Friday, December 04, 2009

Catching Up and Falling Behind

As we round the calendar year into the final month (December 2009), there are a few points of contention and observations to discuss:

  • It's been pretty much one year... and it's been pretty much SIXTY YEARS of the Democrats trying for something even close to universal health care to pass through Congress, and here we STILL ARE DEBATING THE DAMN THING. In a more sane political system - no filibusters, no Holds, no bullsh-tting Senators with egos the size of Jupiter - this would have passed MONTHS AGO.
  • It's been one full year of unemployment for me this month. Job hunting has been full of fits and starts, I'm finishing up my A+ Cert studies at PHCC this week, I've got the CompTIA exam in two weeks, and my brain still can't warp itself around TCP/IP stuff. Grrr Argh.
  • Sarah Palin's 'biography' is so full of lies, half-truths, and non-researched crap that someone (not me, as I haven't wasted money on it) ought to sue the publisher for fraud. As a librarian, I don't trust any supposed non-fiction book that does NOT have a bibliography (sign of research) or an index (sign of subject checking: lack of an index also shows the book was rushed to print). I'm surprised as hell that NO ONE mentioned in her book in an unfavorable way - which is basically anyone outside her family circle - hasn't started rounding up lawyers for a libel or slander case.
  • Obama's recent announcements to quickly send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan in a Surge-esque attempt to push back the Taliban / Al Qaeda forces to justify a 2011 staged withdrawal is, once you take a longer look at it, the least worst choice out of a set of really bad choices. After all, what else could he do?
    Obvious choice: full and complete withdrawal from Afghanistan. Begin a six-month phased exit of troops from the ground, finishing up around key cities and transit points to try and ensure the nation doesn't fall into complete chaos. The problem there isn't so much the far right wingnuts screaming for impeachment (they'd do that anyways), but the reasonable fact that the current regime - corrupt and unable to handle infrastructural needs - would be immediately overrun with the Taliban claiming victory (they'd do that anyways), reclaiming the nation and returning it to a massive hellhole.
    Other obvious choice: keep up the current situation, try to force the Afghani government to fix itself, and just hope to outlast the Taliban's insurgency efforts. The problem there is, without a deadline of sorts, there's little incentive for the Afghani government to steady itself: it'll just keep relying on us and our allies to keep them propped up. We'll also be unable to establish any kind of excuse or reason to force an exit strategy ourselves, meaning we'll be tied down for as long as the Taliban remains a threat. And the Taliban and Al Qaeda jerks want that to be forever (to justify their argument that we're empire building, a Western Christian nation yet again beating up on poor faithful Muslims). Oh, the far right wingnuts will continue to claim that Obama's not doing enough for the troops, he doesn't want victory, yadda yadda.
    That left this choice: commit more troops to "flood the zone" and push the Taliban out of key locations. Commit to a deadline to show other Muslim nations we're not in it for the empire building. That deadline also pressures the military to create results (hopefully not sloppy bloody results, but tangible ones that don't involve hundreds of dead civilians). And while critics complain that deadline gives the Taliban an objective to keep messing with us to where we'd have to break said deadline, that overlooks the fact the Taliban would have kept messing with us anyway. The argument that the Taliban can just lay low until the deadline and we leave to strike back is also faulty: if the Taliban lays low, it gives Karzai's government a chance to stabilize well enough to stand on their own.
    This is, of course, all academic. We can only know for sure after 2011 if this all works out right. It REALLY depends on if everyone involved - The U.S., our allies, Karzai's government, et al - makes good faith efforts to fix things well enough that we can bring the troops home...
  • The big news for the Republicans - other than Palin being a bane to her own fans - has been the recent tragic shooting of four police officers in Washington State... in that the cop killer was a violent parolee from Arkansas who had his long sentence commuted to a shorter time. That shorter time allowed for an early parole, which the guy violated, but his second stint was quickly annulled because of a screw-up with the prosecutors' office not pursuing the matter properly. The governor who commuted the sentence? Mike Huckabee. That noise you just heard was the air let out of his 2012 Primary balloon.
    See, here's the problem: it's not that Huckabee could have forseen the guy was going to become a cop killer. It's not even Huckabee's fault that the prosecutors' didn't handle the guy's parole violation. But this is the second time that a Huckabee parolee had gone violent after release: there are questions now about how many other prisoners that were granted leniency through his office returned to lives of violence (for what I know, there's a third one that's lesser known. So far).
    This incident brings to question Huckabee's decision making. Which has been proven elsewhere, but highlighted by this case, to be a faith-based system. The stories are getting around now of how Huckabee listened to ministers and preachers - instead of prosecutors and victims - regarding whom to show mercy. Stories about how prisoners in Arkansas quickly expressed conversions to faith as a means to lessen their jail times. And while it's great for a man, any person, to have a solid faith system in their personal lives, this is just one more proof that religion and secular matters - the law, politics, people's lives - should not mix.
    If Dukakis got derailed by Willie Horton, having a cop killer like Clemmons as your personal albatross should guarantee you won't even start a Presidential campaign... so who does that leave for the Republicans in 2012? Palin. Romney. Pawlenty from Minnesota has to be drooling right about now.
  • I need 25,000 - 50,000 more words for a decent book to come out of the NaNoWriMo effort. Hence the need to keep writing elsewhere than this blog. Sorry. I'll probably post a Io Saturnalia request before the Pagan Eggnog and Gift-Sharing and Tree-Decorating Day, but that's about it. Unless Congress does something really stupid before then. Sigh.

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