Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Is this...goodbye?

So, we've overstayed our welcome...like pesky in-laws insisting they hang around til after new years. Iraqi Prime Minster Nouri al-Maliki has stressed that the full US troop withdrawal will be completed by the end of 2011, as planned. "This agreement is not subject to extension, not subject to alteration."
But see, we're nervous. Iraq is getting ready to step out onto the global stage, without us holding their hand and pointing which way to go. Of course our main concern is Iran, to which al-Maliki just laughed. He says the feeling is mutual in Iran. An Iranian official recently visited, commenting "I thought the Americans were standing at the door of your office." Well, al-Maliki says he isn't about to let that happen. He is adamant about Iraq governing Iraq and us getting the hell out of dodge...and pretty much saying f-off to anyone else setting their sights on Iraq as a country fresh for the governing. "For Iraq to be dragged into an axis or an orbit, that's impossible, and we reject it whether this comes from Iran, Turkey or the Arabs." or the U.S.
I don't blame him. The stresses from foreign leaderships is great at a time like this. His governing coalition is a mish-mash of all kinds of interests and beliefs, including him, a Shiite, Kurds, a Sunni-dominated bloc lead by secular Shiite and former Prime Minster Ayad Allawi. Despite this fact, or perhaps because of it, he is prepared to govern this eclectic mix of a country without any interference from Uncle Sam.
As much as we'd like to stay, he's kicking us out. Although he admits some aspects of the Iraqi infrastructure are wobbly at best, (mostly our fault for destroying them) he remarks that much of the insurgent activity we've complained cost us valuable forward progress, will die down once we pack up the cavalry and ride off into the sunset. That's probably more true than we'd ever like to admit. What a concept...leave them the fuck alone to run their own country...hmmm...
Something must be done about our terrible withdrawal from our forced foster care babe...so of course, we'll be lurking here and there indefinitely. For example, the US embassy in Baghdad will house between 80-90 military personnel in charge of advising, assisting, training and equipping Iraqi forces. The embassy will also oversee a massive police-training program. Focus on the ones with guns, son :) And that's how we roll.
Between al-Maliki's independent personality and our unsettling fear that he'll run off to Iran the way he did when Hussein threatened to fillet him, there's no way we're just gonna let that country govern itself.
So no, this isn't goodbye. It's not even a see you later. It's a lengthening of a leash, an attempt to let the fangs wander a little further from our jugular while still holding the taser.
Ironically, as al-Maliki sits in his office, planning a future for a broken and battered country, he looks out on the pristine enclosures of our arrogantly constructed Green Zone.
You say goodbye, and I say hello...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Corporate America: billions, Mankind: 0

I often times look at several news sites in order to find the topic for my next blog entry. I like to see what stories pop up in more than one place, how they're written differently depending on which person from which country wrote them.
I hope all of you have had happy holidays thus far. Not to be a buzz kill, but most of the world hasn't: flare ups of violence in Gaza, Kurdish executions in Iran, Israeli demolition of Arab homes in East Jerusalem, news that Gitmo will remain open til...well, whenever the fuck Obama wants to make good on his campaign promise, Ivory Coast civil war, earthquakes in the happy land of hobbits, protesters getting life sentences, holy shit, it's a big mess out there!
So, it might make us feel a bit cozy, thinking we're safe here in the land of the free. I am such a sarcastic humbug aren't I? Because you're not. You're no freer than the poor bastards in Gitmo. For example, according to Bush-era written law, I can be thrown in jail on suspicion of anything from tax evasion to terrorism and rot there till hell freezes over or until enough Americans come to their senses and do something (the cynic in me wants to send Satan a cooler). I can literally disappear like the nervous constituents of dictators past. Pretty fucked huh?
But, I didn't write this blog to comment on revoked rights and Bush bashing. Nope, I've got a much more fun topic: corporate America rapes the world!
It's no secret that corporate America has the politicians' nuts in a salad shooter but many people make the dangerous mistake of feeling that this opinion is extremist, remote, even conspiratory. Well, it's not.
Stuart Eizenstat, a deputy treasury secretary under Clinton, has commented on the intense lobbying power overshadowing our international sanctions. A New York Times report found evidence of US firms trading with blacklisted countries...legally. But, but, how?
Well, it's called a loophole. When US sanctions come up for debate and vote, lobbyists jump in with a pen in one hand, check book in the other and get their dealing on. The pen is indeed mightier than the sword. According to the New York Times report, the US treasury had granted more than 10,000 licenses for US companies to deal with blacklisted countries. In theory, sanctions are to be humanitarian or democracy related. For example, an agricultural or medicinal exemption being approved in the name of humanitarian aid. However, it turns out that through this exemption, US companies were allowed such items as: cigarettes, chewing gum, hot sauce and weight-loss remedies, hardly the humanitarian fare. Further, more intensely crooked deals include an exemption allowing a US firm to bid on a pipeline job making it possible for Iran to sell natural gas to Europe, a staunchly opposed project by US lawmakers. An oldie but a goodie: allowance for multiple US firms to trade and do business with foreign companies associated with terrorist activities and weapons proliferation.
Still feeling cozy?
Stuart A. Levey thinks you should. He says the focus on these petty exemptions forces people to "miss the forest for the trees."
Well, yeah, I find it difficult to focus on the beautiful forest when instead of trees, I see a bunch of corporate shit head lobbyists raping humanitarian efforts, burning American flags. But he's right. I should focus on the happy things...good advice that the majority of Americans seems to follow...ignore the bad, go to your happy place.
Mr. Eizenstat told the BBC that while many of the sanctions do good, there is a significant problem with these loopholes and exemptions.
"...one of the problems is that our sanctions policies tend to be riddled with exceptions that are neither humanitarian nor related to democracy promotion but really are put in by particular industries or interests to create loopholes. Most exemptions are inserted into sanctions legislation by individual members of Congress acting in the interests of a particular state or industry," he said. In a typical Sophie's choice dilemma Eizenstat added, "In that case, the administration oftentimes has no choice but to accept them if it wants the broader sanctions passed."
As with most of the ills on the ever growing mound of our broken policies, it doesn't seem to be biting us in the ass now. However, over time, the mound will create a stench and sight too grotesque to ignore. Our thin, pathetic layer of do-gooding and global policing isn't enough to hide the evils in our national baggage.
When that day comes, as we sit in our cozy winter wonderlands or sweet spring landscapes, we might regret that we didn't do a god damn thing to stop it, to stop them. That we didn't say anything about the corporate lobbyists, that we didn't notice our lives, our rights, our freedoms had been whittled away by the sharp, merciless knife of corporate interests.
Well, happy holidays everyone.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A civilian eye for a military eye...

That’s not really how the saying’s supposed to go, but it’s been a while since those words were famously uttered by the Babylonian king Hammurabi...kinda like telephone, something got lost along the way.
Corporal Eric Torbert rang in the 700th foreign soldier killed in the Afghan conflict on Monday. And I can almost see the grizzled commander in front of me, stern and cold, vowing that his death would not be in vain, as he forwards another order for a drone assault.
Before I delve into the details of this new age war tactic, let me introduce you to the drone. Unfortunately, it’s not a remote concoction of George Lucas style. It does however share that robotic feature. A drone is an unmanned war aircraft, complete with however many bombs it needs to “get the job done.” The pilots sit often in completely remote areas such as bases in Nevada, controlling the planes in simulated cockpit surroundings, almost as if they were playing a video game. Military psychiatrists feel that this disconnect could be good for the mental well being of the pilot, allowing the soldier to feel less personally responsible for the death and destruction associated, as he leaves his pilot chair and walks back to the quiet safe haven of American soil. Aside from the mental health of the pilot, these drones offer the higher ups a unique way of waging war. They don’t need to put life on the line in order to take it. And now, previously strict rules regarding drones have been lessened, allowing the remote, detached ability to wreak havoc more accessible and attractive for all your war-waging needs.
In August of 2008, the CIA was given the go ahead to dispatch as many drones as they saw fit, leaving the bureaucracy behind. In fact, now little to no evidence of actual insurgent whereabouts is needed before sending off a drone packed with up to 1.5 tons of weapons. Needless to say, the number of drone attacks since then has skyrocketed (pun intended) significantly. This year alone there have been 112 documented flights, whereas in the years 2004-2007, there were only 9 all together. In ’09, there were 53, jumping at the change in 2008, we snuck 35 in between August and December, a stark contrast to 5 in the previous year. Because of these new lax laws and our trigger happy nature, it’s no surprise that our 1.5 tons times 112 flights is racking up as many or more civilian bodies as insurgent ones.
Research done by CIVIC (Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict) finds that often times, the US does not keep accurate account of civilian deaths. What a fucking surprise. In one published report, in nine drone attacks, 30 civilians were accounted for dead, including 14 women and children. In one case, a Pakistani man explains that an al-Qaida group showed up at his home one day, brandishing him with guns, demanding food. The man, through obvious fear, agreed, feeding the men who thereafter disappeared. The next day, his house was bombed, killing his only son...and no insurgents. Well done.
An international scandal (which we probably hear nothing of from our media) chronicles the case of Kareem Khan vs. the CIA. Yep, that’s right. One man is suing the CIA for 500 million dollars for the death of his brother and son. Apparently, this case is extra embarrassing for the CIA considering that the name of their Pakistani undercover spy has also come out in the open. Since the case has been broadcast, they have called him home to safety. Phew!
Further research has found that, on average, 3-5 civilians die in each drone attack, bringing the unsure total to around 350 civilians dead, just in this year alone.
So, here’s the question. Although the drone attacks can boast several high up al-Qaida deaths, is it worth the civilian toll? Are we to satisfy ourselves with the Vietnam era phrase, "destroy the village in order to save it?"
Or are our tactics the bloody catalyst to foster ever more al-Qaida insurgents, a never ending assembly line of insurmountable enemies?
In the end, it doesn’t matter much what we over here think, safe on American soil. It’s more important what the people we’re bombing the shit out of think. They will be the deciding factor of our future. Their decisions will choose ours, years before we realize it. In yet another study by the New American Foundation and Terror Free Tomorrow, 76% of the population in northern and southern Waziristan (northwest area of Pakistan, bordering on Afghanistan) are against the drone attacks. More than half the population claims that it is mostly civilians who have been targeted and killed. And finally, 60%, due to drone attacks, find suicide bombing aimed at American soldiers understandable and even defensible.
Those are pretty shitty numbers for us. That basically means that the majority of people don’t like what we’re doing, how we’re doing it and find our demise entirely acceptable. I’m no military expert, but if you’re waging a war where the insurgents farm new recruits from the people and the people don’t like you...well...umm...shit....
...and all this from some guy you supposedly bombed our twin towers who most assuredly was on the CIA’s pay roll...you couldn’t make this shit up.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winter's cold war revival

