Thursday, August 12, 2010

Pulling Out Of Iraq, Persian Gulf Chess Match, Colorado Primaries

Mark McKinnon
Gail Collins
Dana Milbank

"Score a big win for President Obama. And for Colorado Democrats" - Mark McKinnon
"I hope this is entirely clear now, Kentucky. Stop all this loose talk about Rand Paul kidnapping a coed and making her take drugs. It isn’t true! Calm down and focus on the bigger issues, like jobs and taxes and which candidate for the Senate has the longest history of forcing people to bow down before idols." - Gail Collins
"On the other hand, Obama has only himself to blame for setting expectations impossibly high. He persuaded liberals to support him over Hillary Clinton by claiming he would usher in a postpartisan era of world peace, domestic prosperity and green energy -- and that was just the first week." - Dana Milbank

The good news is that the World Health Organization has announced that the swine flu epidemic is no longer a problem. The bad news is that new, virulent strains of bacteria have developed in India and Pakistan, and have made their way to New York hospitals. So far, there are no drugs to counter them, and it remains to be seen if they will spread across the country or be contained.

There is a similar good/bad scenario involved with the planned troop withdrawal from Iraq. Good for the troops stationed there, though they will probably be redeployed elsewhere instead of going home and be honorably discharged. Bad news for the Iraqis, who are still plagued by weekly bombings and can't seem to form a government. The local al-Qaeda franchise seems to be intact and may grow stronger unless Iraq develops a closer relationship with Saudi Arabia and the gulf states.

If you step back and take a look at Iraq, you gotta say that we sure screwed up that country. It's government is still one of the most corrupt in the world, we didn't change it one iota for the better. Their infrastructure is still in horrible shape, Baghdad gets only 6 hours of electricity per day, despite the billions of dollars we spent on lots of projects... Where did the money go? In a recent attempted audit, it was revealed that $8.7 billion of the $9.1 billion the Pentagon spent on humanitarian and infrastructure projects were unaccounted for. That means that nobody kept track of where the money went and they couldn't tell you if you asked. $8.7 BILLION went into people's pockets, both here in the US and in Iraq. No wonder the Iraqi generals want their gravy train to stay until at least 2020... and we have upped the Pentagon's budget to over $700 billion, despite the bunch of newly made multi-millionaire generals working there.

One of every mother's fear, when you have a soldier fighting overseas, is that they will die, and it will have been for nothing. Because we need to be fighting for an ideal, something abstract that we can hold up for all to see, not admit that we invaded Iraq because George W Bush wanted to prove that he was better as a war president than his daddy was, that all of our real reasons were based on pettiness, vanity, and lies, lies, lies. No, it might sour part of the population and make them take refuge in the fantasy life of a tea party patriotism... And when we leave Iraq, we leave behind friends who are going to get shot or punished for helping us, and a populace that still hasn't worked out their hostilities towards each other.

Barack Obama needs to start spending one weekend per month visiting veteran's hospitals. Better yet, he could go and visit the family of each person who has been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. and take George W Bush along with him, even if he pouts and kicks and screams. It's called taking responsibility, and asking for mercy and forgiving by an act of kindness. We need more of this kind of action that always having to play one-upmanship with members of Congress...

Ramadan has started in the Middle East, and that is when the usual hostilities accelerate and get blown way out of proportion, because everyone is bitchy from having to fast all day for a month. There won't be any progress made on the Palestinian question, in fact, it may all fall apart again now that Israel has rejected Abbas's platform for a starting point for negotiations. Basically, Israel won't stop building on disputed land in the West Bank, and it rejects any part of Jerusalem becoming the capitol for a Palestinian state. Israel has always been all bluster and promises, then finds a way to break every single promise and feel smug about it. Maybe once the US gets out of Iraq, we can walk away from the whole region, use the money to help recover from our national deficit...

A lot of bluster is still coming out of Tehran, who is sounding shriller every day. The chess game continues in the Persian Gulf, with the US is reassigning the USS Truman strike force from support for Afghanistan to be stationed off the coast of Dubai: "The USS Truman Strike force carries 6,000 marines and sailors and Carrier Wing Three consisting of seven Battle Axe squadrons. It leads a flotilla of four more vessels: the guided missile cruiser USS Normandy, the guided missile destroyer USSWinston S. Churchill, the USS Oscar Austin destroyer and the guided missile destroyer USS Ross. Another carrier, the USS Peleliu and its marine force are in the Arabian Sea waiting for permission to enter Karachi port and render aid to the millions of flood-stricken Pakistanis. The USS Nassau is cruising in the Gulf Aden."

Iran seeks to prove how fast they respond by announcing that the feared Navy of the Revolutionary Guards had added: "... twelve torpedo and missile cruisers to the IRGC Navy and the purchase of a British Bladerunner speedboat. "What worries the Americans is that we have equipped (the speedboat) with military gear." Oh, yeah, those little boats really has the US worried... what probably will happen is that one or more of their punk-ass boats will get smacked, and we will claim that we mistook them for Somali pirates, then everyone will have a good laugh and go out and party in Dubai...

And in case we still haven't taken Iran's Revolutionary Guards more seriously, a further threat was made on the Great Satan: "In a bid to further dramatize Iran's readiness for war, IRGC Deputy Chief Gen. Hossein Kan'ani Moghadam announced Tuesday, Aug. 10: "The mass graves that were used for burying Saddam's soldiers [in the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s] have now been prepared for US soldiers - and this is the reason for digging a large number of graves." This plays well on the street, but I would place my bets on a squad of native Iraqi or Afghan army soldiers to best a squad of the Revolutionary Guard. They hare too full of themselves after having beaten up a bunch of unarmed young protesters, but certainly haven't tested themselves in a real battle.

Speaking of colorful, bruising battles, the Colorado primary races were the most entertaining and fun to watch, than in any other state in our nation. The Big Battle was between Ken Buck, a Weld county DA, and Karen Norton, who was Lieutenant Governor under Bill Owens. The fun was in their sniping at each other, trying to prove who is more conservative and who is more of a political outsider. Ken won the battle, and has the honor of running against Michael Bennet for Bennet's Senate seat.

Bennet kept his campaign fairly attack free, while getting hammered by his opponent. The negative ad campaign, though expected by Republicans because they never play fair, didn't work for Andrew Romanoff, who sold his house to pay for the ads and now is homeless. I think he will be moving to a new state soon... But Bennet, who must have read an earlier post of mine and used his cute daughters to make an adorable ad that probably won the primary for him, may have yo go negative against Ken Buck.

Buck has created an image for himself as a tough, John Wayne figure, who speaks his mind even if it is not politically correct. But he is a poser, and it is all an act. He was born and raised on the East Coast, went to an Ivy League college, and worked in a lot of different places as a journeyman before settling in Weld County. I hope that a series of debates become scheduled, as I think that Bennet's humanity will outshine Buck's cynicism. And if Bennet makes a couple more commercials starring his daughters, there will be no way that he can lose. Too bad that Michael Bennet won't consider switching to the GOP, then I would have a principled Republican that I could vote for.

The fact that a crazy person like Dan Maes won to run for governor of Colorado may mean that he will have to do it on his own, that the national GOP will not support him financially, unless he finds a way to kick them in the butt. Maes will have a harder time finding a similar controversy to run against Hickenlooper, and may have to run a stealth campaign. Lay as low as he can, and imitate Sharron Angle's approach to keep away from journalists and never answer any questions that are not submitted in advance. Because if he opens his mouth, he will say something off the wall and lose whatever credibility he may have. This approach by Angle, Rand Paul, Linda McMahon and others reminds me of the proverb my father used to say to me: "If you keep your mouth closed, people may think that you are stupid. But when you open it, you remove all doubt." Thanks dad, and here's hoping to a midterm election season that removes all of our doubts... Besides, we have yet to see if Tom Tancredo remains in the governor's race, giving us two crazies for the price of one, please, oh please, let there be televised debates...

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