Monday, October 30, 2006

Iraq Civil War

It is very easy to lampoon the Bush administration whenever one hears Bush, or his emissaries, trying to justify or explain the situation in Iraq. “Benchmarks” v. “Time Tables”, “Stay the Course” v. “Cut and Run” etc….It’s easy to be gleeful at what has turned out to be [in some quarters] a mistake, the great Goliath, slowly being cut down to size: one pebble at a time. When one looks at the situation from America’s perspective, it is very easy to call for a withdrawal, to call the mission a failure, to yearn for a humbling of America.

But if you look at the situation from the Iraqi’s perspective, one sees a noble cause, that is having major problems, but that is not hopeless…yet. Africa’s history is replete of examples of nations that received foreign attention for a while, but as soon as things got tough, the international attention was withdrawn and disaster followed. The poster child for this….Somalia.

The Iraqis, Americans, and the world should not let the situation in Iraq deteriorate to anarchy. The fact that Iraq is in the throws of a civil war should not lead America to abandon Iraq. Many have argued that America shouldn’t be a “referee” in the civil war, but that is precisely what the Iraqi’s need, a party (like the UN in DRC, French in Ivory Coast, ECOMOG in Liberia, British in Sierra Leone) that shall help limit the bloodshed, facilitate a ceasefire and provide the space necessary for political negotiations, where the Iraqi’s would work out the outstanding political differences.

Iraq is in a situation that many Africans have found themselves before, you get rid of a dictator, there is no heir apparent, no system to resolve leadership and political controversies, and you degenerate in to anarchy. Many in Africa, rightly, chastise the international community when it fails to assist in ending the violence (ala Rwanda), or has only fleeting interest in a conflict situation (ala Somalia). One can only hope that the Americans (after the bluster that is the campaign) resolve not to leave Iraq prematurely, and that the Iraqi’s get their collective act together and change the dynamics on the ground.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Miller Lite/ Man laws

Miller has come up with a very funny and interesting ad campaign: "Man Law" Some of the "laws" are to be adhered to at all times: "You poke it, you own it", no "top clinking" (stem or bottom acceptable), and "Can crashing", it's also high time we eliminated the "High Five"

However, the "overflow slam" is always funny and a scientific marvel, especially when one is intoxicated, its as amazing as the Mentos/coke experiment. In addition, it's okay to take ones "Unopened beer" once one exits a party.

On the "lime in beer" debate, it depends on the beer. Now miller, bud, guiness etc.. one should not use lime, but when it comes to Mexican Cerveza: Dos Equis, Corona and Tecate, lime is good. It's very difficult to drink a limeless Corona.

Great commercial, crappy beer.

Friday, October 13, 2006

1pm Appointment

During the Moi admin days (and sometimes in the Kibaki admin) it was commonplace for cabinet changes to be announced at the 1pm KBC news bulletin. On many occassions the parties affected had not been informed of appointment/dismissal and would be caught flat footed by the news.

Moi may have gotten a taste of his own medicine and he did not like it.

Aside from the "protocol gaffee", it is a good thing to have Mr. Moi involved as a goodwill ambassador in the region. Kenyans may not like the man, but he is respected in the region as a honest broker. That is nonpartisan in regional issues. People have come from afar seeking his advice on peace negotiations (there was a story a while back about a delegation sent by Kabila jr.), he was also the in initiator of peacetalks between the North and South in Sudan, as well as, the Somali conflict.

Over the last couple of years, Kenya has seemingly lost her cache in the region (when it comes to conflict resolution etc...) as we have a president who is more focused on domestic issues. Having Moi as a rocing ambassador may bring back some of that cache.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

North Korea

North Korea may or may not have performed a nuclear explosion in the last couple of days, but the much maligned "blame game" is in full gear. There are those who argue that Clinton is to blame, he was "dubed" by the North Korea, and his "agreed Framework" was a total failure. Then there are those who argue that Mr. Bush's bravado and unwillingness to hold bilateral talks is to blame for North Korea's apparent thirst for nuclear weapons.

As is usual, both sides bring forth some valid points, the "Agreed Framework" did manage to freeze North Korea's plutonium based program. But, the North Koreans did have a secret Uranium enrichment program. It is also true that North Korea felt threatened after the "Axis of Evil" speech and the Iraq war.

