Wednesday, June 30, 2010

World Cup Crime, The New Russian Spy Game, Dick Armey And The Mole People

Kathleen Parker
John Avlon


"If Bill Clinton was our first black president, as Toni Morrison once proclaimed, then Barack Obama may be our first woman president." - Kathleen Parker
"The Supreme Court’s Second Amendment ruling is yet another reminder: Obama is not, in fact, coming for your guns." - John Avlon
"So hot down in Washington, D.C., today that President Obama was fanning himself with his birth certificate." – David Letterman

We begin today with the latest crime statistics from South Africa, where crooks from all over the world have come to get caught and put in jail, courtesy of Barry Bearack and the NY Times: "So far 316 people have been arrested for crimes related to the World Cup soccer tournament, the national police commissioner, Bheki Cele, said Tuesday. A total of 109 were foreign citizens, including 11 Ethiopians, 9 Algerians, 8 Britons, and 6 suspects each from Mozambique, Pakistan, the United States and Zimbabwe. “It’s the United Nations of crime,” Mr. Cele joked. He said seven trophy replicas, two jerseys and four Adidas bags were stolen from FIFA headquarters in Johannesburg." Earlier, there were reports of trafficking of children into south Africa, where about 20 children were found hidden in boxes on a truck at the Mozambique border, but that apparently is an urban myth made up by someone wanting a reporter's tag. Neither countries can find any reports of such a thing happening...

A new game has been created, naming your favorite all-star Russian spy team. These would be the people that you think that Russia should have recruited, instead of the people they did. An example of this comes from an article in the Daily Beast, by conservative Reiham Salam, who's choices are pretty pedestrian and lame that he might be one of my choices. Anyone can choose Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton, but that's like making Wally and the Beav into Russian spies.

If you stop and think about it, who has been trying to stir up the rabble the most, by constantly trying to humiliate our President and people in Congress? Who has gone on public radio airwaves saying that he hopes that Barack Obama fails? Who has made statements against homosexuals and yet hired Elton John to play at his wedding? That's right, America's biggest hypocrite, Rush Limbaugh, is also Russia's biggest in-your-face secret asset, probably chosen in person by Putin himself. I would bring up Glenn Beck but he's too enamored with Nazi paraphernalia to be comfortable...

Another person leaps to my mind, is Dick Armey, the self-proclaimed leader of the tea party movement. Secretly backing organizations and web sites that foments treason among our senior citizens, yet cloaking its poisonous thought in patriotic paranoid paragraphs, Armey is the perfect candidate to be financially backed by the Kremlin. To be honest, Dick physically looks more like one of the Mole People than a Russian spy, but I thought that Superman took care of them years ago on his television show... do the mole people come from Molaria?









Which brings me to my point, if I had one. There maybe many other bands of sleeper cells sponsored by many other countries here, the Jewish Defense League immediately is suspect to me, but it's clear that the current group of Russian spies was put together by someone who read far too many comic books in their youth and watched old re-runs of British shows starring Patrick McGoohan. Already we have had too many references to the rot in suburbia linked by David Lynch characters to be comfortable. Other than having 11 people be deported, not much else will come of this story after the boring details of their plain lives have been thoroughly examined and reported. They don't even get the luxury of having the choice to become enemies of America, they were chosen and paid to do it, the most pedestrian of all reasons. Just remember to ask your political candidate at their next rally to prove that they are not really a Russian spy, I'll bet their answers are really creepy and downright hostile...

Top Ten Signs Your Neighbor Is A Russian Spy

10.He's on the cover of "Secret Russian Spy Digest"
9.During barbecue, he leans into the potato salad and says, "Do you copy, comrade?"
8.His business card has "Russian Spy" crossed off and "Landscaper" scribbled in
7.Your mailmen mysteriously keep dying of polonium poisoning
6.You ask what his son's name is -- he replies, "That's classified"
5.He occasionally has Lenin's embalmed body over for iced tea
4.Same Roto-Rooter van has been parked across the street for last six years
3.Always asking if you have change for 500 rubles
2.Saw him with blueprints for the top secret candy and soda powered rocket
1.You walk in on him giving your wife the old hammer and sickle



I saw this on the news last night, and it has proven to be the funniest moment during a tame and boring confirmation hearing. I would probably try to watch it if it were not for that sqirmy Jeff Sessions. Ms Kagan should be confirmed because she is possible less liberal than the Justice she would replace, and the GOP counts that as a plus. From TPM: "Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) asked Kagan where she was on Christmas Day last year. The question was actually a lead-in to talk of the foiled airline bombing attempt in 2009 and legal rights during war time, but Kagan took the opportunity to school Graham on some American Jewish tradition. From the transcript:


GRAHAM: Now, as we move forward and deal with law of war issues, Christmas Day bomber, where were you at on Christmas Day?
KAGAN: Senator Graham, that is an undecided legal issue, which -- the -- well, I suppose I should ask exactly what you mean by that. I'm assuming that the question you mean is whether a person who is apprehended in the United States is...


GRAHAM: No, I just asked you where you were at on Christmas.


KAGAN: You know, like all Jews, I was probably at a Chinese restaurant."

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Russian Spies, Netanyahu and Ahmadinejad - Twins Separated At Birth?, BP Update

Bob Herbert
Dana Milbank
Geoffrey Dunn

"Mr. Obama had campaigned on the mantra of change, and that would have been the kind of change that working people could have gotten behind. But it never happened. Job creation was the trump card in the hand held by Mr. Obama and the Democrats, but they never played it. And now we’re paying a fearful price." - Bob Herbert
“They couldn’t have been spies, look what she did with the hydrangeas.” - Jessie Gugig, 15


The most improbable thing happened yesterday - 10 Russian couples were arrested for being spies. Not just any common, contemporary spy, but real, old-fashioned, cold-war moles. Or illegals, as the Russians call them: "The suspects, who are not accused of espionage, have been charged with conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government without notifying U.S. authorities, a crime punishable by up to five years in prison. Nine of the suspects also have been charged with money laundering, which carries a conviction of up to 20 years." This is seen as a direct embarrassment to Vladimeer Putin, who is an ex-head of the KGB, and loves this kind of stuff.

Russian officials are saying that the arrests were orchestrated by domestic foes of Obama, who seek to discredit the rebuilding of US-Russia relations and to undermine the recent trip to Silicon Valley by Dmitry Medvedev. As reported in the Moscow Times: "But Gennady Gudkov, a former KGB counterintelligence official who serves as deputy head of the State Duma's Security Committee, said the spy allegations threaten to upset the "reset" by tarnishing Russia's image in the eyes of the American people and could have been masterminded by opponents hoping to discredit Obama. "Now millions of Americans will think that Russia was only pretending to be a partner of the United States but is in fact still going after U.S. secrets like during the Cold War," he told The Moscow Times.


He said the timing of the arrests sharply departed from a time-honored tradition by intelligence services to lay low before, during and immediately after major foreign policy efforts by national leaders in order to avoid spoiling them. "It looks like the work of someone who is very powerful and in the political opposition to Obama, or a hawkish military and intelligence group not happy with the reset of relations with Russia," Gudkov said."

