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On the lighter side of life... 

#1445: Tommy, Riposa in Pace

requiescat in pace

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Trump & The Mob

http-//www.politico.com#13C5A6C

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"Give me your tired, your poor

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore

Send these, the homeless, tempest-toss'd to me

I lift my lamp beside the Golden Door."

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Hundreds of Oregon Corporations Escape the Minimum Tax

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Half of the US Is Broke

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The myth of the Christian country

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“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

FDR, 2nd Inaugural Address, Jan 20, 1937

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A Just Peace

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SIP contract online

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Middle East friendship chart

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Corporations enriching shareholders

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- Intel tax abatements

- INTEL, come clean!

- Leashing INTEL  

- Free to Be Hungry

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Facts not fiction on universal gun background checks

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"Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere"

Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963

Martin Luther King, Jr.

The GOP - Not One of US.

Wall Street, our new criminal class...       

   Business in the USA is sitting on $2 trillion dollars refusing to invest their own funds in expanding and hiring workers.  

   When one adds to this the reserves that banks, equity firms and hedge funds have - the picture is clear - "capitalism in the USA is on strike." 

   The engine of our economy - the spirit of entrepreneurship is not in evidence today.  So much for business being dynamic and risk taking. 

   They hire K- Street lobbyists and their ilk at the state level because they are averse to risk taking - pleading for tax breaks, tax credits and endless loopholes. 

   The "business of business" in America today is not about job creation, it's about wealth hoarding and redistribution from the middle class to the top 1%. 

   So for those who claim government doesn't create jobs, my response is that business doesn't either until given "corporate welfare" by government.  The fact is that the private and public sector are highly integrated, something the anti-tax, anti-government Tea Party types don't understand. 

   Job creation requires public/private partnerships but the benefits of such collaboration should go to the 99% not just the 1%.  

 

RAD'S

WEBSITE PICKS: 


 

  • An Independent View

Oregon Outpost

  • A Middle East View      

Rami G. Khouri

  • RealClearPolitics:

Realclearpolitics

  • Jim Hightower:   

Jimhightower.com

  • Robert Reich:

Robert Reich

  • Thomas Friedman: 

Friedman Column

  • Nicholas Kristof: 

Kristof Column

Oregon's Motto: 

She flies with her own wings! 


Hard Times in Oregon: 

Hardtimes

The Oregon story - the rich get richer, the poor and middle class lose ground.  Check this front page Oregonian article out. 

Oregon wage gap widens

Homelessness in Oregon - a call to action

Chuck Currie The crisis of homelessness


  

      Oregon's coming 34th out of 41 states in the Obama "Race to the Top" illustrates the failure of leadership from Governor Kitzhaber and his predecessors as they have built an educational bridge to nowhere called high stakes testing.

   Instead of being in a race to the top we seem to be dumpster diving to the bottom despite doing education reform since 1991.  Insanity is termed doing the same thing over and over again.  When can we put a fork in this stupidity? 

   To confuse matters more the Oregonian's editorial board has pontificated that this was a lost opportunity to get federal funding for innovation.  How firing principals and teachers equals innovation is a mystery to me.   

   The way to reform schools is to reduce class sizes, to encourage teacher collaboration and to support their continued education.  High stakes testing and performance based assessment of teachers are NOT the answer!    

   If you want students to succeed you first have to resolve the issues they confront before they come to school.  Children who face poverty, hunger, homelessness, health care issues and family instability require wrap around services for them and their families, 24/7.   

   Every child needs a safe home of their own and parents who know how to be good parents.   

There is only one way to address this impending crisis.  Schools must have a stable source of funding. Until that happens - we will limp from crisis to crisis.   

 

 

    

    Why does the richest nation in the world have the moral blight of homeless people?

Invisible People

http://www.npr.org


 Homelessness

    Connecting the dots between homelessness & hunger in Oregon and Washington County: 

Homelessness:  

•    The faces of the homeless are families with children, single men and women, vets, and many who are impaired. It is estimated that in Washington County up to 56% of homelessness occurs to families.

