Monday, August 31, 2009

Blackwater CIA Assasins, Shocking Claims of Fraud in Middle East!!

Paul Krugman
Bob Dole

"Many of us were taught that the president proposes and Congress disposes." - Bob Dole

"Surveying current politics, I find myself missing Richard Nixon." - Paul Krugman

"Crazy is a pre-existing condition” - Rick Perlstein

"you wouldn't want to have American fingerprints on it..."
I have not been kind to the CIA, saying some pretty derogatory things in my posts. Unfortunately, today's news only confirms my bad opinion. When Cheney's tools decided to restart the program of capturing or killing people in countries we had no intelligence or bad political relationships with, the CIA decided to outsource instead of doing it themselves. Even more unfortunately, they contracted with Blackwater USA: "With Blackwater's lucrative government security work and contacts arrayed in hot spots around the world, company officials offered the services of foreigners supposedly skilled at tracking terrorists in lawless regions and countries where the CIA had no working relationships with the government.

Blackwater told the CIA that it "could put people on the ground to provide the surveillance and support — all of the things you need to conduct an operation," a former senior CIA official familiar with the secret program told The Associated Press.

But the CIA's use of the private contractor as part of its now-abandoned plan to dispatch death squads skirted concerns now re-emerging with recent disclosures about Blackwater's role."
Blackwater, or Xe, is still being contracted by the State Department for bodyguard service, and contracted by the Pentagon and CIA for use in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and even still in Iraq, where they are not welcome for having murdered innocent civilians. Blackwater has been criticized for hiring extremist evangelicals to fight the Christian war against Islam, as described by its founder. His mother is also an extremely devout evangelical, and paid for the Focus on the Family headquarters here in Colorado Springs. I wonder if James Dobson has ever used Xe's services...

Those pesky claims of fraud...
Allegations of fraud in the Afghan election have jumped from 270 to 550, and all will have to be investigated before the results can be certified, as reported in the NY Times. Many claims are typical of this: "A Kabul teacher assigned to run a polling station in this village arrived at 6 a.m. on Election Day to find the ballot boxes already full, well before the voting was to start. When he protested, the other election officials told him to let it go; when he refused, he was taken away by the local tribal chieftain’s bodyguards.

Now he is in hiding and receiving threats, he said. And the village’s polling place is under investigation in one of the most serious reports of fraud that officials worry could affect the results of the country’s Aug. 20 elections — in this case, as in many others, in favor of President Hamid Karzai."
I wonder if Karzai has had Iranian consultants on how to conduct the election, it certainly has nullified James Carville's hired advice to his major opponent. Karzai is a Pashtun, as is the major Taliban group. His brother is accused of being involved in the ballot stuffing as well as being a major player in the heroin trade, which means that he is involved with the Talibans. Perhaps Karzai intends for the election to fail, leaving Afghans distrustful of all elections. Then, he can just keep his presidency and become a dictator, sharing with his fellow Pashtuns in running the government, a proposal he has already made...

The Taliban has made good on several threats of cutting off the fingers of voters where the blue ink was displayed, and other forms of retribution. They are successfully gaining ground again in areas where they were previously swept away by American forces. The American generals tell the Afghan government their plans, the Afghan government passes the information to the Taliban, who quickly adapt to counter against western tactics. Stanley McChrystal is frustrated and will be asking for more troops soon: “The situation in Afghanistan is serious, but success is achievable and demands a revised implementation strategy, commitment and resolve, and increased unity of effort.”

US - Israeli ties in graft...
Every country in the world is victimized by corruption and graft. In the US we call it lobbying, where Congressman and Congresswomen receive bribes for providing earmarks and pandering their votes. It is the same business as usual in places like the Middle East, yet we are shocked when the sordid underbelly is exposed in places like Israel, our BFF. The NY times reports: "According to the 61-page indictment, which the attorney general, Menachem Mazuz, and the state prosecution presented to the Jerusalem District Court, Mr. Olmert is accused of crimes including fraud, breach of trust, falsifying corporate records and failing to report income. If convicted, he could face years in prison."

Mr Olmert is pretty much screwed unless he can convince the jury that he is innocent because that's the traditional way for officials to conduct their business. The US is involved in one of the charges: "The most sensational of the three cases involved Morris Talansky, a Long Island businessman, from whom Mr. Olmert is alleged to have received more than $600,000, partly in cash-stuffed envelopes, from 1997 to 2005. Prosecutors accuse Mr. Olmert of hiding the money and failing to report it to the authorities. Though Mr. Olmert has not been charged with taking bribes in the Talansky case, he is accused of abusing his position as a government minister to promote Mr. Talansky’s private business interests in Israel and abroad, constituting a major conflict of interest." Oh, there's a lot more. Charges of him double-billing for trips taken abroad and setting up dummy corporations to funnel money caused him to resign in 2006. The current Foreign Minister is under investigation for similar charges...

And to add insult to injury, Mr Olmert's confidant and office manager has been arrested for bugging his office and listening to conversations that took place there. Maybe she was just getting the material for her new tell-all book, due out soon by a New York publisher...

In honor of bad taste, here are some old Ted Kennedy jokes:

"Declassified papers report that John Kennedy was taking eight different medications a day. He was so wasted, his Secret Service code name was Ted Kennedy." —Craig Kilborn

"You see Barack Obama at that rally surrounded by all those Kennedys? Man, I couldn't tell if he was running for president or bartender." --Jay Leno

"They say President Bush has started drinking again. Boy, he'll do anything to get Ted Kennedy's support for that Supreme Court nominee." --Jay Leno

"During Judge Alito's hearings, Senator Ted Kennedy accidentally referred to Sam Alito as Ali-oto. Kennedy said 'Forgive me, I'm sober.'" --Conan O'Brien

"It was a long, dull speech. Halfway through, Ted Kennedy sent drinks over to the Bush twins." –David Letterman, on Bush's State of the Union Address

"It's Bring Your Daughter to Work Day. This tradition began about 25 years ago down in Washington, D.C. by a quick-thinking Ted Kennedy who was spotted leaving his office with an 18-year-old." —David Letterman

"According to rumors, Ted Kennedy may have had a child out of wedlock. Well, who hasn't? But you know, something like this could damage Kennedy's image with women." --David Letterman

"The John Bolton nomination has cleared the committee. Larry Flynt has entered the fray. He said he has evidence Bolton bought tickets to a swingers club and forced his wife to have group sex. Today Ted Kennedy said he's heard enough -- he's voting yes." --Bill Maher

"What a nightmare I had last night. I dreamed I was at a Washington party and I had to choose between Dick Cheney taking me on a hunting trip or Ted Kennedy driving me home." --Jay Leno

"Patrick Kennedy crashed his car and said he doesn't remember anything about the accident, except a huge sense of relief when he came to and he wasn't soaking wet." --Bill Maher

"Ted Kennedy was stopped for going on an airline because his name somehow ended up on a no-fly list. Is this really safe for people — Ted Kennedy driving?" --Craig Kilborn

"Sen. Ted Kennedy is writing a children's book with his dog, from the dog's point of view. Sen. Ted Kennedy has a dog named Splash. Is that the best name for Ted Kennedy's dog? Isn't that like that Jack Abramoff guy naming his dog Bribe?" --Jay Leno

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Walk Softly and Carry a Big Cheney, John McCain is No Ted Kennedy

Micah Zenko
Loch Johnson
Sharon Begley

"If diplomacy fails, the world should be prepared for an Israeli attack on Iran's suspected nuclear weapons facilities." - Micah Zenko

"We knew Ted Kennedy. Ted Kennedy was a friend of ours. John McCain is no Ted Kennedy." - Steve Benen

"High-profile investigations will not transform human nature, turning intelligence officials -- or the presidents and White House aides who direct them -- into angels." - Loch Johnson

al Qaeda sneaks into Gaza strip...
I like to find small news items that often take days to migrate to the larger papers an
d websites. Yesterday I wrote about al Qaeda training camps on the Arabian Peninsula getting ready to send people into the Gaza strip.early this morning two bombs went off in Gaza and a third was found and dismantled. From al Jazeera: "Earlier on Sunday, Hamas said that unidentified Palestinians had set off explosive devices at two of its security compounds in Gaza City... Hamas security sources said that they had defused a third bomb near what is known as the department for security and protection... No one claimed responsibility for the attacks, while Israeli military sources denied involvement."

Also reported was a tit for tat misslie strikes between Hamas and Israel. Someone from Gaza sent a missile into Israel again, exploding in an open field. Israel sent a jet and fired a missile at a house that Israeli intelligence said covered a smuggler's tunnel built by groups that were not Hamas...

Dick Cheney Day...
It's Sunday, and I'm patiently waiting for football season to begin. Haven't decided which team to root for because the Denver Broncos are such drama queens. So, I think today will be Dick Cheney Day. Here's a man flailing impotently trying his best to remain relevant. If a rant echoes through the forest, will anyone hear? What bothers me most is that Cheney used the information gained under torture to shape his worldview of al Qaeda and Islamic terroris
m. He didn't trust most other sources of information, which explains why his vision is skewed and he made bad choices that cost us billions of dollars and a lot of innocent lives. And he can't accept that he was wrong, or that people have been criticizing his decisions, which naturally happens once you are out of office... From the Washington Post: "Former Vice President Dick Cheney reiterated his claim today that enhanced interrogation techniques used on terrorism suspects in U.S. custody in the years after September 11, 2001, worked in revealing terror plots despite contrary sentiment from a CIA investigator who probed detainee interrogations.

Cheney's statements come six days after the release of a 2004 CIA Inspector General report (pdf) that documents a litany of interrogation tactics used on detainees, including waterboarding, "walling," face-slapping and at least one mock execution. Cheney's views, though, contradict those of former CIA inspector general John Helgerson, who wrote in the report that there is no proof that such techniques were responsible for reliable information that helped in foiling terror plans."

While he was on the subject of defending the amateur psychologists that designed the torture program, he also had nothing good to say about the new justice dept. From the Daily Beast: "Hey, Dick Cheney probably knows a thing or two about politicizing investigations: “It’s clearly a political move,” the former vice president told Fox News Sunday when he
was asked about the Obama administration’s investigation of CIA interrogations. “[It] offends the hell out of me. … I just think it's an outrageous political act that will do great damage, long term, to our capacity to be able to have people take on difficult jobs, make difficult decisions, without having to worry about what the next administration is going to say..."

Cranking it up a notch, he also took a shot at Obama, from the Politico: "Former Vice President Dick Cheney delivered another harsh rebuke of the Obama administration, calling the Justice Department’s new investigation into whether CIA interrogators broke the law "an outrageous political act” and questioning Barack Obama’s ability to lead the country.

“I wasn’t a fan of his when he got elected, and my views haven’t changed any,” Cheney said in an interview that aired on Fox News Sunday. “I have serious doubts about his policies, serious doubts especially about the extent to which he understands and is prepared to do what needs to be done to defend the nation.”

He said the investigation is “an outrageous precedent to set” and will have consequences for the country’s national security. “It’s clearly a political move,” Cheney said. “There’s no other rationale for why they’re doing this.” Is this a blatant political move to get back at the Republicans, or is it an investigation into what is moral under international law during times of undeclared war? One one hand, its good to see someone supporting the CIA, while on the other hand, the damned CIA has followed the Peter Principle by getting rid of the smart people and rewarding the incompetents, especially when headed by giant suck-ups like George Tenet and spineless amoebas like Porter Goss. The CIA has been out of favor in the public eye since 1975, and since 2000 hasn't been capable of producing a credible long range analysis that could help policy makers. Dick Cheney only added to the confusion, lack of morale, and history o
f bad analysis. I was hoping that Leon Panetta would be able to reverse this trend, but it seems he, too, is captive by a bunch of whining little boys...

Speaking of old hacks...
Steve Benen of Political Animal has a lot to say about John McCain. It seems people like Wolf Blitzer made a speech on CNN about McCain becoming the next Ted Kennedy of the Senate. Why we allow this crap, I don't know: "On CNN yesterday afternoon, reflecting on Ted Kennedy's legacy as one of the giants of the U.S. Senate, Wolf Blitzer pondered who might someday emerge as a legislative leader with Kennedy's stature and success.

"A lot of people think it might be someone else who sought the presidency, lost and dec
ided, 'You know what, my life's work will now be a senator' and that is Senator McCain, who has been a very good friend to Senator Kennedy..."

What's more, as Faiz Shakir noted, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Cynthia Tucker also argued yesterday, "John McCain could be the Senate's new Ted Kennedy." Tucker said McCain, since last year's election, "has bowed to the harsh nihilism that seems to be all that Republicans represent these days," but said "McCain's reputation for a principled bipartisanship was intact" last year.

I guess I was watching a different presidential campaign last year. As I recall, McCain spent the year lying, flip-flopping, running cheap and ugly ads, and choosing a crazy person as his
running mate.

As for the comparison itself, Kennedy was among the most accomplished lawmakers in the history of the United States Senate. McCain has an impressive personal background, but very few accomplishments to his name. Kennedy was principled, brilliant, and knowledgeable. McCain is inconsistent, easily confused, and has no patience for details. Kennedy was widely admired and respected by those who worked with him. McCain is known for screaming at his colleagues, even Republicans, who dare to disagree with him.

We knew Ted Kennedy. Ted Kennedy was a friend of ours. John McCain is no Ted Kennedy." :-) ;-) :-)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Friendly North Korean Weapons, al Qaeda of Arabia

Jacob Weisberg
Abbas Milani
Robert Haddick

"It's not preposterous to imagine laws that would try to save money by encouraging the inconvenient elderly to make a timely exit. After all, that's been Republican policy for years." - Jacob Weisberg

"The scars of living under a paranoid regime last a lifetime. " - Abbas Milani

"I did not want him to be searched, but he surprised me by blowing himself up." - Prince Mohammed

Analysis on Iran's leadership feud...
From the Foreign Policy website, Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, thinks “this might just be theater.” Reached by e-mail, he told FP that “Khamenei wants to try and rehabilitate his image as a magnanimous leader who stays above the fray, and hence he issues more conciliatory statements ... while giving [Ahmadinejad] free reign to be the attack dog.”

Weapons bound for Iran seized...
First, Russian rockets get stopped from being delivered to Iran, and now a North Korean ship that was full of rocket propelled grenades destined for Iran was detained by the UAE: "The United Arab Emirates has seized a cargo ship bound for Iran with a cache of banned rocket-propelled grenades and other arms from North Korea, the first such seizure since sanctions against North Korea were ramped up, diplomats and officials told The Associated Press on Friday.

The seizure earlier this month was carried out in accordance with tough new U.N. Security Council sanctions meant to derail North Korea's nuclear weapons program, but which also ban the North's sale of any conventional arms."
Most of these devices find their way into Iraq and Afghanistan.

According to, the armor piercing roadside bombs are designed in Iran, with many being made their and smuggled into Iraq: "Pentagon and intelligence officials say that some shipments of the new explosives have contained both components and fully manufactured devices, and may have been spirited into Iraq along the porous Iranian border by the Iranian-backed, anti-Israeli terrorist group Hezbollah, or by Iran's Revolutionary Guard. American commanders say these bombs closely matched those that Hezbollah has used against Israel." Other supplies come in through Syria, which both Hezbollah and al Qaeda use as a safe haven.

Other fun hotspots flaring up in violence, that are extremely dangerous for vacationers and free-lance journalists right now, are Chechneya, which still wants its independence from Russia, and Yemen, where the Sunni government, backed by Saudi arabia, has been fighting for the last two weeks against Shiite rebels also backed by Iran. As you can see, Iran has been focused on more than the show trials...

al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula...
The Saudis have also been trying to stop the spread of al Qaeda style terrorism in its own country, and in response, a suicide bomber tried to kill the official and member of the royal family in charge of anti-terrorism in the Kingdom. According to Google News:
" Hours after being lightly wounded by a suicide bomber, a senior Saudi prince largely credited w
ith the kingdom's aggressive anti-terrorism efforts said Friday he was more determined than ever to fight militants in the country.
The bombing was the first assassination attempt against a member of the royal family in decades and was also the first significant attack by militants in the kingdom since 2006. Saudi Arabia has waged a fierce crackdown on al-Qaida militants in the country that succeeded in killing or capturing most of its leaders after a string of attacks that started in 2003."