Planting and nurturing this kind of long term spy takes many years and a lot of money, with no promises of getting any important intelligence in return. What could these 10 people do that Dmitry Medvedev can't find out with a call to the White House or to the Pentagon? But they are popular in Russian fiction and television: "Illegals, unlike most spies, live in foreign countries without the benefit of a diplomatic cover, which would have offered them immunity from prosecution if they were caught. Soviet intelligence services began training a corps of these agents shortly after the October Revolution in 1917, when few countries had diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union, and it came to be seen as a particular Soviet specialty.


It is both risky and very expensive work, since agents often spend years just developing a fake life story, known in Russian as a “legend,” and because the K.G.B. would often keep an agent in place abroad for years or even decades before he or she was able to gather useful information.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, many career spymasters began to speak publicly about the adventures of the illegals, but several recent arrests have come as reminders that the tactic is still in use." We'll see in the coming days if it is a real or bogus case. In the meantime, I will start wandering around my townhouse complex, listening for accents in the speech of my neighbors, perhaps try to find out where that suitcase of money would have been dropped off by the spymaster. I just know that several of our local tea party individuals are Russian spies, after all, how else could they obtain a perverted interpretation of the US Constitution?...
"President Obama met with the Russian president at the White House and afterwards, took him out for a burger. It was a bit awkward because Gen. McChrystal was working behind the counter." –Jay Leno

"The Russian president wanted to pick up the check, but Obama said, 'Don't worry about it, just charge it to our grandchildren.'" –Jay Leno



I came across an article in Haaretz, that expands upon one of my favorite talking points, that if the tea party won all of the elections and ran our country, it would become a right wing hell, and that extreme right wingers are in every culture and country. Bradley Burston does it for Israel: "That distinctive brew of left-baiting, Obama-hating, poorly veiled racism, clergy-driven jingoism, clergy-fanned derision of the Supreme Court, the Luddite insertion of anti-government bile where an ideology should go, a majority which feels victimized and discriminated against and threatened by minorities of indeterminate legal status – it's all here. It just speaks Hebrew.


In fact, for a far-right segment of U.S. Jewry which, since the rise of Barack Obama, has mushroomed in volume and impact if not in numbers, anti-government animus has taken what may have been an inevitable next step: finding ways to betray in one stroke the policies and, in fact, the national interests of both the United States and Israel."

Bradley focuses on the undermining of reconciliation efforts by those who finance and plan building Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and one of the biggest bankrollers happens to live in Miami, Florida, who is being accused of creating acts of sabotage by real estate: "... no one comes close to the Grand Old Man of befouling Jerusalem and U.S.-Israeli relations by remote control, the retired physician-turned-bingo parlor mogul Irving Moskowitz of Miami Beach.


For years, Moskowitz has played godfather to what may be called the Inpost Settlements – moving Jews into East Jerusalem enclaves of dubious legality but unquestioned incendiary impact on the Palestinian population and the prospects of a future peace." Irving is financing the razing of 22 Palestinian houses project that is fronted by the mayor of Jerusalem, and threatens to halt the proximity talks hosted by the US. The ball is in Israel's court regarding the talks, and even though Netanyahu says that he is interested in their success, he is fudging and taking his time in giving the answers to Richard Holbrooke, coming up with as many excuses as Iran's Ahmadinejad over nuclear talks. In fact, I wonder if Netanyahu and Ahmadinejad aren't twins who were separated at birth...




Now that the Gulf oil spill is moving along the coastline, into alabama and Florida, the odds that it could wrap around the Florida coastline and move up the Atlantic seaboard doesn't sound like fiction. BP is waiting and hoping that the relief well will do the trick. So far, all of their plans centered around eventually being able to go back to the well and re-open it up and get at the oil. Ideas that would render the site inaccessable and immediately halt the flow of oil  have been ignored.

Gone are the full page ads to come and visit Florida's coast, because somewhere there may be a decent beach. Both Democrats and Republicans are trying to use this disaster and turn it into electable honey, which takes a real magician. Even Mississippi's Governor Haley Barbour has changed his tone now that tarballs have to be removed at his expense, just as he was ramping up a possible presidential campaign run. BP says it has spent 42.65 billion so far on containment and cleanup, received 80,000 claims and made 41,000 payments. The oil spill now covers over 80,000 square miles, or about one third of federal waters in the gulf.

I saw one report on television that said that BP is paying people to go out in boats to help with the boom and cleanup. They are paying $1,400 per day, and that is more than most fishermen can make in a day, so good thing, right? Except now there are guys who won sport boats and have come over from Florida to get in on the action, and have been crowding out the locals, as no effort is made to give locals preference in hiring. So, do we have a bunch of newbies who go out and party on their boats all day, come back and collect a fat paycheck, while the locals have one more injustice to complain about as their economy goes to flaming, oil-slicked hell...

Monday, June 28, 2010

Jobless Rate Keeps On Climbing, Kagan Inquisition Begins, A Little T & E

Paul Krugman
Peter Beinart
Yoel Marcus

"We are now, I fear, in the early stages of a third depression... the cost — to the world economy and, above all, to the millions of lives blighted by the absence of jobs — will nonetheless be immense. And this third depression will be primarily a failure of policy" - Paul Krugman
"So he hasn’t plugged the leak, and his poll numbers are sagging. Truth is, Obama has exceeded in 18 months what Clinton and Carter achieved in a combined 12 years." - Peter Beinart
"In 1975, the United States Congress cut off funds for the Vietnam War, with those in support of the move asking the obvious question: What had the United States achieved after a decade of fighting that left 58,000 US dead, four million Vietnamese casualties and a land destroyed? Many now ask the same question about Afghanistan and come up with the same answer: Not much." - Saul Landau 

Probably the most important article to read this week is Paul Krugman's article, where he warns that we are entering a third depression. The results from the G20 conference this weekend may confirm his theory, Europe has vowed to do everything wrong by undergoing higher taxes and austerity programs, which will cause even more job losses. In the US the situation will get worse during the next fiscal year when the states that have gone through their reserves just to get through this year, have to make drastic personnel and service cuts. There is a critical point when you won't be able to recover enough to employ all of the jobless, and a certain percentage will remain permanently unemployed. Which means that drug and alcohol consumption will drastically increase along with violent robberies and house invasions. Good thing that the Supreme Court ruled that everyone can bear handguns, because it will start looking like the wild west. In fact, the city of Chicago was so happy that 29 people were shot and killed this weekend. Maybe Arizona and Florida will hire us all as future border guards... My favorite crisis hirings are the security guards that BP have to keep reporters away from the clean up crews on the Louisiana and Alabama beaches...

                                                


not the comfy cushion!...
I forgot to check if CSPAN is covering the Elena Kagan Inquisition, which begun today. I have to force myself to watch Jeff Sessions ask smarmy questions. He just bothers me. He has a repulsive personality that I can't figure out how he won a seat in Congress, it certainly wasn't done by going out and shaking hands or talking to the voters. He reminds me of a Renfield, and I expect him to be catching and eating flies in midair, but that is an insult both to humanity and to the lizards... THis hearing is supposed to be boring, and no matter how hard the GOP tries to make her out to be some kind of liberal wolf in a moderate demon sheep's costume, it will be mercifully short and she will easily be confirmed. Thank god they didn't push the negative campaigning too hard against her, because the stereotyping of a short, chubby, jewish woman and saying that she was probably gay, or was a frustrated loner, and criticizing her because she wasn't a hot legal chick like on television was all backfiring, even among the mama grizzlies... Because there isn't much of a paper trail on Kagan, the GOP will have to tee off on anyone she has ever expressed admiration for or spoken of favorably.