Hunger:

•    Hunger is highest among single mother households (10%) and poor families (15%) as well as renters, unemployed workers and minority households. 

     In Washington County, Oregon's "economic engine," the divide between the affluent and the working poor continues.  We have a 19,000 unit gap in affordable low income rental housing.  County political and business leaders are indifferent to this crisis...   


A RAD rhetorical question - Were Madison & Marx "Marxists"?  

 

"History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments."   

- James Madison

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RAD Lines

See my FACEBOOK @ Russ

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  • He lost by 2.9 million votes...

  • He's a con artist...

  • He's a pathological liar... 

  • He's a failed business man...

  • He's a fascist... 


Every Fascist Needs an Enabler. Donald Trump Will Have Mike Pence.


Trump's role models are Vladmir Putin and Benito Mussolini.  He has contempt for our checks and balances system.  He wants to "rule" not govern like a strong man, a despot.  He will shredd the Constitution anytime he feels the urge to do so and like all despots he only listens to his inner circle.  And he is paranoid and narcissistic. 

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SB 1533 passes!  

http://oregon.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=6&clip_id=10863

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Housing Needs in Oregon 

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"There are men who believe that democracy... is limited or measured by a kind of mystical and artificial fate [and that] tyranny and slavery have become the surging wave of the future..." 

FDR, 3rd Inaugural Address, Jan 20, 1941

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Mourning for a Judaism Being Murdered by Israel

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Taking on the Pro-Israel Lobby 

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Sign the petition ►

Walgreens - pay your fair share of taxes!


  • "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws." - Mayer Amschel Rothschild


  • Miguel de Cervantes, from The Duke - "I accuse you of being an idealist, a bad poet and an honest man."  Cervantes' response - "Guilty as charged, I have never had the courage to believe in nothing."   from Man of La Mancha  


Intel failed to report fluoride emissions for almost 30 years   


Professor Kingfield, from the Paper Chase

   "I'm not a teacher: only a fellow traveler of whom you asked the way. I pointed ahead – ahead of myself as well as you." 

- George Bernard Shaw

 

BLOGS:

From the Left Wing:

Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman - The New York Times

Democracy Now
democracynow.org

The Daily Kos

dailykos.com

Blue Oregon

blueoregon.com

 

"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." 

- Emilie Buchwald 

 


    "Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year’s Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation’s confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law." 

- Justice John Paul Stevens, Bush v. Gore, 2001

    The state of our union - check out the map, it's a reality check for those who can't figure out why people are so ticked off... 

americanobserver

    Here's Garrison Keillor's rap on the rightwingnuts:   

GarrisonKeillor

 

     Garrison Keillor - "...The Founding Fathers intended the Senate to be a fount of wisdom... but when you consider...  moon-faced Mitch McConnell, your faith in democracy is challenged severely. Any legislative body in which 41 senators from rural states that together represent 10 percent of the population can filibuster you to death is going to be flat-footed, on the verge of paralysis, no matter what. Any time 10 percent of the people can stop 90 percent, it's like driving a bus with a brake pedal for each passenger. That's why Congress has a public approval rating of [11] percent...." 



"Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war"

- John Adams

"Loyalty to country always.  Loyalty to government when it deserves it."  

- Mark Twain  

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”  

- George Santayana 

"The love of one's country is a natural thing.  But why should love stop at the border?" 

- Pablo Casals

"Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned; the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." 

- William Butler Yeats  

 

"You see things; and you say, 'Why?' 

But I dream things that never were; and I say, "Why not?"  

- George Bernard Shaw, "Back to Methuselah" (1921) 

"...the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society...  The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government..."  

- James Madison, Federalist Papers #11 

"Why … should we have government? Why not each individual take to himself the whole fruit of his labor, without having any of it taxed away?”   

