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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Why No Iraq Exit Strategy?

It's a very interesting question to ask. Why is it, that none of the Democratic presidential contenders, other than Kucinich, have a specific Iraq exit strategy? You know, the strategy that specifically details how and when troops and equipment will leave Iraq. With, like, dates and things.

It's not like we are lacking in Iraq exit plans written by analysts and experts. We are lacking an Iraq exit plan written by the Pentagon, for God's sake. Hillary made an attempt to find out if the Bush administration had a strategy, and she was slapped down like an errant school girl and although she whined and complained, she accepted that answer. Why? I want to know. Because, if there isn't a good reason, then the Democrats are colluding with the Bush administration to keep us in Iraq for many years to come.

For a long time now, as the pundits argue about how surprised they are that George Bush and Dick Cheney can't admit defeat in Iraq, I have known that, contrary to some opinions that they are stupid, or stubborn, or in denial, THEY KNOW EXACTLY WHAT THEY ARE DOING, AND IRAQ IS A HUGE SUCCESS FOR THEM.

Why does most of the American media ignore huge facts like the permanent military bases we have been and still are building? Why are we building the largest embassy in the entire world in Iraq? Because we want the Iraqis to hurry up and restore Democracy so we can get our troops home and get back to focusing on our own country? Fuck, no. Bush and Cheney were planning on an ongoing US occupation from the very beginning. They just lied to me, and you, because we're too toothless and dumb to know anything, and they just want us to go away and let The Chosen Ones run the world.

Let me say something loud and clear: George Bush and Dick Cheney are thrilled with their success in Iraq because their own neoconservative goals have been met, not the goals they set publicly, to hoodwink the American people, but the goals they set many years ago to dominate the Middle East and the oil supplies there (PNAC, PNAC, P freakin' NAC).

I encourage you to read this Vanity Fair article from beginning to end (thanks to my friend Arthur who sent me the link). But the following excerpt is extremely important to read, and pass along (bold emphasis mine):


As for Iraq, Jim Holt makes the persuasive counter-intuitive argument for this thesis in a piece for the London Review of Books called “It’s the Oil, Stupid,” which begins, “Iraq is ‘unwinnable,’ a ‘quagmire,’ a ‘fiasco’: so goes the received opinion. But there is good reason to think that, from the Bush-Cheney perspective, it is none of these things. Indeed, the US may be ‘stuck’ precisely where Bush et al want it to be, which is why there is no ‘exit strategy.’ ” Spreading democracy in the region was never the goal, a quick in-and-out never in the cards, despite Michael Gerson’s misty-eyed testimony to the contrary. The goal was to take control of Iraq’s oil resources and stand guard over its infrastructure, which is why military bases with world-capital-size airport runways and suburban comforts (miniature-golf courses, fast-food restaurants, sports fields) are under boomtown construction in Iraq. Holt writes, “The draft law that the US has written for the Iraqi congress would cede nearly all the oil to Western companies. The Iraq National Oil Company would retain control of 17 of Iraq’s 80 existing oilfields, leaving the rest—including all yet to be discovered oil—under foreign corporate control for 30 years.” All in all, a pretty sweet deal for the U.S. and trans-national corporations, paid for in part thus far by the sacrifice of nearly 4,000 American troops and countless thousands of Iraqis, a necessary cost of doing business if you don’t mind having others get their hands bloody.

Holt:
The occupation may seem horribly botched on the face of it, but the Bush administration’s cavalier attitude towards ‘nation-building’ has all but ensured that Iraq will end up as an American protectorate for the next few decades—a necessary condition for the extraction of its oil wealth. If the US had managed to create a strong, democratic government in an Iraq effectively secured by its own army and police force, and had then departed, what would have stopped that government from taking control of its own oil, like every other regime in the Middle East? On the assumption that the Bush-Cheney strategy is oil-centred, the tactics—dissolving the army, de-Baathification, a final ‘surge’ that has hastened internal migration—could scarcely have been more effective. The costs—a few billion dollars a month plus a few dozen American fatalities (a figure which will probably diminish, and which is in any case comparable to the number of US motorcyclists killed because of repealed helmet laws)—are negligible compared to $30 trillion in oil wealth, assured American geopolitical supremacy and cheap gas for voters. In terms of realpolitik, the invasion of Iraq is not a fiasco; it is a resounding success.

