up bringing peace to the Middle East, making peace with Iran and Israel and liberalizing Saudi Arabia. The United Republics of Alexandria (all the countries from Greece east to Afghanistan, south to Yemen) could lead the world into a post-oil age, where we still rely on them for products made from oil, but not oil as an energy source.

And every Muslim and every Jew were invited to celebrate the opening of the Joint-Third Temple/Al Aqsa mosque and it could turn out that our Constitution was fatally flawed and that only wiretapping and torture could save the world, and that Bush set the precedents for the proper exercise of executive power. Oh, and that gay people really are a virus.

And ponies and unicorns jump across the world with happy rainbow streamers and everyone is a shiny happy person.

So until that comes about, we’ll just have to settle with calling Bush II the worst president as of his leaving office.

Boom!

I’ll just get this out of the way.

Israel’s attack on Gaza is probably strategically counter-indicated, even if it wasn’t so startling. I find it hard to live in country responsible for hundreds of thousands of Iraqis for no reason whatsoever and criticize the actions of virtually any other country. Still, this falls under the “no one could have predicted” category. Hamas knew that this is how Israel responds. That’s what they want, because it keeps them in power—which is why they actually closed the border with Egypt.

I’m not convinced this is how to stop the rocket attacks on Sderot. Bad move. That’s all I plan to say.

Obama Appears to Choose the Eisenhower Model

Obama campaigned as a 21st century update of Andrew Jackson, but it appears that his model for governing is going to be Dwight David Eisenhower.

Obama and Ike are surprisingly similar. Ike was adored for being vital to winning World War II, but was a political ink blot. No one knew if he would run as a Democrat or Republican at first. Although he had to throw the Conservatrons of his day a bone by Veeping Nixon his administration was centrist to the point of being almost non-ideological — Nixon had almost no portfolio as VP (today Ike seems more Democrat than Republican). Obama is an obvious liberal, yet his calls for post-partisanship and his relatively thin voting record coupled with the acknowledged practice of others grafting their own aspirations onto his barrier breaking story makes Obama, oddly, a vague quantity akin to Ike despite Obama’s detailing of his policies in the 08 campaign.

Ike and Obama are both unlikely Presidents. Ike wasn’t a politician, but his military expertise was ideal for 1952 when the quagmire in Korea appeared unsolvable. Obama has less experience than most Presidents, but his newness and potential energy are the canvass on which the 2010s will be written; in 2008 Obama was the necessary redeemer for what Leonard Cohen calls America’s “spiritual thirst” in the bitter wake of the venal Bush occupation.

Eisenhower translated his novelty into action by delegating. Due to his dowdy public persona, Ike was criticized for being a hands off or even clueless president. We now know that he was intent and engaged behind the scenes. He took his military experience and applied it to his cabinet by giving his subordinates room to succeed and fail, while using the bully pulpit and the ceremonial aspect of the presidency to maintain his own personal popularity rather than trying to sway the polity to his vision, which was largely “post-partisan” anyway.

Obama has chosen more of a Team of Experts than a “Team of Rivals”. His cabinet includes sitting politicians like Salazar and Clinton with their own power bases and political capital. For the more technical work like energy and environmental policy (despite the broad passions stirred by these issues, actual work on them is all about nuances of details) Obama has chosen able technocrats that will be led by Carol Browner in a new energy/environment coordinator role. Vice-President Biden will be the point person on the economic stimulus activity.

Obama appears to be updating the Eisenhower Model by giving substantial ownership of policy to his cabinet members/subordinates, while largely staying above the fray himself. Hopefully, he will also use his preternatural talent as the greatest Persuasive Leader of his generation to create the space for his team to succeed.

This is brilliant politics for three reasons. 1.) Giving ownership of policy to subordinates makes Obama harder to hit. Early in the reign of the Bush junta Progressives were driven to distraction by the very visible Rumsfeld and Ashcroft, but Bush remained popular and Rumsfeld and Ashcroft only became unpopular when Bush did. The Public at large does not care about Secretaries, but ideologues do. By leading with his subordinates Obama will force the Conservatrons to swing wildly to try to hit him. Their foolish fixation on trying to link Obama to Blagojevich is an early example of this and has, of course, been a massive FAIL. Subsequent attempts by Conservatrons will be cat-chasing-tail exercises because scandalmongering for the sake of scandalmongering does not reflect the seriousness of the times, but Obama’s “no red America, no blue America, just the United States of America” trope does. That the Conservatrons have completely abandoned this high ground is astounding in its stupidity 2.) When Obama does stake political capital on a policy outcome it is more likely to be effective and decisive because it will occur relatively rarely and only after his subordinate has spent his or her political capital. 3.) Everyone prefers a boss that does not micromanage. I imagine that one of the reasons that Obama’s campaign was so tight is that he let his people do their part their way. Obama is more likely to win the devotion of his Team of Experts by following Eisenhower’s model.

