The G-8 comes to my neck of the woods


Frederick County, Maryland, USA. It’s a relatively normal place…normal being relative anywhere, I suppose. It’s home to about 235,000 souls, and is roughly 670 square miles in area. You can drive from one end of the county to another in under 30 minutes, whether it’s north-south or east-west.

I’ve call FredCo home for 13 years now. As with most who moved here in the 90’s, it was the only place in the Baltimore/Washington corridor where we could afford a larger house with a yard.

But FredCo has within its borders something that sets it apart from other mostly rural counties in Maryland. Just outside of Thurmont, a mere 15 minute drive from the city of Frederick, is a little place called Camp David. And, suddenly, this weekend Frederick County is on the map.


 This morning a few G-8 protesters were gathering in Thurmont, painting signs and gathering on street corners to share their thoughts about world affairs.

Richard Ochs and Donna Plamondon, two members of Occupy Baltimore, expected to be joined by about a dozen others from their group. They prepared signs near the Weis grocery at the southern end of the city.

Outdoors, reporters and law enforcement outnumbered residents and protesters before 11 a.m. Protesters said they had no plans to be destructive, but wanted to let government officials know that they are dissatisfied with the status quo. Nine Occupy New Haven members arrived by car after camping nearby.

Barbara Barbe was out front of Brown’s Jewelry & Gift store watching the morning’s activity.

“Every other car’s a police car,” Barbe said.

She and police shared the opinion that all seemed to be calm and friendly under the sunny skies.


Notwithstanding the nonchalance of the local paper, the truth on the ground is that there is great deal of apprehension around FredCo. The local hospital is on high alert, with mandatory on-site staff presence and a makeshift triage – “just in case” – in the cafeteria. The local news-talk radio station is sending out special emails reminding listeners to tune to 930 AM for the latest information.

Anyone who has followed the news, even casually, over the past decade knows that a G-8 or G-20 summit usually means riots in the host city. I’m not sure where the protesters could riot in FredCo. Thurmont is a spec on the map, and Frederick city is not exactly Metropolis. Maybe they can meet at FSK Mall, or Baker Park. I dunno.

If anything of interest happens, I’ll make a follow-up post. Otherwise, you’ll know that it was just another ordinary, quiet weekend in the sticks.

Why the desire to pull the troops out of Iraq in the first place?


*posted first on Friday Feb. 10, here*

In the Australian today:

NO sooner did President Barack Obama welcome home American troops from Iraq and laud that country’s stability and democracy than an unprecedented wave of violence across Baghdad and elsewhere revealed the severity of Iraq’s political crisis.

Unfortunate, yet hardly surprising, even to the most casual of observers.

And whilst I can understand (yet not agree with) the Left’s position not to send troops into Iraq in the first place – an argument, largely moot, for another day – what I don’t understand is their fervish desire to pull the troops out.

It always smacked of idealism, ideology, rather than hard-nosed practicality.

After all, what was so bad with having a US troop presence there to help maintain Iraq’s fragile democratic stability?

One could argue that I am biased because a) I am centre-right politically and b) because I live in South Korea, a nation that has had a US troop presence – some 37,000  28,000 or so currently – since the armistice between North and South Korea and have seen what a permanent US troop presence looks like.

I am happy to accept those labels and can gladly tell you that such a presence ain’t that bad.

By and large,  US bases in Korea – and Japan for that matter – haven’t been a problem.

Sure, issues pop up from time to time, but if one looks at the big picture, then a strong US presence here can only be seen as a good thing, a safe option, a pretty darn good insurance policy against North Korea trying anything major on.

Almost 60 years we’ve had US troops over here without any major problems. In fact, many major problems (a full-scale Nork attack comes to mind) have arguably been averted thanks to this presence.

So, why the rush to leave Iraq essentially free of any US military  before even a decade is up and before, as is clear now, the job is done?

OK, so perhaps it’s a bit like comparing apples and oranges. US troops in Korea, aside from those stationed at the DMZ, aren’t on active duty as they were in Iraq.