Which may explain the final sentences in the epilogue to Draper’s Dead Certain, where the author says that Bush had no intention of marking time until the last tick of his presidency. He’s going to go out with a bang. Once the “surge” strategy in Iraq pays off, “that big ball would be back in his hands again, and he would heave it long.” In Beltway gridiron lingo, this might be interpreted as signifying that Bush is going to drop back in the fourth quarter and hurl a long bomb downfield at Iran. If Bush feels he’s achieved a winning groove, what the hell, why not run up the score, despite the National Intelligence Estimate? Perhaps Bush’s post-presidential memoir should be titled From Coffins to Coffers, since he’s helped fill so many of both.

This Is What I Call A Headline

Crowds cheer on Pope after aborted visit.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Chu, Chu, Chuh...

Well...I guess there's one thing that all the candidates got right.

This video that I got from Sadly, No! is brilliant. From beginning to end.

Now, can we stop talking about change, and, uh, do it? NOT AFTER YOU'RE ELECTED. How about starting RIGHT NOW? I'm talking to you, Democrats, our elected representatives, that are bending over on a daily basis and letting the Bush administration screw you and every American citizen (oh, and millions of people in Iraq. But I know, they don't count).

(If you are receiving this post in an email and can't see the video, please click through to my blog.)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Audacity of Obama's Hope

"Who is Obama, really?"

I'm hearing a lot of that lately. It's a way for people to belittle Obama's message of hope and change. They're saying that "hope" and "change" are empty marketing terms that pull at the hearts of unhappy Americans and con them into voting for someone who isn't experienced enough to make change happen.

Viktor Frankl's book Man's Search For Meaning, is an account of his observations of people who stayed alive, against all odds, in Nazi concentration camps, based on a single gossamer thread of hope that their spouse or children were still alive. Upon learning that the spouse or children were actually dead, Frankl watched these people wither and finally die. They had hung every molecule of their being on one single vision, and when that vision disappeared, there was nothing left for these poor desperate people to focus upon. Frankl's premise is that man must set his sights upon a broader vision. If I believe that everything I am is wrapped up in my job, and then I lose that job, I am in big trouble. I may or may not die from that loss, but if I am to survive, I must set my sights higher. There must be a meaning greater than the things, people and events that constantly flow in and out of our lives.

Hope is a powerful force. If Obama is using it as a marketing slogan, he's no dummy. If it is an empty promise, he is, well, an asshole. But, is he promising that he will single-handedly raise our beloved country from the dead? Not that I've heard. According to Truthout.org:


Basically, the other candidates are all saying, "I will do this," "I will do that," "I will be there in this way for you," as they recite the fine print of issues to show what they would do as president. Indeed, most of the horserace coverage from this and other debates is on the points scored by the candidates as they joust on this wavelength.

Obama, on the other hand, is not emphasizing the "I" pronoun. He is all about we and you. "We can do this." "We can do that." "If we come together, we can achieve ..." The former grass-roots organizer is making his candidacy inclusive. Obama is asking people to join him, implying that he will listen, hear them and include them in solutions that rely on the best in them and in society, not the worst.


What Obama is saying is that together, we can survive, together we can accomplish great things, fueled by hope. He has the audacity to challenge Americans to get off of their asses, and he is leading them to take responsibility and take action, towards a vision of a better America, and a better world.

So, tell me again why hope is just an empty marketing slogan? The American people are confused, disillusioned, some are even hopeless. And it isn't getting any better. The real estate bubble is bursting, personal debt is sky high, and in a country almost completely dependent on the automobile, oil by the barrel has reached $100. Goodbye SUV. Hello Yugo. We are ensnared in an ugly war that none of the supposedly "electable" presidential candidates are willing to end (including, by the way, Obama). We have been lied to, and played for fools. We are cynical, and sarcastic, which is the other face of hopelessness. In other words, we are starving for leadership, for someone who can light the banked flames in our hearts, and inspire us to greatness.

Once upon a time, I was promoted into managing more than 20 people, and 1500 customers, scattered along the west coast of America. I hadn't even applied for the job. I had never managed people before. My employees had degrees in electronics engineering. I had no degree at all. I was inexperienced, to say the least. And I was overwhelmed. I reached out for some help from a guy in human resources. He asked me what I was committed to. I didn't know. "You have one week to decide, and to call me back with your vision." he said. I decided I was committed to the satisfaction of my customers, and the personal and professional growth of my employees. I called him back. He said, "Fine. Now, make sure that every decision you make, is one that supports those two commitments." Life became easier after that. I related my vision to my employees. I became their resource, and let them be the technical experts. I inspired them with a vision of a better work day, where clients were happier, crises were averted, and each employee had a chance for recognition and growth.

I may have been inexperienced, but I was smart, had a vision, and I was successful. Hell, I was only 5'4" and a girl (heaven forbid). If I can do it, so can our next president.

