Thursday, August 20, 2009

One is the Loneliest Number, the Election that 26 People Died For...

E J Dionne Jr
Katherine Mangu-Ward
Joe Klein

"The Afghan people dared rockets, bombs and intimidations," - Hamid Karzai

Boy, you think its tough trying to show up at a polling place in Florida, imagine what it was like for rural Afghans, journeying under the threat of bombs and murder and retaliation to vote for over 30 candidates for president. As reported by the BBC, the election was seen as a success, even though: "... 73 attacks had taken place in 15 provinces. Among the violent incidents reported:
- Taliban militants stormed a town in Baghlan, northern Afghanistan, preventing polling stations from opening, police tell AFP news agency. At least eight died in ensuing clashes with police
- Taliban militants set fire to a bus on the Kandahar-Kabul highway in Ghazni, after offloading passengers and the driver, reportedly as punishment for violating a Taliban ban on using the road
- Rockets hitting houses in Khost and Kandahar provinces killed two women and several children
- More than 20 rockets landed in the capital of Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province, a Taliban stronghold
- In northern Baghlan province, a district police chief was killed when Taliban militants attacked a police post"

That's a lot of instances, 26 people were killed, and they are purposely being played down, with over 30,000 security troops out and trying to prevent violence. Unlike some certain other countries, where fraud charges have been ignored, Afghan officials have immediately started investigating complaints. From al Jazeera: "Allegations from candidates included that ink used to mark voters' fingers could be scrubbed off and that election officials had told people to vote for the incumbent president, the election commission said.

The main challenger, ex-foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, released a statement detailing about 40 incidents of alleged irregularities, most saying that officials had pressured voters into choosing Karzai.

Ramazan Bashadost, another presidential candidate, said he had been able to remove the ink with cleaning fluid, Azizullah Lodin, the chief of Independent Election Commission (IEC), told reporters.
Lodin said he himself had tested the ink - used to avoid people voting more than once - but it remained fast. "Still, this must be investigated and we must try to find out why some of the ink gets washed off and some doesn't," he said."

Is the war in Afghanistan worth it? Is it worth spending millions of dollars per day fighting Talibans who may never go away, defending each attempt at elections? Have we found Osama bin Laden yet? Do we remember who he is, or even looked for him lately? The last time we were looking really hard, was right before the last election and George Bush wanted to give his failing reputation a bump upwards. He hired British commandos to go into Pakistan and try to do what we were not allowed, but no luck. What makes us think that Osama is still alive? What goals do we want our sons and daughters giving up their lives? In Iraq, we cynically said that we were fighting to secure oil. There's no oil that we know of in Afghanistan other than the pipeline built through it, so are we fighting to secure Afghan heroin, will we use that to pay for the war?

From the Economist: "Wherever he is, Mullah Omar must be smiling. America’s fresh effort is horribly belated and its commitment to Afghanistan is probably shakier than Mr Obama suggests. To maintain political support for his task, General McChrystal reckons he has a year to show serious progress—a blink-of-an-eye in counter-insurgency time. Nor are all his suggestions entirely new. Previous ISAF commanders, including General McKiernan, also issued promising directives, only to fail because of too few resources and too little understanding in their forces, and too little support from the Afghan government. Rebooting Mr Karzai, assuming that he wins re-election and that it is possible, would be much better for his country than many more American brigades.

But at least Afghanistan’s accelerating decline seems at last to have been admitted. That should be a blessing for its people who are caught, wavering, between two enemies. In the words of Colonel Ghooli Khan, the police chief of Garmser, “They do not like the British or the Americans. They just want peace.”

I think we here in the US take this word "democracy" pretty casually, while other countries, even ones like Iran, take the propaganda pretty damned seriously. They are willing to risk their lives for it, start revolutions over it, while we piss away our time at town hall meetings claiming so and so is a freaking Nazi over an issue we haven't even researched and read up on... Right now I have more respect for every Iranian dissident and Afghan voter than the whole two-faced, wide-stanced, affair-driven Congress of the United States.

Remember the proverb: It's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a two-faced, wide-stanced, affair-driven GOP member can enter heaven.

late night jokes:

"Do you remember the governor of South Carolina, Governor Mark Sanford? He told everyone he was going for a hike and in actuality he went to Argentina. Now, his wife says -- and you can't blame her -- that she was so curious about the woman that her husband was having the affair with down there in Argentina, that she googled his mistress. And I thought, wait a minute, that's what got him in trouble, was googling his mistress." --David Letterman

"Now, here is a statistic that, I don't know if it means anything -- it's got to mean something -- 90% of all paper currency -- money, you know -- has traces of cocaine. Ninety percent of all paper money in this country, traces of cocaine. Talk about your stimulus money." --David Letterman

"Had a $20 bill today. I thought Ben Franklin looked a little jumpy." --David Letterman

"On the bright side, at least American money is worth something again." --David Letterman

"Seriously, is this an audience or a death panel? By God, let's get something going. Do you understand the problem? Health insurance, Congress not doing anything. They have town halls, people getting hot, everybody worked up about health insurance, I think, thank God I'm with CBS. CBS has a tremendous healthcare package. Here is the deal. If I get sick, I can only be treated by Dr. Phil." --David Letterman

"And then, under the CBS health plan, when I die, I get to be a corpse on a 'CSI' show." --David Letterman

"People are worried that, if the health care plan that the President wants goes through, that a death panel will decide what life-sustaining measures should be applied to the elderly. Well, you know, it's the same thing ABC does with Regis." --David Letterman

Top Ten Ways the Country Would Be Different If Britney Spears Were President (As Read by Britney Spears)

10. I'd be the first president to wear eye shadow since Nixon.
9. We would only invade fun places like Cabo.
8. Free pie for everybody.
7. My Situation Room would be a cabana at the Palms casino in Las Vegas.
6. I'd lure Osama out of hiding with the irresistible scent of my new fragrance 'Circus Fantasy.'
5. Every presidential news conference would feature costume changes.
4. America might have a more coherent fiscal strategy.
3. Challenge U.S. to put nightclub on the moon by the end of the decade.
2. Three words: Vice President Diddy.
1. Finally the media would pay some attention to me

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