Friday, January 8, 2010

Hong Kong Protest, Iraq Already an Embarrassment to Democracy

"The buck stops here" - Barack Obama
"And former President Bush says he's been following the situation in Yemen very carefully. But, you know, we love President Bush, but I don't think he really understands the situation. Like today, said, 'When life gives you Yemens, you make Yemenade.'" –Jay Leno

Perhaps the Green Movement in Iran has inspired groups in other totalitarian countries. Today there was a pro-democracy demonstration in Hong Kong: "Police said some 4,600 people took part in the New Year's Day protest on Friday, which saw demonstrators marching to the Chinese government's liaison office, chanting "one man, one vote to choose our leader".

Democracy is promised in Hong Kong's constitution, but the Chinese government ruled in 2007 that the territory cannot directly elect its leader until 2017 and its legislature until 2020. The former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997, but has a separate political system that promises Western-style civil liberties.

Five pro-democracy legislators plan to resign later this month, hoping to turn the special elections they will trigger into a referendum on democracy. Some politicians in Hong Kong's are attempting to reignite the local democracy movement, which has been overshadowed of late by economic issues.

Hong Kong's parliament is partly elected by citizens. A block of of seats is chosen by business and professional groups, giving the council a conservative, pro-China bias." Hong Kong, has always been more liberal than the rest of mainland China, so it comes as no surprise. Elsewhere in China, mock trials that put human rights workers in jail are still the norm. Granted, 4,500 people protesting is not a lot, but if it spreads to the tens of thousands, then the Chinese military may give a lesson in the most vicious, quickest way to suppress demonstrations. To really get the government's attention, they would have to be bankrolled and supported by all of the gambling casinos in Macau.
"Hong Kong should get democracy sooner. The sophistication, the worldliness of Hong Kong people has already reached the level where universal suffrage can be allowed".

To most of the world, democracy means one person, one vote. And, I should add, being able to apply that principle in an honest election. All of the rest is political and cultural imperialism. The US means well, we are an idealistic country, but when you occupy a country it does seem like you are imposing your thoughts on how that country ought to run, it's a natural by-product of a stronger country imposing its will on the weaker.

Of course, if we are so proud of our own form of democracy, why do we resist reforming our laws to make them more open and honest and better?

Our own greatest experiment in democracy is again beginning to embarrass us. The Iraqi Parliament has voted to bar a Sunni politician from participating in the upcoming local elections. There is one slight hitch: the Sunni politician has been openly trying to get old members of the Baathist Party, the one that put Saddam Hussein into power, to join his party: "A parliamentary committee empowered to vet candidates announced Thursday that the list of candidates from the National Dialogue Front, the group led by Mr. Mutlaq, was one of 15 that would be barred from taking part in the elections. The committee said the group promoted the Baath Party of former President Saddam Hussein, which is banned by the Constitution.

Mr. Mutlaq has openly courted factions that still support the Baath Party in Sunni regions, though he insists that alone does not warrant his ban. He became a leading force in Sunni provinces across Iraq following his group’s relative success in last year’s provincial elections, and he entered a coalition with former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi that many expected to fare well in March. Even moderate success could have ensured Mr. Mutlaq a say in deciding Iraq’s next prime minister."

“I will fight until the end. I will fight in Parliament and outside Parliament and I call on everybody to vote.”
This is a different type of fighting than bombing your opponent, which has become so popular over the past few years. The analogy here is if we banned the newly organized tea party from the next election cycles because they were courting members of the old John Birch Society, or members of the American Nazis Party, or other private militias. You may not agree with them or who they associate with, but does that mean they are to be excluded from the democratic process? Of course, we don't have a provision in our Constitution not allowing the Baathist Party to partake in politics of any kind...

It looks like Iraq is already looking past the time when American troops will pull out, and they won't be receiving all of those kickbacks from the military and bribes from private contractors like Xe... They are going to ask the Israeli government for money from when Israel flew over and bombed their nuclear enrichment sites back in 1981. Alswo, they have directed an American lawyer to initiate proceedings against 93 companies whom they say violated the oil for food program that happened when Saddam was in charge. They are looking to get over $10 billion out of this extortion. Maybe we should freeze any American bank account of any Iraqi politician that shows a balance that is millions of dollars over their salaries... We can't all live like rich oil sheiks, but they are trying awfully hard.

it's been awhile, how about some late night political jokes...

"Well, the story about the 23-year-old Nigerian man, who put the explosives in his underpants still continues to dominate the news. Boy that shows you how time can change, you know? When I was 23, the only thing I ever put in my underpants was a rolled up sock." –Jay Leno

"According to TMZ, Joan Rivers was detained by airport security in Costa Rica because her married name was Joan Rosenberg, on her passport, and they wouldn't let her leave. See, they're very vigilant down there in Costa Rica, you know? Maybe we can try that here in this country sometime." –Jay Leno

"On Fox News, Ann Coulter said she's against body scans at the airport because terrorists will still be able to hide explosives in their anus. So finally Ann Coulter is speaking on a topic she knows something about." –Jay Leno

"Today, Senator Chris Dodd unveiled his plan to reduce corruption in the Senate. He's retiring." –Jay Leno

"After 30 years, embattled Senator Chris Dodd announced he would not seek re-election. He said he may go to work for the banking industry. Have you seen his voting record? I think he already works for the banking industry." –Jay Leno

"Oh, and Mitt Romney was on 'Fox and Friends.' He talked about his plan to run for president in 2012. It could be Mitt Romney versus Sarah Palin, which would be quite a matchup. I mean, one is a former governor obsessed with looks and hair. And the other, of course, is from Alaska." –Jay Leno

"The annual list of the most admired men in the world came out today. Bill Clinton and Tiger Woods are tied. I wonder what those two would have in common." –Jay Leno

"An 86-year-old politician in India resigned after a sex tape surfaced showing him in bed with three women. 86 years old, three women. A lot of his constituents are saying it was a stupid idea for him to make the sex tape of himself. But the guy is 86. How else is he going to remember having sex?'" –Jay Leno

David Letterman's Top Ten Signs You're At A Bad Airport

10. To check a bag, it's a thousand bucks.
9. Security checkpoint workers encourage you to frisk them.
8. For the kids, a wading pool full of jet fuel.
7. Guy in tower won't say anything but "Niner."
6. All flights depart at the same time.
5. Airport is home to 7 of world's 10 deadliest snakes
4. Has Hertz Rent-A-Monkey counter.
3. Them: "Where are you traveling?" You: "San Francisco." Them: "We'll get you as close as we can."
2. I don't remember planes having to parallel park quite so much.
1. At the duty-free shop you can buy exploding underpants

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