Friday, July 30, 2010

dumb Americans and political correctness

Pastor Terry Jones invites you to burn books with him on September 11th in honor of the fallen and as a message to the Islamic heathens of this world to beware. Great. As if we needed one more nut job to help our reputation deteriorate around the world.
After having seen a clip of this wacko on CNN, my friend and I entered into a conversation about the state of this country.
The big issue we came to is that the American people are just plain stupid, either by choice or by birth. No one cares to take a look at current events, no one cares to check up on what's going on in the world. Our schools have trouble even teaching simple literacy, much less global politics and our place in them. Parents allow kids to sit in front of the TV and playstation until their eyes glaze over. Current affairs consist of who fucked who and what's the hot new shade of nailpolish this month.
As much as I hate to say this, we are living on borrowed time. The longer we ignore the world, the closer we press towards the point of no return, economically, politically, environmentally, you name it.
While discussing these sobering and depressing topics, my friend sighed and went back to his sports page. I quickly jumped at the chance of scolding him. Why? Because being overwhelmed by the apathy and idiocy around you, is no excuse to join it.
It is incredibly frustrating to be one of the few who cares about what's going on. For such a young country, we have rapidly forgotten what it means to live in a republic (or even what a republic is). We take for granted that things are as they have been and will continue to be. We look with disdain on the rest of the world yet insist upon being politically correct when in truth there's nothing correct about political correctness and the only political attribute is who feeds into it enough to be deemed electable. I'm Jewish. You don't have to refer to me as Jewish American. I've never been to caucasia but I'm not gonna throw a bitch fit next time I fill out a form. I used to be fat. I wasn't fitness challenged or big boned, I was fucking fat. Call it what it is. And know what you're calling out. Pastor Terry Jones is a biggoted, mindless, racist, extremist. He is the furthest from and most embarrasing representation of a good Christian. The people who blow up buildings in the name of Allah are biggoted, mindless, racist extremists. They are the furthest from and most embarrasing representation of the Muslim faith. Read the Koran, don't burn it. See that nowhere are the words "holy" and "war" placed next to each other. See that the prophet Mohammed said to be tolerant of those who do not believe as you do (contrary to the bibles kill, kill, kill policy). Think before you speak and know before you act. We have every right to protect our country from those who wish to harm us. But we must understand who that is, and more importantly who they are not. And most important of all, we must know and understand ourselves. For how can we protect a country, a way of life when we know nothing about it? Educate yourself. Be a concerned citize . It's your flag they're waving when the bombs fall. Doyou know why they're falling and upon whom?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Washington needs more Econ teachers