These arguments center on what America did and focus little on the role of the other nations around North Korea. Laura Ingraham (appearing on the O'reilly factor) was right, as long as, South Korea and China, believe that coddling North Korea is in their interest, then their is nothing much that the U.S. can do to North Korea.

Maybe this event (or nonevent) will provide the necessary push to convince China and South Korea to "do more than rebuke North Korea"
The U.S. could potentially sway the decision, by (as O'reilly suggested) privately threatening to curtail economic ties with China [economics of which seem unlikely] or giving a wink and a nod to Japan's development of Nuclear weapons (a good old nuclear arms race) or defensive and offensive military capabilities (China and South Korea have nightmares about Japan's bellicose past).

Japan and the U.S. seem to support a very harsh response to the situation, but China's view (concrete and not rhetorical) has yet to be seen. Much deepends on where she sees here interests.

Saturday, October 07, 2006


Fox News channel turned 10 years old today. In those 10 years FNC has managed to get under thse skins of many liberals, energize conservatives, and dethrone CNN as cables most dominant news channel (here in America)

Straight news is very good and on this CNN and the BBC are tops. However, to fill a 24 hour channel, there needs to be more than just an endless loop of news (as Headline News used to be), channels have to develop interesting shows that spice up the channel. On this Fox is king. The shows on Fox tend to be far more interesting (especially on prime time) than their competitiors. Fox Report, Special Report, O'reilly Factor, Hannity and Colmes, Fox News watch, Fox and Friends etc.. Fox has more maquee shows compared to MSNBC (Tucker, Scaborough, Hardball, Countdown) and CNN (Anderson, Situation Room, Lou Dobbs)

One element to Fox News' success is the opinion/debating or panel discussions format (O'reilly H&C, Fox News Watch, Special Report), CNN lost some of its edge when it decided to eliminate its debate shows (Capitol Gang, Inside Politics and CrossFire). Fox is very successful in the opinion/debate realm (MSNBC has tried to follow suite).

On its conservative reporting and opinion. Messers Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes, found a broadcasting niche, a demographic that had not been exploited (except on talk radio) and they developed a channel to cater to that groups potential. Judging from ratings, they were on to something and have succeded.

Happy Birthday Fox News Channel.

Faith has little to do with foreign policy

Nation had a rather interesting article about Bush and religion a few days ago. It is unfortunate that many would apply such terms> "arrogance", "Ignorance" and "religious Certitude" yet not apply the same to the jihadists.

It's quite true that religious certitude should not be policy and that arrogance and ignorance, can be contributing factors to conflict. It is also vogue to accuse President Bush of exhibiting all the three “qualities”. However, it would seem more appropriate to apply these descriptions to the Islamo - Fascists we are fighting against.

So certain are they about the righteousness of their religion that they advocate the elimination of all non – believers/ infidels (read: Shiites, Jews and Christians). So sure are they in their abilities and their cause, that they would wantonly take the lives of innocent Kenyans. So ignorant are they of the world, and the ability of religions to co-exist (like in Kenya ), that they advocate the establishment of an exclusionary society (Caliphate).

The poster child for: “religious certitude”, “arrogance”, and “ignorance”, is not President Bush: it is Osama Bin Laden.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Part time Legislators

Every second week of the new year, the Arizona State Legislature convenes for its yearly legislative session. A 100 to 150 day period of bills, bills and more ills, bills debated in committee, bills in the house, bills in the senate, everywhere bills. In that 4 to 5 month period, the legislature considers 1000+ bills, ranging from minute changes to the statues, to the state budget. In 100 days.

Arizona's "MPs" are considered part- timers they earn very little ($24,000 a year), and spend only 100 days in the State capitol, the rest of the time is spent on personal business and constituent work. Ours earn way more ($83,000), but spend about the same amount of time in session (with many "recesses"); pass less than 20 bills, keep operating personal business, and pay scant attention to constituents.

Now, it's true that there are differences between the parliamentary and American system, as well as, State vs. National issues. But come on!!!!!!

Obviously advocating for a part-time parliament (which ours technically is) would not go anywhere, but the system needs some change. For instance, parliament should consider a high impact, focused "legislative session", a couple of days/months in a year set aside solely for legislation. No two, three month recesses in between, just a straight forward policy wonk fest.

This would focus the minds of the legislators and the people on solving societal issues and not on empty politicking. Seriously, a bill passed by only 12 folks??? this is shamefull, things need to change.