It's a tad ironic, since Osama bin Laden is a Saudi and still has access to his family fortune. Many other more moderate Islamic countries view Saudi Wahabism as extremist and influential in forming al Qaeda, they view the evangelicals moving into their countries as dangerous and try to keep track of them. Many Saudi fighters who have been to Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan to fight against the infidels, have been coming back to form their own groups in the areas surrounding Saudi Arabia, including Yemen. One of their plans is to set up training camps to send members into the Gaza strip. Let's not forget that many of the 9/11 hijackers were also from Saudi Arabia, with many ultra conservative Saudi princes supporting them with money...

Glen's paranoia...
GLENN BECK: I'm tired of being a sheep. I'm tired of being a victim. I'm tired of being pushed around. You know what? The gloves come off.

JASON LINKINS: I have no idea who is pushing Glenn Beck around! He gets his very own television show and radio show and book deals and he gets to say whatever in the world he feels like saying and people give him millions and millions of dollars for it. He can have, if he wants, his very own pony at his gigantic and secluded manse to ride on whenever he wants and can hire someone to bake him delicious funnel cakes any time he likes! These are the hard won perks of being a celebrity, earned from having a dedicated fan base.

late night political jokes:

"Obama family vacationing on Martha's Vineyard and Obama has been mostly relaxing with just a little bit of work. And you know, that sounds like George Bush's entire eight years." --David Letterman

"The entire island of Martha's Vineyard has gone Obama crazy. There's even a cocktail that they've named after Barack Obama. It's called the Obamarita. Not to be confused with a cocktail inspired by John McCain, the Cosmopoligrip. And then there was one a couple of years ago inspired by George W. Bush, the Mojidiot. Of course, there was the Bill Clinton Screwdriver." --David Letterman

"John McCain is out there in Arizona. He had a town hall meeting and you know these town hall meetings. Have you been watching? They've got out of hand completely. There's one old guy, had a gun rack on his walker, honestly." --David Letterman

"McCain at one point had to have a crazy woman removed by security at one of these town hall meetings. And I'm thinking, jeez, he should have done that a year ago." --David Letterman

"Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will serve four more years, or until the United States becomes a colony of China." --David Letterman

"Bernanke looks like a guy you see at the airport holding a sign that reads 'Dr. Rothman.' He looks like a guy who ran a Madoff feeder fund. He looks like a personal physician to a pop star. He looks like a medical examiner on 'Kojak.'" --David Letterman

"Ladies and gentlemen, here's an example of why we're all screwed. You know the stimulus checks that the government's sending out? Thousands of these stimulus checks have been sent to prison inmates. Well, I'm pretty sure they'll give 'em back. I mean, if you can't trust a con who -- I mean, seriously." --David Letterman

"It's all part of Obama's new 'Cash for Convicts' program." --David Letterman

"The good news is the checks arrived today, just in time for the big dance on Saturday." --David Letterman

"But according to a newly released memo from the CIA, they used horrible torture techniques on prisoners. Dick Cheney claimed that it wasn't torture. Enhanced interrogation techniques, that's what he called it, enhanced interrogation technique. And he didn't shoot that guy in the face. No, no, that was enhanced quail hunting." --David Letterman

"Speaking of John McCain, he says that people are so angry and concerned about America's future, that he sees a revolution coming. McCain said, 'I had this exact same feeling in 1776.'" --Conan O'Brien

"Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has been a victim of identity theft. His credit card company became suspicious when they noticed repeated purchases of large, failing American car companies." --Conan O'Brien

Friday, August 28, 2009

Mahmoud Strikes Back, Me and Paul...

Paul Krugman
Michael Kinsley
Terrence McNalley

"The United States can deal with its debts if politicians of both parties are, in the end, willing to show at least a bit of maturity. Need I say more?" - Paul Krugman

"But as soon as it seems that change might actually happen -- as soon as we leave the abstract for the particular -- we panic." - Michael Kinsley

"Sarah - I need to contact you. I need to know how to fight this current govt. We must find a way to get them removed, standing by and watching all the evil occur, is like watching water run quickly down the drain, each of our freedoms gone daily. Please advise me what direction to take my group. Thank you" - commentator on Sarah Palin's Facebook

"A blind person who sees is better than a seeing person who is blind..."If anyone is sounding more and more like an Adolf Hitler these days, its Iran's fake President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The man can't take a little criticism, or opposition it seems. After again being criticized by the Supreme Leader yesterday, who said that the protesters were not foreign agents, which was one of the main arguments for the show trial currently being staged by judicial cronies, Mr Ahmadinejad rebutted rather forcefully on a radio address before morning prayers today, that: "... leaders of the protests that followed his disputed re-election in June need to be dealt with decisively. Speaking ahead of Friday prayers in Tehran, he said the "main elements should not enjoy immunity and security" while their followers were punished. He also acknowledged some arrested protesters had been abused but said security forces had not been involved." Yeah, they have these really big abusive rats who raped and tortured the prisoners, their birth certificates show they were bred in the New York sewer system... This is like watching a chess match between two very bad players. Who will win, the religious leadership or the military leadership, who are two similar conservative types of rats sniping at each other, to the amusement of everyone else. Unless you are one of the 100 on trial, whose lives are the scraps of cheese being fought over... Ayatollah Khamenei is trying to recoup his position of Supreme leadership after bungling things badly after the fake election, by alternately encouraging the different factions. It looks like he has been spending more time lately reading Sun Tze's The Art of War than the Koran...

A couple of interesting items from Foreign Policy's AfPak daily brief: "The good news out of Afghanistan this morning is that far fewer Afghan civilians have been killed since Gen
. Stanley McChrystal took over as the top U.S. commander in the country (Los Angeles Times). From July 1 until Thursday, coalition forces were responsible for 19 Afghan civilian deaths, compared with 151 during roughly the same time last year." Should we just pull out all of our troops from Afghanistan if Kharzai wins the election, let him make his own deal with the Talibans? It's nice to know that the Petraeus and McChrystal strategies are successful, but it is a very expensive experiment to run and still costing us the lives of our children. Their is no win/win option forseeable in the future.

And: "Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has reportedly authored a searing critique of the U.S.'s strategic communications plan with the Muslim world, saying that American efforts to counter extremist messaging "lack credibility" (New York Times). Mullen didn't spotlight any particular government program, but noted in an essay to be published later today in the Joint Force Quarterly, an official military journal, that "there has been a certain arrogance to our 'strat comm' efforts" This is probably because we have academic types crafting our messages, and you know how those professors love to lecture... or it could be that all of the really good writers and translators were gay people, who were drummed out of the service from being outed by their superiors...

Bi-partisan House party...
From Politico comes the story of the current collaboration between Barney Frank, who is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and Ron Paul, the author of the bill to audit the Fed: "Frank, who supports Ben Bernanke's re-appointment as Fed chairman, is walking a tightrope between supporting the administration and heeding the broad, bipartisan support for the Fed audit bill, which has 282 co-sponsors.

After initially backing the Fed's role as a dominant "systemic regulator," he now seems leerier of its institutional reach -- and wants to curtail the Fed's nearly unlimited powers to lend cash -- citing the $80-plus billion loan to AIG."
This way you will be able to see where the Fed spends its money and there will be no secrets, or groups like the stimulus oversight committee begging to get information. Why something like this wasn't done when the Fed was created is beyond me. I think we would have had a less bloated economy if the Fed's decisions were put under public scrutiny. It's bad enough that there are predictions that over a thousand banks may still fail, and the ones that were deemed "too big to fail" have grown even larger... See, even Ron Paul loves Barney, not every adult hate those purple dinosaurs.

late night jokes:

"Boy, it's hot in New York City today, huh? I know what you're thinking right now. You're thinking, OK, OK, go ahead and pull the plug on the old folks, just don't pull the plug on the air conditioner." --David Letterman

"Here's the way it stands now. Hamid Karzai is leading in the election and he picked up a lot of swing voters, they said, in the Afghanistan elections, because of his No Infidel Left Behind program." --David Letterman

"One of the candidates, Abdullah Abdullah, has dropped out of the running, and they think now his dumb son is thinking about running, Abdullah W. Abdullah." --David Letterman

"Here's the approved CIA torture methods: sleep deprivation; waterboarding; face slapping. Sounds like attending a Donald trump real estate seminar, or watching a Ben Bernanke confirmation hearing." --David Letterman

"Anyway, he's being re-nominated for the Federal Reserve chairman. And I'm already planning my big Ben Bernanke party." --David Letterman

"I like Ben Bernanke. He looks like the guy who OK's your check at Kroger." --David Letterman

"He looks like every guy at your high school reunion." --David Letterman

"He looks like a porn kingpin. That's it. Ben Bernanke, that's what he looks like." --David Letterman

"The Obamas taking a vacation on Martha's Vineyard. When something like that happens, it's like a big deal for the community. And people on Martha's Vineyard are going crazy and they're buying Obama T-shirts, they're buying Obama mugs, they're buying Obama caps. The only thing they're not buying is Obama's health-care plan." --David Letterman

"Obama has a great money-saving idea for health care. Here's what he's saying — if you need an X-ray and you don't have the money or you don't have proper health coverage and you need that X-ray, just drop by an airport, go right through the scanner. They'll send you the results." --David Letterman

"But on Martha's Vineyard, they're serving a new drink inspired by Obama. It's an Obamarita. After three Obamaritas, a $9 trillion deficit doesn't look so bad." --David Letterman

"This is not the first time a president has inspired a cocktail. We have the Obamarita. And remember George W. Bush? He inspired the Mojidiot." --David Letterman

"The latest rumor is that President Obama is going to have dinner on Martha's Vineyard with Oprah Winfrey. That's right, ladies and gentlemen. The most powerful person in the free world is going to have dinner with President Obama." --Conan O'Brien

"Governor Schwarzenegger is trying to reduce California's deficit by auctioning off state holdings that he says are no longer needed. So check out the auction if you're looking to buy real estate, construction equipment, or the Los Angeles Clippers." --Conan O'Brien

"General Motors has announced it's going to be removing its GM 'Mark of Excellence' logo from all GM cars. Of course, the GM Mark of Excellence logo doesn't usually have to be removed because after 50 miles, it just falls off." --Conan O'Brien

Thursday, August 27, 2009

McCarthyism Iranian Style, the Silvio Lining, Secrets from the Colorado Forests

William Cohan
Joe Conason
Erich Follath

"Fox News host Glenn Beck has lost over 30 sponsors since he called President Obama a racist. And the latest sponsor that he just lost is Clorox bleach. That's amazing. Even a company whose sole purpose is to make things whiter thinks Glenn Beck has gone too far." --Conan O'Brien

"The greatest tribute would be that every American would get the same health care options that Ted Kennedy got. Tedcare for all, forever." - Rush Limbaugh

Iranian style McCarthyism...
The situation in Iran is almost as fascinating as the political smearing going on in the US, but it takes place behind the facade of religion. Just this morning the flurry of back biting as reported in the NY Times is: "On Wednesday, aides to Iran’s president lashed out publicly at two former presidents, the nation’s most influential dissident cleric said government officials had taken a “deviant path” and a government-aligned Web site reported that the Tehran prosecutor had been fired." And if that's more than a mouthful, over a hundred protesters are still being tried on tenuous charges. One of the accusations has been that many of those who have been taking to the street were agents of foreign countries, much like our own political witch-hunts from the '50's... Now the BBC is reporting that the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomemei (I'm sorry, but that title always makes me think of a supreme burrito from Taco Bell. The other similarity is that he also makes his people want to run for the border...) is now saying that: "he has seen no proof that opposition leaders blamed for the post-election unrest were agents of foreign powers.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's comments contradict accusations which have frequently been made by hardliners."
Besides the schizophrenic nature of Iran's leadership, this does resemble the McCarthy type hearings from the 1950's with a tad 1960's anti-government protesting thrown in, which demonstrates (sic) that they are about 30 - 40 years behind the curve on the social evolutionary scale. I can't wait until Ahmadinejad is asked to provide his birth certificate and the claims that he was really born in New Jersey... maybe Orly Taitz will then move to Iran.

Is there a Silvio lining in all this mess?
So what might have happened if a John Ensign or Mark Sanford had run for president and won? We'd have a hypocritical, sexist situation much like what is going on in Italy. Of course, Silvio Berlesconi is much worse, with his old-style European paternalism, blatantly courting 15 year old girls, putting showgirls in his cabinet, and publicly embarrassing his wife so much that she is divorcing him and has written a book lambasting his attitudes. Like John and Mark, he is unrepentent as males everywhere snicker and wish for his wealth and swagger. Italian women are getting pissed off at him but also blame ingrained behavior: "Why have Italians put up with all this? Compared to those in other European countries, conservative ideas in Italy die hard, in part because of our famously patriarchal culture but also because of the huge influence of the Roman Catholic Church, whose political and social interference in public affairs seems to have become even stronger since Mr. Berlusconi first became prime minister in 1994. (The church, for example, has threatened to excommunicate doctors who prescribe the abortion pill as well as patients who use it.)

Furthermore, Italy’s glass ceiling has proved to be more resistant than it is elsewhere in Europe... It is no surprise, then, that many Italian women are unwilling to take on an additional burden of raising children. As a result, the country has an extraordinarily low birthrate"
I'm waiting for the next reality show, The Silvio Lining, airing on the Playboy Channel this Fall...

John and Mark are similarly unrepentant. Even though they publicly made holier-than-thou speeches lambasting other people's sexual deviance while diddling on the side themselves, neither has had the courage to own up to their actions and resign from their political posts. Could it be because they are members of a secret, power hungry evangelical cult and its perverted form of Christianity says that they are the privileged few who deserve to keep on keeping on violating their morals and the public be damned? Just shows the truism of that age old refrain: Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This weekend Mark Sanford may be impeached by his own party, the GOP. He think he's being railroaded and has a bright future ahead of him...

Oh, he can find a pot farm before it starts to blaze...
One of the big headline stories in today's Denver Post is about international drug cartels growing marijuana in Colorado's national forests: "Authorities have seized nearly 20,000 marijuana plants from national forest land in Colorado this summer, part of an apparent expansion of growing operations funded and run by international drug cartels.

The operations pose a significant safety hazard to hikers who may happen upon the armed farmers in the woods. They also threaten streams that can be polluted by chemicals used to grow marijuana. "
I don't know if it's funny or sad that it has taken these nimrods so long to figure this out. Similar operations have been going on in California for years, a documentary about it was made for the History Channel, and our law enforcement didn't have a clue until now? In fact, every National Forest area from here to Florida probably has the same kind of pot farms guarded by illegal marijuanistas who only speak Spanish, and it may take several years more for the feds to connect the dots. Talk about second-hand smoke... There's been generations of pot farmers in the Smoky Mountains and the Ozarks, hand in hand with the old moonshine tradition, but our domestic farmrs may not be touched because its homgrown made in America... Anyway, I hope that the authorities donated the confiscated plants to medical marijuana dispensaries instead of destroying them...

We have more to worry about than marijuana. Just like crack cocaine invaded the US from south of our borders, a newer, cheaper, and much more addicting alternative to cocaine called paco may be imported. It already has creeped up from Argentina, where it was introduced in 2003, and has decimated the younger population...

late night jokes:

"Meteorologists are now saying Hurricane Bill has been downgraded to a tropical depression. They say Bill officially hit the depression stage after a surprise run-in with Hurricane Hillary." --Conan O'Brien

"Speaking of former President Clinton, this is weird. Former President Clinton recently had to clear out of his office for a few days because it's infested with bed bugs. Experts are calling it the 500th reason President Clinton shouldn't be allowed to have a bed in his office." --Conan O'Brien

"There's talk that the elections last week in Afghanistan were rigged. Boy, I didn't see that coming." --David Letterman

"Couple of years ago down in Cuba, Fidel Castro they thought, oh, he might be dying because he had some kind of surgery and he is an older fellow, in is 80s. But now, over the weekend, it's all Fidel Castro. He is everywhere. And he was on television. He looked fit. He looked healthy. He looked happy. He was so impressive, as a matter of fact, CIA is actually thinking of sending Squeaky Fromme down there to take a shot at him." --David Letterman

"But President Obama says he's going to play golf, he's going to swim, and he's going to work his way through the Julia Child cookbook." --David Letterman

"But Obama is spending the week at a $30,000 dollar-a-week beach house. And they call this guy a socialist? Come on!" --David Letterman

"But Obama is going to take two weeks to unwind, as opposed to President Bush, who never wound." --David Letterman

"Miss Venezuela is our new Miss Universe, ladies and gentlemen. Beautiful, beautiful. She came out dressed as a barrel of overpriced oil." --David Letterman

"But the Miss Universe pageant is fascinating. It's judged on poise -- you have to have poise -- judged on beauty, and also how you walk in high heels. What a coincidence, it's also how the Republicans pick a vice presidential candidate. The same criteria." --David Letterman

David Letterman's Top Ten Signs President Obama Needs A Vacation

10. Last week's radio address was ten minutes of snoring.
9. Switched from beer summits to tequila summits.
8. Asked CIA director what we're doing about terrorist organization "Al-Pacino."
7. Staffers often find him on White House roof meowing like a kitty.
6. Announced he's sending an elite military unit to kill Hitler.
5. Lately, he's been fist-bumping staffers in the face.
4. Asked for the number of Rush Limbaugh's OxyContin guy.
3. Called Bush for advice on sneaking naps during intelligence briefings.
2. Been babbling nonsense about government death panels -- wait, that's a sign Sarah Palin needs a vacation.
1. Barely has the energy to smoke

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Dr Seuss on Torture, Colorado Crazy

Kathleen Parker
Maureen Dowd
Boris Nemtsov

Dr Seus - ing out the situation
I was reading an article about how every detail in the CIA interrogations was controlled down to the last detail by the doctors, lawyers, and administrators in Washington, as reported in the NY Times; how surreal it all became and the lengths gone to justify it: "But defenders of the program say the tight rules show the government’s attempt to keep the program within the law. Elaborate care went into figuring out the precise gradations of coercion,” said David B. Rivkin Jr., a lawyer who served in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. “Yes, it’s jarring. But it shows how both the lawyers and the nonlawyers tried to do the right thing...

n June 2006, the Supreme Court ruled that prisoners who were members of Al Qaeda were entitled to the Geneva Conventions’ protections against humiliating and degrading treatment, and “outrages on personal dignity.” John A. Rizzo, the C.I.A.’s top lawyer, asked the Justice Department whether treatment at the agency’s secret prisons passed that test.

Mr. Bradbury of the Office of Legal Counsel wrote a 14-page response, assuring the agency that none of the conditions — the blindfolding and shackling, the involuntary shaving and the white noise — violated the Geneva Conventions’ standards.“These are not conditions that humans strive for,” Mr. Bradbury wrote. “But they do reflect the realities of detention, realities that the Geneva Conventions accommodate, where persons will have to sacrifice some measure of privacy and liberty while under detention.”

It reminds me of being caught up in some juvenile fantasy:

Would you put a prisoner in a box
Beat his feet, bloody his socks?

Or strip him naked to prance all day
Not let him sleep, or kneel to pray

Oh, I don't like these interrogators said Sam
For they make me eat green eggs and ham

That there is a lot of conflicting opinion over this subject is pretty obvious, here is a sampling of pundit's opinions, click on the author's name:
Bush and Cheney's Tragic Response to 9/11 - Andrew Sullivan, The Atlantic
Obama Proving Incapable of Terror Fight - Mark Davis, Dallas Mng News
Crimes Were Committed on Bush's Watch - Anthony Romero, USA Today
Prosecuting Those Who Stopped the Next Attack - Marc Thiessen, WSJ
Small Steps Toward Justice For Bush's Torturers - Dan Froomkin , Huff Post
Obama Targets CIA, Not The Enemy - Monica Crowley, Washington Times

It looks like we will get a break on the health care reform debates for the next few days,
as the country focuses on the death of Senator Edward Kennedy. I may not agree with all of his politics, but he was consistent in the things he believed in, and remained compassionate for those less fortunate. He overcame great personal tragedy and the loss of his two brothers to become an effective Senator. No doubt he will be missed, and brain cancer is an incredibly painful way to die. At least he had good healthcare... the morbid part is how every news station and internet site has had such a backlog of stories that they had prepared, waiting for the poor man to die. They have been like vultures, quietly circling overhead...

Part of me is glad that there are no more Kennedy's trying to get into politics, just like I'm glad we won't have any more Bushes. Family dynasties should stay in business and with inbred royalty, not played out in a democratic country, because it invokes conspiracy theories and lives of guilded privilege...

Politics for clunkers...
I don't know why the GOP has to resort to personally attacking Obama on such a hideous level, and they keep coming up with such stupid arguments against any kind of health care reform. All they have to say is good luck in getting a check from the government on time. Look at how they haven't paid car dealerships for the cash for clunkers program. FEMA hasn't even paid the ambulance companies they contracted during the last two hurricanes yet. New Orleans hasn't even been rebuilt after Katrina, and we are going to trust that help for hospital procedures will be paid on time? To be fair, the current insurance companies really suck at paying, too. They are more interested in ripping us off, ripping off doctors, and ripping off hospital
s, than actually providing an efficient system based on the needs of the patient. The right wingers are too busy trying to make everything that Obama is trying to accomplish fail that they have lost sight of what they really have been elected to do: to serve the needs of their constituents and help improve the quality of life.

Something in the water...
I moved from the idyllic, coastal town of Santa Cruz, California, where life is pleasantly locked into a timewarp of hippie politics and Silicon Valley spillover, to Colorado, where there are a lot of seriously disturbed people. Every time we make the national news, it's embarrassing, like this story in Talking Points Memo: "Remember the disturbed young John McCain volunteer, who, in the closing days of last year's presidential campaign, carved a B into her face and pretended she'd been attacked by an African-American Obama supporter? Well, could we have a similar case on our hands -- only in reverse?

To explain:Two men were arrested yesterday after an attack on the Colorado Democratic Party headquarters in Denver, in which 11 windows, displaying posters supporting health-care reform, were smashed.

It looked like a case of conservative rage boiling over. State party chair Pat Waak thought so, declaring, in comments eagerly picked up by Think Progress: "Clearly there's been an effort on the other side to stir up hate. I think this is the consequence of it."

But wait. "
Oh, it gets weirder and worse and isn't over yet, because the only explanation is that the two people who did the vandalism are fringdwellers of a differnt kind: "Schwenkler was also reportedly arrested for unlawful assembly at the 2008 GOP convention in Minneapolis.

And according to WestWord, the Denver alternative weekly, Schwenkler's address is the former location of the Derailer Bicycle Collective, a "radical, free bike fix-it shop". The current owner of the house is a well-known progressive activist who was once the U.S. coordinator for "Potters For Peace"

What about the other attacker? Details are sketchy, but an anarchist news site, for what its worth, is reporting that a person named Ariel Attack, a "Denver-based anarchist," has been arrested in connection with the incident. A supporter writes: "At this moment, we do not know Ariel's status within the jail, especially regarding her gender classification."
I used to say these things happen only in Santa Cruz, but I'm constantly being proved wrong, and the drinking water here tastes so good...

late night jokes:

"But have you seen these town hall meetings about the health care? People are screaming. And I'll tell you, because if there's one thing Americans hate, it's comprehensive health coverage." --David Letterman

"People are always saying to me, 'Well, Dave, are you worried?' No, I'm not worried about health care, and I'll tell you why. Because I'm with CBS. ... They have a tremendous health care plan. And here's what it is. Simply, when I die, I get to appear on a 'CSI' show as a corpse." --David Letterman

"I'll tell you something, ladies and gentlemen, if I want to see a death panel, I'll turn into a George Stephanopoulos roundtable." --David Letterman

"Dick Cheney has a brand new book. It's a memoir about his life and times, and I believe the title of it is called, 'Too Fat to Waterboard.'" --David Letterman

"I didn't know this, but according to the book, there was a time when President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney weren't speaking. They got into a fight and they weren't speaking. It really got so bad that earlier today, President Obama invited them both to the White House for a beer." --David Letterman

"And Cheney said that President Bush, there was a point during the second term, that he stopped listening to the vice president. George Bush stopped listening to his vice president. And I said to myself, 'Whoa. Well, maybe this guy wasn't as dumb as we thought.'" --David Letterman

"Polls now are showing that people are actually believing the right-wing corporate-inspired myths about health care, and that's why this is going down the tubes. Forty-five percent of the people in this country believe that the government will now get to decide to pull the plug on grandma. Fifty-five percent think that the health care overhaul will give coverage to illegal immigrants. And the same number think Obama is an illegal immigrant. Fifty-five percent think it will cover abortions." --Bill Maher

"And then there's the people who come to the town hall meetings about health care and think that Obama is going to do the same thing that Hitler did. I mean, what can't you tell these people that they won't believe? I could start a rumor right now. I could say, you know what? Under Obama's health care plan, when you bring your child to a pediatrician, from now on, when he's done, instead of giving him a balloon, he's going to give the kid a condom. Stupid is a preexisting condition, yes." --Bill Maher

"And apparently, it's now no longer enough to be screaming as they've been doing at the town hall meetings. They're now bringing guns. I would say these people are armed to the teeth, but they have no teeth." --Bill Maher

"That's what American democracy has come down to at these town hall meetings: old people and gun nuts, which is a terrible combination. I heard somebody yell 'AK-47!' and a lady yelled, 'Bingo!'" --Bill Maher

"And they're also bringing guns to events with the president of the United States. Did you see these people with the assault rifles? There was a guy -- and it was a black guy -- holding a big assault rifle, which is terrible news for white people. I mean, first we lose our dominance over music, then sports, then golf, then the presidency. Now, black people are taking over the gun-toting redneck industry." --Bill Maher

"But the president, he always stays cool. He's starting his vacation and going to Martha's Vineyard on Sunday with the family, renting an estate that costs $30,000 a week. Republicans are saying that makes him seem aloof and uncaring. And that is their job!" --Bill Maher

"But it's his first week-long vacation that he's had since he became president, which is quite a contrast with George Bush. Because George Bush, during his first eight years in office, he was on vacation a grand total of eight years." --Bill Maher

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Iraq's Beautiful Losers, Russia's Ship of Fools, and Our Own Bob...

Eugene Robinson
Michael Grunewald
David Ignatius

"EVEN when BOB endorses SOMEONE here ITS like the KISS of DEATH to that candidate." - John Miller

"Beauprez is a member of a tired and out of touch group of political hacks that have driven our State's party into the ground." - geoslav

Probably the most important link above, is to David Ignatius's article on the increasing influence of Iran on Iraqi's Shiite politicians and the resignation of Iraq's security chief: "Gen. Mohammed Shahwani, the head of Iraqi intelligence since 2004, resigned this month because of what he viewed as Maliki's attempts to undermine his service and allow Iranian spies to operate freely. The CIA, which has worked closely with Shahwani since he went into exile in the 1990s and has spent hundreds of millions of dollars training the INIS, was apparently caught by surprise by his departure..."

Credit for recent fertilizer bombing in Baghdad was claimed by a Sunni group allied with al Qaeda, from the NY Times: "The attack, it said, meant to ''wreck the bastions of infidelity'' of what it describes as the pro-Iranian government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki... The al-Qaida statement Tuesday said it sought to kill Iraqi government officials. It said the explosions ''shook the earth under their feet and tore apart their hearts of fear and horror, proving to everyone the weakness of their government.'' The group is based out of Syria, and the two countries are bristling at each other and withdrawing their diplomats, ouch!

"But it also expressed regret ''for those innocent people who were killed'' because they were accidentally at the targeted sites and wished the wounded speedy recovery. It warned of more attacks, and urged people to ''keep away from the places'' of the ''heretic'' Iraqi establishment." Gee, that was awfully nice of them to give a warning after the fact. In the beginning of the US occupation, it was often stated by insurgence groups that to bomb innocent civilians is against Islamic law; how far they have come in such a few, short, callous years.

The Shias, for their part, have formed a new political coalition, putting on a public face that its time that they must all get along, except for those Kurdish dogs, also from the NY Times : "Iraq’s top Shiite political leaders gathered in a sweltering hotel ballroom here on Monday and announced a new alliance, a new name and a new platform. Absent was the country’s most prominent Shiite political leader, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki... The creation of the alliance — which includes a former prime minister and a sitting vice president — represented the opening of an election campaign that is likely to be as contentious as
it is decisive in shaping the kind of country that will emerge. Mr. Maliki’s refusal to join the alliance, after weeks of negotiations behind the scenes, intensified a bitter political struggle over the leadership of the country’s largest sect ahead of parliamentary elections in January." The upcoming elections will be the first without US protection and it will be interesting to see the outcome, and if terrorist intimidation will be used here again, either by the Sunni minority, Shia agents from Iran who are operating more freely, or the Kurds, whom both Sunni and Shia would like to see excluded...

On that Ship of Fools...
Remember the Russian cargo ship, the Arctic Sea, that was supposedly hijacked off the coast of Sweden? Now that the ship has been found and recaptured, none of the mysterious questions remain, like just what exactly happened? The BBC reports: "Russia's top investigator has said a cargo ship which went missing for more than two weeks may have been carrying a more sensitive cargo than first stated...Speculation in the Russian media about what happened to the ship has included suggestions of piracy, a mafia dispute, a commercial row, smuggling or trafficking."

There have been so many contradictions, for example, the crew said that they were boarded by at least 10 armed men, while the 8 men that were on the ship when it was found said that they were environmentalists seeking shelter from the storm. One of the most prominent r
umors is that the ship also contained missiles for Iran along with the timber for its cargo. Now, the Russians haven't confirmed this, but coincidentally, two days after the ship was hijacked, the Prime Minister of Israel made an unannounced trip to Russia for a private meeting with ministers. A couple of days after he was back in Israel, Russia publicly announced that it was revisiting its policy of arms trade with Iran... so, if the ship did contain sensitive materials, the Russian government was fully aware of it, and is now trying to come up with a plausible scapegoat, like our CIA wishes it had - hey, how about those two idiots that were contracted to create the waterboarding program? Yeah, let's put them on the boat and cast them adrift along with other independent contractors like Blackwater...

Bob Beauprez may well be dead in the water...
Bob Beauprez's decision not to run for the Senate against Bennet has caused a few yawns around our fair state of Colorado, but he did make national mention in the Politico: "Beauprez expressed renewed interest in running earlier this month, after the two announced Republican candidates — Weld County D.A. Ken Buck and Aurora city councilor Ryan Frazier — posted underwhelming fundraising numbers. But in recent weeks, former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton has emerged as a likely candidate, and Beauprez's decision means she’s very likely to jump into the race."
One cloud hanging over Bob, that he would have to clear up before he entered any race, is the federal investigation against him that has been put on hold now that he is out of any office, from OpenCongress: "Bob Beauprez is currently under investigation by the Justice Department’s Wyoming office. The probe is examining whether Beauprez, a candidate in the 2006 gubernatorial election in Colorado, accessed a restricted federal database for information used in a television ad to attack his Democratic challenger, Bill Ritter. State investigators, who began looking into the matter before the Justice Department, have concluded that the information in the ad came from the National Crime Information Center, a federal database for which only law enforcement officials have access. Using the database for any purpose other than law enforcement is a federal crime which carries a punishment of up to one-year in prison. Beauprez ultimately lost the gubernatorial election to Ritter. " Local conservatives like Bob a lot, though no-one I talked to has read his book or can tell what new ideas he has that would invigorate the Republican Party. Guess he now will be working behind the scenes... Bob, I'd like cream in mine, please...

late night jokes from the only show not in reruns last week:

"Ladies and gentlemen, before I came out here, I got some early results from the Afghanistanian election. And this just in, apparently Al Franken is ahead." --David Letterman

"You folks excited about the Afghanistan election? Well, don't get too excited because there's already reports of irregularities in Broward and Dade County." --David Letterman

"The current Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, is opposed by the Taliban. You know the Taliban? Over here, the Taliban, we call them healthcare protestors." --David Letterman

"You think campaigning is difficult here in the United States. You try campaigning in Afghanistan. You ever try to put a bumper sticker on a camel? I mean, come on." --David Letterman

"How about this Brett Favre guy? He retires, then un-retires, then he retires, then he un-retires, then he retires and un-retires, then he retires again and un-retires. Now he's playing for the Minnesota Vikings. And it's not easy. I'm not saying he's old, but he's getting older. Before playing, he had to pass a rigorous physical and also a death panel." --David Letterman

"They did this survey of money down there in Washington, D.C. I'm talking about cash money. And they found that 90% of all of our currency has traces of the drug cocaine on it. Yeah. And I said, 'Well no wonder Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is so crazy!'" --David Letterman

"Here's something else came to us from a new survey. You folks like to eat fish? You enjoy seafood? Boy, I do. When they got done testing money in Washington, they tested fish in the United States. And they found out that every single fish in the test contained mercury. Jeremy Piven said, 'Well who's laughing now?'" --David Letterman

"Wait a minute, hey. What is this, an audience or a death panel?" --David Letterman

"But you know, this is a great thing about the United States of America. We take any situation, make it something good. You know, we are a glass half full country. Mrs. Paul's, the fish sticks people, they heard about the mercury in the fish and they've come out now with a tasty new fish stick which you can also use to take your temperature." --David Letterman

"Squeaky Fromme has been in prison since the '70s for trying to shoot President Gerald Ford. Out of prison now. But she's described as an unstable gun nut. Here's how unstable and nutty she is. Even Dick Cheney won't go hunting with her." --David Letterman

Monday, August 24, 2009

You don't Know How to Ease My Pain...