'Tis the season to snuggle up indoors with hot tea, warm cookies and a nuclear warhead or two.
The Senate met behind closed doors yesterday to discuss the START accord which would ammend the previous treaty that expired in 2009. Certain players from both sides are against the ammendments which would limit each country to 1,550 warheads and 700 launchers. In a miraculous show of muscle, Democrats shot down (pun intended) three proposed GOP changes to the accord, perhaps as a direct reaction to Obama's apparent jello-spine strategy.
Members of the GOP, including speaker Mitch McConnell see the 30% cut in nuclear protection as an attack on the US safety guard against the supposed still evil giant, Russia. Other Republicans complained that the treaty was too slap dash and asked for more time to deliberate, ringing in the new year with their new friends on the side of the no vote. Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs volleyed back remarking on how Republicans appear to need little time to oppose small details in the treaty while still needing more time to look it over...an anomoly he isn't interested in entertaining. So, as Democratic and Republican senators rally back and forth, the Obama administration has been busy making phone calls and press releases, desperate to get this through the doors of the Senate before the end of the lame-duck sessions.
As you might imagine, the Senators involved in this debate were around when the Cold War was still in full swing. It isn't strange that their resistance to a new treaty comes with a grain or two of mistrust sprinkled over their patriotic ideals of "we've got the guns, son."
The US's foreign policy, particularly regarding WMD's has been one of supreme unfairness. We are opposed to any country starting or maintaining a nuclear program while we sit on a nice pile of them. Isn't that kind of like pointing a gun at someone and demanding that they put their gun down...?
However, Russia isn't exactly angelically diplomatic either. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is quoted as saying "The Start agreement, which was drafted on the basis of strict parity, completely meets the national interests of both Russia and the United States. It cannot be reopened, becoming the subject of new negotiations."
Clearly, many on both sides are content to dig their heels in and stay at the political limbo they currently find themselves in: not enemies, not friends, just hanging out on the fence, mutually assured that no one will do something too stupid.
Well, that sounds lovely.
Here's my question: why the fuck aren't we including the Russians in these negotiations? This isn't a foreign policy change that affects just how we act on the global stage. This is a direct partner treaty. What if we were the only country at the treaty of Versailles? How does that make any sense? Honestly, I'm not incredibly surprised at Russia's response. I wouldn't be a big fan of people deciding how my security defenses were to be handled without including me in the discussion. That's how we roll tho unfortunately. We'll sit behind closed doors, come to a conclusion (or not) and then let whoever is directly affected know about it later. That's good diplomacy, that.
Needless to say, since the expiration of the treaty in 2009, both sides have been overly paranoid about what the other side is doing. Instead of bringing them in and discussing this over a diplomatic meeting of the giants, we close ourselves up as if it were pre-WWI isolationism all over again.
Well, it's not 1916. It's not 1960 either. The Cold War is over...or it should be. The 30% cut is a good idea, a necessary step down from confrontation we both need. The ways in which we are going about working for this step down is diplomacy 101 retarded. We need to be able to imagine a world in which Russia and the US co-exist, minus the constant pissing contest.
That seems like wishful thinking at this point, but hope springs eternal I suppose. It would be nice if we could learn from our mistakes before we step up on the global stage with nuclear warheads in our pockets...but now I'm just asking too much.
Best of luck to you behind those closed doors. We'll be out here with the warheads, keeping them warm in the Cold winter stalemate.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

You are all You need

What did the gods do to deserve your penitence? You allow them into your mind, your soul, into your dreams and expectations, allow them to trample your strength and place their own ethereal intangibility above you. Your mind is the gate keeper. Allow yourself in, allow yourself to lift yourself up. Cast out the fake idols, the ones who don't believe in you but expect you to believe in them...cast them out. You are all You need.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Let's just skip to the 2nd amendment...

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
That's the first one, in case anyone had forgotten, which it seems most of us have. Over 100 protesters were arrested outside the White House yesterday, when protesting war, and voicing their support for Julian Assange. The police were called and when protesters ignored their requests to disband, the protesters were arrested. While in all likelihood none of them will serve serious time, they will have to pay a $100 fine and of course, their rights were once again trampled upon.
The right to assemble, freedom of speech...they sound like such lofty and remote ideals of a bygone age, but they are in fact our rights, our supposed rights, protecting us from a monarchic or dictatorial government.
For those of you who haven't experienced the joys of standing up on a soap box in the crisp winter air, denouncing the ills of a government you democratically elected to do something quite the opposite of what it is doing, allow me offer up an absurd fact of protest life. When organizing your protest, along with markers, poster board and flags, you'll have to factor in a "Protest Permit."
This allows you to speak your mind, in a protesting sort of way. These permits are granted by the state and they can freely deny you if they feel that your protest could be a "security risk." Well, what constitutes a security risk? Well, there aren't any solid rules as to what a security risk really is. Well, that seems kinda fucked. Well, it is.
There are more cases of these permits being an infringement on the first amendment than there are innocent people in Texas jails. Martin Luther King Jr. is the happy recipient of a few. I myself have gotten one.
Aside from the clearly jaded security risk issue, there are perhaps even bigger issues if you do get a permit.
First of all, permits are by-in-large not granted in the more populated areas of a city. They tend to be allowed in places where there are mostly businesses or not enough space for large groups to congregate. Secondly, they close off the area, making it impossible and unlikely for people not already going to the protest, to hear or care about it. So, basically, what you get with the permit is the allowance for you and your friends to sit in a secluded area and bitch for an allotted amount of time.
Of course, you could do this at home and save some time, migraines and money, but then the state wouldn't get any money or satisfaction from your wasted efforts.
The places that need protesters in them: streets, crowded areas, malls, parks, schools, inner cities, are off limits. How can people expect to assemble if they're not allowed? And how is it not an infringement of rights if someone can pre-emptively determine that you are a safety risk when all you're asking to do is protest idiocy with fellow concerned citizens. Unless you write on your proposal that you intend to fillet virgins and burn poor people, I don't really see how they can make that call.
So, here we sit in this catch 22...how can we protest that we aren't allowed to protest? How can we organize and promote change when it's too "dangerous" for us to get together and do so? How can we say that we live in a free society when we aren't free to openly discuss and protest that society? How can we afford to accept these infringements if we consider ourselves US citizens?

But hey, it's perfectly fine to own a shit ton of guns for no reason...hooray!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sweden loves a rebel...

As you walk into the plane, there's a little stand of newspapers to the right. Experiencing my first of many waves of giddiness as I see a Swedish newspaper, I grab it and board.
While settling into my seat, I open the first page...Julian Assange.
Considering Sweden's rather awkward place in the current global uproar over Assange and his leaky business, I brace myself for another derogatory article.
I am happily mistaken.
The very first page of Dagens Nyheter chronicles the life of Assange: his schooling, his parents, his childhood, an unfortunate teenage fatherhood (which gifted him with his premature white hair), his first introductions into hacking and the wild computer world. All in all, the article paints a picture of an extremely intelligent, driven man that the reader is coaxed into admiring and feeling sorry for...hardly the press a rapist usually gets.
Furthermore, Dagens Nyheter interviews a man who had lunch with Julian when he was visiting sweden, saying Assange was here looking into purchasing offices due to Sweden's privacy laws, ironically, that would allow him to work without government grumblings. Then this whole rape thing came out, then it went away the next day, then it came back...ummmm, thats strange...why?
Assange's visit to Sweden and this meeting took place around the same time that the first wave of private files flooded into the international media...timing is everything.
After the see-saw rape charges, Interpol got involved and in less time that it takes to run to 7-11 and buy a condom, Assange was an internationally wanted man.
Since they couldn't get him for leaking this information and have yet to take Palin's advice of "just killing him," they opted for the next best thing: an international smear campaign aimed at tearing the moral fiber of Assange. Through weaving this web of deceit, they mark him as a terrorist, rapist and immoral man, wanting nothing more than to put the lives of innocent, hard working people at stake, while saving some time to rape a few women while on vacation.
So, what do the swedes have to say about this criminal in their midst?
"Julian Assange är mannen som med en väska på ryggen och en laptop i handen rest jorden runt och dyrkat upp hemligheter i yttrandefrihetens namn"
Translation: "Julian Assange is the man whom with a backpack on his back, a laptop in his hand, has traveled the world, digging up secrets in the name of freedom of speech."
This is a quote from one of Sweden's top newspapers, on another top spot article on Assange. But...I thought...wait...it gets better.
Did you know that the site WikiLeaks is hosted by a Swedish company? Again, due to Swedish law, forbidding any administrative authority to make inquiries regarding the sources of any type of newspaper or site, Assange naturally went with the Swedish company PRQ to handle his hosting. On top of Swedish law, PRQ boasts at having "almost no information about its clientele and maintains few if any of its own logs."
So, put together, you have a seemingly indestructible bunker of information with a nice Swedish flag on top.
Wait...there's more...
Ironically, around the same time as the rape charges wish-washed back and forth, the Swedish Pirate Party (Piratpartiet) announced that they would begin hosting and managing new WikiLeaks' new servers, donated free of charge along with free technicians to assure smooth secret spillage.
Research also suggests that some of WikiLeaks' servers are actually housed in an underground nuclear bunker in Stockholm...
And, last but not least, the only place you can still donate to WikiLeaks is via a British-Swedish company called Flatr, created by the same man who created Pirate Bay...
Assange's apparent affinity for Pirates and Sweden aside, how can this clear anomaly of cold hard facts vs. international scandal be explained?
Well, as always...political power. Not even the US can tell Sweden to change its laws. It also can't tell the host servers or the donation site to bugger off. However, they can create a situation where the Swedish government (or really any government) will have no choice but to hand Assange over.
Let's say that Assange is extradited from England to Sweden. From there, the Swedish government will have little clout in keeping the US from muscling him over to red, white and blue. After all, we have to charge him in our courts for some made up bullshit about being a spy...fuck, doesn't this just sound like a really bad daytime TV spy movie? A troubled nerd sleeps with a hot blonde Swedish babe, (or supposedly) becomes the focus of an international conspiracy and is eventually tried for being the spy of all spies!
That'll go straight to DVD...
But back in reality, this is how it would play out. At the moment, the Swedish government is now saying that they don't want to try him but merely clarify what happened...sounds to me like they don't want him over here at all. The less they have to play political chess with the US, the better. Besides, as is glaringly obvious if you look just a little bit past the US media morons - er moguls - you'll find that Assange isn't a bad guy, he's just a rebel...and everyone but the US, particularly Sweden, loves a rebel.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The us syndrome