I remember reading about my namesake, Eleanor of Aquiataine and although I can't remember all of her grandiose family tree, I always recall a certain relative who was considered to be one of the greatest military men of the Middle Ages. Why? He would go into each battle with a historian at his side (most probably a priest on the one's perfect). Ere go, he would win nearly every battle, even if outnumbered.
Funny how history repeats itself isn't it? Although we no longer consider ourselves to be living in the Dark Ages, we could take a cue from a long dead nobleman: get yourself some people who know what the fuck they're doing to counsel you.
As I was masochistically reading the news, I came across two stories: $9.1 billion missing in Iraq and $59 billion emergency bill just passed, the bulk of which goes to Afghanistan.
Pardon me, but WHAT THE FUCK?!
Did I go to sleep and wake up in an alternate universe where we have an endless supply of money and stupid is the new smart? Out of the $59 billion (which we don't have) only $68 million is going to relieve the catastrophe in the gulf. $33 billion is going to Afghanistan to continue our war on...mmm...nobody. Al Qaeda waved bye-bye to that snake pit as soon as we made our loud and ungraceful entrance. What we're doing is fighting a bunch of insurgents who just want us the fuck out of their country. And I can't really say I blame them. Along with this bill, a second bill was thrown out suggesting we get the hell out of Pakistan. But why do that? It's nice and warm there - and we can't possibly have troops at home adding to our unemployment and begging for health care in wheelchairs with PTSD. No, no.
Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Massachusetts, called the Afghanistan war policy "deeply flawed."
"Occupying Afghanistan in support of a corrupt and incompetent government will continue to claim the lives of our soldiers," McGovern said. "It will continue to bankrupt us, and it will not enhance our national security. ... It is a mistake to give this administration yet another blank check for this war." As a counter argument, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland said that since the troops are over there now, it's our job to make sure they have the supplies they need to do their job. Question: how much would it cost to send them all on a one week cruise to Jamaica and then fly back to the states first class? I'm pretty sure less than $33 billion. And I'd personally rather see our troops benefiting from a damn nice vacation than blowing some hate fueled kids head off. But that's just me.
How much money are we going to sink into a quagmire before we realize it won't come back? What exactly are we fighting? Hate breeds hate and war breeds war. There is no such thing as a good war, particularly when you don't even have a good reason for starting it. No one has ever won a war in Afghanistan, no one, including the damn Russians! President Obama, Vietnam called, they said they'd like to keep their title of useless US war loss so could you please get the fuck out of Afghanistan. Thanks.
Now, on to Iraq. How the hell do you lose $9.1 billion? I go nutty if I misplace my quarters for laundry. According to reports, the money was part of a fund created by the US back in 2003, made up of, wait here it comes, IRAQI money. The fund was made up of oil revenue and was part of the oil for food program, managed by the US with the ok of the spineless UN. In 2004, we oh so generously handed the fund over to the Iraqi interim government, which essentially translates to us handing it from our left hand to our right hand. The Iraqi finance ministry quickly asked for our help in managing the money, and make sure it would go to the right projects. So, in effect, we've miraculously pissed away almost $10 billion of NOT OUR MONEY and we have absolutely dick to show for it. Once again, Iraqis (whether by force or not) put their trust in us and we spit in their face. This is exactly what the middle east needed: more tension brought to you by the dumbasses over here on the city on the hill.
So, to recap: we've lost $9.1 billion, and passed a bill granting $59 billion to go to a country where our troops can continue to chase ghosts and kill people who wouldn't hate us if we had just minded our own damn business and left them the hell alone. Hmmmm, maybe I should change the title of this post to "Washington needs more teachers." Oh but wait...the funding that was supposed to go to that went to Afghanistan instead...sorry kids. But look on the bright side, since the whole US is getting dumber, if you can tell your ass from your elbow, you might be a powerful politician someday, and then you can disregard all history, economy, social studies, politics and just plain intelligence. God Bless the US of A.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Drowning in a deadly duo

The Lake Delhi Dam failed in eastern Iowa yesterday flooding nearby areas and forcing evacuations along the Maquoketa River. Apparently the area had been suffering from torrential rains the past few days causing the roads on either side of the damn to give out, weakening the structure which eventually failed.
I feel as if I get more and more cases of deja vu these it just me?
Disaster weather, structures destroyed, people misplaced. It smacks of two evils this country excels at ignoring: global warming and a broken infrastructure. The two on their own are bad enough but together they form a deadly duo that continuously bashes this country with unforgiving wrath.
The same argument was used in New Orleans: well, the damn isn't made to withstand this kind of weather...well then why the fuck don't you make it so it is? If you can retrofit every other building in the LA area to withstand an 8.5 earthquake, you can retrofit the only thing standing between a city and oblivion. That's not to say that LA isn't suffering from a dying infrastructure. A friend of mine sarcastically scoffed that LA was a beacon of modern city life...70 years ago. Look at the roads. It's almost like playing a video game trying to dart inbetween pot holes and cracks. In other countries where public transit is timely and efficient, I waited for a bus for over an hour the other day, only to have a bus finally show up, over crowded and looking like its prime had come at the same time as Strom Thurmonds (if he ever had one).
Yet we still fluff our feathers and stick our obese chests out, chanting we're the best, we're the best. The Delhi dam isn't the last of these catastrophes to come. According to Gov. Culver, it was luckily mostly uninhabited farm land that was affected by the flood, but how often can we count ourselves lucky? How often can we watch the news and refuse to see the read thread running through these disaster stories? Whether we choose to accept it or not, the earth will shift and our golden age foundation will shift with it, moving whatever or whoever sits in its path. Can our viewpoints shift ahead of that curve?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Will the wall fall?

Is it better to do a little or to do nothing until you can do a lot?
That's clearly the question Russ Feingold of Wisconsin was asking himself as the Senate walked in to decide on the Wall Street Reform bill.
He decided to wait.
The majority however, decided to do a little and pass what many are calling "the most-sweeping set of changes to America's financial regulatory system since the 1930s."
Of course, as politics is a debating game, much of the proposed legislation present in the bills infancy had been ripped off by the back-and-forthing (yes, that's a technical term) of our mature and distinguished two party system.
Obama said that this is the kind of "reform that will prevent the kind of shadowy deals that led to this crisis, reform that would never again put taxpayers on the hook for Wall Street's mistakes." I wish it were that simple. Critics of the bill, and realists in general make note of several shortcomings of the new bill. While many critics also tout the positives of even such a watered down reform bill, there are a few glaring issues citizens should be wary of.
First of all, if it sounds too good to be true, it is. I'm not just talking about the get rich quick schemes or penis enlargement, the same cynical judgement should be used when reading about life altering changes born in the stuffy, stagnant halls of congress.
As you may have noticed from my previous posts and any other information you may have dug up on your own, corporations are the governing party with the three branches the bejeweled figureheads of their crown. There's no way in hell or Helsinki that a bill strong enough to deflate corporate power would ever make it through the first security checkpoint in congress. Don't believe me? Take a look at this: the bill sets up a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau inside the Federal Reserve that could write new rules to protect consumers from unfair or abusive practices in mortgages and credit cards. That would be a good deal if the Federal Reserve wasn't a fucking corporation! Here, I have an idea. Why don't we get BP to be in charge of the National Oil Commission? I'm sure they'd be equally as honest as the guys from the Fed. We're asking what is arguably the most powerful corporation in our country to police the other corporations? Right. Until the Fed is nationalized and brought under the yolk of the republic, I trust them about as much as I trust that shady character who hangs around the bus stop at 2am with a whisky bottle in his hand.
Furthermore, CNN reports that part of the negotiations led to Wall Street Banks still having the right to "get wiggle room to make limited risky bets, which is tougher than the current law, but weaker than earlier drafts." What exactly constitutes wiggle room? What does that translate to in billions of taxpayer dollars? Can we get a technical term, or is wiggle room all our current education system allows us to understand?
I do applaud the "little things" such as limiting Wall Streets' speculative bets on their accounts and ownership of hedge funds, along with an effort to curb the evil derivative, a favorite scapegoat of the financial crisis. My applause is bittersweet however, when I read comments from Wall Street cats such as: "“If you talk to anyone privately, there's a sigh of relief. It'll crimp the profit pool initially by 15-20%, but there's no breakup of any institution or onerous new taxes.” Another investment banker and ex-Treasury deputy shared that he felt the health care bill will affect its industry “exponentially more than this legislation is going to change Wall Street. It's not even close.”
So, is it better to do a little or wait till you can do more? Will this bill just give Wall Street all the more cocky brashness to do whatever the hell they want, or will it curb they haywire wild-west financial game of Russian Roulette?
We wait with baited breath.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Tea is to Coffee as Republican is to Democrat

