Friday, September 26, 2014

Global Messes and Our Inattention

Listened to Bill Clinton talk about his global initiative on The Daily Show the other night. It was enlightening, listening to an intelligent person speak about the world’s events, instead of the babble-speak that masquerades as political discourse across the land.  It made me think about all the conflicts and that we never seem to have the patience to try to understand the root causes. We seem to want the world to operate on autopilot, and everyone to act as though they understand that we are the greatest people on Earth.  So, when someone “misbehaves” and interrupts our beer and football, we get testy. Our first instinct seems to be—bomb’m. If that doesn’t work or is simply inapplicable, our next big idea is, build a bigger wall.  We never seem to have the time or the interest to attempt to actually understand root causes, so that we might devise solutions that stand a chance of producing the desired outcomes.
For example, on our southern border, we have flocks of folks, including a bunch of little kids, hurrying across the border, seeking safe haven. That makes us grumpy. How can we drink our beer and watch the NFL with all these little kids scurrying across and around our fences? So, build an even bigger, more impenetrable wall, one with guards and electronic devices, and guns, and all kinds of nasty things. If that wall fails, build an even bigger one.  But stop for a moment, folks. Why do these people keep coming when they know we despise them?  Well, clearly, their lives suck in their home countries, and they are so desperate that they are willing to run huge risks to cross that border. Partly, they are running to escape organized crime gangs—you know, those gangs with whom our global banks work closely so as to launder their drug monies, and set them up with offshore bank accounts outside the reach of international laws.  They are also running here to escape lives of desperate poverty, caused by the inaction of the governments and cartels running their countries. They can’t get jobs to support their families, so they leave.  You know . . . the same reason many of our own forefathers left their countries and came here 100+ years ago from Europe (I know it’s why my grandparents left Scotland in the late 1800's to come to the US of A).
So do we do anything about the root causes? No. What could we do? Well, maybe we could begin working with the countries from which these folks are leaving.  Arguably, it might be less expensive to provide stimulus funding to the countries to encourage economic development, than to continue erecting fences and arming our borders with bigger and more guns. I do not suggest that there are simple solutions, like throwing a few billion at them. But when economics is the problem, we might try economics as a possible solution. Yes, there are large political problems and corruption in such places, but those factors exist here and we seem to be able to cope.
And then there’s the Middle East, or rather all those countries with Muslim tendencies.  Yes, George W. Bush created a hell storm when he fabricated reasons to invade Iraq, thereby destabilizing the entire region and firing up (literally) a host of groups who all wanted political power. Invade, kill off the extant power structure, and then leave—that was the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld strategy.  We are now paying the price—or rather millions of folks living there are paying the price. Idiots like Krauthammer are blaming Obama for pulling out, but we managed that a long time ago on Bush’s watch.  ISIS is the fairly direct result of our idiocy in 2003.
But what can we do now? I understand that there is great reluctance on the part of many people, Americans, Brits, and many Europeans, to begin re-invading, or even to bombing. But, we really need to defeat ISIS. They are a 12th century group of barbarians, pretending to hold a religious perspective.  So, we need to hope that our military, working with the UN and with the Middle Eastern regional countries, can figure out how to rally rational people and how to militarily defeat ISIS.  They simply cannot be allowed to succeed.  But we also need to return to the days just after 9/11. Then, we had a moment when we might have been able to rally the regional governments and the world governments to the cause of justice. Many folks were actually on our side at that point, unlike now. But, with ISIS, perhaps we get a “Do-Over”.  Maybe, by enlisting the world’s governments, including some who don’t like us much (Iran comes to mind) we can actually move the world a bit closer to a more rational state.
Maybe . . . only maybe.
And here on exoplanet Carolina, we also need to think really hard about whether or how fast we wish to move our state to the bottom of the nation’s fifty. We have an election coming up.  From examination of our local sample ballot, it is difficult to discern the fact there we have a two party system in this country. Most of the ballot slots have only one party running. The Dems have simply given up, especially at the state and county levels.  But there are a few races still contested. The US House has both a Dem and a GOP’er running—Antonio Blue vs. Robin Hudson. And the Senate has Kay Hagan vs. Tom Tillis (oops, I forgot, we also have a Libertarian running).  Much of the future of our fair land, both locally and nationally may hinge on this election.  Nationally, giving the GOP the upper hand in the Senate is a knockout blow to rational government policy, ceding control of our country to the Koch’s, and others of that ilk.  The GOP has been purchased, lock, stock, and barrel by the 0.1%.  Tom Tillis wants to be one of the Barons of the land, doing the bidding of his Kochmasters. We would then see a rapid slide for our state, down to below Alabama.
From what I can see, the GOP has a policy platform that is simply the opposite of whatever Obama wants to do.  I commented on this “what would Obama do?” approach before, but it seems to be their actual platform.
·         Obamacare is bad – folks without health care? Rum go.  
       Poor folks can't buy bread? Let'm eat cake.
·         Climate change – climate changes every day . . . check your weather forecast folks. Ain’t nothing need be done there.
·         Fracking?? Never met a Frack we didn’t love.
·         Public education – bad, bad. We need more private and more religious schools.  Actually, maybe we need to just give up on funding education. Educated folks tend to think, and we can’t have that, can we?
·         Social Security?? Turn it over to our beloved hedge fund managers. Let the old folks move in with their kids.
·         Gun control?? Second Amendment, Second Amendment, etc. We all have a God-given right to a full armamentarium.  
·         Equal rights for women, minorities, LGBT communities? Hmmm, I don’t think so . . .
·         But you can recite the rest yourselves.

