Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Putin Hearts Medvedev, Ali Bongo, West Bank Settlements

Eugene Robinson
Dana Milbank
Joshua Keating & James Downie

Four more years...
Last week Russian Prime Minister Vladimer Putin hinted that he would seek the Presidency come next election. Of course, the personal puppet he chose to replace him, Dimitry Medvedev, has gotten used to being President and would like another term. Two terms are the limit because Russia doesn't want any more dictators, or do they? From Foreign Policy: "Speaking at the Valdai conference of Russia experts in Moscow, Medvedev responded to Putin's comments last week, when the prime minister told attendees, "We're people of the same blood, with the same political views," referring to the president. "When it comes to 2012, we'll work it out together."

Medvedev's major problem will be raising money for any kind of campaigning, as Putin holds all of the purse strings. His meaty fingers are in the gas and oil companies, the ones that used to belong to the government and now have become privatized. Oh, its good to be the King...

The Bongo Man...
Speaking of major despots, the oil rich African country of Gabon recently had an election because it's President for life, Omar Bongo, had died. His son Ali won the election, and inherited a corrupt system that would bring tears to such people as Saddam Hussein and Baby Doc Duvalier...: "The “Bongo system,” as people here refer to it — forsaking roads, schools and hospitals for the sake of Mr. Bongo’s 66 bank accounts, 183 cars, 39 luxury properties in France and grandiose government constructions in Libreville — is etched in the streets of this languid seaside capital, where he ruled for 41 years, and also in the minds of its inhabitants.

Even his inheritor-son Ali, the winner of a contested presidential election last month, tacitly acknowledged the stunning inequality left behind by his father, as nakedly evident as the contrast between the beguiling palm-fringed seafront, with high-rises that would not be out of place in Nice, and the slums close behind." You have the Bongo extended family and cronies, with big houses, luxury cars, flat-screen tv's, and then you have everyone else, the lucky few making about $2 per day. I've never even heard of Gabon and the dictator that ran it had been in power since the 60's. It looks like his son will continue the legacy of ripping off all of Gabon's assets so he can continue to vacation in France. I'm sure that American foreign policy is friendly...

Israeli settlements...
The Palestinian groups of Fatah and Hamas refuse to sit down with Israel and talk until the issue of the Israeli settlements has been addressed. The US wants Israel to freeze settlement expansion in the contested areas, while Israel says that there should be natural expansion allowed. The growth rate is twice the rate elsewhere in Israel, so they are playing games. The settlers want all of the land and treat the native Palestinians harshly, thinking that they all should be deported to Syria or Lebanon and the ground scraped over by bulldozers for some nice, new condos.

But, what is a settlement? The definition comes from the CS Monitor: "A settlement is any residential area built over the Green Line, the 1949 cease-fire line established between the newly established Jewish state and its Arab neighbors. Today, Israelis live in several key areas that Israel took control of in the 1967 Six-Day War: the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Syria's Golan Heights.

Arab governments have made a withdrawal to 1967 borders a prerequisite to making peace with Israel.
The main focus is on settlements in the West Bank, where Israeli pockets give the mainly Palestinian territory a Swiss-cheese look. Palestinians and their supporters describe settlements as "facts on the ground" that will force the hand of future negotiators determining the borders of a Palestinian state."

We're talking about 300,000 people in 121 settlements, with 17,000 Israelis living in the Golan Heights and 193,000 in East Jerusalem, where Palestinians hope to establish the capital of their future state. There is no win/win situation here, these people have proven that they can't live together in peace, and whatever solution is resolved will create ill will. Someone will have to give up their homes...

late night jokes:

"Obama gave his health care speech before Congress, and he was in a mood. He called out some of the liars who have been lying about his plan. And he also said a lot of the opposition to this plan comes from ill-informed crazy people. And to prove it, a sh**kicker named Joe Wilson from South Carolina, this a**hole with Tourette's syndrome, screams out 'You lie!'" --Bill Maher

"You know, I know the president is black, but this is not Showtime at the Apollo." --Bill Maher

"I thought Obama handled the heckler well. He came with the old, I don't come down to where you work, and knock the lobbyist out of your mouth.'" –Bill Maher

"This is unprecedented. This does not go on in the halls of Congress when the president is speaking. Everyone was shocked. Nancy Pelosi was so shocked, she took out her compact and drew in her eyebrows all furrowed." –Bill Maher

"But to be fair, the next day Joe Wilson apologized, he said he didn't mean to say 'You Lie." He said he mean to say 'Go back to Africa.'" --Bill Maher

"What's so ironic is that the health care plan that Mr. Wilson so angrily opposes would get him the prozac he so desperately needs." --Bill Maher

"Even though in his speech, Obama said, 'You lie, I'm not going to kill old people,' the next day Sarah Palin said on her Facebook page she still believes in death panels. You know what, Sarah, honey, if we were going to get rid of useless people, you would be the first to go." --Bill Maher

"It's the 8th anniversary of 9/11, and Americans today stopped doing whatever they were doing to sit there, reflect, do nothing, say nothing, just like Bush did eight years ago when he got the news." --Bill Maher

"At the world trade center site, Joe Biden observed a moment of silence, showing Americans really can do anything." --Bill Maher

"This is the week that president gave his big health care speech to Congress, making it the second time in the week that he addressed a bunch of children." --Bill Maher

"The Democrats just never learn: Americans don't really care which side of an issue you're on as long as you don't act like pu**ies. When Van Jones called the Republicans a**holes, he was paying them a compliment. He was talking about how they can get things done even when they're in the minority, as opposed to the Democrats, who can't seem to get anything done even when they control both houses of Congress, the presidency, and Bruce Springsteen."--Bill Maher

"Mr. President, there are some people who are never going to like you. That's why they voted for the old guy and Carrie's mom. You're not going to win them over. Stand up for the 70% of Americans who aren't crazy." --Bill Maher

"The president keeping busy. Yesterday, at the White House, President Obama welcomed the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins. Yeah, when asked if he likes hockey, