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The Year of the Rat(s)

Fri, Dec 28th, 2007
Posted in Commentary

Some last minute thoughts as we enter 2008, or in the Chinese lexicon, the Year of the Rat.

• There is one year left of the Bush - Cheney junta. They introduced the world to such noble concepts as rendition, torture (think waterboarding), and in the case of Guantanamo, imprisonment without due process. (Notice how all those terrorists held at Guantanamo are being quietly sent back to their home countries, rather than go through the human rights charade of military tribunals).

• A friend of mine and I have a standing argument that there is no difference between the Democrats in charge of Congress or Republicans. I think the two parties are symbiotic in a parasitical kind of way - they both need each other to survive. The two party system may be the biggest challenge to the American experiment with democracy. My friend argues that Democrats offer hope. I remind him that one year after the Democrats took control of Congress, we are still spending billions in Iraq and authorizing wire taps of Americans, authorizations passed by a Democratic Congress.

• Bush's alliance of the willing in Iraq is slowly dwindling down to US forces and our paid friends at Blackwater, mercenaries who are answerable to no one. Everyone else has either exited or are in the process of packing their bags. The US plan to engage Saddam's Sunni tribes in restoring peace is working, but it is scaring the beejeesus out of the governing Shiite majority. Remember they were the ones who were victimized by Saddam in the first place. Some pundits predict an Afghanistan-like outcome in Iraq, with warlords controlling various parts of the country. How does that go? The enemy of my enemy is my friend (at least temporarily). Isn't that how Osamma Bin Ladin and the Taliban got their big break in Afghanistan, the CIA arming them to fight the Ruskies?

• So much for peeing into Iran's tent over their nuclear program (and we know how the intelligence on that turned out - wink, wink). Look no farther than Pakistan, further destabilized with the assassination of Bennazir Bhutto, who have live nukes with Bin Laden living in relative comfort in the border regions. If Al Quaida ever gets its hand on a dirty bomb, it will more than likely come from there.

• When the Republicans come high stepping into Minneapolis in September, it will no longer be the party of Lincoln but the home of George Bush and Dick Cheney, a government known for its total incompetence. Ouch. The only chance a Republican candidate has in November is one who repudiates the last eight years of the Bush regime. And looking over the roster of old tired white guys, one can't be too optimistic.

• The problem Hillary Clinton has in getting the Democratic nod for president is that a lot of people still blame her and her husband for setting the table for George Bush. Remember those lovely impeachment days. So much for being the presidential candidate for change, when people remember all of those opportunities lost.

• A poll of 26,000 people in 25 countries show the global view of the U.S. role in world affairs is deteriorating; 73% disapprove of the U.S. role in Iraq; 68% believe that the U.S. military presence in the middle East provokes more conflict than it prevents; 49% believe the United States plays a mainly negative role in the world.

• The U.S. has more than 700 military bases throughout the world (imagine if the Chinese did that). Non-governmental sources estimate that 51% of every U.S. tax dollar goes to military expenditures. Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska says the wars are costing the U.S. $15 billion a month. It sounds like we have become a warrior nation.

• Thank God the Pope is coming in 2008 to save us all.

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