Friday, July 31, 2009

Iraqi Politics is tha Bomb, Getting Stormy in Louisiana

Paul Krugman
David Brooks
Dana Milbank
Gregory Levey

"It was to have been a cure for what ales us." - Dana Milbank

“Keep your government hands off my Medicare.” - anonymous

Some really good opinions in the links above, I had to read the Jerusalem Post to find out about Gregory Levey's article in Newsweek about naming George W Bush as the new envoy to Israel, a clever idea. Dana Milbank has all of the beer puns over the meeting yesterday between Gates, Biden, Crowley, and Obama. I was impressed with James Crowley's press conference afterwards, where he described the meeting as two people who agreed to disagree and move on. As Chris Matthews on MSNBC commented, he handled the press better than most politicians he's seen, and maybe there is a future in politics for Mr Crowley. He certainly is articulate and has poise in front of the cameras, I ended up liking him a lot.

On to more gruesome news, of course it happened in Iraq. A lot of the bombings of civilians have to do with politics, and this most recent bombing attack was coordinated against the followers of Moktada al Sadr, from the NY Times: "Bombs exploded near five Shiite mosques around Baghdad within 45 minutes on Friday as worshipers attended prayer services, killing at least 29 people in what appeared to be a coordinated attack against followers of the anti-American cleric Moktada al-Sadr, Iraqi officials and a Sadr aide said.

The bombs, which the police said were hidden just outside the mosques, tore through the Friday calm in five predominantly Shiite working-class neighborhoods, three of them on the east side of the city, one in the south and one in the north. A total of 136 people were reported wounded in the attacks, all of which took place between 12:45 p.m. and 1:30 p.m., according an official from the Interior Ministry who spoke under customary condition of anonymity.

Officials said that highest death toll was outside the Shuroofi mosque in the north, in the district of Shaab. Once controlled by a militia loyal to Mr. Sadr, the mosque had in recent years been taken over by the national police, so Sadr loyalists pray outside in the street. Initial reports indicated that 23 people died in the attack and 107 were wounded." This bombing was probably in retribution for the bomb yesterday that went off in a Sunni political office. It is such a horrible way to jockey for position, but I think that the Iraqi politicians have become so used to using methods like this that they have lost the value of human life and any remaining grains of respect has been blown away on the wind. It will continue after we have gone, only these horrible incidents will be reported less and less as our attention shifts elsewhere.

More heartbreaking news out of Burma. The trial of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is over and the verdict was supposed to have been read today: "a new date of Aug. 11 had been set for the reading of the verdict, which could send Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi to jail for five years. Most foreign reporters are barred from entering Myanmar. Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi, 64, is charged with violating the terms of the house arrest under which she has been held for 14 of the past 20 years. She has been held in prison since her arrest May 14." Like I said before, this whole thing has been fabricated to keep her away from the next fake election that will be held soon. If you thought Iran's election was rigged, watch this one... Now they will kep her out of sight, where she will waste away until she dies. Her last comments were to some observing diplomats during the trial: "Speaking to diplomats who were permitted to attend the final session of the case on Tuesday, she said, “I’m afraid the verdict will be painfully obvious.”

Back in Louisiana, where our government experimented with ethnic cleansing after Hurricane Katrina, the political scene is beginning to resemble Iraq. The porn star Stormy Daniels, who has been thinking of running against Republican David Vitter, was arrested on a domestic violence charge, and her advisor's car was blown up. Politico has the story from Mr Welsh: “I’m not going to point fingers right away, but it definitely looks weird. Everyone who has looked at it and talked to me about it basically said, ‘Man, someone is trying to send you a message.’ It’s straight out of ‘Scarface’ or ‘Casino.’ Even more bizarre: If this is Daniels-related, she hasn’t declared a political party yet — or that she’s running. But as Welsh says: “Election season is heating up early!”

From the weekly vice comes the incident of domestic abuse: "According to Tampa Police, Clifford’s father-in-law had been at the house earlier that day doing laundry. When Stephanie arrived at home, she was angered by the way it had been done.
After opening her mail, she reportedly discovered that her husband, Michael Mosny, hadn’t paid a bill as she reportedly instructing him to. As a result, her bank account was frozen.

Investigators say Clifford admitted to throwing a potted plant at the kitchen sink, pushing folded blankets on the floor, knocking candles off of the coffee table, and throwing their wedding album - but she denies assaulting her husband intentionally. She reportedly told investigators she was attempting to grab the car keys from her husband when she "may have" struck him in the process. Clifford was booked into the Hillsborough County Jail on charges of battery/domestic violence. She was released after posting a $1,000 bond. "

Her opponent, David Vitter was named in the DC Madame expose, and he has confessed to using prostitutes. Some of the prostitutes reported that he likes to wear diapers and enjoys pee. What a wonderfully sordid mess this has become...

On a more upbeat note, negotiations have begun again in Honduras, and Mel Zelaya may actually come back, if certain concessions are met. They have not been made public. So, his camping days may soon be over, and they can all sit down together and have a beer...

late night jokes:

"Yesterday, of course, on Fox News commentator Glenn Beck said that he believes President Obama is a racist. Well, to be fair, every time you watch Glenn Beck, it does get a little easier to hate white people." --Conan O'Brien

"Of course, President Obama has invited Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates and the policeman who arrested him to the White House. Reportedly, Obama is going to serve them Budweiser. And in the spirit of racial harmony, Budweiser is changing its nickname from the 'King of Beers' to the 'Martin Luther King of Beers.'" --Conan O'Brien

"Yesterday at the White House, President Obama took part in an online Q & A session with a group of senior citizens. The most common question the seniors asked Obama was, 'What have you done with Eisenhower?'" --Conan O'Brien

"Big kegger at the White House tomorrow. Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. will be there and Sergeant James Crowley will be there, coming over for beer. It's going to be a crazy night. There will be karaoke with Tim Geithner." --David Letterman

"I believe it's the first White House kegger, really, since the Bush twins lived there." --David Letterman

"And you know who else is going to be there? Dick Cheney, former Vice President Dick 'Kaboom' Cheney will be there. He's going to go down to his old dudgeon and play the organ." --David Letterman

"Everyone's in kegger spirits. And how can you not be? Hillary Clinton, by the way, is in kegger spirit. She's going to be serving snacks in a skimpy pantsuit." --David Letterman

"They were talking to Hillary about it and she is still interested in running for president. She said running for president is not on her radar, not on her radar. Yeah, but she's still got Bill on LoJack." --David Letterman

"Former Governor Sarah Palin, she's rumored to be interested in a new career as a talk radio host. It's a four-hour show but she'll be gone after two. So, that's -- she says it's part of her deal." --Jimmy Fallon

"Of course, you have to remember, radio host is now the most powerful position in the Republican Party. 'The Morning Drive' on WQU-Betcha. Should be exciting." --Jimmy Fallon

"Finally, tomorrow, President Obama has his big beer summit with Professor Henry Louis Gates and Sergeant James Crowley. Yeah, that's a great idea. In my experience, the best way to settle an argument between guys from Boston, just add alcohol." --Jimmy Fallon

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Oh, Those Teachable Moments...

Eric Kantor
Dana Milbank
Karen Tumulty

"If seeking political help was a crime, you could lock up half of metropolitan Washington, D.C." - Robert Trout

"The Gates case is now like the first draft of a bad novel that Tom Wolfe would have kept in his drawer." - Tracy Klugian

Today is the big day for beer drinkers, professors, and cops, with the much publicized meeting at the White House between Barack Obama, Louis Gates, and James Crowley. They are drinking as I write this and the news reports will filter in after I post... Their choice of beers has even made the front page in some papers, like the Denver Post, waxing on the symbolism of choosing beer over wine or cocktails, quoting a wise bartender for authenticity... Being labeled a "teachable moment" to a bad mistake that won't stop racial profiling, the talk about the arrest of Louis Gates by James Crowley has spun out of control.

Racism is a part of everyday life, we experience or impart prejudice with everyone we encounter that we aren't familiar with. I like to think that I am not a racist at all, but I have been accused of making racist statements lately.p I was shocked, how could they think that of me, but then I realized that I was an old, white guy, they were a younger, black couple, and I could easily have said anything that they interpreted to be racist. Something I said felt demeaning to them, it wasn't my call to make. Because I never got a chance to talk to them about it over a beer, I chalked it up to lesson learned for me. I think it was easier for me to accept my teachable moment because many years ago I dated a beautiful black woman, and she did point out many instances of racism when they occurred in the attitudes of friends and strangers. Its easier and lazier to be intolerant, to say demeaning things about our children, our spouses, our bosses, other political parties, instead of holding our tongues and listening to them.