Way back in ancient times, at the beginning of the presidential campaign, we were supposed to have been fed up with the negative ads and personal slurs that was the hallmark of Karl Rovian politics. Once it looked like Barack Obama was going to win, all idealism was thrown out the window and the extreme conservatives have been on the attack ever since. They feel that if they repeat something negative it will believed to be true, because we always remember the mean things said about someone long after we have forgotten the nice things... Maybe it's because we are in the middle of two needless wars sucking up any extra money and contributing to our economic spiral, or the frustrated Alzhenheimeric cry of our aging senior citizens, or we have conflicted our bodies by mixing too many anti-depressants with viagra and thus are stifling our souls, but we are becoming less tolerant as a society and too willing to go to the Internet for a quick reinforcement of our anti-social behaviors. I say this sitting before my keyboard when I haven't left the house in three days, babysitting my sister's three dogs who are getting edgy from having been cooped up and not going outside for a good, long run...

tigris and euphrates still drying up...
A few tidbits I picked up from the Iraqi press this morning: there have been over 1,000 Iraqi teachers who have returned to Iraq since most of the US troops pulled out, and there was a campaign in Baghdad that killed off 20,000 stray dogs. The plans to wall off Baghdad from the rest of Iraq have failed to garnish enough support, I guess they were planning on making the next Snake Pliskin movie there - Escape From Baghdad... Bad news is that rice farmers have been told they cannot grow crops this year because of the low water levels in the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, and the hydroelectric plants may close down as well, making even less electricity available during the 120 degree heat... It looks like the Iraqi military are down to their last al-Qaeda commanders, they are officially looking for 11 tops dogs... oh yeah, and the head of Iraqi prisons wants to build a few more juvenile detention centers, they don't have enough room for all of the criminals...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Panetta Sounding Off, Afghanistan and Iran, Republicans Intentionally Ruining Economic Recovery

Thomas Friedman
David Frum
Doyle McManus

"At home, Obama has been a largely hands-off president. The major domestic initiatives of his presidency were designed by others with limited presidential input." - David Frum
"We still have one problem," one official told me. "Who's running the show?" - Doyle McManus
"Congressmen have been saying from the beginning that BP is either lying or grossly incompetent. Well, why can't we have both?" –David Letterman

A lot of activity this weekend while Obama is in Canada visiting the G8 conference, which is a warm-up for the following G20 conference, where nothing gets done. Leon Panetta gave a press conference today, supposedly giving us news that the CIA has gleaned from their covert sources. He said that al-Qaeda is the weakest it has ever been as an organization. Many of its funding sources have dried up and instead of being the happening, sexy organization for rich Muslims to finance, it has become a general pain in the ass. Especially since Osama has gone to ground and become addicted to Turkish soap operas.
Its estimated that there are less than a hundred al-Qaeda operatives left in Afghanistan, maybe even 50, which will be the targets of the extra 30,000 troops this Summer, and the billions of dollars that we will be spending.

With the disappearance of General McChrystal, Hamid Karzai is freaking out a bit, feeling that he's now surrounded by US staff who are hostile towards him and his objectives for his family and country. He is supposed to have had a secret face to face meeting with the dreaded Haqqani Network, the fiercest, most organized, and smartest of the American trained Taliban, searching for a peaceful way to end the war. Also, the two top Pakistani general will be visiting him in Kabul on Monday, so some intense negotiations are going on that is bound to screw over any ethnic tribe other than the Pashtuns. This means that the Indians didn't win any mineral contracts, and their influence will be limited in the coming months.

Leon also said that Iran has enough uranium for two nuclear bombs. This explains the increasing concentration of American and Israeli troops in Azerbaijan and the fleet of 12 American warships along with a couple of Israeli ones that entered the Persian Gulf for "war games." Iran has quickly recalled one ship enrouts and stopped its plans to send  more ships to Gaza, and has gone on war alert along the Azerbaijan border. Also, this is the area where the rumor that Osama bin Laden was living, and I would love to be the fly on the wall for the conversations that is taking place between Iran and Azerbaijan right now.

Iran could be saving one of those bombs for Pakistan, who is also riled up at them. First, the Iranians gained the Pakistanis trust and went into Pakistan and obtained a rebel leader who's ethnic group were raiding into Iran. Then, they quickly had a trial that was held in secret, and then they hung him. Pakistan is upset at the injustice of it all, and that's another border that iran has to secure. At least the Revolutionary Guard has something other to do than arrest and torture their own citizens. Leave that specialty to the Egyptians, dammit...

The 86 year old Saudi King Abdullah is on his way to meet with President Obama at the White House, and that is another conversation I would love to overhear. Obama should be taking notes, as he's about to be schooled in Middle Eastern foreign policy. Usually, when a head of state visits the White House, a member of their entourage is also visiting our military arms brokers, buying the latest in technology and drones. Here's hoping they come up with a working plan to keep the Palestinian negotiations going, because it looks like the Israelis are turning back an awful lot of trucks trying to get into Gaza lately...


Theda Scocpol writes in TPM Cafe about the Republican strategy for running the country: "Republicans have figured out that if they undercut economic recovery and increase unemployment rates, they will gain in the 2010 elections -- and probably have a much better shot in 2012. They want to repeat the old cycle: Republicans undercut the economy and run up debt to pay for reckless wars and upper class tax cuts, then hand the mess to Democrats just long enough for them to take a few small steps and get the blame, then Republicans get back in office as the economy recovers. Repeat same recipe after that. It works! So why should they stop doing it?"

Its bad enough that the economic sins of American companies have affected the global economy, and Obama has to take a lot of guff at these G8 and G20 conferences. Its bad enough that the recovery is so shaky and taking a lot longer than expected. If you are angry or frustrated at the slow rate of economic recovery, or angry that your unemployment benefits have ended, or that your Medicare payments have been lowered, or that your doctor is no longer seeing Medicare or Medicaid patients, realize that it is all a part of the Republican strategy to get back in power come this next election. Naturally, when new troubles happen with the government, we will blame the Obama administration, but it actually comes from the current conservative strategy to obstruct every fix, every bill, every extension of payments that is being put through Congress. Then they complain how there was no real bipartisan support, and that the Democrats are arrogantly trying to ram legislation past them. They want the public to perceive the Obama administration as inept and amateurish, well, more amateurish than they actually are. Of course, Democrats also keep shooting themselves in the foot by adhering to this dysfunctional process: "The same old story happens again and again. Dems in the House pass reasonable legislation, and Senate Dems dicker with centrists and Republicans over "compromises," weakening the legislation step by step over many weeks, only to find zero Republican support in the end."

Theda ends her piece for a call to get the lead out of their pants and to start shouting to the public how and why these things are being done: "The failure of Democratic leaders to own the language of national economic recovery, to visibly propose and demand bold steps to deal with a genuine economic crisis involving prolonged job loss and slow growth, will go down as the big tragedy of the early 21st century.