As i wing my way over to Stockholm, I think of the syndrome associated with that beautiful city. If you’ve ever been there, I’m sure you can appreciate the willingness to be kidnapped and never go home again...

But i digress...I’m writing to discuss the us syndrome: my own name for the dangerously arrogant, two faced syndrome spiraling us further and further into political, diplomatic and social mayhem.
We’re the nosy bully on the playground. We wanna know what everyone is doing when they’re not forced to play with us or by our rules. The WikiLeaks incident exposed many unsightly personality flaws in uncle sam but more than that, it had the embarassing side effect of shedding light on the real workings and goings-on of our entire government.
It’s not just about the fact that Clinton is jonesing for some foreign diplomats DNA. It’s not just about the fact that we’re shit scared that Berlusconi and Putin will take over the world in one scandalous but fashionable swoop. It’s not even about us badmouthing the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan, buying momentary loyalty in the Middle East as pressure and tension mounts against Iran.
No, none of these are really the issue here. It’s the classic detective story - if you have nothing to hide kid, why don’t you come downtown with me? Well, we have a FUCK LOAD to hide! In fact, there’s nothing true that we don’t want hidden. From money to mammograms, from military to melting ice caps, what we hear via conventional media, is horse shit. What we hear in speeches given, see in articles written is by-in-large total fabrication. It is our binding hypocrisy. It is our addictive, pathological tendency to be dishonest with ourselves, the country and the world.
So, who’s to blame for the huge disconnect between politicians and the truth?
Unfortunately, the story isn’t as simple as just blaming the corporations, which you know I love to do. However, it’s a two way street. It’s a two party system. While there’s no doubt that any hope for straight, unadalterated honesty is greatly side-swiped by corporate lobbying and the monetary gains associated with “playing ball,” you gotta be willing to sell your soul, and you have to be willing to stay in the pit, fighting amongst yourselves while the world crumbles around you. Corporations recently logged their most profitable year EVER while the Atlas’ of the country continue to hold up more than their share with little compensation. The reforms that were supposed to teach wall street a lesson have slipped into oblivion along with the other legislation that would do one dick stick worth of good for the crippled economy. Meanwhile, you have folks like Darrell Issa, new head of the congressional oversight committee claiming Obama to be “one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times” and vowing to subpoena anything that so much as looks like it could go against neocon ideals.
So, where does that leave us? The comforting news: not much different than before. The non-sugar coated news: that’s a shitty place to be. It’s a bit of a cluster fuck, catch 22 in reality. See, the ideals I mention above are no more steadfast than the loyalty bought with corporate earnings. For example, as I got felt up today, AND radiated like a frozen dinner, I came to think about why. This time it wasn’t George Bush raping my rights...it was Obama. Fuck. And this time, it wasn’t the Democrats complaining about this atrocious invasion of privacy, it was the Republicans, while the Democrats upheld their side of the aisle. Wait...what? I thought I could at least count on some ideals...nope. Republicans and Democrats alike will hold true (pun intended) to their side even if their side goes against their supposed holy grails of ideologies. It’s a see-saw ; whatever works for the moment is what they uphold. Such is the ping pong hipocrisy of a two party system. There’s no room for a grey area. Even now, as Democrats rally against the President for further prolonging the life of the abhorrent wealthy tax breaks, it’s because it looks good politically. Obama is becoming less and less popular so Democrats check their emergency notes and distance themselves from a “Republican in practice” president, in the hopes that when the next elections come around, they can stand on the podium and say they upheld the Democratic ideals even when their commander-in-chief faltered. I’ll take bets at how many will actually use almost those exact words...
There it is. The US syndrome goes deep into our moral fiber, bleeding it dry of any honest and genuine threads and replacing them with corrupt, for sale signs drenched in the blood, sweat and tears of their own constituents...too dramatic? Well, I think our current status is a little too dramatic. It reads like a really bad crime novel that takes too many twists and turns, and ultimately ends in an unrealistic, drawn out pool of blood and overacting. Oh, I wish this was another FOX fabrication. But oh no, it’s all too real. Ask the parents who buried their children draped in American flags, as if that somehow deadens the pain. Ask the people who get thrown out of their houses because they believed too well in the American dream. Ask the corporate bosses using our money to go on million dollar vacations...well, don’t ask them, they’re comfortable resting on your shoulders but don’t wanna hear you complain about it. So, are we gonna complain? Julian Assange gave you a reason, Bush gave you a reason, Enron, Halliburton, Obama, AIG, Fannie and Freddie Mac, Bank of America, Citi Bank, IMF, World Bank, the Fed, BP, Exxon, GM, Wall Street, Democrats, Republicans...how many more times will we watch our rights get raped before we step in? As the law of our beautiful country says, if you see a crime committed and you do nothing, you are a party to it...you and me...are criminals.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Lessons learned?

69 years ago today, there was an attack on our troops and civilians at Pearl Harbor. The very next day, we declared war on Japan and entered into the second most deadly conflict of the century (the first being the war to end all wars, but who's keeping score).
Conspiracy theories abound as to the behind-the-scenes workings of our government before the attacks. Some say Roosevelt was just itching to jump in the ring with the rest of the world and kick some Nazi ass, others say it was a clear cut invasion and attack on American soil...sounds oddly familiar...oh yeah, 9/11!
In both cases however, Americans stood behind their commander-in-chief and marched on christian soldiers towards casualties, catastrophe and more coffins to ship home. At least one could argue that we "won" the second world war, if such a word can be used in the description of war.
So, what is it about us Americans? What is it that makes us so infatuated with conspiracy and intrigue while simultaneously so apathetic to the destinations those paths lead to?
There is clearly a stark disconnect between the search for knowledge and taking action once knowledge is obtained. I say search for knowledge with a hint of reservation because in reality, there aren't that many people who search for knowledge, despite the fact that we all love a juicy tale of deceit and betrayal - which is pretty much the story of our country for the past century.
It's a bit like environmental catastrophes. We really abhor seeing little baby birds and fish covered in our waste and slime, but we don't wanna have to exert ourselves to see to it that it doesn't happen again, or even help out once it does. But we can talk about it over coffee, cursing somebody else for ruining the planet as we sit in our cars in traffic, neglect to recycle, leave the water running and keep the lights on. It's the American way! We're the best and it's always someone else's fault. Woo hoo!
The unfortunate side effect of our yarn yearning, apathetic ways is that the message gets to the government.
For example, Obama's recent bow down to the Republicans extending tax breaks to the un-fucking-necessarily wealthy. When asked by a reporter how the American people can trust him after he clearly stated in his campaign and into his presidency that he planned to terminate said tax breaks, his response was vague and dodgy at best. He said that while he still opposed the tax breaks, he has to give way in order to move forward. He said that he didn't need to convince the American people that these tax breaks were shit, he needed to convince the Republicans. Um...what? Since when do the people WE elect into office get to override our wants and needs? Oh, that's right - since we do FUCK ALL about it...
Obama said that the American people were very clear on the state of the economy, that they knew these tax cuts were more than just superfluous but indeed detrimental to the health of the economy if allowed to be renewed. Well Mr. President, if that's what we're so sure about, why the fuck would you go against that? And if we're so sure about that and as he put it those tax breaks are a "pillar of Republican policy," why would we vote in Republicans? Could it be a potpourri of various issues...for one, you have no spine and secondly, neither do we. The Republicans have enough for both of us, and that's not something we should be ok with. Neither side is in a position to make choices FOR us, they make them BASED on what we NEED and WANT. Any other arrangement is a clear violation of their duties as elected officials and our duty as citizens.
As Franklin once put it, "A republic madam, if you can keep it."
The more I see, the more I become depressingly realistic about our abilities.
On this anniversary of a clear, literally explosive wake up call to pay more attention to the goings on of our government and those we interact with, I see little progress and evolution of the people, for the people and by the people.
Sorry Mr. Franklin, sorry.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tug o' War

