Saturday, April 26, 2008

Focus On The Cradle

It seems silly to think that, in this time of minor turbulence here in America, as two perfectly qualified people duke it out for the chance to run against another perfectly qualified man for the most powerful office in the nation, if no longer the world, we forget there's a far larger and more complex world out there.

Case in point: Zimbabwe. In what could be a preview of our own November, Zimbabwe's recent election results indicated that a thuggish regime, that of President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party, lost its hold on parliament to the Movement For A Democratic Change.

Mugabe would not be much of a thug if he just accepted those results and turned the reins of power over (which is where comparisons to America pop up, by the way). Further, preliminary results seem to indicate, altho there is no official word, that Mugabe himself has been voted out of the office of president.

A recount was called for, in due course, if only for appearances sake, the electoral commission agreed to do so. So far, 190-odd elections have been officially recounted and 190-odd results remain unchanged.

Now, if this was just a simple election dispute, no problem, right? After all, in the grand scheme of things, Zimbabwe is another landlocked country, borderded by South Africa (which to its credit has taken the lead in beating the drum for international attention), Boswana, Mozambique, and Zambia.

The story does have some intriguing aspects to it, not least of which is an unexpected wedge: China.
Angola's government has authorised a Chinese ship carrying arms destined for Zimbabwe to dock, although it says it will not be allowed to unload weapons.

In a statement, the government said the vessel would only be allowed to deliver goods intended for Angola.

On Thursday, the Chinese authorities said they would recall the ship to China after port workers in South Africa refused to unload the weapons.

Other southern African countries had also refused to allow the ship to dock.

Leaders in the region had expressed concern that the weapons could heighten tensions in Zimbabwe.
Basically, this ship swung around the South African cape, looking for a place to dock like a drunken sailor looking for an open bathroom.

Angola is China's second largest oil provider.

You can do the math, I assume. There's no way those weapons aren't being off-loaded in Angola. And yes, war is not out of the question. We are talking about Mugabe here...

Africa is a rich oil producing region, in particular Nigeria (as you probably know), but it seems the western coast of the continent has fairly robust oil reserves: Angola, Ghana, the DR Congo, all have discovered some oil reserves that they are hurrying to exploit.

Naturally, China has seized an opportunity that we in our infinite stupidity, declined to pursue.

Because, you know, it's all about the Sauds.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Friday Music Blogging

R. Dean Taylor - Indiana Wants Me

In honor of the Democrats.

Friday Cat Kitten Blogging

Es Spring, mah peeps! Dadby opin da winnow, so I tuke mah faborite Beenie Budday an luk outta winnow at da burds!

Ah es protessing! Dadby bawt a natch'l cat fud call "Ole Mubber Hubber" or somefing liek dat an ET TASE NASSEE! DO! NOT! WANT!

Hem fohse feding mee des carp!

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) Interesting analysis of the Pennsylvania primary here. I draw your attention to the very bottom of the decision tree. In counties where Bush beat Kerry badly in 2004, Clinton wins an overwhelming number, meaning that in truth, Clinton is the one who is drawing Republicans to her side, not Obama.

2) One can only hope that cooler heads will prevail here. Based on what I've heard and read about this trial, I would have voted to convict, but here's the thing: I'm not on the jury. I wasn't asked to pay 100% attention to the evidence and to make up my mind based solely on what was presented. That said, the verdict still smells bad, to me.

3) MEMO to Rev. Wright: You've had your fifteen minutes. Go away.

4) You know, I hear a lot of Obombers try to defend Wright's sermons as "Well, it's hard for white Americans to understand the black church experience." Um, excuse me, but change some of those words around, and you could say the same thing about an awful lot of hate-filled white groups with regards to black Americans.

5) Mr. President, welcome to the party we've been having for seven years now. Did you bother to bring more than your whine?

6) Remind me to drop Newsday as a paper of choice. I've always loved the fact that it wrote intelligently, and covered the news fairly. Now...not so much.

7) I think I found a job for when I retire.

8) If you had been paying attention, CNN, you'd realize she never left!

9) Memo to Rep. Clyburn: Would you have preferred that this stuff about Obama came out in the general election, thus proving to the nation that the only party that "tells the truth" is the GOP?

