Thursday, November 6, 2008

Dissent and Progress

It’s a brighter day. America has come out of a sordid hibernation; the visceral cold-shoulder-to-the-world era has been abruptly halted. And it feels so good.

It feels so good because I remember four and eight years ago being so afraid of a long-term conservative reign. Never did any liberal or conservative ever predict then that GWB would drive the Republican Party so far into the depths of political hell. Nor could they have ever dreamed of the history that would be created post-Bush. I must note that the president-elect’s ability and opportunity to rise up the ranks of American politics is due in large part to the 42nd President, William Jefferson Clinton. His wife certainly helped him out too.

I saw his speech, President-elect Barack Obama’s, in 2004 as the keynote at the Convention in ’04. It was good. Today we see that same person, but he has evolved terrifically. Darwin would be proud. Barack today is a man who foresees opportunity, an individual who projects and comprehends American ideals, morals, and philosophies. Home grown and culturally exposed, local yet global, he is a true American.

I am proud to be an American again. For the first time in my politically involved life, last night (4-11-08) was the first series of elections or political events where W never crossed my mind; he has but not even three months to rule. When Obama won, it was as if a weight was lifted off my American shoulders. Friends and family agreed without even realizing it.

To add even more to the significance of this tremendously historic victory, the new President will be handed a strikingly blue Congress. This will allow him to move forward with a progressive agenda and new vision for a 21st century America. This country could not have asked for more. Nor could it have delivered a more precise message. Well, maybe 60 seats…but I’ll settle for the 57 I think we’re going to end up with in the Senate.

Tuesday’s election buried a number of previously engrained political ideals: Rovian style campaigns and 527-group domination; the argument that white folk from PA, NC, or IN wouldn’t vote for a person of color; the Bradley effect has vanished; and finally, dissent can no longer be considered unpatriotic. Dissent has always been the utmost of patriotic acts, and we are ending an era that lambasted and squelched it.

What lies ahead is no row on the lake. Nor should it be a Battle of the Bulge. But American’s must be willing to step up to the plate we’ve put before us. The plate is utterly American: burgers and arugula, fried chicken with a delicate porcini mushroom glaze, Coors Light and peanuts, Pinot Noir and smoked gouda. But this plate will also require us to sacrifice. The real kind (not the pseudo bullshit W asked us for) will be necessary: from living lighter and greener to considering your neighbor’s fate as well as yours. Together, America can be great again.

We have seen darker days. With determination, Obama can lead us out of this dim era, where divisiveness and wedge issues have destroyed the American dream and psyche. Every step of the way he will be faced with right wing harbingers, radical proclamations, and threats from afar. America will persevere; we have no other option.

On a personal note, I have the great pleasure of being a resident of Harlem in Upper Manhattan. It is an incredibly historic region that has been in flux time and time again. But at the turn of the 20th Century, it became a beacon of African American culture, and it’s status icon holds true—though it is slowing waning—today. To spend last night in Harlem at my apartment and then storm up to 125th Street and Adam Clayton Powell was surreal. Basking in the glow and celebrating the great, great victory with a famous community, one directly affiliated with the historic event, is something I will talk of thirty and forty years from now; no doubt I’ll note it on my deathbed. The barrage of excitement, tears, and jubilation were overwhelming.

It was euphoric oblivion.

The democratic process shined beautifully last night. This election rebooted confidence in the American electorate and people around the world. Color still matters, but we have taken a great leap. We have found a catalyst. Let us use and exploit it in the best of ways and for the greatest of causes.

As for the Senator from Arizona, who could have fought a much more valiant race: Kudos to him. His concession speech was conciliatory and deferent. Had he run a campaign like that, he would have perhaps held a different title today. And as for the Governor of Alaska: She’s back to glaring at Russia through binoculars and is enjoying her new hobby of hunting Nieman Marcus employees for Valentino and Chanel blazers.

I thank you from the bottom of my little liberal heart, America. And I didn’t even mention the Supreme Court’s new future.

Light shines again, and I’ve got my sunscreen on.

Good night and most certainly, good luck.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Light and Sacrafice, Russia too

New York reels through chaos daily. But what’s affecting the City today is different than its typical turmoil; it’s fucking global.