So, America? What are we committed to? You have one week to decide, and get back to me.

Middle East Has Opinions, And Running Water Too

(Well, if you live in Iraq, this might not be the case.)

Ask yourself this question, if you live in America: When was the last time you read an editorial from the Lebanese press in your local newspaper, or heard about it on national television news? How many Americans know what the Lebanese are thinking, from day to day? (You know, that country that has been without a president since November. If you go to the official Lebanon Presidency website, the "The President" link is dead. That's a little, well, disconcerting.) You'll be scratching your head for quite a while. I doubt you'll come up with any answers. (Unless of course, you live in New York with all those other supporters of terrorism, um, I mean liberals)

Even though the Bush administration would prefer that Americans remain ignorant (while they plunder Iraq to satisfy their limitless greed and quest for dominance and power under the guise of "promoting Democracy"), if you are even remotely concerned about the impact the Middle East has on your life, it behooves you to learn as much as you can about the people of the Middle East, and how they think.

That's why I read Juan Cole. Today Juan published commentary from the Lebanese press on George Bush's recent visit. You'll be fascinated that the Lebanese press, as Joe Biden said about Barack Obama, are quite possibly "articulate and bright and clean and ... nice-looking." And maybe their opinions count, let's say, more than all those pundits in America who have never set foot in Lebanon.

Here's one quote from a January 11th 700-word commentary in Beirut Al-Nahar in Arabic (Independent, moderate, centrist, and Christian) by Mustafa al-Labbad titled "The Lame Duck Before Departure":

"Hence, the visit of the president of the greatest nation in the world to the region will not result in anything new except for the dull commemorative photo shots and words void of any substance or luster. Most likely, it will be Bush's final visit to the graveyard of his illusions, where his biggest project of the 'New Middle East' has been laid to rest."

Oh, and Juan Cole also just published an amazing book about Napoleon's invasion of Egypt.

Here's his blog about the book.

You can buy the book here.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Please Say No To Pollsters

I started to say "Pollsters never call me." But, then I realized that they have called me. One time after the November 2006 election, some guy supposedly from the McCain campaign called me. I let him have it. I told him I used to like McCain, that he used to be a statesman. But then he backed down on torture and lost me forever.

But the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary have shown us the damage that polling can do. It can impact people's vote before they enter the election booth: "Oh, she's losing anyway, I might as well vote for the other guy." Most of all, polls help our already useless traditional press become completely and utterly useless. And not just the US press. Three British newspapers were PRINTED with Obama on the front page, declared the winner in New Hampshire. "Dewey Defeats Truman!" all over again.

Polling HAS TO STOP. And the only way it can stop is if we say no when they call us. Please waddle and limp over to Huffington Post and sign the pledge, vowing to hang up on pollsters.

Read Arianna Huffington's full article on polling here.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Huckabee Knows Him Some Canada

Huckabee doesn't appear until the end of this video, but it's so funny (and embarrassing) that it is worth watching the whole thang (If you are receiving this post as an email and can't see the video, click through to my blog to view the video):

Don't Cry For Me, New Hampshire.

I'm not a fan of Hillary Clinton. I worry about her campaign being financed by the health industry, and the war industry and Rupert Murdoch. However, if my emotions were pulling the voting booth levers all by their fluffy little feminine selves (they can be so unruly), she'd be on her way back to the White House.

But Hillary's fucked. She can't win for losin'. Even if she should happen to win. Because she's a woman, and the good ol' boy bullshit never ends. I saw the press reports about her near-tears speech in New Hampshire and thought, "Oh boy, here we go." She'll catch shit for crying, and then she'll catch shit for not crying enough, or for crying too soon, or too late, or for crying in a [insert derisive adverb here, it doesn't matter which one you choose] way. The pundits will start discussing whether her tears were real or fake, whether she is giving up, whether she was really crying because she caught Bill boinking some fictitious campaign aide. They'll make shit up about her being angry about stupid things, or talk about what a witch she is when she gets angry about horrible stuff that deserves our anger, like, um, millions of displaced Iraqis, or having the money changers in the temple. That stuff...the stuff that inspires even a cheek-turning Messiah to upend all of the tables and crack a whip! (I wonder if Jesus' voice was "shrill?") The fundamentalist Christians will admire the righteousness of Jesus' conniption fit, while they warn the world about what happens when them wimmens get angry and, God forbid, become president. I mean, the fur could fly! And then, of course, the planet will explode. And who will be left to put dinner on the table?