On the heels of the expulsion of the Tea Party Express a.k.a the Tea Party on speed, I decided to check into some of the workings of both the Tea Party and its sworn enemy, the Coffee Party.
What I found was a striking case of déja-vu. Granted, I did grow up in the South so hearing people refer to blacks as "colored people" like Mark Williams, leader of Tea Party Express did, is unfortunately not a new thing to me. However, neither are the stances or arguments of either group.
The apple doesn't fall far from the tree here and from top organizers to tea and coffee drinkers across the US, the right vs. left hectoring runs deep.
The Tea Party came first, and started with a message of anger and action at a time when that's what the US needed. Having started as a response to the bailouts, the group quickly morphed into a sick, right wing extremist bitch fest complete with guns and an ironic support for the very people who caused the bailout.
The Coffee Party began as a response to the Tea Party which in reality is a shitty reason to start an organization. Annabel Park wanted to have a little sit down to discuss issues from a non-Tea Party viewpoint.
Beginning to see the trend? Tea Partiers like their Republican overlords are loud, stupid, ill-advised, close-minded, gun-toting right wingers while the Coffee Partiers are quiet, spineless, peace loving lefties.
May seem a harsh representation but overall, am I wrong?
These two parties offer nothing that the two party system doesn't. If anything, they're just amplified versions of the guys in suits that get paid to run this country into the shitter. You have Sarah Palin as a poster child, who many Republicans feel is a little too off the intelligence and experience reservation. You have support of extremist candidates and good old boys like Mark Williams and Richard Behney cleaning their guns and watching out for "colored people," a sentiment most Republicans wouldn't agree with or at least state openly.
Then you have the Coffee Party that is submissive and sweet, starting each meeting with a pledge to respect with patience and understanding the viewpoints of those who don't agree with them. You have members saying that they don't wanna "make a ruckus," they just want to sit down and converse about issues. Well, isn't that nice?
And to top it off, you have right and left bashing from each group. After all, coffee doesn't like tea and tea doesn't like coffee. So, how does that move this country forward? How does a "grassroots" representation of the suited version in congress make a shit stick of difference?
Well, it doesn't really.
For those of us who don't wake up proclaiming our undying devotion to either party, we have to sit in the sticky, untasty middle between coffee and tea.
Polls show that most US citizens are not staunchly Republican or Democrat, that they fall under the heading of "moderate." To me, that suggests that Republicans and Democrats, likewise Tea and Coffee are out of the loop.
The two party system is debunked, it doesn't work. It is flawed beyond repair. Our country is stagnating as corporate interests feed off our indecision. We don't need more offshoots of the same old shit, we need a real grassroots organization, a real NEW theme: to move forward, not right and left.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

WWIII...what if?

Do I mean what if some crazy, disgruntled politician pushes the red button? No, I actually mean to consider the possibility that we're already experiencing WWIII. Dispel the notion of storming beaches, confetti filled homecomings, the one evil enemy and turn your attention instead to the minimizing of our world and the maximizing of our every day decisions on it.
Consider our economy, which hopefully you already have. The blunders from our economic downturn are not just sore points here, but all over the world. Despite a crumbling infrastructure and an arrogant police aura, we still hold sway over much in the world. Also consider our military presence all over the world. According to the Defense Department's annual "Base Structure Report" from 2003, which itemizes foreign and domestic U.S. military real estate, the Pentagon currently owns or rents 702 overseas bases in about 130 countries and HAS another 6,000 bases in the United States and its territories. Oh, but that's not even the half of it. The report omits any bases in Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Qatar, and Uzbekistan. Yeah, we don't have any bases in Iraq and Afghanistan...this aptly named arc of instability is peppered with our camo and hum-v's. Andy Hoehn, deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy, came up with this arc of instability as a response to Bush's war on terror. The arc runs from the Andean region of South America through North Africa and then sweeps across the Middle East to the Philippines and Indonesia. Ironically enough, that's also where the largest oil reserves in the world run...what a coincidence! Starting to get a little twist in your stomach that feels like bad corporations and old hummus? Well, how bout this: the Pentagon also fails to include any bases that are sublet to corporate entities, such as in Kosovo, the site of Camp Bondsteel, built in 1999 and maintained ever since by Kellogg, Brown & Root, "a global engineering, construction and services company." They also don't mention the Japanese bases, or the British ones that have been disguised as RAF bases. Hmmm, why not include all of these? If I know about 'em, I'm sure the Pentagon does. Although, they can't even tell whether or not a real plane hit the building on 9/11 so maybe their intel is a little shaky.
And speaking of shaky intel, here's another nod to a global meltdown. General Patraeus's first act as reigning general over the mid-eastern cluster fuck is to employ 10,000 "soldiers" as part of an Afghani militia to fight Al-Qaeda and those opposed to the US/NATO occupation. Good idea - let's fight some more.
Apparently Hamid Karzai, the well dressed puppet, wasn't too happy about us bullying him into submission...but what is he gonna do about it? Karzai's spokesman commented on our flexing of muscles, saying "We don't want a short-term objective to endanger a long-term objective for security."
But c'mon man, we excel at short-term solutions! We don't think further than however long it takes Bush to complete a coherent sentence. Where's the fun in sitting down and organizing a proper plan - that's so boring! That's like what they did in the other world pasé.
So, as we drill, shoot, bomb, dig, spend, occupy and lie, this world is reeling accordingly. Every day we spend occupying foreign countries, we make another enemy. It may take another 6 billion or so days to have the whole world against us, but we're moving along pretty good. This war is fought on all levels: economic, psychological, and physical. We bash and batter any chance we get. From torture chambers in Abu Ghraib and GT, to the oil fields in the middle east, to the bases around the world, to wall street, we are perpetually engaged in warfare. The only problem is that unlike other world wars, the people don't seem to notice. We continue on with our reality shows and our day-to-day as if the only worry was who's gonna win American Idol. Wake the fuck up, my fellow Americans. We are at war. I'm not trying to scare you, I'm trying to get you to scare yourself, scare yourself into educating yourself.
As the British military historian, Corelli Barnett said, "Rather than kicking down front doors and barging into ancient and complex societies with simple nostrums of 'freedom and democracy,' we need tactics of cunning and subtlety, based on a profound understanding of the people and cultures we are dealing with -- an understanding up till now entirely lacking in the top-level policy-makers in Washington, especially in the Pentagon."
Our officials are lacking, and that's our fault. The buck stops with us, because we are the people they're talking about in a governement for the people, by the people and of the people.
Do something.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The commission on why shit happens

