Sunday, September 16, 2007

So what's so hard about redeploying?

I see that the Center for American Progress has laid out plans for the United States to leave Iraq, and they have explained it in terms even I can follow. It may even be the same or similar as Senator Obama's plan.

So it's not that we "can't" do it, or that there is no way to leave in a relatively safe way. There's something else going on that I still can't put my finger on.

We know that the goal in the beginning was to secure our own control of the oil in the region, oil that under our present level of energy usage we need. Few of us want to give up our air conditioners or our Ipod chargers. Nobody has admitted this, but it's fact. The other reason for going about it in this hell-bent manner was to secure the right to refining this oil for American and British companies. Doesn't take a rocket scientist to see this.

But what if we behaved like civilized buyers. When I go into Target to buy something, I don't go in with guns blazing trying to take over the store in order to do it. Maybe I'm naive, but I believe it's possible to buy oil from the Middle East without trying to annex the countries there.

As far as Iraq is concerned, for Pete's sake, let those people define their own borders and govern themselves however they'd like to. They have no money if they don't sell their oil to somebody, either us or China. If they don't want to sell to us, then we buy from Venezuela, or Saudi Arabia. Or, what if we just developed our own alternative energy sources with some of the billions we are spending in Iraq?

What is confusing to me is why we are still all sitting around chit-chatting about this, on talk shows, in newspaper columns, arguing about what Congress can or cannot do, while the status quo goes on. Can the Republicans not see beyond the next quarterly profit report from the oil companies? Are the Democrats more interested in re-election than in doing what they are supposed to be doing? What is so wonderful about being in Congress if you're not in fact doing the nation's business? Unfortunately I think we know the answer.

I am reading Senator Obama's second book now, "The Audacity of Hope." He has a chapter on the United States Constitution that gave me goose bumps. This country was set up carefully by thinking people who realized there would be short-sighted politicians in the power structures one day; they had a few even then. But it is designed to prevent all the power going to people like this. During the first six years of the Bush administration the crowd in Washington showed up just to say yes to everything while they pursued what to them were more important priorities. Whatever they were, they didn't involved American security.

I understand the fascination of the press with the presidential election in the United States, but sometimes they're reaching for news. The tit for tat blithering between candidates is not important; Britney Spears and OJ Simpson are not important. And I think we all know where each candidate stands by now on every possible issue because this has been going on for a year. Besides, we have the Internet now. Instead, I believe it is more important for the press to stay focused on the issue of Americans pressing for disengagement from the Iraqi civil war (that we caused) and not just assume we are prepared to lose another thousand American lives -- more if we count the contractors. The entire occupation of this destroyed country must be ended.

Enough already. This administration should not be allowed to ignore General Petraeus's bosses, or the Iraq Study Group, or the American citizens, or the Center for American Progress. I don't even understand why impeachment is off the table. These same people would like to destroy Iran too.

There has to be some pay-off for stretching this situation out as long as possible -- payoffs for both sides. I just don't see what it could possibly be.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Will the Texas Primary Matter?

Every presidential election year Texas Democrats loyally show up and vote in the primary, but somebody else Somewhere has decided who our nominee is to be before we have voted. This year may be different.

In my lifetime -- (FDR was President when I was born) there has never been such a powerful slate of Democratic candidates for President. Sure, there have often been two or three good ones, but for some reason the one I favored, and voted for in the Primary, was not the one chosen by the cigar-smokers in the back room. This year those cigar-smokers have been trying to do it the same way, and they chose Hillary some time back. It's not that I think Hillary isn't better than the Republican candidates, but she's not my first choice, nor the first choice of anyone I know. However, usually it doesn't matter by the time Texas gets to vote.

This year it may matter. With the wealth of candidates, the early primaries may be so tied or close to it, enough so that the progressive Texas Democrats might actually get to be in a group of delegates that matters at the Convention. Oh, let it be so.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

A point about Goldberg and Envy

I have never read any columnist so obtuse or narcissistic as Jonah Goldberg, as exhibited by his recent column , "A Liberal Dose of Envy..." I never knew that people of whatever social class he considers himself part of, believed that those who work for economic independence and human rights for all people do so out of "envy."

I have seen first-hand the two Americas of which John Edwards speaks; in addition, there are many other "Americas" I have seen, subsets of the others. The America experienced by single mothers, that experienced by the handicapped, that experienced by people of color, of different religions, of victims of natural disasters, and those who are victims of greed and power. I have seen the America of the ignorant, the uninformed, and the America of the children of wealth.
People without salaries high enough to make ends meet realize they could make more if they had been able to go to college; but do people who have more than they could ever spend realize they have acquired it primarily on the backs of others? Why do employers fight paying living wages? Why do they not understand why healthcare should be subsidized when they themselves have been subsidized all their lives in a more "acceptable" manner? And don't even get me started on tax loopholes.

I have been rich, I have been poor. I have never seen the envy Goldberg imagines, but I have seen greed and cruelty. I have seen entire governments bought. I have seen the wealthy exploited by "professionals" with no conscience who charge what the market can bear. And I have seen idiotic assumptions made by people of one economic class about others.
It has been my great fortune to be in a position to bridge these Americas many times and I will continue to do so at every opportunity, even as the gaps grow ever wider.

We are all of the same species with the same needs, but perhaps born into different circumstances which often change. Period.