There's a part of my voting arm just itching to reward Hillary for being a pioneer and taking all of the crap that comes with that job. I was a pioneer too, and have the scars to prove it. I know what it's like to be a woman in a man's world, and all the masks you have to wear to be successful. Was I "tough enough" to manage 20 employees, to "stand up" to the sales guys? Yes. But at the same time was I "too nurturing" (thus, A Pussy) when I refused to fire less-accomplished but still-willing employees? Absolutely. We need to cull the weaklings from the herd, you know. We don't want to live in William Kristol's "nanny-state." When sales guys threw a temper tantrum for not getting their way, I was told to be "more accommodating." When I got angry that the sales guys were abusing my employees or lying to our customers, I had to be "spoken to" about my "anger issues." But then, in my annual review, I was told I was "too pretty" and "too smart," which tended to antagonize the sales guys, so could I do something about that in time for next year's review?

Sure. I'll get right on that. Immediately.

Was I "thin enough"or "sexy enough" to keep my shallow boyfriends from wandering? No. They wandered anyway, even if I wore a Size Two dress and had mastered the best blow job techniques in the First, and probably Third, Worlds. Hillary is in big trouble because she's "too short" and has "big thighs" and wears pant suits all the time, along with tops that have "plunging necklines." And she still couldn't keep her husband from wandering now, could she?

Nancy Pelosi can't win either. Even though she has pissed me off for allowing more funding for the Iraq war and tabling impeachment of Cheney or Bush, I admit to being proud that there's a woman Speaker of the House. Just once I'd love to hear her say to her sexist detractors, "Yeah, you can lick my pearl necklace, bucko." Especially after all the derision she suffered for surrounding the podium with children when she was made Speaker. I mean, children, for God's sake, what politician in their right mind would ever do a photo op with children?

Once, I was declared "too much of a distraction to the men in the department" to get hired for a job I desperately needed. That happened in the Olden Days, when managers actually could tell you the truth about why they didn't hire you. I paid with joblessness for men's inability to keep their minds on the job and their dicks in their pants. Oh, if I just could have made myself unfuckable (and good luck defining what that means), I could have gotten the job.

Were Hillary and I fools enough to fall in love with charming men who, at the least disappointed us, or at the most, betrayed us? Yes. For me, several times. Which of course, brands me as "lacking in discernment." Did Hillary have the gonads to stick it out and make it work with Bill? Yes. Which is what Christian fundamentalists insist upon anyway, right? Well, I won't even begin to write about the judgments slapped upon her for that, or the lascivious slavering of right-wing blowhards who spent untold hours discussing the details, both in and out of the bedroom, of the resulting relationship. Meanwhile, Rudy Giuliani, with multiple marriages, mistresses and cross-dressings, who elevated his driver to police commissioner and millionaire-criminal-to-be, is a viable contender for the office of President. He has great discernment . . . oh, and gonads for sticking it out, without actually ever sticking around.

Meanwhile, me, Hillary, Nancy and the rest of we-unclean-who-must-be-cleansed, who have bled like stuck pigs for three days once a month without dying from it - are marked by the sure sign of the magikal, mystikal, witchy spawn o' the devil. It was Eve, of course, who brought evil (Eve...Ev-il) into paradise; Adam didn't have a thing to do with it. From before the beginning of time, it has been firmly established, that women need to be controlled and diminished, and put down at the first sign of creativity or having better ideas than the good ol' boys. Besides, somebody needs to put the dinner on the table.

I read an article this morning by Amanda Marcotte (another woman that got screwed out of a job by a fanatical fundamentalist perverse . . . uh, man) where she ponders giving up on Edwards and moving to Obama because of Edwards' sexist response to Hillary's tears.

Hey, John Edwards, how about if you gave the press this response:

Hillary Clinton is a human being, just like me and everyone else in this race. Campaigning is extremely hard work, and often exhausting and demoralizing. But one thing I know for sure, is that Hillary and all of the Democratic contenders are passionate about America, so winning is important, and any hint of loss can be devastating. At least she has the guts to cry in public. None of us guys have anywhere near the balls to do that.
I won't hold my breath.

Well Said: American Meddling In Iran

Here's what happens when nefarious neocon Iran attack plans are scuttled by the NIE and the Bush administration has to stop its sword rattling and war buildup (well, maybe). Without our threats, the bad guy we wanted to get rid of is, well, no longer in favor. From an International Herald Tribune article entitled Ahmadinejad loses favor with Khamenei, Iran's top leader:

"Now that Iran is not under the threat of a military attack, all contradictions within the establishment are surfacing," said Saeed Leylaz, an economic and political analyst. "The biggest mistake that Americans have constantly made toward Iran was adopting radical approaches, which provided the ground for radicals in the country to take control."

