Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Minorities in Iraq, OK, I mean the Gypsies... Mercs R Us

Maureen Dowd
Kathleen Parker
Dana Milbank
Thomas F Cooley

"The industry is on the verge of a coup that many would have thought impossible a year ago: an escape from any major reform of financial regulations." - Dana Milbank
"You don't have to be a black helicopter fan to recognize that the proximity of the small world that is Wall Street to the very institutions and public servants who are meant to regulate them can seriously compromise their credibility." - Thomas F Cooley
"Common sense nevertheless tells us that when the economy is pinching people, they’ll take it out on the party controlling the levers of government." - Sean Trende

The US wants to pull out 60,000 troops from Iraq this Spring, leaving 50,000 for "training" purposes. It was going to do this after the Iraqis had another election, proving that their was continuity in their fledgling democracy. Postponing the elections put a monkey wrench in everyone's plans, and what happens if there's no election at all?

One of the fears is that instead of a representative government, another dictator will take power by force, someone who is a religious zealot and will actively repress those whom are felt morally inferior. Because Saddam Hussein was a tribal secularist, minorities within Iraq led safer lives. For example, consider the plight of the Gypsies: "Before 2003, under the Baathist regime of toppled president Saddam Hussein, the situation was much better. The dictator's iron fist did not weigh on the gypsies or Roma.

The men were professional singers or musicians and the women were invited to dance at feasts, weddings and parties in Iraq, having migrated to the Middle East from India centuries ago. With the rise of radical Islamists in 2004 however, they were marginalized, attacked and robbed by the Mahdi army, a Shiite militia loyal to the radical, anti-U.S. cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who regarded the gypsies as morally repugnant.

Today, with the war-torn country primarily run by religious leaders, as opposed to the mostly secular society that existed under Saddam, the Roma community feels ostracized.

Despite being Muslims, the "Kawliya" -- as the community is known in Iraq -- are seen as outcasts."
"We live worse than dogs," - Ragnab Hannumi Allawi

Other groups fare just as poorly, and, like all of the Middle East, in Iraq there is much more ethnic diversity than we realize. The tribes of Romany just can't get a break anywhere, it seems. The American concept of freedom and justice for all may not be possible where intolerance has such a long tradition. It's something to think about when considering our own immigration problems and policies, do we really want to institutionalize that kind of intolerance..

legitimizing mercenaries...
Besides the arrests of young Americans who went to Somalia to fight for insurgents, what bothered me, and seems ignored by the media, is their reporting that there were Western trainers in the insurgent training camps. At first thought, was, aha! mercenaries were involved. like they have been in so many conflicts around the globe. After all, what better place to use the skills you learned from serving in the armed forces than by becoming a merc?

But you can't just answer some ad in Soldier of Fortune anymore, the art of the mercenary has become legitimized by the rise of professional security services, who still hire out to whomever will pay them. Very few of the new companies see themselves as evangelical warriors like Xe Services does, they are pretty amoral, in the free market sense. So far, I haven't been able to find out which company is hired by al-Shabab, and they might not be American...

The private security company that was outed at the American Embassy in Kabul a few months ago, by partying and drinking naked under the moonlight and being abusive to their Afghan compatriots, has been hired by the Iraq government to provide security at the Baghdad Airport. Party On, dudes...

And Xe denies that they are in Pakistan, running a tip top secret drone program for the Pakistani government. Both the Pentagon and the Pakistani government have also denied that anything remotely like this is going on, nudge, nudge, wink, wink. The US wouldn't give the drones to Pakistan when they asked for them, like we gave to Israel, so the next best thing is to have a security firm handle the program so there is deniability all around.

These guys make three times as much as an American soldier does, has less accountability, and gets to become spies for the CIA, bodyguards for the Pentagon and State Department, play video war-games with real drones and missiles, kill foreign nationals and get away with it, and bring their favorite drugs back home, no questions asked. Ahh, the Life of Riley...

lou dobbs disease strikes...