Seasons are changing and so are bank names. The morning light that peeks through my window is more diffused, slowed by the changing location of the Earth’s orbit. As a native New Englander, seasons bring a wave of change. Light is merely one, perhaps the most pervasive. Of course once the clocks are switched, the sun’s first rays will once again annoyingly spur me. Spur me that is, more often than not, to close the drapes.

So here I am, out of New England for yet another New York fall (arguably New York’s best season), there’s change anew, and I’m restless like never before.

There’s an election coming. I’ve been waiting for 4 November 2008 for four years, and what’s in store is like nothing I could have imagined. Remember, I was a Hillary fan from the get-go three years ago. And there’s that dim-whit, should-be-blonde Sarah Palin in the mix now and she makes my skin crawl. I hope, come 4-11-08, I’ll be able to claim her ignorance as my bliss. But what scares me is that her ignorant bliss may be a Palin/McCain ticket to victory...or is it McCain/Palin? Let’s just hope all those
new voters get to the polls.

My rent is still due in the full at the end of each month. It’s not that I ever expected it to change; I just hoped it would become easier. Now it seems the opposite is happening. My solutions for this range from buying wine in bulk to downgrading my Vodka preference, packing snacks and eating in, shopping thrift and erring on indulgent spontaneity.

The United States stands on a litany of brinks as I write and you read this. Never before, in my 23 years of meager existence, have I ever experienced, heard of, or read about a parallel to the myriad of calamities we are facing as a state right now. Obviously, the economy is at the forefront of all American kitchen table concerns (sure, go ahead and call me Mr. Washington Jargon). It’s backed by the real estate slump; fueled by two wars; provoked by Pakistan, Iran, and North Korea; enhanced by global warming; and topped off by a poor American image around the globe. This pains me terribly because of the love I have for this country, the great United States of America. I’m not afraid to admit it: I’m a huge nationalist. But I also have had a passport for more than two years (unlike a certain VP candidate), and am aware that this is a great wide, wonderful world that we share a planet with. A world where America is not the dictator.

The aforementioned directly correlates to my worries. I worry about my friends and family’s financial security during this callous economic downturn. Point at whom you will, but there’s only so many one can point at: George W. Bush and the six years of unabashed support for deregulation by a Republican Congress; greedy CEOs and corporate execs; seamy loan lenders; and downright dumb individuals who thought they could pay a $300,000 mortgage on a $30,000 salary. A lot went astray for eight years and it’s going to take a lot of discipline and understanding on the part of our government and the American people to right it.

We’re a generation that is blind to the conservation days of the depression and great wars. Wars that were great not because fighting is good, but because Americans banded together to support a cause and champion it. Not just with signs and care cards, but with sacrifice. They sacrificed because it was the most patriotic thing one could do, plain and simple. Instead, today, America’s patriotic script for war was to spend, spend, spend—whilst not paying for it. Perhaps if we had been asked by our Commander in Chief, who was raising the Army to fight abroad, to sacrifice and come together as a nation on a mission, we would have. After all, who wouldn’t want to pay to support our troops to defend this nation? But it didn’t happen. America (and Wall Street) partied. And Christ, I was one of them.

W and Dick, paired with 6 years of Republican reign in Congress, fused two econ-platforms together: the Reganomics of cutting taxes to trickle down the wealth, and the spending of a Socialist to better the people (but not American's). Instead his policies amounted to quite the opposite: he spent abroad, zealously, and ignored the homeland. We didn’t end up with health care, a more sound Social Security system, better education, or even stronger infrastructure, let alone alternative energy sources. We the People got shafted. Fucked by an oil-slicked, blood-coated duo from Texas and Wyoming.

Cut taxes for those making millions and steel from the middle class to dive into a brilliant, utterly personal quagmire. Sounds like a plan fit for Oligarchs...Russia anyone? Oh but wait, I can see it from my house!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Costa Rica

Well, here I go again. I'm off to a far off, foreign place with the lady I work for who is perhaps the most erratic and esoteric individuals I have ever come across. But she loves to travel and so do I; the difference is, I like to have a bit of plan, she doesn’t.

So basically, we’ve got an idea of where I’ll be carting us around. (She’s a native New Yorker with no license. I got us an SUV for the muddy, potholed roads of Costa Rica.) North and south, east and west, the country is the size of West Virginia, but driving wise it’s more like traversing Texas…except the vista’s are far better, there's 26 climates, not to mention the cliff's and lack of driving laws. We want to hit up the Osa Peninsula, but it could be impassible; Margaux’s is imploring me to go to the Caribbean Coast; Monteverde, Arenal, and Manuel Antonio are all in the mix too, and let’s not forget the central highlands.

I have no true idea where the mud, rain, monkeys and macaws will take us. I’ve got all my cameras, jungle gear, and some serious deet.

Here’s to Costa Rica, and more importantly—to staying sane.

[Reader’s note: I’m going to try and blog whilst cavorting about the jungle, hoping to find some internet hotspots along the way. Stay tuned for updates.]

Friday, March 7, 2008



Wow. What a test. It gets so scary when the seconds start ticking lower and lower...3, 2, 1...done.

I thought I'd get more. If only my brain was able to focus on one geographic region at a time, perhaps, then just perhaps, I could have listed a few more.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

From Cuba to Harlem in Five Days

First, a grammatical note:

I saw this and rejoiced. Apparently so did a bunch of literaries: Celebrating the Semicolon in a Most Unlikely Location

I’m happy I opted out of an outing.

I’ll get right into it: the Democratic Presidential Debate in Texas
tonight was absolutely fantastic. And though I must admit that I’ve enjoyed each of the 19 debates—mostly through news reports—this one was different. Perhaps its because the Democrats have found a flow behind a candidate, muddying the already turbid waters. The long front-runner is now getting slowed from the current. And watching it unfold is amazing.

I love politics; it’s just that simple.

Tonight, two brilliant candidates sparred over the litany of political issues. And of course, there were great sidebars. Cuba took the trophy of topics for me. I have an odd fascination and love for Cuba. I have tremendous respect for its policies, be they discriminatory, intolerant, or harmful. I represented them in Model United Nations, which we ruled. In MUN, you become the State you’re representing; I became Cuba, though not necessarily “Cuban”. I defended a relentless leader’s policies, perhaps as prolixly as the leader himself, who defied American hegemony. It was one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences of my life, fueling my need to look outside our borders. And though abrupt change may not ensue immediately, a swell of confidence and enlightenment is raising on the 90-mile island.

I wish Cuba luck in its development, though truly fear for its “Americanization.” It is not just any Caribbean island: It’s Cuba.

I’m glad to see it at the local forefront of American Foreign Policy, and in such an encouraging light.

[Five-day delay]

Tonight, for the first time since moving to Harlem, I went to Minton’s Playhouse.

You might know it, you might not. Either way, it is across the street from where I dwell, and my is it swell!

Tonight, as with all Monday nights, a 16- piece orchestra jazzed away to the sounds of Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, and numerous other Harlem notaries. It was truly a taste of Harlem I’m so happy to have now enjoyed.

Granted, part of that taste was the vodka rocks I sipped, but that’s neither here nor there. I had my first GRE class this evening and it was horrifying; a blow to my intellect.

But here we are—well, just me really—still merely employed, cavorting about the City and CT whilst capriciously creating a path.

Any suggestions?

The End.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Choice and Experience vs. "Poof" and Hope

Take a Letter:


30 January 2008

Dear “Jews-for-Jesus” Activist David,

We fundamentally disagree on human existence. Science vs. "Poof". And yet we both stood stubbornly and staunchly behind our beliefs in debate—for 45 minutes, on the corner of Spruce and Park Row.

It is no shock to myself of this occurrence, as I’ve been doing it for years. In front of the Supreme Court and Macy’s Herald Square over abortion; the Federal Court House in New York City in defiance of conservative judicial nominees; at Ohio State University defending John Kerry; and even on Broadway in my home town while holding “Gore/Lieberman” signs. Each event came with lengthy, raucous banter that went on for sometimes over an hour. The list, of course, goes on. But you, sir, were different. And because of it, so was I.

Now, I say this still having no comprehension or even respect for your view, as it is far from tangible. However, your approach, delivery, and retorts were all enthusiastically presented in a pleasant, reserved, and non-derogatory manner. To this I say cheers because you were the first one I have not yelled with and at, and—I only cursed ONCE! That says something. Furthermore, I continued to remain calm when I decided to dapple with homosexuality as a topic. And as I’m sure even you have dappled with the thoughts of and even actions of homosexuality, I somehow remained steadfastly assertive yet calm in response to your Bible-based belief. That is unlike me.