People really aren’t letting the midterm elections go. As if something completely unprecedented happened and now everyone and their mother has to offer opinions and play-by-plays as to what went wrong and what needs to happen now. So, I might as well chime in too.
People saw the tea party as too extreme, the democrats too spineless and clearly unable to get the job (any job) done. And republicans just right...that’s what i think happened in many cases. Here we see an archaic emergence of a possible multi-party system. I verbally teeter around that statement because we haven’t really seen the extent to which the tea party can or will go with their extremist agenda. The only thing that’s clear is that they are making their mark in the political realm. However, it’s not enough of a mark to coax the left and the right into significantly altering how they do business. Aside from the open Democratic admission that legislation would be trickery to get across (aka nothing will get passed unless it’s a Republican idea), Democrats also re-elected Nancy Pelosi as their minority speaker, despite the clear public opinion that she has done jack-squat for her party, constituents and country (well nothing positive anyway). Obama continues on his cowering way towards a ferocious fail in 2012 while Republicans continue with their gun-toting, praise Jesus and America, I’m right you’re wrong mentality. Really, it’s business as usual.
At this juncture, the Tea Party is more a thorn in the side of two giants playing tug-o-war than a viable contender. And I doubt much will change until the Tea Party or (please, christ, please) some other party steps up to the plate and demands an end to this bi-partisan shit show.
So, enough about me, let’s see what everyone else is saying. DeWayne Wickham of USA Today suggests that Obama and friends grow at least one set of balls and step away from the moderate center and kick some Republican ass from the liberal corner. He says “voters will reward a party that fights tenaciously for what it believes.” E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post agrees saying that “moderation and compromise is a loser’s game.”
Well guys, here’s the problem with that mentality. Politics is about compromise, it’s about debate and push/pull. If you can’t do that, you have no place in government. The other issue is that the US is made up of moderates. Polls have shown for years that most Americans only vote one way or the other because it most closely represents a few main issues, and by no means is a solid representation of them as citizens. Multi-party system, cough, cough. The problem isn’t that the Democrats have compromised, the problem is that they have given way, big difference. Compromise entails using a majority and muscle when you need to and working to hurdle differences for the good of the people you govern. Of course if you go up against the hard headed Republicans with nothing but a weak request for change you’re gonna get your asses handed to you. But if you walk in there, dispense with the niceties of crossing the aisle, kumba-ya and all that shit, flash ‘em of a glimpse of your “big stick” as it were and then bullet point what the hell needs to get done, it’ll get done.
It’s so easy to retreat back to your party fold and say, ok fine, we lost, daddy donkey will make it all better again. Horse shit. Daddy donkey needs to be put out to pasture and you need to come up with something fresh. The demure approach clearly didn’t work. Standing your ground when your foundation is built on washed up spineless wishy-washers (umm...Pelosi) and loosely formulated ideas that are just begging to be ripped apart (ummm...health care, economy) is another recipe for disaster.
Get the lack-luster cooks out of the kitchen, roll your sleeves up and govern. And that’s that, that’s my take on the whole cluster fuck.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Reap what you sew

My first impression of the WikiLeaks website was that it looks more like a political forum than the domain infamous for spilling more than a million pages of classified government and military secrets. Under their "War Logs" link they ask you to comment on what you see there, and sprinkled here and there, they ask for donations to protect the information and the cause. But as I read further, the seething facts of a dishonest, militant, greedy, self destructive country seep over me, and that familiar feeling of rage, disgust and sorrow overwhelm me.
It's not that it really comes as a surprise to me that our country has blood on its hands. I've known it for a while. Honestly, all you have to do is google it and thousands of links will instantaneously slap you in the face, many of them on government websites, openly chronicling their seedy dealings here and around the world. But even so, that was clearly only the tip of the tip of the iceberg. There was still the "classified" information: the nuts and bolts of invasions, coups and overthrows too horrid to share with the American public. And then along came WikiLeaks. Needless to say, the powers-that-be weren't too stoked about this considerable leak in their intelligence.
Just to name a couple: using US diplomats to spy on foreign political officials, in particular top UN officials, wanting details as intimate as forensic evidence. Our friends the Saudis REALLY want us to bomb Iran, and some really embarrassing details on how we feel about other countries and their governments...oops.
Of course, the Middle East holds most of the spotlight in these documents, with over 15,000 documents on Iraq alone.
With the release of this colossal amount of underground information, the US government is seeking to prosecute and shut down the site and those responsible for it. If you read into WikiLeaks, you'll find that no one man is in charge of the site, contrary to what we're being told. It's a collective effort. But that doesn't sound as good on late nite news...
So, in a classic twist of irony too good for fiction, the US government wants to charge Julian Assange under the Espionage Act of 1917. And as I write this, Interpol has just issued an international warrant to arrest Assange. But let's start with the first bowl of bullshit, shall we? To give a little back story, The Espionage Act of 1917 was passed in July of 1917 during our first foray into Communism Crazyland, and after our entry into "The war to end all wars." (hmmm, clearly the US wasn't there for that naming ceremony). Anyway, the Act prohibits all attempts at interference with military operations (US government...ahem), the support of the US's enemies during wartime (everyone celebrating Ramadan, you're under arrest), likewise the promotion of insubordination in the military (um, don't ask, don't tell) and interference with military recruitment (any picture of a flag draped coffin, de-limbed soldier or just war in general). So, since it appears that pretty much all of us are in some form actively violating this Act, it raises the question whether this is not merely a free speech issue. Ah, got you there too. In 1919, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled in Schenck v. United States that the act did not violate the free speech rights of those convicted under its provisions. Hmmmm, tricky.
Furthermore, just to pull the leash a little tighter, several amendments were added to the Act via the Sedition Act in 1918. These amendments declared it against the law to use your first Amendment rights to speak "any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of government of the United States...or the flag of the United States, or the uniform of the Army or Navy." Ummmmmm...I'm no spy but I'm pretty sure that's everyone from the First Lady to Joe the Plumber and Victor the Vegan to Gary the gun-toting tea party activist. That would make an interesting prison cell tho wouldn't it?
So, let's break this down. We're charging a guy under the Espionage Act for leaking information regarding our own government willfully and without reserve or remorse putting this country and all its people in ever surmounting danger?
And what about this business about the Interpol warrant? Oh yeah...can you say framed? Just as the first round of WikiLeaks documents make their way out into the world, the founder is conveniently accused of sexual deviance. Oh horrors! And now it went from a Stockholm court to Interpol? What the fuck? How did that happen? As a Swede, I know the amount of bureaucracy you have to go through just to get your address changed.
But hey, what better way to corner your prey than from several angles, under several guises so the unsuspecting public will just continue to wave their flags and boo at the chosen antagonist.
We dug this grave. Whatever is being leaked right now is what we have sewn. We have planted the seeds that formed this sickening weed strangling our rights. Assange is no more a traitor than I am, or you, reading this. Our government and military's history of spilling blood for money and prestige would eventually come to a head, like all good thrillers. The real question is, what will we do with this new information? What will the people do now that we are finding truth in corners we never knew to look? Now that we're being handed information about our government, the people chosen to represent US, will it be more of the same...or will these millions of pages turn the minds of a lethargic and apathetic nation? Stay tuned...

Monday, November 22, 2010

The other CIA

We're not the only country who gets to have a secret society with decoder rings and automatic machine guns. Pakistan has one too. Instead of welcoming them to the club of behind-the-scenes assassins, we're quite miffed at their two-faced involvement in Pakistan's affairs...because after all, that's our playground. Meet the ISI, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan's version of the CIA with a little bit of the FBI sprinkled on top.
Since their inception shortly after that of Pakistan itself, they've been highly covert - keeping tabs on domestic and foreign potential threats ; anything from political opponents to high priced diplomats. They also have pretty strong ties to the Taliban. Along with helping the CIA to train members of the mujahedin, they were later one of only three nations that recognized the Taliban government officially, after the Soviets withdrew. Currently, their on-paper agenda includes keeping their main rival, India at bay in Kashmir. Although ISI funding has been traced to several militant groups, including the group responsible for the 2008 bombings in Mumbai, Lashkar-e-Taiba. With all these militants on their pay roll, it isn't surprising that some of them turned to Al Qaida and the Taliban, and in times of irony, turned some of that well set training on Pakistan itself. While that hes led many people to believe that the ISI is backing off support of the famous extremists, there's still a lot of evidence to suggest otherwise. For one, our escapades in their neighbours house. It's been 10 years since we stormed in there looking for one 6 foot tall guy attached to a dialysis machine, and since then, we haven't done much other than kill random militants and bomb some civilians for good measure. Meanwhile, because we're so afraid of those damn shifty militants, we flood Pakistan with money to keep them on our side. Recently that flood flowed to the tune of $2 billion to the Pakistani military...and our soldiers don't get benefits when they come home with a limb missing...but I digress...
This money doesn't necessarily buy loyalty. In fact, it's in their best interests to play both sides of the field on this one. When we eventually leave, there's no guarantee that the Taliban won't rise to seat the government, and when they do Pakistan shouldn't be waving an American flag and whistling Dixie. They will, in fact, be in a unique position, being able to curry favor with President Karzai and the Taliban. A sort of militant diplomacy, if you will. I know that goes against the whole "Mission Accomplished" mentality but in reality, the sooner we leave, the sooner the region will be straightened out by the people who know it best, the ones actually living there. Meanwhile, ISI will do like it's American counterpart, and ensure that their role is unwavering and unquestioned. For example, Benazir Bhutto was on their shit list for accusing them of fixing elections and just being plain corrupt. Well, they showed her didn't they? Silly woman, no place for you in politics. And of course, like the CIA no one actually came out and accused the ISI for this crime, because to do so, would probably gain you a place next to Bhutto on that list. So, we plod along in our winless war, turning our proverbial cheek to the ills our "friends" commit on the side. As long as our money can still buy a facade of loyalty, we'll continue with our secret agendas, albeit more poorly constructed, less politically gainful agendas, but hey, no secret society is perfect.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Kopassus backstory...

One of the blog's readers, John, left this as a comment on yesterday's post. A more in depth review of the organization Obama is funding as an anti-terrorist task force. Thanks John.

Indonesia’s Kopassus role in counter-terrorism is minimal. In fact, Kopassus terrorized and killed far too many civilians to count. Its crimes occurred not only in the past, but continue. U.S. training of Kopassus will set back efforts to achieve accountability for past and recent human rights violations and will not discourage future crimes, according to the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (http://www.etan.org).