Just to prove how the media pundits are all an act, Lou Dobbs, who now wants to run for President, bless his Alzheimer's rattled head, is now taking reverse stance on immigration: "But as the Wall Street Journal points out: In a little-noticed interview Friday, Mr. Dobbs told Spanish-language network Telemundo he now supports a plan to legalize millions of undocumented workers, a stance he long lambasted as an unfair "amnesty."

"Whatever you have thought of me in the past, I can tell you right now that I am one of your greatest friends and I mean for us to work together," he said in a live interview with Telemundo's Maria Celeste."

First, he was going on and on about illegal immigrants on his business show on CNN, so much that he was let go. Then, he announced that he wanted to run for Congress. a few days later he wants to run for President and begins sucking up to the Hispanics. Try apologizing first, Lou. Next, I wonder if he'll support Obama when he announces he will run for God...

I think I need some late night political jokes:

"Sarah Palin launched her book tour this week with a stop in Michigan, where more than 1,000 people waited to meet her. Or, as Fox News reported it, half a million people." –Seth Meyers

"It was reported Monday that food summit, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi spent several hours in the company of 200 Italian women and tried to convert them to Islam. Long story short -- he's a Catholic now." –Seth Meyers

"The design for George W. Bush's presidential library was unveiled Wednesday in Dallas, and features a lantern-shaped roof that will glow at night. Mr. President, I don't want to make any more jokes about you being dumb, but you have to meet me halfway. Don't build a library where the lights are on when no one is home." –Seth Meyers

"This has been quite a week for Sarah Palin. She's been everywhere promoting her new book. She was on 'Oprah,' 'Good Morning America,' ABC 'World News,' 'Nightline,' Barbara Walters. Not to be outdone, next week, John McCain will be the guest corpse on 'CSI.'" –Jay Leno

"Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, reportedly a huge fan of President Obama. He thinks President Obama's doing a great job. Well, Obama hasn't had PR that good since the Reverend Wright was campaigning for him." –Jay Leno

"The alleged 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, is gonna be tried in New York City after all, it looks like. A lot of people saying this is too dangerous. And, of course, the big fear, he could escape by disappearing into a sea of cab drivers." –Jay Leno

"This week, Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai was sworn in wearing Afghanistan's traditional clothing: Kevlar pants, a helmet and bulletproof vest." –Jay Leno

"The George W. Bush library design was unveiled this week by former First Lady Laura Bush. Did you know that she was a librarian when she first met George? Did you know that? In fact, she's the only thing he ever checked out of a library." –Jay Leno

"Hillary Clinton tells Vogue magazine that she naps on command, like that. Yeah, especially when Bill asks if she's in the mood" –Jay Leno

"Oprah Winfrey announced she's quitting her show. Oprah's quitting. No, crazy. Yeah. This is the crazy thing. Oprah said she used prayer to help her decide to end her show. That's what she said. Yeah, Oprah said she stopped praying when she realized she has more money than the guy she's praying to." –Conan O'Brien

"According to a new poll, more Americans would like to have Thanksgiving dinner with Hillary Clinton than with Sarah Palin. That's what the poll said. Yeah. Mainly because no one wants to eat elk pie." –Conan O'Brien

"It's been reported that CNN got so tired of Lou Dobbs' focus on immigration issues that they paid him $8 million to leave. Yeah, and just to rub it in, they gave it to him in pesos." –Conan O'Brien

"On Friday, President Obama pardons the White House turkey. Mmm-boy. Dick Cheney didn't miss an opportunity. He proves that Obama is soft on poultry." –David Letterman

"Big night at the movies yesterday, 'New Moon' made a record $26.3 million at a midnight screening. Wow. In fact, earlier today, President Obama announced his new stimulus plan, it's called 'Twilight 3.' He's going to give that a shot." –Jimmy Fallon

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