Eisenhower’s governing style was not a complete success. After his heart attack in his second term Ike appeared to lose some control of his administration and it became mired in silly scandals and transgressions. The Republicans got trounced in the 1958 mid-terms. The U2 Spy Plane incident seemed to be a sign of Ike’s detachment. Still, when all was said and done and remembered Ike was popular and maintained the Leadership necessary to make a credible warning about the Military-Industrial Complex in his farewell address.

Team Obama is filled clever, able people that are also keen students of history. I think they can perform even better than Team Eisenhower.

NORAD

Every little cent of government spending is critiqued, especially by Norquistites on the right. God forbid you spend money on, say, fixing leaky windows in schools. God forbid you fill in some potholes. God forbid you keep a few manufacturing jobs in the county.

But apparently the already overly evangelical Air Force’s use of NORAD to track Santa Claus is somehow too precious to assail.

Lefty Blogosphere's Shark Jumping Continues

To date, we have had 7 weeks since election day. And each week has demonstrated the perils of shtick-loss in the lefty blogosphere. Like phantom limb syndrome, bloggers continue to predict the apocalypse every time Obama’s decision doesn’t reflect their agenda. You mean, Obama’s a center-left politician? But he’s BLACK! Or something. I wish I could say this is surprising and spare these folks embarrassment, but, I knew this all along. My vote for Hillary ultimately hinged on the fact that her health care plan was universal and Obama’s wasn’t. What—Obama isn’t for single payer? If that’s news to you, go detox on the Kool-Aid.

So, you see, my expectations about Obama were based on the man, not on his “movement” (of which I am a proud part) and its Smells Like College Spirit group of messianists.

So, let’s review the outrage of the week.

Week 1 – Rahm Emanuel. But he’s a fnord-CLINTONITE-fnord!!!

Wee k 2 – Obama refuses to call for the purge of Joe Liebermann, blogs forget about Nebraska Nelson who votes with Dems less.

Wee k 3 – The “irresponsible reporting” of the Guardian confirms that Obama is going to nominate evil Hillary Clinton for State. Blogosphere instantly generates 600 reasons why this is false. Of course, it’s true. But all these CLINTON people—that’s not CHANGE that’s…who cares if they know what they’re doing?

Week 4 – They’re daring to keep a REPUBLICAN in the White House: Gates. Obama is evil!

Week 5 – [Blagojevich Interruption - temporary return to support of Obama]

Week 6 – RICK WARREN —you mean Obama likes religion? I thought he was a half-breed muslin.

Week 7 – So far, we’re still on Rick Warren and how his talking for 30 seconds at the inauguration is going to cast a pall on what will surely be a great speech by Obama. But hey, it’s only Monday. Even with xmas, we’re sure to hear about something else that Imperator Obama who has no real power forgot to do.

Seriously, there’s nothing better to do than explain how each of these events is the end of the world? How each of these issues is the most important thing to handle—except of course for stomping on people who don’t think these are the most important things?

Ha. It’s sad really. The blogs were our answer to talk radio. But if they don’t cure their inability to deal with actually being in power, they will undermine the Democrats and bring us back to 2000, where Al Gore wasn’t good enough for us until he was.

Nobody could have predicted…

That a shock and awe sky is falling demand for $700B with only very minimal strings attached could have resulted in money that was hard to track and $1.6B going to bank executives.

It wasn’t wrong to put liquidity in the system and force the shadow banking system into the regulated banking system to get that money. That part was smart. The part about not making the money go to actual productive use, that was stupid.

I understand that a large number of people who work at the banks get a huge portion of their salary as bonuses, so it’s not to be understood as a ‘performance’ bonus, but a sort of irregular payroll practice. Still, if the banks are laying off thousands of people, and many others are in trouble, the idea that some of these high rollers should suffer just seems fair to me, and probably to most people.