Now, we got white people calling Obama a racist, white people calling Sotomayor a racist, in general, insensitive white people who think nothing of imparting prejudice cloaking themselves as victims. The woman who made the 911 call to the Cambridge police has even been called a racist, she had her own press conference denying any such label yesterday. We got Rush Limbaugh calling Obama an angry black man: " He's an angry black guy. I do believe that about the president. I do believe he's angry. I think his wife is angry. All liberals are enraged all the time anyway. They're always mad. But if he's not mad, if he's not angry, why does he run around apologizing for the country all over the place? There's something going on here, and it certainly isn't a love and devotion to the whole concept of American exceptionalism, is it? Yeah, Barack Nifong! (grumbling) "First-class intellectuals like us, that trashy Rush Limbaugh, first-class intellectuals like us, right on." (laughing) Lord, thank you for my enemies." If I had to listen to hours of this stuff, I'd get rather grumpy...

We have such a long way to go in this crazy country. But that's why I love being here, with all of our ethnic diversity and free press, we get to work out a lot of our problems in the open, for all of its beauty or ugliness, and for the world to comment upon...

late night jokes:

"Some people now are saying, this is true, that former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin wants to host her own TV show. The show is going to be called 'Am I More Coherent Than a Fifth Grader?'" --Conan O'Brien

"Sarah Palin resigned the other day, and in her final speech — I don't know if you listened to it — she compared herself to a grizzly bear who will defend its cubs wherever the road may lead. Palin decided to use the grizzly bear metaphor right after she heard it come out of her mouth. Saw it, she liked it, then she shot it." --Conan O'Brien

"President Obama, of course, everyone knows, has invited Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates and the police officer who arrested him to the White House for a beer. Of course, this could be trouble, because the last time Obama got a few beers in him, he bought General Motors." --Conan O'Brien

"President Obama held a Q & A session about healthcare reform with senior citizens over the Internet. Unfortunately, the senior citizens spent the entire hour typing questions into their microwave ovens." --Conan O'Brien

"Members of the Senate are considering a tax on cosmetic surgery. When they brought it up, you should have seen the look that Nancy Pelosi's face tried to make." --Conan O'Brien

"Welcome to the show, ladies and gentlemen. I'm so happy you're here tonight, because, last night, oh my gosh, we had a rough crowd. I couldn't get the Blue Dogs to go along. Oh, you see, I didn't know what that meant either." --David Letterman

"You know about the situation? Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., from Harvard and Sergeant James Crowley, the police officer that cuffed him and tried to drag him out of his house and arrest him. Then later, in a press conference, President Obama said that one of them, I guess the policeman, acted stupidly. Already, there's trouble right there. So here's what the President is going to do. Does it make sense? I don't know. He invited the professor and the cop to come to the White House on Thursday for beer. Alcohol usually cools things off. Have you noticed that? That's where you want to go." --David Letterman

"And Joe Biden's pretty busy. Today he went out to get a keg." --David Letterman

"But everybody at the White House, excited about the kegger. You know who's coming? Well, Dick Cheney will be there. Here's what he's going to do. He'll be playing the organ down in his old dungeon." --David Letterman

"If it goes well, then President Obama is going to invite Governor and Mrs. Sanford to come up and have a beer." --David Letterman

"And then in the spirit of this, I thought it was nice today, Rush Limbaugh called up Professor Gates and Officer Crowley and he invited them over for some OxyContin." --David Letterman

"President Obama's not the only President who enjoys the occasional beer. Bill Clinton, remember Bill Clinton would have an occasional beer? Here's what he would do. He would go into a bar and order a cold one. Do you remember that? And then the bartender would say, 'Oh, then go home to Hillary.'" --David Letterman

"President Obama invited Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates and Sergeant James Crowley to the White House for a beer this Thursday. It's all part of Obama's new approach to diplomacy, How would they handle this on 'Cheers.'" --Jimmy Fallon

"Who watched the season finale of 'The Bachelorette' last night? It came down to a choice between computer consultant Ed and in a surprise twist, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, who gets around." –Jimmy Kimmel

"There is one thing we know for sure. Barack Obama was not born in the United States, making him constitutionally ineligible to serve as president. You see, I'm a member of the proud 'birther' movement -- made up of decent, old-fashioned Americans who just want to overturn a democratic election. And yesterday, our cause made it all the way to the White House [on screen: WH press sec. Robert Gibbs, asked why the birther issue keeps coming up, tells reporters, 'Because for $15, you can get an Internet address and say whatever you want']. Of course, Gibbs has his own secrets. You can read all about them at my $15 website, That was worth every penny." --Stephen Colbert (Watch video clip)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Iraq's Air Forceless, Iran's Abu Ghraib

Maureen Dowd
Kathleen Parker
Michael Lewis

“If Sarah Palin looked like Golda Meir, would we even be talking about her today?” - Mike Murphy

“They cannot turn this nation into a prison of 70 million people,” - Mir Moussavi

While Defense Secretary Robert Gates has been touring Iraq, it looks like the Iraqi military decided to show their mettle by attacking the People's Mujahadeen, an exile refugee camp composed of Iranian fighters who are opposed to the clerical government and have been fighting against it since 1979. It looks like they blew it and had to have riot police step in to help them, not very impressive for the dumbass in the government who ordered the raid. According to al Jazeera: "A raid by Iraqi troops on a camp housing members of an exiled Iranian opposition group has left four people dead and more than 400 wounded.

The Iraqi army had stormed Camp Ashraf to the north of Baghdad on Tuesday, but were forced to call in riot police to quell the violence when residents tried to resist. Iraq's defence ministry said the offensive against the People's Mujahedeen base was justified under a security agreement signed by Baghdad and Washington in November.

"It's our territory and it's our right to enter, to impose Iraqi law on everybody," General Mohammed Askari, the defence ministry spokesman told Al-Arabiya television.

The offensive followed a declaration by the People's Mujahedeen that it was ready to return to Iran if the authorities there would guarantee its members would not be abused."

It was also revealed that Iraq doesn't have any fighter jets in it's air force and, well, they really don't have an air force beyond a few helicopters and transport planes... Probably as part of a 9/11 paranoia, we haven't trained any fighter pilots in all of the time we have been there. The Iraqi military asked for some jets while Mr Gates was there giving press conferences in the 115% heat, according to the NY Times: "The commander, Gen. Ray Odierno, in comments to reporters traveling here with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, did not directly say that American planes and pilots might effectively have to serve as an Iraqi air force until the Iraqis were ready to defend their country’s airspace on their own. But he said that a United States Air Force team was expected soon in Iraq to assess what the United States could, and should, do.

Iraqis have already asked the United States for new F-16 fighter jets, but General Odierno said it would be impossible to build and deliver them by the end of 2011, even if the Iraqis were able to afford them.
Asked if the Iraqis would be in a position to fly their own defensive air patrols at the end of 2011, when a United States agreement with Iraq calls for all American troops to be out of the country, General Odierno replied, “Right now, no.” Yep, be careful what you wish for, why does Iraq needs fighter jets to strafe and bomb Shias, Sunnis, and Kurds, targeted by whomever happens to be in control at the time. Perhaps they might fly over and visit Israel? Or another Iraq/Iranian war? Just a really bad idea... While we're at it, why don't we also provide Somalia with some fighter jets...

Boy, the fun never ends in Iran, where, according to the NY Times: "The accounts of prison abuse in Iran’s postelection crackdown — relayed by relatives and on opposition Web sites — have set off growing outrage among Iranians, including some prominent conservatives. More bruised corpses have been returned to families in recent days, and some hospital officials have told human rights workers that they have seen evidence that well over 100 protesters have died since the vote.

On Tuesday, the government released 140 prisoners in one of several conciliatory gestures aimed at deflecting further criticism. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad issued a letter urging the head of the judiciary to show “Islamic mercy” to the detainees, and on Monday Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, personally intervened and closed an especially notorious detention center.

The head of Iran’s Supreme Administrative Court, Ayatollah Ghorbanali Dorri-Najafabadi, said more prisoners would be released by the end of the week. He added that a “serious judicial inquiry” was being conducted into the deaths that have occurred in prisons since the June 12 election." It's interesting that they are having these debates over torture in prison, the parallel is America's reaction to Abu Ghraib; both countries believe that they are more humane than what is being revealed and try to take tiny steps to correct the situations. You would never find this kind of debate in other Middle eastern countries, like the ones we sent prisoners to because we knew they would be tortured during interrogations, like Egypt, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia.

If Iran can get rid of their fanatics in government and replace them with secular moderates, they could actually have a positive influence on the whole region. If we can get rid of the old racist white men in our Congress, we, too, could have a more positive influence, proving that we have a lot in common with whom we perceive as our enemies...

late night jokes:

"Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin resigned yesterday, and during her speech, she was heckled. Apparently, it was just someone in Russia yelling, 'Keep it down over there!'" --Conan O'Brien

"To ease tensions, President Obama has invited Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates and the police officer who arrested him to join him for a beer at the White House. And if that works out, Obama's going to have Ahmadinejad and Netanyahu over for Jaegerbombs." --Conan O'Brien

"President Obama is hosting a delegation of 150 Chinese officials in Washington. Among the questions the Chinese have for the U.S.: 'What's your military policy? What is your stance on global warming? And where's our money?'" --Conan O'Brien

"Oh, now here is the big fun over the weekend. Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska, stepped down. It was a moving day for Sarah Palin. She went out on her porch and waved goodbye to Russia." --David Letterman

"And I thought this was only to be expected. Sarah Palin took a swipe at certain people in the media. Gosh, I wonder who she had in mind." --David Letterman

"You know what they're saying, that President Obama is trying to do too much too soon. You have heard that criticism? They criticized him for trying to do too much too soon and the fact that he wears baggie jeans. No wonder his poll numbers are going down." --David Letterman

"But it's too much too soon. Just kind of the opposite of President Bush, too little too late." --David Letterman

"Yesterday, the 'Thrilla from Wasilla' officially passed the reins of power to her lieutenant governor at a picnic in Fairbanks [on screen: Palin explaining that she's leaving office to avoid a 'lame duck' session]. So that's the difference between a pit bull and a hockey mom! Pit bulls don't quit and then try to pretend like their quitting is not really quitting because they are quitting!" --Jon Stewart

"By the way, when you have 15 months to go in your first term in office, I don't think that's lame duck status. I think it's just -- you're bored." --Jon Stewart

"Here is another thing you rarely see from pit bulls. Pit bulls almost never invoke our troops' ultimate sacrifice in order to silence critics [on screen: more from Palin's farewell speech. Palin: 'How about, in honor of the American soldier, you quit makin' things up?']. Did I just get in trouble? Why do I think that Palin's concern for media accuracy is in reference to the Sarah Palin $150,000 wardrobe story and not the Iraq WMD story? 'Cause only one of those stories really has any bearing on American troops." --Jon Stewart

[On screen: more Palin, saying, 'Hollywood needs to know we eat, therefore we hunt']. Yeah, Hollywood! All you hypocrites at home, happy to eat your frozen wolf patties without wondering where they come from. Well, guess what? They're shot from airplanes for you!" --Jon Stewart

"It's a poignant evening. Yesterday, Sarah Palin stepped down as Alaska's governor. Yeah, I know. I know. The nation mourned the Alaskan way -- by committing manslaughter in the lower 48 and then fleeing to the Yukon." -Stephen Colbert

"At first, folks, I was devastated. And then I saw the bright side. Sarah Palin is free! She can finally spread her wings and fly! In a helicopter, to shoot wolves." -Stephen Colbert

"Palin resigned a year-and-a-half before her term ends because she didn't want Alaska to have a lame-duck governor. Now, she has a book deal presumed to be worth millions. And I cannot wait to read it. I believe on the tenth page, she decides since the book is going to end anyway, to leave the last two hundred pages blank." -Stephen Colbert

"The U.S. Senate is considering a bill that would tax Botox. When Botox users heard this, they were horrified. Well, I think they were horrified. It's difficult to tell." --Craig Ferguson

"Over the weekend, the President of France fainted while jogging. First of all, what kind of president of France is jogging? He should be smoking!" --Craig Ferguson

"He's all right now. But for a couple of minutes, he was so woozy he mistook his wife for his mistress." --Craig Ferguson

"Yesterday, Sarah Palin gave her last speech before resigning as governor of Alaska. It was a very fiery speech. She was mad. I mean, she blasted the media, Hollywood, two bears and a moose." --Jimmy Fallon

"Have you guys heard about this? Henry Louis Gates, the Harvard professor who was arrested while trying to get into his own house? Well, to smooth things over, President Obama has invited Gates and the cop, Sergeant Crowley, to the White House for a beer. How cool is that? Obama is handling the situation like two of his bros got in a fight over a girl or something. They'll come over. One beer will lead to two. Two will lead to nine. Next thing you know, everyone will forget they were ever mad at each other. They'll start doing Jaeger shots out of Betsy Ross' thimble. They'll make prank phone calls on the Red Phone. Crowley will pass out. They'll put his hand in warm water and giggle. Then they'll all wake up in the morning with matching tattoos of 'Twilight' star Robert Pattinson. It's such a great idea." --Jimmy Fallon

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Judiciary Committee Approves Wise Latina Woman...

David Brooks
Dana Milbank
Mark McKinnon

As expected, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved of Sonia Sotomayor by a 13 - 6 margin, as reported by the NY Times. The only Republican to vote for her was Lindsey Graham, who gave her the meanest, toughest time during the hearing: "Mr. Graham said he supported the nomination, despite early reservations. “I feel good about Judge Sotomayor,” he said, adding he was sure that she would decide cases “based on what she thinks is right” and be an inspiration for young women. The Senate is expected to debate the nomination next week, so Judge Sotomayor is likely to be sworn in as the Supreme Court’s first Hispanic justice (and only its third woman) in time for the start of the high court’s next term, which begins in October." I salute Mr Graham's honesty and courage to vote how he feels, not like the other grandstanding Republicans such as Mr Sessions, who obviously made crap up to kowtow to the party line. To put the hearings in perspective and how its grown, back in 1962 the hearing for a Supreme Court nominee lasted 15 minutes and consisted of eight questions...

She should easily win full confirmation and be on the bench when the court is back in session in October. The funniest thing to watch is when someone moderate to liberal is nominated, the Republicans label them an "activist" judge. Same thing happens when a conservative judge is nominated, the liberals also label them an "activist." And it all centers around the judge's viewpoints on abortion. Here's to seeing what a wise latina woman can do...

The Internet is coming to Afghanistan, according to the Christian Science Monitor: "New underground wires in Afghanistan carry bits and bytes, not bomb blasts. The fiber-optic cables run to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, linking Afghanistan by land to the global Internet for the first time.
Until last month, most Afghans could only surf the Web through satellite links to other nations. That's expensive, stunting Internet penetration to just 3 percent of the Afghan population.
Afghan officials say the country's expanding fiber-optic network will drive down prices for Internet services dramatically, extending access to ordinary Afghans and potentially expanding business and educational opportunities in a country where both are in short supply."
Next, if I can find Internet cafes in Papua New Guinea, our world will truly be interconnected. It has already been a great influence on the recent American election and the fake election in Iran with its aftermath. Our world will never be the same, I don't know if I'll be here 10 years from now to witness the changes, but I hope I will, still typing away at this silly blog. Which reminds me that some things are timeless and universal. A few years ago I was traveling in northern Thailand and parts of Laos. Out in the fields, miles from nowhere in the middle of the jungle, was a young boy riding a buffalo, listening to an old, scratchy Bob Marley tape. In fact, in almost every bar I ended up in many tiny towns, they always had some Bob Marley playing, a real tribute to his music and the simple genius of the man himself...

Evidently some politicians in Wisconsin are not so Internet savvy, with embarrassing repercussions, from the UPI: "The Wisconsin secretary of state said he was "disgusted" to find his former campaign Web site, which was sold to save money, is now home to pornography.
Secretary of State Doug LaFollette, 69, said his campaign stopped paying the monthly $25 fee to maintain rights to the site's domain name, assuming it would be available when election time came back around, but someone from St. Petersburg, Russia, swooped in and purchased the domain after the payments ceased, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Monday."
But hey, the Russian who owns the domain is willing to sell it back for a mere $500...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Sonia and the 4 Bears

Paul Krugman
Fareed Zakaria

Most of today's news is a rehash of what happened during the weekend, so I thought now would be a good time to spread tips to keep the bears from breaking into your house.There were 4 break-ins over the weekend in Boulder, Colorado, and, according to the Denver Post: "In all of the bear break-ins, the animals entered the homes through windows that were left partially open. The bears were able to pull of the window screens and force their way in through the windows.

The sheriff's office recommends that mountain residents remove all food from around their houses, including pet food; keep garbage cans inside until the trash is scheduled to be picked up; tightly cover compost; clean barbecue grills; and close all doors and windows within eight feet of the ground."
Good sense, good neighbors, good dreams... I'll look for more tips on keeping the wolves from your door and other assorted wildlife...

Yesterday was Sarah Palin's last day as governor of Alaska. Pundits want to know what she is going to do now. Well, she's going to sleep a lot, get rested for her speech next month in California at the Ronald Reagan Library, then she'll try to make some money giving speeches until her book gets ghost-written and she can collect a seven million advance from the publisher. Then she can kick back with her family, watch a little right wing tv...