So, get out and vote folks (well some of you . . . wouldn’t want to have everyone vote would we?). We are in a race to the bottom with Alabama. Start your engines people. We are off to the races . . .

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

What's Going On?

It’s been a while . . . since I wrote anything. Nothing going on??? Well, no, there’s perhaps too much to grasp. The upcoming election, for example. Because of Tony and the Supremes (see Citizens United) the election process in America has turned into a money chase. Whoever spends the most money at the end wins. Gee, thanks Tony. I knew you were corrupt ever since you appointed Shrub to be President—remember Florida Tony? But Citizens United—corporations are people??? Really, Tony, that’s the best you can do?  So, now I get 30 e-mails a day asking for $3-5 . . . or more of course . . . more is always nice. And sorry guys, but I can no longer contribute.  We’re fresh out of three dollar bills.  So, I suppose, since the Cocks have an unlimited amount of money and are using it to completely corrupt our formerly nice democratic system, the Repubs will win the day and take over the Senate. Won’t that be fun for Obama?  I mean, he’s had such a nice long run of completely supportive Congressional colleagues that he will have to learn how to run the nation without Congressional support.

And then there’s ISIS/ISIL, or whatever that band of thugs wants to be called. They want to establish a 12th century Caliphate, or maybe a 3rd or 4th century Caliphate. Maybe Attila the Hun is their role model—ruling ruthlessly over a vast swath of territory populated by varying ethnic tribes who paid attention to him because otherwise they would lose their collective heads. I’m always amused at the notion that ISIS-the Taliban-Al Qaeda—all make believe they are governed by some formal religious beliefs. It was amusing, except for the inhabitants, for example, that the Iranians overthrew a king, only to replace him with a king—for what is the Ayatollah but a king dressed in pseudo-religious garb?

And what are we to do about ISIS? Even Al Qaeda and the Iranians think they are grotesque. Too violent for Al Qaeda . . . wow. But whenever we (the West) tries to intervene, we seem to make a bad situation even worse. Look what happened when we intervened when the Russians foolishly tried to imitate the British by invading Afghanistan.  So, we, of course, armed the opposition, in that case the Taliban. We gave them all kinds of nifty weapons, including Stinger missiles. Man that was clever of us.  So, then when the Taliban took over Afghanistan after the Russians retreated with their tails between their legs, they inevitably turned on us—remember 9/11 and those guys hiding out in Talibanland?

Now, we are pretending we can defeat ISIS by bombing them, and, arming the “moderate” opposition. First, bombing really doesn't work to defeat a local resistance—see Vietnam. You need troops on the ground. So, our fallback is to “train” the Iraqi army . . .hahahahahaha. Apparently, the only thing more useless in a combat situation than a French army is an Arab army.  They’re only really useful against unarmed women and children folks.  So, it’s hard to know what, if any solutions exist. I suppose, were the UN an actual functioning body, it could declare the entire Middle East and all of Northern Africa as an anarchic region in need of protection and governance by the UN.  And when that goes over as well as the proverbial turd in the punchbowl, then maybe we can all play pick up sticks.

So, I don’t see any good paths forward. I don’t know, we could try talking, but there really isn't anybody with whom we could talk—they all seem to want to cut off our heads.  So, back to bombing it is, I guess.

And back on planet earth, we attended a meeting last evening of the Cabarrus County Commissioners.  It was supposed to be just a regular meeting . . . nothing special. And we attended because the cretins who pretend to be Commissioners have been playing havoc with our county budget lately and slashing anything that moves.  Apparently, they don’t like books and the idea of folks reading. So, they have been doing the slash and burn thing on the library system.  So Carol and a few other folks were going to speak, asking the Commissioners to take another look for ways to extend the library hours. Just a thought, guys. But then, when they were finished, the local NRA/GOP reps took the stage and began testifying about guns and how terribly important it is for everyone to be armed at all times.  They apparently see no boundaries.  Schools, churches, supermarkets, our local parks, and even the County fair. They want everyone armed and carrying. One local minister even testified that we all had a God-given right to bear arms . . . wow, I did not know that.  Made me wonder whether Wayne (of the NRA Waynes) had spoken directly with God, and whether God speaks in Waynesque. That would have been interesting being a fly on the wall, huh?

So, they seem to want everyone carrying everywhere they go.  They seem vaguely threatened, and just on the edge of violence.  Happily, local ordinances prevented them from entering the meeting hall fully armed.  They were doubtless annoyed at such restrictions.

So, I guess, if they get their way, we will have a return to the 18th century when everyone carried.  I know, maybe we could have a new Fair entertainment—a redo of the Shootout at the OK Corral. Only this time, instead of those wussy Civil War re-enactments, where they fire blanks, we could have guys actually shooting at one another with their pearl handled six shooters. Oh, I can’t wait.