Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Mouse Roars – Puerto Rico ’08 Primary

Call it a variation of the 15 minutes of fame or a spirited exercise signifying nothing. Puerto Rico is in the bright political spot light on main land USA when it votes for Democratic convention delegates on 1 June 08. This event will surely impact more for Puerto Rico than West Side Story; bring more sustained attention than when Puerto Rican independentistas shot up Harry Truman's congress or when the same organization pulled off the Brinks heist of the century. The bandidos were captured, but the loot was not recovered – nationalists still portray the theft as a Robin Hood caper; stealing from the rich giving to poor.

For starters those Puerto Ricans living on the Island, though since 1917 American citizens, cannot vote in the presidential elections; however their brothers living in the USA may, and their votes are counted in their state aggregate, eventually magically converted to votes in the Electoral College for president. In 1974 a committee in the Democratic Party assigned 55 elected pledged and 7 super delegates to Puerto Rico. It essentially amounted to an invitation to the convention party bashes and effort to establish links in Puerto Rico for the Democratic Party for campaign financing – Puerto Ricans love parties, both political and social. They most certainly understand the linkage between political donations and influence on Capitol Hill. More importantly, are the close commercial links and taxation issues between the Island and mainland.

There is really no Democratic or Republican parties as such that wield power on the island. Instead their two main parties split along ideology: one professes US statehood with the provisos Puerto Rico maintains a separate Olympic team and plays independently in global beauty contests; and the other like things politically as they are: i.e., no federal taxes, roughly 17 billion in federal aid with participation in US food, education and social programs. There are more paid work holidays than any where else in the world. There is a mandated by law Christmas bonus amounting up to $450. There is also an independence party that makes noise, but barely survives legally as a party, but it serves as a reservoir of furious national identity and cultural pride.

Puerto Rico is almost a social democracy – about 33% of the population works for the government opposed to 16% in the US. The Electric Power and Water & Sewer companies are owned by the central government as well as national lotteries – this year the government predicts a one and half billion dollar budget short fall. To muddle the local government even more is that the current Governor Acevedo Vilá, a committed Obama super delegate, is under federal indictment for campaign financing irregularities. This was the same guy that told Michele Obama on a recent visit to his office that Puerto Ricans are Puerto Ricans first and Americans second. The final surrealistic twist is that incarcerated criminals have the right to vote in elections.

So these are some facts on the ground that should make American voters cringe as Bill's wife tries to count the Puerto Rican Island votes, both popular and delegate, as meaningful in the US electoral process.

Hillary believes she has great popularity in Puerto Rico as the senator from New York. Her husband granted amnesty to jailed Puerto Rican Independentistas when he was President and when she was getting ready to run for the senate from NY. She may have miscalculated an islander’s respect for New Yorkers, especially Puerto Ricans from NYC – locals call them Newyoricans and look down on them as culturally inferior, with their Spanglish and Bronx accents.

Puerto Ricans like women in high heels and short tight skirts – Bill's wife sitting on a folding metal chair on stage like a lump, in a drab pants suit contrasts sharply with slim Obama prancing to salsa music at the head of street parade in Old San Juan. This whole event is theatrical – more a fiesta than politically significant. It cost the Puerto Rican government 2.5 million to put the show on. Its results will have no impact on the Democratic convention.

Apart from these issues Bill's wife creepy fixation on assassination as a reason to continue her campaign casts her as Lady Macbeth or Lucrezia Borgia .

Puerto Rico is for Puerto Ricans... Their soldiers die in wars for the US (88 KIA in Bush's wars so far), but it resists being cast as Norte Americanos – at the latest plebiscite they were given two choices by the US – Statehood or Independence. Rather than make a choice, they wrote in NONE OF THE ABOVE. Puerto Ricans do everything with exuberance and panache except work – there is a form of controlled, low grade anarchy there. The more I observe it, the better I like it. Keep it a secret – do not tell a soul or a misguided official will try to fix it. Colonal Robert E Bartos USA Ret.

* Photograph: Linocut titled Huracán del norte (Hurricane From the North) by Carlos R. Rivera

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Appeasement GW Bush Style

Like cheap wine, President Bush does not travel well. His recent trip to the Middle East is a case in point. His speech to the Israeli knesset is a glaring example. By accusing those who engage enemies of Israel and the US in dialogue as appeasers similar to Neville Chamberlain, he set up himself and his party as advocates of a diplomatic stalemate. He implied that Obama's policy of negotiation is flawed. He inadvertently opened himself to direct assault by the Democrats and hopelessly linked himself to Bomb Bomb McCain in this year’s presidential election. Bush did receive a standing ovation from the knesset which adored what he said. However, back home GW Bush stirred up a hornets nest of disapproval.

