Date: Monday, March 31, 2008
Dateline: Brussels, Belgium
(1) Although he's not particular popular with his own party it's looks like Arizona Senator John McCain has secured the nomination as the Republican candidate to be the next president of the United States. That is, if George Bush and Dick Cheney are willing to step down. Meanwhile, McCain continues to be the Bush clone I predicted he would be and a speech he made in early February clearly qualifies him for the cast of Stanley Kubrick's >i>Dr. Strangelove.American General Curtis LaMay also comes to mind, LaMay wanted to nuke Vietnam and China. Here's what McCain is quoted as saying: 'There's going to be other wars. ...We will never surrender but there will be other wars.' He goes on, 'I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed, but I do say no more than 10 to 20 million killed-tops!' So much for him.
(2) What do you hear from Iraq? Is the war costing the U.S. Government $3 trillion or $4 trillion? For sure it is costing $10 billion a month, up from $4 billion in 2004. The sad truth is that the Iraqi people were better off with the tyrant Saddam Hussein. On all fronts the civilians, no matter what tribe, suffer the most. An estimated 2.5 million are reportedly homeless. The cream of the crop, two million have fled the country. What ever happened reconstruction has gone down a sink hole. Sanitation is deplorable, food and drinking water in short supply. The world's third or fourth biggest oil producer can't even supply its needy population with affordable prices to warm them selves and cook some food. And the electricity grid output is about the same as when Saddam was in power. America has that in its face, not Iraqis. The number of causalities continues, over 4,000 for the Americans, probably over 100,000 for the Iraqis. Promise me a war crimes tribunal on this war.
(3) Afghanistan is another war that can't be won. It never was winnable, history is a testament to that. Reporting for The Sunday Times, Simon Jenkins says the situation in the Afghan capitol, Kabul, is like Saigon when the Vietnam War was winding down in the 1970s, a decadent rich set married to corruption, refugees streaming in to escape the chaos elsewhere in the country. Where Jenkins goes wrong in his comparison is that in Saigon there were a a lot of bars, good beer, whiskey, American cigarettes, strong marijuana and topless dancing girls, many of whom were available for a convenient price. But the comparison does come back to haunt. The U.S. command, according to Jenkins, has even resorted to the ploy of General Westmoreland in the Vietnam War, changing kill ratios to convince the American public that the war is being won while they are in fact annoying all their allies and the UN forces. Brute force and ignorance never won a war.
(4) The American economical outlook is not good but least people there don't have to pay a million Zimbabwe dollars for a banana. In American it's all about greed and screwing lower and middle class families out of their homes. When homes were sold at low interest to people on low income, that was fine until the contracts were sold off, interest rose and the bank foreclosed. In February 63,000 jobs were lost. Homes were stripped, vandalized, and torched. The mayor of Cleveland, Ohio, is suing a slew of New York's Wall Street banks. From the figures I've seen, you can expect at least a million a people losing their homes this year.
(5) I've been reading Christopher Hitchens book, God is Not Great
. It's autobiographical, historical, and intellectually tedious. According to the publisher I'm not allowed to quote him so I won't. But I did his enjoy his religious bashing because it was based on reason and not faith. Incidently I saw some religious pie charts in a March issue of Time
magazine and these pies show percentages of Americans and what domination they belong to. For instance, the Largest pie, at 26.%, is Evangelical Protestant, Roman Catholics were second at 23.9% and mainline. Protestant came at 18.1%. Then came the pie I was most interested in, the unaffiliated. At 16.1%, most didn't believe 'in everything particular', Agnostics had a small slice and Atheists just a sliver.
For a reading digression and because someone had left a copy of Albert Camus's A Happy Death
on the floor of a café I frequent, I took it home with me. No one objected to my taking the book as it was in English, and anyone I know in that café would in read it French or Dutch. Anyway, the previous owner, I surmised, was probably either American or Australian. He was not a serious reader, just curious about a name he'd heard of, a novella, something he could read quickly and pick up a little culture. The 38th page was folded in on itself. I hate that. About 20 years ago I read one of Camus's novels and it had a North African feel to it. This one reads like Flaubert in a hurry.
(6) I'm sick of politics and religion so I'll close was with an anecdote. One afternoon in Amsterdam a friend of mine took his ten year old son to a café, the one where I picked up the Camus book. This was the first time boy had been to a café. At the bar they had sandwiches and drinks but the real purpose of this visit was for my friend to teach his son about the evils of gambling. There was a fruit in the corner. This was before the euro came to town, the guilder was the exchange and a rijksdaalder was a hefty piece of a change. Compared to current rates the rijksdaalder is worth about two euros but it was an impressive coin. One went into the slot. 'Now see how fast that disappears,' he told his son. About three minutes later he'd won fifty guilders. The lesson? 'Not good but I did cash in.'