Close the Purse

With the recent use of TARP funds to offer a bailout of sorts to the automakers the first $350 billion of the $700 billion that Congress authorized for Generalissimo Bush to rescue the financial industry has now been allocated. Congress must now decide whether or not to authorize the remaining $350 billion. The Democrats must, at this late date, show some backbone, and keep the money until Obama is President.

As of Monday December 22 there are only 17 business days left in the Bush junta’s occupation of the White House (December 26 is a federal Holiday this year). Of all it’s miserable venal failures, the use of TARP has not been the worst, but at this point horse sense dictates that the Obama administration could do a more effective job of revitalizing the loan market. Holding the remaining TARP money until the real president takes over will also stop Generalissimo Bushfrom doing something fratish and evil at the eleventh hour like bailing out Haliburton for 223 billion.

Stiffen your cartilage Congressional Democrats, and hold the money until a President with the popular support of the citizenry can spend it.

Being Right On The Big Things 2009

A couple of years ago, I wrote about the importance of Presidents being correct on the “big things.” It’s one of my better posts. I showed concern for Obama being another punchlist President (other than his being the first black President) like Clinton or Carter or Ford. And he was well on his way to doing that in early 2008.

When I wrote that post, Iraq was still important as a controversy. The 2006 election had just passed. Since then a vast consensus on withdrawal has emerged. Global warming is still the issue of the century, and it hasn’t received as much attention as it should in the last little while, but there’s a good reason for that:

The economy has collapsed.

If policymakers’ macroeconomic skills were on par with the Hoover era, we would be in a depression for sure now. There’s still some doubt. But the economy in a meltdown, instead of a mild recession is a gatekeeper issue. Most people aren’t going to give a shit about anything else in circumstances like this.

So I’m glad to see today that Obama’s proposed economic stimulus appears to have him be correct on Big Thing #1.

Enough with the Obama e-mails

As annoying as Politico is (complaining about Dem dynasties while Bush II is in office?!?!(##%$%#$@$) I think they’re right on this: enough with the e-mails. More than one a week at this point is annoying, and, frankly, I just delete them. Why do they want me to donate now? They have a surplus and a while to raise money before he’s up again for election.

4,000 To Be Laid Off From Best Buy

No one could have predicted that they wouldn’t be able to attract capital or get loans even though the banks were saved and interest rates have been slashed.

I think it’s seriously time to consider more drastic steps. Among other things, how about a limited time “Chapter 15″ Bankruptcy (add it on) that allows reformation of primary residences and steep cuts in one’s consumer credit balances (credit cards and one car, say) and, instead of a “bk” you get your credit score reset to 650 and if you make your new payments from thereon out, for say 2 or 3 years, you get to keep your new credit score. You could even add a stipulation that the person can’t get new credit in excess of what they already had, or that it won’t outpace the growth in their income or disposable income, or whatever.

Credit scores, of course, govern the availability and expense of consumer credit. Everyone’s in the shitter there, but going bk or negotiating with creditors makes credit unavailable or very expensive. By creating a new form of bankruptcy that recognizes this in exchange for limited reduction of existing accounts instead of reduction to zero and encourages people to pay the rest, I think you would see people spending again, duly chastened.

"Business" Party Fails Econ 101

The Fed Funds rate is near zero. T-bills were going for less than 0% recently. Monetary policy is exhausted. A fiscal stimulus is required, yet the party of business seems to think that only deregulation and tax cuts will solve the problem.

Just as Bush v. Gore shattered the myth that conservatives had some kind of lock on authentic jurisprudence, I hope this economic collapse at least teaches us that capitalists often want to destroy capitalism, and not necessarily always employ all tools to fix the economy.

GOP Economic Psychopaths Stick Shiv In Midwest

And of course they’re trying to spin this as the UAW’s refusal to get paid what the people in the Southern factories are getting paid.

I think people aren’t going to get that micro. They’re going to wonder why there were no strings attached to Wall Street and all of these nitpicks on real jobs. This is scary.

Even Dick Cheney. Yeah—Dick Cheney says that the GOPs unwillingness to vote on this will cast them “forever” as the party of “Hoover.” Dick. Fucking. Cheney.

Minority Republicans Trying To Bankrupt U.S., California

They’re going to filibuster a “measly” $15B for the Big 3 after giving 50 times that much to the very crooks that got us into this! It’s punishment to the midwest for voting for Obama. GOP to Midwest: die.

