Thursday, December 22, 2011

This And That...

**Twenty four hours.  That’s all it took.  Barely 24 hours after the last US combat troops left Iraq, sectarian violence erupted in Baghdad.  Our “buddy,” Shiite Prime Minister al-Maliki, ordered the arrest of Sunni Vice president al-Hashimi on the grounds that al-Hashimi had organized his security detail into a death squad targeting government and military officials.  Al-Hashimi fled to the safety of the autonomous Kurdish region and refuses to return to Baghdad.  Supporters of al-Hashimi responded to the attempted arrest by setting off a series of bombings and attacks that left 63 dead and 185 injured. 
Critics say the attacks serve to support their contention that the President should not have pulled US forces from the region.  The fact is that unless we were planning to occupy Iraq in perpetuity this type of violence would have occurred no matter when we withdrew.
As former Security Advisor to President Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski summarized:  “We are now facing the reality of what we have accomplished in Iraq.  We have destabilized the country.  We have destroyed Iraq as a state.  We have reignited sectarian conflicts.  We have contributed to the ethnic distinctions between the Kurds and the Iraqis.  We have contributed to the instability of the Middle East."  And last but not least we have trained and armed 750,000 security forces who answer to an elected dictator that is becoming increasingly friendly with Iran.
After 4,500 deaths; 33,000 wounded and $1 trillion in treasure we leave behind a country that is reverting to its old sectarian ways.  And it only took 24 hours.
We have an arrogant belief in this country that every nation across the globe seeks to remake itself into our image.  Nothing could be further from the truth.
**Ron Paul supporters have long complained that the media does not pay enough attention to their candidate.  Be careful what you wish for.  Paul’s rise to the lead in the Iowa polls has placed him squarely under the media microscope; and like Perry and Gingrich found out before him, it’s not fun taking your turn in the barrel.
The Wall Street Journal just published a scathing editorial by Dorothy Rabinowitz in which she documents Paul’s belief that the 911 attacks were caused by American aggression; that America was declaring war on 1.2 billion Muslims and that Iran is misunderstood and merely trying to defend itself.  CNN just released excerpts from newsletters written under Paul’s name in the early 90’s that contain racist and anti-Semitic language.  The usually affable Paul was last seen removing his microphone to abruptly end an interview that began to focus on the content of those newsletters.  Paul has denied writing the newsletters and denouncing their content.  He has also said that he did write some newsletters but is vague on which ones. 
Paul leads the polls in Iowa and he could make things interesting in New Hampshire.  But his chances of winning the nomination are slim to none at best.  And any hope he may have had just took a beating by way of the very media attention his supporters longed for.
**The Washington Post reports that Bank of America will pay $335 million to settle federal claims that its Countrywide Financial unit charged blacks and Hispanic borrowers higher mortgage fees in the lead up to the financial crisis, and steered them to riskier loans than their white counterparts.  Investigators found over 200,000 instances where Countrywide charged minorities higher fees and interest rates than their white counterparts between 2004 and 2008.
In spite of all of the evidence that regulations are needed to protect consumers from predatory lending; the Republican Party continues to block the appointment of a chairman for the Consumer Protection Agency thereby preventing the agency from executing any of the powers granted under the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill.  It should also be noted that in spite of mounting evidence produced by a host of whistle blowers; the federal government has, as of this date, failed to bring charges against anyone who participated in the 2008-2009 banking scandal that nearly collapsed the economy.  If you are caught carrying a kilo of weed across state lines you’ll get busted for intent to distribute.  But if you are the President of Citicorp or Bank America and sign off on bogus financial reports that crash the markets, bring down the economy and ruin the lives of millions Americans you get a multi-million dollar bonus for a job well done.           

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