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Saddam is dead. It is all over the news with the cool graphics and accompanying music. I guess this means we won in Iraq huh? This is why we invaded Iraq, right? To hang a brutal dictator and establish stability? To free the Iraqi people from the violent arbitrariness of Saddam's regime? To improve their standard of living? To show them the benefits of American democracy? That WMD thingy is just a sideshow right? A little hoodwinking of the gullible American public.

We invaded Iraq to convict Saddam Hussein, so we could execute him by tying a nose around his neck. What a barbaric act. But hey it makes for cool television and the ratings are sky rocketing.

It was one heck of an expensive trial though: Nearly 3,000 American soldiers and thousands of Iraqi civilians have been killed since the United States invaded in March 2003. And the current cost of the war to the U.S. taxpayer is half a trillion dollars.
But, hey, what is a half trillion dollars? We convicted the SOB, right? Fair's fair. He had a scrupulously fair trial. He had his day in court. He had a chance to scream at our chosen judges and we delivered a legal ass-whipping on him. Hang him by his dictator neck .Yippee…

The lives lost and the dollars spent to get us there? They were totally worth it, weren't they? I mean, shit, even if we don't get another darn thing out of being stuck in this God-forsaken hellhole, we got to see Saddam swingin' from the end of a rope, brother. Woo-HOO.

That is what our boy king wanted all along. What a sad act.

Victors justice is knocking on the cell door of Saddam Hussein. The United States government is going to hand him over to be murdered/hanged. Josh Marshall has a brilliant piece over at Talkingpointsmemo on this impending barbarity. He starts off saying:
It's a hornet's nest. But I'm game. So why not jump in.

And he went on to described the ineptitude and borderline juvenile behavior of our boy king in a succinct way when he wrote:

These jokers are being dragged kicking and screaming to the realization that the whole thing's a mess and that they're going to be remembered for it -- defined by it -- for decades and centuries. But before we go, we can hang Saddam. Quite a bit of this was about the president's issues with his dad and the hang-ups he had about finishing Saddam off -- so before we go, we can hang the guy as some big cosmic 'So There!'

I, like Josh, find this transparent charade and its handling a profound embarrassment to our country. What next, W? Not to worry Josh made a point in the writeup that sums it up perfectly:

I just find it embarrassing. This is what we're reduced to, what the president has reduced us to. This is the best we can do. Hang Saddam Hussein because there's nothing else this president can get right.
What do you figure this farce will look like 10, 30 or 50 years down the road? A signal of American power or weakness?

Don't get me wrong...I hate dictators like Saddam with a passion. But I am an unapologetic opponent of the death penalty. Imprisoning Saddam for the rest of his natural life has a more deterrent effect than killing him and emboldening his maniacal followers to wreck havoc on innocent civilians in blood lust revenge. But in bush world it is all about power trips. Consequences be damned.

Unlike the nightmare that I encountered flying with Ghana Airways in 2003, my experience with North American Airlines on my recent vacation to the motherland was positive. The level of customer service offered is comparable to any airline I have flown with within the continental United States. The flight crew is gracious and courteous. The in flight entertainment isn’t bad either. Moreover and most importantly we depart and arrived at our destinations on time. Something Ghana airways knows nothing about. It is a pity that this little airline that could is abandoning the Baltimore to Banjul route come January. Lack of passengers is obviously the reason. Apparently, Gambians in the United States don’t travel back home as often to warrant weekly flights to the smiling coast and visa regulations after September the eleventh made it virtually impossible for Gambians to gain entrance into the states.

My flight landed in Banjul on a humid December afternoon. The first sign of economic decay confronts the casual observer from there on. The airport bus that ferries airline passengers disembarking from the plane to the terminal building has most of the instrument panel broken. The idea of repairing them hasn’t occurred to anyone. The bus driver was definitely in a hurry. Screaming for the arriving passengers to hurry up so that he could drive for what amounts to a block give and take. A little bit of patience on his part might help with his blood pressure.

The immigration and customs process was lackluster. The immigration officers look detached and wary. The process could be speeded up if each had their own stamps instead of sharing one. Welcome to Banjul international airport: The bragging port of entry that you can’t make APRC supporters stops talking about. Structurally the airport isn’t bad for a country the size of the Gambia. It complements the travelling habits of the populace. Most Gambians have never flown in their lives and the few that flew is catered for by this structure adequately.

Once you walk through the immigration gate, you are confronted by a throng of uniformed porters offering you their services. Grown men milling around with carts begging to carry your bags for a handout to feed their families. The sight of these straggly looking men will humble the most boisterous of a human being. You feel bless and sad at the same time. Blessed that you don’t have to go through what they are going through and sad that there is very little you could do to alleviate their plight.

Then it hit you that there is collusion between the porters and the customs inspectors at the Gambia’s airport. To avoid your bags searched, all you need to do is have one of these porters carry them. Once they go through the X-ray scans, the porter just signal to the inspectors that you are with them and you are saved the trouble of opening your bags for the inspectors to rummage through.

I was flabbergasted when the guy who carried my bags breaks it down to me when I tried to give him a ten dollar tip. He made it clear to me that the inspectors inside are waiting for their cut once he gets inside. I felt a sense of rage at that comment after all I don’t care if they search my doggone baggage. There is nothing illegal in them after all . To make a story short, I gave the guy twenty dollars for what amount to nothing I couldn’t do myself. I was trying to support a fellow by letting him carry two sixty pound bags on a cart for me. I could have drag them on wheels myself like I did in the states. That was my first brush with corrupt Gambian officials barely twenty minutes after setting foot on Gambian soil.
I will dwell on other issues in subsequent posts as time permits. I am swamped at the moment with work.

I'm Back

I have been vacationing in the Gambia for the past three weeks. needless to say the internet connection down there sucks. I had the intention of blogging before I left, however my experience at the internet cafe the second day of my visit made it abundantly clear to me that this is not going to happen.

I will blog about my experiences during this trip in the days to come.

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