GOP to California: die.

The GOP is trying to bankrupt California by refusing to negotiate on a six month late budget unless they get concessions in labor and environmental regulations! It’s like they’re negotiating a trade deal with a Latin American country. Oh, and the Republicans have just over 1/3rd of the votes in both houses, just enough for an anti-democracy minority veto.

The Meritocracy Illusion

There’s been some considerable pushback against the potential appointment of Caroline Kennedy to the New York Senate. Radio host commentator Alex Bennett called her “lucky sperm,” and Tapped complains that but for her name, what has she done to merit a Senate appointment. Others object to the “dynastic” appearance it presents.

This shows massive naivete, faked or real.

First of all, almost no one gets elected on the basis of their pure merits. And even if they did, what are those merits? They are very hard to define.

Second, the merit argument usually goes towards asserting that someone will not be effective in office. A meritocrat wouldn’t argue that the office is just a reward for merit, would they? That duty needs to be discharged with merit as well.

Most members of the Kennedy family are very likely to understand how to wield and understand power, regardless of how many merit badges they might have. Caroline has the right connections to be an effective senator. Is that the case with some fat mayor from upstate, even if he’s the gold medal mayor of the year?

The truth is, that mayor didn’t get elected on his merits alone, either. He got elected because he cultivated the right network and ran the best campaign. In that sense, Caroline is way ahead of him.

Finally, the idea that this is somehow dynasticism means you buy the illusion that doesn’t occur. Anyone who knows anything about class mobility knows that it is mostly downward, and rarely occurs, despite our national mythos.

Besides, so what? I have very little problem with much any Kennedy has done in government. If they get to have multiple Bushes, we can have multiple Kennedys. (Had Bush done *anything* before becoming governor of the third largest state??? What about Jeb?)

And as for the Clintons, all I can say is Hillary has done enough to earn her own stripes, even if we somehow had to deny her presence in Washington in the 90s. If Chelsea decides to run for office, you oughta look at her resume before crying dynasty there, too.

The idea that someone has “earned” this kind of political appointment is bullshit. It’s just not how the world works, and using an illusion as a political cudgel is just as cynical as anything you’re accusing the Kennedys of.

Supreme Court Refuses To Steal Election

Denies cert in alleged fake birth certificate case.

The right wing whizzes that brought us Rathergate again took their fine eye for typesetting discrepancies and claimed that Obama’s published birth certificate looked suspiciously new. Of course, that’s because it was reissued by the records agency.

FAIL.

Tilting at Whale Mills

I just caught wind of Whale Wars on Animal Planet. It’s an interesting show, but, like many reality shows, not for the reasons the subjects think.

The fact that Japanese are killing whales for “scientific research” and ends up as meat is almost certainly bending the spirit if not the letter of the ban on whaling. I applaud the fact that folks are out there taking this on.

But…these people are Quixoticism defined. They’re pitch is that they are an action group, as opposed to Greenpeace which is a protest group. That’s true, but the incompetence with which they go about this mission for which they are supposedly willing to die for makes one blush.

They can’t properly put a zodiac in the water. They broke their helicopter. They bring on idealistic volunteers who don’t know anything about anything. They’re negligence broke their engine, so they had to return to Melbourne to get *$400,000.00* worth of repairs done on the ship, while bragging about how they don’t cultivate donors with mailing lists, or anything else that works.

That’s because they have big rich donors like the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Of course, $400,000.00 could feed over 100,000 people for a year, but I digress. There is a compelling interest in defending whales, but, as with anything, a little planning goes a long way.

They leave port not knowing where the whaling fleet will be, with a ship of fools, weak leadership, no real plan for stopping the whalers other than to throw stinkbombs and jump on their ship (which is piracy, per se)—the exact kind of showmanship that they deride Greenpeace for. (The fact that there *is* a ban on whaling had a lot to do with Greenpeace and their allegedly lamer tactics to begin with, but I digress.)

So, they stir some shit, and then, without the whalers having fired much more than a popper at them, their ship crumbles (due to their negligence) and they have to return to port, where, they tell the volunteer crew, they will be replaced if they aren’t dedicated enough. A few hours later, they try and convince them to stay (in other words, they kinda can’t be replaced all that easy.)