However, it’s not a completely dissimilar situation. Perhaps a good analogy would be to compare mandarins and oranges.

US troops not only provided safety and stability in the fledgling democracy that is Iraq – a country still steeped with sectarian and tribal rivalries – but surely they also provided a deterrence to anybody or any groups who want to destabilise the nation.

What takes years to build can take mere seconds to destroy, and I fear a lot of hard work is being undone on the whim of a flawed, feel-good, ideology.

So why?

The only practical reason that I can see for Obama pulling his troops out of Iraq is that with an Iranian confrontation looming which includes action needed in Syria, Iraq frankly isn’t important enough any more or at best, an impractical option for a potentially over-stretched military.

Of course, Obama – a man of the progressive Left – can’t actually come out and say that but it is reasonably well-known to those who don’t just get their news from the MSM that Obama is actually more of a war-time president than Bush was, having committed more troops to both Iraq and Afghanistan, and for a longer period of time.

So whilst the MSM might play along with the “bringing the troops home” narrative, the evidence indicates this simply isn’t the case.

Some 20,000 marines, seamen and air crews from half a dozen countries, a US nuclear aircraft carrier strike group and three US Marine gunship carriers are practicing an attack on a fictitious mechanized enemy division which has invaded its neighbor. It is the largest amphibian exercise seen in the West for a decade, staged to simulate a potential Iranian invasion of an allied Persian Gulf country and a marine landing on the Iranian coast. Based largely on US personnel and hardware, French, British, Italian, Dutch, Australian* and New Zealand military elements are integrated in the drill.
Bold Alligator went into its operational phase Monday, Feb. 6, the same day as a large-scale exercise began in southern Iran opposite the Strait of Hormuz. This simultaneity attests to the preparations for a US-Iranian showdown involving Israel behind the words on Feb. 5 of US President Barack Obama (“I don’t think Israel has decided whether to attack Iran”) and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Feb. 3 (“The war itself will be ten times as detrimental to the US.”).

(*BTW, I don’t recall Aussie PM Gillard highlighting that one.)

And this:

As the US and Israel carried on bickering over the right time to strike Iran’s nuclear sites, their war preparations continued apace. debkafile’s military sources report that flight after flight of US warplanes and transports were to be seen this week cutting eastward through the skies of Sinai on their way to Gulf destinations, presumably Saudi Arabia, at a frequency not seen in the Middle East for many years.

Add into this mix reports that China will reportedly help Saudi Arabia build a nuclear bomb, and that both China and India have started paying Iran for its oil in gold thus helping thwart current US/UN sanctions (more of which were recently thwarted by Russia and China), then we see a stage set for a showdown and we see the reality that rhetoric aside, Obama won’t be bringing many troops home at all.

To someone who doesn’t know any better, it’s as if Russia, India, and China – all wannabe first chickens to the trough – are ganging up on America.**

PS Who wouldn’t love to be a fly on the wall listening in to what the US is really saying about China? Their ever-expanding use of soft power is in many ways, stuffing it all up for America. China must surely be becoming an ever-increasing pain in the neck.

This leaves Australia in an interesting position. Our main export partner is China. Our main ally is the US. We send China our goodies to help them get rich and rival America. We practice shooting our guns with America to help keep America on top.

And yet China and America are also so deep in each other’s pockets. America buys China’s goods. China buys America’s debt.

Fun times.

** I highly recommend reading The Lucifer Principle by Howard Bloom. Part of the book talks about the pecking order of nations.

#ProTip for Following the GOP Primaries


I find the GOP debates & endless caucus coverage marginally more bearable if I turn down the volume and use the Benny Hill theme song as a soundtrack instead. Here’s a 10-hour loop (!) which might come in handy as Super Tuesday looms…

N.B. Works equally well as an accompaniment to Australian Parliamentary Question Time coverage.

So which one?


Which Republican presidential nominee?

Having just spent an hour or so watching the New Hampshire GOP Republican debate, having gleaned various tidbits over the internet since a while back, I can honestly say I don’t know.

Yet.

In comments at that link, Ron Paul’s supporters come across as a tad too fervent, as does Paul himself. He just comes across as a bit whiney. Quick to complain about a problem but a bit wishy washy with any solutions.

Romney arguably won, but he comes off as Obama-lite+religion. He’s big government but I will say he’s tending to own his opponents. He does look presidential and has the establishment’s backing… not necessarily a good thing when up against Obama who REALLY has the Establishment’s backing and REALLY (at least) talks presidential (except here where he sounds about as formidable as Julia Gillard). Read the rest of this entry »

Romney won Iowa – at least according to the AP and WaPo


 
If you get your news from any American paper that subscribes to the Associated Press feed (such as the Washington Post), you might be thinking right about now that the Team Elephant presidential primaries have resolved into a two-man race: “front runner” Mitt “Presidential Hair” Romney, and Rick “Bomb the shit out of Iran!” Santorum.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has won most of the delegates in the Iowa Republican caucuses, edging former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. Romney won a projected 13 delegates and Santorum won 12. Texas Rep. Ron Paul was shut out.

Wow, it doesn’t get any clearer than that. It looks like Dr. Paul and the remaining warm bodies still running are shit outta luck.

Just one problem: it’s a complete lie.

The fact is, Romney and Santorum TIED Ron Paul with seven delegates each. Newt Gingrich and Governor Perry Gardacil are still alive with two delegates each.

So why do you suppose that the AP and WaPo are reporting factual untruth? I mean, aside from the fact that Big Media (the BM for short) generally tends to side with Big Government politicians?

I’ll leave that to you to decide. My opinion is that it is part of an intentional push to eliminate the “anti-Romney” candidates who actually stand a chance of beating “The Hair”. “The Warhead” doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning this or any other election, so he’s safe (from the perspective of the Elephant elites) to leave in the race.

The BM doesn’t just report on the presidential races. It influences them as well. On purpose.

Self-inflicted wound


And here I was worried that the media, the Team Elephant establishment, and the other GOP candidates were going to take down Ron Paul. It appears he’s pretty good at it himself.


Ron Paul is taking “no comment” to a whole new level.

The Republican presidential candidate walked out on a CNN interview Wednesday following a heated discussion over racist newsletters that were sent out in his name more than two decades ago.

The usually mild-mannered, Texas congressman – who’s leading in some Iowa polls – became irked when network reporter Gloria Borger pressed Paul about the newsletters.

Paul said he was sick of being “pestered” by reporters about the issue.


*face palm*

He can’t seriously believe that he can withstand allegations of racism and bigotry by running away, can he? I admire the guy, to be sure, but even I have issues with the way he handled this.

*sigh* I guess I’d better get used to the term “President Romney” in 2013.

And it begins…


The pattern has been played out over and over. A potential Team Elephant presidential candidate starts to rise in the polls. A bulls-eye is affixed to that candidate. A combination of Republican elites, their allies in the punditocracy, and Big Media (the BM for short), which simply can’t help itself when an opportunity to dump on a Republican presents itself, begin hammering on any and all perceived defects of said candidate. Next thing you know, the new frontrunner is cast on the scrap heap, either to quit (like Herman Cain) or to flounder haplessly trying to regain momentum (like Michele Bachmann and Governor Perry Gardasil).

Now that Newt Gingrich is dropping faster than shares in Freddie Mac, Ron Paul has surged into a virtual tie and perhaps even the lead in Iowa.

That’s bad.

“Vulture, WTF? I though you were a Paul guy.” I am. Which is why I’m dreading what awaits. A decent and honorable man is about to be dragged through the slime, called everything but a child of God, and accused of all sorts of thought crimes ranging from racism to anti-Americanism.

Think I’m kidding. The threats have already started from the faux conservative media.

The establishment Elephants will NOT tolerate any attempt by the American people to choose a candidate other than Mitt Romney (and his presidential hair). They don’t care who they wreck in the process.

And we wonder why we have the caliber of candidates we have. Only the bravest, the most foolish, or the most power-mad need apply. Decent people need not apply.

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