For decades, the U.S. military provided training and other assistance to Kopassus, despite the demonstrated failure of international assistance to improve its behavior. The widely acknowledged abuses and criminal activity of Kopassus just went on.

Restrictions on U.S. military assistance to Indonesia provide leverage to support democracy and human rights in Indonesia. Working with Kopassus, with its long history of terrorizing civilians, will undermine those fighting for justice and accountability in Indonesia and East Timor.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Nosy Bastards

Did you ever have a co-worker or friend in school that was always so damn annoyingly nosy? You couldn't get from the front door to your desk without being asked questions on what you did last night, if a Roman orgy is the reason you look tired and you have a slight limp...
Well, that's kind of how we are, or US is...
Obama's little tour of parts of Asia ended with little accomplished other than making a few predictable speeches about partnership and outlining what he expects other countries to do for us in exchange for not being put on our "to bomb" list.
For example, when he visited Indonesia, he praised them for their religious tolerance, remarking how their moderate form of Islam was a beacon to other countries. Simultaneously, however, he was sure to mention the still acute threat of terrorism in the region, and offered financial backing to Kopassus, the anti-terrorism special forces. Interestingly enough, Kopassus is more of a pro-terrorism organization, having more than a slightly checkered past including human rights violations against mostly their own people...hmmmm, well done Obama.
His stay at the G20 summit was about as uneventful as a flight over the desert, and just as barren of fruitful gains. The only thing he really accomplished was argue with China, something of a sticky subject considering they own us. But we just couldn't help but stick our noses in their financial business and smelling the acrid airs of competition, wave our flags and cry out foul play. Of course, we're doing the same exact thing we accused China of: manipulating the currency to keep it at artificially low levels with the hopes of bolstering trade.
From there, Obama's visit in India was just as much a sugar coated gun to the head as Indonesia. He praised India's "beauty and dynamism," prophetically promising that their relationship would be "one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century." At this climax, he furthered the ecstasy of his praise by publicly announcing his support for India's permanent membership on the U.N. Security Council, something India has long coveted. I'm not really sure as to why - the U.N. is more effective at diplomatically wooing hot actresses and taking notes on disasters than actually doing anything, but as per usual in politics, the title is what matters.
As the applause roared through the crowd, Obama turned the speech towards thinly veiled demands, giving a perfect example of what Naomi Klein so aptly named "The Shock Doctrine." He noted how India was too laissez-faire when it came to the doings of it's terrorist neighbours such as Iran and Myanmar. Basically, if you want that seat, you have to be a nosy bastard like us, so get to work. He further chastised India's other neighbour, Pakistan for harboring terrorists and failing to work with the global community in a fight to bring them to justice. Meanwhile, outside Obama's cushy Indian quarters, Hindu extremists slink from injustice to injustice under the noses of Indian authorities who couldn't give a shit how many Kashmiris they brutally murder. As with any political favoritism, there are dollar signs behind this one. India is yet another country supporting our cash flow while recently allowing the US to sell them over $10 billion worth of goods, thereby creating tens of thousands of US jobs. So who cares that you allow atrocious terrorist actions against your own people? Oh, will you sign that check please, thanks.
The nosy bastards have an agenda. The US might suck at governing our own people but we seem very keen on telling other countries how to govern by steering them with our bullying power.
Meanwhile, back at home, our economy is still royally fucked and Obama hasn't said much about it since the heinous results of his midterm elections. He should focus less on funding international guns and dictating their aim and focus more on the doings of his own country.
Isolationism isn't an option anymore but piloting the actions of foreign governments shouldn't be either. We need to back the fuck off. Maybe if we knew more about the countries we so brashly police and attempt to govern, we could support our nosiness with at least a solid base. However, we don't. There is nothing up for debate there. Obama knows dick about Indonesia's governing system, despite his extensive four years there as a small child. He also doesn't even begin to fathom the complexities of a country like India. It's not as easy as saying you support these people and fuck those people. You can't make promises like that, you can't pick and choose enemies when it's not all that black and white.
It's more important for us to mind our own business, particularly now. The more alliances we form, the more people we shut out, the worse it gets for us. Let's step away from the Bush-style "America's the best" mentality and focus in on our needs as a country. Counter-terrorism starts with our mindset, our dealings and workings all across the globe, and this nosy bastard, do this and that approach isn't the answer.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Should I stay or should I go?

In case you haven't heard, democracy is in full swing in Iraq, complete with all the stop and go lurches irritatingly reminiscent of LA traffic.
A new government is due to set up its new shiny democracy on December 11th, and it's not the tourist attractions that have us see-sawing with our departure dates.
No, it's more the fact that Iraq is a fucking quagmire, always has been. Say what you will about Hussein but that fucker kept the country in check, a tall order for anyone, particularly a forced democratic leader.
As of now, Nouri Maliki is that leader and it falls on his shoulders to grab enough seats and scratch enough backs to make that happen. As with any functional democracy (not that we would know anything about that), there must be a certain give and take, a certain power sharing, if you will. Last Thursday when Iyad Allawi stormed out of the parliamentary meeting, US officials' palms started sweating. Allawi is our guy, and quite interestingly, the Saudis as well. Hmmmm...meanwhile, Maliki has just received some intense backing from Moqtada Sadr, the militant Shia cleric in Iran. Sounds like a really sick Mid-Eastern version of choosing sides for a kickball tournament. Only two months ago, Sadr was vehemently against Maliki, who gained support from two other parties in the coming weeks, including a hint of support from the powerful Kurds. Also interesting. So, from gridlock to a political tornado in the same time it takes to don a burqa...tricky.
When the winds first started picking up, we were more worried about leaving our fine work to the discombobulated people of Iraq than giving two shits how their government was shaping up. However, the sudden influx of support for Maliki, with Sadr as the catalyst, made us very uneasy in our Green Zone. Sadr has been a thorn in our side for quite some time but we know better than to just openly oppose a candidate's growing popularity. No, we're much more sneaky. Instead, we continued to support our man Allawi, calling for "power sharing" as a truly democratic form of government. He won't win prime minister, that's in the hands of Maliki and the Kurds have a shoe-in for the presidential post. That leaves Allawi with the title of helping hand, if he can swing it. The Saudis involvement may look good from our city on a hill, but on the ground in the Middle East, anything US backed isn't bringing the street cred or popular support one would expect from a colonized country, living in new-found squalor, getting bombed every night. Ungrateful pricks.
With Allawi's power seeping through his fingers like the desert sand, so goes the US influence he stood for...or hung on puppet strings for. However, some believe (and not just us in this case) that Sadr's support for Maliki will put him in a position of repayment to Iran, making an alliance or worse a dictatorial relationship from Iran to Iraq. While most feel that's a bit of a stretch, it warrants mentioning since we suggested it - your classic case of projecting.
Regardless of Sadr's motives, ours are pretty clear: our troops may be leaving but our ideologies and big brother stranglehold wanna stay put, and will spend billions of dollars, break many laws, and kill, buy or strong arm whoever necessary to do so.
The only way Iraq will flourish is if Iraqis run it. Our involvement is not just detrimental to them, it is incredible hurtful to our agenda, our soldiers and our standings in the world, particularly in the Middle East.
But that's how we roll, we don't know how else to do it. With the ashes of countries and their democratic ideals in our past, I wouldn't be surprised to see a staying of US soldiers and an increased interest in their political doings.
We'll keep up the front that we've had this whole time, but as usual, the workings behind the facade will have no parallel to the facade itself.
Sing along with me now: if I go there will be trouble, if I stay there will be double...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

No, we’re the best, no, China, no.

So, the G20 summit is in full swing in South Korea - Obama has wandered up from his recent trip to Indonesia where he promised monetary and political support to the terrorists responsible for mass killings in the early 90s, in the name of fighting terrorism...but hey, he was happy to be in his old “stomping ground.”
Back to South Korea, where the other 18 countries pretty much just sit around a table drinking purified water, doodling and looking smaller and smaller behind their gilden penned name tags.
Economic warfare can be far more dangerous than the bang-bang, flag waving kind. If you didn't know it already, China owns us. According to the Federal Reserve in 2005: "At the end of 2005, China, with $820 billion in such assets, was the second-largest holder of U.S. debt after Japan, which held about $10 billion more." The thing is that Japan isn't growing by steroided leaps and bounds like China is. Their economy isn't just booming, it's explosive, which makes us very nervous.
At the summit, the US has already staged a complaint regarding the Chinese currency, the yuan, being kept at horrendously low rates, giving them more than just a leg up on exports and international trade. At the same time, China accuses us of further fucking with the global market with our Fed's recent promise of $600 billion gift to our struggling economy.
So, as per usual, we're holding a loaded gun demanding the other person put theirs down. But China doesn't really want to and who can blame them? Not only that, who the fuck would take economic advice from us? Many nations fear that their rapid rise to economic greatness will come with just as sharp of a downturn, spiraling us and the global economy into a black hole of monetary mayhem.
To fill out the background, essentially what China is doing is manipulating their currency so as to keep it as low as possible, attracting the attention of international buyers looking for imports from other countries. Say, for example, it's between us and them. If our little toy costs 50¢ to make and theirs costs 10¢, they're gonna pocket some extra cash and go with them, leaving our poor abandoned toys to rot in warehouses while their makers watch their houses get auctioned off...or some equally depressing story.
So, in order to fight back, we go to the summit, show some muscle and do exactly what they're doing back home. The sudden influx of $600 billion will weaken the currency to the point that trade competition with China will be much more viable, making them more pissed off and other countries more inclined to ask for some whisky instead of that purified water bullshit.
Time will tell how this pissing contest will play out, but I'd wager that since it's our nuts in a Chinese salad shooter, we'll have not much to say about whatever they want to do with their currency. China is already surpassing us on every front, from green energy to economy to education. Meanwhile we just wave our flag, put our fingers in our ears and shout "USA, USA, USA!"

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Red, white and the blues

So, how do we all feel about these election results? I must admit it's taken me a few days to really do some research and try desperately to dig for any real "news." Sadly, but not surprisingly, nothing new.
I will say that there is some admission to the fact that gridlock is imminent, that jack shit will get done while both parties continue to hold staring contests in the halls of the mighty.
Obama said of the future that there will be disagreements and difficulties inherent in governing with a splintered system, but as always seemed boyishly optimistic about the whole thing. "When it comes to something like energy, what we're probably going to have to do is say here are some areas where there's just too much disagreement between Democrats and Republicans, we can't get this done right now, but let's not wait. Let's go ahead and start making some progress on the things that we do agree on, and we can continue to have a strong and healthy debate about those areas where we don't."
A strong and healthy debate? What is this, middle school debating society? Do you get a tootsie roll if you beat the opposition? Come on Obama. This is ridiculous. The only thing the Republicans can have a strong and healthy debate on is who to bomb before going quail hunting...or maybe that's just Cheney. Regardless, Republicans don't debate on anything. They just filibuster, block it and return to corporate agendas. That's not to say that Democrats aren't to blame. As I've said before, they're up to their necks in corporate sponsored shit, they just don't flaunt it as much. They're the corporate bitches who seem to have a tinge of remorse on their way to the bank, hoping the teller will think it's a birthday present from a rich and eccentric grandmother. But that's Democrats: meek and spineless. Obama doesn't seem to be breaking from that mold that much.
For example, the energy bill he refers to in his quote is his "cap and trade" bill which warranted quite an uproar from the right side of the aisle when introduced. You can find an extensive description of the bill on wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Clean_Energy_and_Security_Act) but in short, it calls for a "cap" on the total amount of green house emissions, similar to the European version. As we Americans emit the most (by far) per capita, the bill would be put in place to particularly limit the emissions by corporations and new houses. New businesses and houses would be required to have permits to pollute (sounds fucked, I know), being allowed to trade them between one another once they are in place. The more emissions you wanna spew, the more you gotta cough up, giving the government revenue and people less incentive to be dirty bastards. The cap would gradually go down over time in the attempt to curtail emissions over the years.
Republicans hate it. They claim it will make housing costs sky rocket (just like they thought solar panels would...which is totally wrong by the way) and take away corporate ability to be competitive in local and international markets, stifling their American right to prosper.
Well, what did Obama have to say to that?
"Cap-and-trade was just one way of skinning the cat; it was not the only way. It was a means, not an end. And I'm going to be looking for other means to address this problem."
Ah yes, roll over and play dead and hope they don't maul your pride too much. Republicans, or in fact, bought Democrats (more than a handful) will never agree to any bill that stifles corporations in any way. It's not in their best interest. And that's the primary concern. What's best for you and me and generations to come is far less pressing than the new yacht they promised their family for spring break.
Obama only bolsters that fact. He sacrifices his ideas, of which I must say, many are good, while Republicans armor up and prepare for battle.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell summed up his parties' views with this ultimatum: "The White House has a choice: They can change course, or they can double down on a vision of government that the American people have roundly rejected. If they choose the former, they'll find a partner in Republicans. If they don't, we will have more disagreements ahead."
To which the Democrats reply, OK, let's work "incrementally" towards change. Just please don't shoot me with your NRA approved rifle.
So, there you have it folks. After the dust from the elections has settled, the only thing that looks different is a few names on some doors, and an unusually open admission that jack shit will get done, as per usual.
God bless America.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Fascism is fun

Here in the sunny state of California, the polls have been open for about an hour and a half. NPR news, local news stations all agog with information and news about the coming events for today: who's up for election, what the issues are, who's gonna win, who's gonna make a difference, yada yada yada.
As I drove on one of LA's epic freeways this morning, past gleaming spires of an awakening downtown, I heard Ralph Nader on the radio urging people to vote their conscience. A man had called in yesterday admitting to having voted for Nader 10 years ago but now biting the bullet and voting Democrat in the hopes that they can be pushed to effect the change promised and desperately needed. He said that "if you can stomach it, vote Democrat today." Nader was curious as to what that meant, wondering what people are actually voting for if they ignore their own moral fiber and conscience.
Now, I'm not tooting my horn in the name of Nader over here, but the man made some very good points. To vote for someone in the hopes that they will not fuck you over is not a very firm foundation to stand on. While it can be argued that voting for any other party than the terrible two is a waste of time, I must use a cliche mothers moral here: if everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you?
Unfortunately, I expect the majority of the American people to take the plunge, running from their own beliefs and opinions, fleeing from the possibility of a minority to the warm, choking clutches of a majority.
I've said many times before that the two party system is dead. Both parties are equally up to their necks in corruption. Both parties heed the call of the dollar far more than the dim din of their constituents.
In 1938, FDR, in his message to congress remarked,
"The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism—ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power."
Holy shit! We live in a fascist country! Fuck - that might actually be worse than socialism! Either way it's European which is terrifying, but at least it's not French...dodged a bullet there.
The thing that makes me cringe most in that message is "if the people tolerate..." Indeed. If the people do tolerate...
Don't act surprised when you're coughing up dirt after digging your own grave. The illusion of voting days making a significant amount of difference is one of the few pillars of our original dream of government that we haven't toppled. If people across the country actually did as Nader suggested and voted their conscience, there would be hell to pay in Washington, all the way north to Wall Street. Those ties would be severed by the powerful slice of public opinion and diligence. Birds would sing, trees would whisper in the sweet breeze of freedom.
But as it stands, the races will end today with no more than a figure head change. The faces, the names, the party affiliation, will change. Some might feel a tinge of accomplishment. But in reality, the corporate base on which our current government rests will be unmoved. They will welcome the new members like a fraternity its pledges, and will demand and ultimately gain their brotherly loyalty. And this will continue on, our rights gradually slipping away more and more along with our engagement, giving rise to the apathy that men like Hitler so admired: "How fortunate for governments that the people they administer don't think."
...unless, the people don't tolerate...

Monday, November 1, 2010

A comedy of errors

Americans love entertainment. It's kind of like kids and sweets. And if you have a kid or have ever seen one, you know how they feel about eating their vegetables. That's how Americans are with real, hard facts. They shy away from them as if their pure, additive-free existence would do them physical harm, when in reality, it's quite the opposite. So, what do many parents do? Trick their simple minded children into eating fruits and veggies by putting chocolate syrup on a fruit salad or cheese on broccoli.

That's what the truth bearers must do. Many feel that's just what John Stewart and Stephen Colbert did with their "Rally to restore Sanity and/or Fear."
First of all, the fucking rally was packed. People came from all over the country. The trains were jam packed, the streets filled with people carrying signs, dressed patriotically, and genuinely excited to gather in the name of veggies and fruit.
The question everyone wants answered, particularly with the elections so close, is whether it worked or not. Was it enough to get a rise out of the dormant Democratic drive and propel them into not getting totally fucked tomorrow? Was it enough to make a mockery of extremist groups like the Tea Party? Was it enough to move Americans more towards the change we all bitch about and all hope for?

Well, I can't really answer that the day after - kinda like a pregnancy. You might have to wait a few months to see how things are shaping up. In the meantime, just judging by the events of the rally, I'll make my hypothesis.
This won't be the behemoth change that will catapult the average American into giving a shit. However, it's a start. When I was younger, I listened to music not because I was politically engaged but because Axl and Slash proved to me that I could never be a lesbian...and they were just cool. However, as I gained years and wisdom, I looked into the words and found some political ones. Then I dug deeper. I checked out other bands that were politically engaged (unfortunately most of them were from the 60s and 70s) and began my journey on the rocky path of a politically conscious citizen. Like I said, Americans love entertainment.
It wasn't enough at the ripe young age of 8 for my history professor to say politics were important. I needed a little push. I needed to discover for myself through my own avenues, not just having truth after truth shoved in my face. Music was a doorway, a doorway that made that broccoli look yummy, without the velveeta cheese.
John Stewart and Stephen Colbert could prove to be a part of that doorway. Other pieces will need to be set in place, but there was a significant response to yesterdays rally, significant enough for even the most uninterested constituent to at least watch a film clip and chuckle to himself. And that could be a very vital catalyst.
Music, comedy, art, anything that coats the obvious, unfortunate truths of society with a veil of chic, cool, or fun will win more people than a constant cluster fuck of information. It may be sad, but it is true. Those two late night comedic geniuses might just be geniuses for another reason. Getting this country off its proverbial ass and in step with current events, national and international is a tall order. So far, no one has succeeded. Perhaps where the mundane in humanity has failed, the eccentric, artistic and creative can take over and effect the change this country needs.

