Monday, October 31, 2011

Next Mormon Migration, You Cain't Do That...

Ruth Marcus
Paul Krugman

David Letterman's "Top Ten Things Overheard At Moammar Gadhafi's Funeral"

10. 'Honestly, how the heck did he spell his name?'
9. 'It's a shame he didn't live long enough to promote himself above colonel'
8. 'Is it too soon to hit on the Ukrainian nurse?'
7. 'After the services, come back to the house for cake'
6. 'Where's his hot daughter Kim?'
5. 'And now, a few words from Moammar's closest friend, Loni Anderson'
4. 'At least he died doing what he loved best — begging for mercy in a storm drain'
3. 'Incoming!'
2. 'Nice of Leno to send flowers'
1. 'Let's bury this guy'

Last week the head of the rebel group setting up a new government in Libya made a statement that pissed off his female audience, according to the NY Times: "In announcing the success of the Libyan revolution and calling for a new, more pious nation, the head of the interim government, Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, also seemed to clear the way for unrestricted polygamy in a Muslim country where it has been limited and rare for decades.

It looked like a sizable step backward for women at a moment when much here — institutions, laws, social relations — is still in play after the end of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s 42 years of authoritarian rule.

In his speech, Mr. Abdel-Jalil declared that a Qaddafi-era law that placed restrictions on multiple marriages, which is a tenet of Islamic law, or Shariah, would be done away with. The law, which stated that a first wife had to give permission before others were added, for instance, had kept polygamy rare here.

“This law is contrary to Shariah and must be stopped,” Mr. Abdel-Jalil told the crowd, vowing that the new government would adhere more faithfully to Shariah. The next day he reiterated the point to reporters at a news conference: “Shariah allows polygamy,” he said. Mr. Abdel-Jalil is known for his piety."

Mr Abdel-Jalil may also be known for his insensitivity and his basic ignorance, the Herman Cain of Libya... Women have been fighting against the polygamy thing for the past 40 years in the Middle East, and traditionally men only have one wife in Libya. Perhaps old Mustafa is having visions of himself as ruler, complete with harem and slaves. Has he sent out requests for Qaddafi's Swedish nurses to return?

The acceptance of old and out-dated laws shows the problems that will have to be debated in countries like Libya, Tunisia, and Egypt, as they try to balance old, old, old conservative views with more lenient modern ones while writing new constitutions for their countries. The response among women at Tripoli University was overwhelmingly negative: "“To follow Islamic rules is a good thing. To have many wives is not a good thing,” said a 24-year-old biology student, Awatif Alhjagi. “I’m worried. People that did not have that right before may now get four wives,” she said. “Because he talked about it, they probably will do it now.”

There was disquiet that Mr. Abdel-Jalil had zeroed in on the marriage issue in a relatively brief speech. Unprompted, the young women circulating in a university courtyard angrily brought up his comments.

“All the girls are mad that he said that,” said Bushra ben Omran, a 20-year-old English student. “I don’t want to marry somebody who is already married.”

“He should not have said this in his speech,” Ms. Omran added. “He didn’t focus on all the injured people” from the revolution, she said. “I didn’t expect this.”

Rehab Zehany, 20, who said Mr. Abdel-Jalil was merely following the dictates of the Koran, added, when asked if she would accept her husband taking a second wife: “Of course not! I would kill him!”

The response in America was immediate: Mit Romney and John Huntsman announced that they might have to withdraw their presidential candidacies so they could lead their people to the next promised land. Conveniently, someone found some gold tablets buried in Indiana that predicted this would happen: their book of Mormon was trance written by an angel named Moroni, Libya was ruled for 40 years by a Moron; the coincidences are too close to be interpreted any other way... It looks like polygamy is the new "in" fad to practice, officially endorsed by every fugitive follower of Warren Jeff, and now old men who dye the color of their beards in Libya. wouldn't it just be cheaper to buy them some Viagra and send them home???

No He Cain't! 

The latest screw-up by the Herman Cain campaign was in response to two women who said that while Herman was CEO of Godfather's Pizza, they were paid a settlement fee on a claim that he sexually harassed them...

At first, Herman claimed that there never were any accusations to Fox News: "During an earlier appearance at the American Enterprise Institute, Mr. Cain declined to address questions about the harassment allegations. But during the appearance on Fox, Mr. Cain for the first time confirmed that he had been the subject of the accusations. In the Fox interview, he did not talk in detail about the allegations against him, but called them “totally false.”

Then, a few hours later, he went on the attack: "Herman Cain called the accusations of sexual harassment against him “a witch hunt” and said he had been falsely accused while the head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s. “It was concluded after a thorough investigation that it had no basis,” Mr. Cain said to questions by Mark Hamrick, the president of the press club after Politico first reported on the allegations. “I am unaware of any settlement. I hope it wasn’t for much, because I didn’t do anything.”

