Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Magical Mystery President

Every time I think we have reached the lowest point of the Bush presidency, he proves that I haven’t seen anything yet. In one of the rare press conferences of his presidency, President Bush demonstrated just how insignificant and out of it he has become. What happened to the arrogant and impotent man who was so full of himself and his political capital just a few years ago. Bush has been reduced to a world of fantasy and make believe, where he no longer wields any real political power, but just an imaginary magic wand. In his new found “Harry Potter” fantasyland, instead of actually doing something about the mounting economic crisis and the other important issues we face as a nation, Mr. Bush has decided that the best he can do is to invoke magic.

The incredible shrinking presidency of George Walker Bush hit a new milestone yesterday: The commander in chief turned to sorcery.

"You know, if there was a magic wand to wave, I'd be waving it," Bush informed Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times in a Rose Garden news conference. She had asked him about the recession, which everybody seems to be acknowledging but Bush.

Further, the wizard of the West Wing said he would use his supernatural powers, if he had them, to conjure up lower gas prices. "I think that if there was a magic wand and say, 'Okay, drop price,' I'd do that," said the illusionist.[1]

It has become painfully obvious that Mr. Bush has no intention of doing anything prior to leaving office about any of the many crisis’s his presidency has created. He refuses to change policy in Iraq, on the economy, or in his ineffectual rhetorical foreign policy. How anyone can or will be ever able to endorse this presidency as anything but a disaster is beyond me, but leave it up to the revisionist Republicans who in a few years will try and rewrite this presidency as reshaping the Middle-East and bringing prescription drugs to Medicare. It will take more than a magic wand to turn this sow’s ear into a silk purse.

I’ve got an idea Mr. President how about showing some leadership and using your last few months in office to change the direction and the tone of the public discourse, but considering that you have used your presidency and political capital to raise it to this level I guess it would be an apparition to expect it now. You would think that leaving office with a 30% approval rating would cause most people to try and elevate their status, but not George W. he knows that by the time the wing-nuts are through he will be the greatest Republican president since Ronald Reagan. It is amazing that he will be compared to Reagan since he is already displaying the same Alzheimer’s symptoms that Reagan exhibited prior to leaving office. But if I remember correctly it was Nancy that relied on the Ouija board for direction. I guess if your reality is so awful it only makes sense to want to retreat into escapism, however we as a nation can not afford for our leader to be off in la-la-land while we suffer from a imploding economy and a war with no end in sight.

Rather than hope for magic and a superhero to appear and rescue us from his disastrous policies maybe the President could actually act like a president for a change and clean up some of the damage he has wrecked on not only the US, but the world. It is hard to believe the level of disconnect being displayed by this president, talk about a Nero complex. I can hardly wait for the magician to come and do tricks in the Rose Garden to cover Mr. Bush’s lack of action on any issues. Instead of being presidential Mr. Bush continues his stale refrain of blaming the Congress. For most of his presidency he has been given unlimited power and a free hand to lead this nation, now as he nears the end of his presidency instead of having accomplishments that he can herald the best he can do is to blame the cowardly Congress that has shown no backbone in standing up to him. Talk about biting the hand that has fed you.


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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

It’s A Man’s World?

In what is an alarming trend among American women, a study has found that for the first time in decades the life expectancy for women is declining. Women have always enjoyed longer life expectancies than men during modern times due in large part to their historic roles as homemakers. As more and more women have left the home and joined the workforce they have begun to suffer from the same stress related illnesses as men have suffered. As a result of their new roles outside the home they are now being diagnosed with larger instances of diseases such as diabetes, lung cancer, and heart disease. Most of these diseases are related to stress, poor eating and health habits.

The trend appears to be driven by increases in death from diabetes, lung cancer, emphysema and kidney failure. It reflects the long-term consequences of smoking, a habit that women took up in large numbers decades after men did, and the slowing of the historic decline in heart disease deaths.

It may also represent the leading edge of the obesity epidemic. If so, women's life expectancy could decline broadly across the United States in coming years, ending a nearly unbroken rise that dates to the mid-1800s.

The most disturbing trend found in the study is the increasing numbers of women suffering from obesity. While Americans across the board are heavier than the rest of the world and heavier than we have ever been, the largest gains in the obese population has been made by women. Presently 33 percent of American women are considered obese compared to 27% of Western European women, compared to Asia the numbers are staggering. Why are so many American women obese? Many health studies have suggested that the rise in fast food consumption due to the lack of time spent at home by working women has helped to fuel the obese epidemic. Along with the increased consumption of high fat fast food there is also the reduction in physical exercise by all Americans.

The most frightening trend of the obesity epidemic is the rise in childhood obesity. Because so many mothers are now working outside the home and with many of them having little time to prepare meals, the children are being exposed to those same high fat fast foods, also the increase in video game playing and less actual physical exercise has also led to an increase in childhood obesity. Because so many of our children are being exposed to being overweight we are sentencing them to lives beset with health problems. Many of the increases we have gotten in life expectancy and disease reductions are at risk of being reversed very quickly.

Women due to their position in our society have always enjoyed a longer life expectancy than men, however these trends I believe will begin to reverse and many women will continue to suffer from the same health issues that have plagued men. I believe that the numbers will actually become worse for women for two reasons. First, because we are physically different due to evolution, genetics, or whatever you choose to believe in men have tended to be better able to cope with the stress of providing; hunting or gathering, if you will. Secondly, because women today are not only hunting and gathering, but they are also still expected to care for the children and the home this increases the stress levels to unsustainable levels. The good news is that “you’ve come a long way baby”, the bad news is that the stress is going to kill you sooner.

While I am not advocating a return to “keep ‘em in the kitchen”, I do think it is worth noting that as we have increased the number of women working outside the home there have been some direct unhealthy behaviors developed in our homes and in the lives of women and children. We can’t un-ring the bell, but we must begin to combat the effects that are starting to emerge from this phenomenon. How we do this of course is open to debate by greater minds than mine, but if the current trends continue our healthcare system is headed for a total meltdown due to preventable causes.


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Monday, April 28, 2008

Divisive or Descriptive?

The Reverend Jeremiah Wright spoke at the Detroit Chapter of the NAACP’s annual fundraising event over the weekend. The speech was carried by CNN live and allowed Reverend Wright to speak to his critics while at the same time speaking to the larger theme of the event which was, “A Change is Gonna Come”. Like so much of what occurs in American society the speech will be evaluated based on the listener’s frame of reference. For many in the black community the speech will be hailed as brilliant and will demonstrate Reverend’s Wright superior intellect and skilled articulation talents. For some in the white community it will be misconstrued and reinforce their views of him as being divisive. How is it possible that so many people can hear the same speech and yet reach so many different conclusions?

