Monday, November 30, 2009

Minirets and Majority Rule Mistakes

Democracy is good and all, but there are times when democracies fall victim to the mistakes of blind majority rule. Such is the case with the recent Swiss referendum vote that prohibits the construction of minarets within the country. For those who don't know, minarets are "Minarets are generally tall spires with onion-shaped or conical crowns, usually either free standing or taller than any associated support structure"(wikipedia). Besides being tall spires, they are also typically found on mosques.

While we at PutridPundits wholeheartedly reject religion and religious doctrine, and see it as a blight on society that keeps the masses ignorant and docile, we neither can stand by and watch as even smaller minds pass referendums that are solely designed to intimidate and isolate an already insulated segment of society. It is exactly these types of thoughtless actions that push groups of people closer to their religious leaders; that make people embrace their foolish faith more than ever.

Much like the banning of head scarves, or the stopping of Christmas celebrations, all of these actions do nothing to free men and women of the chains of belief. They also don't make secular society any safer from the dangers of religious fundamentalism. It is too bad that the Swiss have been so short sighted on this issue, and more unfortunate still that enough people believe in fairy tales about massive floods and walking on water.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Obama's 30000 mistakes

Do not be alarmed. You have not accidentally stumbled across some ridiculous top 30000 list written by the great minds of Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck. I am not going to spew out 30000 ways that Barack Obama is trying to kill your grandma and rob your paycheck. I'll leave that kind of hackish nonsense to the triumvirate of stupidity that dominate FoxNews. Instead, this is one last plea for President Obama to save his administration and his legacy from making the biggest mistake of his first term: calling for the deployment of 30000 additional American soldiers to Afghanistan.

As Jonathan Schell details in his fantastic article in the November 30th issue of The Nation, there were plenty of things that Johnson and his team knew going into the Vietnam deployments that, had the people known, should have changed the course of history in that unfortunate fiasco. It is all too likely that Obama's team of advisors are seeing a similarly pessimistic outcome from this Afghan troop deployment but for some reason, believe that it is the only way to defend against the salacious accusations that he is "soft on terror."

Democrats need to dig deep, find their balls (or lady balls where appropriate) and present a real alternative to the hawkish war mongering that has dominated this country for far too long. The most courageous step President Obama could take today, contrary to what Glenn "the weeper" Beck says, would be to withdraw all American forces from Afghanistan and urge our NATO allies to do the same.

By removing foreign soldiers from Afghanistan, President Obama would deal a momentous blow to Al Qaeda and other "terrorist" recruiting in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The vast majority of our "enemies" in those countries are either nationalists who are opposed to foreign occupation, mercenaries attacking the NATO forces for pay, or a mix of the two. If we removed the foreign occupier for the region then both the motivation, and the money (read Aram Roston's piece in the same issue of The Nation) would dry up.

Certainly, if someone proposes a full withdrawal some ill informed but well meaning person might scream "but what of the women?" Or someone else who recognizes that little progress has been made but still sees some women attending school and being set free from the captivity of the home might say "we can't just abandon those women who we have told to go to school." Sadly, that is exactly what we must do. Not just for our sake, or the sake of our soldiers, but for those women as well. By propping up a corrupt regime that passes laws that legalize rape and legitimize the oppression of Afghan women we are hurting the women more than most Westerners realize. Malalai Joya, who has spoken out against the current puppet government does not see any benefit for women in NATO's continued presence. As she says "Democracy never comes by occupation. You cannot give it with cluster bombs."

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Nation: How the US is funding the Taliban

Please read this article if you know anyone that still thinks we should remain in Afghanistan.

It details the corruption that exists in the doling out of DoD contracts, as well as the irony that our presence is quite literally, supplying our "enemies".

Thursday, November 19, 2009

People who throw shit for a living, may as well live in a house made of shit

Karl Rove's brave expose on the Obama administration's use of the "Friday news dump" is laughable when you consider how the administration he lied and cheated for was no stranger to the practice of dropping bad news on a Friday afternoon or evening.

Nor, for that matter is the concept of the "Friday news dump" a new discovery in any way, shape or form. One of the first episodes I remember watching of The West Wing was about exactly that, the Friday afternoon release of bad news.

So why is Rove doing this? Is it because he is a true journalist looking to uncover some fiendish plot by the present administration? No! It's because he's a scum sucking dirtbag who is not only a hack for the conservative agenda but is himself crafting that agenda. What he does is not in the interest of informing the public, or even sharing his opinions. His objective is to drum up opposition to President Obama any way he can, by saying anything, and doing everything, whether he believes it or not.

This is the biggest problem with the way that hacks for all parties and interests have been working these days. Perhaps this was always the case, but it seems to me that a very large number of mouthpieces on all sides have been saying a lot of crap they clearly don't personally believe, but pretend that they do, in the hopes of influencing the dumb public that doesn't bother to pay any attention to the issues at hand. I would like to see more open and honest debate of the issues so that those too busy, tired, or uninformed can still make decent decisions.

Instead of opposing health care reform on the basis that it will hurt Medicare (a program that you probably have opposed at every turn until now), speak your mind and be honest that you are happy to see millions of Americans die of easily preventable causes if they cannot afford insurance premiums and copays to get the treatments they need, all so that the richest 1% can keep those extra billions from the tax man.

How about, instead of running in circles screaming "the sky is falling, the sky is falling" because we might have a deficit from some responsible social spending, you take a look at your own record and all the deficits you helped create by launching 2 wars and giving sweetheart deals to your buddies' companies. If deficits are so important to you, why do you keep voting for supplemental spending bills that drive it up higher?