In the press club remarks, Mr. Cain said that he had “recused myself” during the investigation into the charges made by the women. He derided the report in Politico as being based on “anonymous sources.”

“We are not going to chase anonymous sources, when there are no basis for the accusation,” Mr. Cain said. “I have never sexually harassed anyone and those accusations are totally false.”

In her column, linked above, Ruth Marcus talks how Mr Cain's campaign staff should have uncovered this news tidbit, so they would have a better excuse if it ever came up. It's standard operating procedure to leave no stone unturned about your candidate...

But what bothers me is the anger that Herman barely conceals whenever he is confronted, challenged, or asked to explain his views. It is a sign of an ego that won't allow a person to listen, and anger is not the first response I want in a President.

Barack Obama was elected because he was seen as an even-handed response to a hot- headed administration that was all Dick Cheney's way or the highway. It was refreshing to find someone willing to think a situation through before responding to it... Of course, now Obama is being criticized for always doing just that, and we fickle viewers of the national scene want more spectacle and drama from our politicians. On that, Herman delivers...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

What Rough Beast is Slouching Towards Damascus?...

"They found Gaddafi in a hole with a gun and luggage, or as it's known here, the middle class." – Bill Maher

"These Republicans, they will not give credit. They gave credit to the rebels, to the British, and to the French. But they would not mention the president. It was like they were on a game show and the password was 'Obama.' They're like the banks; they will not give a black man credit." – Bill Maher, on Qaddafi's death

"I'm guessing our soldiers are happy to be leaving Iraq. It is no fun being in a country where there's crumbling infrastructure and an ignorant population, but they said they're happy to come home anyway." – Bill Maher

I suppose it was a good thing that the body of Moammar Qaddafi was buried in a secret place. The reason given was they didn't want his burial place to become a shrine, or have his body dug up by loyalists and have fetishes made from his body parts... As it is now, in a few years, when the myths have grown to rival the conspiracy theories, we'll have the Qaddafi cultists prowling the desert at night, hoping to pull off a Graham Parsons ceremony. The only thing missing are the joshua trees; maybe the state of California will export some, making part of the Libyan desert into a theme park of sorts... Does the fact that both Osama bin Laden and Moammar Qaddafi were shot and killed instead of captured and put on trial mean that the Western style of judicial system has become as bankrupt as its economic system?

The problem once a dictator who has been in power for a long time passes, is that the people have forgotten how to make decisions for themselves. Can the groups that were the rebels work together to organize and plan a working government? Tunisia's hassle free election on Sunday should give its neighbors inspiration. It remains to be seen if the other Arab countries can put enough pressure on Bashar Assad in Syria, to stop being a vicious jerk, but that whole family may be too delusional to listen to any reality-based suggestions. I can't believe how long the protests have gone on in Syria and Yemen, and what a transformation if those stubborn old men leave peacefully. Because it's been shown that one way or another they will leave, there's a secret spot in the Libyan desert now being reserved just for them...

It's hard to believe that all of the protests throughout the Middle East, and probably the world, was sparked by one man who set himself on fire. When I was a kid, one of the most powerful images I witnessed was when a Vietnamese monk immolated himself in protest to the coming war. Yet, recently there have been nine Tibetan monks and nuns who have immolated themselves to protest the Chinese policies in Tibet, and the Chinese government insistence that they will be making the choices of who the successors are to reincarnating Lamas. I would bet that the Chines government has adopted the Ogden Nash rule on lamas:

The one-L lama,
He's a priest.
The two-L llama,
He's a beast.
And I would bet
A silk pajama
There isn't any
Three-L lllama.

The longer that the Occupy Wall Street protests last in places like Denver and Oakland, the more our police departments look like the Syrian military. The problem is that the occupiers have set themselves up without a graceful exit strategy, without an attainable goal where they can say that they have won, sort of like the US in Afghanistan. Hey, Goldman Sachs posted its first quarter loss, and the business section of the NY Times is full of stories of banks and businesses who are sitting on piles of cash,waiting for god knows what before they start lending and spending again. Maybe they are waiting for the Bat Signal, or Newt Gingrich to hold his breath until he turns blue, but one can't help wonder if these banks aren't in collusion with the Republican Party, willfully withholding helping to stimulate the economy as long as a Black Democrat is in office... Then, sure, I'd surely join in the nearest demonstration, as long as it wasn't in Oakland...

Friday, October 21, 2011

Moammar We Hardly Knew Ya...

