4000-Plus, But Who’s Counting…

This past week, the number of American troops killed in Iraq surpassed four thousand, a number everyone could see coming from miles away. The war in Iraq grinds on into its sixth year.

Many folks don’t remember the Vietnam War, but American combat involvement there lasted approximately twelve years. So the Iraqi war is already half-way there.

The Vietnam War was known for something else: over fifty-five thousand American troops dead. That grim number, almost fourteen times the number of US dead in Iraq in only twice the time frame, is, thankfully, not a number we are likely to see in Iraq. After all, there are less American troops in Iraq (160,000) than there were in Vietnam at its peak (500,000). Furthermore, US troops today are much better equipped and armored than they were then, and the battle-related medical care is also much better today. Ergo, more battle-wounded survivors.

But that is absolutely no excuse for carrying on the pointless Iraqi war. While there is evidence that the increased number of US troops deployed in Bush’s much-touted “surge” has increasedthe security on the ground somewhat, albeit only temporarily, it has failed miserably in its ultimate goal, which was to provide the Iraqi government the breathing room it purportedly needed to fix itself and unite the country.

Recent news reports confirm that the Iraqi war is truly a civil war. Headlines today reported that the Mehdi Army, which is the militia of hard-line Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, has withdrawn from its cease-fire with the Iraqi government. This is a Shiite cleric and his army fighting against the Shiite Iraqi government at its army, by the way.

In all of this time, the Iraqi government has shown itself to be totally incapable of governing, despite being propped up militarily and economically by the Bush Syndicate. You will recall that it was Bush who got us into this mess under false pretenses in the first place. After over five years, the Iraqi government cannot foment national reconciliation, cannot effect fair oil revenue sharing, cannot find a way to be inclusive of the three major segments of Iraqi society (Shiite, Sunni, and Kurd), and cannot even get the electricity to work in most places for more than four hours a day.

And perhaps the worst of all, they cannot get a viable army up and running, despite the fact that the USA has pumped billion of dollars into military equipment and training for the Iraqi army and security forces. This bizarre fact is more unbelievable when one considers that in the US, it takes perhaps six months to recruit and train a soldier to be good enough to go fight an endless civil war in Iraq, but somehow it is not possible to do the same with an Iraqi soldier in the five years that the US has been there.

Of course, GW Bush and his Syndicate have a legacy to protect (like protecting a toxic waste dump). Bush’s administration has recently announced a “pause” in troop reduction in Iraq past the thirty-thousand “surge” troops that were only supposed to be their for six months. That was over a year ago.

Bush wants to leave the scenario status quo for the next president to deal with. He would preserve the situation for McCain to continue ad nauseam. And even if a democrat wins, which is more likely, he provides the republican party fodder to blame the democrats for “cutting and running” as they bring American combat troop involvement to an end.

He also does something else with this “pause”, at least in his own mind: he doesn’t further harm his already-soiled legacy. He believes that no matter what happens he won’t be the one that lost the war in Iraq. That’s really sad, particularly when you consider that young American lives are being sacrificed for Bush’s “legacy”.

Many people are too young to remember Nixon and the Vietnam War. But a lot of those who do remember used to believe that Nixon was the worst president that even lived. Now, however, at least partly because of Iraq, they believe that Bush is the worst president that ever lived. Why?

One thing that Nixon got right was that, for better or worse, he had to stop the carnage of American combat soldiers in Vietnam, and that’s exactly what he did. By the end of 1971, US troops were no longer engaged in combat operations in Vietnam. That was a lesson learned by Nixon and lost of Bush.

It seems that McCain, who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam for years, hasn’t learned this lesson, either. And that’s unfortunate primarily for the republicans this election cycle, because many of them are staunchly against the war in Iraq, but don’t have any other republican to vote for.

For the democrats, the future looks a lot more promising, since both candidates want a quick end to American combat operation in Iraq. And with really traditional republicans threatening to stay home instead of voting for McCain, the handwriting is on the wall:

The Iraqis have to realize that the party is probably over. If they do, maybe they will finally get their “Shiite” together.

When Tricky Dickie Met al-Maliki…

Last week, US vice-president Dick Cheney, affectionately referred to in some circles as Tricky Dick (see “We, the PEOPLE” blog article of July 31, 2007 HERE) secretly arrived in Baghdad for yet another secretive meeting with the leader of the Iraqi government, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

The presumed purpose for yet another joint discussion was to talk about the progress, or lack thereof, of the Iraqi government in accomplishing any of the political benchmarks set out in January 2007 when the Bush-initiated surge of US combat troops in Iraq was initiated. You can read more about al-Maliki HERE.