It is past time for President Obama to pin the tail on the Republican obstructionist elephant -- and do it loud and clear all the way to election day. So what if a few conservaDems are part of the problem, too? The real issue is 41 Senate Republicans who will not help the nation's economy recover fast, because they want political advantage. Say so." If she's right, then our lives are cynically being toyed with just to get votes, a perverted twist to negative campaigning by creating and prolonging the economic crisis. Add in the perception that Obama hasn't done anything to plug the BP spill, and it will be a wonder if any Democrat gets elected. Unfortunately for the Republicans, most of their candidates are really right wing crazies who may turn off voters once they open their mouths on televised debates.

Of course, I live where there are more tea partyers than any other part of the nation, and so we have debates over who loves the Constitution more, who hates everything that Obama says or
 does or thinks more, who wants to take their country back more ( can't we just give them the part of the Gulf that has been oiled up, so they don't have to take anything back?), who hates immigrants more, and who can wrap themselves up in the flag and spout more jingoistic phrases that are ignorant and devoid of real meaning... It's a limited palette to paint from, but it's all I have to make fun of, in primary colors... The weirdest part is that most of our flaky candidates are all women this year. Usually its the men who are deranged and their wimminfolk have to calm them down. Since all traditions have been flung aside, the new breed of extreme women can run for office, just not give news interviews where they might get caught, or even allowed to speak in public until after they get elected. Then, they can sound off like a Michelle Bachmann or Sarah Palin. Then, they can be as crazy as they wanna be, and have the authority of an elected office behind them...

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Americans Proud To Lose Unemployment Benefits, Iraqis Fearful We Don't Love Them Anymore

Julia Ioffe


"My goal is to see how everything works here. This is not a tour." - Dmitry Medvedev




No end in sight for our domestic woes. Congress couldn't pass the current budget package that has been stuck in the Senate for months, resulting in 1.2 million people having their unemployment insurance ended. Main's Senator Olympia Snow seemed to be the only Senator concerned and wrote to Harry Reid to quickly come up with a stand-alone extension bill that could be voted on by itself: "Snowe argues that Senate Republicans and Democrats were able to approve "doc fix" legislation to delaying a scheduled cut in physician Medicare payment after that measure was stripped from the package. The doc fix was approved by unanimous consent in the Senate and also sailed through the House on Thursday.


Snowe suggests the same success could occur for extending unemployment if Reid moves the measure separately." Of course, Olympia has voted against the whole package, as have the rest of the Republicans. And there is no reason why she herself can't craft the needed legislation over the weekend, though it would have more clout coming from the Senate Majority Leader. I don't know what will happen if this doesn't happen, and even more people end up without any means of support for their children. The state won't help, nor the local cities and churches, so where to turn? Will there be a spike in violent robberies, or will the anger and frustration turn the other way, and we see a rise of suicides. It's bad enough that there is a spike in suicides among our returning veterans. Maybe one provision we should make for anyone getting elected to public office is that they must spend at least one month every year working at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. Could we ever wrestle some compassion and humility from Orrin Hatch or Steve King? I'd include Louis Gohmert, but the guy is just too nuts, speaking his bizarre little speeches to an empty chamber...

While Congress lacks compassion for its own citizens, it seems to have no problem zinging it to some other country by passing approval of the latest set of Iranian sanctions: "Those firms that supply Iran's Revolutionary Guards or contribute to the country's energy industry are targeted by the bill. The sanctions are designed to put pressure on Tehran which denies seeking to acquire nuclear weapons. The bill now goes back to President Barack Obama to be signed into law.
The Senate and House of Representatives acted in quick succession on Thursday to agree to the new penalties. The Senate vote was 99-0 and the House vote was 408-8." Of course, all the Iranian leaders have to do is stop pretending that they are mini-Saddams and prove to the world that they are not interested in making weapons of mass destruction. right now, nobody believes them, and the only street credibility that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has is with uneducated Muslims that still believe the US-is-the-Great-Satan-crap, and is the reason they are living crappy lives with no hope for the future. Hmmm, maybe we will soon have 1.2 million Americans joining them...

Complaints out of Iraq that the shift in policy towards Afghanistan means neglect for poor, poor Iraq. They miss the attentions of General Petraeus, feet that billions more in bribes and aid should still come their way, even if they can't get it together enough to form a government. People are still bombing each other, and now the bombs are directed at robbing banks. Cut the religious pretext, the criminal class is also raiding every tomb they can find, ready to sell the artifacts on ebay or to the departing American generals who are up to their necks in black marketeering.

We never rebuilt Iraq's infrastructure like we said we would, and maybe 1% of all civilian aid actually has financed what projects were started or completed. The rest was all pocketed, with today's result that Bagdad receives less than 4 hours of electricity per day, causing people to riot and demonstrate lately. Plus, the political class is getting nervous and fearful that the US really is going to make them stand up and govern their own country, while US officials have become lazy, counting the days until they can go back home.
"Personally, I think [the military] is adrift," the officer said. "Everyone is spending more time drawing down rather than executing policy…. People aren't thinking about new programs, policies or a legacy." Embassy officials were not reaching out to Iraqi leaders the way they once did, he said.
Who knows, maybe Iraq isn't as dysfunctional as it appears to be, that they are appearing so as a kindness to us, so we can keep on patting ourselves on the back and telling each other how much we helped, no, saved that country... Then, once we leave, they stop bombing the crap out of each other, and kidnapping each other, and raping their cultural heritage. Or, once we leave, they no longer have a central source of support, and things fall apart, they drift back into tribal governance with a new class of warlords, and become the newly annexed state of Iran, who is patiently waiting and thanking the Great Satan for falling for their strategy and doing all of the hard work for them. Sure beats going to war...

Time for Obama to get back and focusing again on foreign policy. I had forgotten that in the days before 9/11 Iran had proposed to the US that they could be allies in fighting against al Qaeda? They too, had deemed them to be dangerous. We preferred to think of Iran as an enemy back then, and then 9/11 happened, changing the political landscape beyond recognition. So, Iran dealt with al Qaeda by keeping bin Laden's family as hostages, and maybe even currently hosting bin Laden as a guest. Sure beats going to war...

Friday, June 25, 2010

.XXX, Israel Supports Investing in Gaza, N Korea Demands $65 Trillion In Compensation From US

David Brooks
Eugene Robinson
"President Obama said today, although he admires McChrystal's service and dedication to his country, he said, 'You don't criticize your bosses.' Okay, that's the same reason President Obama never says anything bad about the Chinese." –Jay Leno

"So, the bad news for McChrystal is he got fired for insulting the President. But the good news is, Fox said, 'We'll hire him.'" –Jay Leno
"But the general is in trouble for shooting off his mouth. Once again, another hole Obama can't plug." –David Letterman
"Starting today, there is a huge rock festival in England. It is called Glastonbury. These days, every country has its own music festival. England has Glastonbury. Here, we have Lollapalooza and Coachella. In North Korea, they have the Kim Jong Ill-ith Fair." –Craig Ferguson

The Daily Beast reports on the legislative body that supervises the Internet has voted to created domain addresses exclusively for porn, instead of a .com or .org suffix, they will have .xxx: "As if it wasn't easy enough already to find porn online: ICANN—the organization responsible for assigning and managing Internet domain names—has approved the creation of a .xxx domain. According to Stuart Lawley, chairman of ICM Registry, the company backing the domain, the new porn-only Web addresses are "great news for those that wish to consume, or avoid, adult content." According to ICM the first .xxx sites will go live early next year, and it already has 110,000 pre-reservations for .xxx addresses. In 2005 attempts to move forward with .xxx came to a halt when conservative political groups protested." This makes sense, but it won't force the hundreds of thousands of established porn websites to migrate to the new domain, they can stay where they are and have established an audience. Church groups are unhappy because this legitimizes an unhealthy presence for vulnerable web surfers.