Ruth Marcus
Maureen Dowd
"You got to feel bad for poor Mitt Romney. He's in their plugging every week, and every week somebody gets ahead of him. The people who have led Mitt so far: Donald Trump, then Michele Bachmann, then Rick Perry, now Herman Cain. He's been led a reality show star, a crazy lady, a stuttering cowboy, and the guy who brings the pizza. That's gotta hurt a little." – Bill Maher

"Herman Cain's plan to save the economy is '9-9-9.' He keeps saying it every day like the Count on Sesame Street. Well, this week we finally found out where he got it from. Not from an economist. He got it up from the guy who works at his local Wells Fargo branch. Literally, it's like he went down to deposit checks, and the teller said, 'Can I help with anything else?' And he said, 'Yeah, can you re-write the tax code?'" – Bill Maher

"Rick Perry got the date of the American revolution wrong by two centuries. What is it with the right wing? Michele Bachmann doesn't know where the 'Shot Heard 'Round the World' took place, Sarah Palin doesn't know why Paul Revere went on his ride, Rick Perry doesn't know that 1776 happened in the 1700's. These aren't gotcha questions. I know this sounds mean about Rick Perry, but if was a child, you'd leave him behind." – Bill Maher

"This Occupy Wall Street movement is now in 1,500 places all around the world. I was at the Occupy Beverly Hills today. It's two Jews at Starbucks complaining that the scones aren't fresh, but still it's a start." – Bill Maher

with apologies to the Moody Blues:

Moammar Qaddafi's dead.
No, no, no, no, He's outside looking in.
Moammar Qaddafi's dead.
No, no, no, no, He's outside looking in.
He'll fly his US bought plane,
Set his tent up around the bay,
And lecture you the same day,
Moammar Qaddafi. Moammar Qaddafi.

Along the coast you'll hear them boast
About his compound that is filled with fear.
So raise your glass, we'll drink a toast
To the little man who tells you
 now the coast is clear.

The jig was up, missiles brought him down,
Dragged by his feet firmly on the ground.
He flies so high, he swoops so low,
He knows exactly which way he's gonna go.
Moammar Qaddafi. Moammar Qaddafi.

He'll fly his US bought plane.
Set his tent up around the bay.
He'll lecture you the same day.
Moammar Qaddafi. Moammar Qaddafi.
Moammar Qaddafi. Moammar Qaddafi.
Moammar Qaddafi.

“Ben Ali escaped, Mubarak is in jail, Qaddafi was killed. Which fate do you prefer, Ali Abdullah Saleh? You can consult with Bashar.”

Altogether, these past few years have not been kind to dictators, especially in the Middle East. It began with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Empire, and now has spread through the Middle East like a wildfire. Unfortunately, those who did not get out of the way suffered in the end. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia is home to one errant dictator, and shelter of another, and they have propped up yet another dictator in Bahrain. If Yemen and Syria shed their dictatorial families, the politics of the region will have been changed forever. A test case in what to do after someone is deposed comes up this Sunday, with elections in Tunisia.

All of these protests and revolutions started out peaceful and non-violent, escalating into military action after the governments shot and killed unarmed civilians. The ultimate bloody results happened with pulling Moammar Qaddafi out of a drainage culvert, then shooting him execution style,and bringing his body back to town for viewing. (one o the secret places that Qaddafi had, was his place to watch porn. This makes me wonder if all dictators have their places to watch porn and if there's any special themes that might be commonly enjoyed between Qaddafi and bin Laden and perhaps Bashar Assaud...) Perhaps we can thank wahabism and al Qaeda for promoting their extremist views, which have only resulted in needless deaths by suicide bombers, and resentment among normal folks. Which is why the vast majority of Muslims preferred a peaceful approach to getting their message across.

I wish that life after Qaddafi and Mubarak and Ben Ali was going to be all rosy and positive, but they have left behind dysfunctional governments that may never be able to guarantee basic human rights, and their armies are sorely tempted to take over in a coup. They could easily devolve into becoming another Pakistan, and if their are enough Iranians salting the mix, end up with their share of paranoia and conspiracy fantasies.

The biggest loser in this soupy muddle are the Israelis. They could have shown more solidarity with the movements towards democracy, but that will never happen as long as the right wingers and Benjamin Netanyahu are in charge. The biggest winner is the US, and maybe France, whose role in this region is constantly changing, first you love us, then you hate us, then we invade someone until you love us again as we withdraw...