Tomorrow is the vote to confirm Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court. Creepy Jeff Sessions has announced that he will vote against her, from CQ Politics: "Jeff Sessions became the fourth of seven Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee to come out against Sotomayor's nomination in advance of Tuesday's vote. Jon Kyl of Arizona, John Cornyn of Texas and Orrin G. Hatch of Utah all announced their opposition last week." Does it make any difference if these people announce their vote ahead of time? Are you impressed, that these Republicans are symbolically against a Democratic nominee? According to author Jeffrey Toobin, who wrote The Nine, all politics centered on the Supreme Court is all about abortions and trying to overturn Roe v Wade... right wingers won't vote for anyone, even a moderate, unless they are willing to chip away at those issues.

She will be confirmed and it will be interesting to see how much she changes once she's on the Court and can relax, not pretend to be the robot judge she portrayed during her hearings. A wise latina backlash? There are a couple more elderly judges who could retire during the next 3 years, and it would be interesting to see whom Obama would pick to replace them. I'm betting someone more liberal, someone who is willing to talk back to Jeff and Lindsay and make their hearings the entertainment factor it should be...
The only other fun place to be is camping out on the Nicaraguan/Honduran border with Mel Zelaya. He has a whopping 150 followers there, and about 150 reporters, so it's a good mix. The funny thing is this man is also a rich rancher and who knows what fantasies he is entertaining about himself. He is not one of the poor, he has never had to work hard, and he has always eaten well. It seems not many want him back, so I wonder how long he will last at the border, a matter of days before he changes his mind again...

late night jokes:

"The President of the United States spent the week talking about America's most vulnerable citizens, the Cambridge police department. Now, if you somehow missed the beginning of this story, let me catch you up. Perhaps the foremost African-American scholar in America today, Henry Louis Gates, was arrested for being black while home. Yes, apparently, in America if you're black, you can be pulled over for driving a stolen house. Except that it was his house." --Bill Maher

"What kind of burglar breaks into a house with luggage? That's what I want to know about. " --Bill Maher

"And the police officer, Officer Crowley ... apparently, he said Henry Louis Gates was threatening. And by threatening, of course, he meant he was an educated black man." --Bill Maher

"So, I don't know if this is a case of racism. The police in Cambridge say it had nothing to do with Gates being black. They said they would have given the same treatment to any minority." --Bill Maher

"President Obama said that the Cambridge police 'acted stupidly' when they arrested a professor for being a cat burglar in his own home. And now, President Obama says that he regrets saying, 'stupid.' What he meant was, 'retarded.'" --Bill Maher

"It's comforting to know that the men with the guns and Mace the Tasers and the license to kill are this thin-skinned, isn't it? But I guess they are, because about an hour ago, Air Force One was pulled over for a broken tail-light." --Bill Maher

"But it's all coming out okay, because Obama today spoke to Officer Crowley on the phone. He said he was a good man, a good policeman, and they could find common ground. Although he did find it strange at the end of their conversation that Crowley demanded to see his birth certificate." --Bill Maher

"More than you might expect, actually, apparently there was a group of Americans who did not believe that Barack Obama was born in the United States and therefore should not be president. They're called 'birthers.' They are. The birthers want Obama's election to be invalidated, which, I'm not sure what their goal is. Are they aware that Joe Biden would be the president?" --Jimmy Kimmel

"The birthers believe that the president was secretly born in Kenya. ... I always thought he was born in a manger in Jerusalem." --Jimmy Kimmel

"But Kenya makes no sense. Listen, if Barack Obama had been born in Kenya, don't you think Madonna would have adopted him by now?" --Jimmy Kimmel

"Big news up in Alaska. Sarah Palin will formally step down as governor on Sunday, leaving us completely unprotected from the Russians." --Jimmy Kimmel

"Palin announced her retirement a couple of weeks ago without exactly saying why. Ordinarily, when you quit a job like this, you give a reason, like, 'I was just caught in a restroom soliciting gay sex,' or, 'I was just caught banging a thousand-dollar hooker,' or, 'I was just caught sneaking to Argentina to have sex with my girlfriend' -- oh, wait, that guy didn't actually resign. But you get the idea." --Jimmy Kimmel

"Her decision to resign has resulted in an 18-point drop in her approval rating among Americans and a 52-point drop among terrified moose. She says she's going to divide her time between traveling to support conservative causes and learning to pronounce the 'G' at the end of words" --Jimmy Kimmel

"Sarah Palin will be stepping down in two days. Unless, of course, she decides to leave early." --David Letterman

"Governor Palin says she's leaving office because she wants to spend more time hunting down her escaped son-in-law." --David Letterman

"This week, police in New Jersey busted a criminal ring that illegally sold everything from Gucci handbags to body parts. Which sounds like one-stop shopping for the Real Housewives of New Jersey." --Conan O'Brien

"President Obama said that since becoming president, he's gone from praying before bed to praying all the time. And it's always the same prayer: 'God, please don't let Joe Biden say something stupid today. Please.'" --Jimmy Fallon

"The ratings for President Obama's press conference Wednesday night were down 14 percent from his last one. So, to try to boost ratings for his next press conference, they're having his cousin Oliver move into the White House." --Jimmy Fallon

"This is crazy. Three mayors in New Jersey were arrested yesterday in a huge money laundering scheme. Investigators knew something didn't smell right, aside from what normally didn't smell right in New Jersey." --Jimmy Fallon

David Letterman's Top Ten Things Overheard at Sarah Palin's Farewell Party

10. More tiny hot dog appetizers? You betcha.
9. Don't forget to schedule an appointment with Joe the Mover.
8. Quiet down! We don't want to wake the Russians.
7. Todd, I've always wanted to know -- what do you do exactly?
6. John McCain passed out in the dip.
5. Where can I check my pelt?
4. Bad news -- the new governor just quit.
3. Please accept this gift from all of us
at Lenscrafters.
2. 'Dancing with the Stars' called, they got your resume.
1. I haven't seen you since the 'Fire Dave Letterman' Rally

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Are US Diplomats Giving Hope or Just Covering Biden's Gaffes?

Ron Moreau
Kathleen Parker

I thought that I could take a break about news coming out of Iran, but it's just too fascinating. Maybe I should cancel my subscription to the NY Times: "The Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, dismissed two key cabinet ministers on Sunday in the latest fallout of a bitter dispute among conservatives that has exposed Mr. Ahmadinejad’s political vulnerability in the wake of last month’s disputed presidential election.

Mr. Ahmadinejad sacked the intelligence minister, Gholam-Hussein Mohseni-Ejei, and the Islamic culture and guidance minister, Muhammad-Hassan Saffar-Harandi. Both men had walked out of a cabinet meeting last week in protest of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s promotion of a former culture minister, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, who drew fierce criticism last year over comments that were friendly to Israel. He withdrew on Friday, days after the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ordered his removal."
So he sacks the cabinet members that pissed him off and renamed Mr Mashaei as his chief of staff. But his cabinet is only six people, and according to Iranian law, he now has to get a confidence vote from the Parliament before he can refill the three posts and continue as President, and could possibly lead to having another election if he gets a no confidence vote... the question here is, did he get manipulated into this situation, or did he just shoot himself in the foot?

Also contained in the Times article, there was going to be a memorial today for a young man who was demonstrator. It was canceled by his father because of the worry there might be violence between police and the people who showed up to mourn and protest.

Here's where it gets interesting. The young demonstrator had been arrested and put in jail, where he died. His father is one of the most Conservative supporters of the government, yet he is dissatisfied with the circumstances how his son died, and has vowed to investigate until he gets the truth. It looks like one way or another some kind of reform will happen in Iran. It may not become as open as the younger generation wants, but this coming year will be interesting to watch.

Hillary Clinton is coming back from Thailand and India. I wonder if she gave the greenlight for India to launch its first nuclear submarine today. The world is changing awfully fast, can we accept an Indian Navy? George Mitchell is in Israel, after having visited Syria. The US has become a major diplomatic player in the Middle East and world stage.

Hillary has also had to tone down the recent utterings of Joe Biden, bless his foot in mouth approach. Again, from the NY Times: "That Mr. Biden’s remarks followed by weeks a summit meeting meant to highlight a diplomatic warming compounded the confusion. Mrs. Clinton sought on Sunday to smooth the matter over.

Asked whether Mr. Biden’s message was that “the U.S. now has the upper hand when it’s dealing with Russia,” she replied, “No, and I don’t think that’s at all what the vice president meant. We want what the president called for during his recent Moscow summit,” she replied. “We want a strong, peaceful and prosperous Russia.”

But she also underscored parts of Mr. Biden’s message, made after a visit to two countries nervous about Russia’s intentions, Georgia and Ukraine. “We are very clearly not saying that Russia can have a 21st century sphere of influence in Eastern Europe,” she said. “That is, you know, an, an attitude and a policy we reject.”

She added that former Soviet republics in Eastern Europe had a right “to choose whatever alliance they wish to join.”