 You just know that many people would get a kick out of having their personal website under the porn domain, like larrycraig.xxx, or yournamehere.xxx. They may not allow the parody or goof registrations, because a lot of people try to extort money from celebrities by registering names before they do. For example, would Sarah Palin pay someone to have ownership of sarahpalin.xxx? There were some court cases that were decided in favor of commercial companies,  they had an inherent right to own coke.com  bescause it already was an established brand name, and that it was criminal for someone else to register the name and charge thousands of dollars to let Coca Cola have it, so beware...


One of the most interesting developments in Israel today, is the 180% change in policy by the Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who just invited a group of European diplomats and businessmen to come and tour Gaza, as reported in Haaretz: "Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has invited his Italian counterpart Franco Frattini to head a delegation of European diplomats to the Gaza Strip, Channel Two news reported Thursday.


This proposal marks a striking shift in Israeli policy, which has been to discourage and even prevent foreign officials from visiting the Palestinian territory since Hamas violently wrestled control over Gaza in 2007." Two things are happening here - one, that potential investors are also being invited, hopefully to get some economic projects started. A developing Gaza will further erode Hamas' hold in the region, if it doesn't go along and still clings to ruling by force and violent rhetoric. Second, this is a complete turnaround for Mr Lieberman, who in the past has done just the opposite, to discourage attention from Europe focusing on the situation in Gaza. He would rather have covered up the problems instead of hosting a walking tour amid the rubble For now, it looks like the pragmatic realists maybe exerting some influence in the government, seizing the opportunity that relaxing the borders offers, and is a good step towards stabilizing like the successful projects in the West Bank have done as an example. I also see this as a goodwill gesture made in the chess game trying to release Gilad Shalit, who now has been jailed by Hamas for four years, so look for some news items about this soon, well before the New York Free Gilad Flotilla arrives...



AArrgghh! The damned cat keeps putting his head on the computer keyboard, and just erased all of the websites I have bookmarked for research. It will take time to rebuild the list, if I can remember them all... We just had a remembrance of the Korean War in all of the media, but Asia Times reports on what wasn't reported, was that North Korea: "... has defiantly marked the 60th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War by demanding US$65 trillion in compensation from the United States for its "atrocities" and sanctions since the peninsula was divided in 1945. Pyongyang's demand may be rhetoric, but along with tensions over the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan, it highlights how bitter divisions remain after all these years."

My father joined the Army at the end of WW11, as soon as he graduated high school, and served in Korea and Japan as an MP. He saw first hand how the officers benefitted from the black markets, and also got some tattoos done by an outlawed Yakuza artist, done the old fashioned way with bamboo needles and using quarts of beer for anesthetic. He saved the life of a visiting Pentagon General and as a reward received a special discharge that would have required a special act of Congress to call him back up. He got out the week before war was declared on Korea, which proved to be a bloodbath that cost the lives of so many men used like cannon fodder. During his lifetime he did get to go back and visit Japan, but the US wouldn't let him go to Korea or Hong Kong because of his high security clearance and the area of defense that we worked in, they didn't want to risk the chance of the Chinese abducting him. His expertise at that time was intelligence satellites...

Anyway, I don't think the US will acknowledge the silly demand, but it's an exercise in power for Kim's son, who is being groomed to take over when Kim finally passes on. A couple of other decisions he got to supervise was the blowing up of the South Korean ship by torpedo, and actually being in charge of the country when Kim had to go to China and explain it all to the Chinese leaders. so they could exercise plausible denial... He hasn't developed the high skills of his father yet, who masterfully faced South Africa and telepathically gave advice to the North Korean soccer team at the World Cup, who lost by a humiliating margin of 7 - 0. Way to go, Little Leader, such huge shoes to fill, Littler Leader To Be...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

BP's Next Project in Alaska, Chipping Immigrants the Rand Paul Way, Red State Backs Buck Over Clean Coal

Thomas Ricks
Dana Milbank
Eugene Robinson

"McChrystal, on the morning of his firing, made it apparent that he still didn't understand the gravity of his offense." - Dana Milbank
"Put a sock in it, Stan." - Eugene Robinson
"I welcome debate among my team, but I won't tolerate division," - Barak Obama

With the links above devoted to the demotion of Stanley McChrystal, the news cycle has already passed him by. Whether you think he should have stayed or not, nobody could fault President Obama for what he did. General Petraeus is the original booster of counterinsurgency strategies, and he was instrumental in the rise of General McChrystal and General Odierno, so nothing is lost in basic policy towards Afghanistan, and a bit of decorum is restored.


Top Ten Signs Your General Is Losing It


10. His pants keep going AWOL
9.  Each day for breakfast, eats large bowl of sand
8.  Named his helmet "Peggy"
7.  Quality Value Convenience
6.  Working on a new secret weapon: grenade launching squirrels
5.  Instead of devising a battle plan, attends a yacht race
4.  When meeting with tribal warlords, he spends most of the time touching their beards
3.  Storyline about Olivia and Sonny is going nowhere (sorry, that's a sign that "General Hospital" is losing it)
2.  Just lost a tank betting on North Korea in the World Cup
1.  Gets drunk and storms Yankees locker room in bra and panties


The NY Times has an article that is disturbing, about another BP oil drilling plan, this time in Alaska, and using untested technology to get to the oil. It is: "a controversial and potentially record-setting project to drill two miles under the sea and then six to eight miles horizontally to reach what is believed to be a 100-million-barrel reservoir of oil under federal waters."

Even though the reservoir is under the sea, this project is classified as an onshore project because of a man-made island that BP built that serves as the foundation for the oil rig. The sea here is frozen most of the time, and the ice floes create an unstable environment. So, from the rig, they will have to drill two miles down, then several miles across to hit the oil bed. Labeling it an onshore project when it obviously is an underwater drilling is bad enough;here is where our government's oversight looks weak and begins to smell fishy: "Rather than conducting their own independent analysis, federal regulators, in a break from usual practice, allowed BP in 2007 to write its own environmental review for the project as well as its own consultation documents relating to the Endangered Species Act, according to two scientists from the Alaska office of the federal Mineral Management Service that oversees drilling.


The environmental assessment was taken away from the agency’s unit that typically handles such reviews, and put in the hands of a different division that was more pro-drilling, said the scientists, who discussed the process because they remained opposed to how it was handled."
“It makes no sense, BP pushes the envelope in the gulf and ends up causing the moratorium. And now in the Arctic they are forging ahead again with untested technology, and as a result they’re the only ones left being allowed to drill there." - Rebecca Noblin
This project is the largest of its kind to be attempted. BP spent more than $200 million developing a new metal alloy for the drill casing, and of course, they haven't the faintest clue what to do if anything goes wrong. This might have merrily sailed on through until it was approved, the final environmental impact report has yet to be filed, except for the scrutiny of all applications by the press. Neither the Minerals Management Service or BP answered any questions, and it looks like they are going to become embarrassed in public all over again. BP is turning out to be the Iran of the oil companies, arrogantly ignoring the rules, corrupting officials when they can, and spinning out as much bullshit PR as they can even when it's evident that no-one believes them... Oh yeah, click on the graphic to see it at full size...



Huffington Post has an article trying to ridicule Rand Paul's idea for dealing with the immigration problem. He proposes building and underground electronic fence, and they were left to scratch their heads. That's because the second part of the idea was not disclosed: to round up all immigrants and chip them. Then, when they come close to the fence, they will receive an electronic shock, and shy away. In the worst-case scenario, the chip would contain a toxin that could be released by the electronic frequency... Basically you are fitting them like dogs and cats, and using a containment fence, only this one is used to keep them out. Ironically, the right wing said that chipping humans was a sign of the Second Coming, that implanting rfids in humans constituted the Mark of the Beast. But when used on aliens it's different, you see...


Now that the South Carolina primary is over, the right wingers are hoping to get national attention focussed on Colorado. Red State.com seems to support Ken Buck over Jane Norton, saying that Norton's campaign will take the whole GOP down with her if she loses the primary: "The Norton camp is fully disintegrating in panic because new polling shows Ken Buck with a sixteen point lead. Norton is being advised by John McCain’s consultant Charlie Black, who is also Norton’s brother-in-law. I’m afraid if conservatives don’t unite quickly behind Ken Buck, Charlie Black and Jane Norton’s angry young campaign manager Josh Penry are going to go scorched earth on Ken Buck — if Norton can’t win they’ll make it impossible for Ken Buck to win too."

The writer seems to have a hair up his rear over Ms Norton's manager,Josh Penry: "... 
;;her campaign manager, Josh Penry, is siding with Democrats in the Colorado State Senate on noxious environmental laws that his own GOP caucus opposes. In particular, Penry is trying to force Xcel Energy to convert from coal to natural gas for power generation.


As a RedState reader notes, “[Penry hacked] off the rest of the GOP Caucus with his support (and co-sponsor of) a bill that directs Xcel to replace clean Colorado coal with natural gas." As we all know, there is no such thing as clean coal, it is an imaginary ideal made up by the coal industry in a public relations campaign. Clean coal technology hasn't been developed yet, and what we do have isn't economically viable. This is a case of a gullible right winger believing his own bullshit, that's one smelly tar-baby he has got a'hold of...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Stanley Got Steamered, Smokey The BP Spokesperson Says...

Maureen Dowd
Kathleen Parker
Peter Beinart
"So this general with the background in intelligence who is supposed to conquer Afghanistan can’t even figure out what Rolling Stone is? We’re not talking Guns & Ammo here; we’re talking the antiwar hippie magazine." - Maureen Dowd
"But by focusing on McChrystal’s supposed challenge to Obama’s manhood—is the president afraid of his generals? Will Obama show that he can’t be pushed around?—the press is turning a story about policy into a story about penises. What matters isn’t what McChrystal said about Obama; it’s what he believes about Afghanistan. That’s why he should lose his job." - Peter Beinart
"This all would be tedious if it weren't so entertaining." - Kathleen Parker


An editorial in the NY times notes that: "900,000 jobless workers have already lost their benefits, a number that will swell to an estimated 1.6 million people if an extension is not passed by the July Fourth holiday." Add one more for General Stanley McChrystal, who was relieved from duty by President Obama. I guess it's nice that we've come from invading Afghanistan looking for Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda minions to rebuilding the country and bringing it out of the stone age while paying off millions to its warlords for the privilege. Counterinsurgency reads like a good theory, it's a more humanitarian way to run a war, and look how well it worked out in Iraq!

The problem we face in Afghanistan is the problem with modern warfare: once you overwhelm a country with your vast, superior military, what are you going to do with the place? See how reluctant we are in leaving Iraq to the Iraqis, letting them sort out their problems on their own. It could be guilt from killing off so many innocent civilians, it could be guilt from the deaths of our own soldiers in a foreign land. Unless we are prepared to annex the country as part of the US, we should get out and stop spending so much goddamned money, disband the CIA, either consolidate the rest of the intelligence services or cut them too, and start concentrating on solving the domestic job situation. Just by doing this alone, we could balance our budget and get out of debt in a few, short years. So, let the hawks rant and fume for awhile, it's good to refocus our priorities on Afghanistan and keep the deadline for getting out... What's more ironic, is the author of the Rolling Stone article is still in Kandahar. I wonder if he'll get recalled, too...

Since General McChrystal was replaced by the General who started this whole mess in the first place, think of it as just cutting out the middle man. Now General Petraeus is responsible for his own policy and how effective it can be implemented, while, hopefully, de-emphasizing the mercenary and covert operations that McChrystal and his team had wet dreams over...
"Due to an explosive interview in Rolling Stone magazine, our top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, has been ordered home to explain why he criticized the president, made fun of Joe Biden, and called the White House staff a bunch of clowns. He should be called home. That's not the general's job. That is my job." –Jay Leno
"I do wonder if this mess is the result of leaving McChrystal out there too long. He has been going non-stop for several years, first in Iraq and then in Afghanistan." - Tom Ricks
"As one civilian advisor to the McChrystal team told Danger Room yesterday: “There are very few things we control in Afghanistan. In every review of COIN [counterinsurgency] best practices, ‘unity of effort’ tops the list. Every. Single, Review. And we’re totally fucking it up; fucking up the one thing that should be in our control,” the advisor says. “We can’t control Karzai, or the ANP [Afghan National Police], or the Pakistani tribes, but we should be able to get our shit in one sock, and we’re not.” - Wired's Danger Room


We know that you can be on the no-fly list and still be allowed to buy a gun, we have seen how slowly the no-fly list gets updated and the consequences of poor communications. Now, it seems that it takes the urging of a bunch of Senators to get a group put on the terrorist watch list: "Now that Faisal Shahzad has pleaded guilty to ten weapons and terrorism charges in connection with his attempted Times Square bombing, a group of US senators has begun pressuring the State Department to add his bankrollers to the list of foreign terrorist organizations. A place on the list would hit the Pakistani Taliban with a range of financial and logistical sanctions.


Known more specifically as Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (literally: Pakistani Taliban movement), the TTP is a loose-knit umbrella organization whose current de jure head is Hakimullah Mehsud of South Waziristan. The group encompasses various factions from Pakistan's Swat Valley and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The TTP is basically against the Pakistani government but it has recently allied itself with Punjabi groups (Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Jaish-e-Mohammad) who were created by Pakistan's inteligence agencies."

The State Department says that it doesn't need legislation to add groups to the list, containing 45 organizations, and that they will eventually get around to it...


Obama also asked for funding for another 1000 border control agents. Maybe he wants to offer the troops he previously sent there more permanent jobs, or these people will be needed to replace the ones getting fired after the Homeland Security report on the amount of criminal acts and criminal behavior by its employees gets noticed. Its a much worse scandal than a few arrogant officers blowing off steam. If Ronald Reagan could mass fire the striking air traffic controllers, why not a few thousand crooked Homeland Security personnel... I have been noticing that there have been a lot of government reports critical of the behavior of the governmental departments.  I don't think there were any of this nature when Bush was politically alive. It should be a call to reorganize and make the bureaucracy more streamlined and more responsive and transparent, and I hope it doesn't take more public embarrassment to make it happen. Ken Salazar can't do it all by himself... especially since we've seen how he tends to procrastinate...

SMOKEY THE BP SPOKESPERSON SAYS:
WE'RE SORRY WE MESSED UP AGAIN, AND NOW EVEN MORE OIL IS SPEWING INTO THE GULF. 

REMEMBER, NOT EVEN FEDERAL INJUNCTIONS CAN PREVENT MORE DRILLING...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

This Bud's Not For McChrystal, Revolutionary Guard Offers To Fix Gulf Spill, Gaza Smugglers Will Have To Diversify

David Brooks
Joe Klein
Spencer Ackerman
"Liberals may see themselves as the champions of the little guy, but in the new age of austerity, many voters see them as protectors of the special interests, as the guardians of the unaffordable promises... But the big story is that liberals have failed to create a governing center-left majority. If they can’t do it in circumstances like these, when will they ever?" - David Brooks

David Brooks enlarges my argument from yesterday, creating a modern parable with the same conclusion, that the liberals have failed to create a governing majority. This will be reflected in the next election, where it's being predicted that the Republicans could take back the House majority. Unfortunately for them, they will then try to force through more right wing legislation, which will remind people of the ugly reasons they voted against them during the last two election cycles...

The big stink this morning is over a gonzo Rolling Stone profile of General Stanley McChrystal. If your read it, be warned that it is over 6 pages long. The upshot is that General McChrystal is being summoned back to the White House and the debate is whether he should be fired or not. But the statements and attitudes the author attributed to McChrystal have all been reported before, so what's the big deal? Here's a sample of the tone of the article, trying to be hip and edgy. That it has created such a controversy is a writer's wet dream: "The general's staff is a handpicked collection of killers, spies, geniuses, patriots, political operators and outright maniacs. There's a former head of British Special Forces, two Navy Seals, an Afghan Special Forces commando, a lawyer, two fighter pilots and at least two dozen combat veterans and counterinsurgency experts. They jokingly refer to themselves as Team America, taking the name from the South Park-esque sendup of military cluelessness, and they pride themselves on their can-do attitude and their disdain for authority." The war in Afghanistan is doomed to military failure even if we stayed for another 30 years, no matter who is in charge. At least the counterinsurgency theory is trying to establish some kind of responsible local government. It, too, will probably fail because the overriding structure of tribal leadership and warlord militias will take reign once we leave, the primitive, feudal ways mistakenly being labeled Muslim... But the administration has been wholly committed to General McChrystal's vision, and I just don't see him being fired. He got in trouble before, when he promoted his strategy in print before the President had made his mind up, this time he is paving his way back to town by e-mailing an apology to reporters: “It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never have happened,” McChrystal emailed reporters instead. “Throughout my career, I have lived by the principles of personal honor and professional integrity. What is reflected in this article falls far short of that standard.” The only crime I see is that he has surrounded himself with glib, sarcastic staff members who have the bad habit of being themselves in front of a reporter busily scribbling notes... But, is it a good thing or bad that now we know Barack Obama reads Rolling Stone? As TPM sums it up in a headline: "What Happens When You Mix A General And His Aides With A Reporter ... On A Bus Ride From Paris To Berlin ... With Case After Case Of Bud Light Lime..."


The idea of using bombs to blow up the spilling pipeline in the Gulf of Mexico is gaining some support. It would stop the spill by burying everything under tons of rock, mud, and debris. It has been done twice before in Russia to success. BP doesn't want to do this because they would no longer have the possibility of extracting oil from that site, and explains why they would rather let hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil gush out on a daily basis. But my favorite solution is one that you may never hear about, an offer from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard to come to the Gulf, fix it, and end our national shame: "This is a shame and a disgrace for America, Britain and those who think they are the cradle of technology and superpowers in the world's industrial and economic fields," said Qasemi who himself is a target of U.S. sanctions.


"Two months after the oil rig was destroyed, they are unable to contain the oil spill. It is a mark of crisis for Western technology and the arrogant experts from American and British companies have reached a dead end." He said Khatam al-Anbiya can send its experts to end the crisis if asked, boasting that "three decades of sanctions has led (the Guards) to acquiring the capability" to fight such disasters. "They can ask and after due consideration, we will send experts from Khatam al-Anbiya to end the major crisis and put an end to the environmental disaster," Qasemi said. "Despite the recent sanctions, the Guards will embark on its humane mission and take its exclusive and indigenous ability to the Gulf of Mexico." Of course, no mention how they would accomplish the task, other than using their indigenous ability, and it really is mighty nice of them to offer from their hearts, or hopes to get off the blacklist for sanctions...

Iran had recalled its first cargo ship that it was sending to Gaza, brought it back to port to reconfigure the cargo, less controversial items to be replaced with foodstuff, cooking oil, and dolls for children. They also plan on having only 10 people on board, none of them military. It seems as though they are trying to make nice rather than butt heads on one level, while denying a visa for returning nuclear regulators.

When I was reading an article on the impact that opening the borders into Gaza might have, I was struck by two things: one, the huge amount of goods that have been smuggled through the tunnels, everything from new cars to refrigerators and stoves, a little dented and full of sand, but serviceable. And two, most of the appliances are of Chinese origin. There's no doubt that the smuggling rings will be affected, and better quality goods will soon arrive, but what extent has the Chinese triads worked with the Egyptian mafias to bring cheap goods to the people of Gaza, and what areas will they look to diversify to keep the cash flow going? Hmmm, I wonder what is going on in the Sudan and Somalia? By now, they have already dug themselves about halfway to China and back, no more smuggling Chinese immigrants in container ships...


Back here at home, the banking and insurance industry are trying their best to make the reforms of their industries before Congress impotent. See, the age of the cigar-smoke filled back room deals are long from over. They really need to enlist a successful lobby - the NRA... And there is a cry to have Paul Krugman replace the resigning Budget Director, but he might feel he has more clout writing his columns for the NY Times. I wouldn't mind letting him into the administration because he is a champion for transparent and responsible economics. His detractors won't want him for his stance on needing a bigger stimulus, but his writing has always been crystal clear and persuasive. Guess that's why he won a Nobel and I'm sitting here writing this blog that nobody reads...


late night political jokes...