Forgive my cynicism when it comes to government formed commissions but in the past, I've been less than impressed with what these supposed detectives have come up with. The 9/11 commission may as well have been a commission on why we hate terrorists.
So, now there's The National Oil Commission whose job is to 1) determine why the oil rig exploded, 2) make preventative recommendations for similar disasters, and 3) decide whether or not offshore oil and gas drilling should be allowed to continue.
Drumroll please...the shit show: Republicans including but not limited to senators John Barrasso of Wyoming and Robert Bennett of Utah, are bitching and complaining that there are too few oil and gas experts and too many environmentalists on the commission who will make leftist, opinionated suggestions on the second two points while ignoring the cause. Democrats complain that the co-chairman, William Reilly (former head of the EPA under Bush I might add), a Republican, has ties to big oil having sat on the board of Conoco-Phillips. Meanwhile, Obama tries to calm the left and right winds of this shit storm by assuring both sides that the commission is made up of "well-qualified and unbiased scientists and experts."
The commission will have six months before delivering the report whereafter Obama and friends will decide what plan of action to take against BP and the big oil elephant in the room.
Some say that they have higher hopes for this commission, mostly because the disaster in question is still on-going and is certainly fresh in the minds of the Gulf Coast residents if not the entire nation. Others are skeptical and say that the commission will run up against the same problems as the 9/11 commission and in the end will be a mere figurehead for solutions as opposed to tangible change.
I'd have to go with the skeptics on this one. Unless Reilly uses his big oil clout to get some answers (which again, I skeptically doubt), this commission will accomplish about as much as the average hippie cleaning oil off of a seagul and asking himself why. BP is a corporation. Corporations run the government. This disaster is still ongoing. What answers does the commission hope to get from a corporation deep in public opinion shit, losing money everyday? They're gonna try to hide as much as possible! I can almost hear the familiar sound of paper shredders over the hum of gushing oil. BP recently bought up all the google search options for oil spill in an interest to save face. They have also refused to publish any non-corporate sponsored testing of the waterways affected by the spill.
So, again, unless Reilly intends on taking on BP and their corporate bag of tricks, I don't see this commission coming up with much. Even if the so-called hippies on the commission decide that the best way to prevent future oil spills is to not allow off shore drilling (holy shit, what a concept), the chances of that recommendation springing to action are about as slim as Sarah Palin showing up in Playboy sporting a pentagram tattoo.
Good luck commission, you're gonna need it.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Apathy and Extremism