Friday, October 29, 2010

A convenient catastrophe

The news headlines yesterday came just in time for Halloween. The story line is a bit different than Friday the 13th, but the creativity, costuming and plot twists are epic. I expect at least a few sequels.
Explosives found in suspicious packages were intercepted yesterday in England and UAE. The packages were bound for the US, in particular several places of Jewish worship in the Chicago area. Supposedly, the packages contained manipulated office supplies like printer cartridges with added PCB's (printed circuit boards) and PETN, "a highly explosive organic compound belonging to the same chemical family as nitroglycerin." The devices were to be detonated via cell phone remotely. Homeland Security called this a new way of transporting explosive devices, making it possible to Fed Ex or UPS instruments of death as opposed to carrying them on board with your cozy socks and Harry Potter book. Spooky huh? Terrorists are everywhere...
Ready for the really amazing plot twist? Just a few weeks after news of a $60 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia had one or two Americans up in arms (or to be fair, maybe just the 8 of you that read this blog), the Saudi government were the very ones who are responsible...for averting this disaster! Ha, tricked you didn't I? You thought they'd be the ones just plain responsible? Oh no, that would ruin the whole story! In order to make our dumb shit decision look slightly less like stabbing ourselves in the back while taunting a snake, we have to make that snake look all warm and cuddly. What better way to do that than pull a 180º on their character?
Not only that, get this, the Saudi government even gave us TRACKING NUMBERS for the evil packages, so our small little brains could find them easier. What mensches! I can see it now: a bunch of Hollywood writers sitting around a table, having a drink or two - as they drink, their ideas veer more and more towards the absolutely fucking absurd...well, here we are.
Ladies and Gentlemen, here we are. I've mentioned before in my posts that the government doesn't even make a valiant effort to veil their mounds of bull shit. They just hand them over to us, hot and steamy, and with a big smile on our faces we dig in and feed our brains the most ludicrous bending of the truth since Mark McGwire claimed from his tiny head perched atop his massive neck that he hadn't done steroids.
Honestly, what the fuck is going on? Do people really believe that these stories are true? That Saudi Arabia would go out of their way to save a bunch of Jews in Chicago? That they would somehow miraculously have tracking numbers for two random packages coming out of Yemen? That terrorist experts never thought of the chance of remotely detonating a package? That we are at any greater risk than we were two days ago before this horse manure hit headlines?
I'm not sure who I'm more pissed off at: the people behind this fabrication, us for being gullible morons or the Saudis for just being assholes. Our form of government dictates that it's b. Fuck US.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Turning tables make me dizzy

The upcoming elections already have me popping advil and holding on to furniture as I make my way through the "he said she said" mayhem drowning this country. Besides the fact that the campaign costs for these elections are surpassing the $2 billion (more than 2006 and 2008 combined), the mud slinging and across-the-aisle fighting is being executed with wizard (or witch depending on who's ad your watching) like precision and pomp.
So, besides that topsy turvy world of excess spending in a hyper-recession, we have our talons tethered to another tumultuous mess in the middle east.
Tariq Aziz, Iraq's ex-minister is being sentenced to death for his supposed role in eliminating religious parties. A fun little fact is that he is a Christian. He was the highest Christian in command under Saddam Hussein and now even the pope is getting involved asking for clemency for this good Christian soul. Nevermind wondering where the hell the pope was when thousands of others were being executed, he's here now, in all his papal glory.
The plot, like any good soap opera, thickens, since Aziz was once very buddy buddy with the very people who are running his former government...US.
He was the minister who enlisted US support for the Iran war, and in 1984 met with then President Ronald Reagan at the White House. I know it may be hard to think back that far, but there was a time when Iraq and Saddam were allies of the US, and a time when he had nothing to do with our beef with Bin Laden...oh wait, no, he never had anything to do with that...right.
Who Bush Jr. would later compare to Hitler, his father helped illegally arm with not only military weapons but also chemical and biological ones. Getting dizzy yet?
There's no set date for the execution so there's still time for the pope to work his magic, along with Aziz's son and of course ample time for us to completely change our minds and decide he's a good guy again. So, stay tuned kids - more cliffhangers and plot twists after these campaign messages from our corporate sponsors.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A leaky ship

A smart man once said, "Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a really easy way: stop participating in it." Oh Chomsky, why don't more people listen to you? Unfortunately, people usually only listen to good advice once the time has passed to take it.
It appears that the US is the poster child for not only avoiding good advice but doing the exact opposite. Again, while our media (as I perused CNN's website) seems more interested in cool youtube videos and retracing Chandra Levy's steps, mad mayhem is ensuing due to a Wikileaks report on the Iraqi war.
Over 400,000 previously classified war documents showcase evidence of war crimes. Amongst other things: The documents show that there were more than 109,000 violent deaths between 2004 and the end of 2009. Of those 66,081 civilians, 23,984 people classed as "enemy", 15,196 members of the Iraqi security forces, and 3,771 coalition troops. 15,000 unrecorded civilian deaths are also noted. The reports show that although US military claimed not to be keeping track of civilian deaths, the leaked papers prove that they did. They also unveil the previously unreported instances in which US forces killed civilians at checkpoints and during operations.
The Pentagon has obviously sent out a massive shit storm of attempted buffering to try and get out of this one unscathed while Iraq's prime minister, Nouri Maliki bashes Wikileaks for trying to sabotage him as he deals with difficult election matters post March elections.
Meanwhile, many of his constituents applaud the leaking of official war documents saying that the people have a right to this information under a democracy.
Simultaneously, we, the heroic bearers of democracy shy away from any responsibility claiming that when the reports make mention of the abuse of Iraqis by Iraqis, the duty of American soldiers was to "observe and report" what they had seen to their superiors, who in turn would then pass the evidence on to the Iraqi authorities.
Ummmmm...wait...didn't we invade the country because Iraqis were abusing Iraqis? Didn't we claim to march in there all high and mighty because Saddam was a bad man hurting his people? Or did I just fall asleep when Bush admitted he had no fucking reason for killing what has now become nearly 5,000 US soldiers?
So, in short, we cause the splintering of an already strained nation, rape their natural and historical resources under the guise of freedom and democracy, disband their military, build it up again to our own liking and then walk away from any responsibility regarding their actions while simultaneously scolding the evil-doers who dabble in terrorism, torture and violence?
Yep, sounds like us.
I personally applaud Wikileaks for this. It may sound naive, but as a republic, if our government (or any corporate official acting in its stead) doesn't want the people to know of their actions, they shouldn't be doing them. We have every right to know, and since we were so eager to impose our way of life on Iraqis, they have every right to know as well.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Freedom reform

If you've been able to sift through the ever growing pile of pre-election horse shit as of late, you will have heard of the uproar in France regarding the projected raising of the pension age. Among other pension reforms, the French government intends to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62 and the full state pension age from 65 to 67.
If you have had a chance to take a look at that uproar, it includes: blockading fuel depots, shutting down 12 of France's 58 nuclear reactors, all 12 oil refineries are on strike, students (yes, young, engaged people) marching in cities around the country including Paris, Marseilles, Toulouse and Bordeaux, tons of garbage piling up in the streets of Marseilles due to the collectors having been on strike since October 12th, and thousands of other marches, protests and upheaval.
So, why bring this up when we have witch ads, a new Bush youtube video, the first lady picking pumpkins and a White House science fair?! Well, because this actually fucking matters. France may be the "old world" but compared to our "new world" antics, they show a helluva lot more gusto when it comes to upholding the rights of a republic. And I'm not talking about the government. With all due respect to the French, raising the pension and retirement age is not the end of the world. Grapes will still grow and become wine, berets are still cool, and smoking while having a latte under the Eiffel Tower will always be chic. All joking aside though, major props to you Frenchies.
Do we even have a set retirement age? Isn't it just, work until your body physically won't allow it or your mind can't remember how to get there? At which point your social security will do less than dick to see you through the dusk of your days, in pain because medication's too expensive and cast aside because you serve no purpose to the big corporations who once sucked you dry? Ah, don't you just love the smell of freedom?
Actually, I'd prefer the stench of rotting garbage if it meant that the people were engaged and standing up for their rights. If it meant people were out there, fighting for their standpoints, as opposed to quietly muttering them over a beer and some wings at a redneck biker bar. Granted, I might not agree 100% with what's going on in France but any exercise of your birth right will get a "Vive!" from me.
Students are out in the streets, actual young people that are educated and interested in their country. Holy shit! That can't be possible! That's gotta be another one of those Frenchy propaganda things like freedom fries and frog legs.
Unfortunately for us, it's not.
While we reel from Christina Aguileras breakup, ooh and ahh over the first lady picking pumpkins with annoying children, there is a world happening, and most of it is our fault. Sorry to throw a wrench in the festivities, but of all the countries to be sitting back and enjoying the show, we should be last on that list. We're lighting fires all over the fucking place and not only are we not tending them, we're walking away and throwing an oil barrel behind us...well no, we'd take the oil with us...maybe some bud light or cheap American vodka.
As our government tail spins into utter chaos with each ill conceived election ad, each broken promise and back door deal, the American people sit and grow fatter, less educated and less engaged.
As Benjamin Franklin (also famous for his French diplomacy) once said to a woman who asked what the members of the Constitutional Convention were creating, replied: "A republic madam, if you can keep it." Well, clearly, we can't. Ben would be thoroughly disappointed if he could see us all now. As an avid inventor, enlightenment groupie, voracious reader and student, and obviously engaged politician and citizen, he would be utterly disgusted with the state of our union today. Not to put words in the old guys mouth, but he'd probably say, as I did: "Vive la resistance!"

Monday, October 18, 2010

Quick, a diversion!

As you noticed by my post yesterday, shit is not going too well over in the cradle. So what better time to rekindle the fires of hatred and violence with some news that Bin Laden is hiding in Northern Pakistan. Yep, that's right, we found him! Although, not really. Apparently, we know the region, but just can't seem to find him - after all, a 6 foot Arab with an unmistakable face hooked up to a dialysis machine must be pretty shifty. I bet if you gave a 5 year old a weeks supply of chocolate, he could find him in about a day and a half, including naps and bath times.
Are you fucking kidding me?! This is the most transparent attempt to gather support for more violence and bolster patriotic support against that evil man behind 9/11 (cough-Bush-cough, cough).
According to a NATO official, Bin Laden is hiding out in the Tora Bora region, the same fucking place he "escaped capture" in 2001. That was 9 years ago! You mean to tell me the fucker hasn't even migrated since then and you still can't find him?! Holy shit, these aren't even clever lies!
Apparently, the NATO official wouldn't say how he came to know of Bin Laden or his associates' whereabouts, but claimed he has access to some of the most sensitive information in the NATO alliance. Well, that's just dandy. So, in other words, you don't know where you got the information but you know it's right because it comes from an agency whose track record is about as water tight as a mermaid's undies, and just as fantastical? Got it.
The NATO official also announced that, now, the main strategy is to INCREASE the number of offensive air strikes and ground attacks in the hopes of pressuring the Taliban and other insurgents to lay down their arms and point to the cave where elusive Bin Laden is hiding and mocking us.
And there it is ladies and gentlemen, there it is. Harsh criticism of their murderous tactics prompts story time, and a pathetic diversion to try and justify the killings of thousands.
And you know what? We're gonna take it. We're gonna eat it up. Politicians and military personnel are right now meeting and discussing the exact phrasing, the exact framing of this situation to get the American people to pull out their flags, praise Jesus and fire their guns into the air.
This insult to our intelligence will go unnoticed, like the raping of our rights, the blood shed in our name will continue, or as the official notes, increase. Apparently, the current rate at which we are digging our ditch is not fast or violent enough. So, everyone, let's grab a shovel and we'll meet in the 7th circle...or the Middle East, whatever you wanna call it.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