No transcript of any of these meetings between US officials and al-Maliki has ever been made public. The only information released to the public is that the meetings went well, there was agreement on most issues, including economic concerns, national reconciliation, oil revenues, strategy, etc.

In other words, no real information about the meetings was made available to the public.

However, since these meetings between al-Maliki and Tricky-Dick have occurred before, we can look that the aftermath of those meetings, both in the USA and in Iraq, and extrapolate what the conversation must have been like. Thus, based upon careful research and observation following previous meetings, here is a version of what the conversation might be like between these two government leaders:

al-Maliki: Most honorable vice-president, welcome back to the gem of Iraq, Baghdad. Do you have anything to present me before our conversation, like, for instance, an extra 100 billion dollars?

Tricky-Dickie: Nouri, how are you? Or better yet, why are you? Why are you not making any progress on any of the things you promised a year ago to make progress on?

al-Maliki: May I call you Dick? After all, I am a prime minister, while you are a lowly vice-premier.

Tricky-Dick: Hey, watch it! I’m the vice-president of the USA! And president of the US senate, no less, And since I am a president and a member of the legislative branch of the US government, you will address me as Mr. vice-president!!

al-Maliki: I don’t get it…

Tricky-Dick: Let’s get down to business. When are you going to start playing ball with all the factions that make up your incredibly mixed-up country? When are you going to start sharing power and oil? When are you going to start taking responsibility for the security of your country so that we Americans can settle into our enormous new complex in the green zone, and just watch??

al-Maliki: Soon, soon, soon. Can you keep your troops here a little longer…say, like for another hundred years?

Tricky-Dick: We’re working on it with our boy McCain, Bush’s heir apparent, but George and I will be out of office in nine months. If you don’t do something soon, either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton could win the US presidential election, and then start withdrawing American troops by the planeload. What will you do then, Nouri?

al-Maliki: Probably go to Switzerland. Obama is a son of a horse, and you Americans are to blame for that daughter of a pig, Clinton! Why do you let a woman make so much noise? In Iraq she would be at home and not heard. We don’t tolerate women telling men what to do here! And Obama, he sounds like he is living with angels. How do you Americans allow someone to promise so much stuff?

Tricky-Dick: All the same, you have to show some progress or else. What about your relationship with Sadr and his army of the imperial whatever-it-is?

al-Maliki: You mean the Mahdi army. Sadr! That son of a water buffalo! He is too young to be telling everyone what to do. We will control him, and punish him. We only need $100 billion more to finish the job with Sadr.

Tricky-Dick: What about sharing oil revenues with the Sunnis and Kurds? What about national reconciliation?

al-Maliki: The Sunnis are sons of pigs and the Kurds are sons of donkeys! We will give them their share…which will be less than our share because we should be paid for being smart and in the majority, don’t you think? Besides, a lot of oil keeps disappearing, like I told you before.

Tricky-Dick: Nouri, I told you last time to never mention the oil shortfall. People could get very upset and start poking around, and neither you nor we want that.

al-Maliki: The people are sons of a pig!! We have provided them with peace, and look how they repay us!!

Tricky-Dick: I’m talking about the American people!

al-Maliki: I thought you had them under your control. At least, that’s what you keep telling me.

Tricky-Dick: When is the Iraqi army going to be able to take over the fighting? After all, it only takes six months of training to get an American soldier ready for combat. We have been training your Army for five full years!!

al-Maliki: The Iraqi Army is filled with sons of cows! It takes time to train cows. You didn’t send us enough cattle-prods. Plus, the uniforms are too hot! But if you give me $100 billion this week, we can buy new uniforms from China and have enough by, say 2025.

Tricky-Dick: You drive a hard bargain, Nouri. Tell you what: You can have the $100 billion, but you have to make it last, and don’t spend it all in one place. Use it to fix your country! And try to stay away from all those farm animals.

al-Maliki: Thank you, Mr. president-vice-president. How long does the money have to last?

Tricky-Dick: At least until my next lecturing visit during the republican convention.

_________________________________


Of course, we will never know for sure exactly how their conversation really went, but the one offered above could fit provided the right observations and metrics are used.