On my flight from one side of the world to the next (Sweden to Los Angeles), I had time to do some reading. Along with various newspapers, I read Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer. If you haven’t read any of his work, I can highly suggest it as a sterling representation of mass minded thinking and action in today’s world. The daily news complimented this read rather well, or badly, depending on how you look at it. For those of us who read the news, it’s no surprise to know that the world is in a state of disarray: wars, famine, poverty, broken diplomacy sprinkled with the push and pull of extremism vs. apathy.
In truth, there is no such thing as apathy. It is something I like to refer to as “no, no, leave me alone.” It’s what you get when you go down south and realize that some people still think blacks should walk on the street when a white man comes down the sidewalk. It is a resistance to change that can be as strong and intolerable as extremism, so in effect, it is. It can also be a complete disregard for what is going on in the world, either because you have a weak heart and don’t think your HMO will cover more anxiety pills or it is due to again, the unwillingness to see things change b/c so far, they’re looking pretty good for you. The disregard is not apathy, because apathy implies that the person knows what’s going on and doesn’t care. If people knew what was going on, they would care. To quote a bumper sticker (yes, I’m that classy), “If you’re not pissed off, you’re not paying attention.” In the US, with our large variation of cultures and people, we have the push and pull of both sides. I can recall being 16, too young to vote, sitting by a table trying to sign people up to vote. I got more “Nah, I don’t vote” answers than any other. Ummm....what?! That’s like telling a doctor you don’t need to know what’s wrong b/c you’re sure he’ll figure it out. However, then you somehow reserve the right to complain about it later. No, doesn’t work that way. If you get cancer and refuse to acknowledge it till the 11th hour, tough shit.
And then, on the extremist front, they seemingly care so much that they overshoot the goal and blow up the village to save the people. Take the Tea Party, for example, since they don’t get enough press. They care so much about the welfare of their beloved US of A, they’ll threaten the lives of constitutionally protected officials b/c they democratically disagree with them...right.
I’ve begun doing some research for an essay of sorts on the mindset of extremists, hence my interest in Eric Hoffer. I’m looking at the reasons why people become extremist, who they are and how we can avoid feeding more people to the brainwashing of extremist ideologies. Hoffer says that people become extremist either to produce a serious change in their surroundings or because one has already occurred and they are responding to it.
Interestingly enough, these two push and pull opposites share a common red thread: the belief that they alone possess very little power to suggest change. When one feels powerless, they usually do one of two things: find someone who has power to lead or shrink up in their shell and ignore whatever it is they feel powerless against. So, since we can’t beat cancer, we choose to ignore it, or we jump off a bridge in the hopes of killing the damn bastard. Either way, kind of a shitty deal. So, in short, we the people, have to accept, have to come to the realization that within us is an incredible amount of power, to faclitate change and to move our country closer to what it needs to be, thereby affecting all the countries we hold sway over (unfortunately, a lot). For the people, of the people, by the people. If the people don’t step up, then we’re a country of sheep, for sheep and by sheep...baaaahhhhd.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy Birthday to the out of control teen

In the grand scheme of things, the US of A is a teenager compared to other older countries in the world. The fact that our democracy (actually a republic) has been so long-lived does not mean that we are that city upon a hill, a shining beacon for the lost masses of society to work towards. In fact, all things considered, we're an arrogant, unwieldy, corrupt little shit, with all due respect. We're the national equivalent of a wild teen snorting blow, starting fights, hitting on other people's girlfriends and skipping school b/c he already knows everything.
So, where's the Dr. Phil equivalent for our problem? Interestingly enough, the very people that should care, don't. We're supposed to be the parents, the ones looking after this country of ours, making sure we mind our manners while standing up for the rights of our citizens. A tricky line to walk, surely, but unlike Mr. Cash, we're not walking any kind of line. Most Americans couldn't give two shits whether the out of control teen steals their savings to buy more blow and pick more fights. It just seems to be par for the course.
In a recent study done by Stephen D. Morris and Joseph L. Klesner found that corruption in the government (the study was specifically done on Mexico's democratic government) leads to more corruption and a further disinterest in the citizens. Ummmm...huh? Yep, unfortunately it's true. And you shouldn't really need a study to tell you. Just look around. It's kind of like Pavlov's dog. We become conditioned to expect corruption so when we get it, instead of heading out to protest, we sit back, shake our heads and cynically say, "I told you so." When politicians make vast promises of change and hope, deep down, we don't expect anything to change. So when it doesn't, we piss and moan at our local bars over a beer, but do nothing to push for that said hope and change. It's kind of like we let that out-of-control teen attitude get to us. As if to say, screw it, if they're fucked three ways to sunday, why should I bother standing up for what's right?
While I can see the point in that argument, it's still crap. Whether we like it or not, our little teenager is a democracy and because of this twist, it's our job to change him. I guarantee it's not easy and I guarantee there will be a hell of a lot of obstacles, but it's our teenager and for the sake of the entire world which we have unfortunately also dragged into our day time soap opera, we have got to get a better handle on our own country.
So, enjoy your hot dogs, your beers, your fireworks, but don't forget the ideas you're celebrating, and the hard work it takes to raise a child, particularly this one.
Happy 4th