Are we so divided and so different that we can’t even acknowledge our differences. And having once acknowledged those differences can we not celebrate them or are we so tribal that anyone who is not exactly like us we view as deficient? In rhetoric and language befitting a leader in the black Church, Dr. Wright attempted to characterize the differences we share and their history to depict why there are those who are either unable or unwilling to understand his past characterizations of the country that he served. Let’s be clear, many of those who are questioning the patriotism of Reverend Wright have themselves chosen for whatever reasons not to serve their country, except as Mitt Romney so aptly described by campaigning for their fathers. Reverend Wright served this country as not only a Marine, but also as a member of the US Navy.

I am no expert in democracy or in Constitutional law, but I believe that if someone chooses to place his life on the line in defense of this nation, a nation that for a long time refused to apply equal protection for all of its citizens, has a right to criticize that same nation. I am so sick and tired of this false wing-nut narrative that anyone who criticizes America is anti-America or anyone who does not wear a flag lapel pin is giving aid and comfort to terrorists. As if to say that anything and everything that has been done in America and by America has been right. Forgive me, but my take on the Freedom of Speech clause is that as members of a democracy we have the right to criticize or to praise our nation as we see fit. Whether you agree with his views or not, Reverend Wright has every right to express them. Why is it that we have to display our war stance when it comes to surrendering our civil rights, but we do not have to display it when it comes to making actual sacrifices for the effort?

While I agree with the basic premise of Reverend Wright’s speech which is, why must everything and everyone be placed under “the white man’s burden?” For those who are not aware the white man’s burden is to elevate the blacks, reds, browns, and yellows of this world to the grand standard of Western European culture, as if to say no other culture has brought anything to the world but them. Just because you are a bully that doesn’t make you right, it just makes you a bully. If it were not for the Native American culture, those great European settlers would have never survived in this hemisphere. There are those who expect those of us who have received the brunt of American discrimination and racism to quietly accept our fate and anyone who “describes” those atrocities are being divisive. Are we to believe that those perpetrating these atrocities are doing so with the purpose of unifying us as a Nation?

Where I take exception with Reverend Wright and any other spokesman of God, is that while it is important to speak out against injustice and all the other deficiencies in human character, one must do so in a different forum than the Church. I understand that for many years in the black community the Church was the only release for the frustration and anger many felt with their conditions; however one must separate the worldly from the spiritual. In other words, it is a sin to steal yet there maybe extenuating circumstances to mitigate the stealing. Those mitigating circumstances cannot be a part of the message of the Church against stealing, that message must be delivered outside of the Holy proclamation. Social causes while important must not be allowed to interfere with the true message of the Church. The Apostle Paul only preached one sermon repeatedly; “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”[1]

Representatives of God should not use the altar to assail their brothers no matter how large their shortcomings. One can acknowledge evil and injustice in a way that does not cast aspersions on any one group. Evil and inhumanity knows no color or race. The recent blood-letting in Africa can attest to that fact. In my opinion pointing out the ills of a government should not be done from the pulpit, but from the soap box in the public square. Ministers should separate the Church from social commentary, just as we have separation of Church and state for the protection of the Church, we also need it for the protection of the Republic. While it is becoming increasingly difficult in our society to “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to give to God what is God’s, it is a distinction we must maintain at all costs.

[1] 1 Corinthians 2:2

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Friday, April 25, 2008

The Missing Billions From The Housing/Credit Crunch

I have good news and bad news. The good news is that I am happy to report that we have located all of those missing billions from the mortgage/credit meltdown. You know all of those profits from all of those questionable loans that the banks made to the mortgage companies, who in turn with the help of the hedge fund managers bundled them together and presented them to an unsuspecting public as stable investment vehicles. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the money was found in the pockets and bank accounts of the ones who helped to start this fiasco. In what is becoming an all too familiar scene the authors of the mortgage fraud have walked away with billions in profits while the rest of the country prepares for tough times ahead.

Hedge fund managers have redefined notions of wealth in recent years. And the richest among them are redefining those notions once again.

Their unprecedented and growing affluence underscores the gaping inequality between the millions of Americans facing stagnating wages and rising home foreclosures and an agile financial elite that seems to thrive in good times and bad. Such profits may also prompt more calls for regulation of the industry.

Even on Wall Street, where money is the ultimate measure of success, the size of the winnings makes some uneasy. “There is nothing wrong with it — it’s not illegal,” said William H. Gross, the chief investment officer of the bond fund Pimco. “But it’s ugly.”[1]

So here is what we know, the CEO’s of the main players in the mortgage meltdown made bonuses in the millions while they steered their companies to the verge of bankruptcy. The hedge fund managers made billions- this is not a typo- they made billions as they played both sides against each other. We have surpassed the avarice of the Gilded Age and have created a whole new level of greed not seen before in this country and maybe not in this world. If you thought we had reached the stage where a few super-wealthy families were influencing the economies of the world, you haven’t seen anything. There will be untold carnage left behind by these hedge funds as they grow larger and more influential. Imagine managing and moving around amounts of money that dwarf many countries GNP’s and how that will affect the smaller and more volatile economies.

This news comes on the reports of the MSM of how everyone lost during this economic meltdown, well I guess everyone didn’t lose. The biggest losers were the average homeowners and investors who have been made prey for those who will never have enough. How much is enough money? How much is enough cars, clothes, and stuff? The level of disconnect between what people actually do and what they earn in the area of investing and financing has reached the level of the absurd.

Top hedge fund managers made money in many ways last year, from investing in overseas stock markets to betting that prices of commodities like oil, wheat and copper would rise. Some, like Mr. Paulson, profited handsomely from the turmoil in the mortgage market ripping through the economy.

As early as 2005, Mr. Paulson began betting that complex mortgage investments known as collateralized debt obligations would decline in value, much as Wall Street traders bet that shares will drop in price. In that case, known as shorting, they borrow shares and sell them, wait for the price to fall, buy the shares back at a lower price and return them, pocketing the profit.

Then, over the next two years, Mr. Paulson established two funds to focus on the credit markets. One of those funds returned 590 percent last year, and the other handed back 353 percent, according to Alpha. By the end of 2007, Mr. Paulson sat atop $28 billion in assets, up from $6 billion 12 months earlier.[2]

All this money making and profit taking is news to me because I lost money from my investments across the board last year. How is it possible that the market you are investing in lost money, but you actually made money? And not just a little money, but a perverse amount of money that would even be considered exorbitant in good times let alone in falling markets. I am not a Rhodes Scholar economist, but I know bullsh*t when I see it. And what we are watching in America today is exactly that. These guys use borrowed money and bail-outs to generate these excessive profits all the while espousing the impending menace of the entitlement programs, government safety nets and their subsequent implosion. Give me a break! If these guys would pay half the money they and their corporations should be paying in taxes many of the ills they speak of would be non-existent.



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Monday, April 21, 2008

Not Another Compassionate Conservative

Here we go from the sublime to the absurd, John McCain in an attempt to repeat the Bush campaign strategy of 2000 is visiting the “forgotten places” in America. Presenting himself as a reincarnation of the compassionate conservative Senator McCain is on tour visiting the “Black Belt” of Alabama, Appalachia, Youngstown, Ohio, and New Orleans. Maybe Senator McCain has forgotten who has been in the White House these last 8 years while these forgotten places have been pushed to the breaking point. Hopefully, the American public has not forgotten and will see this obvious heavy-handed attempt to appear as something he is not. I am not counting on the media to point out the inconsistencies of McCain’s policies from his “listening tour”.

GEE’S BEND, Ala.—Senator John McCain opened a weeklong tour of the nation’s “forgotten places” in Alabama’s Black Belt on Monday by acknowledging the challenge he faces in appealing to African-Americans and admitting that “I am aware of the fact that there will be many people who will not vote for me.”

“There must be no forgotten places in America, whether they have been ignored for long years by the sins of indifference and injustice, or have been left behind as the world grew smaller and more economically interdependent,” Mr. McCain said to a largely white and friendly crowd that gathered to hear his remarks on the banks of the Alabama River.[1]

I guess just because you are visiting the “Black Belt” doesn’t mean you have to actually visit with black people. Mr. McCain obviously doesn’t feel like proposing tax-breaks for corporations and making the Bush tax-cuts permanent as being unjust or indifferent. The worst form of racism and injustice is poverty. I guess though if you buy a few quilts from old black women it makes up for all the rest. It makes up for ignoring the debates that were held at Morgan State University that was designed to highlight issues of concern to black voters. Someone in the McCain camp has come up with the brilliant idea of trying to exploit the current Democratic riffs and the electoral “bitterness” by having him appear as someone who cares about their discontent and as an alternative to the angry Democrats. I suspect the Senator will also make similar purchases in his other stops; maybe some moonshine in Appalachia, some tires in Youngstown, and some gumbo in New Orleans.

The truth is that Senator McCain and his campaign could care less about the forgotten places of America or the forgotten people they will find there. The real purpose of this trip is to collect commercial footage for the fall and photo-ops for the wing-nut commentators to proclaim Senator McCain as a different kind of Republican, a maverick if you will. Whoever the Democratic nominee is going to be they will need to be prepared for the same campaign tactics used by Bush and Rove. Regardless of what McCain says he is already mimicking the Bush strategies, this fall is going to be ugly. When you don’t have any popular policies of your own and you are promoting the unpopular policies of an outgoing President with a 30% popularity rating, you are going to have to rely on deception. I can hardly wait to see the campaign ads of McCain talking to blacks and poor people looking concerned with that patriotic music in the background.

At the very least, the trip is providing footage for Mr. McCain’s future campaign commercials, as occurred later in the day when the candidate was serenaded with old Negro spirituals by the quilters of Gee’s Bend, Ala., during a slow-moving ferry ride across a part of the Alabama River.

While a campaign camera crew recorded the scene from an accompanying pontoon boat, Mr. McCain stood on the ferry surrounded by a dozen African-American quilters who sang “Old Ship of Zion” to the vaguely embarrassed candidate. Mr. McCain had just come from a visit to their quilting center.[2]

With Iraqi surge footage already in hand, Mr. McCain’s campaign is replicating the infamous “Mission Accomplished” moments of George Bush. The more McCain proclaims his differences from George Bush the more his campaign resembles the Bush campaigns. The Republicans believe they have a winning strategy that they can still use despite all the evidence to the contrary. The reports of the Republican demise maybe be premature and exaggerated.



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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Foreclosure Prevention Act For Whom?

Ok, call me crazy but I thought a foreclosure prevention bill is suppose to be designed to help average folks stem off foreclosures. So will someone tell me how a foreclosure prevention bill would contain bail-out money for automakers, airlines, alternative energy producers and other struggling industries? What do these clowns in Washington have to do to prove to the American public where their loyalties lie. Why is it that when average Americans seek help from their government they are treated to: rely on capitalism and the free enterprise system, but when these CEO’s, who get million dollar bonuses whether their companies succeed or not, make bad business decisions it is ok for the government to bail them out. Who says we are capitalist? I guess the poor are, but the rich sure as hell aren’t.

WASHINGTON — The Senate proclaimed a fierce bipartisan resolve two weeks ago to help American homeowners in danger of foreclosure. But while a bill that senators approved last week would take modest steps toward that goal, it would also provide billions of dollars in tax breaks — for automakers, airlines, alternative energy producers and other struggling industries, as well as home builders.

The tax provisions of the Foreclosure Prevention Act, which consumer groups and labor leaders say amount to government handouts to big business, show how the credit crisis, while rattling the housing and financial markets, has created beneficiaries in the power corridors of Washington.

These representatives of the people have made the argument that they don’t want to bail-out consumers who have made bad credit choices. Let’s say for the sake of argument that some mom and pops did overextend their budgets and purchased homes a little out of their budgets. These people made bad decisions concerning thousands of dollars, while these CEO’s have made bad decisions in the millions of dollars. I can never understand how so many Americans have bought into the false narrative that the government safety net for them is bad, but that it is ok for corporations. It is this same mentality that allowed so many Americans to bite the bullet during the Depression while their rich counterparts continued to live high on the hog. We are being treated to a similar situation today, while many Americans are facing dire economic straits the hedge-fund managers, CEO’s, and other Wall-Streeters have not only lost any buying power they have actually increased their wealth.

Congressional Democrats are also hearing from consumer advocates and other groups who say that the Senate bill does little to help Americans in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure.

“The Senate legislation gave corporations and Wall Street billions in tax breaks,” Terence M. O’Sullivan, the president of the Laborers International Union of North America, said at a news conference on Tuesday to denounce the bill.

“Tax breaks for corporate home builders won’t help stabilize the housing market, won’t create jobs and won’t prevent a single foreclosure,” he continued. “If anything, this multibillion-dollar windfall will make things worse.”

It doesn’t seem to matter who is in the White House or who is in the majority in the House the results are the same. The moneychangers continue to rob from the public coffers with little resistance or oversight from those elected to protect us. Instead of bickering about who is bitter and who isn’t, who has more experience, or who is out of touch maybe our candidates could discuss how they are going to deal with coming economic meltdown and the continuing transfer of wealth from the average American to the super-rich. What a campaign about issues? God forbid.

Senator McCain has made it clear that he has no intention of changing course on the war or the economy. And instead of focusing on the real enemy of the American people the Democrats are arguing about the most insignificant things in an effort to distance themselves from each other. They need to be distancing us from the ill-fated policies of Bush and his clone McSame. But who wants a campaign that deals with issues, when we can have the “Desperate Candidates” soap-opera? In the meantime the folks who need foreclosure relief the most will lose out to the likes of American Airlines, Goodyear, and General Motors all of whom I guess are subject to foreclosure.


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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Some Would Rather Switch Than Fight

It would seem that the Iraqization of the war is not going quite as well as planned. After 5 years of training and billions of dollars, the Iraqi Army and police forces are still a long way from standing on their own. There had been rumors and reports that it took the American and British forces to provide much needed support during the Iraqi government’s badly planned, badly executed offensive in Basra against the “criminal element” that had taken over the city and the oil rich port. Many have reported that the offensive was designed and executed by the al-Maliki government to weaken possible rivals in the upcoming elections. The main target appeared to be the Mahdi Army militia, the militia formed by the powerful cleric Moktada al-Sadr.

According to reports, at least 1300 Iraqi police and armed forces refused to fight or deserted during the offensive. This has to be troubling news to the White House, General Petraeus, and the Republican war cheerleader and nominee John McCain. The reason it is troubling is because at some point the American public is going to expect the Iraqis to shoulder more of the responsibility of rebuilding their country and at least providing for its security. There are few things Americans detest more than cowardice. In a country where the national icons are John Wayne and Ronald Reagan there is no place for deserters and cowards, especially among those whose country we are “liberating”. I almost wish that I watched the talking heads and pundits on this one; I would love to hear how they reconcile the exploits of the Iraqis with the John Wayne narrative. Or about how much American blood is being spilled for their liberation.

BAGHDAD — Iraqi officials said Sunday that they had fired about 1,300 soldiers and police officers who refused to fight Shiite Muslim militias during the recent government crackdown, desertions that raise questions about the likely performance of Iraqi forces as U.S. troop levels decrease.

Whatever the reasons, the desertions are a sign of what critics have said were broader problems with the offensive ordered by Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, including overly rapid deployment of shaky troops and lack of planning. Some say this points to weaknesses in Maliki’s leadership and portends ongoing problems as future American troop levels continue to be a focus of debate in Washington.

“There’s a certain bravado to the current [Iraqi] leadership, believing they can come into a difficult situation and just with a show of force make things happen the way they want,” said the American military official, who spoke anonymously because of his critique of the U.S.-backed Iraqi leader.

“There’s so much that it takes to plan a military operation. All that stuff had not been done,” the official said.

For those with eyes to see it is becoming ever more apparent that the reason we must remain in Iraq is not to fight al-Qaeda, but to ensure the survival of whatever puppet regime we install. The wing-nuts have no intention of spending all that coin and expending those lives for the Iraqis to choose their on way of government. We came to spread democracy and damn it that’s what we are going to spread. Could you imagine if after all the lives and material we have expended and we end up creating another Iran what the fall-out to the Republican brand would be? This is no longer about al-Qaeda, oil, or democracy; it is now about the future of government in America. The Republicans can not leave Iraq and have any hope of ever gaining a majority again. They know this and that is why regardless of their personal feelings about this fiasco they will continue to stay in lock-step with their leadership.

The Republicans have staked their long-term political future on the “war on terror” and as long as they are hitched to this issue they will not go quietly into that good night. The war on terror has morphed into just plain terror, no war or enemy to fear just be afraid; be very afraid. With the latest performance of the Iraqi military and government I can see why they are afraid, but why are we afraid? Anyone who still buys the notion that the terrorists will have a victory if we leave Iraq or that they will follow us home seriously needs to have their Thorazine dosage increased. There were no terrorists in Iraq before we got there and there will be none left when we leave. They will not follow us home either, hell I’m a black American citizen and I can barely get back into the country from Mexico. Is this to say there won’t be anymore attacks? Of course not. If someone is willing to die to further their cause there is no defense against that, despite all the Republican wing-nut rhetoric.

However, there is some good news to report from the Basra debacle. It seems that we are actually making progress in training and preparing the Iraqi troops. According to reporters who have been reporting from Iraq since the beginning of hostilities the number of desertions has actually gone down. So at this rate we should be able to field a full cadre of Iraqi forces in another 10 years. Thank God for progress…

There are sure to be more volleys, though a comment last week on the PBS program Charlie Rose added some perspective to the number of desertions — 1,300 — that has provided so much fuel for the debate. Rather than being surprised, Dexter Filkins, a Times correspondent who reported from Iraq between 2003 and 2006, called the desertions “remarkable” for being so limited. Here’s why:

In 2004, when they tried to push the Iraqi army into battle, it disappeared. They all defected.

“Progress has been made,” Mr. Filkins continued. “Whether it’s enough progress” is another question entirely, he added in a joint appearance on the program with John F. Burns of The New York Times.


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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

What I Learned In Kindergarten

As the Democratic primary continues to drag on I am reminded of a book I read a long time ago. The name of the book was, “All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten”. Obviously the candidates and their campaigns didn’t read the book, if they had maybe there would be a lot less of this incessant snipping that has overtaken the issues in this campaign. In the book the author states that the most important lessons in life the Golden Rule, honesty, clean up your own mess, and say you're sorry when you hurt somebody he learned in kindergarten. These valuable lessons would be a welcome change on the campaign trail. For many of us, kindergarten represented our first foray into the social experiment we call society. It was important to learn the ground rules of interpersonal communications to learn how to navigate the many pitfalls that await those who don’t learn them.