10) WooHoo! Now you can afford a tank of gas!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Please Put Your Pennsyls Down

The six week grind is done. Hillary won, fairly convincingly, too: ten point margin of victory, and a net gain (so far) of eight delegates.

The Obombers will spin this to imply that she actually lost, somehow, but the truth is, Obama still had a chance to put her away with a victory, and was unable to seal the deal. He has another chance in Indiana, which was solidly his just a few short weeks ago, but all indications are that it is now a dead heat, something no one would have imagined after his victories in Iowa, Wisconsin and of course, Illinois.

I'd wager if you re-ran Wisconsin at this point in time, he'd probably lose there, now.

Indiana will represent the fifth attempt by the Obama campaign to shut down Hillary Clinton. And it will be the fifth failure to do so, thus seriously damaging his claim to be someone who a) attracts new voters, b) can draw Republicans into his camp, and c) can unite the party behind him in the general election.

Tall orders for any candidate, much less an ethically-challenged man whose success is based on his close ties to the single most corrupt Democratic political machine since Tammany Hall in New York City in the 1800s!

Obama took seven, count 'em, seven of Pennsylvania's 50-odd counties. If I'm the Clinton campaign, I'm asking superdelegates as well as convention rules committees to take a closer look at even states Obama has won hands down for the county breakdown. My sense is, if you broke the entire nation down, county-by-county, Hillary wins the lion's share of the counties across the nation.

The funniest quote of the night? From Barack Obama: "After 14 long months, it's easy to forget what this campaign's about from time to time," Obama told an Evansville, Ind., rally, obliquely conceding that the Pennsylvania race turned nasty.

"It's easy to get caught up in the distractions and the silliness and the tit-for-tat that consumes our politics, the bickering that none of us are entirely immune to, and it trivializes the profound issues: two wars, an economy in recession, a planet in peril, issues that confront our nation. That kind of politics is not why we are here tonight. It's not why I'm here, and it's not why you're here."
Uh, OK, soooooooooooooooo, thennnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn...why'd you do it?

Why did YOU raise the race card back in South Carolina? Why did YOU call Hillary on her "periodic blow ups"? Why did YOU throw the finger at her, twice, last week?

After claiming to be the uniter, you've proven yourself to be no better than any other politician in America.

This primary season is like a guy in a small-town bar. The bartender's good. He listens to you complain about your job, your home, making ends meet. He's rough around the edges, but that's what small town life, where you have to work hard to make ends meet, can do to a person. But he knows his liquors and can mix a mean Bloody Mary on a Sunday afternoon.

Then a new waitress is hired. College kid, fresh faced. Pretty speaking voice. Flirts well with you.

But hasn't even made a glass of ice water, and you might have to spot her the ice.

But she's got that "new kid" smell about her, and BAM!, you're flirting right back.

Does it surprise you that the bartender gets a bit upset at you? You've stopped tipping him for doing his job and started lavishing your attentions on the kid whose going to be gone after this semester.

America, welcome to Cheers, where nobody knows your name except the barkeep and they only want your money.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Water, Water, Everywh--Ehhh, Not So Much!

China has roughly the same potable water resources, in terms of volume, as the United States. This water has to serve five times our population, however. The distribution of China's water means that roughly 15% of their fresh water is available to 50% of their population.

And that's assuming they've been practicing good water conservation and good waaste management. The short answer is, they haven't:
But this earthly paradise is disappearing fast. The proliferation of factories, farms, and cities—all products of China's spectacular economic boomis sucking the Yellow River dry. What water remains is being poisoned. From the canal bank, Shen points to another surreal flash of color: blood-red chemical waste gushing from a drainage pipe, turning the water a garish purple. This canal, which empties into the Yellow River, once teemed with fish and turtles, he says. Now its water is too toxic to use even for irrigation; two of Shen's goats died within hours of drinking from the canal.

The deadly pollution comes from the phalanx of chemical and pharmaceutical factories above Shen's fields, in Shizuishan, now considered one of the most polluted cities in the world. A robust man with a salt-and-pepper crew cut, Shen has repeatedly petitioned the environmental bureau to stop the unregulated dumping. The local official in charge of enforcement responded by deeming Shen's property "uninhabitable." Declaring that nothing else could be done, the official then left for a new job promoting the very industrial park he was supposed to be policing. "We are slowly poisoning ourselves," says Shen, shaking with anger. "How can they let this happen to our Mother River?"
The Yellow River, or Huang Ho, is dying:
Few waterways capture the soul of a nation more deeply than the Yellow, or the Huang, as it's known in China. It is to China what the Nile is to Egypt: the cradle of civilization, a symbol of enduring glory, a force of nature both feared and revered. From its mystical source in the 14,000-foot Tibetan highlands, the river sweeps across the northern plains where China's original inhabitants first learned to till and irrigate, to make porcelain and gunpowder, to build and bury imperial dynasties. But today, what the Chinese call the Mother River is dying. Stained with pollution, tainted with sewage, crowded with ill-conceived dams, it dwindles at its mouth to a lifeless trickle. There were many days during the 1990s that the river failed to reach the sea at all.
Most analysts look at the world's future and see oil.

I do not, altho oil will certainly play a role, perhaps even a significant one, in future conflicts. I see water. Between 1996 and 2006, China has tripled its oil imports, with its major source of supply coming from Saudia Arabia (175 million barrels), Angola (172 million) and Iran (123 million).

You'll notice only one of those sources supplies the US with any significant energy. Too, the water crisis in China has served to highlight the foolishness of a wasteful energy policy, particularly when your population far outstrips nearly every other nation on the planet (save India).

Water, however, is something that we may go head to head with China over. Canada has excess capacity, given its smaller population and larger land mass, and the United States will find itself bidding, particularly out west, against China.

After all, when you absolutely need water, you need water, and the cost stops being a factor when people are dying.

A quick look at a map of the Huang shows that, for all intents and purposes, it is useless for drinking water anyplace west of Shizuishan. Unfortunately, that's where the people and the jobs are.

China is on a precipice: it needs energy. It has pollution, in abundance.

Not just water pollution, but air pollution and poisoned lands. The Beijing Olympics are already being warned about air pollution during some of the events: particularly during the opening and closing ceremonies, as China attempts to alter the weather to prevent rain, levels of pollution may exceed not just esthetic levels, but health levels.

And the population continues to grow, although there are signs that growth may begin to reverse. There are far more single men than women in China, and many of the young women are postponing family life for their careers now. Only some 35% of Chinese women polled have said they would raise a family ahead of a career, unheard of in Chinese society.

Hm, maybe Hillary should run for Premier? She wouldn't have to worry about some upstart con man...

But those are generational changes, and the problems of pollution and water scarcity are affecting China now.

Forget oil. Water is where wars will be fought.

Monday, April 21, 2008

A Free Peak Into The Future

Courtesy of l'il ole Actor212 and Reuters news service:
Barack Obama's efforts to woo white voters in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary have been hurt by his comments on small town bitterness and his association with an outspoken pastor, some residents of Muncy Valley say.

Local people called the Illinois senator arrogant, unpatriotic and un-Christian after his remarks that residents of small towns in Pennsylvania and elsewhere are bitter because of job losses, and so have turned to traditions like guns, religion and anti-immigrant sentiment.

"He is saying people are weak, dumb and naive, and they are seeking religion as a way of getting through," said Darwin Whitmoyer, 54, a white truck driver, at the gas station in this town of about 100 people 150 miles (240 km) northwest of Philadelphia. "He didn't help himself."
Now, much of Blogtopia has handed me hell over the past few weeks for pointing out what should be painfully obvious to anyone who's given even a moment's reflection to the election process.

Obama is very seriously in danger of losing the general election, should Democrats be assholic enough to select him as the nominee.

There's this huge echo chamber going on, starting with the Great Orange Satan, Daily Kos, through Atrios, and trickling on down to other, B- and C-list blogs. This echo chamber has banged a drum slowly until all you can hear is the drum beat for Obama.

And yet, Hillary keeps hanging in there and Obama has had three distinct shots to put her away and has failed miserably each time: New Hampshire, Texas, and now, Pennsylvania. He's even had to warp the elective process, denying the voters of Florida and Michigan their due process by opposing any revotes.

But he still can't put her away. If the election was held in Blogtopia, tho, Hillary would have folded up her tents after Iowa.

Which tells you what, precisely?

It should tell you there is a significantly more conservative America out there that votes than the morons who believe Obama is the Second Coming of either John Edwards or John Kennedy, depending on whom you talk to.

But hey, I've only been saying this since Obama started in talking about Hillary's periods...