Friday, June 19, 2009

Iran Election: Rush to Kneejerk Support of Opposition Unwise

Since the recent Iranian elections, most people here in America, and I’m assuming all across the west as far as I know – now that I live in the States, I don’t always get news of what’s going on elsewhere as much as I used to, and I don’t switch onto the Beeb as much as I should - including all of the news channels and every single anchor without exception have been hailing the demonstration marches as a noble fight for Democracy against a tyrannical and dictatorial ruler in Ahmadinejad. I would certainly caution against this kneejerk reaction, even though I seem to be in the huge minority, along, with President Obama apparently, who cautioned that a Mir-Hossein Mousavi Administration may not represent the turnaround that most people have jumped to the conclusion that it would be. Bob Baer, a former CIA operative in the Middle East, in his article in Time on Thursday June 18th, Don't Forget Mousavi's Bloody Past pointed out that Mousavi was the Iranian Prime Minister from 1981 – 1989, and alleges that he, Mousavi, bears the blood of Americans on his hands. Not that the CIA is my go to for the truth, but it is worthwhile to note that there are dissenting voices on the faultlessness of Mousavi.
I am a fire breathing liberal, and a huge Obama supporter, for which reason, I liked the idea of an Ahmadinejad loss in the recent Iranian elections, particularly given that the storyline that was developing was that his loss would be translated as a win for Obama’s softly softly approach toward Iran and as an endorsement by the Iranian people (whom conservatives like to proclaim they have no quarrel with – even as they support sanctions that would weaken the Iranian economy wreaking havoc to those very Iranian people’s lives) of his extension of an open hand of friendship and open dialogue. Alas, the election did not go as I had hoped, against the slim odds that Mir-Hossein Mousavi might have toppled Ahmadinejad.
Slim odds, in my opinion, because as all news media admitted in the lead up to the election, the close polls that were coming out of Iran were questionable, at best, and even if they had been accurate, the best case scenario would have suggested that the election would turn on turnout, and would have gone to whomever would succeed in getting out their supporters. I would argue that in fact it is quite likely that the polls would have unduly skewed toward the opposition, given that the opposition’s support was centered in the urban areas, and among the young and educated elites within the country, who would have access to telephones and other telecommunications technology and hence may very well have been over-polled. This would suggest to me that in fact the polls showing Mousavi running almost even with Ahmadinejad could not be relied on as an indication of national sentiment right across Iran. Ahmadinejad according to all media reports enjoyed greater support from the majority of the rural population, who have benefitted hugely from his policies. Those people live outside Tehran, do not Tweet, and possibly have little reason to take to the streets, particularly given that their man got back in office.
Whatever you think of Iran, and its system of government, Ahmadinejad was elected democratically four years ago, and has ruled in accordance with a relatively free, fair and democratic Iranian system, which contrary to popular belief is actually one where dissent takes place in relative openness and without crackdowns as most would prefer to believe. That the supreme leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is an unelected official and the true Iranian Head of State is certainly a situation that is suspect in mine, as well as in the eyes of many, but then again, I can’t believe the United Kingdom, the other country whose nationality I hold, has a Monarch as the official Head of Sate. Furthermore, the Supreme Leader was installed as a result of the Theocracy that followed the Iranian Revolution that ousted the Shah of Iran, who btw, had been installed by the United States interfering with and ousting the democratically elected Iranian government of the time in 1953. With regard to the British Monarchy, I am personally super offended that my taxes go to support a whole family and their cousins and aunts and uncles, who also happen to be the world’s wealthiest welfare dependents, but that’s just me.
So, with that out of the way, the idea that this election was not free and fair is not a foregone conclusion. The fact that the demonstrators are fighting a dictator is not necessarily one that is borne out by all the facts. That they are demonstrating against a leader they did not vote for and whom they do not like is certainly clear. That the elections were rigged is certainly not clear either. Therefore, to continue to encourage the Iranian people to demonstrate against the election is not necessarily responsible. Senator Saxby Chambliss of GA, went on Chris Mathews declaring that the election was stolen and calling on President Obama to call it as such. This is hugely irresponsible, and is not backed by any facts whatsoever. President Obama, as usual is ahead of most everyone else, and has struck exactly the right tone on the question of the Iranian elections. As he pointed out, not only is there no guarantee that Mousavi would be dramatically different, but there really is nothing to suggest that Mousavi won, other than that his supporters are certainly very passionate, and clearly do not accept that Ahmadinejad won. Surely if Ahmadinejad was the tyrannical dictator that it has been suggested