Just ask the Reverend Fred Phelps of the Westborough Baptist Church, his wife, or even three of his ten children—they’ve certainly heard from me on the same issue.

Let me also say that only one of the conversation’s I had with a Phelps’ family member went on civilly for more than ten minutes. Naturally though, flames were thrown as soon as I disclosed I was not a supporter but in fact a homosexual student seeking information for a negatively exploitive presentation. How savvy and cunning I can be.

But I steered from that with you, David.

And though I did not go without my one-liners and slippery jabs, I remained relatively cool whilst discussing an incredibly fiery topic: human existence, religion, and choice—which of course we lumped into one. To be quite frank, in light of our discourse, I’ve found holes in my argument. And I’m glad, because they are all fillable.

It always shocks me, the people like you, out on the street who push and promote views, be they intolerant or otherwise. I wonder why you do it and what you expect to accomplish. But then here I am: a defiant, rather out-spoken, opinionated, quick individual who pounces on the very opportunity you present. For that I thank you and hate you.

You’re comfortable being confined by a fabulously fictitious text; I, David, am not. Nor should anyone have to be.

I thank you for your time, respect, and pleasantries. But I do not thank you for your existence as a human being.

I find it counter productive.

Good luck with your future and do continue to be wary and stress over something one has the ability and right to do: Choose.


Jeffrey LeFrancois


Well I just had to get that off my chest. I wonder if I'm too harsh? Oh well.

In other news: the campaigns continue to rival Martini’s in shakery; I’m slowly coming up with a good, solid idea for a path; I leave for White Fish, Montana in less than 36 hours. Yes, that means I’ll be in fucking Montana, whose primary is June 2nd, for Super Tsunami Tuesday, in what will be one of the most exciting days of my politically involved life.

I’m dying for Hilary, in fact I’ve already voted, but I could toast to Barack in November. In the meantime: this is politics baby, and the mud is in full swing. The question is: Who has the bigger shield?

My money’s on the Experience, not the Hope.

I’m expecting to report next week from the Big Sky State.


Sunday, January 6, 2008

A Year's Worth of Shit

I’m going to use this first official blog entry of 2008 as a springboard for motivation into a New Year that seems yet to yield any promising outcomes. Though I’m still optimistic, I’m stepping tepidly. Furthermore, considering my lackluster and lethargic state, your bets are as good as mine on the future. But nevertheless, here we are and there’s not a damn thing one can do about a year’s end whilst the new begins.

I’ll start with a warning: this is not your People Magazine,, Tabloid, random year in review; it’s mine. Just didn’t want you to get too far ahead in case you want to turn back.

I’ve been pretending to conjure up themes, ideas, or a plot for this ’07 wrap up/’08 outlook, but nothing fluid came to mind. Hence the reason I’m just chugging forward; dancing about the keyboard as I usually do, only this time with a whole year’s worth of happenings to consider instead of perhaps a moment’s recap.

The last time I did a year in review was January of 2007…only but a year ago, right around the one-year anniversary of my departure for Semester at Sea (It’s posted on Facebook, not my blog). Now, 2007 was not nearly as admirable for traveling purposes—but it certainly did have its stints. Looking into 2008, travel seems to be the lacuna thus smoldering the prospects of a year of adventure and one to look forward too. Granted, I leave for Montana in about two weeks, but there are no cemented plans for an international excursion in 2008, only talk that translates to hearsay.

Two thousand and seven, with all its 52 weeks and 365 days, seemed to progress in an anti-climatic fashion. The presidential primaries and all the 2007 ebullient hype didn’t occur until after the strike of twelve on the 31st; the Democrats, with almost a full year under their belt of majority rule in both houses of Congress, have yet to make their mark on 6 prior years of sordid, ignorant, intolerant, incongruous, unjustifiably conservative, arcane rule under the unctuous George W. Bush—Christ, they couldn’t even muster the votes to override W’s veto of a children’s health care bill; in fashion, Marc Jacobs ruled the global runways for not only his two personal lines, but also for Louis Vuitton, one of the world’s most revered, sought after luxury labels that has survived more than 100 years; on the environmental front, I’m not sure there was one positive or inspiring tidbit about the state of our planet, other than maybe China and the US coming to the table for the Bali talks for a Kyoto-like treaty, though their presence was more a prick in the side of eco-friendly Europeans and newly green Australians—not to mention all the island states who are absolutely horrified for the warming prospects of the future.