Weeks earlier, Mr. Biden had been asked about the possibility of Israel’s launching an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. he replied: “We cannot dictate to another sovereign nation what they can and cannot do” if the country considers its survival at risk. The comment was seen by some as offering a green light to the Israelis, though Mr. Biden’s office later denied that."

Is all this running around the globe meeting with leaders easing tensions and working towards solutions instead of upping the ante for a war between Iran and Israel? Depends on your world viewpoint. It's always good to put disagreements out in the open and let world opinion debate the matters. It raises hope, which combats despair and festering resentments. And the one thing we could use right now is a little hope...

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Farther to the Right than an Ayatollah, Afghani Blues Again

Jonathan Martin
Harry Shearer

How does one assess what is happening to the fake president of Iran? Here he appoints his own vice president, as reported by the  NY Times: "In the latest sign of dissension within Iran’s conservative ranks, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s new deputy withdrew Friday in response to a letter demanding his removal written by the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, state television and news agencies reported.

The resignation resolved a week of acrimony over the deputy, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, who had drawn fierce criticism from hard-liners over comments he made last year that were friendly to Israel. It also underscored the authority within Iran’s Islamic political system of Ayatollah Khamenei, whose handwritten letter — made public by state television on Friday — appeared to have overridden Mr. Ahmadinejad’s persistent refusal to dismiss his trusted deputy."
Not until the letter is shown on state tv does the guy resign, he lasts a week. Ahmadinejad still gets to appoint scads of cronies to many other government posts, it makes Senator Ensign look like a Boy Scout, yet no criticism is made. So it seems the most important criteria for a government post is that your politics is farther to the right than an Ayatollah... in this case mentioning friendliness towards other countries, even Israel makes you unfit. Pundits wonder about how strong the bond is between Khamenei and Ahmadinejad, if he will be able to rule and make decisions on his own now that he has been exposed as a puppet on a short stick...

In the next few days, the American commander in Afghanistan, Stanley McChrystal, will give his assessment of the war. It's expected that he will ask for more troops, of course, but he will also need more Afghan troops to help out. From the Christian Science Monitor: "There is a new push to dramatically expand the size of the Afghan Army and police, as the military operations now under way in southern Afghanistan is marked by a conspicuous absence of Afghans in the fight.

The US's new Afghanistan strategy focuses on protecting the local population, reducing civilian casualties, and establishing security in Helmand, where the Taliban and other extremist groups have operated with relative impunity. But the military operation in the south that began July 1 has few Afghan soldiers, according to US commanders in the field."

The Pashtun Taliban, who were trained by the US years ago, know this and are aiming to discourage Afghans from joining the army or police, as reported by al Jazeera: "Suspected Taliban suicide bombers have attacked the police headquarters and courthouse in the Afghan eastern city of Khost.
Seven suicide bombers dressed in women's burqas and armed with rocket-propelled grenade and AK-47s, plus 'suicide' vests carried out the attack on Saturday, the Afghan interior ministry said."  
With the Afghan elections coming up, there might not be enough people voting to make it a legitimate election. Of course election fraud will be called, just like in the Kurdish elections today. I don't think honest elections have been held in the world in over 20 years...

The elected president of Honduras, who was escorted out of the country in his pajamas, did actually walk across the border from Nicaragua into his country. There was a line of soldiers blocking his way, so, without missing a beat with his cell phone constantly at his ear, Mr Zelaya did the Honduran Two-Step, and quickly walked back into Nicaragua. He's tried to fly in, and lost his nerve. He's now tried walking in, and lost his nerve. We can only hope for the next creative endeavor, such as climbing into a big box and having himself mailed in, yeah, that might work...

late night jokes:

"President Obama tried to get a fire going under the lawmakers before the August recess, which is when they take a one-month break in order to visit their girlfriends in South America." --Jimmy Kimmel

"But the chances of getting a vote on the bill done by August doesn't look good. Right now, it's being held up in the Senate by a group of conservative-leaning Democrats called Blue Dogs. I never heard of this. They're called blue because they're from blue states and dogs because they roll over for the healthcare lobby. And also, they eat their own poop." --Jimmy Kimmel

"North Korea today launched another attack, but this one of a personal nature against our secretary of state, Hillary Clinton. You've got to love North Korea. They're a great villain. They say crazy things, their leader looks like Ethel Merman, all their missiles are named Dong; they're the best." --Jimmy Kimmel

"And you know, there's some kind of ethics investigation going on up in Alaska, also involving Governor Palin. I don't know what the ethics violations are, but for our purposes here, let's just say that she robbed a gas station." --David Letterman

"She's stepping down as governor. Leaving the governor's mansion. Next stop, LensCrafters commercial." --David Letterman

"Don't kid yourself. Sunday is going to be an emotional day. It's her last day. She's going to go out on to the porch and wave goodbye to Russia. So it's a big weekend." --David Letterman

"There's a woman in Florida, and they arrested her. And she's in her garage. And you know what she is doing in her garage? She's pretending she's a dentist. And she's making dentures and she has the reclining chair and the drilling equipment and, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Obama health plan." --David Letterman

"Anybody see President Obama's press conference last night on television about the health plan? Here's the deal - it will cost a trillion dollars but that will be in three easy payments of $330 billion a month, so it's not that bad." --David Letterman

"But you know who really is opposed to the Obama healthcare plan? The Republicans. Apparently it does not cover breast implants for their mistresses so they think, 'We don't want it. We don't need it.''" --David Letterman

"President Obama was on TV again last night. And, you know, it's interesting - political experts are now saying that President Obama is giving so many interviews and appearing on so many television shows that he's starting to dilute his own message which I think is unfair because I thought Obama was pretty convincing last night on 'Ice Road Truckers.'" --Conan O'Brien

"Of course, last night, President Obama gave his healthcare speech. It drew almost 20 million viewers. Twenty million viewers! That's a lot these days. Yeah, these days, the only way you can get 20 million people to tune into the show is to beat Spencer Pratt from MTV's 'The Hills' to death with a naked Megan Fox, the 'Transformers' actress." --Conan O'Brien

Letterman's Top Ten Surprises in the President Obama News Conference

10. Began with a moment of silence for the Taco Bell Chihuahua.
9. Vice President Biden stepped up to the podium pleadng for "hair plug reform."
8. Put on Kiss makeup and sang "Dr. Love."
7. MSNBC reporter tried to hug him so Obama went after him with a fire extinguisher (video of Dave & Richard Simmons).
6. Wore his skinny jeans.
5. His ten minute infomercial for the Slap Chop.
4. Claimed he's borrowing $1 trillion from Regis.
3. Told everyone to watch "Men and Their Vegetables," Friday on the "Late Show."
2. In one hour, he went through two packs of Camels.
1. Said he's resigning to run for Governor of Alaska

Friday, July 24, 2009

Is Mid East Looking Better, New Horrors from North Korea

Paul Krugman
David Brooks
Barbara Boxer & John Kerry

Our new best friend, Nuri al Maliki is heading back home after a successful visit to Washington. As a parting gift, he even said that the armed forces agreement between our two countries could be reconsidered. Which means we could have 130,000 troops in Iraq without a pullout date. Politically, the US will bring out a majority of its troops, wait and see what happens in Iraq, if it stabilizes or not, then renegotiate some kind of standing agreement, justified by the recent spikes in violence.

No American shoes were thrown during the press conferences, Barack Obama sounded more like George Bush making happy platitudes, I guess there's only so many that can go around... al Maliki  was originally chosen because he was some weak guy that nobody really knew, and now he's grown into the next strongman of Iraq. 

The murderous squabbling between Shia and Sunni and Kurd continues unabated, with the added arrests of people seen as future opponents to the current government. We'll see what the upcoming elections in the Kurdish areas bring...

To show how putting away the rockets can help build better confidence with the people, Hamas has completely changed its tactics in Gaza, according to the NY Times: "Hamas has suspended its use of rockets and shifted focus to winning support at home and abroad through cultural initiatives and public relations.

In recent days, a play has been staged, a movie premiered, an art exhibit mounted, a book of poems published and a television series begun, most of it state-sponsored and all focused on the plight of Palestinians in Gaza. There are plans for a documentary competition.

“Armed resistance is still important and legitimate, but we have a new emphasis on cultural resistance,” noted Ayman Taha, a Hamas leader and former fighter. “The current situation required a stoppage of rockets. After the war, the fighters needed a break and the people needed a break.”
Hopefully, they will continue to give us all a break. If Hamas continues working in this direction, then ultimately construction materials will be let in for rebuilding, and maybe even the blockade released. Ironically, then, we could say that the 3 week occupation by Israeli forces was worth it. But don't take away the importance of the Obama administration's influence, with their round robin visits of diplomats and inclusive manner of negotiations.

Even Syria is trying to build better relations with the US: "Walid al-Moallem told reporters in London that his country is looking forward to a visit by U.S. special Middle East envoy George Mitchell as "the first step of dialogue." Mitchell is due in Damascus on Saturday for his second visit to Damascus since he took up his post. The trip is part of the Obama administration's efforts to engage Syria and prod it into playing a U.S.-friendly role in the region."

The latest horror story is coming out of North Korea and will be in the news for the next few days, is reported by al Jazeera: "When Im Chun-yong made his daring escape from North Korea, with a handful of his special forces men, there were many reasons why the North Korean government was intent on stopping them.
They were, after all, part of Kim Jong-il's elite commandos - privy to a wealth of military secrets and insights into the workings of the reclusive regime. But among the accounts they carried with them is one of the most shocking yet to emerge – namely the use of humans, specifically mentally or physically handicapped children, to test North Korea's biological and chemical weapons.
"If you are born mentally or physically deficient, says Im, the government says your best contribution to society… is as a guinea pig for biological and chemical weapons testing."

Even after settling into the relative safety of South Korea, for 10 years Im held on to this secret, saying it was too horrific to recount. But with Kim's health reportedly failing, and the country appearing increasingly unpredictable, Im felt it was time he spoke out."
Click on the link and read the whole article, it's very sad, and helps explain why North Korea has no friends left in the world. The kindest thing the regime could do right now is to drown Kim in his bathtub...

late night jokes:

"President Obama held another press conference tonight, preempting all the major networks again. He does this every week now. It's time for Oprah to give him a show." --Jimmy Kimmel

"And the White House actually - this is true - rescheduled the President. They moved it up an hour from 9:00 to 8:00 because NBC complained it would interfere with 'America's Got Talent'. So in other words, the President of the United States moved his press conference to accommodate a show David Hasselhoff is on. I think Clinton did that for 'Baywatch' once." --Jimmy Kimmel

"The focus was on the national healthcare plan that is working through Congress. He needed to made a strong case tonight - 50% are in favor of the universal healthcare and the other 50% have coverage." --Jimmy Kimmel

"The Republicans had been running a surprisingly effective campaign against the proposal for national healthcare, but the President found a very clever way to get them on board. Behind the scenes, he offered a key provision that would provide free breast implants for their girlfriends." --Jimmy Kimmel

"Anybody in China yesterday? The solar eclipse lasted almost 7 minutes and China was plunged right into the darkness right into the middle of the - wait a minute, that's their pollution." --David Letterman

"But interesting reaction to the solar eclipse. Rush Limbaugh says that the solar eclipse proves the unreliability of solar power." --David Letterman

"Here's some sad news from Iran, ladies and gentlemen. Do you know Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, do you know his vice president has resigned? This guy's main job was ceremonial, his main job was attending funerals. And you know, with Ahmadinejad in charge, that's a full-time gig." --David Letterman

"The vice president 'resigned' and that of course is Iranian for shot and thrown out of a car." --David Letterman

"Anybody here from Alaska? Sarah Palin, some bad news for Sarah Palin - there's another report now that she may have violated Alaska's ethics laws. Like I'm going to say something about that." --David Letterman

"There's kind of a silly thing. Remember the All-Star Game last week, President Obama throws out the first pitch and everything seemed to be fine. Then later, people started to criticize what he was wearing. They said he's wearing, and I never heard this expression, 'baggie dad jeans.' And Obama was surprised by the whole thing. He said, 'Look, they're not even my baggie dad jeans.' He apparently borrowed them from Chastity Bono." --David Letterman

"President Obama was on television earlier tonight. They held a TV conference earlier tonight. It's nice to see the guy finally getting some air time, I thought." --David Letterman

"We're learning more and more about Obama's healthcare plan, and if it passes, the healthcare plan, if that passes, President Obama will have the governor of South Carolina neutered. Did you realize that?" --David Letterman

"But the governor of South Carolina, Governor Sanford has lately been seen not wearing his wedding ring. And I was thinking, geez, I hope he didn't lose it while he was hiking on the Appalachian Trail. Then he'll never find it." --David Letterman

"Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says that when President Bush was in office, they used to have a meeting once a week via video conference. Maliki said the teleconferences always ended the same way, with Bush throwing his joystick down and yelling, 'This game is boring!'" --Conan O'Brien

"Yesterday, Secretary of state Hillary Clinton was in India. And today, there was a total eclipse of the sun. After hearing about it, Bill Clinton said, 'If there's one thing Hillary's good at, it's making the light go out of your life.'" --Conan O'Brien

"Weird story about General Motors. General Motors just announced they've created - I'm not kidding - a new line of Cadillac cologne. The Cadillac cologne slogan is, 'Smell like you owe the Federal government $10 billion.'" --Conan O'Brien

"Economists say the recession getting so bad, it's driving down the prices of many goods. In fact, folks, it has gotten so bad, the 99-cent store just changed its name to 'You know what? Just take it.'" --Conan O'Brien

"The astronauts went on a space walk today to change the batteries on the outside of the International Space Station. They hope the space walk will answer some key questions...Like, who put the batteries on the outside of the space station?" --Craig Ferguson

"Did you guys see Michelle Obama last night? She just got a new haircut. It's the first real cut of the Obama Administration." --Jimmy Fallon

"They announced Dr. Regina Benjamin is President Obama's pick for surgeon general. She's facing criticism for being overweight. I don't know if Dr. Benjamin's weight should be an issue, but her food pyramid does call for three to five daily servings of McRibs." --Jimmy Fallon

"Oh my God, Barack Obama's running the old Kenyan Prince birth announcement scam. Here's how it goes: you want to destroy America from the inside but you can't because you're a foreigner. So first, you gotta find yourself a good ol' American to reproduce for you. Then, you have that child on foreign soil, while simultaneously placing the birth announcement of that child in one of our "fringe" state's local newspapers, your Hawaiis, your Alaskas, your Pennsylvanias. Alright, then, kidding. And then, hold on, you wait. Until this baby is a middle-aged man. Now the trap is set. You just sit back and let that child go out and win the election for President of the United States. Now here's where the scam gets tricky; they can't just win the popular vote. He or she must have a strategy to win the electoral vote; that's what trips up most drifters. But, if you pull it off, you and your puppet child can sit back and destroy the fabric of the country you both hate so much. It's almost too easy." --Jon Stewart (Watch video clip)
David Letterman's Top Ten Questions on the Surgeon General Application

10. Are you a surgeon?
9. Can you grow a crazy beard like C. Everett Koop?
8. Are you a general?
7. Any idea what a Surgeon General is supposed to do?
6. Do you have a normal looking pair of jeans the President could borrow?
5. Have you ever obtained pills for Rush Limbaugh?
4. McDreamy or McSteamy?
3. Due to the recession, do you mind working for free?
2. Can we blame the health care crisis on you?
1. Will you look the other way when the President lights up a butt?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Joe in Georgia, Friday Dictator Watch...

Sam Parker
Dana Milbank
David Ignatius

Sam Parker talks about the difference in the man al Malicki between his visits to the White House. Dana Milbank is writing about the recent concealed gun permit vote in Congress, and how our Colorado Congressmen were ready to vote against it. David Ignatius writes about that pesky CIA hit squad...

Joe Biden is touring the Ukraine and Georgia, and gave a rational to the BBC about their involvement in Afghanistan: "It is worth the effort we are making," he said, warning that the terror groups on the border with Pakistan could "wreak havoc" on Europe and the US." More specifics, please, Joe... and Georgia is taking this opportunity in solidarity to ask for more weapons.

In India, the trial of the Pakistani shooter in Mumbai will continue after his guilty confession. They're still puzzled about what to do, but since so much time and effort has been compiled, the prosecutor feels he's got a slam dunk here and convinced the judge to make this a showpiece for Indian jurisprudence...

Bryant Neal Vinas, a Latino American who joined al-Qaeda and was arrested in Pakistan last Nov, according to an update by the Christian Science Monitor: "He was handed over to US authorities and in January pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit murder for a rocket attack on US forces in Afghanistan, receiving military-type training from a terrorist group, and providing material support to a terrorist organization, according to documents unsealed Wednesday.

While an extremely small group of Americans have trained with Al Qaeda overseas, Mr. Vinas may be the first to have had extensive access to top leaders and operational planning meetings. He told authorities that he provided expert information to terrorist leaders about the Long Island Railroad commuter train to help plan a possible attack. The information caused a security clamp down on the railway in November, reports the BBC.

Other information he provided has reportedly helped officials target Al Qaeda camps with drone attacks and arrest key operatives. He also gave a statement that will be used as evidence against three Belgians accused of training with Al Qaeda" We'll be hearing a lot more about this kid in the near future, I know here is one mind I'd like to understand, from the Bronx to Afghanistan, sighting a rocket propelled grenade against American soldiers...

Friday is Dictator Watch: even though all mediation talks have broken down between the two factions in Honduras, Mr. Zelaya is promising once again to fly into his homeland. There have been no promises to not blow his plane out of the sky by the Honduran Air Force, which puts some edge to the whole affair and should be entertaining if you are a betting man...

late night jokes:

"President Obama throws out the first pitch at the All-Star Game. And people are criticizing him because he had the big baggy jeans on, but Obama says Americans have it all wrong if they want a president who looks great in tight jeans. I think that was Al Gore's campaign slogan, wasn't it?" --David Letterman

"I want to tell you something. In all honesty, if we had wanted a president who looked good in pants, we'd have elected Hillary. You know what I mean?" --David Letterman

"Yesterday, Obama extended Dick Cheney - you remember Dick Cheney, Vice President Dick 'Ka-Boom' Cheney, you remember him? He extended his Secret Service protection for another six months. Hey, I'll tell you who needs protection, Cheney's hunting buddies." --David Letterman

"Cheney needs protection. Yeah, protection from bacon." --David Letterman

"You remember before the election, in October and September, and the big convention, all people could talk about was Sarah Palin and John McCain? And now, this is Sarah Palin's last week in office as governor of Alaska. Isn't that crazy? Going back to her old job as IHOP hostess." --David Letterman

"But Sunday will be a big day for Sarah Palin. That's the day she plans to go on her porch and wave goodbye to Russia. Then she'll run back in the House and jiggle the handle." --David Letterman

"Here's how bad the economy is. Now people can't afford to be buried in a cemetery so they're being buried in their backyard. Well, I mean, you think about it. You sink all your money into real estate. Why not go with it?" --David Letterman

"On Monday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, announced that the U.S. will send an additional 22,000 troops to Iraq to speed up the withdrawal effort. It's all part of the Administration's new exit strategy, 'Reverse Psychology.'" --Jimmy Fallon

"A new book reveals that George Bush's twin daughters Jenna and Barbara were a nightmare for Secret Service to keep tabs on. The girls responded, 'That's not true. We had tabs at every bar we went to.'" --Jimmy Fallon

"Good News for California. This just came out. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has apparently found a way to close the state's $26 billion budget shortfall. Schwarzenegger says it won't be pretty, but times like this call for a sequel to 'Jingle All The Way.'" --Conan O'Brien

"Seriously, though, this is very good news. You should be happy. Schwarzenegger has found a way to close the state's $26 billion budget deficit. It's giant. Now I can't get into all the details, but in short, Fresno is now part of China." --Conan O'Brien

"Yesterday, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the moon landing, the three astronauts from Apollo 11 visited the White House. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were allowed to set foot inside the White House, while Michael Collins was forced to drive around in circles outside." --Conan O'Brien

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tails on Palin, Lindsey Graham's Choice, Iranian Joe Biden

Kathleen Parker
Nancy Pelosi
John Stossel

"It's crazy for a group of mere mortals to try to design 15 percent of the U.S. economy. It's even crazier to do it by August." - John Stossel

Ahh, good old Sarah Palin, I knew that she would keep finding ways to stay in the news. From the UPI: "Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin says a trust fund that has come under state scrutiny is perfectly legal and is not under her control.
Palin released a statement calling the Alaska Fund Trust a standard fund, similar to ones used by other politicians, as a repository for private donations to help pay her legal bills and not something she could dip into.

"I am informed that this fund was created by experienced attorneys in D.C. and was modeled after other similar funds established for senators and others," the statement said. "The fund itself was not created by me nor is it controlled by me."

Palin attorney Tom Van Flein told ABC News Wednesday that the fund is controlled by trustee Kristan Cole, a personal friend of the former Republican vice presidential candidate.

The Washington Post had reported that an investigator for Alaska's Personnel Board had concluded in a report this month that Palin likely benefited personally from the fund. Van Flein said disbursements from the fund had been put on hold pending the outcome of the board's inquiry." This is standard procedure for members of Congress to set up these kind of trusts, more unusual for a governor to do it, unless you are anticipating legal problems... I wonder if the Senators Ensign and Sanford had set up a defense fund for affairs, in Ensign's case it would be a gift from his parents, and in Sanford's it would be one for foreign affairs...

CQ Politicsreports that, after all of the mean spirited grilling during Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearing: "Sen. Lindsey Graham Wednesday became the first Senate Judiciary Committee Republican to announce he would support Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

Graham’s move came as Judiciary Committee Republicans began lining up for and against her nomination.
The South Carolina senator could provide some cover for other party conservatives to vote to confirm her as well.
Graham said while he found some of Sotomayor’s speeches troubling, the record she complied during 17 years as a federal judge reassured him.

“I believe that she follows precedent, that she would not be an activist judge,” Graham said.

And he decried the Senate’s long-running partisan battle over judicial nominations.

“The politicization of our judiciary has got to stop, for the good of this country for the good of the Senate and for the good of the rule of law in America,” Graham said." Just proves what a funny world we live in. So, the vote on the 28th should be interesting. Or not.

And weird news from afar, well it's good to know that Iran has their own Joe Biden, as reported on MSNBC: "President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stuck by his controversial appointment for a key top deputy on Wednesday in an unusual defiance of Iran's supreme leader, who reportedly ordered the man's removal. His move deepens the dispute among the country's hard-line leadership.

Ahmadinejad's defiance will likely outrage his fellow conservatives and could cause an outright rift between him and his close ally Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The wrangling within the hard-liners' camp comes as Khamenei is trying to keep them all together in the face of a strong opposition challenge after the disputed June 12 presidential election. Khamenei's order for the removal of Esfandiar Rahim Mashai was a stinging humiliation for Ahmadinejad — seen as the leader's protege — but Khamenei appeared to judge it necessary to preserve hard-line support."

" Mashai angered hard-liners in 2008 when he said Iranians were "friends of all people in the world — even Israelis." Also, the guy's daughter is married to Ahmadinejad's son, so there's a strong bond right there. By dumping the man, it would probably mess up the takeover of somebody else's successful business so the lovebirds will have a nest egg, oh wait, isn't that how it's done in Saudi Arabia and the UAE?

late night jokes:

"The tag Republicans kept throwing to hang around Sonia Sotomayor's neck was 'reverse racist.' They said, you know, it's reverse racists like her that give regular racists like them a bad name." --Bill Maher

"It looks like healthcare reform really is gaining momentum and is going to happen. Now of course Republicans say the plan is too confusing, too convoluted, but you know, these are the same people who say they can make sense out of a Sarah Palin speech." --Bill Maher

"I know where I'm going to go on my next break. I'm going to the C Street House in Washington, D.C. You know what this is? It's kind of a frat house for Christian congressman, where they live and pray together and counsel each other on how to adhere to the nine commandments." --Bill Maher

"I say the nine commandments because Gov. Sanford hung out there, John Ensign, the Senator from Nevada who was banging his chief of staff's wife, he lives there. And now a third alumnus, a former Republican congressman named Chip Pickering, has also been exposed for cheating on his wife, apparently actually in the house. It kind of makes you miss those innocent days when Republicans just tried to blow a stranger in an airport bathroom." --Bill Maher

"President Obama recently said that the best way to pay for his health care plan is to raise taxes on people like him. As a result, the government is raising taxes on all half-Kenyan, half-Kansan presidents who were born in Hawaii." --Conan O'Brien

"This weekend, it's very cool. It's the fortieth anniversary of the moon landing, considered by some to be mankind's greatest achievement. ... Unless, of course, you count the time we put the cheese inside the pizza crust." --Conan O'Brien

"Yesterday, Sonia Sotomayor's questioning finally came to an end. Sotomayor said that she had received a 'gracious and fair' hearing. Her exact quote was, 'Thanks a lot, you old honkies. I'm outta here. You can kiss my a**.'" --Conan O'Brien

"Experts say the video game industry has been dramatically hurt by the economic downturn. Which explains the popularity of the new Nintendo game, 'Wii Job Interview.'" --Conan O'Brien

"Forty years ago, Apollo 11 left for the moon. ... The whole thing was delayed. Do you remember the delay? They had to go through Newark." --David Letterman

"President Obama, he's the kind of guy with a lot of foresight, a lot of vision. He says that he would like to put another man on the moon. He's thinking about maybe Joe Biden." --David Letterman

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Army to Expand by 22,000 Troops, Marriage of Burma and North Korea?

David Brooks
Ben Bernanke
Howard Fineman
Dana Milbank

"His timing isn't good and his plan, at least what we've seen so far, isn't "reform." - Howard Fineman

"I don't do policy," - Michael Steele

Hillary Clinton arrived in Bangkok, Thailand for a meeting of ASEAN, while Joe Biden is up in Russia. The NY Times reports on another scary scenario that may be playing out, the marriage of Myanmar and North Korea: "North Korea is already suspected of supplying Myanmar with small arms and ammunition, but some intelligence analysts contend that North Korea is also helping Myanmar pursue a nuclear weapons program. They cite as possible evidence newly published photos circulated by Burmese dissident groups of what some analysts assert are a network of giant tunnels outside Myanmar’s jungle capital, Naypyidaw, built with help from North Korean engineers.

Mrs. Clinton did not say whether the Obama administration shares suspicions about any nuclear cooperation. But another senior administration official said the United States had not discounted the possibility. “North Korea has a history of proliferating,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because only Mrs. Clinton was authorized to speak publicly in advance of the conference." Just what we want, more nukes in the jungle, watched over by a paranoid military ruler.... In the meantime, the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi is still being postponed, probably until that first nuke arrives...

Yesterday, Defense Department anounced: "Defense Secretary Robert Gates is expanding the US Army by 22,000 soldiers, billing it as a "temporary" increase to reduce the strain as the US transitions from the Iraq to the Afghan missions.

The Army has already grown over the past few years to a strength of 547,000 active soldiers, but it is still short on troops. According to one estimate, there are about 30,000 soldiers on the rolls who cannot deploy – including 10,000 wounded warriors. Additionally, the end of the unpopular "stop-loss" policy – which prevented soldiers from leaving the service even after their contract had ended – has also contributed to the shortage.

Now, as the US ramps down the mission in Iraq by 2011 and revs it up in Afghanistan, the Pentagon simply needs even more people. Over the next year, defense officials expect the number of soldiers deployed overseas to increase during the transition.

"This is an important and necessary step to ensure that we continue to properly support the needs of commanders in the field, while providing relief for our current force and their families," Mr. Gates said at a Pentagon briefing Monday."
Our local paper keeps publishing stories on the increasing number of murders and suicides related to soldiers after they return home from too many tours of duties. The Army has needed more help in a long time.

Figuring out what we are doing in Afghanistan would help. That are there because the Taliban is there is a lame excuse, as well as we are still trying to capture Osama bin Laden.  What do we plan to do if the Taliban is defeated? What do we do if the Talibans cannot be defeated? Just like in Iraq, we haven't done anything to make their governments less corrupt and dishonest, we haven't built any schools, hospitals, or provided ways to increase the quality of life. 

I think we have the best and brightest military Generals in charge right now, and if they cannot find a good way out of this morass, then the answer just isn't there in the military mind. And I'm afraid that we have wasted the lives of many people in our chimeric quest...

late night jokes:

"According to a new poll, 42% of Americans say they would vote for Sarah Palin for president in 2012. They also said they'd support her decision to step down in 2013." --Conan O'Brien

"Gov. Sanford is still trying to recover from his sex scandal. This is the latest. This weekend, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford wrote an editorial apologizing for his behavior. I'm not sure he's sincere, though, because it starts out, 'Dear Penthouse.'" --Conan O'Brien

"Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the United States will build two nuclear plants in India. And here's the weird part about those power plants. They're going to outsource all the jobs to Americans." --Jimmy Fallon

"The governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, is stepping down from office. Will no longer be the governor of Alaska on Sunday. So right about now, Sarah Palin should be taking her grizzly bear head off the wall and packing it in bubble wrap." --David Letterman

"She's leaving office because she wants to spend more time riding in a helicopter shooting wildlife." --David Letterman

"Happy birthday to former Senator Larry Craig from Idaho. Sixty-four years old. And if you are wondering where the celebration is, well, it's in the stall with the yellow balloons." --David Letterman

"Looks like Paula Abdul may not be going back to 'American Idol.' And that means President Obama has to nominate another new judge." --David Letterman

"Several weeks ago, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford disappeared without explanation for five days. Now of course, as it turns out, he didn't really disappear. It turns out he was hiking on the Appalachian Trail. Which is a trail that starts in Maine and ends in an Argentine woman's vagina." --Jon Stewart

"Since then, the governor has apologized many times, most recently in an open letter to the people of South Carolina in which he promised to 'trust god in his larger work of changing me.' I thought Reform Judaism was lax! This Christianity thing sounds amazing! See, you're not banging a hot Argentinean woman. You're 'undergoing a religious metamorphosis.' And, you get to do that and eat bacon. I'm in!" --Jon Stewart

"But to me, the best part about this story were the love letters, the bearing of one's soul in a plaintive attempt to woo the affection of another. I was certainly not talking about the letters that Sanford wrote to his Argentinean paramour. I haven't seen those. I'm talking about the letters that journalists wrote to Sanford's office to try and get the governor to appear on their 'news' programs. " --Jon Stewart 

"Walter Cronkite's influence on the news is still felt today, in that news anchors still wear ties. Other parts of his legacy have become obsolete. For instance, dispassionate reporting is fine for covering the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention, but not for an issue as complex as Octomom. Sadly, Cronkite's passing is not getting the kind of cable news attention I believe it deserves. I watched the coverage this weekend and I didn't see one helicopter shot of his home. I don't even think his family has booked the Staples Center yet." --Stephen Colbert

David Letterman's Top Ten Surprises on the NASA Moon Landing Tapes

10. Neil Armstrong demanded to be addressed as 'Spock.'
9. Buzz Aldrin won $20 bet by eating a pound of moon dust.
8. Sea of Tranquility had a place where you could rent kayaks.
7. Audible meowing indicates someone brought a kitty.
6. Were supposed to go to Mars, but the men refused to stop and ask for directions.
You ladies know! LOL!
5. Dumb scientist yelled, 'They put a man on the moon, what? How'd they get him back?'
4. Someone at NASA taped over the first half with 'Gunsmoke.'
3. Due to time, NASA had to edit out the big dance number.
2. Aliens ... Run!
1. Aldrin admitted taking one giant leap onto Armstrong's wife

Monday, July 20, 2009

Mumbai, Jeddea Film Festival, and local GOP

There is one survivor who participated in the bomb attacks in Mumbai, India. This weekend he surprised everyone in the middle of his trial: "Moments before the trial’s 135th witness was to take the stand, the defendant, a young Pakistani named Ajmal Kasab, stood up and told the judge that he had participated in the attacks.

Speaking softly in Hindi and Urdu to a stunned and spellbound courtroom, he gave a detailed recounting of the planning and execution of the operation, beginning with his introduction to a Pakistan-based Islamic extremist group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and ending with the rampage that hit two luxury hotels, a railway station, popular cafe and a Jewish center.

“I don’t think I am innocent,” Mr. Kasab, 21, declared toward the end of his daylong confession. “My request is that we end the trial and I be sentenced.”
The judges are now conferring whether they can accept his confession... He related how he and his friend were tired of their sucky jobs and decided that being bank robbers would be more fun. So they looked around for a taliban group that would train them for their new jobs. Not a lot different from alienated teenagers here trying to figure which gang to identify with... I wonder if it's now a required tradition in Pakistan, a rite of passage for 13 year old boys: today I am a taliban...

When one thinks of culture in the Middle East, more specifically, of films and filmmakers, we pretty much draw a blank. This is largely due to the hypocritical nature of a culture who watches thousands of DVD's behind closed doors, while proclaiming them in public to be decadent Western pollution. For the last two years, the Jeddea Film Festival had been attempting to change the public attitude, until this weekend: "The festival was due to begin on Saturday. But an hour before midnight on Friday the organisers were told by the Jeddah municipality to cancel it.
The only official explanation was that the event had not been sufficiently prepared.
But it is widely believed the ban is the latest victory for religious conservatives, who regard cinema as a form of Western moral pollution.
Jeddah - the Red Sea city which is also the Saudi business hub - has long been more liberal and open than the desert capital, Riyadh.
Much bitter fighting among the Saudi Royal family, with the right wing Wahabists winning this round. One can only wonder what goes on behind that green door...

The amount of women getting involved at the state levels have been decreasing, according to the Christian Science Monitor: "Since 1995, the percentage of women in the Republican caucuses of state legislatures has been steadily declining – from 19.1 percent to 15.8 percent today, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.

Democratic women, by comparison, have been steadily rising as a percentage of their party’s state legislative caucuses, from 22.2 percent in 1995 to 31 percent today. Just 21 years ago, in 1988, Republican women were slightly ahead of Democratic women in their respective state legislative party caucuses – 16.4 percent versus 15.3 percent.

“Women are having a pretty tough time within the Republican Party,” says Debbie Walsh, the center’s director."
Our local GOP is run by a woman, and the only other local women I see interested in joining are right wing christians, and this may be the paradox. If your beliefs are how I tend to stereotype, then obeying the top male figure in your life comes before making decisions for yourself, your career, etc. The tent is shrinking as the politics become polarized, soon only the old, rich alcoholics are the ones partying at the Grand Old Party..