Sunday, April 12, 2009

Somali Pirate Attacks Point To Need For Somalia Aid


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Today, Easter Sunday, an after an kidnapping affair that lasted for several days, American sea Captain Richard Phillips was rescued after NAVY Seal Snipers took three precision shots and killed three pirates from Somalia.

Conservative blogs and websites like "HotAir" have unintelligently called for us to go into Somalia and "bomb" the pirates, but such saber-rattling will only kill innocent women and children. In other words, "American Machismo" worked to rescue the captain, but it will not work for the resolution of this problem.

In what can be described as a "growth industry" pirating in Somalia is a function of the country's lack of a government, weak economy, little military funding, and lack of financial aid from the World. In order to stop these attacks, the people of Somalia themselves must be helped.

What will work is increasing aide to Somalia and helping them establish a central government but from a distance, not via invasion. Somalia has been without a true central government since 1991, and that country's civil war. (And the United States doesn't need another incursion into that country, or for that matter another situation where American solidiers are killed, which were the events captured in a movie called Black Hawk Down.)

We can't afford to take on the task now. But we can work with the United Nations and other countries impacted by piracy to improve the Somali economy. Somalia is poor. According to the CIA, its' Gross Domestic Product is just over $2 billion, and the average life expectancy is just 47 years old. That's right: 47 years old.

So when the average Somalian hears that a pirate's making as much as a share of $22 million for a heist, that's attractive. Indeed, the BBC reports that Somalian pirates are "living the high life" becoming very wealthy even by American standards in a country that's very poor by the World's standards. So much so is the economy a problem and piracy attractive that recruiting participants has become easier over the years. The monetary spigot has to be shut off in two ways: economic and military, but we can't afford to constantly patrol several hundred thousand square miles of ocean to watch every action a band of pirates might take.

Aid to Somalia must be increased -- dramatically. But for now, I don't expect these attacks to stop, indeed, the lure of money and the culture that's developed around it is too intense to be curbed by America's success at recovering its people, even if the pirate hostage-takers were killed. They will try again, perhaps with some other country's vessel, but they will strike again.

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Special Interests inside the beltway fight health care reform

Director of the White House Office of Health Reform, Nancy-Ann Min DeParlePresident Obama has issued an executive order establishing the White House Office of Health Reform intended to oversee "the federal government's comprehensive effort to improve access to health care, the quality of such care, and the sustainability of the health care system." Governor Howard Dean, M.D., and Democracy for America have launched the "Healthcare for All" campaign at, and over a quarter of a million people have enthusiastically joined in, spreading the word.

Both initiatives will help spur on reform in the health care insurance industry, and not a moment to soon. According to a recent article from Maggie Fox of Reuters,

"U.S. government economists predict that public and private health spending will hit $2.5 trillion this year, taking up a 17.6 percent share of gross domestic product. Yet studies suggest Americans get poorer care than people in other industrialized countries that have national healthcare plans, and 46million Americans have no health insurance at all."

While Howard Dean is a visible and credible public face, the effort requires your commitment, too. Change doesn't come about in Washington unless politicians know their constituents are paying attention to an issue. You've got to keep writing to them, and to newspapers, and inform your friends, neighbors, and co-workers about the shabby state of affairs caused by insurance company profiteers siphoning off lavish pay and bonuses that drive up all our costs but add no value to the health care industry.

You can help financially, too, even if you're not the sort to write to congress.

The President has nominated Nancy-Ann DeParle (who worked in the Clinton administration) to be Counselor to the President and Director of the White House Office of Health Reform. Barack Obama has a grand vision, he knows the system is broken and he's working to bring meaningful change so that health insurance works for people instead of just corporate profits despite the powerful special interests fighting to influence your representatives in Congress to leave the system just the way big insurance likes it. Don't let the folks in D.C. forget you're out here, watching.

U.S. Senator Max Baucus (Dem-MT)"In 2009, Congress must take up and act on meaningful health reform legislation that achieves coverage for every American while also addressing the underlying problems in our health system. The urgency of this task has become undeniable."
~Senator Max Baucus, (D-MT)
Chairman, Senate Finance Committee
12 November 2008
The President's plan will promote public health and require coverage of preventive services, including cancer screenings. Catch the fever - make some noise!

President Obama Was Correct To Bow To King Abdullah; Conservatives Are Idiots Here

Warning. If you're conservative, you're not going to like this post, ok? But the fact is President Barack Obama was correct in his act of bowing to Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah. It's called - drumroll please - the right protocol. What it does reflect, is the end of American Machismo in foreign affairs. You know what I mean. The desire to show we're better than someone else, (because they're different) which could be thought of as a kind of racism since the basic idea is to put someone down because of their race. President Obama is a breath of fresh air here. He seeks to make partnerships around the World, not line up new candidates for industrial exploitation.

Conservatives are upset because many it seems want Obama to show America as tough. OK. That got us September 11th 2001, or what we call "9-11." Yes, much of our foreign relations have been tied to America showing its military or economic muscle over the decades, but now the era of Pax Americana is over. We have to use another approach. It's called diplomacy. But the general, accepted rule is Royalty outranks heads of state. The idea is a President is only such for a few years, but Kings and Queens are that for life.

Obama not only did the right thing, even if his press secretary is trying to make it go away, but Obama signaled a major shift from how America has dealt with the Arab world, and he did it at the right time. We need to have a better image around the World.

Also, bowing is considered a move of affection in East Asia and Obama was expressing just that. What masks an appreciation of Obama's act is simple, pure, American ignorance. The xenophobic idea that one who's of the USA doesn't need to know about another country or its customs, but that everyone should know about ours. It explains why so many of us don't know another language let alone english, or embrace the themes of other cultures. Here, the San Francisco Bay Area is different from America (come to think of it, so is Manhattan and Seattle and LA, and Miami). We don't have that problem to as great a degree as in, say South Carolina, and at least in what I call the "Inner Bay Area", which is between the Pacific Ocean and the Hayward Fault line.

But other parts of America need a whole sale intellectual cleanup. And yes, we have a lot of appologizing to do around the World because we've screwed up so much of late -- that's what created 9-11. Remember our ill-advised President Clinton-directed 1993 Somalian incursion under the idea of a humanitarian mission, when it was really an occupation? It was Osama Bin Ladin's group that got us out of there. And successful, they were emboldened to consider an attack on America which led to 9-11.

The Chicago Sun Times ran a shameful opinion piece on this matter and Sun Times Columnist Steve Hunley wrote a column that represents the macho, non-thinking American more concerned with being tough than being smart. I just hope he's not that way.

Frankly, Rambo was a dumb movie and an even dumber idea. Best to leave him where he belongs -- in the past.

On Brain Solis Post "Can the Statusphere Save Journalism"? No.

Brian Solis wrote a TechCrunch blog post where he states ask "Can the Statusphere Save Journalism?" With all due respect to Brian, he missed the real problem with journalism: money.

Conservatives Can't Stand Being Outside The Lines So They Throw Bricks

O Willie's right. (Or Oliver Willis.) Conservatives, basically shut out of the policy-making process in Washington, have taken to throwing stones and acting, well, immature. But they keep stumbing all over themselves, you know? Take Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who's own attempt to get her voice into the mix is consistently mangled by some bad news coming from her own family.

And she's a well-known Conservative! If it's not her family issues, it's Rush Limbaugh running off at the mouth to get part of his $400 million, or Michael Steele trying to find his manhood, or Chip Saltsman stocking up on racist songs to put on a CD!

No wonder they're angry!