If direct action is your calling card, then act. Find ways to track the ships. (Maybe get a mole on the ships?) Or, if you can’t do that, figure out a way to disable their ships (a fucking rope on their propellers is not going to do it). If your legal position is correct, or, even if it’s not, you will at least get a chance to prove that in an Admiralty Court.

Hell, I bet $400,000.00 could buy Letters of Marque from some banana republic somewhere. As a privateer, they would have to use military force to stop you. Just sail back to Banana Republic and stay away from Japan.

Anyway, the idealistic incompetence does not totally dilute the bizarre nobility of what they are doing, which is what makes the story good, just like Don Quixote.

Talking down to Canadians?

Just six weeks ago, I was telling myself that I would move to Canada if McCain won the election. What a difference a little time can make, eh?

The United States has cleansed itself of a long, disastrous nightmare. Putting aside problems Canada doesn’t really have, the United States is poised to correct most of its internal problems, or at least have people that are up to the task. Almost as important, the United State did something no “liberal democracy” in the world has done: elected by a majority vote, a member of a race that was formerly slaves (he’s not descended from slaves, but that would have made no difference under Jim Crow or slavery), to the most powerful position in the world.

Canada has never had a Native prime minister, a black prime minister, an Asian prime minister, or a minority prime minister at all. Neither has the UK, Japan, Germany, France, etc.

But Canada is so far ahead of us on most social issues, it’s ridiculous. They have mostly successfully harmonized their immigrant populations. One large issue, of course, is sectionalism, which Canada has in a dose not seen in the US for a long, long time.

It’s now ripping the country apart.

Quebec separatism has caused its own party, the Bloc Quebecois, to form, taking a significant number of seats in Parliament. The result has been a 4-party parliament that has been challenged to form a majority. That, coupled with a serious, Clinton-sized scandal in the Liberal party has destabilized Canadian politics. Worse, Canada has a parliamentary system but has never had a coalition government. Instead, the plurality party is given control. This is an unstable arrangement, obviously.

So when a majority of MPs decided that they would vote no on a confidence measure next Monday, the country was thrown into a Constitutional crisis. The outcomes appeared to be the ascent of Canada’s first coalition government, or new elections just two months after the last ones.

Instead, the largely ceremonial Governor General, who technically is the Queen’s representative, chose the option, and PM Harper’s request of “proroguing” Parliament. This means Parliament is closed, the session is over, and all of the bills in it are dead.

And a new session will begin in January. This was done only to keep the current government in power, since no other reason was apparent.

So now, instead of an election, Canada will just have a campaign season where everyone runs around trying to argue their position.

The absurd argument of the Conservatives is that this was “undemocratic,” that it was a “coup” and that the LIberal Party “lied” by campaigning on not forming a coalition with the NDP.

Of course the Conservatives are making a profoundly American argument, with the idea that Harper is some kind of President and that Canadians elected him.

For a country I thought was more educated than us, I was shocked to see a poll today more or less buying that argument. The Conservative Party only got 37% of the vote in the recent election, and does not have a majority in Parliament. If the other parties are going to form a government, that’s how their system works.

It fascinates me that the idea that this is somehow cheating resonates at all with Canadians who have for so long identified themselves through their distinctions with Americans. What they are saying, in essence, is that the letter of their law is parliamentary, but the spirit is presidential.

Worse, the sock puppet Governor General, who (granted is a minority, but…) sounds like a fascinating woman, but has no real qualifications or mandate or experience in this kind of thing, has decided go along with Harper’s request.

As odd as this is to say, I think she should have asked for instructions from the Queen. Elizabeth II is qualified and experienced, much more so. Maybe not in Canadian politics, but anyway. I doubt the Queen would have deigned to further the agenda of any party or politician, because she sees herself as so above all that.

The Majority Coalition should have been put in power for at least a little while until it was reasonable to call elections again without devolving into a government of the month Italy like situation. And with those elections, it should have been made clear that a coalition would be formed if no party gained the majority, and that coalition could just as easily include Tories.

What’s interesting also is to see how the Conservative argument is against “separatists” (i.e. the Bloc) and it’s wrong to form a government with “separatists.” Well, stoking those fires is only going to make the problem worse, and is typical of shitty right-wing leaders who appeal to fear, and then use that to their advantage instead of solving it.

Come on Canada. If we can elect Barack Obama, you guys can figure out that there was nothing fishy going on with the Coalition because that’s your damn system! and there was nothing fishy going on until your Parliament was closed by a representative of the monarchy at the bidding of someone about to be kicked out of power. That’s fishy.