he was, I can’t imagine that we would have seen the relative calm surrounding the demonstrations that we have seen, notwithstanding the eight deaths that were reportedly caused by Ahmadinejad’s supporters, and not by official government personnel. Many news reports have admitted that it is not clear that Mousavi won, and in fact, the only extent to which many have gone was to argue that Ahmadinejad could not have won by the margins that it is claimed he won. I argue that in fact it is highly credible that he did win by larger than expected margins, given the heavy skew in favor of the opposition, that I believe the polls would have had, and given a possible higher turnout among the rural vote that supports Ahmadinejad than the urban (more visible, more tweetable) vote. We in the west had absolutely no opportunity whatsoever to gage the rural support for Ahmadinejad, and furthermore, given that they may not have even viewed President Obama’s extension of friendship, may not have necessarily cared for greater engagement with the west, and hence may well not have cared for a change of government.
I come from Kenya, and during the recent turmoil that followed the disputed elections of December 2007, I saw similar kneejerk reactions in the west in support of the opposition, calling for President Kibaki who had won in a closely contested election, to back down and or negotiate to end the impasse. What most in the west were not privy to, was that the opposition were in fact a murderous bunch of thugs who killed over a thousand government supporters and tried to ethnically cleanse the government supporting members of the Kikuyu tribe from opposition strongholds, leading to hundreds of thousands displaced form their homes and ending up as internally displaced people, who to this day remain displaced, over two years later! It was not convenient to report this particularly given that the opposition was seen as more pro-western, which in fact they were. It is not that the Kenyan government is anti-western, but in fact the reality is that the opposition was far more malleable towards western manipulation, with the opposition leader, Raila Odinga having close ties to the CIA, and having enjoyed the support of American business backers, who stood to gain from greater exploitation of Kenya in a Raila administration. In that election, just like in the Iranian, there was no clear evidence that the incumbent had not indeed won, but furthermore, there was evidence that the opposition had been less than honest and transparent in their strongholds, having started their murderous rampage on the eve of the election, killing security personnel who had been sent to man polling stations within the strongholds of the opposition in Western and Nyanza provinces. The US and Britain were impatient with President Kibaki, I believe who had refused all western aid, having succeeded in turning Kenya into a self dependent economy that was growing at a 7% rate annually and running purely on tax revenues. One example of his refusal to play ball was when he refused George Bush’s “so called” aid for HIV AIDS programs, which came with the strings attached of having to spend the money on US patented drugs, which cost so much more than generics that Kenya could have obtained from India and Brazil.
It is therefore with such examples that I tread the free Iran bandwagon with great care, knowing that I do not understand enough about internal Iranian politics to jump to the conclusion that a) Iran is not Democratic and that b) that Mousavi won the last election. As far as I can see, there are demonstrations against an election result that a good number of Iranians, quite possibly almost half of the population disagree with. Can you even begin to imagine if the nearly half of the American electorate that voted for Senator McCain had refused to accept the election results last year, and decided to take to the streets? That would be seriously huge numbers and would certainly produce the same results as what we are seeing in Iran. Granted that is a distant possibility, but take for example, Gore vs. Bush in 2000. That election was even closer, and was disputed and remains disputed to this day. That is one situation where demonstrations could have taken place, and indeed did take place. But can you imagine what it would have looked like if masses of Democrats had felt strongly enough to come out for big demonstrations. I certainly think that people actually did feel strongly enough and would have come out en masse if Gore had encouraged it. He did not.
Moussavi has been encouraging the demonstrations, and so has the western media in their one sided coverage. I am just not convinced that the western view will be borne out by the facts on this occasion. I support the right of the Iranian people to demonstrate in peace, without the fear of violence or retribution, but this seems to be the case right now. I support the right of the Iranian people to demand exactly what sort of government they want to see, and indeed to question their election results if they do not feel that they were fair and transparent enough. I will however, not jump on the bandwagon of jumping to the conclusion that this half, if that, of the Iranian population is the only true point of view. I also wholeheartedly agree with President Obama’s decision to sit this one out, and I believe that time will prove him right to have done so very soon, and I sincerely hope that he does not cave to the right’s demands to throw himself any further into the melee.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Healthcare: Probably the Most Important Political Issue for America

It is almost serendipitous that just as I completed writing the title of this article, a news segment came on CNN regarding healthcare, a very sad story about a volunteer organization, Remote Area Medical that provides healthcare for Americans without insurance. Perhaps one could put it down to serendipity, or perhaps, it is purely a case of the fact of the urgency of the issue, and the fact that maybe one cannot go a full news day without hearing a story regarding healthcare, the lack of healthcare and the atrocities faced by regular every day Americans around healthcare and specifically insurance.
The thing about healthcare here in the USA is that actually medical care is not bad at all, so in fact, this debate is one that should really be a framed as a debate about health insurance. When one can get their care paid for, it is in fact great quality care that is often provided in a timely manner in environments full of the latest equipment, well trained doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals. So in fact, I think that framing the healthcare debate as one about healthcare is a bit of a misnomer, because it suggests that there is something wrong with the provision of healthcare in America, which in fact, based on my experiences, which are varied and extensive right across the globe, there really isn’t, or at least, it is pretty much as good as any care I have had anywhere else, perhaps with the exception of France, where the system is excellent both at the point of delivery as well as in the manner of payment.
The particular segment on CNN featured Dr. Stan Broc, founder/Director of Remote Area Medical, a volunteer medical provider organization which provides healthcare to people in remote areas that are hard to reach and whose residents would otherwise have no access to urgently needed healthcare as well as Dr. Ross Isaacs a volunteer with the organization. Dr. Ross Isaacs described situations where for example, there are Americans with diabetes, who are forced to go without insulin for months because they cannot afford to pay for it. Fredericka Whitfield who was anchoring the news show, pointed out that some images from the organization’s video looked more like video taken in places in the third world, and indeed the story sounded like one that you would expect from a third world country. President Obama is currently concentrating on this very question, and has in fact dedicated his last two Saturday radio/web addresses to the question of healthcare reform. President Obama – wow, it feels so good to write that, so I will write it again, yes, President Obama, has very cleverly, as we have come to expect from him, tied the question of healthcare reform to the economy, tying economic recovery to healthcare reform, and managing to garner the support of small business organizations and even healthcare providers, who, faced with the reality that the question of healthcare reform is one whose time has come and is inevitable, have decided to jump on board to make sure they are not left off the negotiation table. To President Obama’s credit, again, of course the health insurance companies would not have come aboard, were it not for the fact that the President himself held out an extended hand, pointing out to them, that reform was an idea whose time has come, and as he often likes to say, there is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come, and invited them to join along.
All of the above creates an environment that is ripe for reform. And thankfully so, because the way that healthcare is paid for currently really needs reform, as most of us by now are strongly aware of often from our own stressful, traumatic and even tragic experiences. Statistics show that blacks and Latinos are disproportionately affected by the lack of access to healthcare in the United States, which is why this is an issue that African Americans and Latinos should and must get involved in. Thankfully, credit again, to President Obama – sorry I can’t get enough of writing this Kenyan name, as a Kenyan myself in reference to the President of the USA! – we can easily get actively involved in the push for reform, thanks to Organizing for America, formerly Obama for America, which is now an arm of the Democratic National Committee, and consists of the millions of people who were actively involved in the Obama campaign. Currently Organizing for America is making a push for campaign style house parties on healthcare to help inform the public on the issues around this debate, to help garner support for the President’s measures, and turn that support into pressure on lawmakers to help pass the President’s preferred bill.
Currently at great contention is the question of a public option which the Republicans both in and out of congress, as well as insurance companies strongly oppose arguing that it would kill the private health insurance providers leading to yet more uninsured people. In fact, the argument of the Right as well as insurance companies against the public option provides, in my opinion, the strongest argument for a public option. The Health insurance companies and their Republican minders argue that in fact the government option will be too attractive to regular Americans, and will be so cheap, that the insurance companies will be unable to compete, and they will have to, god forbid, forgo their profits, and may lead to some being forced out of business! Well, if in fact, a public option would be so popular, meaning that it is what Americans want and need, and will indeed be cheaper, forcing price wars between insurance companies, leading to cheaper wider coverage, then, I argue that there is no better argument for capitalism, which in fact is touted by the right as the best way to force price competition and lower prices! The Right defeats their own argument in their extremely and increasingly frantic opposition to a public government option for the provision of healthcare. I can’t help but believe that this time, their frantic efforts cannot help but demonstrate even to the least informed among us, that surely, these companies along with their Republican minders, cannot be fighting for Americans but for their own profits, and as such, I actually like their efforts, because I think they really help the cause of the Left for a public option and indeed for comprehensive healthcare reform once and for all.
The lack of quality healthcare as I pointed out disproportionately affects Blacks and Latinos, and it is not due to the lack of clinics, hospitals or doctors, but rather, due to a lack of the ability to pay for healthcare. We therefore have to be involved actively and aggressively to help the President to pass a bill that includes the public option. President Obama, in his election, demonstrated the power of both the Black and Latino vote and political support, as indeed, he could not have been elected without the overwhelming support of both communities. Indeed, no American President can be elected in future, given the shifts in the electorate’s demographics without the overwhelming support of either both or at least one of those communities.
The Black gay community is even further disproportionately affected by the question of healthcare, not just due to HIV AIDS, which in fact, affects black women at rates similarly high, but also due to other health concerns, not least of all which include mental health, and substance abuse treatment programs, as well as other regular health issues such as prostrate health, diabetes, heart disease, quit smoking programs, pediatric care – as adoption becomes more available, as well as other STD health issues, many of which affect the community even more than HIV AIDS. We have to harness our political power, by getting active at Organizing For America (Friend Me on Organizing for America & Connect to your Facebook) and attending and hosting house parties similar to those that took place during the campaign to ensure that the public option, not only stays on the table but ends up as part of the bill, and is passed into law. Other useful organizations fighting alongside President Obama include Howard Dean’s Democracy For America as well as Move On both of which are organizations that support Democratic Party measures and initiatives and that are standing with the President on his most courageous reforms.

Monday, February 25, 2008

On the Non-Solution That is Kenya’s Current Mediation Talks.

Unfortunately, what the world media are not aware of, and quite clearly the highly partisan Kenyan media chooses to be simply blind to, is that this return to single party politics now being touted as the solution for Kenya’s post election ills, falls way short of addressing the real problem which is that hatred of one Kenyan community in particular - the Kikuyu - is the real source of the problem.

Until this issue is addressed including delving into the reasons and sources of this hatred and resentment both legitimate and perceived or even illegitimate, then this single party solution is merely a band aid. It may give Kofi Annan, the career diplomat his kudos, power to the power hungry protagonists and no real solution for Kenya for future generations. I find it amazing that Bush who won in very similar circumstances, as well as the rest of the international community would encourage a return to single party non-democracy in a solution that ignores an existing and legitimate constitution.

As a member of that community, I admit to being possibly biased in my oblivion of our so called advantages, much as whites are accused of in the US, The UK and France and elsewhere in the west where there are huge black minorities, and I can expect that many will doubt my true lack of bias on the underlying questions of post election tumult. However, hatred and targeting of this community has been allowed to run rampant over the last 3 years or so, and I suppose that it was seen by many as legitimate particularly given that the community was perceived to enjoy power, wealth and glory especially being that Kibaki is from the said Kikuyu community. This hatred has been stoked, by the opposition taking a leaf from former president Moi's book, for political expediency, and has been fuelled by many including the so called "independent" national press, which thanks to many who fought for multi party democracy, including Kibaki, is definitely free but certainly not fair.

The main problem with the solution which is currently being touted as the way to peace is that it really does nothing to address neither this hatred of Kikuyus, nor the continued ignoring of the plight of the hundreds of thousands of Kenyans now turned into Internally Displaced People (IDP) in their own country and refugees in Uganda and Tanzania. It does nothing to address the fact that the so called free and fair press has been instrumental in allowing this hatred and venom to fester leading to the situation that we now have where Kikuyus are clearly considered not much more than roaches as were the Tutsi of Rwanda during that country’s crisis. The National Media, particularly the Standard, is continuing to be a spokesman for Odinga at the peril of fuelling even further hatred, and placing the country at a knife’s edge whereby any indication of Raila failing in his selfish political aspirations, that have shown he cares nothing whatsoever for ordinary Kenyans, will cause a new flare up of violence that can and will lead to civil war. Kenya is on the brink of resembling Ivory Coast whom we were previously compared to for our peaceful economic success oasis stories in otherwise volatile regions, but we are now about resemble them for the reverse.

For those who think that this can never happen, one need only look at Cote d’Ivoire, or even slightly further to a country that was even more successful economically and closer in geography and other ways to western Europe, the former Yugoslavia.

Feelings of underlying resentments toward Kikuyus have existed for generations (since before independence), who were always perceived to be too wealthy and too powerful, even during former President Moi's long repressive and oppressive reign which specifically targeted this group. Since Kibaki taking power aided by Odinga, and then falling out with Odinga a few years later over constitutional reform, resentment toward Kikuyus was again legitimized. New more sophisticated terms such as "The Mount Kenya Mafia" were coined by Odinga who was angry over feelings that again, another Odinga's ambitions (his father was formerly Kenyatta's VP before falling out of grace) had been thwarted by yet another Kikuyu.

This continued as election fever grabbed its hold on Kenya, and advanced to more sophisticated use of technology with email forwards, text messages and blogs and forums on internet communities demonizing this group and calling for the eradication of the Mt Kenya Mafia, starting with the removal of Kibaki from power. One may wonder why such hostility should occur especially after Moi’s 24 years of repressive regression, during a period of heightened economic growth, job and wealth creation and freer press, and democratic changes that have occurred during Kibaki’s mere 5 years. However, at a glance, the fact is that while there has been an economic boom of sorts, Kenya is still a third world country and economic growth has been slow to benefit all.