We will never win

One of the first books I can recall having an incredibly profound effect on my political mind is "Confessions of an Economic Hitman," the true tale of a man paid good money to ensnare poor countries in a web of corporate and militant mayhem, impossible to pay or politicize their way out of. One line in particular struck me and has never left me as I watch from afar our continued decent into a hellish snake pit of no return in the Middle East. John Perkins was working in the South Pacific at the time and went out to dinner with a few students and professors. This was at the height of the Cold War, and as they sat and sipped cocktails and enjoyed flavorful fare, one of the students made a prophetically morbid comment. The student said that victory against Russia was no problem, if in fact victory when not at war is possible. The student said that since it was government fighting government, Russia would eventually fold. However, in the future, the US would scratch the itch and venture into the Middle East and never be able to find the way out again. Why? Because you will be fighting a religion: ideals, beliefs dug thousands of years deep into a culture unfazed by Western influence. There will be no victory for their solid religious resolution will outlive your troops, by ten fold. And now here we are.
According to new reports, the insurgency in Afghanistan is gaining new strength, attacks being 59% higher than this time last year. Simultaneously, or the catalyst for all this being that in just the month of September, the U.S. Air Force has dropped 700 bombs throughout Afghanistan. Since July, they have dropped more than 2,000 bombs.
As of now, for every suspected militant killed by air strike, 25 civilians are killed. Apart from the UN and humans rights organizations wagging their fingers at us, Afghanis are less than happy with the above figures. Ummm...do you fucking blame them?!
According to a doctor working in the northern regions of Afghanistan, a record number of people have been coming in begging for sedatives, just to get a night's sleep, which very possibly could be their last. When you can't sleep, you see your neighbours, friends and family evaporate in ear piercing balls of fire, you do one of two things, run and hide or stay and fight. That's just plain old evolution for you: fight or flight. Flight being a rather ironic mention considering our favorite method of "dispatching insurgents," drone sorties.
A drone sortie consists of a single unmanned remotely controlled spy plane carrying up to four precision guided missiles. Drone sorties are characteristically carried out in pairs or sometimes even four to six participating in these "licensed to kill" missions.
So far in 2010, The Pentagon has authorized 21,000 of these unmanned drone sorties in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Now, if after reading all these figures, you haven't run through a wall and still have brain power enough to think, begin to think of the amount of devastation these missions cause on a country roughly the size of England, about 20,000 square miles smaller than Texas.
I find it hard to believe there are enough people still alive to man an insurgency. And if so, I'm amazed that we still have any troops alive on the ground. This is palpably absurd! What the fuck are we doing over there? Do you or anyone else even know why the hell we're still over there? Hasn't this just turned into Vietnam to the 100th power? Bin Laden is of no concern to us. The same people authorizing these missions had Bin Laden on their pay roll, even post 9/11. That's right - good 'ole Osama was a CIA employee. How's that for honesty and justice kids? How's that for Uncle Sam more or less cocking a loaded pistol and blowing away thousands of our sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, friends - our own fucking people in the name of what - corporate payback, catastrophe cover-up?
No matter what the reason, this is where we are. And we're not gonna make it out like we did in Vietnam - clumsily grab our choppers and gangrenous limbs and fly back home claiming it was a draw. Nope. We're up against something far greater than the countries we invaded, far more dangerous than the bombs we drop. An idea can not die. A religion can not be bombed into submission. The people under the influence of a faith can not be conquered. Yet, because our education system shuns history as glorifying the past, we sit there with protractors and mathematically perfect killing machines while ignoring common sense, historical proof and sound judgement.
As our bombs continue to fall, anger, resentment and militant fervor grow under the watchful eye of a deep rooted faith and hard-as-nails ideologies rather effortlessly painting us as the evil in their midst.
God may bless the US, but I don't think even the big guy upstairs can save us from our own series of colossal fuck ups. I'll hate to say I told you so.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The black jail

So, with midterm elections in full swing, it's hard to find any news about the rest of the world, even tucked in dark corners of the internet or small boxes in the newspaper. That's why I read international news. Funny that I have to go to international news sites in order to find news about what my own damn country is doing. Meanwhile, over here, it's a constant barrage of "he said, she said, this guy, that guy," random polls, pointless arguments and media malarchy aimed at forcing people to pay attention to the didactic dance of politics while completely ignoring the surrounding issues.
Well, here's an issue we shouldn't be ignoring. Since reports from Gitmo and Abu Ghraib years ago, it has been a definite blot on our international face that our soldiers and our "private contractors" are stunningly inhumane to political prisoners.
However, being the arrogant shits that we are, with shovel in hand, we continue on the same path to digging our own graves by maintaining unwelcome overseas presence, bullying middle eastern snake pit politics and keeping open or even opening new "detention centers" in the thick of it all.
Yep, that's right. According to several investigations, the BBC along with the Open Society Foundation has found evidence of a secret prison in Bagram, Afghanistan, as a part of the US military airbase. Ex-detainees claim they were sleep deprived, kept in cold rooms with harsh lights on constantly, not allowed to practice their religion, stripped naked for supposed medical exams, beaten and threatened with dogs.
The US response? "The Department of Defense does not operate any secret prisons” -Captain Pamela Kunze, US military spokeswoman. Simultaneously other members of the US military claim that all their detention centers comply with US and international laws.
Are you fucking kidding me?! It is un-fucking-believable that they can give these kind of responses and not at least get a punch in the face from a civilian standing by. Of course, the inherent issue with their response is more of an inherent issue with our level of apathy and education. They know they can get away with these not even clever or well thought out lies and evasions. The US military doesn't run secret prisons? We comply with all US and international laws? Since fucking when? These responses smack of a learned arrogance, a cold, calculating nonchalant attitude to the repercussions associated with lying and being a fucking idiot. After many years of US citizens' lack of involvement in political affairs, the corporate and governmental branches of our ruling classes have learned that we don't need to know or want to know jack dick. Again, why the fuck am I looking on a British website for US news? Why the hell do I care what Palin is going to wear at the Tea Party Express kick off? Isn't it a wee bit more important to know that we are continuing our brash raping of middle eastern countries, poking at a destructive fate, seeing how far we can push that envelope before too many people hate us for us to buy, bomb or bargain our way out of our deserved violent end? Apparently not. And sorry to say it, that's all our fault. If you are the laissez-fare, uninvolved parent of a troubled teen, don't expect them to come to you for advice or answers when they fuck up. And when they find out they can fuck up and all you do is scratch your balls and continue watching football, they'll keep fucking up, they'll keep spiraling out of control until one day you get a knock on the door saying that your credit card was tied to underground blood money dealings, your house has been foreclosed, some foreign family has kidnapped teenager due to raping, robbing and killing, your money's all gone, your teenager drained your savings, stole your car and set the woods behind your house on fire. Your reaction? Curse the day that teenager came into the world. But in reality, if you would've paid attention, if you would've given a shit, that teenager would be on the couch doing their homework, asking for your help and support while you read up on their schooling, extracurricular activities and teach them how to balance a damn check book.
Seems almost too good to be true doesn't it? Well, until we do something about it, it is too good to be true...and that's blood on our hands.

Friday, October 8, 2010


In celebration of my 100th post, along with a glass of wine, I thought we'd do some statistics. With upcoming elections, you should be no stranger to the poll counts, shiny red and blue graphs that foresee the future. Well, here's one I wasn't expecting.
Was Bush a better president than Obama? Indeed, CNN released a poll questioning voters how they felt about the 44th compared to the 43rd president. According to the poll, only 47% feel that Obama is doing a better job, compared to 45% who feel Bush did.
Hey, on the bright side tho, by a 50 to 42% margin, voters feel that Obama is doing a better job than McCain would have. Not to sound condescending, but what the fuck is wrong with these people?! You are more critical of a man who never even made it into office than the worst president in our nations history?! Are you fucking joking?!
Granted, I have my bone to pick with Obama, but all the hooked on phonics lessons and all the psychiatric sessions in the world couldn't begin to scratch the surface of how I feel about Bush. He and his cronies brought this country from sympathetic heroes to crooked world cop in a matter of a year. He destroyed our economy with his Friedman-esque free market bullshit, he opened up the environment to further get fucked by the protruding special interests of big business, he left every fucking child behind, he put innocent lives on the line for nothing more than some black goo and green paper. Obama isn't worthy of the peace prize but considering the cluster fuck he's wading through, he has made things WAY better than they would've been with four more years of that bullshit. Our country barely made it through. Obama, unfortunately, in my opinion, is not the answer we need, but he is not the antithesis either.
According to a Times article, Obama has spent too much time hearkening back to past ills from across the aisle. He has spent more time defending his stance than actually explaining it and acting upon it.
He will lose seats this November. According to the same CNN poll, six in ten men plan on voting Republican this November while women still tend to lean towards the left. However, less women vote than men. The economy is obviously a huge factor. And while Obama has made countless speeches and written countless "ideas," nothing is changing. Only 17% of those in the survey said they feel the economy is beginning to recover. That's not good enough. The economy can't change overnight but a commander-in-chief's job is to walk the people through his decisions every step of the way, tell them what's going on and where we're at, not throw stones at the opposing side and tell the people it's their fault. That doesn't evoke confidence in the situation.
On the bright side however, January is not just a new year, it's a new chance for Obama to forge ahead with something new. The right will still throw stones, but he can't afford to throw them back. As I've said before, Obama isn't what I thought he'd be but he still has a couple of years to prove he's not as bad as we think he is. More of the same, perhaps. More of Bush, fuck no. But he clearly has to prove that to the people, who aren't so sure.