Saturday, September 25, 2004

Whose economic recovery is it?

If you hear Bush and Kerry, it is very likely that you get two very different opinions on the situation. So who is right? Minnesota Public radio produced a series called, Whose recovery is it? , interviewing several Minnesotans. What they found is the lower one is on the socio-economic ladder, the worse off they were. "The truth is, this recovery has been unusual in certain ways. Nearly three years on, there are still two job hunters in Minnesota for every one open position. Even as production grew, real hourly earnings fell over the past year. As you might expect, the economic recovery is very much in the eye of the beholder." However, Republicans yesterday made sure that Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy were firmly in place - I'm sorry, but I just don't agree with the "trickle-down" effect. From the NY Times, The Republican-controlled Congress easily passed legislation on Thursday that would extend expiring provisions of last year's tax cuts for families as well as about 20 business tax cuts, at a cost of about $146 billion over 10 years. Even though Democrats protested that the tax cuts would worsen the federal deficit and should be paid for with spending cuts or other tax increases, party leaders gave their members free rein to vote for the bill rather than incur the wrath of voters just a few weeks before Election Day." I agree with Kerry when he says there's nothing conservative about running a record federal deficit that is in danger of exploding in our faces if things don't change in Iraq.

Iraqi Prime Minister, Ayad Allawi, was in Washington DC; the trip was presented by the Administration as a symbolic return of normal relations between the two countries - of course, the US has no problem as along as Iraq (or any other Muslim/Arab country) heels to American orders. I'm sure Bush also wants us to ignore the fact that Allawi is unpopular in Iraq, and an exile who has had connections to the CIA in the past. He thanked America for bringing freedom to his people, promising fair & free elections in January & pretty much reiterated Bush's rosy picture of Iraq - Gimme a break!!

What needs to be taken into consideration that Allawi has himself admitted that due to extreme violence in some provinces, not all of them will participate in the elections - as one US politician put it, it's like saying, New York, Florida or California can't vote in November, but that the elections are still free & fair. Unfortunately, Afghanistan has faced the same problems where elections have been postponed several times. From Informed Comment: "Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani continues to be concerned as to whether elections will be held in January in Iraq, and whether the outcome will reflect the Shiite majority in Iraq. He is worried that the system adopted, of nation-wide party lists, favors a small set of parties, mainly expatriate. Since the six major parties listed include the two (Sunni) Kurdish parties and the largely Sunni Iraqi National Accord (primarily ex-Baathists) led by Iyad Allawi, as well as the mixed Iraqi National Congress, I think Sistani is afraid that the al-Da`wa and the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq--the two main Shiite parties-- could end up with a minority in parliament.Both Bush and Allawi affirmed on Thursday that elections would be held as promised. Donald Rumsfeld, whose uncontrollable mouth is sometimes useful insofar as he lets the truth slip, said that elections might not be possible in all the provinces. Allawi minimized the violence, saying that it was confined to 3 of Iraq's 18 provinces. This assertion is simply untrue, and is anyway misleading because Baghdad is one of the three Allawi had in mind! Could an election that excluded the capital, with at least 5 million inhabitants, be considered valid? ...The Allawi/ Rumsfeld logic, moreover, presumes that the guerrilla resistance is only able to disrupt the elections in the Sunni Arab provinces. But they have repeatedly demonstrated an ability to strike all over the country...The real reason for the current plan to raze Fallujah in November or December is the hope that doing so will dramatically reduce the operational capability of the guerrillas, forestalling the Nasiriyah scenario I just mentioned. I don't think that the guerrillas are so geographically limited or concentrated, however, and very much doubt that this Carthaginian strategy in al-Anbar will work.Moreover, not having elections in al-Anbar and West Baghdad would be a disaster. The red areas are where the Sunni Arab former ruling minority is situated. They are the backbone of the guerrilla war. If they feel unrepresented by the new government, what incentive do they have to cease their warfare?On the other hand, if the elections are not held or if their results are widely considered illegitimate, there is a danger that that result will radicalize Sistani and cause him to bring the masses into the street.

As we have seen, the unstable conditions have allowed terrorists to infiltrate & commit atrocious kidnappings and executions of foreigners. I'm sorry President Bush, but I can't seem to see Iraq through the red, white & blue glasses that you do...

Minnesota is holding it's second Arab Film Festival through Mizna & Intermedia Arts. Movies & documentaries from several Arab film makers will be screened - I hope I can make it to some, but I doubt it with my super-busy weekend. The literary organization is devoted to give Arab Americans a voice. "Mizna," which in Arabic means "the cloud of the desert. This cloud, or Mizna, shades, protects, and cools the desert traveler from the sun, making the journey bearable; Mizna guides the caravan safely to its destination. The journal represents the 3 to 4 million strong Arab-American community in the U.S., a community whose roots span over a century in America. It successfully organized a play called, "With Love From Ramallah," in June, a story about a Palestinian grocer in the West Bank, Minneapolis & his fiance in Ramallah, Occupied West Bank. Here's an article that was posted in the magazine, Woman, about the organization. Another article from my university newspaper, Phantoms in the darkness reports, "The four-day festival will open doors to Arab realities rarely talked about on this side of the Atlantic Ocean, said Mazher Al-Zo'by, a festival co-organizer. For many of us in America, to imagine the Middle East as a space where love stories can emerge is not really common,Al-Zo'by said. But such stories do occur. In fact, many of the festival's best films deal mostly with personal dilemmas - sex, marriage, rather than the larger, historical issues some Westerners might expect from Arab filmmakers... a paramount goal, Al-Zo'by said, is to break away from Arab stereotypes and let emerging voices in Arab cinema represent themselves in the ways they want to be represented. The Minnesota event is one of only a handful of Arab-focused film festivals in the nation. Others are held in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle.