Who am I?Where am I?

13 September 2008

Alaska Earmarks

I came across the State of Alaska Fiscal year 2009 Request for Federal Approprations. Why is this important? John McCain has said that he wants to cut pork out of Washington, which is a catchy phrase that has some credence. Sarah Palin has been labelled as a conservative who wants to eliminate pork. McCain has sighted his elimination of a $3,000,000 request from the State of Montana to study the deer population in Montana as an example of his elimination of pork. My question for Mr. McCain would be how does he feel about spending $3,200,000 next year researching sea lions in Alaska? What about $7,400,000 to light rural airports in Alaska? According to the Alaska Fiscal year 2009 Request for Federal Approprations submitted by the government of Alaska with the governnor's approval...these were requested items. The link is below.


I am not belittling most of these requests. As an environmentalist, I support many of them. My point is that the reform credentials John McCain espouses and claims his running mate espouses are not supported by the record of McCain and especially Palin.


Americans and the election

Last December while white-water rafting on the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe, I heard a joke. The joke went something like, "Thabo Mbeki, Robert Mugabe, Tony Blair, and boy scout were all on a plane. The pilot came to the back of the plane and said that the plane was going down but there were only four parachutes. He took one, wished the others good luck and jumped out. Tony Blair said, 'I am the leader of the country that built the biggest empire in history,' took a parachute and jumped out. Robert Mugabe said, 'I'm the smartest leader in the world.' He took a parachute and jumped out. Thabo Mbeki says to the boy scout, 'I've lived a long time so you can have the last parachute.' The boy scout turned to Mbeki and said, 'No worries. You know that last guy...he took my napsack'."

I think that American public could similarly be lumped together, at least the part of the public that has now come out in droves to voice their support of Republican candidate John McCain after he announced Sarah Palin as his choice to be the Vice-President. Having lived abroad for the past 6.5 years and not having to view American politics through the monocle that is the American media, I simply cannot fathom how a considerable number of Americans are really too studpid to see the mossback policies of Karl Rove and Bush in the rhetoric of McCain. For 6.5 years, I have defended America, if not always American policy, in many debates. If McCain is elected, I will seriously not defend the USA for a considerable amount of time. His election would simply be indefensible. As I watch McCain surge in the polls after picking someone to the right of BUSH as his running mate, I have realized...I don't understand Americans.

I don't understand our policies from an American view. What I do understand after having been here in this particular part of the world for less than a month: the anger at American foreign policy, the stupidity of an apparent majority of voting Americans due to our lack of travel, the lack of understanding about Islam, etc.

American foreign policy makers routinely bloviate about exporting democracy, freedom, and liberty to the rest of the world. A close examination of the US track record here in the Middle East paints a less than sterling picture. The US supports an oppressive royal family in Saudi Arabia that does not have the support of the majority of the people. Sadam Hussein was supported by the Americans in the late 1970s and through the 1980s. Even in the first Gulf War, he was deemed preferable to a Shiite majority ruled government, which is why he was left in power after that war by Bush I. Then, he was toppled a decade later for supposedly having weapons of mass destruction, which he never possessed. Furthermore, after watching a CNN report from Iraq on Thursday, I realized that most American soliders do not even know why we are in Iraq. It has nothing to do with September 11 and it never did. The idea of Sadam alligning himself with AlQaeda is simply abusurd. The brand of Islam practiced by Osama bin-Laden is not a brand that the majority of Sunni Mulims (who comprise the majority of the world's Islamic population) deems as being real Islam. Thus, it would be impossible for Sadam and Osama to agree to fight a jihad against the West. They don't think each other holy in the first place so no holy war could be fought with them on the same side. Is it any wonder, that Sadam must have been sitting in Baghdad in the lead up to the 2nd Gulf War chortling to himself about how ludicrous it was to try to link him to 9/11 and to think he had weapons, which he clearly knew he did not have?

In addition, the US has blindly supported Israel (the merits of which I will not debate here), mistakenly attacked a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan in response to the bombings of our embassies in East Africa, and supported a corrupt Shah in Iran. Our record in this region is not good.

Americans hold a monolithic view of the world. Until 9/11, fewer than 10% owned a passport. Now that number is up just under 50% because one now needs a passport to travel to the Caribbean and Canada. However, most Americans do not go out and see the world. During my various travels, I rarely encounter fellow Americans. This is disconcerting because only by seeing the world can one hope to understand it. I am safer walking around Al-Ain, the town where I currently am working, as an American in an Islamic country than I was at any point in time in South Africa. I'm safer than I was walking around DC streets as a Howard student. Yet, I have been asked numerous times by people at home if I am safe here?

I just do not get it. I do no understand how Americans, who have a failing economy, a falling dollar, losing 84,000 jobs last month alone, etc., can even consider voting for any Republican in this campaign. Anyone earning less than $250,000 per annum is voting against their own pocket book if they vote for a Republican administration.

What is really interesting to me is that John McCain loves to quote Theodore Roosevelt, who by the way would be branded an anti-corporate far left-liberal in today's political environment. On January 1, 1908, Teddy Roosevelt wrote a letter to George Otto Trevelyan. In this letter, Roosevelt described the "typical American multimillionaire" as an "unlovely being with little resemblance to George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and other heroes who founded this government, conquered this continent, and fought to a finish the great war for Union and for liberty." Roosevelt would turn over in his grave if he knew that McCain was using his name and legacy for political gain. McCain is pro-big business which does not help the fundamental plight of the failed economic policies of the Regan-Bush-Bush era.

On the War on Terror...this is an unwinnable war. We need to security, but unlike Theordore Roosevelt's Big Stick policy, we need to protect ourselves but utilize a big carrot. The world does not hate us. The world is simply tired of being bullied by us. Sure there will always be crazy fanatics (the only difference between ours and theirs is that we elect ours to the White House). But the world can generally deal with these groups. During the late 1930s, a Gallup Poll asked Americans why the United States had entered World War I. The most frequent reponse was that the United States had been the "victim of propaganda and selfish interests." Does this sound familiar? The war in Iraq is not about terror. It has only increased terrorist activities. It is about the selfish interests of the ruling elite and the propaganda promulgated by these same elites to deceive the masses...and it has worked! A friend and confidant of President John Adams, Elbridge Gerry thought that a large standing Army was "like a swollen penis, providing an excellent assurance of domestic tranquility, but a dangerous temptation to foreign adventure." Alas, we the American public have allowed ourselves to be deceived by the media and the Republicans. We have engaged in foreign adventure and it has ruined our domestic tranquility.

One can only hope that Americans are smarter than the current polls suggest and they see through the hype and smokescreen of the Republican machine and elect Barack Obama. It is our only hope of restoring the greatest country in the world to the top of the pedestal from which it should stand.