“…and by persons I mean the ones with penises.”

Our Excellency President Bush makes a side trip to Afghanistan on his way to CallCenteristan.

Amid extremely tight security, Bush made the surprise visit in Afghanistan at the onset of a scheduled visit to India and Pakistan.

“It’s a thrill to come to a country which is dedicating itself to the dignity of every person who lives here,” Bush said.

Well if it’s Wednesday and it’s supposed to be Afghanistan… maybe not:

Sharifa is jailed in the women’s block, a concrete slab with slits for windows. A thick smell of damp and urine fills the long, dark corridors as the drip-drip of water echoes along the hollow passage. Sharifa shares a room with a handful of other women. They huddle around a fire-heater in the corner of the room – it is bitterly cold. Electricity is a rarity in Afghanistan.

An ancient generator spits and rattles, sending grimy light bulbs limping into action, emitting a dim, orange hue over the cracked walls.

“When the Americans came I thought it would be better, but nothing has changed,” says Sharifa, with a shy smile.

There are 25 women and 21 children here, jailed for drugs offenses, murder and “family matters” – which includes having sex outside of marriage. Many of the children, jailed with their mothers, have been in prison for years.

Sharifa does not know when she will be released, or where she will go when she comes out. For the women who have committed crimes against the family, returning to their communities and villages is not an option. In most cases, it was their families or neighbors who alerted the police to their “immoral” behavior.

“The Taliban were awful but it is also just our way. In the villages a woman will be stoned to death if it is thought she is friendly with a man – this has been happening with or without the Taliban,” says Sharifa’s cellmate, 24-year-old Nouria.

She also ran away from an abusive husband, fleeing to a friend’s house. Rumors started circulating that she was behaving “inappropriately” with her friend’s small son and she was nearly lynched. Being taken to prison probably saved her life.

It was three years ago that George Bush triumphantly announced: “The mothers and daughters of Afghanistan were captives in their own homes, forbidden from working or going to school – today women are free.”

However, most women still wear the all-encompassing burqa, through fear of attack and social pressure, a third of women in Kabul do not leave the house, forbidden from doing so by the male members of the family, and it is still almost impossible for women to get a divorce.

I’m not feeling the dignity here but I think the preceding is making John Tierney feel a boner coming on.

Meanwhile the press in Afghanistan isn’t cutting President 34% any slack.

Q Your Excellency President Bush, welcome to Afghanistan and wish you a pleasant stay. The question is — it has been four years since the presence of the international forces in Afghanistan. However, the security situation is increasingly deteriorating. What will be your long-term security policy to Afghanistan? And the second part of the question is, how will the U.S. policy be affected in regards to Afghanistan if Osama and Mullah Omar are captured?

The question was going great up until the guy said, “The question is –“

Bush would bomb his ass if hadn’t already done so…

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