Kikuyu’s who perceive themselves as highly industrious and resourceful, have been considered to have prospered disproportionately, which given that this is the largest single ethnic group, I would counter is in fact proportional to the population. Most in government as well as the majority of Kikuyus had not perceived the real true depths of the resentment borne against them by the rest of Kenya’s communities. As such many dismissed the whisperings as mere political year fever run riot, and did not expect the true consequences of the threat of violence that had become more and more pronounced. Kikuyu’s similar to whites in western countries, or men faced with attacks from feminists for example, stayed silent in the face of attacks from other groups, being that perceived to be holding power, (despite the fact that the VP was a Luyhia from western Kenya, just as was Raila’s VP candidate) and wealth, they were considered to be un-aggrieved.

Further it is very fashionable in our young democracy to attack and oppose the government being that this is a luxury we have only enjoyed for a short period of time. As such Kikuyu’s never went out of their way to defend either Kibaki or his record in government or even themselves from the circulating attacks. Even in the post election crisis, Kikuyus have remained mostly silent and even prominent Kikuyus and Kikuyu politicians have not condemned violence against Kikuyus as they should have. The media reports with broad brush strokes the issue of IDPs in the rift valley in particular, most of them Kikuyu, while really ignoring the catastrophic suffering that is being experienced by individual women and children. However, they write personal humanized stories about members of other communities, referring to them by name and describing their plight in detail. Even Prof Wangari Maathai, with a wonderful opportunity to speak to the true issues facing us in her New York Times article, wasted it on a shallow call to President Kibaki to negotiate, a call that was already all over the media. Her article I am afraid added nothing new to the debate, and her time would have been better served with her sitting at home or planting a tree or something.

Kibaki’s government has brought prosperity to Kenya and it has been fair, non-oprresive and highly inclusive. Kibaki is an aloof economist, clearly not well suited to politics, and this must have been noted by his current opponent Raila, who must have spent enough time next to him to realize that he could get away with what he currently is. In many ways, I do believe that Raila has already shown Kenya what a Raila administration would look like. It would be oppressive and repressive toward Kikuyus, rife with well architected and public relations lies and a wholesale surrender of Kenya’s sovereignty to western and other powers interested in business with him. If his Kibera constituency is anything to go by, Kenya will be headed to the toilet the minute he accedes to power. It has to be admitted that he currently running Kenya through his threats of violence, and in his mere six weeks of unprecedented power, he has managed to return Kenya to pre colonial poverty, and to colonial time insecurity, uncertainty and upheaval.

The western world is now pushing for a return to defacto single party rule in demanding a grand coalition inclusive government, as a quick fix to a problem that many have not cared to understand. This is now seen as the preogressive4 way forward by a shortsighted Kenyan public as well as an international community that is uninformed. The same international community was at the forefront of the call for Moi to introduce legitimate multi-partyism and free democracy. America has been split right through the middle in the middle in its politics for the last 5 or so decades, and election results have usually been split right across the middle. The starkest example would be the 2000 election, where Bush “won” by beating Gore by a mere 527 votes in Florida. Can you imagine then pushing for Bush to include Gore in his government to accommodate Gore’s ego, as is being touted as the band aid solution for Kenya.

We have a constitution, flawed as it may be, and we have a President in office, as well as a legislature. If indeed the constitution is so flawed, then ODM now has the needed majority to vote in amendments. The international community acknowledges that neither Kibaki nor Raila can honestly be ascertained as having won the election, but clearly the better cheat won. Kibaki has a mere five years to left for his second and final term. What then is the haste in amending the constitution overnight, to accommodate the ego of one Kenya by the name if Raila?

A constitution is the most important document that will ever be produced and one written in haste to accommodate individual egos is likely to fail to address the true will of the Kenyan people and secure government institutions that can survive any onslaught of any one Individual in future and for generations to come. I care nothing for Kibaki as a person, and even less for Raila. I do not know either personally, and as far as I have seen, while my cousin was murdered with bow and arrows on my uncle’s farm recently and while the slums have burnt, I see these two sipping cups of tea together and smiling and or flailing their arms depending, it seems, on what side of the bed they got up on that morning.

Until a real true, transparent commission of truth, justice and reconciliation is appointed, convened and allowed to perform a fair and thorough investigation, including into the language used by the opposition, and certain individuals in government, the role of the media, both local and national, radio, print and television, then whatever solutions are hurried through will only be short lived. What happens next time another Kikuyu wins an election, or next time Raila Odinga becomes unhappy about something and calls for mass action. What happens if as PM he runs the Government totally irresponsibly and is fired by Kibaki or even by parliament? Another call to arms, under the guise of peaceful mass action? What happens when another politician with an even bigger ego emerges and has a bone to pick with Raila’s tribe? Another hurried amendment to accommodate said politician.

This is not Dodge, dear cowboy Bush where the strongest survive, and we are aware that you have run the USA in such a way over the last 10 years. Please do not preach to Kenyans about democracy or the process or for that matter, the rule of law. We have seen how your cohorts deal with political rivals, as in the case of former Gov. Siegelman of Alabama Kenyans need to come together to demand an allowance of the running out of President Kibaki’s term for the sake of all of Kenya with greater checks and balances, and at the very most, only some accommodation of the opposition in cabinet positions. Then there should be an immediate convening of a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Committee that will perform a thorough investigation followed by a real true, open and democratic constitutional review, to apply to all future governments and parliaments in Kenya. Both Raila and Kibaki as protagonists and antagonists in this situation should withdraw themselves from any involvement in this review. That my good friends, I believe is the only way forward to save Kenya from the brink!

Barack in Debates

This is an open letter to the two Davids, Plouffe and Axelrod that is! While those of us in the netroots are as enamored with not just his speeches, but his record and grasp on the issues facing the nation as anyone of you probably is, and in fact, if the Senator were to take a dump in any of our front yards, we would gladly frame it up and hang it as art (Don’t laugh Damien Hirst did just such “art”), we however are indeed the proverbial “choir” as far as preaching goes. But I digress. The point is many of us were already in his back pocket, certainly I was after hearing him at the DNC in 2004!

As such, this is to implore either of you or Michelle or all of you please to point out to the brilliant junior Senator from Illinois, that while we latte sippers of the netroots love it, no, abso-F’in-lutely adore it when he goes for the jugular with our worthy opponent, for example letting her know that she is “likeable enough”, or that some of his “speeches are quite good actually”, many of those voting in their respective primaries, may only ever be seeing him for the first time during the debates prior to those primaries. Many of these voters want and need to see a chivalrous, gentlemanly, sensitive Barack particularly when he is already ahead.

I have watched for a long time, the train wreck that I now consider the “team Billary” campaign to have become, even as they have flipped and flopped on their message as well as their attack tactics, that have mostly fallen flat. However, the one successful campaign upset, IMHO, in NH was IMO, one that the said campaign was handed quite innocently by the debate moderator, aided by the brilliance embodied that is Obama - in his seeming arrogance and indifference and lack of chivalry - to a wounded HRC in his “she is likeable enough comment”.

I have come to the conclusion that team “Billary” now aware that this is the one thing that has worked for them in the past, is now out to enrage BO as much as possible, hoping that “Dear Mama” Clinton will smile and flutter her eyelids in the debates, while an angry, attacking, aloof, Barack will ignore her or worse or better, depending on which camp you're in, will say something arrogant or condescending to the poor sweet losing-streak, broke-campaign, would-be-first-female POTUS, who is nothing but “honored, absolutely honored” to be sitting right there next to him.

Therefore, I implore all of you near him to please please, point out to him that he has to hold back his personal hurt feelings duriing debates and remember that this is a political campaign. I remember once getting an campaign email from Michelle Obama during the SC primary season, saying how “what we didn’t expect was Bill Clinton blah blah blah...” For the first time I rolled my eyes at something I had seen from your camp, thinking, “It’s a presidential race, what did you expect sweetie, pie and cookies saying welcome to the field from ‘team Billary’?” You have to be prepared for absolutely anything, including the most foul and unimaginable. If HRC’s “real” ‘Rovian’ tactics shock you, then, wait till the GOP that in fact has the real Rove, start coming for us in the months ahead through the fall!

The last thing that BO does that worries somewhat when before neutral audiences such as during debates is his constant pointer that he did or said such and such, and “I was right” The phrase, my dear good sir is “I did and said such and such, and the evidence is clear, or the facts support my stand, or even better, and the voters have to decide who is/was right! Yes, Obama is genius in my humble opinion, and yes, I do have his shrine right next to my soy-latte cappuccino maker that sits above my Birkenstock shoe rack, but then again you already had me in 2004, and you would have had me in 2002 if I had seen your speech or interviews re: the war back then. Indeed, you have run a brilliant campaign that has confounded even I, your 1000% supporter, and need no preaching from me. However, isn’t this as you say, our campaign; blogged, staffed, fueled, funded and yes indeed, “fired up!” by, “we the people”? As such, I feel that every little helps, and this is my attempt at one more piece of a contribution. You have called on me to believe not just in your abilities, but in mine too, and this is one more way that I am answering your call. And talking of funding, would you wrap this nomination thing up already, it’s eating away from my latte money!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Paris Hilton, vs Genarlow Wilson: Where is the Outrage?

Where is the outrage when Genarlow Wilson sits languishing in Prison even after the judge has vacated his conviction, and the GA Attorney General refuses to follow the judge’s order? On June 12th 2007, a Georgia judge ruled in favor of Genarlow Wilson, a 17 year old black male sentenced to 10 years in prison for receiving oral sex from a consenting 17 year old white female, who in fact admits she initiated the act.

There has been some coverage here and there in the media, but on the whole it has been a footnote. While all the media rants and raves about Paris Hilton, this is a real case of miscarriage of justice, and yet, the outrage just isn’t there, nor is the media coverage. One thing I cannot even begin to fathom is why no one media house has even bothered to juxtapose this story or perhaps the case of Pedro Guzman illegally deported by the same LA County sheriff's Department, with the so-called unfair treatment of Paris Hilton. Would this sort of legal wrangling go on in a case involving white kids, and if it did, would it go on without ample media coverage and outrage to boot, as in the case of the Duke Lacrosse rape case?

Why has become the all round expert in everything from mental health to the constitution with regard to Paris Hilton. Why can’t any of the media houses go out there and get some real stories about other people in the LA county jail system in similar situations as Paris Hilton, of which I am sure there are many and compare whether indeed she is being treated unfairly. No instead, they just sit at their desks and check out, and haul in Harvey Levin for interviews, on talk show after talk show, news bulletin after news bulletin. Are there no researchers at these stations? Are there no mental health, legal or corrections experts available to MSNBC, CNN et al? Why has no news bulletin even bothered to take the opportunity presented by this whole debacle to make any real news about the general miscarriage of justice that goes on all the time? I don’t think that the public - and I may be overestimating the American public, not being a native - but, I honestly can’t really believe or even begin to imagine that the US public is as interested in Paris Hilton as the media is. I put the blame squarely on the media for this non-news. Quite frankly, I feel quite confident that if the media houses covered real news, people would still tune in and the US public might even get to be really informed.

The judge’s ruling should have meant the immediate release of Wilson from prison. But that was not to be. The GA attorney general appealed the ruling, which means that Wilson will have to remain in jail while this case is brought to court. It is claimed that the AG, is not at fault and his appeal is not racially motivated, but rather he is opposed to what he says was the judge overstepping his jurisdiction! This case is as appalling as it is mindlessly unjust. Why use this unfortunate and unjust case to take on the abuse of power of judges, while continuing to punish an innocent young man, who did what billions of teenagers across the globe do every day and even worse! Why, when even the AG agrees that this case is unjust. What is the message here? Is it not quite frankly that Genarlow Wilson, as a young black man is quite inconsequential, and anyone coming along with anything to prove or any bone to pick can use him and his unfortunate situation with no fear of any sort of consequences? And where does this overzealousness on the part of Georgia law enforcement come from. Is it not quite simply racially motivated? What if Wilson was not the honors student that he was? Would this story even have ever made the news? How many young black males languish for years in the US jail system for mindless acts of miscarriage of justice such as this? MSNBC, Lockup is an interesting look at the prison system, but how about some real true investigative journalism on something that is not a mere easy sell?

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Ms Hilton Checks Out...

Apparently, miss Hilton did not like prison too much, so she decided to leave!! This apparently against the judge's specific orders who made it clear that Paris Hilton's sentencing order would not be modified according to the Sheriff's request.Lil Kim, you dumb blonde, did you know this was an option, why didn't you exercise it? Mike Tyson, what of you, what kind of dumb lawyers did you have? Even I failed to heed, and clearly forgot my own bet that Hilton would not do her time. I was too quick to congratulate her on her "grace under fire!", for in fact, Miss Hilton had one up her sleeve that none of us saw coming! I just wanna know, as I stated in my first blog on this subject, how much exactly in campaign "donations" to mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's re-election coffers have been made by the Hiltons, or is it the "campaign coffers" of the sherrif? I'm I just too cynical? Could it just be that La Hilton suffered serious illness? Is not being able to stand jail not a legitimate illness for the rich and famous?

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Ms Hilton checks in

I never thought I would say this, but you have to give it to la Hilton. She went about her "checking in" to her own Paris Hilton hospitality suite with style - I mean, who goes to the MTV movie awards and then straight to jail? She put on a brave face, strutted her stuff on the red carpet, checked in with her own take on prison style and furthermore, she will be making money writing a journal!! She is far smarter than we credit her for and even if she can't spell "SIHN", she will certainly be signing and banking the checks. Way to go Paris?! If la Hilton had to do time, does this mean that the rich and famous are now having to face the music, and does it mean that Scooter Libby should be shaking in his boots? I somehow doubt it, his smug look at his trials and sentencing suggest that he knows something we don't

Scooter Libby Sentenced to 30 Mths Jail Term

I will eat my head if Scooter Libby spends as much as a day of his jail term! Despite the 30 month sentence and 250,000 fine, I am sure that Libby will get away with bail pending his appeal, which will lead to a lengthy process taking him into the end of 2008 and a pardon by the outgoing chief perjurer.

I can't help wondering if the somewhat stiff sentence isn't somehow supposed to elicit sympathy from the public and hence justify a pardon, or at least make the idea of it seem reasonable.

I don't know the judge in the case, or his political affiliations, but I do know that many of his appointments were issued by GOP presidents from Reagan through to George W. as well as by right leaning judges. I put nothing past this white house whose Machiavellian tactics, I believe, know no boundaries. Some pundits claim that a pardon is a sensitive issue which the public does not like too much and that is only ever used in very special circumstances. My question is, "since when did W. give a monkey's a** about what the public thinks?" There is way too much support from the right to ensure that Libby does not serve any time. With Fred Thompson about to join the race, I am sure he will make the Libby case a campaign trail issue keeping it in the limelight only adding to the pressure on W. to pardon the man.

While pundits think that the sentence is somewhat stiff, perjury is a serious offense, and depending on the specifics of the case, often leads to jail terms. In the U.K. two prominent former senior members of the Conservative government served about two years each for perjury in cases that did not even involve the obstruction of justice. The first, a peer in the house of Lords, Jeffrey Archer was sentenced to four years for lying in his libel case seeking damages over a story published in several magazines about him and a prostitute. The second, Jonathan Aitken, a former cabinet Minister and likely future Prime Minister was sentenced to serve time for lying about a hotel stay paid for him by a wealthy Saudi business associate.

Can you imagine if such crimes were punishable with jail terms here in the states, Capitol Hill would be emptied of congressmen and senators! Libby's crime is particularly serious given the issues of national interest involved and due to the fact that his crime led to the failure to investigate a matter of national security. Further, it was a case that stemmed from an act that demonstrated the White House's complete and total disregard for the intelligence community and the very institutions that serve this country, in the administration's leaking of Valerie Plame's CIA credentials.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Are Dems Wimps?

I could not believe it when I heard Senator Harry Reid during his press conference telling journalists, that as the recently elected senate majority, they had to give Bush the money to go to war, or else Bush would have attacked Democrats saying that they have been elected but are not taking action. It is true the Dems were given somewhat of a weak mandate - they are a majority by one, and yes, its true they are not acting! But it isn't Bush's attacks they need to worry about but rather the wrath of the American public whom most polls show are fed up of the war. It seems the Dems haven't caught onto that most basic of lessons of politics - It's a dirty game! The Republicans and the current White House are your opposition, of course they are going to attack you any time you do anything they dislike or disagree with, which is every time - that is the whole premise of a multiparty democracy - well O.K. dual party monopoly that we live in, but, that’s mere details... Have the Dems never caught on that Republicans never ever ever bow to any Democratic Party demands, and they counter-attack blow-for-blow, as any self respecting opposing political party should! The Dems are running scared because they do not want to face attacks from the 28% approval ratings president?! In so doing, they are abdicating their responsibility to the American people and all affected to end the war by any means available to them. The Dems as they stand right now do not stand a chance in hell of taking the white house. They have failed to act at a most crucial time, and they have shown that they have no back bone. I am not sure the American people will forget, nor can I see the public putting their trust in the Dems when they show no decisiveness at such a crucial moment!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Parisian Jail Saga Continues

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I said to watch this space, and indeed, there was yet more to report. I had wondered what creative ways they would come up with to treat Ms Hilton differently, i.e preferentially and guess what?! They did. A reduction by almost half of her sentence to a mere 23 days?! For good behavior?! Doesn’t one need to be already in jail in order to be judged on their behavior? Or does carrying a bible in clear view for the cameras count as good behavior? Miss Naomi Campbell take note!! A copy of the Bible and a Spiritual self-discovery type book and all will be hunky dory. If only someone had sent Mike Tyson that memo, damn, Mike, you would never have had to spend years in jail. What of O.J Simpson, maybe America would have even accepted your Not Guilty verdict…