Corporate Jets

OK, I get it. It was politically tone deaf for the Big 3 to show up to Washington in corporate jets. But, something tells me all of the brand new bank holding companies have their folks flying G4s on our dime.

India Update

More on the strategic nuclear balance from the Navy:

The asymmetries of strategic depth and offensive military capability give India an operational advantage, and may create a situation in which India’s conventional ground or air forces come into contact with Pakistan’s strategic nuclear forces. Pakistan’s shorter-range Hatf 3/M-11 ballistic missiles must be stationed fairly far forward to reach strategic targets in India, perhaps leaving them vulnerable to both air and ground attack. The same is true of Pakistan’s forward airbases, which are within easy striking distance of the border. This is a very troubling scenario because Pakistan places great emphasis on its strategic nuclear forces to deter a large-scale conventional attack by India.

More…

Pakistan’s presumed inability to identify and attack India’s C4I probably precludes any appreciable loss of command and control over India’s strategic force during a conventional war. This is reinforced by a several factors, including India’s reliance on negative control features, and its greater strategic depth. A conventional attack on India’s command and control structures probably would cause only a delay in retaliatory nuclear strikes, and not lead to the inadvertent use of nuclear weapons.

More…

[India and Pakistan's] asymmetrical conventional force capabilities and doctrines could create pressures for one side to launch nuclear weapons, even if they would prefer not to. The three scenarios of inadvertent war outlined above show how India’s superior conventional military power might so seriously degrade the Pakistan national command authority’s confidence in its nuclear deterrent that a nuclear war begins that nobody wants.

Also…

I haven’t pointed out that India and Pakistan had a standoff in 2002 after the Indian Parliament attacks in December 2001, massing troops on the border. Later that year, a U.S. General testified to Congress that “neither India nor Pakistan have the sophisticated sensors that can determine the difference between a natural near-Earth object impact and a nuclear detonation.” 

What does that mean in practical terms? Well, first of all, an asteroid crash could be determined to be a high altitude nuclear explosion, which is the exact kind used to knock out command and control because its primary effect is a huge EMP. 

Pop quiz, hot shot. You’re an Indian Air Force office and tomorrow you detect a gigantic atmospheric detonation over your head. What do you do?

You better hope the US or Russia is on the goddamn phone with someone in charge. Same thing goes for Pakistan. 

The second thing it means is that their early detection systems suck. But even if they were state of the art, what’s the response time? Five minutes? Think about it. The Cuban missile crisis was largely due to the fact that much of the US could be hit before a response could come about, dangerously upsetting the strategic balance.

Today’s Baltimore Sun:

There’s no suggestion that the two nuclear-armed antagonists are close to brandishing any of their weapons (India, an estimated 100 warheads; Pakistan, roughly 60).

But it’s a dicey situation. Unlike the Cold-War U.S. and Soviet Union, India and Pakistan live side by side, reducing missile flight times — and crisis decision-making time — to under 10 minutes. That’s less than 600 seconds.

The U.S. and the Soviet Union emerged from the Cold War’s nuclear confrontation unscathed. But there were more than a handful of moments, including false alarms and cross signals, when things might have gone otherwise.  

In one case, a 1983 NATO “Able Archer” exercise was perceived by the Kremlin as active preparation for a nuclear attack and it began raising the alert status of Soviet nuclear forces. “Very dangerous,” was the subsequent assessment of Robert M. Gates, then a senior intelligence official, now Secretary of Defense.

That near-miss happened despite several decades of American and Russian experience  and tacit cooperation on nuclear crisis management — experience India and Pakistan do not have.

“India and Pakistan’s lack of sophisticated early warning and detection capabilities and command and control systems are some of the other factors that create strategic volatility and raise the risks of a nuclear exchange,” says an assessment by the Monterey Institute for Strategic Studies.

Oh, and the death toll? Some estimates are as low as 20m, but others are as high as one billion.

Welcome to the NFL, Obama.

Juan Cole: Pakistan Must Stop

If the Pakistani government does not give up this covert terrorist campaign in Kashmir and does not stop coddling the radical vigilantes who go off to fight there, South Asian terrorism will grow as a problem and very possibly provoke the world’s first nuclear war (possible death toll: 20 million).

Juan Cole is an expert on the region, and I’m just a hobbyist, but obviously, I agree with him and everything he says is correct.