That’s enough of that.

As for a year in positive review: I finished my undergraduate education on time and with what I’ll call flying colors. And though that was a mild shock considering my severe senioritis, constant “negative” peer pressure, numerous and seemingly non-stop adventures rife with bibulous activity, I, excuse me—We—all prevailed from a year ending with an odd number. Though I’m not sure there’s relevance, I’ve always been more a fan of the even rather than the odd, though I’m not really sure why. Anywho, I digress. My spring semester was definitely one of the best. I loved my bi-weekly rants in the Pace Press about school politics and whatever else I felt like incorporating. It was also a great year in achievements for Pace in Model United Nations. Perhaps it’s because I was a contributing factor to the team’s successful sweep at the conference/competition, it also furthered my love and lust for socialism: we proudly and profoundly represented The Republic of Cuba. And we did it with all the zeal and vigor the United States pretends to exude when it comes to spreading democracy and freedom throughout the rebellious world. Regardless, the PaceNY teams took outstanding delegation in all nine committee’s, we raked in awards for seven of nine position papers, and I along with 7 others received Outstanding Delegate awards. Sorry if I sound like I’m tooting—frankly, I kinda am. We fucking rocked and you can take that shit to the bank.

It was a tremendous feeling of achievement, and I am so proud to have been apart of it. I believe finishing college, with the MUN victory as the cherry, will only be topped by my graduate and PhD completion, which looms somewhere in the years before I’m 40.

As for my time after graduation, it was a shitshow free-for-all. From the night before graduation to the days immediately after, errantly cavorting whilst rampantly trysting about Turkey and Greece, to my graduation party all topped off by a summer of being unemployed, not to mention the random jaunts up and down the east coast; it was most definitely a summer for the story books. And then there was my official return from summering in CT back to urban life in my very own atelier in Harlem. Then the three weeks of unemployment in the city before running back to the florist I worked at during the springtime, to Maroon5 and the holidays, to landing my very own client for free-lance floral design, to promptly being fired for landing that very client.

That, my friends, is one fuck of a year in a nutshell—and just think, that is only up to 22 Dec 07, the morning I was relieved of my position at Adore Floral Inc.

Which is a story I was never able to tell, so I’ll give a quick prĂ©cis:

Rewind to the very beginning of December. I had five lobbies to decorate for Goldman Properties, all commission jobs through work for the holidays, and of course, they all had to be done in less than a week’s time. Goldman’s newest building is 25 Bond, where there are nine floors and ten units, seven of which are spoken for, and only two of them are currently housing occupants.

Well, there I was, decorating the 12 foot tree by myself when I was approached by a very nice lady who wondered if my company did in-home tree decorating (using the person’s ornaments) and also in-home floral design (using the person’s containers or vases). I explained that it was not something the company typically does but that I would be happy to do it on my own time considering my experience in doing so and also that I only worked part time for Adore. Well, I was just elated. My very own client.

Well, since I was paid under the table at work and had never signed any sort of contractual agreement for Adore, I saw nothing wrong, nor did anyone I know, with me taking on a client. So, I got them a tree and decorated it. Now, fast forward to about three weeks after that, 21 Dec 07 to be exact.

I had to swing by to check on the tree and to also bring some flowers. It was a Thursday and I was planning on Christmas shopping the rest of the day. The day before I mentioned to the bosses that the flowers in the lobby at 25 Bond (which are replaced on Friday’s) looked absolutely horrific. Wednesday was busy so I never got over there to change them. Well, there I was, done with my work at my client’s pad, so down the elevator I went and into the lobby I landed. Holy shit. There’s the boss changing the flowers in the lobby and here I am coming off the elevator that only leads directly into resident’s homes. My excuse was semi-believable, as I had mentioned to them there was someone who did have questions about a tree and us decorating it.

