Thursday, April 20, 2006

"You're doing a heck of a job (insert name here)"

Warning: I'm in a snarky mood, but please indulge me. After all, I'm BWM (Blogging While Muslim) and just can't help myself ...

This seems to be the week that Hell may freeze over. Good old Rummy is still doing "a heck of a job" and Cheney is scarce, but Rove has had his duties limited to smearing the opposition in the upcoming mid-term elections and poor Scott McClelland has gone bye-bye. Poor Scott. I always wondered if there was a little man sitting behind the podium during the daily press gaggle, holding a fire extinguisher, ready to put out the fire in Scott's pants at a moments notice. And we never saw Scott in profile -- always full on. Was that because his nose was growing? It can't have been a fun job. The bets (as of 7:00 p.m. this evening) are that his replacement will be someone from Fox News, sort of lateral a move, as it were.

Speaking of smears, has anyone else notice how hard the right wing echo chamber is trying to get word out on John Conyers, Jr.'s alleged misconduct regarding using staffers as babysitters? Even CNN has drunk the Kool-Aid. But so far, it all points back to the American Enterprise Institute. Just how stupid do they think we are? The Honorable Congressman from Michigan has been very busy on the Hill, trying to get to the bottom of everything from the Downing Street Memos to impeachment hearings for Bush and the gang and gathering support for a single payer health plan for all Americans. Conyers is not DeLay (thank God) and the smear just won't stick, no matter what knife they use to spread it. So enough already. The story doesn't have legs. Just give it up. You're picking on the wrong guy.

On the topic of wrong, just whose idea was it to crown a Miss Iraq in the middle of a war? The poor girl was not the first choice (others had rejected the offer for good reason). But Miss Iraq has now gone into hiding in fear for her life. Why do I get the idea that whoever staged a Miss Iraq pageant during a time when all of Iraq is in turmoil, can't form a government four months after elections, and is still dealing with electrical grid problems as they come up to their fourth long, hot summer since "liberation", is part of the same gang that designed the "new" Iraq flag during the early Bremmer regime? Remember the one? A white flag with two dark blue horizontal bands with a religious symbol in the middle? If you squinted even a little, it looked Israeli. Ooops. That flag, needless to say, never flew in Iraq. Back to the drawing board.

And still on the topic of "wrong", what is Karen Hughes, our Good Will Ambassador to the Middle East, doing in Latin America? Does she now have a team of Spanish language translators or is she still using the Arabic ones? Having Karen Hughes as an Ambassador to the Islamic World was on a par with appointing Laura Bush to head a Gang Task Force (whatever happened to that brilliant idea from one Bush's State of the Union addresses?) or making steroid use in baseball a "federal case" via another State of the Union address just after the Mission was Accomplished in Iraq.

Priorities, folks. Priorities.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Skating with "Scooter"

At 9:50 a.m. (MDT) today, I celebrated as though it was my birthday, 5 months ahead of schedule. On hold with my home oxygen provider, watching MS-NBC with the sound off, I witnessed a "Breaking News Story" of epic proportions. It was akin to getting a brand new pair of roller skates (with key), an electric wheelchair, new power tools and paint brushes for the studio, and a TV that is not only cable ready, but has a built-in VCR and DVD player and actually will pick up public television in Belenistan, 30 miles south of the middle of nowhere and 250 miles west of East Armpit, Texas! It was better than a birthday!

It was the day that the prosecution in the Scooter Libby/Valerie Plame case announced that Libby had outed both Dick Cheney and George W. Bush as the sources for the NIE statement, declassified by Bush, for the purposes of outing Ms. Plame in order to cover up the infamous 16 words in the State of the Union address.