So, good-bye to an era, of colonial powers and client states, having the British deciding on the borders and which tribe would rule. Good-bye to allowing dictators to rule for years and years, and letting protests bloom if they disagree with your policies. Good-bye to religious intolerance and hello to dervish dancing and music. Good-bye to propaganda on television and hello to cellphones and the Internet. Who will design the next Facebook and Youtube for the Middle East?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Change Iran Can Believe In, The Hermanator Scam

Roger Cohen
Paul Krugman
"The Occupy Wall Street protests continued in New York City. Today the protests have been going on for four weeks now. That's longer than most NBC sitcoms last." – Jimmy Kimmel
"Herman Cain has moved ahead of Mitt Romney. Can you believe that? Political analysts say this is because Americans don't understand Mormonism but they do understand pizza." – Conan O'Brien
"The Republicans had yet another debate the other night. This is their seventh one. They're apparently going to keep having these debates until Rick Perry can get one right." – Jay Leno

"The Saudi government is upset about this plot to assassinate their ambassador. As you know, Saudi Arabia condemns all acts of terrorism unless, of course, they're sponsoring them." – Jay Leno

Nothing really major happened over the weekend, unless you lived in the Phillipines or Southeast Asia, where the monsoons are even worse than last year. Both co-leaders of Iran gave lectures to the press, saying it wasn't our illustrious generals who were smoking the wacky weed; the so called assassination plot is a fiction by the Americans to divert attention away from their own economic problems. I'm trying to find something funny in that, except its probably true. Lord knows, Eric Holder is trying to divert attention away from the botched gun running activities of the DEA and Justice Dept is accused of letting continue on the border...

The more conservative leaders in Iran feel that President Ahmadinejad oftens plays the fool and presents a less than dignified portrayal of their country, and they are tired of having other world leaders laugh and make fun of them. In his speech, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned Ahmadinejad that Iran doesn't have to have the kind of government that has a presidency, that they can just as easily change over to a parliamentary style if he continues with his temper tantrums. This maybe the change they can believe in... So far, no reporter has been able to interview the guy who could answer most of the questions, did he come up with the plan all by himself, or did he have tutoring from some Qud generals and drug cartel informants...

With all of the focus on the high drama of the GOP candidate's debates and the collective whining of our congressmen, not much press has been given to what Barack Obama has been up to. This will change once we get into 2012 and election modes go into full swing, in a pretense to being fair and balanced. Pundits want to be the first to proclaim that it will be Mitt Romney who will be the Republican candidate, and the tea party folks will compromise and come around.

The slurs against the Mormons are beginning, and it will intensify during December and January. It's hard to come to the defense of Mormonism because yes, it really is a cult, and even the most politically correct liberal have a hard time generating enough indignant energy.

The stories of Herman Cain giving himself money from his campaign coffers is beginning to be reported, so it seems that I was justified in claiming that Mr Cain is out to scam the public. Donate your money, buy his book, and help this man secure his retirement, so he can fade from view just like Ross Perot did. But it sure beats trying to make a living as an inspirational speaker, entitled The Hermanator Experience...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Herman Cain Wuz Scammed, Rick Perry Scams Us, Those Naive Qud Generals

Bruce Riedel
Paul Krugman
"One of the guys accused of organizing the Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador is a used car salesman from Texas. Just when you thought terrorists couldn't get any lower." – Jay Leno

"Rick Perry's advisers said he prepared for the last debate by getting a lot more sleep. Apparently, he did it during the debate." – Jay Leno

"At one point, Rick Aantorum was interrupted by a gay heckler. But then Michele Bachmann told her husband, 'Just shut up and sit down.'" – Jay Leno

Surprise surprise! The big swinging dicks of Wall Street may think that the protesters are lazy, naive hippies, but today there were Occupy Wall Street protests in over 900 cities world-wide. Commerce may be the lifeblood of our civilization, but ripping people off is not...

In the aftermath of the US revelations about the Iranian assassination screw-up, those pundits with vast knowledge of the professional ways of the Quds Force branch of the Revolutionary Guards all say that it just doesn't sound like how they would conduct business. Even the Ayatollah Khamenei dismisses it as so much American fantasy... But, let's be honest, the Revolutionary Guard is like most armies that haven't fought a battle in over 30 years, over-hyped and more interested in commerce and the easy intimidation of Iranian citizens and Iraqi nationals.

For a country whose top leaders don't get out much, and Mr Khamenei hasn't traveled much outside of his housing compound since 1979, they tend to rely more on the CNN headlines to tell them how the world works, and their viewpoint is flat and two-dimensional. When this naive type of person watches al Jazeera and sees coverage of Mexican drug cartels murdering people in great batches at a time, it's easy to assume that the enemy of your enemy could be hired to be your friend. And just as easy to believe that the cousin of a great Quds general is also a great person, not some poor used car salesman barely scraping by, dreaming of any kind of score involving easy money... If the cursed Israelis and Americans can kill off our scientists on our soil, it makes perfect sense to kill some of theirs on their own soil. And if the American President can have a hit list that justifies killing, why can't the leaders of every other nation have one, too?

Herman Cain got scammed, and he's just now figuring it out. Turns out that his much touted 9-9-9 economic plan was lifted from the 2003 edition of SimCity. Turns out that Mr Cain doesn't do any fact checking before putting it on his website, and in interviews he has said that his economic advisors are two guys that he has to keep secret, and one guy that works in a branch office of a Ohio Wells Fargo... Either his secret advisors are Beavis and Butthead, and they are snickering at the tube every time he mentions 9-9-9, or Mr Herman Cain is also scamming the American people. After all, he has taken a page from Sarah Palin's playbook and gone on booktour...

Rick Perry unveiled his solution to the jobs problem on Friday, and it proved to be a huge dud. Not only wasn't it original, but he copied from an industry report endorsed by the American Petroleum Institute. Mr Perry pretty much proves that he wasn't that great of a student... Basically, he wants to open up all Federal land to oil and natural gas exploration. It would mean more profit for the oil companies, and not much money to us for the oil leases; critics have said that it would not add any more jobs unless you are an unemployed geologist...

I figure that the reason most extreme conservatives are so dumb, is because its too difficult to both think while keeping their anuses puckered so tight...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Iranian Plots Again...

Kenneth Pollack
David Ignatius
Pepe Escobar
"The Occupy Wall Street protesters gathered outside Rupert Murdoch's house chanting, 'What do we want?' Murdoch interrupted saying, 'I already know, I hacked your phones.'" – Craig Ferguson
"Sarah Palin gave a speech in South Korea. Just what the Koreans needed: Two crazy dictators in fashionable lady's glasses." – Conan O'Brien
"Herman Cain was in 2nd place in most of the national polls, behind Mitt Romney. Apparently his message of 'less government, more toppings' has been well received." – Jimmy Kimmel

The hawks among us are demanding a response to the Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador on our soil. Dick Cheney must be drooling right now, wishing that he and his cronies were back in power, they'd show the world who was boss... The more tolerant are scratching their heads, wondering how such a professional group as the Quds could fall for such a lame operation. Well, people wondered at the stupidity of invading Iraq on the basis of a son trying to prove he has larger cojones than his wimpy father, but we went along. Do we invade Iran on just as flimsy evidence? If anything, we should let Texas secede from the Union, based on the dreams of a used car salesman thinking he had made his big score... Or make it a law to not allow anyone from Texas seeking national office, because the summer heat warps their brains and causes them to do irrational things... The problem with extremist behavior is that it appears so irrational and unbelievable to saner and more moderate people, it seems improbable that anyone would come up with such a dangerous plot, much less act it out. But to fanatical Iranians, what does it matter sacrificing a few hundred Iraqis, or Syrians, or Lebanese, or Palestinians, or American infidels, if it means promoting the Shiite cause?

The one scary aspect of this story that has been down-played, is what might happen if the South American drug cartels hooked up with regimes such as Iran or Afghanistan, forming a truly global drug trade. There already have been attempts to unload cocaine in Africa, and develop a route to smuggle it up to Europe and Russia. If Iran goes into wholesale drug smuggling, they may become the principal trading partner with Afghanistan after the US leaves, and they are also trying to develop economic markets for their goods in South America. We can only guess what a mess would be created if we decriminalized all drugs and not make them as profitable...

Rick Perry's Bad Back Makes Him Dumb, Iranian - Houston Terror Plot, Gilad Shalit To Be Released

Dana Milbank
Thomas Friedman
"YouTube has launched a politics channel so that people can easily find videos of the presidential candidates. Today they posted their first video, 'Cat Winning a Debate Against Michele Bachmann.'" " – Jimmy Fallon
"Under Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan, everything would be taxed at 9 percent. Now, Rick Santorum says he has a better tax plan called 0-0-0. Oh, sorry, that's his chances of becoming president." – Jay Leno
"California had its first medical marijuana job fair. Over 2 million people meant to show up." – Conan O'Brien

Two days after I postulated that Rick Perry was under the influence of muscle-relaxers or reds during the Florida debate, his campaign said that he was suffering from back pain. So, I called it right. But, at last night's debate in New Hampshire, what was Rick Perry's excuse? We need to have all of our candidates and our elected officials disclose all of the drugs they take by prescription. It has a lot to do with how well they can function, and I don't want my congressperson nodding out or not comprehending proposed legislation.... It's bad enough most of them are dumber than stumps, and mix in something potentially addictive, and you get a Rick Perry...

And it's not just some good ol' boy from Texas that we have to worry about, it can also be some foreign born used car salesman from Houston that jumps to the front of the news... Our story begins with a couple of minor members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, sitting around and getting high, either on the locally grown marijuana, Somalian khat, or Afghani opium. They begin riffing on what kind of ways they could get back at the US and Israel for the computer virus and assassination of a nuclear scientist, and one guy says that he has a cousin who lives in America, why don't we get him to blow up the Israeli Embassy in Washington, maybe a few Saudi embassies in other countries thrown in. Yeah, why don't I give my cousin Mansour a call, what can it hurt?

An alternative theory is that this scenario was planned, or at least approved by the head Ayatollah Khamenei himself, proving that he never was the smartest student and his mental powers have devolved into something that resembles Alzheimer's, whatever you would call it in Farsi...