GRANTHAM, Pa. — A candidate forum devoted to issues of faith and justice became another flash point for Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton to spar in their intensifying nominating fight, with the candidates exchanging frosty glances Sunday night as their paths briefly crossed on stage.

The Democratic contenders addressed the Compassion Forum at Messiah College here, one after the other. Their cold, quick encounter as they traded places on the stage reflected the hostility between them over the past two days as Mrs. Clinton has repeatedly hammered Mr. Obama for remarks he made at a fund-raiser suggesting that some voters turned to religion and guns as consolation for their bitterness about their economic hardship.[1]

While each candidate’s supporters will want to claim the high ground in this campaign and blame the other for any perceived slights or violation of their sacred cows. The problem with having two historical candidacies is that each one believes they have an inherent right to be in the race and the eventual nominee. The problem with their supporters is that they also believe their “cause” is the only important cause in the election. So here we are with both camps going back forth like schoolchildren, each one complaining of the others unfair advantage in the media, in the polls, and in the gender/race wars. She doesn’t like blacks, he doesn’t like women or rural whites, or he/she is a sellout. The longer this process goes on the more absurd the charges have become.

Because there is so little difference in the overall policy directions of both candidates, they both essentially want the same things; the devil is in the details. Since there are no glaring differences, for instance one wants tax-cuts and the other one doesn’t or one favors abortion and the other one doesn’t, we are left with these magnified differences to show separation. Small differences and slights have been elevated to mountain status, instead of focusing on the definable differences between themselves and John McCain; the campaigns would rather focus on the minute differences between the two. So we are left with this back and forth on a range of topics that will have no bearing on the general election.

Religion has become a contentious subtext in the Democratic campaign in recent days after Mr. Obama’s comments. Before the forum, he began his most spirited counterattack on Mrs. Clinton since the flap erupted over his remarks, saying of her attacks, “She knows better. Shame on her.” He also mocked Mrs. Clinton’s own recent comments courting gun owners, saying she was “talking like she’s Annie Oakley. Hillary Clinton’s out there like she’s on the duck blind every Sunday. She’s packing a six-shooter. Come on, she knows better.”[2]

Let’s face it politicians pander, that’s what they do. In order to gain votes each one tailors his/her message to appeal to that electorate. As this thing moves forward they will have to tailor more specific messages to target more specific voters in order to highlight differences and in the process even minor position changes are going to be trumpeted from the rooftops. So we end up with much ado about nothing. And the MSM in an effort to sell more ads will continue to stoke any perceived riff between the Democrats while affording John McCain as much positive coverage as they can.

On Friday, it got to be too much for Alegre, a diarist on the flagship liberal blog DailyKos, who frequently writes in support of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“I’ve put up with the abuse and anger because I’ve always believed in what our online community has tried to accomplish in this world,” Alegre wrote Friday evening. “No more.”

Objecting to the tone of attacks against Mrs. Clinton and her supporters on the blog, the diarist called for a “writers strike.”[3]

What is amazing to me is how the blogosphere has allowed itself to be dragged into this. I can understand how fanatical supporters are being tossed to and fro by every little detail and every little slight, but where is the perspective? Many supporters of both candidates have gone off the deep end with their fanatical belief that their gender/race candidate has some inherent birthright to the Presidency and anyone who does not share in their belief is out of touch with reality. As if not electing their candidate will be the end of the world as we know it, the time for race/gender identity politics must end.

I suggest we all go back to kindergarten and relearn some valuable lessons that many of us have forgotten. Here’s a good one - When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.


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Monday, April 14, 2008

Mission Accomplished?

I just have one question for the architects and proponents of this global war on terror, how will we know when it is over? Who will sign the treaty papers for the terrorists? Will it be Osama bin Laden? The truth is that there will be no surrender ceremony because we are not really fighting a war. We are not fighting a war in the conventional sense. It is sort of like the “war on poverty” or the “war on drugs” there is no identifiable point of success or failure. Because our enemy is undefined and really impossible to defeat there are no “benchmarks” to gauge our successes or failures. We have been fighting the war on poverty since 1964 and poverty has not surrendered yet. We have been fighting the war on drugs since 1972 and drugs have yet to surrender. In fact in both case we have actually lost ground to both enemies. The problem with declaring war on these types of enemies is that you become entrenched in the mindset of the original declaration.

For instance, we are still fighting poverty and drugs in many of the same ways we were when the wars were declared. Even though we know from study after study that we are not fighting them efficiently or with any great success, we continue doing the same things. In the war on poverty there were some initial large scale successes, but a lot of that was due to the severity of the problems. Poverty had been so widespread in many parts of America that any efforts to alleviate its effects brought welcome change to those suffering its ill-effects. However, due to a relentless campaign by the Right to vilify the poor a lot of the gains that were made were lost to inertia and false propaganda. There are those who have even falsely reported that poverty no longer exists in America. The war on drugs has produced similar results, the biggest fallout being the new prison industrial complex that now houses over 2 million Americans. The largest number of an imprisoned populace in the industrialized world.

Which brings us to the war on terror, due to the nature of the conflict we have the potential of an endless conflict. For the sake of argument let’s say we “win” in Iraq, will this be the end of the war? What about Pakistan? Iran? The Philippines? The definition of terrorist has become so generic and nonspecific that anyone can be classified as one and any conflict can be recast as an insurgency. Those who are now classified as terrorist for the most part are those who have not accepted globalization and the Western civilization model. So we have an unlimited supply of enemies and potential trouble-spots, the question now becomes how can the American public be persuaded to continue their unwavering support for a war that can not be won, against an enemy that cannot surrender?

I read a commentary a few days ago about the situation in Iraq. In it the author discussed how the war in Iraq has already been won as much as we can win it from a military standpoint. Our troops did an outstanding job of doing what armies prior to the war on terror were supposed to do. They routed the Iraqi army and deposed a dictator. So from a military standpoint the military did what it was created to do. The problem is that since then we have asked them to do what they were not created to do and the results have been well documented. The job of the military is to launch an attack and defeat a known enemy. Our military did an amazing job of carrying out it’s role in this ill advised invasion, they crushed the Iraqi army and rolled into Bagdad in less than two months. No one can argue that our military did not complete the mission it was designed to do. The Bushies have placed the military in an untenable position.