That is, if real and tangible results (or actually, the lack thereof) are the governing criteria. 🙂

The Continuing Politics of Sex

It just never seems to end, these stories about politicians and sex.

The latest chapter in the never-ending saga of politicians getting caught with their pants down involves first-term New York State governor Elliot Spitzer, also known as “client 9”. Spitzer evidently was using the services of a high-priced prostitute in Washington DC, and became ensnarled by the IRS and FBI as a result of moving money around from one bank account to another to hide this activity, primarily from his wife.

Elliot Spitzer was elected governor of New York in 2006. Before that, he had been New York state attorney general during which he actually prosecuted cases against prostitution rings. You can read all about it HERE.

Thus, there is an element of hypocrisy in Spitzer’s behavior. “Do as I say, not as I do” seems to infect people who have too much power for their abilities. The world has certainly seen this at the national leadership level of many countries, including the USA.

One issue in all this is why a man would cheat on his wife with a prostitute. One obvious answer might be that he is bored with his wife, and that his wife refuses, or is incapable of spicing things up and/or acting out his fantasies. We do not know the exact answer, but we know he did it and he has admitted to it. In doing so, he has again proved the wisdom of the saying that power corrupts, and absolute power makes people do stupid things. More on this below

Another interesting factor in this situation is the price of this high-priced hooker. “Kristin”, who answered “client 9’s” call to travel from New York to Washington DC, works for the “Emperor Club”, a high-end prostitution ring that provides women for clients at prices from $1000 to $5500 for a two-and-a-half hour encounter. “Kristin” customarily changes $1000 an hour ($2500 for the full two-and-a-half hour encounter. That’s an astounding $17 a minute. Expenses, such as travel, are extra.

Republicans in the NY State Legislature have been quick to call for Spitzer’s resignation as governor, saying they would impeach him if he didn’t resign promptly. They would have needed the state’s democrats’ support to make this fly, and all indications are that this close to a general election, the dems would have abandoned Spitzer and joined the impeachment effort. This is moot, however, because Spitzer has now announced his resignation, effective Monday. He did so over the objections of his wife, who ostensively was the most harmed in all of this.

That fact brings up a few interesting points. First, Spitzer may be guilty of stupidity, but he has not been charged with any crime. His resignation is partially motivated by a desire to avoid an impeachment process which would have been initiated by republicans, similar to what Bill Clinton faced in 1998 and 1999. This is clearly politically motivated, since no such action has been initiated by the republicans against US Senator Larry Craig (R-ID), who last year was arrested and pleaded no contest to a charge of lewd conduct involving the solicitation of gay sex in an airport. Note that Craig continues in his role as senator.

Another interesting point is the case for and/or against prostitution itself. It would seem that if prostitution itself was universally legal in the USA, as it is in many European cities and countries, this issue would have been primarily between Spitzer and his wife. It is precisely because of the stigma associated with prostitution and its illegal status in most of the USA that this issue rose to the level of proposed impeachment.

Prostitution is a human interaction that has been around since men and women. It even exists in a rudimentary form among some higher primates such as chimpanzees in the animal kingdom. Yet, humankind has expended considerable valuable resources for several thousand years in a futile and pointless effort to stamp it out.

Many in Europe have realized that prostitution will never be stamped out, and have instead legalized it, controlled it, regulated it, inspected it, localized it, and perhaps most beneficially, taxed it. No such forward thinking seems to exist anywhere in the USA except in the state of Nevada, which emulates the European model.

In fact, the illegal status of prostitution in the USA has actually enhanced the obscene and illegal activity of sexual slavery in this country because there is no way to monitor and control the industry in this country, excepting Nevada, as there is in Europe.

One wonders where Spitzer would be on Monday next week if the European/Nevada model existed throughout the USA. Certainly, he may still be found at some future time to have violated some federal law, but that has not yet occurred. However, it is a safe bet that the call for impeachment from the other political party would not have much bite in it.

After all, the Bush Syndicate has committed multiple violations of the US Constitution and federal laws. And while a small number of folks have indeed called for impeachment of Bush and Cheney, not a single article of impeachment has made into the light of day.

Instead, valuable resources are expended in funding the impossible fight against victimless “crimes”, such as prostitution, forcing it further underground where it cannot ever be controlled, regulated, inspected, localized or taxed.

And politicians drunk on their own power will continue to do stupid things such as engaging high-priced hookers so that they are ultimately forced to pay the ultimate political price, negating a recent popular election.

What’s wrong with this picture?

The Comeback Kid…AGAIN!

 

If you stayed up late last Tuesday night to watch the primary returns from Vermont, Rhode Island, Ohio and Texas, you got to witness a real nail-biting contest in Ohio and particularly in Texas. It was truly a race to the finish, in that CNN did not project a winner in the Texas primary (the biggest prize of the evening) until seventy-five percent of the voting precincts had reported in. It was well after midnight eastern standard time when that finally occurred.

Those of us that closely follow all the national tracking polls at Polling Report and Pollster knew that Hillary Clinton was probably going to take Rhode Island and Ohio, although the percentage by which she won those two states was better than expected from the polls. Barack Obama was destined to win Vermont, which he did by a large margin. But Texas had shifted back and forth in the closing days of the campaign.

In the week before last night’s primaries, Obama had overtaken Clinton in Texas by enough to win that state. Then something happened which we had not really seen since New Hampshire’s primary two months ago: Hillary came back in the final three days of the campaign.

Some political junkies were expecting last night to be the funeral of Hillary’s campaign. Instead, it was a resurrection. In two months, she has done this twice.

How did she do that, AGAIN?

First, one must be aware of one of the truisms in American politics: Never count the Clintons out. Hillary (and her husband ex-president Bill Clinton) are bright and resourceful people who have the experience to know exactly what to do when the chips are down.

For example, even though Bill went through an impeachment proceeding after his second term of office as president has started, he still managed to leave office with a 60% approval rating. That’s a rating GW Bush hasn’t seen since shortly after 9-11 (2001). In fact, ol’ W Bush hasn’t been able to muster getting more than 30 + percent approval in the past two years, and will leave office as one of the three most DISapproved-of presidents in American history.

Second, Obama has been riding a wave supported by a bubble of euphoric mania among his supporters. The press admits that they haven’t really put him under scrutiny yet, although the recent debacle of his adviser “negotiating trade” with a Canadian minister is changing that.

And finally, politics is a game where the rules are constantly changing. With those changing rules come changing public perceptions and changing poll numbers. The winner is usually the one whom can adapt to the changing political tides most adeptly. There is no expectation that this will always be the same person. Obama has been adept for some time now, but Hillary and her campaign are extremely resourceful, and this time, as in New Hampshire earlier this year, the prize went to Hillary, the Comeback Kid…again.

In the meantime, two issues will undoubtedly figure dramatically in the race for the democratic nomination. The first is the remaining primaries, in which Pennsylvania is the next big primary vote. Wyoming, Mississippi and North Carolina are considered smaller in terms of delegates, and Obama is expected to win them. But Pennsylvania is a depressed industrialized state, much like Ohio, and it is surrounded by other industrialized states that seem to favor Hillary. She stands to close the gap slightly in terms of number of delegates. And as a certainly, neither candidate will reach the required 2024 delegates to clinch the nomination.

The second issue is Florida and Michigan, in which Hillary won the primary elections in January. Both states were stripped of their delegates by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) for moving up their primary dates. Hillary wants these delegates to count and of course, Obama doesn’t. There must be a solution to this, and quite possibly these primaries will be re-run. If that happens, and Hillary maintains her momentum and wins them again, there will be a strong case to be made for her to be the nominee. This case would be made to the super-delegates, who are party officials not necessarily committed to either candidate.

One last issue is the case of the still-being-counted caucus fiasco in Texas. Last Tuesday, Texans not only voted in the primary election, but they also got to cast more votes in a state-wide caucus. “We, the PEOPLE!!” has commented before on this archaic caucus process, where folks have to show up at a specific time and place to vote publicly (no secret balloting) for a candidate.

This practice should be eliminated and hopefully, there will be a strong effort to do so after this election cycle. If the DNC can strip away delegates simply because a state moved up its primary date, then they can certainly end the caucus system in favor of primary voting. Primary voting is certainly a fairer, more representative way to determine the will of the people than herding them into a large room at a certain time and place to publicly vote.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t have much chance of really changing, regardless of how strong an effort to change it is mounted. But it has a better chance of changing if Hillary becomes president. If, on the hand Obama is the one, then this is not a change one can expect from the master of change.

After all, Obama has won every caucus so far. Why would he want to change that? No, it would only stand a chance of change if the next president is the Comeback kid…Again.