But wait, the weird part begins when the used car salesman suggests to hire a Mexican cartel to do this for us, and in return we can sell them huge amounts of heroin from Afghanistan. The opium growers increased their plantings of poppies this year in anticipation... Mansour asked around, and was soon introduced to a man who was connected to the Zeta cartel in Mexico, except that he was really an informant for the Feds... The deal supposedly solidified that the Zetas would assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the US at some restaurant near the embassy, hopefully getting a few US Senators in the process.

If the whole thing sounds amateurish, that's because it is. But the used car salesman was able to go back to Iran and have his cousin wire the informant $100,000 as a down payment on a $1.5 million fee. Mansour then flew to Mexico City, but Mexico refused him entry, put him on a commercial flight back home with a stop in New York City, where he was arrested. As Hillary Clinton put it:
"The idea that they would go to a Mexican drug cartel to solicit murder-for-hire to kill the Saudi ambassador, nobody could make that up, right?

This story will only get more bizarre over the next few days as Iran tries to disavow how dumb their professional soldiers really are, and the embarrassment of being caught out in public. Of course, if they had pulled it off, the Ayatollah Khamenei would be the new sweetback, singing his badass song in the Middle East, with the ghost of bin Laden passing him the terror torch...

Don't get your hopes up too high... Hamas and Israel have come to an agreement to get Gilad Shalit released from jail, where he has been kept by Hamas since 2006. The Israeli Prime Minister said that he should be home within a few days, but here is where there could be a snag. Israel will release 1,027 people from prison in exchange for Mr Shalit, and there was celebration in Gaza over so many of their children coming home. Ever since he was captured, Mr Shalit's family has staged public demonstrations and press conferences to put pressure on the Israeli government to try and negotiate his release, at one point over 10,000 Israelis joined them on a march from the Shalit's home in northern Israel to Jerusalem.

This is just the latest in the public relation wars between Hamas and Fatah for the hearts and minds of the citizens of Gaza. Both groups are trying to appear to be doing the most for their people, Fatah making an application for UN recognition, and Hamas with the release of Gilad Shalit. If they really wanted to resolve this strange pissing match, why don't they hold election? After all, elections should have been held three years ago, and neither parties want to hold another one in case they get voted out. Sure, will anybody believe that Hamas would peacefully leave Gaza if they lost an election? Even in these days of change in the Middle East?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Greenspan Hearts Bush Tax Cuts, Perry's Policy Speech, Ms Warren Causes A Stir

Paul Krugman

According to a report released this morning, the recession is officially over. Feel any better? Most household incomes have not increased, many have actually shrunk. Also, over 50% of those who have applied for a refinanced mortgage have been denied by the banks...

The solid GOP facade on the economy is beginning to crack, with a freshman congressman complaining in public about Grover Nordquist and his peer pressure, making everyone sign a pledge against "no new taxes." By now everyone and their second cousin knows that tax breaks have nothing to do with creating jobs. Nordquist has formed an anti-tax mafia that has translated into blocking legislation for improved medical benefits for veterans who have lost a limb, and definitely against any new stimulus. Many states, including Texas, used the last stimulus to balance their budgets, then turn around and say how little good it did them. Unfortunately for them, this year and the next will be harder for them to balance their budgets, what will trickle down will be bad news for the local economies. Our city is planning on laying off 9 more police officers and more firemen, and not filling 37 vacant positions in city government. Oh, it looks even worse in Rick Perry's Texas, people may have no choice but to homeschool their kids, after the local school districts fold... The good news is that they can always turn the buildings into meth labs to help stimulate the local economies, like on Breaking Bad...

The current field of GOP candidates all have vague theories of policy while offering nothing concrete. Rick Perry maybe leaping to the forefront by announcing he will give a policy speech this coming Friday, with some ideas on solving the job problem. We have a week to guess whether he will deliver the goods, or relegate another attack on Mit Romney through a proxy. Lord knows he needs to generate some positive press, instead of the religious intolerant, racist, and bad debater images that have been plaguing him for the past two weeks. His handlers have been practicing debating with him, getting him to stick to the vague, scripted answers like the other candidates give. And, they are claiming that during the last debate, Rick suffered from lack of sleep, it certainly wasn't anything like muscle relaxers or anti-depressants that made him appear so out of it...

Back to the GOP economists, or, in Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan, the lack of one... Even Alan Greenspan has made a public statement that he was wrong about the free market approach to the economy. Lately, he has even said that it is important to let the Bush tax cuts expire:
“If we do not get Simpson Bowles as a fallback,” Greenspan told CNBC, referring to a large-scale deficit reduction program proposed by the co-chairs of President Barack Obama’s fiscal commission, “I stand with allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire. You could do it gradually, whatever. But if we think we have this luxury of waiting for a couple of years with a little stimulus now and then later tightening up. I hope the bond markets are listening.”