The military is stretched beyond any sustainable level with no end in sight, enlistments are at all-time lows, and we have yet to feel the healthcare crisis from the long deployments of our military personnel. And yet despite all of these facts, we have Senator McSame and the General claiming that victory is at hand. My question is victory over whom? The victory is not ours to declare in Iraq, our victory has already been completed. As long as we continue to define victory and loss in obsolete terminology we will be destined to repeat the same mistakes we have made in the our other two ill-fated wars. We constantly read and hear about how the war on terror is a new type of warfare, yet we continue to define it in antiquated terms. The war in Iraq has nothing to do with the war on terror and the sooner we force our politicians and our military leaders to separate them the better off we will be as a nation. As long as we allow them to keep the two connected, we will continue to spend billions on a war we can never win.

Imagine if we had taken all the money that we have spent fighting the war on terror in military terms and had spent that money actually improving the lives of the people in these countries. We could have declared victory in the war on terror without ever firing a shot. But lets face it, there’s no profits in peaceful resolution of conflicts. There is profits in armaments. There is profits in reconstruction of the damage caused by those armaments. We spend billions of dollars destroying countries and ruining lives, money which could be used to renovate and rejuvenate these ailing societies. But just like the war on poverty at home has been fought with little enthusiasm, so has our efforts abroad to actually overhaul these societies through peaceful means.

I know it hasn’t been reported yet but the terrorists have surrendered. There was just no one at the table to take their surrender. We were too busy fighting the crusade to fight the real war. We were too busy invading and occupying the wrong countries to address the real terrorists. So the next time someone says that the mission was accomplished, they will be telling the truth. The problem is the mission that was accomplished wasn’t the mission they were sent to do. What should have been a military operation under George Bush became a political operation and we continue to deal with the fall-out.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Napalm In The Morning

It’s time for another round of “a funny thing happened on the way to al Qaeda” starring the latest in a long line of political military men General David H. Petraeus. It seems surprising that in the midst of a hotly contested election the General received little fanfare this trip. There were no full page ads, no massive protests, or no political lynching. Can I say the word lynching when talking about a white man or would that be construed as racist since I am black? Oh well, let the rhubarb begin. How long will we continue to accept no answer as an answer? The last General that provided fewer details about a war effort, it’s eventual conclusion and was able to keep his job was also a Republican military hack by the name of George McClellan.

WASHINGTON — Gen. David H. Petraeus, the senior American commander in Iraq, recommended on Tuesday halting any additional withdrawals of American troops after July for at least 45 days and possibly more, telling Congress that progress there was “fragile and reversible.”

General Petraeus said that security progress has been “significant but uneven.” Under questioning, he declined to estimate American troop levels beyond the withdrawal by July of five additional combat brigades sent to Iraq last year. And he acknowledged that the government’s recent offensive in Basra was not sufficiently well-planned.[1]

I don’t know if ever a man was brought so far to say so little. We know absolutely no more today than we did 15 months ago when this General who “wrote” the book on terrorist and counter-insurgent warfare began his crusade to liberate the Iraqis. The refrain from these guys is always the same, we just need more time. I don’t get it we defeated two enemies in two different theaters in the past with a lot less sophisticated weapons and systems than we have today and in less time. It appears that Bush’s war of attrition is working, the problem is it isn’t working on the insurgents in Iraq it is working on the American public. It is difficult for many Americans to deal with the tanking economy, the housing crisis, and general uneasiness of our job markets to have much time left over for an unpopular war over there.

I am surprised by the reactions of many to the news that the General has to offer, we must remember that he is the commander of troops who are in a deadly conflict and regardless of the situation he must remain positive. Do we really think he will come to Washington and say that we are in a situation that we can not win? It isn’t going to happen. What we must do as a nation is to listen to what he is saying and put it into context of what we know to be true. The problem with the politicians and the military leaders involved in this conflict is that they have allowed the Bushies to define the nature of the conflict, irrespective of the true facts on the ground. By not understanding or discussing the true nature of the conflict we can never define victory or defeat.

Our political and military leaders would like us to believe that the war is about al Qaeda, that this is just an extension of the “war on terror”, the truth is that it isn’t. The biggest obstacles to Iraqi unity and reconstruction is not al Qaeda or Iran, it is the tribal divisions of the Iraqis themselves. We do not and cannot control the events in Iraq and anyone who believes that we can is either ignorant of the precarious position of occupations or worse they are deliberately being disingenuous for political goals. We do not nor can we ever have enough “boots on the ground” to control the events in Iraq, no more than we control the events in Korea, Japan, or Western Europe. Would anyone claim that we control the events in any of these regions? Of course they wouldn’t.

We need to move beyond the unrealistic goals being discussed in our political and military circles. We need to move from trying to control the events in Iraq and to influencing the events. Currently, we do not influence the events in Iraq because we have leveraged ourselves with the war on terror rhetoric and the Iranian demagoguery. Instead of continuing the imperialist strategy of empire building, we need to adopt a more reserved role similar to the Europeans. Our greatest efforts on the world stage have come not from controlling events, but from influencing events. We cannot offset the Iranian regional expansion through control, every time we have tried to control events in the Middle-East, we have failed miserably.

Mr. McCain and Mrs. Clinton reserved their real fire for each other. Shortly after the hearing began, Mr. McCain was out of the gate with an opening statement that called on Americans to reject the calls for a “reckless and irresponsible withdrawal of our forces at the moment when they are succeeding” and that promising such a withdrawal, “regardless of the consequences,” was a “a failure of political and moral leadership.”[2]

What is a failure of political leadership is to use our troops for political gain by relying on the fabrication of the al Qaeda in Iraq and the Iranian training grounds myth. We cannot begin to exert influence in Iraq and the region until we disengage from this crusade mentality and instead of becoming of a dictator we become a partner. Until we do this, no surge or temporary decrease in violence will be worth it’s weight in salt.


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Monday, April 7, 2008

Black Marriage Day?

There is a problem in the black community, no it is not a problem, it is an epidemic that receives little if any coverage in the media and very little discussion in the community. The problem is the significant decrease of marriage in the black community. No community has a more anemic record of marriage than blacks. The lack of marriage has devastated the black family and in turn damaged the black community. The number of marriages has been declining for all races and groups in America for the last 30 years. While this is a troubling fact for our country as a whole, my emphasis is on the damage this decrease has brought to the black family structure, because it has been one of the leading causes of internal strife in our community.

The bad news is that the number of Black married couples is only half the number of married Whites, and the situation is getting worse. In 1963 when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his "I Have a Dream" speech, more than 70 percent of all Black families were headed by married couples. In 2002 that number was 48 percent.