Friday, July 2, 2010

Black gold

The greatest environmental catastrophe in US history continues to unfold while our cars keep guzzling and we, seemingly immune to the irony, continue watching in our oil fueled plastic worlds as the earth goes down the shitter. Ah, isn't it just great to be American?
Well, I'm sure Nigerians would agree.
The Niger Delta is one of the most oil polluted places on the planet (barring of course our tremendous un-ability to plug the gusher in the gulf with more hair). Somewhere in the range of 11 million barrels of oil have spilled into the Delta over the course of 50 years, since the oil companies first noticed the glittering potential in this coastal country. The US currently gets about 10% of it's oil from Nigeria, and many activist groups fear that with the current situation in the Gulf, that figure will rise, leading to more problems in the already plagued region. A Nigerian spokesman for Shell oil complained that many militant groups in the area have been busting open pipelines to steal oil, and keeping crews from trying to rectify those break ins and other spills that have occurred, leading to the five decade old catastrophe. So there you go guys, not their fault. And this rager in the gulf isn't BP's fault either. Some dolphin or something probably bumped into the line and sent the whole thing into may-day mode.
I can't really decide which is more disgusting: the fact that Nigeria has lived with an ongoing spill many times the size of ours and yet we couldn't give two shits about them as long as they give us oil, OR that we continue to guzzle as the gulf gushes, immune to the catastrophes in both places...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Welcome to hell General Patraeus

This week's forecast for Afghanistan: hell.
June 2010 has shown to be the deadliest so far for NATO forces, the death toll being 101 on Wednesday, outweighing the previous most deadly month by 22 soldiers, in August 2009. And now General Patraeus is taking over for the big mouthed McChrystal who made a complete cluster fuck of himself in Rolling Stone.
Calling McChrystal back to Washington was somewhat of a crap shoot (but then again, so is this war), considering that pulling a General out of a rising death toll war zone isn't usually on the list of recommendations, even from the disjointed lot that organize our troops in the Middle East. Still, Obama forged ahead and replaced McChrystal with Patraeus who officials say have a much better report with the media. Oh good. I'm so glad that that's our criteria for generals. Next war, we should ask that they have a talent like tap dancing or glass playing. I'm not saying that either general deserves a gold star for their efforts in the Middle East but I am saying that if you're gonna go full steam ahead into a war, step up the troops while simultaneously claiming a Nobel peace prize and promising you'll pull troops out, you can't care too much about how the media spins stories.
Insubordination is unacceptable and this Rolling Stone article only profiles the serious holes in the chains of command leading from the top to the poor kids that get blown up every month on the ground. If his own general can't say a thing or two to back up the president, it's not surprising that we're cha-cha-ing back and forth on troop numbers, movements and locations.
We're there, over over there so now we have to do something. Both General Patraeus and McChrystal have more experience in the air conditioned halls of the Pentagon than in the real world. Neither one of them are buddy buddy with Obama. Mr. President, if you wanna go in there, you better make damn sure that you've got your ducks in a row. At the moment, you've got a crazed group of Canada Geese running around and nipping like headless chickens on LSD. Don't let these kids keep dying while you keep trying to figure out a plan.