I made it seem like nothing and that it was something I’d scheduled the day before and that there was nothing work could do—this was certainly not the way I needed them finding out about my jobs on the side. Well, I went on with my day, slightly, but not really worried. The next morning, I woke and took a shower. When I got out, I noticed work had called and left me a voicemail.

I promptly listened to it. It was Jack, my boss, telling me I no longer work at Adore and that they are very upset with what I did to them. Yes people, this was done on a fucking voicemail. I was fired via voicemail. Not in person, not even over the phone directly talking to me—VIA VOICEMAIL. Well, I was in such a state of shock that I wasn’t even going to bother calling about my paycheck. But then I added up the hours, got some guts from my mother and balls from my father, not to mention Roger pestering me to call and get what I was entitled too, had a glass of wine and a hit or two off a bowl, and called to “tie up loose ends” as I so aptly put it.

I let him know the hours I’d worked and that all I would need my paycheck. He said that was fine, and that was that. Short and concise, brief but polite. Then I got a phone call a few minutes later. He just wanted to double check hours and get my address. After giving him the information he wanted, he posed two questions: “Jeffrey, I just want to know, do you really think you should be paid?” Well, I was stunned. I said I absolutely felt I should get paid because I worked those 30 hours for you and only you, you son of a bitch (I surprisingly held my tongue and temper—you can thank the wine and weed). His next question: “So you’re really going to be able to live with yourself after what you did to us? I mean, you broke a business principle.” Well, this one pressed me a bit and I did go off, but for only a second. I told him we’re not even going to get into business principles because he has none and after that realized I owed him none of this. I simply said, “Jack, I’m not here to justify anything nor am I asking for my job back. If you wanted to ask me questions, maybe you shouldn’t have up and fired me. All I expect is a paycheck.” And that, my friends, was that.

I’m happy to report that I did receive the paycheck just a few days ago, so that was great. Sadly though, I liked my job and thoroughly enjoyed my bosses. (It’s a couple that own this little shop; he’s Chinese and she’s Japanese—I know, fucking weird, right?) Anyway, it was sort of a blessing in disguise for the holiday season. I had my time at home to enjoy my most favorite time of year for the festiveness, the decorating and the entertaining.

Christmas was great and New Year’s was even better. And of course I did my annual five-mile run ending with an icy plunge into Long Island Sound on 1 January 2008 and it was fantastic. It is, I’ve found, a fabulous was to start off a New Year, feeling refreshed and cleansed of a previous year’s worth of sin. I don’t do confession and I don’t do religion, so for me, it is absolutely fitting. A plunge and splash in the Sea.

But then there’s all the happenings that will carry over into ought eight. Perhaps most notably, for me anyway, is Pakistan. Of course there’s the rest of the Middle East and all its turmoil too, but what occurred there only a few weeks ago was a tragic blow to a semi-stable region in a tumultuous place of the world.
Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was murdered after returning to Pakistan from eight years of self-imposed exile to her home country that has been under military dictatorship for the better part of the millennium—this same military dictatorship is avidly defended and enhanced by the freedom touting United States, too. Now, many people had their problems with Bhutto; it was indeed understandable considering her two stints as Prime Minister were filled with corruption charges and sneaky governance.

A good friend of mine, Neelofer, whose roots hail directly from Pakistan had her say (which you should read here:
Another one Bites the Dust and also Knowledge Will Save Us All ), but I must most respectfully disagree with her on a few fronts. I say this because my perspective is political and impersonal, fueled mostly by my love for the Middle East and desire for its safe stabilization; hers is personally political, giving it a far more poignant and stinging ring.

Nevertheless, I was and still am deeply saddened by her assassination. For this was a woman who was elected for the first time at the age of 35 in Pakistan—granted it was on the coattails of her martyred father—but a woman, who was at one point pregnant in office, in the Middle East, in 1988! Can the tide be more bucked than that? Then she was elected again a few years later, only to be ousted on corruption charges. Her goal this time around was democracy (there was a lot more to it than just that, but I’m truly making a concerted effort to stay light), something most Pakistanis got a mild taste of from Musharraf, but the ideology was never thought completely palatable by this conniving ruler.