An even more alarming statistic is the increase in the number of both Black men and women who have never been married. Nearly 45 percent of Black men have never married and 42 percent of Black women have never married. More to the point, an increasing number of Black women will never get married. The percentage of Black women who are married declined from 62 percent to 31 percent between 1950 and 2002.

As an Orthodox Christian, I have religious reasons for wanting to see the black family strengthened and our communities restored through marriage. I believe that marriage was created by God to protect us from ourselves. Human beings by their nature are selfish creatures and if given the chance would choose selfish pleasure over responsibility. Imagine a world without marriage, where there were no boundaries to seeking selfish pleasure. Even with the institution of marriage some people still have a hard time denying their selfish interests. But even if you are not prone to religion, the social evidence is clear. Children from two parent homes regardless of their race, economic status, or culture do better than those from single-parent homes. We have had study after study that bears this fact out, only the most ignorant and fanatical person would argue otherwise.

So with such indisputable evidence how is the following even possible? A community activist in Richmond, VA. was speaking to a group of young black girls about marriage. She began the conversation by asking the girls two questions and their responses to these questions speaks volumes about the state of our communities and our future. It also reveals the level of spiritual mutilation and psychological injury we have allowed to be done to our daughters.

RICHMOND, Va.— The questions Richmond activist Adia Blackmon posed to a group of 13 girls were basic.
How many wanted to be mothers?
Blackmon, charged with mentoring the girls, counted 13 arms in the air.
How many wanted to be wives?
Their response shed light on a community that leads the nation in levels of single-parent homes.
"Only one hand went up," said Blackmon, who was floored by the response from black girls as young as 11.
"They said they wanted the fathers to be involved and wouldn't mind them coming around," she said.
"But they did not want to be married to them

The responses of these girls should be alarming and heartbreaking to anyone concerned about not only the state of the black community, but also the mental health of our young girls. As a response to this and similar situations around the country someone decided to have a “Black Marriage Day”, during this day which was designed to celebrate and hopefully encourage marriage in the black community some 200 cities featured seminars, award dinners, and vow-renewal ceremonies. Any efforts to improve the state of marriage is a noble goal to be sure and should be applauded. The issue I have with this celebration and the similar ones that have been held to highlight different problems in the black community is that in the midst of an epidemic our answer is a one day event? Our children are dying and all we can muster is a one day occasion. Sometimes the apathy of our community is mind numbing to me.

I’m sorry but we have life and death issues occurring in our communities that are going to require a bit more than these one shot publicly stunts. The resolutions to our problems are going to require the full input and the full-time efforts of our community as whole. These are complex issues and they did not occur overnight. We have allowed them to fester and go unchallenged for years. It will take years to overcome the malaise and spiritual deprivation that we have allowed to permeate our collective consciousness. Today, we have accepted children out of wedlock in the black community as if this were the normal state of life. I am not advocating that we return to the dark ages, but there is a big difference in a mistake and a life-style choice. Many of our young women are opting to using men as sperm donors only, having the mistaken belief that men are not necessary to raise a family.

Anyone who chooses to bring a child into this world alone with the following
statistics from the Census Bureau or these from the Responsible Fatherhood Clearing House is not showing love for a child, but instead selfishness. If you know that by having a child alone, you are more than likely sentencing that child to a life of struggle from the very beginning, this is not love. It is unfortunate that in our community for many women, if it were not for their children born out of wedlock, they would be alone. It is time we recognize the damage not only being brought to us from the outside, but also the damage we are bringing on ourselves. I can’t control what others are doing, but I can control what I am doing to myself.

I wrote an essay on
gentrification and how do we integrate the poor into these new neighborhoods and I received a number of comments about how what I was suggesting was to make them more “white”. This troubled me because for many their racism is so ingrained that for them anyone who acts responsibly is equated with acting white, so the reverse of this is naturally to act irresponsibly is to act black. I would have accepted it better coming from devout racists, but these were comments from so-called liberals. The point is that no matter what our station in life is, we all have a responsibility to ourselves and to each other, this goes for the billionaire right down to the beggar.

[1] - BNet
[2] - Houston Chronicle

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Thursday, April 3, 2008

Enough Is Enough

If I hear or read about another billionaire claiming that the current economic woes we are suffering as a nation is due to our “entitlement” programs, I am going to scream. The latest in the long line of billionaire apologist is Pete Peterson. Mr. Peterson, is a longtime opponent of Social Security, Medicaid, and any other government programs targeted to help the needy, who appeared on Charlie Rose. According to Mr. Peterson it is not greed and speculation that has reeked havoc on our economy for the past 30 years, it is the entitlement programs. All this time I have been thinking that not being able to know when you’ve had enough is the problem. Come to find out I am looking in the wrong direction. Greed has been around for a long time, entitlements have not. The Crash and the Depression occurred prior to entitlements; I wonder who Mr. Peterson blames those on.

I believe the Social Security Trust Fund belongs in the first tier of classic oxymorons. In the first place, the Social Security Trust Fund should not be trusted, and it is not funded. We anesthetize the public with highly reassuring long-term statements that the trust funds are solvent for decades. Yet, we do not tell the public that the payroll taxes of our children and grandchildren would have to double to cover the costs of Social Security and Medicare. That is an unthinkable burden. We do not tell the public that whether you have a trust fund or not, you still face the same three hard choices: increased taxes, cut benefits, or try to borrow unprecedented amounts.

Now how much would we have to borrow? I think it’s time we started thinking in cash flow terms, because these programs are obviously pay-as-you-go programs. The projected cash flow deficits for Social Security and Medicare go from a modest $25 billion in 2003, to a projected $783 billion in 2020, and trillions of dollars thereafter.

These statements on the surface seem reasonable enough, we have not done a good job funding and fixing the entitlement programs. Instead of facing some tough realities and questions the politicians have continued to ignore them, afraid of providing the American public the ugly truth, ugly truths do not win elections. The problem I have with these guys is they present the picture as though the entitlements were the only item in the budget. So rather than saying it is a matter of priorities they present the picture as a zero-sum game. Nowhere do they mention the military budget, the tax-cuts, or the other government programs that make up the complete budget. We are left to believe that the entitlements exist on some island, isolated from the other expenditures.

