Friday, January 15, 2010

I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar

While the C-5 was turning over its engines, a female crewman gave the G.I.s on board the usual information regarding seat belts, emergency exits, etc.

Finally, she said, 'Now sit back and enjoy your trip while your captain, Judith Campbell, and crew take you safely to Afghanistan '

An old MSgt. sitting in the eighth row thought to himself, 'Did I hear her right? Is the captain a woman'

When the attendant came by he said 'Did I understand you right? Is the captain a woman?'

'Yes,'! said the attendant, 'In fact, this entire crew is female.'

'My God,' he said, 'I wish I had two double scotch and sodas. I don't know what to think with only women up there in the cockpit.'

'That's another thing, Sergeant,' said the crew member, 'We no longer call it the cockpit ... it's the box office.'

Quote of the day:

'Whatever you give a woman, she will make greater. If you give her sperm, she'll give you a baby. If you give her a house, she'll give you a home. If you give her groceries, she'll give you a meal. If you give her a smile, she'll give you her heart. She multiplies and enlarges what is given to her. So, if you give her any crap, be ready to receive a ton of shit.'

(With special thanks to mh for sending this one along.)

More: Why Republicans Can't Govern (Part III)

from The Washington Post

So, let's review a little history:

The day the Bush administration took over from President Bill Clinton in 2001, America enjoyed a $236 billion budget surplus -- with a projected 10-year surplus of $5.6 trillion. When the Bush administration left office, it handed President Obama a $1.3 trillion deficit -- and projected shortfalls of $8 trillion for the next decade. During eight years in office, the Bush administration passed two major tax cuts skewed to the wealthiest Americans, enacted a costly Medicare prescription-drug benefit and waged two wars, without paying for any of it.

To put the breathtaking scope of this irresponsibility in perspective, the Bush administration's swing from surpluses to deficits added more debt in its eight years than all the previous administrations in the history of our republic combined. And its spending spree is the unwelcome gift that keeps on giving: Going forward, these unpaid-for policies will continue to add trillions to our deficit.

This fiscal irresponsibility -- and a laissez-faire attitude toward the excesses of the financial industry -- helped create the conditions for the deepest economic catastrophe since the Great Depression. Economists across the political spectrum agreed that to deal with this crisis and avoid a second Great Depression, the government had to make significant investments to keep our economy going and shore up our financial system.

(emphasis added)

Read the full piece in The Washington Post after the click ...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haiti, a brief history

When I was living in upstate NY in the 70s, I owned a frame shop and gallery. One of my customers was a former USAID worker - her husband was a former Haitian consulate officer. They beat it out of Haiti a couple hours before Papa Doc's thugs, the Tonton Macoutes, arrived at their home in Haiti with submachine guns and burned it to the ground.

One of the few possessions she she was able to bring from Haiti was a pane of glass from one of the windows in their home that her husband had engraved with an original poem he'd written for her.

My friend, Eva, through her contacts in Haiti, brought paintings by Haitian folk artists into the US. We framed them, she showed them and, when they sold, she sent the profits back to Haiti. She grew and sold the most beautiful shallots in her garden in the hills of upstate New York, too - those profits went back to Haiti as well.

When the people Haiti prevailed in the only successful slave revolt in history, they were forced to pay reparations to France for their independence. The reparations were draconian and, eventually Haiti began to default on payments. A number of countries came to the rescue ... with high interest loans, high enough that for a time Haiti was making loan payments equal to fully 80% of the nations GDP.

And then there were François "Papa Doc" Duvalier and his son, Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier, Haiti's "Presidents for Life" who raped what was left of the nations treasures and killed it's people with impunity ... kept in power by their secret police, the Tonton Macoutes. But they were vigorously anti-communist, a factor that, in the time of Castro, allowed American foreign policy to turn a blind eye to the plight of the Haitian people.

From Wikipedia:
In December 1990, the former priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide won the election by more than two thirds of the vote. His mandate began on 7 February 1991. In August 1991, Jean-Bertrand Aristide's government faced a non-confidence vote within the Haitian Chamber of Deputies and Senate. Eighty three voted against him, while only 11 members voted in support of Aristide's government. Following a coup d'etat in September 1991, President Aristide was flown into exile. In accordance with Article 149 of Haiti's Constitution of 1987, Supreme Court Justice Joseph Nerette was named Provisional President and elections were called for December 1991. These were blocked by the international community and the resulting chaos extended into 1994.

In 1994, Haitian General Raoul Cédras asked former U.S. President Jimmy Carter to help avoid a U.S. military invasion of Haiti. President Carter relayed this information to President Clinton, who asked Carter, in his role as founder of The Carter Center, to undertake a mission to Haiti with Senator Sam Nunn, D-GA, and former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Colin Powell. The team successfully negotiated the departure of Haiti's military leaders and the peaceful entry of U.S. forces under Operation Uphold Democracy, paving the way for the restoration of Jean-Bertrand Aristide as president. Aristide left the presidency in 1995.

In the over two centuries of Haiti's independence there has hardly been a day the country hasn't been subjected to the international or domestic plunder of its resources. The current crisis is only the latest and most visible disaster in their history.

For a more detailed history of Haiti between 1990 and the present, click here.

From American foreign policy point of view, Haiti has only two small problems. 1.) The people are black and 2.) they don't have any oil. From that policy standpoint, if they could only overcome those two small problems, we'd be more than happy to be supportive in normal times. But, until then ....

My friend Eva and her husband passed away many years ago, but I will always remember them, the paintings .... and the shallots.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Allen Grayson (D-FL) sums it up nicely

(from the floor of the House - responding to Rudy Gu911iani's memory lapse stating that there were no terrorist attacks during the Bush administration.)

And I realized that I was witnessing the birth of a new form of political discourse from the right wing in this country: The Exception. The Exceptional Exception -- the exception that proves the rule or disproves the rule, as the case may be.

So in the future I'm expecting that we'll hear from the right wing the claim that no cities drowned under the Bush administration -- except for New Orleans. And that there were no wars that were started by mistake under the Bush administration -- except for the war in Iraq. And that the Bush administration added nothing to the federal debt -- except for a half-trillion dollars, which works out to $15,000 for every man, woman and child in this country. And that they respected all of our constitutional rights as Americans -- except when they didn't.

I think we'll hear Republicans claim that the Bush administration managed the economy quite well -- except when they brought it to the brink of national bankruptcy. In fact, they'll claim that the Bush-Cheney administration was a complete success, except for the fact that it was an abject failure -- an abject failure.

In fact, what we learned in Washington for eight years is that the reason why Republicans hate government so much is because they're so bad at it.

Guantanamo guard reunited with ex-inmates

Why would a former Guantanamo Bay prison guard track down two of his former captives - two British men - and agree to fly to London to meet them?

"You look different without a cap."

"You look different without the jump suits."

With those words, an extraordinary reunion gets under way.

... catch the video from BBC after the click.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Religious no longer a protected class

Q: Is there widespread media bias against Christianity? Against evangelicals such as Brit Hume and Sarah Palin? Against public figures who speak openly and directly about their faith? Against people who believe as you do?

... find the answer in The Washington Post after the click.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Bull and the Bull Fighter

The "war on terrorism" is a significant example of the effectiveness of asymmetrical strategies; the "David and Goliath Effect". Like toreadors, waving a cape at a raging bull in the bull ring, al-Qaeda fields a single operative with explosives in his underwear at the cost of a plane ticket and we spend a billion dollars installing scanning machines in airports all over the country.

Al-Qaeda abandons Afghanistan for the tribal regions of Pakistan leaving us to spend billions of dollars fighting the Taliban who's goals don't extend beyond the national boundaries of Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda's cost is next to nothing but the cost to us is immeasurable.

A large military presence in a foreign country only serves to inflame indigenous resentments. Our presence in Iraq and in Afghanistan is a recruiting tool that al-Qaeda could only imagine in their wildest dreams and, over the better part of the last decade, they've learned how to push the right buttons to keep things going.

They don't need to "win". They only need to keep us chasing our tails to achieve their goal of driving us to bankruptcy. For them to merely survive is the big win for them.

We cannot "win" as long as we continue trying to "fight terrorism" on their terms ... as long as we pursue al-Qaeda as if it were a military entity by putting our military force into the field we are playing to their strengths. Like the art of jujitsu, they are using our sheer weight against us. They count on our macho bravodo that dictates, once committed, we cannot back away. Like a bull in a bull ring, we cannot stop chasing the illusive capes.