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.