Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Rant on the state of the World, From Pakistan to Iraq to Mexico and Back...

Paul Krugman
David Brooks
Eugene Robinson
Health Care Apologists
Betsy Markey
Bart Stupak

"Commonsense Conservatives & lovers of America: 'Don't Retreat, Instead -- RELOAD!' - Sarah Palin
"Let's not pretend anymore that the tea party movement is harmless" - Eugene Robinson

So, the health care firestorm is behind us, and the tea parties may soon die out, as the readings in the bottom of the cup foretold. I still can't believe that anyone could get so cranked up over some piece of legislation, when you take two steps back and look at it, the whole thing seems surreal, not even Nathaniel West could have conceived of the scenes we have witnessed. And I am hoping that I never, never will have to listen to Dick Armey ever again.

Barack Obama can also put the feathers of a new nuclear agreement with Russia in his cap, it is a subject both Obama and Dmitri Medvedev are concerned about. And if we became engaged in another nuclear arms race it could break both of our fragile economies. The next area that Obama wants reform is in the financial sector. This is an area where the Mitch McConnell strategy of saying hell no and obstructing everything will not work, not if the Republicans want to win another seat in the upcoming election.

I don't think that the right wing can justify protesting in favor of unregulated corruption, in the light of the path forged over the last 30 years that led to almost a complete meltdown of our economic system. The stubborn among them will type about how we must have a free market system, but that is a myth. We never have had a free market system, it is a philosophical ideal more suited to fiction than actually  working in real life. What we have done is to alter the rules so they favor certain financial sectors and they have taken advantage past any reasonable amount of greed. So, it's time to change the rules again so that instead of bad behavior, we have responsible behavior, and the responsibility is towards the investors, or consumers... Would you carry a sign in favor of a Wall Street firm or even your local bank? Have you ever gone into a bank and felt that you were treated right? Or thought that you could run the place in better fashion? So, if the tea parties do organize and carry signs in favor of themselves being financially ripped off along with you and me, it should be the tipping point to clue you in that they are being manipulated and they have become a group of Mindless Marching Morons (hey, it's a title of a 1950's science fiction short story by CM Kornbluth...)...

I don't see how our foreign policy can be protested. Sure, the hard-headed right wing Israelis are unhappy with us, but that's because we want them to actually negotiate a real goal this time, stop delaying tactics and be more honest. We are trying for better relations in Asia and Latin America, where they see us as an aggressive, imperial power, not a democratic beacon to the world. We have been showing more respect to the Muslim countries, especially with Pakistan.

 In fact, Pakistan is happy because we will give them some new toys for their military, and now they will have drones of their own. They had tried to reverse engineer some that they had bought from a Russian satellite country, but that was slow going. If we can keep our homegrown terrorist wannabees from traveling around their country looking for Taliban groups (if the CIA has trouble finding them on their own, what makes you think you can find a reliable source using Facebook?), then the future is looking better.

The European markets have suffered from the economic collapse, but it has forced them to communicate better with each other and has resulted in better trade agreements that are mutually cooperative. Even China is trying to be a little bit more transparent after the Google fiasco.

The only really potentially dangerous hotspots are that another war will break out between North and South Korea after a South Korean ship has just been sunk. and our friendly neighbor to the south, Mexico. Immigration will be a topic soon to be tackled, but the more pressing problem is what to do about the war Mexico is having with the drug cartels. It's very fast paced, with a lot of collateral damage, way too many innocent civilians getting killed by both sides. The innocent have no-one to turn to for help. The largest "heroin kingpin" was arrested a couple of days ago in Matamorros, and then a jailbreak occurred, where 41 prisoners escaped with the help of some guards. It goes back and forth each time the government arrests someone.

It was estimated that the kingpin managed to import over 440 kilos of heroin per month into the US. US drug enforcement has estimated that heroin production in Mexico has doubled this last year, so double the previous amount, multiply it by the number of criminal gangs importing, and we will come up with a huge amount of it being consumed by Americans. Which is disturbing. Some of the heroin is being obtained by the cartels from African drug rings, who get it from Afghanistan and trade it for methamphetamines for distribution in Europe. It signifies that even the illicit marketplace has gone global and may be fueling the more legitimate economy. Illegal drugs form over 1/3 of Mexico's economy, it's no wonder that California would like to legalize marijuana and tap into some money by collecting sales tax. $4.20 per ounce is the proposed amount... Anyway, the Border Patrol is trying out different ways of doing their jobs, actually trying to coordinate their efforts with their counterparts in Mexico and seem to have better success...

The most amusing event are the results of the Iraqi election. It didn't go the way that the current Prime Minister, Nuri al Maliki, planned. There either will be a runoff between himself and Allawi, or allawi will take over and try to form the next government. Maliki is ranting and raving, cry foul and fraud, but nobody is taking him very seriously, with the end result in dashing his dreams of becoming the next mini-dictator. In this, the gift of democracy and the wisdom of the Iraqi people will have triumphed. It actually may be the influence of the Iraqis and how well they can keep their country together after the US leaves, that will end up changing the regime in Iran. The influence of the Iraqi Grand ayatollahs may prove more persuasive than any sanctions that the US can come up with, and it would be done while maintaining good relations among everyone. This is the positive scenario for Iraq and the rest of us, which is much better than the alternative of the US playing bad cop for the nations of the world. Talk about an ego-trip...

 from the angry arab, comes a translation from a poem by Hissa Hilal, poet and mother of four from Saudi Arabia:

I have seen evil in the eyes of fatwas,
at a time when the permitted
is being twisted into the forbidden.
The clerics are vicious in voice,
barbaric, angry and blind,
wearing death as a robe cinched with a belt.

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