Friday, January 4, 2008

Meet The U2 Of Pakistan

I was saddened by the murder of Benazir Bhutto, even though the first time I saw her interviewed on Al Jazeera a few months ago, before I knew anything at all about her, I didn't like her. It was an emotional decision, but I felt like her words were patronizing and fake. She said something about "my people love me, and I am humbled by that." Blush, blush. False humility covering arrogance. Blech.

Then I began to watch the process of her pushing Musharraf into a coalition government, wondering, how the hell is that going to work? "Hey baby, take off your uniform and I'll be right over...to lead Pakistan out of all of its troubles. You can sit on the couch and eat bonbons while I do it, k?" I didn't know at the time, that Condi Rice was directly behind Benazir, pushing her.

Of course, Condi is as delicate as a freight train, and lookie what she created by pissing off the asshole dictator that our conservative non-tax-n-spend government has been overpaying by bazillions of dollars for so many years. He managed a grimacing smile and then got rid of all the judges and lawyers and, uh, government, and declared martial law. Luv-er-ly. Condi, next time, go shoe shopping with Benazir instead.

Then Benazir was murdered (along with a bunch of other innocent people that nobody talks about), which was horrible and sad. I think that for many people, she represented hope for their country. She also was the first Arab woman to rule an Arab country. That's a big, big deal.

Too bad she also had to be corrupt. Now, I will say that I have only read about 30 articles about her. And I am still unsure as to whether the corruption charges against she and her husband were trumped up, as she and her husband and party say they are, or they are legitimate, as people like, well, the Swiss government say they are. I dunno. The jury is still out on that one.

Meanwhile, today I ran across a great article on the Huffington Post about the amazing Sufi-rock band named Junoon. Here's a little excerpt:

Dubbed the "Bono of South Asia," Salman Ahmad is a musician and founder of the Sufi-rock band, Junoon (Urdu for "obsessive passion"); an activist, who is a UN-appointed HIV/AIDS ambassador for South Asia, a medical doctor; a teacher, as an artist-in-residence at Queens College; a husband/father and a Muslim. I talked with Salman just after his performance at the Nobel Peace Prize concert and as tragedy struck in his homeland of Pakistan with the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. What started out as a conversation about his life and social activism, turned into a need to talk about the current political situation and the lessons we can learn.
If you are at all interested in this story of a Pakistani, educated in America, moved back to Pakistan to be come a star, then wanted his sons to have the same educational experience he had in the US, so he moved back to the US, then please read this article and listen to the very personal experience he had with Benazir Bhutto, and his thoughts about her death, and the future of Pakistan.

Play A Game And Feed The Hungry

This is not only a fun, mesmerizing, addicting game (for a scrabble-playing word nerd like me) and a great way to improve your and your kids' vocabulary, it is an easy way to feed the poor. For each word you get right, 20 grains of rice are donated to the United Nations World Food Program. Click here to find out where the rice goes.

My average vocabulary score was 41. Try and best me. Just try.

Try the Free Rice game here. It's fun!

Raptor Jesus Wins Iowa

Silly me. I thought, when I saw this article on Wonkette, that the Raptor Jesus mention on the Iowa Caucus Wikipedia page was in reference to Huckabee...because he's a creationist (you know, they're pretty dinosaur heavy), and he believes that Jesus will get him elected. Here's the now-gone image from the Iowa Caucus Wiki page:


So...I did a little research and found out that Raptor Jesus started as a photographic meme where people put raptor heads on any pictures of Jesus that they could find. I enjoy this kind of blasphemy. I think Jesus would chuckle too. (I know him well enough to say so. Oh, you don't? Too bad for you. This probably means you will be going to hell, but I won't.)

But anyway, Raptor Jesus, um, I mean, Huckabee won the Republican Iowa Caucus. This scares the crap out of me. The guy is a certifiable lunatic. But I have some faith (well, not that kind) that at least the Republican party hates him. (Just ask Rush Limbaugh, the Party's Parrot.) So we know he'll go dooooowwwwwwnnnnn.

More on my thoughts about the rest of the Iowa Caucus later...

Thursday, January 3, 2008

List Of Bush Administration Evil-Doers

I was waiting for somebody to do this, so I wouldn't have to. Leave it to TPM Muckraker to get the list together of all the Bush administration officials who have been indicted, convicted or plead guilty (10), resigned Due to Investigation, Pending Investigation or Allegations of Impropriety (24), nomination failed due to scandal (5), under investigation but still in office (3).

It's...well...jawdropping.