I feel I must backtrack: Since I first heard Ambassador Joe Wilson allege that Robert Novak outed the Ambassador's wife, a CIA undercover operative working on weapons of mass destruction, in July 2003, I have been waiting for this day. Wilson said he wanted to see Karl Rove "frogmarched" out of the West Wing and while there is no Karl Rove in today's announcement, it is nearly as satisfying. I had set Google Alerts for any mention in the media of Valerie Plame Wilson and/or CIA and Rove set on my computer (along with any mentions of torture and John Israel or torture and Diego Rivera -- not realizing that there is a ball player by that name!) for nearly two years before the Fitzgerald investigation began to actually make more news than my e-mail inbox could handle. I was profoundly disappointed when it seemed that the trail would end with "Scooter" Libby and mere charges of obstruction of justice and perjury. But patience is rewarded -- eventually. (Hey, maybe that's the definition of patience...) And today was the day.

Unfortunately, for the next few hours, the 24/7 cable news outlets downplayed the significance of the story and made excuses for Bush as Justice-Commander-Theologian in Chief (he can declassify whatever he wants, apparently, at whim). But by this evening it seems that the outrage moves forward. (And under the radar of this story, Bush appointed Mr. Duct Tape and Plastic Sheeting to head FEMA. But I'll let that go ...)

I can only hope that we will see Rove and Cheney and Bush "frogmarched" out of the West Wing before I actually celebrate my birthday in September. If that happens, I'll just settle for one new paint brush and maybe a ride on the back of my son J's skateboard.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Rant #3 - The Wall and the Lobby

Unreported in mainstream media that at least two people died in a flash flood in the Palestinian town of Bil'in because of the construction of the "security fence" aka "apartheid wall" or "land and water grab barrier". Also largely unreported, the deaths of dozens (many of whom were women and children) in rocket and helicopter attacks into Gaza and other Palestinian areas by Israeli Defense Forces (a misnomer on the order of the U.S. defense Department, formerly known as the War Department).

The land grab goes on and on while the Christian Right in this country line up behind AIPAC to form mega-lobbies to ensure that there is no peaceful solution in Palestine. They'd rather bring on "the rapture" than give an inch or a (hectacre). While I've said elsewhere that our own southern border is basically arbitrary, there is nothing arbitrary about the method by which the Israelis are redefining "facts on the ground." Wish I had solutions. Wish someone had solutions. The only two that come to mind are moving the wall to the 1967 border, making everyone on the west side an Israeli citizen and everyone on the east side a Palestinian citizen (including those who wish to remain in their settlements) and making al-Quds (Jerusalem) and international zone or country a la the Vatican. Or, remove the wall, dismantle the current governments and establish one large country from the River to the Sea under secular law, one person, one vote, and the freedom to practice one's religion but not impose it on a neighbor.

Of course, I'm dreaming. No one could possible think outside the box to that extent. Rational solutions need not apply.

Rant #2.1 - OUCH

On the non-political front, I think I broke my toe. Running barefoot through the house in a race to the fridge at midnight, dodging a sleeping pug in the hall and a wolf-hybrid doing his ritual evening "happy dance" in the living room, and trailing 50 feet of oxygen tubing behind me with my crazy hair (sha'ir majnoon) flying every which way, I caught my foot on a chair around the bend, not for the first or tenth time. But this time I my have broken something -- my foot is swollen and black. Naturally, I didn't stop to ice it but, mishuginah or majnoona (crazy person) that I am, I decided, then and there, to rearrange the furniture in the kitchen so I'd have something new to bang myself on next time. And I'm not even on steroids (since last September) -- just adrenaline. Can't even remember what I wanted from the fridge!

Anyone out there with a remedy for a broken toe?

Rant #2 - No News not Good News

Very little news coming out of occupied Iraq and occupied Palestine. Mainstream media busy covering pedophiles, Tom DeLay, border issues and Black congresswomen "attacking" heavily armed Capitol police with dangerous cell phones. (Ouch!) At least there are no runaway brides this week.

But seriously, when the mainstream media is quiet about the war, I start to panic. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad is making noises about not wanting Ibrahim Jaafari to hold office. The media alternates between referring to the young Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr as a "firebrand", a "radical", a "terrorist" and a "militia leader". The administration and media refuse to accept that Iran just might want to enrich fuel to generate electricity. Just how many Iranian spokespeople can say it, how many ways, before the US accepts that they might just be telling the truth? (And just when is Ambassador John Bolton's term up as a recess appointee to the UN? Not soon enough, I fear.) Nor can anyone in power believe that the last thing Iran wants or needs is an uprising on their long, long border with Iraq.

Unreported, the true locations of the insurgency and the fighting. "Somewhere west of Baghdad", "somewhere north or south of Baghdad". What does that mean? Why don't they just own up to the fact that fighting going on in Tal Afar (the US military success story of the month), in Fallujah (which looks worse than Rafah in the Gaza Strip or Jenin after 2003), in Baghdad (where only the Green Zone is secure) and around Balaad (where the US has built a mega-base complete with fast food joints and cinema -- a hard, permanent base complete with shopping malls and underpaid foreign [non-Iraqi, non-American] workers.)

The leader of the "Free World", with his zeal and fervor to spread "democracy and the rule of law", should probably consider accepting the votes of the majority in Iraq, Palestine, Venezuela, Bolivia, Haiti, Iran. Last time I looked, democracy did not mean meddling in the business of foreign entities and sovereign states, nor did it mean national building or micro-managing the planet and executive power only.

And in the same vein, someone in Washington should look up the meaning of "rule of law". They obviously don't know since they use it to justify all sorts of malfeasance.

"Rule of law" means that "no branch of government is above the law, and that no public official may act arbitrarily or unilaterally outside the law". It also means that "no written law may be enforced by the government unless it conforms with certain unwritten, universal principles of fairness, morality, and justice that transcend human legal systems". It does not mean issuing secret "signing statements" along with the signing of legislation, basically saying that the chief executive does not have to abide by the law just signed (i.e., Patriot Act and anti-torture legislation) and ignoring international treaties such as the Geneva Conventions. In other words, crossing one's fingers behind one's back while putting pen to paper and saying "Na nana na na" just doesn't cut it when we're supposed to enjoy separation of powers.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Rant #1 - Xenophobia

My brain is about to explode because I haven't blogged in quite a while. So I'm hoping to catch up and empty my head, one subject at a time. Please bear with me. I'll start with Immigration.

I was born in East Los Angeles and I'm so proud of the kids in LA who left school and took to the streets to protest draconian immigration reform. (I remember their parents and/or grandparents doing the same in 1968.) And I'm proud of Los Angeles in general for the half million or more who marched last weekend and the hundreds of thousand across the country who also participated. Tonight's local news out of Albuquerque ran a story about a town in Texas which is banning students who marched there from attending their senior prom. Why am I shocked?

If I hear one more newscaster or politician deny being "xenaphobic" I'll start throwing darts at the TV. I think "xenaphobic" means fear of pointy breasts and bad dialogue. It's "xenophobia", guys. And you are xenophobic, all of you who think of the 10 or 12 million undocumented workers in this country as "illegal". There are no illegal people, except perhaps George Bush and Dick Cheney and all the illegitimate love children of Barbara Bush and the Pillsbury Dough Boy.

There has to be a better solution than suddenly declaring workers and their support groups (priests, nurses, teachers, doctors) felons. Aren't are prisons full enough already? And do we really want to break up families, leaving children here under an already stressed foster system as we jail and/or deport their parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles? Didn't we do that in the 30's and the 50's, sweeping up thousands of American citizens in the process and dumping them across the border into Mexico?

My grandmother never did learn English and didn't become a citizen until well into her seventies after she'd lived and worked in this country for more than four decades. But she didn't take anyone's job or money nor did she hurt a soul as she struggled to raise four children on her own. Besides, there was no country for her to return to once the Ottoman Empire collapsed. And many of the folks we are demonizing in the press feel that they have no place to go either.

It's time we began to think outside the box on a host of issues, beginning with our own borders. They are arbitrary as well as porous. They're not carved in stone. There must be a better solution to fixing a broken system, like scratching it and starting over.