Archive | November, 2007

Saying Goodbye

24 Nov

Saying goodbye isn’t easy, but how do you say goodbye to a person going back to a war? A war you don’t believe in, a war you never supported, and a war that the both of you know isn’t right. To a person you only vaguely know, a friend of a friend but someone who is still happy to see that you came out for his farewell party.

Do you ask him to win it? To give ’em hell?

Do you tell him to come back alive for us?

What do you tell a man going to fight for a lie that no one believes anymore? How do you ask a man to die for that mistake?

And what do you say to a man before he returns to fight and die for this man’s mistake?

Make it back Alex. For us.

Issue X: The Case Against Everybody (this time Obamamania)

21 Nov

The series continues…..

What is and who is this magical Barack Obama? Is he the next Kennedy and/or Jesus? Is he ridiculously overhyped? Should we young folk just gravitate to his amazingness? Should we all smoke cigarettes like him to get that crazy voice?

Or more importantly, of what substance is this Obama imposed on us from above? Just being multiracial and eloquent won’t cut it for me no matter how much I want to vote for a non-white guy. Is he leader on progressive causes? Does he stick his neck out when what is needed and what needs to be said is unpopular? Let’s take a look.

What’s Right with Obama
Barack Obama has been a senator only since January 2005, and before that he served for several years as a state senator in Illinois. After college but before law school, Obama worked as a community organizer in the mostly black South Side of Chicago to help that part of town speak for its own needs. I find it impressive that he took time off between undergrad and law school to spend time doing something like that, fighting battles for the people no one cared to fight for. Who wants help organize the projects?

After Illinois Governor Ryan commuted all death row inmates to life sentences when people on death row were found to be innocent, Obama passed a law requiring that police tape all interrogations of murder suspects. In 2002, he also made a speech opposing the invasion of Iraq while Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Joe Biden, and Christopher Dodd all voted for the war that year. He also opposes the free trade agreements like CAFTA, though he supports the Peru agreement.

He pisses off the foreign policy “experts”
Obama also has an internationalist and comprehensive view of how the world works and needs to be improved that I just don’t think another white president is going to “get” without living abroad like Obama did (Hillary’s snide remarks aside about how his living in Indonesia “doesn’t count” for foreign policy experience). He’s African, he’s American, he can be the whole world in one person. I think that should count and help in re-making American foreign policy.

That he hired Samantha Powers who wrote A Problem from Hell about the Rwandan genocide for foreign policy advice is commendable as are his comments that we should meet presidents and dictators that we don’t happen to like (including Castro). He also has announced his support for the abolition of nuclear weapons which is required under the Non-Proliferation Treaty though John Edwards announced his support months before. Obama also said he wouldn’t use nuclear weapons in Afghanistan which is common sense, but also drove the foreign policy experts crazy.

Our “foreign policy establishment” has either failed America or led into idiotic and morally questionable policies. Obama just might be the guy to give them a kick in the pants.

Impressive election
Given that Chicago is still a one-man dictatorship (see the Daley Machine), his win in the Illinois Democratic Senate primary in 2004 was nothing less than miraculous. He was too black for white folk and too white for black folk. He still has to deal with that question with Hillary speaking Ebonics/Southern with black audiences while he needs to convince white people that he isn’t “too black.”

Dirt on Obama
Sorry guys, I haven’t seen much dirt on this guy. The most I can find is that he bought land next to his house from a crooked Illinois businessman so Obama could get a bigger yard. Obama admitted the deal was a mistake and donated the money to charity. ABC also found that he was helping donors get some tax breaks and though he doesn’t take donations from lobbyists, he does from their partners at the law firm. Oh, and he tried cocaine as a kid.

Too cautious
Obama’s good on the basics (like the environment), but I feel that he isn’t taking leadership on anything. Rather than being substantive, he relies on his charisma to get by. When it came to the legalizing the illegal NSA wiretapping program, Sen. Dodd is the one that put the bill on hold, not Obama. I haven’t seen him use his famous face on issues like Guantanamo, the Military Commissions Act, illegal wiretapping, defense contractor corruption/overspending, poverty in America, withdrawing from Iraq, or even healthcare. His healthcare plan for the auto industry (they increase fuel efficiency while the government pays their health bill) is a pathetic compromise that shouldn’t be made. His triangulation when he has media presence to move the country on the big issues I find disappointing. Says a Chicago supporter

“Those of us in the Chicago progressive community still believe in Barack Obama,” says Joel Bleifuss, editor of the left-wing magazine In These Times. “But at the moment we’re pretty much taking it on faith.”

And that might be too much to ask of us. To take it on faith.