“What’s driving the United States at the moment to a very large extent is Europe. You can’t understand the United States at all, I think, unless you know what’s going on in Europe.”
The Loneliest Woman in Europe, Angela Merkel, has announced that Germany and France are just about to sign a plan to rescue the rest of Europe, and hopefully, pull the economies of Greece, Spain, and Portugal out of the tank. In response, the stock market rose a few points. No telling what may happen if Europe no longer allows high speed trading by computer for large dollar amounts. A computer can issue over 1000 trade slips per second. Shady profiteers issue tens of thousands at a time, hoping to affect the price of certain stocks, then they cancel the most of the trades before they legally have to pay for them. This goes on all day, every day, and a lot of money can be made, or lost. Practices like this are what is being protested on Wall Street...

The last crack came in the form of a video, showing candidate Elizabeth Warren, that dreaded consumer advocate, making a common sense argument for rich folks to pay their taxes and stop their bitching, from EJ Dionne's column in the Washington Post: "The declaration heard ’round the Internet world came from Elizabeth Warren, the consumer champion running for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts. Warren argued that “there is nobody in this country who got rich on his own,” that thriving entrepreneurs move their goods “on the roads the rest of us paid for” and hire workers “the rest of us paid to educate.” Police and firefighters, also paid for by “the rest of us,” protect the factory owner’s property. As a result, our “underlying social contract” requires this hardworking but fortunate soul to “take a hunk” of his profits “and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

Who knows what will happen this week, but it looks like the balance is tilting in favor of President Obama's modest proposals, and they might actually be passed by Congress. Again, government cannot create jobs in the private sector, all it can do is to hire federal employees or fund public projects that can be hired locally. The closest it gets to stimulating private businesses, is through the small business administration, but they used to have a $50,000 cap on their loans, so not much will be generated that way... Now I'm wondering if Rick Perry has decided that the best we can do is to pray away the depression...

Friday, October 7, 2011

Wall Street, Herman Cain In Lead, My Father's Premature Death

Kathleen Parker
Nicholas Kristoff
"Big changes in the Republican field. It's a 10-way tie for Not Romney." – Stephen Colbert
"Sarah Palin announced she’s not running. Finally, a Palin who pulls out before it’s too late." – Jay Leno

David Letterman's "Top Ten Ways Rick Perry Plans To Spend $17 Million"

10. Death row taco bar
9. Two words: Alberto VO5
8. Hire staff to write some more great zingers like this . . .
7. Always wanted to see Branson
6. Spend a weekend at his hunting lodge with Hank Williams, Jr.
5. $8.5 million on campaign buttons; $8.5 million on bumper stickers
4. Health care for all Texans . . . I'm totally messing with you
3. Shut up or he'll execute you
2. Get a fabulous makeover from Michele O'Bachmann's husband
1. Buy lunch for Chris Christie

I was wondering how the spirit from the Arab Spring would manifest in the US, and the anti-corporate greed demonstrations on Wall Street and in other cities seem to be it. If nothing else, it lets us old farts know that the younger generation hasn't all gone bankrupt and has some morals... Interesting that the most common way that the repressive regimes in Syria, Yemen, China, and New York all respond with violence to their unarmed citizens camping out on the streets. If the protests were to happen in places like Ohio, Georgia, or South Carolina, the state legislatures would already be drafting legislation making such protests a violation against our capitalist way of life, and punishable by time in jail, a treasonable offense similar to what was passed in Russia, Georgia, Iran, and Tunisia...

Does anyone expect that the CEO's of Wall Street will break down and agree to stop their predatory habits, or to stop lobbying against the changes that are supposed to make their industry more transparent and honest? Not since they are back making huge salaries. But since they are intertwined with what is going on in Europe right now, there is a good chance that if Europe falls back into a continent wide recession, then so will the US economy, and people will be less comfortable with a CEO making over $26 million that year...

Is anyone surprised that Sarah Palin officially has said that she is not running for President? She has been making more than enough money with her books, reality television show, speaking fees, and being a pundit on FOX News, she doesn't want to start spending lots of money and going through the grind of raising enough money that a national election would entail. Plus, she really is crazier-than-batshit, a mean and vindictive person who would abuse the position of President to get back at all of her detractors, real and imagined... What is surprising is that Herman Cain is currently leading in the polls. He's taking a page from Sarah's playbook, to stop campaigning and go on a book tour for a month, try and make some more personal money to refurbish what he's had to lay out so far. Herman may be forced out of the running if the public finds out how much of a temper he has. So far, he's been able to deflect answering uncomfortable questions by saying well, we have differences of opinions, so let's move on... Don't ask embarrassing things like who are the economists that came up with his 9-9-9 flat tax scheme (hint, turn those nines over into sixes) or why he won't disclose their names, so let's move on... Once he starts being called on the outrageous claims he makes as the Black Walnut, he will be seen as the fringe candidate he really is, wackier than Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann combined...

Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health went through the data for all 1,802,029 Medicare recipients who were 65 and older, who died in 2008. They found that an alarming number, one in three,  people had surgery during the last year of their lives. One in five had surgery during their last month of life, and one in ten had surgery during their last week of life.

The implication here is that our nation is filled with greedy surgeons who perform unnecessary surgeries, knowing that their patients may die instead of recover from those surgeries? All for the sake of the Medicare fees? The researchers were shocked at the amount of surgeries they found, nobody asked why there hasn't been any earlier looking at surgical data or any oversight by Medicare itself. Hopefully, some kind of change will come from this, but I won't hold my breath.

My father was one of those people who had surgery and died within the week afterwards. He had last stage COPD, but had survived a couple of years longer than they thought he would. His doctor referred him to a surgeon, who said that he might be able to fix it so he could breathe better, and it was considered as a minor form of surgery, he would walk out within a couple hours afterwards. Unfortunately, their are more patients who don't survive the anesthesia than the surgery itself, my father didn't regain consciousness until sometime the next afternoon.

My father was kept in intensive care for three days afterwards, then two more days on a regular ward. I wanted my father transferred to a nursing home, but my younger brother said that he could take care of him better, because all my father wanted was to go home. Unfortunately, my brother, who is  sociopath, won out and took my father home with him. My father died ten hours after he was released.

Needless to say, I'm still angry over my father's death. I'm angry at his regular physician, who seemed to not cared whether he lived or died once he was diagnosed with COPD. I'm angry at the surgeon who convinced my father that surgery would be beneficial to him, instead of leaving him alone and letting him live for another few months or couple years more. I'm angry at the anesthesiologist, who didn't seem to take my father's state of health into consideration when he administered his drugs. I'm angry at the doctors in the hospital who released my father prematurely. And I'm angry at my younger brother, who has been involved with the deaths of my mother and our youngest brother, as well as making threats towards myself... As the woman at the mortuary told me, it's far too easy to commit murder and get away with it in the state of California...

Monday, October 3, 2011

All Watched Over By Drones Of Loving Grace

Paul Krugman
Christopher Dickey

Science fiction has long become a recognized and accepted form of popular literature, a genre long mined for television and the movies. Part of science fiction is devoted to predicting how our society will evolve in the future, from Jules Verne predicting the submarine, to Robert Heinlein predicting the use of LSD. Now its our turn to make predictions, with the rampant use of the drone in warfare.

 Drones have recently been used wherever the CIA has been operating with mercenaries, in Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, firing missiles at those we deem to be enemies, kiss al Qaeda goodbye... Unfortunately, the missiles aren't always as accurate as we'd like, so there also has been more innocent civilians killed s collateral damage than targeted individuals. But the drone program has been counted as so successful that the Air Force is currently training more men to command drones by remote control than it is training pilots for fighter jets...

Domestically, drones have been used to patrol the border between the US and Mexico, to monitor the sea lanes into the US, and to look for refugees fleeing from Haiti and Cuba. The Department of Homeland Security currently uses four bases to launch and use their drones: Riverside, California; Sierra Vista, Arizona; Grand Forks, North Dakota; and Cape Canaveral, Florida. By expanding the use of drones, and coupling them with satellite imagery, soon we will have the entire globe under surveillance. Hook that information up to the cameras set up at every stoplight in every city, and the types of databases that can be accessed by our police and intelligence services, I would like to formally welcome you to A Brave New World, run by a New World Order. Oh, it's so much more than an episode of NCIS: LA. And it all happened while we were distracted by 9/11 and the economic crisis. Once these information controls are firmly in place, will the man behind the curtain reveal himself, or will we be forced to continue making silly conjectures about antichrists, raptures, and the return of our savior/and or the return of the mahdi? At least the Buddha never made those kind of claims, unless you believe in reincarnation and the Chinese government picking the next Dalai Lama... Recently, a couple of men were arrested for buying some of the larger remote-controlled toy planes (they actually are pretty sophisticated, that you can't really describe them as toys anymore), and trying to fit them with explosives for a terrorist act.

Ultimately, we will know that drones and their ilk have truly been integrated into our society, when we develop commercial uses for them, and put shows about them on television. Action shows such as Hawaii Drone-O, or Predator, Rise of the Drones, or comedies like Two and a Half Hellfire Missiles... With the ardent need for gamers to run the new military and security programs, we may soon see recruiters stalking the halls of the junior high schools, paving the way to lower the age for drinking, driving, and the use of recreational drugs, putting the coca back into coca cola...