The legitimate object of government, is to do for the people whatever they need to have done, but which they can not do, at all, or can not do, so well, for themselves – in their separate and individual capacities … There are many such things … roads, bridges and the like; providing for the helpless young and afflicted; common schools … the criminal and civil [justice] departments."    

- Abraham Lincoln 

Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society  

- Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. 

"Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests, which interests each must maintain, as an agent and advocate, against other agents and advocates, but Parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole..." 

- Edmund Burke  

“It is a maxim among these lawyers that whatever hath been done before may legally be done again, and therefore they take special care to record all the decisions formerly made against common justice and the general reason of mankind.  These, under the name of precedents, they produce as authorities, to justify the most iniquitous opinions.”  

- Jonathan Swift 

" Every satirist who drew breath has flung pots of ink at this parade of tooting lummoxes and here it is come round again, marching down Main Street, rallying to the cause of William McKinley, hail, hail, the gang’s all here, ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay."  

- Garrison Keillor 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

  

 


  

 

Sunday
Dec302007

WRAPING UP '07 UPDATE

    Pipeline Controversy: The proposed LNG (liquid natural gas line) from Astoria to Klamath Falls is getting a lot of attention in my part of Oregon since the line would follow the eastern edge of the Coast Range, including parts of western Washington County very near Forest Grove and environs. This is an environmentally and economically dumb proposal. The environmental risks are obvious.
    Placing a LNG along some of the best timber and farm land in Oregon would rip the ecological balance of this area and put the land above the line at risk from line eruptions posing a serious fire and pollution risk. Even more important - why should Oregon be treated as an "economic colony" of California since the gas is not for Oregon consumers but headed to California? This is nuts.
    Even our "Caspar Milquetoast" Governor Ted waffled his way to asking the right questions: the plan has no clear plans for mitigating environmental impacts; the project puts at risk air and water quality on the lower Columbia (and beyond); a possible gas line emergency or disaster event would gobble up state funds better used for natural disasters like fires and floods; the plan makes no provisions for mitigation of CO2 emissions; and according to the Gov "there is no assurance that the private facility won't go bankrupt."
    Other than that - it's a great plan to "Californiate" Oregon!
    Oregon Bar Cover-up: The Oregon Bar's decision to close down its investigation of when and what Governor Ted knew about former Governor Neil's sexual abuse of a 14 year old girl when Neil was Portland's mayor in the mid 1970s is another example that the power elite in Oregon can't stand the heat.
    To close this case without the OBA interviewing the accuser and former speech writer for Kulongoski, Fred Leonhardt, is very suspicious. If this had been the approach of special prosecutors in Watergate or the Clinton impeachment processes the American public would have remained in the dark.
    But in Oregon the power elite among the political and media class in the state have a consistent record of looking the other way when it comes to accusations of sexual abuse by the high and mighty as the Packwood and Goldschmidt cases have demonstrated.
    So while RAD reviles Lars Larson's style - go for it big guy. You are the only hope that the cover-up won't stick.
    Bush Judge Derails Gays: Federal judge Michael Mosman, a Bush appointee, blocking Oregon's domestic partnership law is another lesson that elections do matter - a lot. Do you really think a Democratic appointed federal judge would have ruled against gays? Not a chance.
    Aside from the politics of it all which is obvious (on both sides of this issue) - the judge's reasoning illustrates that "judicial activism" is not just a knee jerk reaction of liberal judges. The judge put a hold on the law's going into affect because of a controversy over whether Oregon's Election's Division under Secretary of State Bill Bradbury followed the letter of the law in counting petition signatures for a proposed ballot initiative designed to overturn the bill passed in the 2007 session.
    Mosman claims that the decision by the Election's Division was "a subjective and unilateral" decision which denys petitioners a right to a public hearing. But the process the election division used to count signatures is the same old same old method used in all such cases!  If Mosman has his way it's an invitation for other petitioners (aka ballot measure ambulance chasers like Bill Sizemore et al) to run to the courts for a judicial review of an agency whose record in Oregon has always been clean as a whistle.
    Mosman may uphold the decision to allow the bill to take effect or to invalidate the bill in February. But in either case, his decision will be appealed to the 9th Circuit Court - the most liberal of the federal appeals courts in the nation. So Mosman's decision is probably merely a bump in the road for gay rights supporters. But Mosman's rhetoric makes it clear to RAD that he will bring his hammer down on the side of the anti-gay rights folks. So much for judicial neutrality. As we found out in 2000 - courts can be very partisan when they want to be.
    Slick Willie on the Stump: Washington Post online/NASHUA, N.H. -- Former president Bill Clinton yesterday [Saturday] delivered in stark terms a version of his wife's central campaign message: that her experience in Washington better prepares her to "deal with the unexpected."
    RAD: Presidents need to be prepared for the "unexpected" no doubt.
    But 9/11 was not in that category. Clinton and Bush were warned about a possible attack on America by the jihadists. They largely ignored the warning signs - Clinton in part because he was so consumed by Whitewatergate et al and Bush because he didn't think foreign policy was important and Condi was in denial.
    But what's Hillary's record on the "expected" and "unexpected" - humm?  Hillary knew husband Willie had a wandering eye.  So her record on that front is typical of the battered wife syndrome.  And when faced with the question in '92 on 60 Minutes she stood by her man.  So dealing with the "expected" she denies reality! 
    On the "unexpected" her health care plan in '93 was built on the quicksand of keeping the conversation within a tightly knit and loyal group of Clinton supporters while at the same time leaving out single payer as an option. So what was her reward? The health care industrial complex's opposition led by the Harry & Louise campaign ads.
    So much for Hillary's ability to triangulate the "known" and "unknown" challenges she's faced. The fact is that a president's challenge is less crisis management per se than anticipating the next crisis while managing the everyday functions of government. Only on TV does the "West Wing" operate like a Hollywood soap opera.
    What a successful president needs is to have 1) some core principles; 2) a short list of policy goals; and 3) competent advisors. Hillary's squishiness on the issues doesn't evidence #1. What are her top 3 issues aside from the "experience" card?  And many ex-Clintonistas support Barack, why?  Finally, of course Slick Willie will be there to be the "co-triangular" not co-president.  Are you comforted? 
    Barack's personal life evidences core principles of family, acting on conviction and helping the vulnerable.  He has stuck to main themes - opposing the war in Iraq, talking about empowering the American people not K-Street lobbyists, and making a down payment on health care.   And if elected he will be freer than Hillary in casting a wide net for his cabinet and West Wing staff.
    Ultimately, a president's strongest suit is combining FDR's ability to being a good listener and Ronald Reagan's sticking to his core values. After that authenticity seems important.  Is there any question about who is more "authentic" between Barack and Hillary?  While Barack talks about wanting to be a change agent, Hillary is running as if her claim to the Oval Office is her divine right.
    Fearless New Year's Prediction:   Even though it is a high risk enterprise (akin to "March Madness") to "guess" who will win the Democratic or Republican presidential nomination before a single ballot has been counted - some have already been cast in NH (absentee) - just for fun RAD will take the pundit's plunge. 
    While Hillary Clinton is the favorite on the Demo side, if she stumbles in Iowa, New Hampshire and/or South Carolina her shield of invincibility will crumble.  Minus such stumbles after February 5th Super Tuesday she should have clear sailing in big states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Florida and California.
    However, her lead in California is already showing signs of narrowing to Barack Obama and the RealClearPolitics polls  in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Caroline are within the margin of error for Hillary, Obama and Edwards.  So let's assume a mixed record for the "Queen Bee" in these states. 
    Let's also assume Barack and Edwards are in this game for the long haul.  They have the money to stay in for the marathon race.  National polls give Hillary around a 49% support mark.  So even if she continues to win primaries and caucuses Barack and Edwards will pick up enough delegates to keep nipping at her heels. 
    If the delegate count is not settled by mid-February heck even Oregon could come into play.  Again, this is not likely but it would be sweet revenge!  It would be nice to see the front loaded primary process derailed just to spite the nut cases who set this mind numbingly stupid system up. 
    When the Dems meet in Denver - they will be confronted with a "49% percenter" candidate who may have enough delegates to put her over the top, but with major questions of electability still in play.  So enter Al Gore who recently suggested he wouldn't shun a late night invitation to the party.
    RAD's pick for the Dems - a Gore/Obama duo for '08.  How can the party ignore Mr. Global Warming and a chance for historic vindication?  Eight years as VP gives Barack the "experience card" for a run in '16.  He's young, he can afford to wait. 
    On the GOP side - the guess is even more risky except that in the end NO Republican can win in November.  So does it even matter who the GOP goes with?  Nope!  But since the base loves litmus test right wingers whoever panders best to the base will win.  My guess is that Romney will prevail.  He's the GOP's "Mr. Slick."  While Huckabee is "Mr. Congeniality" anyone who in light of the Bhutto assassination can come up with the "Pakistani immigration threat" line is clearly not ready for prime time. 
    RAD's pick for the GOP dynamic duo for '08 will be the "DC outsider" Mitt Romney and the "insider/war hero" John McCain
    Just for the record - I hope I'm wrong.  A McCain/Obama contest would be better for the country!  
    The Theater of Dumbness:  The upcoming February session of the Oregon Legislature increasingly looks like a dud.  The Democratic majority want only non-controversial bills to be considered, while the GOP will push a very partisan agenda.  Each party's strategy is based on setting themselves up for the November election cycle not for doing the people's business. 
    The most risky issue which will come up is denying illegal immigrants the chance to get a driver's license - a truly dumb idea.  But it plays well to the "natavist" instincts among Oregon and American voters - many of whom are in denial  that our economy needs these "illegals" as a workforce on the farms, the meat packing, in textiles, in construction and the service industry.
    Expect both sides to posture their way to the "racist" or "cowardly" lion default position.  Yes, we need immigration reform!  It's called a guest worker program which allows people 1) to come across the border legally, 2) to get fair wages (with all the benefits) and  3) to pay taxes.  Our global based economy requires this with two options - amnesty for the 12 million already here and a green card for those who are here year round or seasonally.
    Building a US version of the "Berlin Wall" on our southern border is a waste of money but since "fascism with a friendly face" (Dubya's)  is in power in the West Wing what do you expect! 


     

Saturday
Dec292007

AN ANTHEM FOR THE NEW YEAR

How Can I Keep From Singing
Melody, a Baptist Hymn
Lyrics, Pete Seeger's version

My life flows on in endless song
Above earth's lamentation.
I hear the real, thought far off hymn
That hails the new creation
Above the tumult and the strife,
I hear the music ringing;
It sounds an echo in my soul
How can I keep from singing?

What through the tempest loudly roars,
I hear the truth, it liveth.
What through the darkness round me close,
Songs in the night it giveth.
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that rock I'm clinging.
Since love is lord of Heaven and earth
How can I keep from singing?

When tyrants tremble, sick with fear,
And hear their death-knell ringing,
When friends rejoice both far and near,
How can I keep from singing?
In prison cell and dungeon vile
Our thoughts to them are winging.
When friends by shame are undefiled,
How can I keep from singing?

Saturday
Dec292007

BEAVS BEAT TERPS

images.jpg    Friday night's OSU 21-14 Emerald Bowl victory against Maryland wasn't exactly a work of art but with a stout defence and enough offense the Beavs managed to "fumble" their way to victory.  With a 9-4 record "Beaver Nation" fans have something to flap their tails about certainly more so than woebegone Quack Attack fans.  Thus far the Beavers are the toast of the PAC-10 in the post-season bowl season which except for the BCS show-downs is a lot of sound and fury meaning nothing although "bowling" helps in recruiting wars, pleasing one's fan base and having big mo for next fall.
    In an era when any team with a 6-6 record is "bowl eligible" simply illustrates how dumbed down post-season bowls have become as "commerce" takes precedence over excellence.  But in the new Gilded Age of deregulation and sub-prime loans standards have obviously gone by the wayside across the board.  The "culture of mediocrity" in sports mirrors society or is it society mirroring sports?  But the fun and circuses does take our minds off of the dark news of the day at home and abroad.  But RAD rather watch the Golf Channel's "Tiger Woods Week" which evidences that excellence is not a totally lost value. 

Thursday
Dec272007

THE ASSASSIN'S BULLET, UPDATE

uploaded-file-86612    The assassination of Benazir Bhutto, a former Prime Minister of Pakistan in 1988-90 and 1993-96, underscores the problematic nature of democracy building in much of the Third World.  Ms. Bhutto - the first woman PM in an Islamic state - was attempting a political comeback in the most dangerous of circumstances. 
    She and another ex-priminister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif were attempting to wrestle control of Pakistan from the hands of an authoritarian pro-American regime headed by President Pervez Musharraf who came to power in a military coup and like Russia's Valdimir Putin based his power on the loyalty of the Army and Pakistan's secret service. 
    Bhutto, who headed the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and Sharif, who is the leader of the Muslim League, were engaged in a very high stakes political chess match with Musharraf over the future of Pakistan.  Would Pakistan emerge from the January 8 elections as a born-again democracy or would it slide back into a dictatorship? 
    Bhutto's assassination can only be a dark omen that Pakistan will slip back into one-man rule while it continues to be a sanctuary for what some term "creeping Talebanization."  In both regards, US foreign policy which is closely tied to Pakistan can only be considered to be even more at risk as a result of this tragic event. 
   While RAD is hardly an expert on the politics of South Asia, while at Whitman I did my BA thesis in political science on the Indian independence movement and the split between the Congress Party headed by Nehru and Gandhi and the Muslin League headed by Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the father of Pakistan. 
   With the British inspired partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 the forces of religious nationalism took hold of the new nation of Pakistan.  The tragic events of today simply underscore the dubious legacy of the divide and conquer strategy of  British colonialism and the combustability of defining a nation state by religious affiliation. 
    What Muhammed Ali Jinnah reaped in playing the religion card in the formation of modern Pakistan has born a sad harvest which threatens to destabilize the entire South Asian sub-continent.  With two nuclear powers facing each other, India and Pakistan, one hopes cool heads will prevail in the coming days and months as events sort things out within Pakistan. 
   While we don't know the identity of the assassin of Bhutto the result is to remove a powerful force in her native land which might have been the bases for moving from an authoritarian regime to a civil society.  An Oxford/Harvard educated leader, Bhutto as an accomplished politician and articulate spokesperson Pakistan will be hard-pressed to replace. 
   We in the USA know in reflection what the loss of a would-be leader costs.  In 1968 had Robert F. Kennedy not been assassinated he no doubt would have been the Democratic nominee.  With RFK facing Nixon who knows how the election would have turned out.  Had RFK won we might have turned away from the disaster of Vietnam and would never have had the tragedy of Watergate. 
   Not every election gives a nation a chance to begin anew.  We had our chance in 1968 only to have it taken away by an assassin's bullet, a rigged DNC and then by Richard J. Daley's Gestapo police in the streets of Chicago.  Now another leader has been taken away - who knows what might have been.  One fears we now will reap the whirlwind in South Asia and beyond.
   One suspects that Osama bin Laden is smiling in his cave hideout somewhere on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan marvelling at his minion's handiwork.  With an American puppet government in Iraq sitting on the time bomb of its own intra-religious/ethnic hatreds while like Nero it fiddles away the time who can say that the events of this day will not be a harbinger of things to come throughout South Asia and the Middle East? 
   While the American Raj has replaced the British Raj - colonialism is still colonialism.  And as this century moves on the early 21st century is looking more and more like the early 20th century.  From 1914-18 great nation realpolitique was matched by the forces of national, sub-national and religious-ethnic devolution.  The result was two world wars and a Great Depression. 