Mr. Peterson discussed the Prescription Drug benefit that was added to Medicaid as an example of making a bad situation worse. I agree, but he doesn’t mention that he is a Republican and it was the Republicans who created the Bill that forbid the Government from negotiating prices for the prescriptions. I wish just once these guys would take responsibility for the messes they make. The Republicans built in astronomical profits for the benefit of the big pharmaceuticals, just as they did for big oil who is recording unprecedented profits. Nowhere does he mention the billions of dollars that were made during the mortgage meltdown by those same companies who are now crying bankruptcy. Is it me or did billions of dollars just disappear into thin air? Someone had to profit from all of those loans, why is this information never debated? Nor, did he mention that it is the Republicans who are trying to bankrupt the system to force its collapse.

Mr. Peterson stated that he supports John McCain and was asked about Senator McCain’s flop on the tax-cuts, he presented the standard line that what McCain was against was not tax-cuts per se but tax-cuts without spending cuts. McCain and his supporters are backpedaling so fast from statements like the following it blows the mind:

“Mr. President, the principle that guides my judgment of a tax reconciliation bill is tax relief for those who need it the most—lower- and middle-income working families. I am in favor of a tax cut, but a responsible one that provides significant tax relief for lower- and middle-income families. And I commend Sen. Grassley for moving in that direction. But I am concerned that debt will overwhelm many American households. That is why tax relief should be targeted to middle-income Americans. The more fortunate among us have less concern about debt. It is the parents struggling to make ends meet who are most in need of tax relief.

“I had expressed hope that when the reconciliation bill was reported out of the Senate Finance Committee, the tax cuts outlined would provide more tax relief to working, middle-income Americans. However, I am disappointed that the Senate Finance Committee preferred instead to cut the top tax rate of 39.6% to 36%, thereby granting generous tax relief to the wealthiest individuals of our country at the expense of lower- and middle-income American taxpayers.”

Senator McCain and Mr. Peterson have no problem today with the Feds bailing out Bear Sterns and the Wall Streeters, it is the average American who Senator McCain was concerned about in 2001 who don’t deserve any relief. Mr. Peterson said that while it was a dangerous precedence, he supported the bail-out to stem broader market drops. You have to love this line of, “we hate to do it and we know its bad business, but we have to. He gave the same excuse for all of the liquidity funds they have received from China. He didn’t seem to have any problem with China owning large sections of our banking industry. I’m no Nobel economist but even I know that can’t be a good idea.

Oh, by the way Mr. Peterson is making a donation of a billion dollars to help teach Americans how to save. First of all, how rich do you have to be to give away a billion dollars? Secondly, what he failed to mention is why the American family is in the situation it finds itself. Due to flat wage pressure being exerted by Mr. Peterson and his billionaire friends for the past 30 years, the wife has had to go to work to increase household buying power. After that money was spent, they began mortgaging their homes and running up credit card bills for expense money. Now that they have spent that money the well is now dry. And Mr. Peterson says if they had just saved money the economy wouldn’t be in this predicament. He wants consumers in a consumer economy to not consume or reduce consumption. That horse is already out of the barn, we have been bombarded since the age of television to buy. Where were the commercials for saving money?

[2] —Senate floor statement during debate over President Bush’s tax relief package, May 21, 2001.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

In Case You Forgot There Is A War

Thank God for the Iraqis, if it were not for them the MSM would have allowed John McCain to put the Iraq War in his pocket and run with it. Fortunately the Iraqis have other thoughts and have reminded the American public that yes there is still a war going on in Iraq. Despite all the hype and the John McCain “Mission Accomplished” banners, any peace in Iraq has very little to do with us and the surge and is dependent on the Iraqi people. It is unfortunate that it takes bodies and bloodshed to get the MSM’s attention, but of course when St. John declares peace is at hand who in the MSM is going to argue.

Mr. McCain said at a news conference in Amman that he continued to be concerned about Iranians “taking Al Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back.” Asked about that statement, Mr. McCain said: “Well, it’s common knowledge and has been reported in the media that Al Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran. That’s well known. And it’s unfortunate.”

Judging from McCain’s comments during his recent trip to the Middle East, it is pretty evident to see that he has every intention of carrying on the Bush legacy in Iraq and is sure to expand the conflict into Iran. It appears that Bush if given the opportunity will pass the gauntlet to McCain to continue the “Great Crusade” and retake the Holy Land expelling or killing any Muslims who are not willing to convert. They don’t have to convert to Christianity; these people aren’t concerned with religion although that would be a great side benefit they just have to convert to capitalism. They have to be willing to sell off their national treasures and resources to the multi-national corporations, benefiting the ruling class with little or no regard for those high minded democratic principles they espouse in their photo-ops.

It is like these people have been asleep for the past 50 years or they think we have been asleep. They have learned nothing from previous attempts to impose democracy at gun point. I am so tired of all those pundits and writers who dismiss any comparisons between Vietnam and Iraq. The only real connection that any of us have to be concerned with is the same arrogance of American Imperialism that has fueled both conflicts. Just as all the high-tech hardware could not defeat a determined insurgency in Vietnam, so it will not defeat the same in Iraq. The MSM talks about the reduction in violence, but what they fail to mention is that those reductions are contingent on payments being made to those who have at best allowed the attacks against our troops or at worst perpetrated them.

The current unrest in Iraq underscores the fact that the surge is not the explanation for the reduction in violence. The surge is a political strategy for the American public’s consumption and for the Beltway crowd. When the Iraqis are questioned about the surge their responses are markedly different than the American response. Given the choice between believing the reports of visiting politicians or those who are suffering daily from the hardships, I am going to believe those living through the reality on the ground. If the American public allows John McCain to run on the Iraq War, it will be one of the biggest travesties in American history. It will once again demonstrate to the world our disregard for facts or our insensitivity to the suffering of others. The Iraq War was bad policy 5 years ago and continues to be bad policy today. Invading another country under false pretences is wrong not because it has failed, but because it is morally wrong. How right and wrong have gotten equated to success or failure demonstrates how askew our moral compasses have become.

We must disengage from the Iraq occupation as quickly as possible whether or not the surge is working is not the issue. The issue is will we continue to support a policy that we know was based on lies or will we acknowledge our mistakes and move forward with the international community to help Iraq recover from those mistakes? The Iraq War will never be a success because it was morally wrong from the outset. Short of killing all the Iraqis and replacing them with American surrogates there will be no happy ending. Those peddling the elixir of victory are only continuing to sell a false hope like their carnival counterparts. It has been said that winning covers a multitude of stinky details, the truth is that after the incense goes out you are still left with a pile of crap. We may like to pretend that the war is over, but unfortunately the Iraqis can’t share in our world of make-believe.


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