Then look at where Pakistan stands today: The US touts it as its closets ally in the War on Terror because of its geographic location; since 2001, more than $10 billion in aid has been funneled there which was supposed to be used to enhance military presence in the northwestern territory, Al-Queda and Taliban strong holds. However, evidence is claming that it has instead been used to beef up it’s southeastern border with rivaling India. Furthermore, the current leader, Musharraf, imposed Marshall Law for nearly a month before lifting the ban. Let’s not forget that he also cleaned house in the Supreme Court because he didn’t like the power and independence of the Judiciary. And yet the US has stood proudly by his militant side, reassuring the world that a good relationship with Pakistan is necessary to take down terrorism in the Middle East.

I find this truly nauseating. I could go on about this topic for quite sometime, but there are still a few more things I’d like to get to—and I’ve already gone on long enough.

My guess is that most people have forgotten yet again about Iran. They’ve seemed to slip under the radar. Between the violence in Kenya and Al-Queda activity in Northern Africa, sky rocketing oil prices and a very shaky, on-the-verge-of-recession US economy, there’s reason to overlook, but not forget.

It seems W’s policy of ignoring our enemies and using diplomacy as a last resort, if at all, has our adversaries building their own coalitions. Iran and Russia are now buddy-buddy. China continues to help squelch the people of Burma whilst raping it for its resources. And good ol’ Chavez was not only told to shut-up by the King of Spain, but he continues to be a throbbing thorn in the side of US foreign policy: Citgo, the state run Venezuelan oil company is yet again supplying reduced-cost and at times free heating oil to people all over the Northeastern United States. Just check out some of their operations:
Citgo and the Bronx. This though, I must admit is beautiful. Absolute brilliance on the part of a leader who uses oil and socialism to annoy and pester a Nation in a way it can’t refuse.

Then there’s Iowa. I was shocked, not by the results, but what it could actually mean. The fact that a very white, very rural state overwhelming supported a black man is amazing. That’s not to say he’s my first choice, in fact he’s not even really my second, it is nonetheless amazing. As for the Repubo’s—I’m just thrilled about what Huckabee (and Chuck Norris), that ignorant preacher from Arkansas, is doing to the GOP. My hope is that he gets the full nomination because if he does, christ, even Dennis Kucinich could beat him in the general election. But at the same time I’m getting nervous: McCain, a very viable candidate for the general election, could make some serious moves if he bodes well in NH, as he also did in 2000. Then you’ve got Guliani to worry about in Florida, and that crazy flip-flopping Mormon, too. (Whom, if you didn’t know, won in the little heard of Wyoming Republican caucus two days after Iowa.)

Hillary is salting and licking her wounds as Edwards furthers his pointedly populist agenda. Which, I must admit, I am falling very fast for. Obama keeps taking half-ass swipes at the Clinton’s for continuing to steel his pitches for change and tolerance, while Richardson, barely holds on. I vote in the Connecticut primary on 5 February, along with 22 other states that day. I’m currently on the fence and quite obdurate at the moment as to whom I’m going to throw my hat in for, so I’ll just leave it at that.

So here we are. A year has gone by. I visited, by far, one of the greatest places on earth and I hark back to it daily. Istanbul, by far, was my absolute highlight for the year. Perhaps it was the drugs and the trysts, or maybe it was the sights and the culture, I’m not really sure. All I do know is that I will return there in due time, and I will do so again and again for the rest of my life. I’m not ruling out dwelling there for quite some time either. It was a year of great laughs (my parents doing dueling keg stands) and striking blows (US mortgage crisis), good friends and new experiences.

There’s not much to complain about for ’07, but then again, there’s nothing to preach or scream about too much either.

It was a year, and we’re all older now, more learned also I hope.

As for 2008, I’m hoping to find a job; I’d also like to hit up Spain with my dear friend Amanda, but that’s all on the backs of getting a good job. I’d like to get a step closer to my 40-year-old goal. Whether that means simply figuring out if I’ll stay in the city for more schooling or run overseas for it—which also depends on that whole job thing—I hope to have a better, more 17th Century Dutch-like painted image for my future, rather than a 19th Century Impressionist idea and view. As for politics: I’m not even going there…yet, anyways.

Good luck in all that you do for the coming year.
Be well.
Drink up.
And goddamnit, don’t forget to laugh.