Saturday, January 30, 2010

Dreaming of Bushalot, Mid-East Roundup

Mike Madden

"I don't believe that the American people want us to focus on our job security, they want us to focus on their job security," - Barack Obama
"In some places I kind of felt like I was in my high school assembly being lectured by my principal. In others, I felt like he was listening." - Paul Ryan

There's an empty spot on NBC at 10 pm, now that Jay Leno will be back at the 11:30 slot. Let's fill it with the Barack Obama Show. He's funny and can tell a string of jokes, and on Friday he proved that he can create entertaining and interesting television by taking on questions from 140 Republicans and mopping the floor with them. I don't see anyone else that could take him on, so let his next guests for debate be Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh. Bill O'Reilly would chicken out, and I would also look forward to Barack versus Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann, or anyone else that has presidential aspirations. Obama has found his format niche and this is what he should have been doing at least once a month since he was elected, better than any canned speech and fireside chat.

Obama is great at giving the inspirational speeches with flowery prose, but people with short attention spans from watching too much television can't follow all of that. His State of the Union speech was better, half plain language that even the GOP could understand, and half inspirational speech that had even the Republican leaders dewey eyed and applauding, except for John Boehner, who is permanently soured on all life outside of the tanning booth. His give and take at the Republican Retreat in Baltimore proved that you shouldn't attempt to bait a Harvard Law Professor unless you want to be schooled. And if Obama really would do more events like this, it might open up the political process, inspiring younger folks to go into politics for all of the right reasons.

Did Obama change any minds? Will we have more civil discourse, and less personal attacks? No, I doubt anything was accomplished other than planting some seeds of hope, but that would be audacious. If anything, the Congressional old-school Republicans will continue along being meaner than any junk-yard dog, still not coming up with anything substantial to add, bitter, disillusioned, dreaming of those glorious days of Bushalot... On the other hand, H W Bush and Jeb Bush stopped by the White House to have a friendly beer with Obama, proving that all politics is mere posturing?

mid-east roundup...
Lots of interesting things going on that may not make the local paper. In Yemen, the two pronged attack of the government and the Saudi military has taken its toll on the Houthi rebels. The fighting between the rebels and the Saudi has been declared to be over, and the rebel chief is asking for a cease-fire with the government, though the language used is always aggressive in tone: "Abdel Malik al-Houthi said "It was these forces and the stupidity of the government that led them to launch attacks on its own people... Nevertheless, and for the fourth time, I announce our acceptance of the [the government's] five conditions [for an end to the conflict] after the aggression stops ... the ball is now in the other party's court." There has been no response from the recently beefed up Yemeni government. The longer that they can stretch out the fighting now that they have garnered some money from the US, the more they might be able to get to secure their own personal fortunes. The UN reports that over 250,000 civilians have been displaced from their homes.

The Saudis now get to focus and use their their influence on mediating between the different Taliban groups and the Afghan government. Its a more acceptable arrangement than if the US tried or the Pakistani intelligence brokered an agreement. It may bolster Saudi prestige as a peacemaker if the Palestinian talks ever get started again. If Fatah and Hamas can kiss and make up, then, with the backing of Saudi arabia, turkey, and Egypt, they will have a better chance to give the Palestinians some peer pressure, so that they feel they are on a more equal playing field addressing the Israelis during negotiations. The longer this waits the more danger there is that small flare ups and confrontations will happen and monkey wrench the whole process.

For one or two days it looked like the situation was going to wind down in Iran. Then, the government proved that they were insane by hanging two people they said were members of a violent group that took part in the last demonstration. Except the two people hanged had been arrested months earlier and never could have participated, so they became martyrs. Now the opposition leaders have officially called for another demonstration during the celebration of the Islamic Revolution that ejected the Shah and put the current crop of ayatollahs in power. It's a time when people naturally march in the streets condemning the Great Shaitan USA, only this time the magistrate who ordered the deaths will be the target, along with a select few that seem to foam at the mouth in public.

The iranian government has vowed to crush them like bugs, and this morning put on trial 16 more people who were arrested during Ashura, according to al Arabiya: "Five of the defendants are accused of being mohareb (enemies of God) and corrupt on earth, both crimes punishable by death under the Iranian legal system, which is based on sharia, Islamic law, IRNA said.

The rest are accused of "gathering and conspiring against security, propaganda against the system and seeking to harm security by inciting unrest and riot," it said. The semi-official Isna news agency quoted the deputy Tehran prosecutor as saying that of the 16, one was a member of the outlawed Baha'i faith, one was a communist and some of the rest belonged to the counterrevolutionary group Mojahedin Khalq Organization." Suggesting that their are no cooler heads in Iran to prevail...

Finally, the Nile River delta is drying up. due to climate changes. Saltwater is making its way inwards because there is not enough fresh water flow, and it is affecting farmlands. If something can't be done soon, famine will follow...

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