Saturday, August 16, 2014

Putin and Peanut-head, Despots in the Making

 
  Last week it seemed that the world was going to Hell in a hand-basket, the hot Summer days making the militants bitchy and mean, to paraphrase an old song by the folk-singer John Stewart...

Now I can sit back, read the newspaper, and marvel at the stupidity of Vladimir Putin or whomever had the idea to send 260 Trojan Horses into the Ukraine, disguised as humanitarian aid. They are camped out near the border because they won't let anyone look at the cargo inside the trucks, which are all badly repainted military trucks, driven by men who say they are not soldiers, all wearing the same brown shorts, t-shirts, and brown caps. It gives an ominous tone to the phrase "what can Brown do for you..." A few of the trucks tried to sneak across the border at night, and were destroyed beyond recognition by Ukrainian forces, probably drones provided by western allies.

This game of humanitarian charades is about to end. Inspectors from the Red Cross or someone equally important are on their way, and we may soon learn if there is even one six-pack of bottled water in those 260 trucks, or will they slink back to Moscow, hiding their secrets, thinking up some great excuse to tell Mr. Putin. Or. will every driver get tired of playing, put on their uniforms and battle gear, making a mad dash to free Donetsk, or the very least, beef up the defenses in Crimea... I know that Putin doesn't like it when he's made fun of, but if he keeps on doing really stupid things, then telling dumb, transparent lies about them, he will end up the laughing-stock of the world...




Speaking of telling transparent lies, the GOP keeps trying to blame President Obama for everything bad that's going on in the world, including the rise of  ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The argument goes that if Obama had sent arms to the Syrian rebels or had left some American troops in Iraq, there probably wouldn't be any ISIS running rampant up and down Iraq, claiming towns for their own brand of Islamic Caliphate.

But if any one person should take the blame, it's Mr. Peanut-head himself, the Prime Minister of Iraq, Nouri al-Malicki. He made sure that the US didn't leave any troops behind, he also created a government of intolerance, ruled by Shias, and fuck the Sunnis. He arrested his political opponents, and chased out of the country anyone who had talent or leadership qualities, allowed the bombing of Sunni neighborhoods and gathering places. Yes, he became a Saddam mini-me...

And now, with pressure from both the US and our new BFF's in Iran, al-Malicki has finally agreed to step down and let some moderates try to form a more inclusive government. We'll see if this happens or if it really is too late. Of course, we could always let the Kurds take over the whole country. They have already proven that they can rule an area intelligently, without all of the drama and intolerance...





Monday, August 4, 2014

From Insane Right-Wing Russians to Insane Right-Wing Palestinians, It's a Hot Summer

I can't believe that I took such a long time off from this blog... It's certainly easier to turn on the TV and zone out watching reality shows than sitting down and trying to compose something entertaining. I thought that using a laptop would inspire creativity in more places, but found that balancing the keyboard on my lap is more difficult than sitting down at my desk in a more formal setting, there are too many ways to be distracted and us old men tend to take a lot of naps during the daytime...


I've long contended that people who are stuck in right-wing thinking are mentally ill and certifiably insane, and events playing out on the world stage right now are proving me correct. The most dangerous player, besides Ted Cruz, has to be Vladimir Putin. I see him, in some paranoid moment, reacting to some statement by the West making fun of him yet again, saying fuck it and launching his arsenal of nuclear weapons. It's enough to make the collective of Generals and Admirals salivate in their doggy bowls...

What is worse is how high Putin's approval rating is among Russians, which shows that the vast majority of the Russian people are working with the equivalent of an eighth grade education. He is going to become the permanent head of state, alternating between President and Prime Minister for the rest of his life, or until he convinces folks to let him combine the two posts for convenience sake. He has been chumming around with the heads of the Russian Orthodox Church, getting their support, and by extension, the approval of all Russian Christians, for when he combines both church and state. Many of the rebels in the Ukraine are Christians and are ecstatic that Putin is also a believer.

Putin's appearance as a strong figure willing to put guns in the hands of fellow believers may explain why many good-old-boy-southern-republicans are impressed with him, including too many congressmen... They don't see the short, neurotic, cruel man behind the mask. His ex-wife, when asked why she was divorcing him, said that it was because he was a "monster." Or, she said so until she was threatened to have her money cut off, among other threats... Even Germany's leader, Angela Merkel, has reported to Obama that ol' Vlad is detached from reality, and is not someone you can trust to make clear-headed decisions...


Another fun group that may set off WW111, are the leaders of Israel and Palestine. They make North Korea look like pre-schoolers when it comes to fanaticism. There's nothing more dangerous than a government full of hawkish, right-wing Jews butting antlers with even more hawkish, right-wing Islamic jihadists, whose name is Hamas. It's bad enough that Israel is ruled by a man who proclaimed, earlier in his career, that there would never be a Palestinian state while he was in charge, then add to this volatile mix a leadership in Palestine who are insane. Hamas has taken a page from the Zionist playbook, from back when restaurants and government buildings were bombed to agitate for the creation of a state called Israel. By firing missiles into Israel, they provoke a heavy, ham-handed reaction, and hope that the killing of civilian children in Gaza will bring about an international response and the formation of a Palestinian state. Cynically, Hamas feels the more children the Israelis bomb, the better their chances. Plus, since over half of the population in Gaza is made up of kids under 21, there will be less mouths to feed afterwards, less jobs to provide, and more martyrs for their cause, blaming Israel and the US for the carnage while they sit in their underground bunkers smoking hashish.

Israel could end all aggression and solve the problem in one weekend, if they wanted to. Details could be hammered out within a month, making John Kerry strut around afterwards, saying "who's the man!"

Monday, April 22, 2013

Boston Bombings

By now, the Boston Marathon bombings have been analyzed every which way, yet leaving many questions unanswered until the younger brother recovers enough to tell his story to the authorities, unless a book publisher gets to him first. I was surprised that the authorities let him live, usually in a situation where a police officer has been shot and killed, the suspect is over-killed by a SWAT team in retaliation. Now, thanks to the GOP, they want to treat him like an enemy combatant and try him at a military court, probably send him to Guantanamo for several years, to be held without charges or representation... Thankfully, the White House earlier today announced that he would not be held as an enemy combatant, no matter what John McCain or Lindsay Graham says... Yahoo news reports: "Terror suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was charged on Monday with two counts of using a weapon of mass destruction to kill, injure and cause widespread damage at the Boston Marathon a week ago.

 If convicted, the 19-year-old could face the death penalty. Three people were killed and more than 200 others wounded when two powerful homemade bombs exploded near the race’s finish line.

 Tsarnaev made his initial appearance before a magistrate judge in his hospital bed at the heavily guarded Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, where he remains in serious condition. According to a federal official, Tsarnaev is sedated and unable to speak..."

Reading about the two brothers and their lives, it becomes clear that any identification with militant Islam had little basis in reality, that it became a romanticized fantasy. My own view of the world is based mostly on what I read in the NY Times and Washington Post, which also is mostly fantasies... The weird part is that Chechnya has a quarrel with Russia, which has killed over 200,000 Chechens over the last 20 years. The few Chechens living in the US see it as a safe harbor, where they can live peacefully, away from the violence of their homeland. Investigations taking place in Russia all depend on how paranoid and vindictive Vladimir Putin has become, or if he's off performing weird shirtless photo opps for his mistresses...

 I don't want to take anything away from the horror and tragedy of the bombings, but on the same Monday afternoon the NY Times reported that 20 home-made bombs went off in Bagdad, Iraq, killing several people and injuring over 300. They didn't have the resources to investigate them all, nor did the story make the evening news in any country outside of the Middle East. It's such a sad commentary how quickly improvised devices and suicide bombs have become commonplace, when a few years ago they were much more rare. Now that jihadists ignore the passages in the Koran against taking the life of another Muslim, it's predicted that this kind of terrorism will happen a lot more in Europe and the US. So far, South America has avoided this kind of violence, content to let their police and military kidnap and torture their citizens, until they piss off Iran or Saudi Arabia sometime soon...

Friday, March 29, 2013

Cairo's Rude Boys, Don't Cry For Me, Karachi...

“Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.” - Eric Hoffer
"I think I finally figured out where Sarah Palin came from. Someone cast a spell on a YouTube comment and it came to life." – Jon Stewart
"A recent poll found that 58% of Americans now think it should be legal for gays and lesbians to get married. And the other 42% object only because they don't want to go to another goddamn wedding." – Stephen Colbert




I'm not a Catholic, so watching the process of choosing a pope was interesting, like watching some old, irrelevant historical play. They replaced an 81 year old man, who felt that he was getting too old to do the job, his life wasn't all solid gold bathroom fixtures and thinking classic Aryan thoughts; and so, the bishops replaced him with a younger, more vibrant, 76 year old... The idea of having someone as the ultimate religious authority, acting as the voice of God, is creepy and is the pinnacle of narcissism. At least we don't have any Protestant popes, can you believe having to follow the decrees of some itinerant televangelist? Maybe it's no mistake that the only other thing that Rome is famous for is a bunch of architectural ruins...

Now, I know you're going to tell me that at least in Islam there are several voices of God, witness the Grand Ayatollah, and
leaders of several mosques, renowned for their piety. But all too often, these men make public statements that are embarrassing, and promote the ideas that their part of the world is stuck in the thirteenth century, and not going to update any time soon. For example, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is protecting the practice of gang-raping women in Tahrir Square, something that young men have been doing for hundreds of years. The number of gang rapes and abuse has been escalating, and described by the police in terms like: "Sometimes, a girl contributes 100 percent to her own raping when she puts herself in these conditions." Yeah, close your eyes and you could almost believe that kind of bullshit coming from some US Army General trying to explain why one in every five women in the US armed forces have been raped...

The difference is that women are now reporting these acts and are becoming public. Instead of taking responsibility, men are pointing fingers in every other direction but themselves, as reported by Mayy El Sheikh in the NY Times. Some condemn the women for speaking out at all, as Sheik Abu Islam, an Islamic televangelist said: "You see these women speaking like ogres, without shame, politeness, fear or even femininity..."  Such a woman, he said, is "like a demon." and wondered why anyone should sympathize with those naked women who went their to get raped... He sounds like Cairo's answer to Rush Limbaugh. I use this story as proof that super-conservative people from every culture are all crazy...

With the recent protests in India and Pakistan over rape and violence on women, 2013 may prove to be a boon for victimized women worldwide. I can be hopeful, but I'm not holding my breath...




"I have put my life in danger, but I want to save Pakistan." 
There used to be a place on the southern coast of France that used to be known as Dictator's Row, it was where Baby Doc Duvalier moved to when he fled from Haiti. and several deposed heads of African states were his neighbors. But Baby Doc has since gone back to Haiti, for better or worse, and now countries like Dubai have become the destination of choice, at least by Afghan and Iraqi oligarchs who got rich from US Aid money...

From the land of towering penthouse apartments and no questions asked, comes the new savior of Pakistan, the ex-military dictator, Pervez Musharraf, back from a four year exile. This was supposed to be a jubilant, victorious arrival, with thousands cheering, maybe millions throughout the country welcoming him back in time to begin campaigning for the next presidential election, which he would win by a landslide.

Unfortunately, four years can be an awfully long time to be absent from the public's eye. Instead of the huge crowds, less than three hundred people showed up, but, hey, they were an enthusiastic three hundred... In typical PR flack, Musharraf's people claimed that the reason the welcome back rally had to be postponed was because the city of Karachi was over-run with newly minted Taliban. To prove how true this was, the NY Times ran a follow up story the next day, so now we must know it's true. It's good to know that the Times will shill for others than the US government...

Perhaps Mr Musharraf has learned something from this humiliation now that Pakistan no longer wants him to save it? Maybe he will settle down and open a 7-11 franchise, dispensing wisdom and homilies while selling newspapers and whatever the local version of coca cola is? To put it in the words of Pervez Musharraf himself: "Where is the Pakistan that I had left years ago?"


Monday, February 25, 2013

Our Bizarro Scientology Universe

"Since the brutal presidential election, there's been a lot of soul searching going on at Fox News. I am confident that they eventually will find one." – Stephen Colbert
"People sometimes forget that George Washington was very rich, had a pony tail, and grew hemp on his farm. He was America's original Willie Nelson." – Craig Ferguson
"In November, Colorado voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Currently, only Colorado residents can purchase marijuana in the state. But they may open it up to nonresidents too. The new state slogan is 'Come for the legal marijuana, stay because you forgot to leave.'" – Jimmy Kimmel



This has been a rough winter for me. Perhaps it's just part of the aging process, but I've been dealing with serious urges to commit suicide, and the depression that triggers those feelings. Every time it snows I want to walk out into the middle of the blizzard and lay down to sleep... On the learning end of the curve, I've gotten to recognize the difference between what mental affects depression brings versus the oncoming fog of dementia, and the amount of relief from daily medication. I've spent the last 3-4 weeks as a couch potato watching increasingly weird reality shows on television, glorifying everyone from dumbass rednecks to shrill and angry ex-housewives. On the bright side, I've solved most of the world's political problems through the fantasies in my daydreams, something my cat can attest to...

One of the epiphanies I had was the realization that the church of Scientology has won its war with the government. It already had won the previous war with psychiatry; nobody goes to see a psychiatrist for therapy or insight anymore, all anyone receives these days is a drug prescription and an inflated bill to their insurance company. Thirty years ago Scientology also began planting its believers into government jobs here in America and in Europe, doing a better job at infiltrating than the Soviets ever did... Now we have entrenched bureaucrats making policies the L Ron Hubbard way...

My reasoning goes like this: followers of Scientology believe in some pretty far out stuff because its founder was a bad science fiction writer. Instead of producing people with the gifts of mental clarity, we end up with citizens who are cowed by arrogance and authority, who are used to bizarre behavior and arguments that come from way out there in right field... Scientologists have infiltrated the GOP, which explains the blind acceptance of crazy ideas, crazy candidates, and inability to change or move forward, all traits of someone under mind control. Karl Rove must be a Scientologist, how else can you explain the ease that he gets rich conservatives to donate millions of dollars to whatever lost cause he is promoting? The only other plausible explanation for the sclerotic behavior patterns of Republicans is that several years ago our universe intersected with the Bizarro Universe, and we've been flying around backwards ever since... which explains the irrational denying of climate change and other messages being sent to us from Mother Earth, the insistence of adhering to outdated economic models that have already proven to Not Work, inherent racism, and willingness to punch you in the face if you disagree with them...



Thursday, January 3, 2013

Prayer For Hillary, Rape

I've been climbing out of sickness and depression last month, forcing myself to the post editor because I want to say a prayer for Hillary Clinton, may she heal and take a couple of years off to lay around the house and read some books... We are going to need Hillary during the next few years, not only because the presidency will be hers if she wants it, but because we need her for inspiration to get more women involved in politics and creating governmental policy... Of course, her enemies used her hospitalization as an excuse to dump one her, saying she was avoiding appearing before Congress to answer questions about the tragedy in Bengazi, Libya. They wouldn't listen to reason, and it reminded me of a Frank Zappa album cover, Weasels Ripped My Flesh, with Charles Krauthammer as the main weasel... hopefully, the State Dept will streamline their security, more responsive to requests for extra security than the typical beauracratic response of "No."

This kind of automatic denial is created by lawyers. It doesn't matter if the request will save lives or not, if it causes us to spend money, the answer is no... I remember my first experience with this attitude, when the transit district that I was working for hired a lawyer. Maybe she thought we wanted her to take over running the district, but she was making work rules without going through the committee process, and was a mean and vindictive person towards workers she deemed beneath her in the hierarchy of the company. Yes, myself included. Each month there was a list of items in the board packet that the public would ask the district to recompense them for property damaged while riding the bus. Every item was automatically denied by our lawyer. One item just bothered me, a young man who used the bus to attend special needs education classes, was thrown forward into the seat in front of him when the driver slammed on the brakes to avoid an accident. He was requesting $35 to replace his glasses frame, which he had to tape together with masking tape. I felt that granting the request would have created more goodwill, but it was denied. I wrote a critical article in our Union newsletter and was accused by her of sexual harassment in the workplace. So, I have witnessed what can happen when this mindset goes crazily out of control, though in our State Department's case, it resulted in the deaths of good men who were actually helping Libya...

It bothers me that sick conservatives are using Hillary's hospitalization for petty politics. She may never be greeted as a Nubian Princess with a butt you could bounce quarters off of, as Khadafi used to refer to Condoleeza Rice, but she has visited over 112 countries during her tenure, and probably has had more influence on world events than any other politician, helped deflated some rather hairy incidents that easily have escalated into another world war. She's killing herself for this country, and the response is juvenile sarcasm sprinkled with cynical frosting.he blood clot is still there, and they gave her blood thinners to dissolve it. It may or may not work, so she will be closely monitored for the next 6 months. The problem with drugs like this is you are taking them for the rest of your life. My father had to use blood thinners after his stroke, but they also aggravated a hiatal hernia that he had for years. So, he got to balance the risk of forming a blood clot that could affect the blood flow to his brain versus having some blood and fluids gathering in his lung area... Good luck Hillary, I pray you make good choices, this world still needs you.




Life could be worse, if you are a woman living in a Muslim country. Or any other patriarchic, misogynistic culture. Reported rape is on the rise throughout the world, from the campus of the Air Force Academy to the  over 600 rape cases in Delhi, India reported from 2012... According to Sonia Faleiro, writing in the NY Times, it is a culture that "believes that the worst aspect of rape is the defilement of the victim, who will no longer be able to find a man to marry her - and that the solution is to marry the rapist..." Because rape is so prevalent in India, the recent death of a young woman who was raped and beaten so bad that she died from organ failure prompted mass demonstrations by women all over the country.

The number of rapes that result in pregnancy is over 50%, I've read that here in the US it's 80%, but that seems scarily high to me. It's estimated that one in every five women will have been abused during their lifetime, and in places like Pakistan, India, and the Middle East, the incident rate is even higher and more horrific.

Of course, educating males is one option for solving the rape problem, but that doesn't address cultures that condone it, or male rage on a personal level. One of our institutions that has the highest amount of reported rapes are the military academies. We teach our young men to be aggressive and kill, yet we do not teach them how to flip the switch and turn that behavior off, mix it with 18 year old raging hormones, and the old men of the administration are shocked by the resulting behavior, and are left to cover it up for as long as they can, leaving many fine women with destroyed careers because they said yes, I'll go out with you... Personally, I have never understood how one person could rape another, and I've faced plenty of rejection in my life. The behavior seems left over from the time we were cavemen, though even back then it doesn't seem to much value, nothing to do with food, clothing, and shelter...



Friday, November 9, 2012

GOP's Problems, David Betrayus

"Mitt Romney was very gracious in his remarks in his concession speech. Shortly after Mitt Romney conceded, Paul Ryan was untied and set free." –David Letterman
"Congratulations to President Obama on being reelected president of the United States. Turns out it is not all bad news for the Republicans. It seems that depression is covered by Obamacare." – Jay Leno 
"Exit polls show that President Obama did well with women, beating Romney by 11 binders." – Jay Leno 
"Some more good news – the president announced today he is not going to raise taxes on the entire 1 percent, just Donald Trump." – Jay Leno
"I really think in all of what happened yesterday, the only person who should be considered a 'loser' is Donald Trump. I'll tell you why. He went on Twitter demanding a revolution. So far no one's listened to him — because he's Donald Trump! After that, Trump tweeted, 'The world is laughing at us.' I'm thinking, No, Donald. The world is laughing at you and this is why. It is because you're wearing an orange face and a crazy wig. This is the uniform the world over of a clown! Nobody laughs WITH the clown. They laugh AT the clown. Then when the clown gets angry, it is funnier." – Craig Ferguson


Now that the election is over, the time to point the blame for the GOP's failure begins. Karl Rove wrote in the Wall Street Journal, pointing the finger in every direction but himself. Depending on how connected to organized crime Sheldon Adelson is, Karl may soon disappear from this earth some dark and gloomy night... When I saw Karl having his hissy fit on Fox Tuesday night, I first thought it was some kind of guerilla theater, especially when Megyn Kelly mentioned that they had rehearsed her walk to the back of the studio to the decision desk... I hope that Fox replaces brain-dead hosts like Steve Doocy and Sean Hannity with more classy and intelligent women like Megyn, after all, how much longer can she dumb it down every night?

It seems there are hundreds of reasons why the Republicans lost, the best ones come from letters to the editor, in this case these came from the NY Times:

"Perhaps their underlying problem is arrogance. Perhaps the problem is scorn for the common plight. Perhaps the problem is  the morality or nostalgic thinking trapped in a thankfully bygone era... But I think that the most likely reason of all is simply that the Republican heart has grown two sizes too small."

"... They are not talking about examining the core principles that turned off many voters... If they continue to be more interested in getting votes than in getting at the issues that are important to the changing face of America, they will continue to lose. And they will slide further towards irrelevance."

Unfortunately, among the crazy conservatives who want to drag the rest of us into the depths of their depressions, we get emails like this: "The bottom line is the revolution is nearing completion. We have lost our privacy, soon we will loose our right to self defense, and then The Bill of Rights will be no more. This is no longer the Republic we older people once knew. Re-electing this man is unforgivable. All of our descendants will curse us for betraying and mismanaging this beautiful idea that was once America. We have sentenced them to a life without personal rights, class mobility, or the joy of being truly free. Get ready for the era of Executive Orders, a european socialist form of government. We are now a nation of 350,000,000 dead men walking. Including the people who consider themselves liberal. What a joke on them."... I'm sorry you feel so negative about the election results my fellow old fart; I wonder where you got your doom and gloom philosophy... Maybe it would be better for all of us if you just went ahead and committed suicide... I may be grumpy, but I'm not a self-deluded idiot...

Err, forgive me, too much caffeine. But, by far my favorite letter is from Michael Lazare from Boise, Idaho: "I'm an old white guy (80). I've voted for every Democratic presidential candidate since Adlai Stephenson. My age allows me to be crotchety, so to all you newspapers, networks, pundits and pollsters, just one request: Stop categorizing me. I don't like it."

What impressed me the most about this election was the larger portion of citizens interested in policies, foreign policy, and economics, educating themselves so that all those years spent in college paid off... A smarter, more engaged electorate forced the news media to be more challenging to the candidates and the spin both campaigns gave to events. Hopefully, this trend will continue, but I do think that the energy we put into our national debate will not be as intense if Hillary decides to run.






The hot news today is the resignation of the Army's golden boy, David Petraeus. I had been wondering what he had been up to because he'd be keeping a low public profile once he became director of the CIA. That didn't stop Leon Panetta from making regular press releases when he was director, but David didn't speak out when Iran shot down a drone, or his listening post in Benghazi was attacked this last 9/11. Turns out he was too busy horn-dogging around, having an affair with the woman who was his biographer, Paula Broadwell.

Coincidentally, the FBI is investigating if Ms Broadwell could have had access to any private emails or military intelligence since David became the top spook, which may have defined the timing of his resignation, before the situation got ugly. Kiss your marriage of 37 years good-by champ...

What bothers me, and makes me want to call Mr Petraeus a coward, is the fact that the affair had been going on for several years, and it was called off only after it had been discovered by the FBI. If this hadn't happened, they could have continued the affair indefinitely.  It's always activites like these that reminds us that we are led by flawed human beings, so different from the people we put on their golden pedestals... Usually, the CIA takes care of their own investigations. The FBI would have to be invited to investigate within the CIA, so it looks like someone didn't get along with the head honcho very well... Revenge can be a bitch, sometimes...