   As they say, be careful what you wish for - you just might get it.  This is why our own presidential election season is so important.  Do we want the same old, same old simply because it claims to have the "experience" factor or are we willing to risk it and grasp new leaders with new ideas who are willing to break out of the mold of the K-Street crowd and the old hands in the CIA, the Pentagon and State Department?
   We just celebrated a Christmas holiday with the dark cloud of a sub-prime loan recession hanging over us.  What will the New Year bring - more of the same dumb, tragic and costly decisions or a new day?  You folks in Iowa and New Hampshire have a very heavy burden to carry.  Anybody out there good at playing "Texas Hold-em?" 
   PS:  As more and more information comes out about the assassination of Benazir Bhutto the hidden hand of Washington D.C. insiders comes into play.  According to today's Washington Post Bhutto's return to Pakistan was a carefully scripted return urged by the Bush administration trying to salvage its own deeply flawed policy of support of a military dictator who plays both sides of the political fence - the USA and jihadists.  In typical fashion our policy was an attempt to put a fig-leaf to cover Musharraf - an "emperor with no clothes."  
     According to the Post story:
    The turning point to get Musharraf on board was a September trip by Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte to Islamabad. "He basically delivered a message to Musharraf that we would stand by him, but he needed a democratic facade on the government, and we thought Benazir was the right choice for that face," said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer and National Security Council staff member now at the Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy.
    Now granted there are no easy solutions when one is engaged in big power politics.  But perhaps that's the central issue.  Why after the failure of the Vietnam War and the collapse of the Soviet Union is the USA still engaged in being the policeman of the world?  DC insiders are now asking what's Plan B for the Bush administration.  In otherwords how can we use American statecraft to cover up the failure of US foreign policy?  In the short run, there is no possible Plan B except to hope the Pakistan military keeps its mitts on the 50-100 nukes they reputedly have.  
    What we need is a long term (30 year) international, not USA driven, strategy of fostering democratic reform in the Middle East and South Asia by supporting on the ground social change through cultural exchanges, education reform and economic reform which might be the basis over time for moving power from the mullahs and military to civilian leadership.  Otherwise we are simply left trying to put a "democratic facade" on a a series of failing states be it Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan or the Palestinian Territories.
    An article in the Nation online points out -
    Without democracy [in Pakistan]...there is not even a remote possibility of...  putting an end to sanctuary for Al Qaeda's leadership [in Pakistan].  Without democracy there is scant chance that the tribal and religious leaders who have provided the Taliban with a strategic sanctuary can be won over. Without democracy there is little chance for reform of madrassas that not only spew out "martyrs" for Kashmir and Afghanistan but also give aid and comfort to the very small number in the West looking for justifications of violence.
    Why does the USA increasingly remind one of the ancient Roman Empire on its decline?  Why do we continue to support the Pontius Pilot's and King Herod's of the modern world instead of their democratic alternatives?   Benazir Bhutto may have been a very flawed vehicle for American diplomatic maneuvering.  But at the end she chose real democratic reform instead of being merely the handmaiden of US duplicity - hoping to get it right after two missed attempts as prime minister.  Tragically, an assassin's bullet ended the fairy tale for both she and the USA. 
 



 






Sunday
Dec232007

THE POLAR EXPRESS

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May the Polar Express bring you a
Peaceful Christmas &
New Year filled with Hope. 

RAD aka the Train Man

* Picture SPS 700 a 4-8-4 Northern, Portland, Oregon RR Society