Israelis loved Bush's speech because it gave them carte blanche to control negotiations – at the same time it ties the US hands as well US allies seeking solutions to the impasse without Israeli approval. If there was any appeasement floating around as a result of Bush's speech, it was the appeasement of Israel by the US. Israelis were over wrought by Carter's recent visit to the region; GW Bush tried to mollify these elements.

It is time Americans question the subservience of US national interests to those of Israel. Israel is, in general, despised on the world stage for stealing Arab land and ruthless suppression of human rights – their policies have fueled the development of Hamas and Hezbollah; militant groups not friendly to the US, but important in political stabilization of the region. The US provides 3-4 billion in military aid with first class weapons systems and insures development loans for Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem. It cynically sends Jewish American envoys to negotiate with the Arabs and Palestinians. All this makes a farce of US even handedness in the Middle East.

President Jimmy Carter was the only American president in 60 years who succeeded in brokering a peace deal with the Arabs and Israelis. Likud elements in Israel still resent this and viciously fly at Carter with or without provocation. Carter's recent visit with Hamas, the Syrians and Hezbollah inflamed the right wing in Israel as it saw power slipping away controlling negotiations.

Bush's Knesset speech sought to placate these elements by reassuring them that they were still in charge, but backfired in the US. Bush seems to follow a policy of ready fire aim. He was aiming at Carter in Israel, but pathetically struck at Obama's policy and prematurely raised the issue of negotiations in campaign ‘08. Kinda like VEEP Chaney firing at a hunting partner, but aiming at quail. Bomb Bomb McCain robotically supported Bush in Israel and prematurely opened the general campaign much to Obama's joy. Bet there are Republicans who want to get a refund on Bomb Bomb as his tail spin persists.

We know Israel has launched at least five espionage operations against the US; yet the US considers it an ally – can you name other allies caught spying on the US? Though Obama pays lip service to US/Israeli friendship, there is uncertainty where Obama's head really is on the issue... Clintons, Bushes and McCains are in the Israeli pocket for sure. The Israeli lobby is in a dither over Obama and will do its best to fix his compass in their direction; if unable, it will attempt to destroy him politically.

There is no question the Bush Administration has appeased Israel on key issues, i.e.: on the West Bank, Golan Heights, Lebanon, Gaza, and Jerusalem. All this is in addition to extensive economic and military aid. The invasion of Iraq was partially aimed at improving Israeli security. Not only was the disastrous invasion overtly supported by Israel, but their neocon stooges in the US, a majority of whom are Jewish Americans, lobbied strongly for the invasion.

Whether one can call all this dreadful pandering to Israel as appeasement is a question of semantics, for appeasement implies you receive something in return – nothing comes as return. Intelligence sharing? Even Israeli intelligence stinks; Israelis still cannot secure their POWS from the recent Lebanese war, and could not stop the Katyushas that fell on their lands. Maybe that is why they spy on the US – the last three spys they sent were targeted on US information on Iran.

Israel is a socialist democracy in an area where that form of government has difficulty taking root – you have to ask Arabs living there how it really extends to them. It has held on bravely for 60 years; Israel must not expect America to risk life and gold so it can continue. As a sovereign nation, it must either find a modus vivendi with its neighbors through negotiation or live in a state of permanent war; which in the end, out numbered, would spell doom, disarray and dissolution. There is an important role for US to act as a broker, but it cannot be effective if it is perceived by the Islamic parties as an extension of the Jewish state – today under Bush/McCain, Israel has been made a dangerous trip wire for WWIII. Recently Bin Laden, more alive than dead, announced that the Israeli Palestinian conflict will become a focus of his attention. Nice going Mr. Bush. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Obama & Countess Dracula

Bill's wife has reached the stage in the Democratic presidential primary as a living dead candidate. By any earthly metric she is finished as a candidate, but apparently, Bill's wife has concocted a supernatural probability that keeps her running. She has succeeded resurrecting herself after serious set backs in the campaign, so now, finally defeated, has deluded herself into an absurd political immorality. Never thought I would use Bram Stoker's late 19th century novel Dracula as an analytical tool to explain her bizarre conduct, but what the hell. What is one more stretch of the imagination when it comes to the squalid Arkansas travelers.