Paul Krugman
Jim Hoagland
E J Dionne

"Washington, it seems, is still ruled by Reaganism" - Paul Krugman

The Olbermanns, Hannitys, O'Reillys, Maddows and Becks of the TV world are more likely to say something that will anger a viewer, who might take it out on sponsors.” - David Bauder

Yes, it bothers me. I’m a crybaby. I cry at commercials. I am 90 percent chick in that territory." - Glen Beck

All those kilos pressed, waitin' for my order... (Barry McGuire)
Good news for those addicted ex-pats living in Mexico, the C S Monitor reports that: "Now not just marijuana, but cocaine, LSD, and heroin will be tolerated for personal and limited use. That means about four joints, or half a gram of cocaine, or 50 milligrams of heroin. Bigger quantities, sales, and public consumption are still strictly forbidden.

Officials here say the aim is to free up both resources and jail space so that authorities can focus efforts on big-time traffickers wreaking havoc in Mexico. “This frees us from a flood of small crimes that have saturated our federal government and allows the authorities to go after big criminals,” said Bernardo Espino del Castillo, who works in the attorney general’s office in Mexico.

It also focuses on rehabilitation for repeat drug users, making treatment mandatory for abusers. As we reported earlier this year, the number of addicts in Mexico has grown in just six years by more than 50 percent, from 300,000 to 465,000, according to government statistics." Its estimated that 11,000 people have been killed from the Mexican drug wars, often spilling over the borders into the US. This may be a trial balloon to test both Mexico's and the US's attitudes, we've been seeing several opinion pieces written about legalizing drugs here in the US, so the actual proposals may be not very far down the road, waiting for us at the crossroads... gives new meaning to "free trade" agreement.

Here in Colorado, where medical marijuana is not enough, we wish for the good old days when there was a meth lab in every neighborhood. But, more sadly, a report has just come out, reported in the Huffington Post, on teen abuse of ADHD drugs, studied from 1997-2005: " Calls to poison control centers about teens abusing attention-deficit drugs soared 76 percent over eight years, sobering evidence about the dangerous consequences of prescription misuse, a study shows.

Kids taking ADHD drugs to get high or increase alertness may not realize that misuse of the drugs can cause serious, sometimes life-threatening symptoms, including agitation, rapid heartbeat, extremely high blood pressure.

"They say, 'It's FDA approved, how dangerous could it be?'" said Steve Pasierb, head of The Partnership for a Drug-Free America, based in New York.

In the study, researchers from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center evaluated 1998-2005 data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers. During that time, nationwide calls related to teen abuse of ADHD drugs, specifically stimulants, increased from 330 to 581 yearly, and there were four deaths. Overall, 42 percent of teens involved had moderate to severe side-effects and most ended up getting emergency-room treatment." Every kid I grew up with that had Ritalin prescribed for them ended up pretty squirrelly, often landing in juvenile court. I know that the use of Ritalin has become commonplace, but its a form of speed, and the destructive side effects on ADHD users is the same for everyone else. The slogan from the '60's remains the same for the new, prescription designer drugs of choice: SPEED KILLS.. doctors and parents really should think twice before having speed given to their children, even if the schools try to force it on them... My personal observation is that most kids who develop ADHD get it from the schizophrenic way their parents treat them, when they yell at them when they were small children. I've watched it happen...

The real "death panels" are the marriage certificates given out to people who may start out well intentioned but end up as toxic parents, abusing their children emotionally and strangling any bright future those kids might have had. Our schools, black pits that suck up money and keep demanding more while giving back less, are not prepared to help children heal from any textbook, and our medical programs are geared to dispense pills instead of taking responsibility for the health of the child. We need reform but what really needs to be reformed nobody is touching with a ten-foot pole...

The justice department's report on the CIA's torturing people for information that they could have gotten from watching al Jazeera came out today, less redacted than the previous time it was released. Another internal CIA report was leaked, telling of operatives threatening to kill the children of Khalid Shayk Muhammed before they waterboarded him 4-8 times per day, among other tawdry revelations, and Director Leon Panetta had a temper tantrum, with gossip saying he may now be replaced. Attorney General Eric Holder appointed a special prosecutor to look into the torture abuses, which became the top story today. If you read any history of the CIA, it becomes clear that its a place that hires troubled children who can't gather intelligence or analyze their way out of a paper bag. Along with the Army Corps of Engineers, it should have been disbanded after WW11... One the other hand, it has inspired a whole generation of spy novels that are a lot of fun to read, and how would us old men get through the summer without a bloated Ludlum or Grisham to keep us occupied between baseball games? A glass of brandy and a good cigar alone may not make your day...

Beck shampooed out of our hair...
Glenn Beck comes back from an enforced vacation to find that even Yahoo News is now reporting that 33 sponsors have rinsed, lathered, and will not repeat with supporting advertising for the Glenn Beck show. Just because he called President Obama a racist among other stupid things... Glenn has a popular show on Fox, which he obviously tries to pander to his audience, pushing the boundaries. One sponsor, Chlorox, decided not to sponsor any political talk show, even though they hadn't done it much in the past, good for them to be even-handedly unfair to everyone...

What white people like Glenn never comprehend is that thy will never have the street cred or justification to call other people racist because of their own racist beliefs, kinda nullifies anything he has to say on the subject. As an opinion placed on an Urban Radio forum said: "If you have been black long enough in this country you KNOW when you are around a racist. They don’t have to say a word, it’s the woman who holds her purse tighter when you walk past her or the white couple who don’t respond when you speak or the corporate executive who MIGHT hire you but with a glass ceiling in place and only long enough to find out how how black people think so that he can grow his business. The absolute WORST kind of racist is the one who ACTS like everybody else is one. I’m talking about Glen Beck. If Glen walked into a room full of black people he would probably pass out from the stress. It is BEYOND evident that this man is a racist but how convenient to point the finger at President Obama to steer the attention away from himself. "

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Walkin' Down Beale Street, Turning Up Main, Beware of the Waxman...

Steve Benen
David Ignatius
Frank Rich

"Gotten almost nothing in return"? He's been called a socialist, a Nazi, a monster who wants to kill your parents and kids. He's also been threatened. I'd say he's gotten quite a lot for his efforts." - Kevin Ray

"I'm divorcing a Republican. He, too, thinks compromise and empathy are bad words... That is all." - MissMudd

We begin with a couple of weird stories that have nothing to do with politics. The first is just a filler blurb from the Denver Post, but it compounds itself with how wrong the man's behavior gets: a Nebraska man was convicted for stealing a painting of the Madonna to finance an abortion for the teen aged girl he had raped... It seems more like the subject of a mini-series coming on tv this Fall.

The second item comes right out of the forensics lab of CSI: a young Hollywood model was found mutilated and stuffed into a suitcase that was thrown into a trash bin. Her teeth and fingers were missing, so that she could not be identified. They ended up finding out her identity by tracing the serial number on her breast implants, through the doctor who put them in, who gave police her name. Her husband was employed in a VH-1 reality dating show,
and has disappeared... Police are grateful for the Hollywood lifestyle of plastic surgery and implantation, where, after a few years, most starlets end up resembling the destroyed facial features of Michael Jackson, when the poor man was still stayin' alive...

