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Friday, May 13, 2011

Why Should We Care About Middle Eastern Protests

I know that many of my fellow Americans are wondering why we should care about Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Lebanon, Syria, Bahrain, and the many other countries in the Middle East and elsewhere.  Look at what’s happening in our world and ask yourself why.  Of course, there are many answers, some as simple as looking at the histories of the countries in which these massive social upheavals are happening.  Many reach far beyond their borders.  Many of the answers to the question “why” can be allocated to far wider, even global forces.
I absolutely guarantee that the answers to “why” don’t include strictly parochial explanations.  First, there is simply the chasm that has opened between the haves and the have-nothings.  Even in this country, the gap has increased markedly, and it is clear, as the wealthiest individuals and corporations hold fast to their vast wealth, that the chances of the have-nots ascending to the top are essentially at an end.  We have spoken for decades, and, in fact, centuries, about wanting our children to have a better life than ours, for each successive generation to be better educated, better housed, have better life styles, etc.   We all still want that for our scions, of course.  The opportunities are rapidly vanishing.  Think about that.
Thousands of American youth graduate from our universities every year.  Until recently, very few had difficulty finding jobs.  That is no longer true.  Sure, if you graduate with a useful degree (say medicine, finance, computer science, etc.), you may be employable.  It is certain that whatever you would have received as a starting salary and benefit package just five or six years ago cannot be matched now.  Just to have a job, most of these highly educated young people are willing to bargain for far less.
Okay, got that picture?  Now, think about the youth in the rest of the world.  If you are a young Egyptian (plug in most other countries) who has recently received a degree, your chances of actually earning a living right now are pathetically poor.  So, you pinned your hopes on education, right?  Most of those around you are surviving on less than two dollars a day.  Most are hungry when they go to bed.  Meanwhile, you have a cell phone, access to a computer, are able to watch television, where absurd things are advertised, many of which are telling you that life should be better.  And now, ask yourself, if you were one of these young, hopeful, educated, and unemployed young people, what can you expect?  Further, what can you do about the hopelessness that is rapidly taking over your heart and mind?  You have energy, ideas, and lots of friends who are equally frustrated.  There is absolutely no question, it’s time to fight back, time to take your case to the streets.  After all, if you have just wasted all of your intellect on an endeavor that promises you nothing, you are angry, even furious, about the massive injustice, not just toward you, but toward your family and friends who are suffering mightily with no hope of improvement.
Don’t smugly believe that, as an American, you are better off.  You may be, just slightly, for the moment.  There are more than seven billion people on this planet who are competing with you for food, energy, air, water, freedom….
Watching our news channels report on these “hot” spots almost amuses me.  They do no analysis at all.  They don’t look at history, or go below the surface to look for explanations.  I truly and deeply resent the fact that people with time, intellect and resources are quite happy to keep the real answers to themselves.  What’s even worse is that they use much of what they learn to convince us that this country is so much better than elsewhere.  I know, we’re not being shot in the streets by our government for peacefully rallying for change.  What I really want to know is, that with millions losing jobs, earning less, paying more for gas (and nearly everything), and having a totally dysfunctional government, how come none of the tens of millions are out protesting the destruction of this country?  Better start looking in the mirror and deciding how much the future means.  Time to speak up while it’s still legal to raise your voice in public.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Bin Laden is Dead

Our news media are obsessed.  I feel like I’m watching the Wizard of Oz.  Remember the part where the little people dance around singing “The Wicked Witch is Dead” after they poured water on her to dissolve her evil character.  Bin Laden is part of history, not a part of current events.  We have yet to even completely resolve the story behind the WTO 9/11 disaster.  Just check it out.  I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but why would the owner collect his insurance twice, how could our security services so badly botched the whole affair?  Why attack Saddam Hussein as a compliant part of the entire affair over bogus WMD?  Does anyone remember that  Saddam was our ally in the Iran-Iraq War after the radical Islamist cleric the Ayatollah Khomeini deposed our own puppet, the Shah?  Does anyone read any history?  Does anyone know that we have more than 800 bases in other countries around the world, many of them located in countries because we pay dictators lots of money to put them there and then turn our backs to their abuses of their own people (there are many, but read up on Kazakhstan, please)?
Now that Bin Laden is dead….  But, wait a darned minute!!  Let’s see, he was living in Pakistan, within blocks of the Paki’s own bases and their version of West Point.  For six years?  That’s six years we spent in Tora Bora and elsewhere trying to find him.  Meanwhile, our “allies” in Pakistan were letting him build a posh compound (worth more than a million and no one noticed), while we were sending them billions, and fighting their own Taliban in Afghanistan while many Paki’s couldn’t even decide if they liked us.  And the entire time we are angering our much more important ally, India.  What an incredibly screwed up state of affairs!!  And now, we need to see real evidence of Osama’s death, not just what the courts call “hearsay” evidence (DNA? Huh?)  We need pictures.  We need real evidence.  The most suspicious part is that, within just a couple of hours of his purported death, he was buried at sea.  That is suspicious to say the least.  Our government’s “reliable sources” have become so suspect over the past few years that you all must forgive me.  Enough said.
Now we get to the real meat of the matter:  Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Afghanistan is the world’s largest heroin producing nation with trillions of dollars worth of mineral reserves, and we are there fighting a mythical enemy and trying to do nation building by backing a corrupt “President” who took power in a completely questionable election process.  We are spending untold billions supporting this nation, many of whom take great satisfaction in placing roadside bombs to kill our soldiers.  So, the mission is bogus, the nation is bogus, and most of our citizens are against this war as much or more than Iraq, another incredible fiasco.  Time for us to leave.  Anyone wish to argue?
This country spends many billions every year on national security, including a CIA which is located all over the world, an NSA which listens to billions of phone conversations every year, and an FBI which has yet to lock up the first corrupt Wall Street Banker.  What do our tax dollars buy?  It took us six years to find Bin Laden living near the capital of our supposed ally.  How sad are we?  Time to fess up.  We need to overthrow our own government just to take our democracy back from the Plutarchs who claim to provide leadership.  We need the Tea Party to complain about actual problems like being taxed and not represented.  When was the last time a poll showed positive ratings for any party, or even our President?  It’s been a while.