"A congressman actually apologized to BP's CEO for the way the company has been treated. How stupid are you when the CEO of BP is in the room and people think you're the moron?" –Jay Leno

"To be fair, it's not easy for a lot of these congressmen. It's got to be hard to bite the hand that bribes you." –Jay Leno

"It was the 36th anniversary of the Watergate scandal, when the Republicans broke into the Democratic headquarters looking for their long-term plans and strategies. It also marks the last time anyone thought the Democrats had a plan worth stealing." –Jay Leno

"There are rumors that the CEO of BP is saying they might go out of business. Then who will be in charge of not stopping the leak?" –David Letterman

"A couple in California got married at Home Depot. I hope they find happiness, because you can't find anything else at Home Depot." –David Letterman

"Sarah Palin called marijuana a 'minimal problem' in America. She admitted that she herself has tried pot, which could explain some of the things she has said over the years. It's all baked Alaska talk." –Jimmy Kimmel

"I'm not going to do any jokes about oil spill-related news, because I thought it might be nice to just pretend for a few minutes that the oil spill isn't happening. You know, kind of like BP does." –Jimmy Fallon

"While testifying before Congress yesterday, BP CEO Tony Hayward called the oil spill a 'complex accident caused by an unprecedented combination of failures.' Then he realized he was reading notes left on the stand by a Goldman Sachs executive." –Jimmy Fallon

"This is the first time that two women have been on the International Space Station at the same time. That can only mean one thing: zero-gravity pillow fight." –Craig Ferguson

"NASA says that there may be 100 times more water on the moon than they thought. There's so much water that BP is planning to go there and ruin it." –Craig Ferguson

Monday, June 21, 2010

DHS Criminal Minds, Build Baby Build!, Xe Xe Very Much

Paul Krugman
Fareed Zakaria
EJ dionne Jr

"Spend now, while the economy remains depressed; save later, once it has recovered. How hard is that to understand?" - Paul Krugman
"The world is like a ride in an amusement park. And when you choose to go on it, you think it's real because that's how powerful our minds are. And the ride goes up and down and round and round. It has thrills and chills and it's very brightly coloured and it's very loud and it's fun, for a while. Some people have been on the ride for a long time and they begin to question, is this real, or is this just a ride? And other people have remembered, and they come back to us, they say, "Hey - don't worry, don't be afraid, ever, because, this is just a ride... And we... kill those people." - Bill Hicks

This week's Republican talking points are the Liberal Lefties in the Democratic Party are stuck on a train and the wheels are about to come off. Any minute now they will all crash and die a horrible death, taking Obama's domestic policies along with them. The truth is, over the past 30 years, the extreme left has been getting older and mellowing out, their children are more balanced and moderate in their views, even more tolerant of conservative views. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for those who hold extreme right wing views. Because they are based on fear and paranoia, they have bred and festered, becoming more virulent instead of moderate when exposed to calm logic and emotional balance. The image that is being touted is that we have become a center-right society, and that conservatism is the normal lense to view our world. But conservatism creates a slow mind that reacts violently against change, and is becoming associated to older people who obsess with their failing physical health. Because they fear their own mortality, they are hawkish and willing to send your children (not their own children, mind you) off to their deaths, as if it could superstitiously prevent their own death. See John McCain's current speech on Iran...

Obama is a moderate who likes to know all sides to an argument, and, even more rare, is willing to listen before making up his mind. Some decisions are liberal, some are not, and both sides of the political spectrum gnash their teeth and call him names. He is young and in many ways inexperienced, and has mad rookie mistakes, even given one bad speech that was mediocre. As a result, his foreign policy has been trashed and those pesky anti-health care opponents are still pissing and moaning. The mentally ill right wing cannot stop obsessing over his name, his father's ancestry, his birth certificate, or that he is an intelligent black man, and the dittoheads keep making personally mean and vitriolic remarks. Rush Limbaugh doesn't have the self control to stop saying anything mean on his radio show for even one week, and we can't blame that on behavior change due to excessive oxycontin intake...


new slogan needed for dhs...
So, how well is the new Department of Homeland Security performing since it was formed? Not well, according to Government Security News, who obtained a copy of a report released last May by the Office of Inspector General: "Child abuse, human and drug smuggling, bribery, money laundering… These are just some of the crimes committed by employees at the Department of Homeland Security. The report, which divided up the crimes based on which agency the employee who committed them was working for, held some shocking revelations. United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers were convicted of such crimes as alien and narcotic smuggling, bribery, providing fraudulent documents, sexual exploitation of a minor, credit card fraud and sending child pornography over the Web. Meanwhile, Citizen and Immigration Services (CIS) employees were convicted of identity theft and trafficking in counterfeit labels. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers (ICE) were convicted of money laundering, corruption, an overseas sexual exploitation of a child, smuggling drugs into prison as well as selling them on the street. One ICE officer was even caught on NBC’s “Operation Predator” and another was accused of bringing over 700 illegal aliens into the country. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials were accused of forgery, drug smuggling and theft while a member of the Coast Guard (USCG) plead guilt to extortion. Numerous members of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) – government employees tasked with getting money to the people who need it most during disasters – were convicted on numerous charges of fraud." This might tell why lower crime statistics have been reported in the border states like Arizona, that most of the crime is now being committed by our government employees who have become corrupted by the drug cartels. Will the added troops sent along the border help, or will they step up to the illegal buffet, too? Makes Ken Salazar's problems seem quaint... Maybe we could now call Janet Napolitano a true crime czar, let's give her jurisdiction over medical marijuana, too...


one step forward, two steps back...
Just like Arizona passing its racial profiling law to bait and embarrass our federal government, so is the East Jerusalem municipality trying to stir things up after the liberalizing of the Israeli government's Gaza policy. Jerusalem is going to bulldoze 22 Palestinian homes: "The Jerusalem municipal planning committee approved Monday a contentious plan to raze 22 Palestinian homes to make room for a tourist center that Palestinians fear would tighten Israel's grip on the city's contested eastern sector. Barkat first floated the plan months ago, but agreed to a last-minute request from Israel's prime minister to consult Palestinian residents before breaking ground. Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes has in the past provoked harsh reaction from the United States.


Palestinians hope to build the capital of a future state in East Jerusalem and see any Israeli construction there as undercutting their claims to the land.


Although Israel claims it is simply enforcing the law by knocking down illegally built structures, many of the unapproved homes have gone up without authorization because Palestinians have a hard time obtaining construction permits in East Jerusalem. The plan calls for the construction of shops, restaurants, art galleries and a large community center on the site where some say the biblical King David wrote his psalms. The 22 displaced families would be allowed to build homes elsewhere in the neighborhood, though it's not clear who would pay for them.


Israel annexed East Jerusalem immediately after capturing it from Jordan during the Six-Day War in 1967. Israeli sovereignty there has not been recognized by the Palestinians or the international community, and the fate of the city is one of the core issues dividing the two sides. Nearly 200,000 Jews have moved to East Jerusalem since Israel captured it, living in an uneasy coexistence with 250,000 Palestinians." Evidently, the slogan for Israeli settlers is " Build, Baby, Build!" 



Finally, TPM reports that the mercenary company Xe, known formerly and more popularly as Blackwater, has just been awarded a $120 million contract from the State Department to guard the consulate in Kabul: "Whether or not Erik Prince is fleeing America for the United Arab Emirates, his military contracting company continues to thrive on lucrative government contracts... The company has been racked with legal problems -- because of episodes in both the U.S. and Afghanistan -- in recent months. Its former president was indicted on weapons charges in April, and two employees of Xe subsidiary Paravant are facing murder charges for an incident in which two residents of Kabul were killed." Xe has some current contracts in Afghanistan, manning some drone sites and performing mercenary work in the wilds for the CIA. Eric Prince was already a wealthy man when he founded Blackwater. He didn't need the money, his company helped fulfill a comic book desire of his to be a top spy, America's James Bond, with eventual books and movies made about his daring, patriotic exploits. Except he could end up in jail, and certainly will have to stand trial, for his lax attitude towards personnel. Maybe he can tweet us from Dubai...