Cocaine, runnin' all through my brain...
I remember a study from over 20 years ago, when money was tested for cocaine residue, and it was determined that 70% of the world's supply had trace amounts of illegal substances. Another study was done recently in 30 cities, with much similar conclusions, and, as reported by the BBC: "The largest study of banknotes has found that 95% of dollar bills in Washington DC bear traces of the illegal drug cocaine.
The figure for the US capital is up 20% over two years."
Of course, this story has political implications, or Marion Barry has started up partying again. If only a study on the Congressional use of prostitutes could be made, I bet their use has gone up, too, despite the recent scandals. Since your VISA card can also be used to chop up the cocaine, it gives a new twist to the slogan, it's everywhere you want it to be...

Beware of the Waxman...
The insurance industry has been spending $1.4 million per day this summer on ways to defeat the health reform bills, while publically saying that it supports reform. Overall, their profits have gone up about 1000% in the last five years, while denying coverage for people with pre-existing conditions or conditions that may end in a quick death, like AIDS.

Now they must answer to Henry Waxman, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, as reported in Politico: "House Energy and Commerce Chairman H
enry Waxman raised eyebrows this week when he launched a financial probe into the nation’s largest insurance companies, which are at the center of the health reform battle.

Now POLITICO has learned that Waxman’s recent investigation began almost a month earlier than previously thought — with letters to the insurance industry’s powerful trade group and its consultant regarding grassroots tactics.

A committee spokeswoman defended the probes — saying lawmakers need to know that private insurance money is being spent effectively as part of the effort to control costs. But the trade group, America’s Health Insurance Plans, is crying foul, saying Waxman is merely trying to bring it in line behind his version of the health reform bill."
Is this a politically motivated act? Sure it is, but the information gained into exactly where the insurance companies are spending their money, taken from premium holders, is a good thing. I know that if I ran a small company whose premiums have been raised during the last five years, I wouldn't mind it if my insurance company made less of a profit and lowered the cost of my premium. It's some change I could believe in... And you know that it will never happen voluntarily, they would have to be embarrassed into doing such a thing, it's the American way...

I'm waiting for Rush Limbaugh to make another juvenile Uranus joke about the Waxman probe into the insurance industry...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Israel Furious, Iraq Security Delirious, Calley is Serious

Paul Krugman
Kathleen Parker
Barack Obama

“ If ignorance is bliss, why are these people so angry?” — Len Kaminsky

“ Somewhere in this great nation of ours, Bill O'Reilly's math teachers are sobbing.” — The Countess of Nassau County

Shock and awe...You just can't make this stuff up... well, you could, but as I get older I find my imagination becomes more limited. In the aftermath of the corruption scandals in New Jersey involving Jewish Rabbis who could get you fresh organs for surgeries, culled from poor Israelis and Palestinians, the state of Israel did not protest the charges. Nor did they blink over other charges of money laundering... They may have hoped the news would quickly be forgotten with the larger busts of two New Jersey mayors and local businessmen. But when a newspaper in Sweden publishes an article saying that Israeli soldiers killed Palestinians for their organs, the: "Israeli foreign ministry officials have reacted furiously.

"It is regrettable that the Swedish foreign ministry does not intervene when it comes to a blood libel against Jews," Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said. This reminds one of Sweden's conduct during World War II, when it also did not intervene."
The Israeli government is trying to get the Swedish government to condemn the newspaper, do some kind of retaliation like they can do in less democratic countries.

The Swedish response was to have an official write a blog post! "In a blog post on Thursday evening, Sweden's Foreign Minister Carl Bildt wrote that he would not condemn the article, and that freedom of expression is part of the Swedish constitution." By the way, Sweden also has a wonderful public health care system... I know that Israel is trying to keep itself in the news, but this really isn't the best way to go about it. Letting Mr Lieberman loose shows off his bouncer roots and gangster habits, a total lack of class. I wonder what local militia he belongs to...

Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown...
Iraqi security forces may have been culpable in letting the two recent truck bombs drive up near to the Ministry Of finance in Baghdad that killed 95 people and injured 1,023 more. The Iraqi government has been called the most corruptible government in the Middle East, and who knows what will happen when the easy American bribe money goes away.

In Anbar province, which was the heart of the insurrection, the CS Monitor has a story about the difficulty of the US Marines stationed there to get the local judiciary to prosecute terrorists. Instead, they sit in the newly built $21 million judicial complex and try to look important: "In this city that became synonymous with Al Qaeda-linked violence, Iraqi forces are grappling with corruption and lawlessness so pervasive it threatens to derail the hard-won security of the last two years... not a single major case has been brought to justice in at least the last six months, according to US military officials.
As the capital of Anbar, a province where the Sunni insurgency once flourished, success in Ramadi affects security throughout central Iraq, including Baghdad. And there are concerns that Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and other insurgent groups may be reforming here."

Fighting soldiers from the sky, Fearless men who jump and die...
One of the most infamous incidents during the Vietnam War was the My Lai Masacre. Lt William Calley was charged and convicted of 22 counts of murder. After all this time, he has spoken publicly for the first time: "There is not a day that goes by that I do not feel remorse for what happened that day in My Lai,” Calley told members of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Columbus on Wednesday. His voice started to break when he added, “I feel remorse for the Vietnamese who were killed, for their families, for the American soldiers involved and their families. I am very sorry.” Violent experiences that happen to our soldiers will haunt them the rest of their lives, and you have to learn to accept it because no amount of drugs and alcohol will wash it away. I remember one friend freaking out and quivering in a dark place while we were having a 4th of July party. The sound of a neighbor setting off some firecrackers took my friend back to the machine gun placement in Vietnam where he was attacked, and his best friend next to him got hit and died. We had to calm him down then, but could do nothing for the nightmares that were unleashed over the next few months. Others, haunted by the killing and violence, disappeared into more isolated places where not even the VA administration could easily find them... there are still Vietnam veterans who haven't been able to tell their wives or children what happened to them, and have had to live with their personal hauntings tucked below the surface. With our current crop of soldiers, over-deployed and stressed past their limits, more coming back missing limbs and with major head injuries, I can only guess like the rest of us, what private hells had been cooked up in the desert heat...

"When asked if obeying an unlawful order was not itself an unlawful act, he said, “I believe that is true. If you are asking why I did not stand up to them when I was given the orders, I will have to say that I was a second lieutenant getting orders from my commander and I followed them — foolishly, I guess.” Calley then said that was not an excuse; it was just what happened." In Calley's case, the officers higher up on the command chain that were responsible for the decision to send his unit into a defenseless village were not tried. Just like what happened at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, soldiers were used as scapegoats...

some late night Iraqi prison jokes:

"The Bush administration renewed its call for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. So I guess they feel the only time that guys should be on top of each other naked is in an Iraqi prison." —Jay Leno

"Donald Rumsfeld visited that famous prison and he said he has all those guards under control now. In fact, he said he's got them all on a very short leash." —Jay Leno

"A Bush administration official told Congress yesterday that the war in Iraq could cost almost 60 billion dollars. President Bush said he plans to pay for it with a video series called 'Prison Guards Gone Wild." —Conan O'Brien

"President Bush apologized on TV to Iraqi prisoners. I don't know if the apology was sincere, because at the end, he says, 'I'm George Bush and I approve of this naked pyramid.'" —Craig Kilborn

"Who would have ever thought that more naked pictures would come out under the Bush administration than under the Clinton administration?" —Jay Leno

"Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said that he was responsible for the abuse of the Iraqi prisoners. And today President Bush said the abuse was cruel and disgraceful and an affront to the most basic standards of morality and decency. And then he told Rumsfeld that he was doing a superb job. Then Rumsfeld said, 'What the hell do I gotta do to get fired?'" —Jay Leno

"Finally some good news for those naked Iraqi inmates, they just got hired for next year's Superbowl Halftime show." —Craig Kilborn

"It's a good thing there are no gay people in the military because otherwise weird sex stuff might happen." —Tina Fey, Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update"

"Rush Limbaugh spoke out on the Iraqi prison pictures situation today. He said it's entirely generated by the media. What? Is this guy on drugs?" —Jay Leno

"Foreign policy experts say that this Iraqi prison abuse thing could be a real setback in relations between American and Arab countries. But it was going so well up until this." —Jay Leno