Let us call Hillary Countess Dracula; her hysterically loyal female following in this case as Old Brides of Dracula. Obama is, of course, professor Von Hesinger, the studious vampire hunter who has a terrible time to rid himself of the meddlesome demon.

The other character that pops out of Stoker's novel is Renfield. A lunatic who devours insects, flys and small animals to capture their life force – he is vicar for Countess Dracula – Terry McAullife, Bill's wife's chairperson. McAullife’s main function apart from a key spokesman, is that of a money man. The fact that Hillary's campaign is in the red to the tune 20 million dollars bespeaks of his failure. McAullife was also key to the failures of the Gore and Kerry campaigns; no matter how much he persists, he talks winning game, but always loses – a first class blowhard.

Bill Clinton’s role in his wife's campaign is key. He is a composite of several weird persona in the novel, but he deserves a special designation. From time to time Dracula's dark turf is also inhabited by werewolves, so let us call him Wolfman. He certainly has the reputation of hunting prey – usually two legged that wear skirts.

All this cast of characters inhabit Hillary's world. So far it has undermined her; her misguided self destruction over her war record in Bosnia drove the stake in her credibility. Obama has to finish her off to focus soonest for the general election. Here are a a couple of suggestions.

He can go defensive. Only meet her between sunrise and sunset when her powers are weakest. By all means avoid getting bit by her. He can wear a necklace of garlic and change his sometimes flag pin for a small lapel crucifix. Offensively, he can hire Buffy the Vampire Slayer to fix her. Or if he prefers to avoid a third party, he can go on eBAY and find a vampire slayer kit and follow instructions.

The best course of action is patience – to follow the advice on a campaign sign at one of his rallies. STOP THE DRAMA. VOTE OBAMA. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret.

Thursday, May 08, 2008


You must wonder how the working class in America has suddenly been glorified in what is historically a capitalist country that has as motto enrich yourself. Bill's wife, Bomb Bomb McCain and Burning Spear Obama whose campaigns in the Rust Belt states of Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania have focused on blue collar masses as the key element in America. To swallow this baloney, you must forget the fact that GW Bush's globalization has seriously diminished the numbers and influence of this class and that the three candidates hypocritically have enriched themselves without getting dirt under their finger nails.

My recollection is that the worker's elevation in society began in the 18th century with the philosopher, Jean Jacques Rousseau from Geneva. He believed in the noble savage; that idleness and luxury lead to the corruption of society. He concluded that humans must band together to share the fruits of labor without government interference – such as it is, this utopian credo provided the underpinning to Political Socialism. Rousseau's so-called Social Contract theories were embellished by Marx and Engels who introduced class warfare as the industrial revolution developed. In the 20th century, Russians Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin forged class warfare as a revolutionary guide to action – and the world is still stuck with the remnants of this flawed ideology.

My experience as a young proletarian consisted of a collective year working in the steel mills of Indiana Harbor each year of summer vacation from Indiana University. I was an AFL card carrying iron worker and hod carrier; also had a CIO card as an oiler/mill wright and heat treater.

Be advised that there is nothing glamorous or romantic working in a steel mill. At that time my fellow workers were composed mainly of hillbillies, all of whom had a chip on their shoulder toward me – a college boy who escaped after few months from the industrial hell hole to frat beer busts, white bucks and consorting with easy coeds. Upon graduation, my father advised me that he set up jobs for me in the mills to vaccinate me from dropping out of college and failing to get a degree.

He was right. The work in polluted air was grimy, gritty and always suffused in clanging noise from the machinery. Work by local standards paid well, but there was no where to advance except to foreman after ten to fifteen years. The upper management role consisted of all college graduates. All workers looked forward eagerly to retirement on the West Florida coast. My fellow workers were from another planet who all seemed related to each other; they were ornery, skinny and had large adam’s apples. I never looked back.

There is not one ounce in Obama's background, character or life experience that links him to the working class; this is obvious from his comportment on the campaign trail. As a matter of fact, acting like soul mate of a blue collar worker would make him appear as ridiculous as Bill's wife who changes her accent to meet the local patois – take him or leave him; his charm and a flashing intelligence is his authenticity. His Rev. Wright problem is blown out of proportion; Wright has been painted by the media as a black power combination of Malcolm X, Paul Robeson, Jomo Kenyatta and Al Sharpton. Obama does not in any way exhibit any of their ideas. His main problem stems from “bitterly clinging to guns and religion" speech. As a result he has been branded as an elitist; a black man with his humble, complicated third-world origins is some stretch. Take your choice – stumbling bumbling GW Bush or an articulate unflappable Obama.