And when you huff and puff all day about the sanctity of life and try to restrict and abolish access to abortions, but then cheer when a lunatic kills a doctor, or don't give the million plus lives lost in Iraq and Afghanistan a second thought, you sound ridiculous.

So shut your trap Karl, and quit calling people out for the same shit that you pulled during Bush's eight years in the oval office.

Monday, November 16, 2009

If you don't like abortions then don't get one

Now that the massive Health Reform bill is shaping up to be something everyone can hate, the anti-choicers are clearly overdue for a smackdown. Unfortunately due to that magical mix of cowardice and inaction that have become the Democrats' rallying call, it's looking like women's reproductive rights are about to get backhanded into last century.

While an LA Times OP-ED downplays the notion that the Stupak Amendment is a total victory for the anti-choice forces, it still points out that "it's undeniable that the amendment threatens the availability of insurance coverage for elective abortions for the working poor and lower middle class." By accepting this amendment into the final bill, Congress will be stripping those strata of society the ability to receive an abortion, while keeping it within reach of the wealthy.

People across the nation should be outraged by this, even if they are afflicted with a crippling mental defect that prohibits logic and reason from taking root (religious belief), by its very class oriented approach at limiting medical services. Supposing various other groups decided to take this approach to the health care reform bill, there are a whole range of other medical procedures and services that could be whittled out.

Those that eat healthy and exercise regularly might not see any good reason for plans receiving federal money to be providing care for heart surgeries, diabetes, or other ailments related to an unhealthy lifestyle. Similarly, the argument could be made that smokers should have to pay for any lung cancer treatments out of pocket as well. Perhaps lobbyists for women's issues should request that funding for prostate cancer come directly from the patients as well. Equally absurd as the "abortion rider" being proposed would be "drug rehab rider", or a "mental health supplemental" because they are all things that one doesn't plan for.

What's even more troubling to those of us who actually want real reform that produces an environment of universal access to health care (not insurance) is that these provisions are being placed in the bill under the auspices of winning over votes from across the aisle. But like previous attempts to reach out the opposition, this isn't going to succeed in getting more than a handful of Republican votes, some of whom would have voted for the reform without the amendment. It's time for the Democrats to start acting like, as former Green Jobs Czar Van Jones put it, "assholes" so that they can get shit done. It is a disheartening slap to the face that President Bush with 51 seats in the Senate was able to get so much regressive legislation passed but President Obama with 59-60 "fellow" Democrats can't get the most basic of progressive initiatives passed.

The fact remains that the only reason to put these restrictions into the bill isn't because Stupak and his friends are terrified that some of their income tax dollars are somehow going to end up paying for someone's abortion, but because they want to see abortions outlawed/banned/discontinued altogether. They are exercising their cunning right now in how they go about that, and they realize that by removing the funding for it there will likely be a drop in women's ability to have an abortion.

My answer to them remains the same. If you don't like pot, don't smoke it. If you don't like alcohol, don't drink it. If you don't want an abortion, then don't get one. By giving women the option to have a safe, affordable abortion, it is in no way forcing one on those that do not want them. Organizations like NARAL aren't planning to kidnap Mrs. Stupak and force her to have an abortion so it would be really nice if Mr. Stupak could get over himself and his beliefs that were conceived in an age when people thought that the universe revolved around the Earth and those that were able to swim were witches.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

And the winner is...the only guy running

(I started writing this 2 weeks ago and got side-tracked)

So depending on who's shoveling shit into your ear, today was either a great day for Afghan democracy, or just another example of business as usual in the weary war-torn country. Today's acceptance speech by President-until-NATO-kicks-him-out Hamid Karzai marks another sad page in Afghanistan's painful, bitter history. It shows the retreat of what could have been a meaningful foreign policy decision by the NATO powers vis-a-vis the endemic corruption that permeates the Afghan political community. Instead, we all get to sit back and watch as the status quo remains the same and the corrupt flunkies that caused the initial snafu are allowed to keep their jobs.

Remember that this all began with the elections in August in which there was so much wide-spread voter fraud that some of the ballots for Hamid Karzai were still in their original ballot booklets. And don't forget the imaginary polling places that never opened their doors to the voting public but still managed to rack up thousands upon thousands of votes for President Karzai.

Despite many people's claims that Karzai is a puppet of the West, it's even worse than that. If he were our puppet and he did what we told him, there would be some arguments to justify the complete perversion of our imposed democratic system over there in the interests of calm, stability, and development. But he isn't even our puppet. He's the puppet of the drug growing rapists who run Aghanistan today and that's one of the few things that could be even worse than if he were a Western puppet.

In the past year we have seen the Afghan parliament come up with laws that allow for husbands to withhold food from wives who withhold sex. We have seen President Karzai pardon a group of powerful elites who somehow managed to find themselves convicted of rape (something that is extremely difficult to convict someone of in Afghanistan). We have seen an escalation in NATO and civilian deaths and yet the British and the American leaders are still talking about "how many" more troops to deploy in the region as opposed to "why are we in the region?"

The best possible course of action for the Afghan people, and the NATO soldiers who are dying or being wounded trying to do what their leaders tell them is the right thing to do, is for NATO to withdraw from Afghanistan immediately. It does not appear that Karzai's government has any interest in curbing corruption or correcting the misogyny that exists in their laws and so it does not seem fitting for us to stay there. The presence of Western soldiers in Afghanistan creates a recruiting bonanza for terrorist groups and inevitably leads to more civilian casualties, which further undermines any stabilizing missions our soldiers are undertaking.

As the FoxNews Opiniontainment says over and over again, where's the Hope and Change you promised us Mr. President? Change course from the Bush/Cheney policies in Aghanistan and give the world hope in a new American foreign policy; one that isn't stained with blood.
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