Obama Links
Rolling Stone profile of Obama and his church
Bipartisan Proposal to eliminate nuclear weapons
Real Change Skeleton Closet Obama profile

New news

  • The new Joe Lieberman: Is California’s Senator Dianne Feinstein Bush’s biggest Democratic enabler in the Senate? Her latest fealty to Bush was to vote for his new attorney general while most Democrats voted against him because he didn’t think that simulated drowning for “suspected terrorists” is torture. Her husband has apparently been lining his pockets with military contracts that she helps write while sitting on a military appropriations committee. Feinstein has just resigned from that committee. Feinstein voted for the war and is trying to get legal amnesty for telecom companies that helped out in Bush’s illegal NSA wiretapping program (retroactively legalized by the moronic Democratic Congress). Amnesty for the phone companies would close off the one avenue to expose and shut down this program since Congress gave Bush the green light on this. And Feinstein does this despite the fact that Bush’s disapproval rating is 70% in California and 90% among California Democrats.
  • Hillary’s campaign planted a questioner in one of her campaign stops. The questioner gave her a softball, “What are you going to do about global warming?” I wonder where Hillary learned this from? Oh yeah, that guy.
  • Oh damn, I live on an island that is sinking and eroding away. Global warming, rising water, and Galveston.
  • Washington, D.C.’s ban on handguns has been struck down as violating the 2nd Amendment by a federal court; the Supreme Court will take the case. It would be the first Second Amendment case since 1939 ( United States vs. Miller ).
  • The other mafia: Italy’s ‘Ndrangheta rises up over the weak Cosa Nostra.
  • South Africa locks up multi-drug resistant (MDR) tuberculosis patients. The AIDS epidemic in South Africa has also caused an epidemic in people with tuberculosis (60% of TB patients have HIV). The scariest drug resistant TB is extremely drug resistant tuberculosis (XDR TB) and has appeared in South Africa too. A South African doctor argues against incarceration as unscientific and irrational.
  • And when should we listen to supermodels? When Chinese central bankers say the same thing. Ain’t no love for the dollar no more.

How how Howard?

20 Nov

White Australia comes to bite you back as Asian voters throw you out like all the other pro-Iraq war world leaders: Aznar, Berlusconi, Blair, Kaczynski. Australian Prime Minister John Howard will be crushed in this weekend’s elections, and we can count ourselves that much more alone in Iraq with Australia’s pending withdrawal.

Dancing condoms and Debates

8 Nov

Domestic

  • Not just Galveston…. 54% of schoolchildren in the South are low-income and qualify for free or reduced school lunches. In 1990, the only state with a majority of schoolchildren that were low-income was Mississippi. Now this poverty belt stretches from California to South Carolina. (” I don’t know how many times I’ve heard public schools are just for black kids“). Welcome to the future.
  • Do you want a job that pays $53,000 and with overtime can reach $100,000 and can’t be outsourced? Well, why don’t you become an electrical worker and go up fixing electrical lines. Seems that there is a dire shortage of line technicians, and current workers will soon all retire. Why don’t young people want to do this job? Is doing blue-collar work just not cool? Or can no one do the math involved these days? I’m coming from from a very blue-collar area, so I really wouldn’t know what people think in the rest of the country. What about construction or plumbing? Or working the docks? Shit, a lot of these guys make more money than a lot of starting primary care doctors.
  • A model demands to be paid in euros because the value of a dollar is falling through the floor in currency markets. [Thanks to wannabe Hawaiian Jordan Abel]
  • If I wuz pres-i-dent….”, would I stop the war? (Anti-war rankings for the presidential candidates by former state senator Tom Hayden who was a big anti-Vietnam activist in his day). Kucinich and then Edwards are on top while Hillary is (who would guess) vague.
  • If you didn’t catch the Halloween Democratic presidential debate, you might want to watch it. Hillary gets it in the nose for the first hour by anyone not named Barack Obama particulary on her Iran vote. Edwards looks stellar, and I was liking Dodd and hating Joe Biden a little less. Obamamania better get its act together because I’m just not seeing it happen. Watch Hillary try to answer the illegal immigrant drivers license question both ways.
  • Indian-American Republican Catholic Bobby Jindal becomes governor of Louisiana. And I defer judgement this time.
  • The Nation says that Kentucky and Virginia have been steadily trending Democratic since 2001 and that these two states could be won in the presidential race by a Democrat. And if this is to be believed (and I’m skeptical but hoping), Sen. Mitch McConnell (the GOP minority leader and overall sleazy anti-campaign finance reformer) may be at risk of losing his seat next year via the Kentucky antiwar movement. [DitchmitchKY.com]

International

  • Richest man in the world is Indian…. but just before he was Mexican. “Yo quiero Todo Bell.
  • Saudi King Abdullah visits England and the Guardian writes “Welcome to Britain. But don’t mention bribery or corruption. This is business. ” If you don’t know, BAE (British Aerospace) was under investigation for bribing the Saudi government officials in the 1980s to win a military contract. Tony Blair quashed the investigation because he thought it might upset the Saudis. Blair buried the story by making the announcement on the day a big report came out on Princess Diana’s death when all the media would be focusing on that.
  • And if you like the Guardian, they just started an American edition at GuardianAmerica.com
  • The biggest company in the world (at least for a day) is/was PetroChina which you may have heard is responsible for irresponsible oil drilling in a place called Darfur, Sudan. The Asia Sentinel says that the hype was manufactured by issuing very little stock to the public to artificially drive up the price while Communist Party leaders enriched themselves on their discounted pre-release shares. Privatization benefiting the people who run the government? I’ve never heard of that [wink, wink].

Funny stuff

  • What do you mean I can’t get laid on a plane? Why else should a plane have private suites with beds?
  • Chopstick bras! Reducing the 25 billion disposable chopstick used in Japan a year by making a re-usable chopsticks that fit into a trendy bra.
  • Dancing condoms singing in Telegu. No, really.