Friday, August 20, 2010

Ending The Week On A Positive Note, Abbas And Netanyahu New BFF's, Allawi And Maliki To Make It All Better, Wyclef To Hip-Hop Out Of Haiti

Paul Krugman
Robert Creamer
Steve Coll
"I suppose it should come as no surprise. The Republicans are rooting against the American economy and American workers. They believe that they will do better politically in the 2010 midterm elections -- and the 2012 presidential -- if the economy does worse. And for the last twenty months they have done everything they can to assure that outcome." - Robert Creamer
"As I look at what passes for responsible economic policy these days, there’s an analogy that keeps passing through my mind. I know it’s over the top, but here it is anyway: the policy elite — central bankers, finance ministers, politicians who pose as defenders of fiscal virtue — are acting like the priests of some ancient cult, demanding that we engage in human sacrifices to appease the anger of invisible gods." - Paul Krugman

It's nice to end the week on a positive note, since last weekend it looked like we were heading towards a nuclear war in the Middle East. Cooler heads have prevailed, and I sure would like to know who has been speaking to these leaders and making them play nice all of a sudden.

US troops leaving peacefully from Iraq probably had a lot to do with it. Thanks to Iraq's Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the two main political groups are back speaking to each other, and like it or not, the new co-prime ministers will be Allawi and Maliki. They may have to be chained together at the wrists, but they are the country's best hope right now... John Kerry has gone to Afghanistan to help his friend Hamid root out some corruption in his government. I just hope that John doesn't come back wearing one of those yak-fur hats, the karakul...

Hillary Clinton announced that Abbas and Netanyahu will begin direct negotiation talks on Sept 2 in Washington. I'm not sure what stick she used, but I'll bet it was more than a promise of having a beer with the president. Perhaps she promised to let them try some American style medical marijuana, Bibi, would you care for another brownie? (which gives new meaning to the phrase "heckova good job, brownie!") Of course, things will sour and then become better about half a dozen times by then, but forget all of the renewed bombings from Gaza and the bulldozings of houses in Jerusalem, if they sit down and hammer out a Palestinian state within a year, they can then toss members of Hamas out to the sea, let those incoming aid boats to Gaza take them back away with them, proving how irrelevant they are as protectors of the Palestinian people...

Even Iran has said, in the 8th flip-flop on policy, that they will sit down and discuss a nuclear fuel swap, despite the sanctions. This is actually a moot point, since Iran has already contracted with Russia to provide them with the nuclear fuel for their new plant, but Russia will also dispose of the spent fuel rods, so I'm not sure what there is to discuss. Maybe they just want to remain in the news and join in on the feel-good festivities taking place today. Hopefully, whatever happens over this coming weekend doesn't put a spoiler on things, and some actual progress gets made in international relations. Now if we could only send an ipod to the next ruler of North Korea and set free Aung San Soo Kyi...

Perhaps Pakistan will start receiving the aid that it has been pledged. The monsoon season is only half-way over, traditionally the more powerful storms happen during late August and the beginning of Sept, so the toll of misery may not be over. The US has pledged $90 million so far, along with the use of helicopters and temporary bridges. The EU has also pledged $90 million. Not to be outdone, Saudi Arabia has pledged $120 million, but so far Pakistan has not received one dime. Turkey pledged $15 million, and India has given $5 million. Nothing much from the rest of their fellow Muslim countries or charities, who seem too busy organizing boats going to Gaza right now.

This sending of boats to Gaza is now resembling a bad copycat season of television, with everyone pushing their version of the hot, new reality show, The Real Imams of Gaza City... Lebanon is going to send a boat on Sunday, filled with an all woman crew, hoping that will let them through the Israeli blockade. The women have been instructed to carry their blood-type information on them at all times, in case the IDF raids them and callously shoots at them. The organizers, of course, are licking their lips at the prospect of repeat violence from the Israeli forces, imagining how much more world sympathy they can get from the harm coming to defenseless, female martyrs. Haaretz reports that Israel has already made a formal protest to the UN. It also reports that there is a small glitch as to why the boat cannot sail directly from Lebanon to Gaza, because technically, Beirut is still at war with Israel, and the ship will have to go to Cyprus first, who also will not let them dock.

About the only person bummed out today is Haitian hip-hopper Wyclef Jean, who is not on the list of approved presidential candidates, narrowing the field down to a mere thirty four. Mr Jean had not established legal residence for five consecutive years, as required by the Haitian constitution. Oh, well, perhaps if he makes an actual commitment to his place of birth, he can try again in another five years.

His announcement of running for president seemed more due to his ego than any skills he could offer his country. He owes money to the US, and he had a bad habit of using his charity as his own personal bank account, not a practice that would endear him to a country with such a reputation for corruption. The US actually wouldn't mind someone like Wyclef Jean as president of Haiti, because, for some reason, it has been in our interests to keep this nation poor, starving, and uneducated. We could have turned haiti around at anytime within the last 60 years, but have purposely neglected it. You have to ask, for what reason?

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