Thursday, April 30, 2009

They Are Afghans; We're not

Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan, has just signed a law giving Afghan husbands the right to rape their wives. At some point in early American history, husbands may have had a similar power over their wives, but no American president would have dared underline it.

This is a stark reminder of our inability to grasp the gulf between Afghan and American societies. Ye, we fight for Karzai’s government; we send our sons to die so that his government will survive. We are in over our heads.

Mr. Obama’s Afghanistan policy is just warmed-over Bush. Neither man understands these people, except they understand American imperialism, the weight of which, in their minds, trumps all indigenous cultures. Or, does it?

Interesting that Karzai would sign this decree at the same time our president was in Europe trying to convince European countries to help America prop up the Karzai regime. Of course, Mr. Obama did not use the name “Karzai,” nor “regime” in his European speeches. Rather, he focused on “Al Quaeda,” which, I suppose he thinks is scarier than Karzai. The Europeans aren’t so sure; neither are they stupid.

The Afghans are proud of who they are. They signed this decree in broad daylight. They want everyone to know that they are determined to remain uniquely Afghan.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Armed with Weapons that Wound Them...

Retired Russian general, Pavel Grachev, calls the American fight in Afghanistan, “pointless.” He says that, like the Americans, when he was fighting the Mujahideen in Russia’s Afghanistan War, he thought he was doing what was necessary to keep Russia safe. It was only later, he says, that he realized how “pointless” it was.

To counter that stark assessment, the Obama Administration has come up with a lie, similar to the Bush Administration’s “Weapons of mass destruction” lie; the one Bush used to justify the war in Iraq. Obama’s lie: The Taliban pose a threat to the entire world. And just like the media cowed to Bush and refused to challenge him, this media—which is the same media; they kept their jobs—seems ready to roll over for Obama and collect their paychecks.

The first question to Obama should have been: “With what do the Taliban threaten the world?” They have neither a single airplane, nor a single ship, nor a single port; (Afghanistan is landlocked.) They have no long-range missiles, nor short-range missiles, yet we are to believe that they will destroy the world unless we send thousands of troops and billions of dollars to destroy them.

It could be a matter of pride: can’t be run off by a bunch of farmers. Imagine its biblical connotations: “nation of farmers and goat herders defeat superpower.” The likely conclusion would be that God is on their side. That would never do.

So, America assumes the role of liberator, and savior of mankind. In that drama, the people opposite us must be evil and bent on mankind’s destruction. Farmers? Goat herders? Destroyers of mankind? And with what will they destroy mankind—our own weapons of mass destruction?

In Victor Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre Dame, ‘brigands” of Paris rise up and are summarily put down by the authorities. These “brigands” have no weapons to begin with; they have only their passions, and they come to fight “tooth and nail”. After being beat back, they surge again, this time “armed,” as Hugo writes, “with the weapons that wound them.”

This is the nature of the people we fight. They are poor, and except for some foreign fighters who have joined their cause, they are local. These “locals” are of Afghanistan; they are grounded there. They do not want to destroy the world. Anyone who tells you they do, is lying. These men only want to rule their own land, Afghanistan, like every other man on Earth wants to rule his.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Obama Commits Quid Pro Quo Faux Pas

President Obama made a rookie mistake. He sent a letter to Russia’s President Medvedev suggesting that if Russia puts pressure on Iran to end its missile systems and nuclear program, the U.S. will consider abandoning its plans to put a missile defense system in Eastern Europe. Wrong. That is a veiled threat, no matter how Obama tries to deny that it is not a friendly quid pro quo. Medvedev’s terse response: “The two should never have been combined.” He is right.

President Obama’s “friendly” message is skin to saying, “If you do not do what we say, we will do what you will not like.” Literally, and figuratively, that is “Bush,” (as in “Bush league”).

In a strange and unnecessary way, Obama is trying to use Bush in a “Good cop-Bad cop” scenario. Again, not good. And why is it that he hesitates to disentangle himself from Bush’s disastrous foreign policy initiatives?

For instance, he continues to send unmanned drones into Pakistan, chasing Taliban and killing innocent Pakistanis. Every time we send a “killer drone” into Pakistan, we further destabilize Pakistan; we compromise that country’s sovereignty and drive it and its population closer to the extremists.

During the Vietnam War, we ventured into Laos and Cambodia in the same way—on bombing runs to kill Viet Cong who had slipped across that border. Pakistan ain't Cambodia. Cambodia was an agrarian society. Pakistan is an agrarian society with nukes.

If we think we cannot win the Afghanistan war without going into Pakistan, then we cannot win that war, period. To continue to destabilize a nuclear-armed nation is a (war) game where everyone loses, (except the extremists).

Sunday, April 12, 2009

It Can Happen, But...

President Obama is trying to fix the economy by filling it up with money. Yes! (We like it like that.) Some are complaining - the rich who don't want the poor to get it, the poor who don't want the rich to get it, and the middle class who don't want either of them to get it.

Shut up! We're all getting it - because we're all Americans, and Americans are supposed to have it. It is all about the dream, baby - the American Dream - and the eternal possibility that it can happen.

Of course, it can happen. Almost anything "can happen" although most things happen in accordance with the laws of nature, and gravity, and mathematics - laws like, "zero multiplied by any number equals zero."

America seems to be playing a game with zeros, hoping that a "quark," or some such mythical variable "out there" will find its way "in here," and impose itself on our troubles and turn our zeros into dollars.

It's much like trying to exceed the speed of light. Einstein said it can't be done. The weight of the fuel necessary to propel an object faster than light is the very thing that holds it back. But Obama and his crew may have come up with something.

Ben Bernanke, Obama's man in the Fed, pumped two trillion dollars into America's economy. When one economist was asked, "Where does it come from?" he replied, "Thin air." Interesting.

Riddle this: How much does a trillion dollar bills weigh?
Answer: Nothing if it springs from thin air.

Imagine the potential propulsion inherent in a trillion dollars, then double it. Now imagine all of that fuel being weightless. This is the new science President Obama employs. It is beyond quantum physics. Not even Einstein could have imagined it.

We ordinary folks have never quite understood Einstein, anyway, with his Quantum Physics and Theories of Relativity. We just assumed he knew because his name is synonymous with "what we don't know." Now we home his work was a bit unfinished, and that our president has tapped into that quantum magic - the stuff that will propel us at light speed beyond the gravity that holds us back, and on to everlasting prosperity.

A quantum leap? You can call it that; and it can happen...but it won't.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Again with the Elephants?

I got this toothache. It only hurts when I lay down. All day long, I'm fine. Come ten o'clock, I go to bed; it starts. It throbs all night long. It get up at five the following morning, and it stops.

Remember The Elephant Man? He couldn't lay down, lest he would die. (Something to do with is deformity that severely restricted his circulation.) Anyway, he slept sitting up.

Well, I thought maybe I can do it - sleeping sitting avoid the pain. It might have worked. I didn't do it, though; didn't want to look foolish.

Isn't that something - how we fear looking foolish? Fear of embarrassment can be a great motivator.

Then we die. How foolish is that? We will be embarrassed in the end. (Death is embarrassing.) We're "found", usually in some awkward position. (Isn't dying bad enough? We have to be embarrassed, too?

The Elephant Man laid down, and died. Sitting up all night would not have killed me.

(Some of) This President's Men

Fed chairman, Ben Bernanke, has just pumped two trillion dollars into America's economy, just by pushing a button. One economist described it as creating two trillion "out of thin air." How scary is that? When asked about the prospect of inflation after such an immense infusion of dollars, the economist said, "We should hope to get to the point that inflation is our concern." Scarier.

Meanwhile, the debate over the AIG bonuses rages on. Now we hear that Senate Banking chairman, Chris Dodd, added the clause that assured the AIG fat cats get their bonuses. He say he did it at the behest of Obama's Treasury department. Seems the administration hopes to avoid a lawsuit by the same "fat cats" it is bailing out. What?

A few weeks ago, Eric Holder, the new US Attorney General, called us a "nation of cowards." Now, when it comes time for him to stand up to the very people this country wants on a slab, he folds like a cheap tent to avoid a fight. Perhaps it was not his call. Perhaps, but he is the attorney general. Dealing with threats from corporate gluttons must be in his wheelhouse. "Sue us?" The attorney general should have said, "Make my day."

Then, there is the matter of the Council for Women and Girls, established by President Obama last week. It will be run by Valerie Jarrett, Obama'a senior adviser. It is pure politics. (What better way to solidify the female vote?).

If there is not an alternate Council for Boys, then there should be no council at all. There certainly should be no council that relies on gender discrimination for its charter.

Set up a Council for Children, Mr. President, and demand the most of that council, across the board. But don't play politics with the children. And never leave out my boys.