Bill's wife Hillary is just the opposite of Obama in values... She has what is defined as a fractured ego, i.e. that focuses on changing external influences rather than those internalized. Poor thing has recently dropped pronouncing the letter G at the end of words. Surprised she did not pronounce "D" for "TH" to appease the ethnic Slavs in Northern Indiana. The candidate is shameless. But those who vote for her are even more guilty with their stupefyingly bad judgment.

Bomb Bomb McCain, in league with Bill's wife, has aimed his fire on Obama. Also Limbaugh has encouraged the Republicans to cross over in the primaries and vote for Mrs. Clinton. There is no question the Republicans prefer to run against Bill's wife. McCain is flying around in his wife's airplane. At nearly every stop, he manages to blunder verbally. One thing his campaign learned is to keep him from the aircraft controls; the man has crashed three aircraft in training and has been shot down. As the Democrats settle on a candidate, McCain will be put at political ground zero by the Democrats. Bomb Bomb has no idea what it is to carry a lunch bucket or work for a living; his naval service certainly was imperfect. For him to brand Obama as an elitist as he flies around in his private jet is disgusting... What a guy.

There is nothing new for cynical, rich politicians to invoke false flags to demonstrate an affinity for the working class. Pathetic thing is the the working class always buys into it. Recollect the signs on the gates of NAZI extermination camps – WORK WILL MAKE YOU FREE – the final manipulation. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret.

PS: Do you think Bill's wife will accept Bomb Bomb McCain's offer for Vice President?

* Photo: Portion of a mural painting by Diego Rivera

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Musical Chairs à la Guerre – Iraq

Mr. Bush has announced one more step in his SMOG OF WAR fiasco in Iraq. He is now appointing General Saveus Petraeus to head CENTCOM and his current deputy, General Odierno to replace him as as the commander of coalition troops in Iraq. There is an in-house, incestuous stench about these appointments. You can be certain that there will no fresh ideas on how to win the war or when to redeploy. Both of these generals are fused at the hip and share the Presidents STAND AND DIE Iraq policy. Career wise, both will have picked up two more stars for their fealty to GWB and his neocon boobs. Guess that is the price of glory under todays rules.

President Bush has done everything to promote Petraeus as a national hero except to put his visage on a US postage stamp. Reciprocally, Petraeus has done his best to curry favor. He promoted the absurd surge, stalled troop withdrawals and reported recently to Congress that progress was FRAGILE and REVERSIBLE. While he was reporting this canard, Iraq blew up in his face; the fracas in Basra and the bombardment of the Green Zone occurred and 19 US troops were killed during his sojourn in Washington. Let us be honest; more precisely, the situation in Iraq is BROKEN and progress has been REVERSED.

The fact that no fresh commanders were appointed to the two key billets in the theater creates the suspicion that the two politically vetted Bush generals were put there to suppress the corruption reports that will eventually come out of that badly led and mismanaged war. It may, however, even go deeper. Admiral Fallon, former head of CENTCOM, recently was forced to resign as he fell on his sword over the possibility of US bombardment of Iran. Petraeus and Odierno will keep the status quo until after the election, no matter how bloody and expensive it becomes.

General Odierno is one of the old fashioned mash, slash and bash generals. He is the kind of warrior you want in charge if you have to break through at the Battle of the Bulge or crack through the Soviet ring at Stalingrad to relieve Field Marshal Paulus and 500,000 of his troops that were eventually lost. I am glad the general is on our side. He has been criticized for his brutality toward the Iraqis when he was commander of the 4th Division – remember, it was his troops that captured Saddam. Whether he has the temperament to put up with the squalid, corrupt Maliki government, the intrigues from Washington and the greed of contractors is another calculation. If he eventually ends up on the board of directors of the mercenary Blackwater, you know I mischaracterized him.

Into each life a little rain must fall – even in the gilded careers of General Petraeus and Odierno. Odierno was to be assigned to be the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army – a plum assignment from which he would effectively run the US Army. Instead he was yanked, put into an assignment, only to follow in the footsteps of such losers as Generals Sanchez, Casey and Petraeus. Petraeus had been lobbying for the NATO Command job – a sweet diplomatic assignment where he could pad around the embassies, shoot wild boar and auerhahns on European estates. Instead, he must now try to keep Afghani Karzai alive and prevent Odierno from being over run by the militias and insurgents. At this moment you have to wonder whether either of these loyal gentlemen would HONK to show they love GW Bush. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret.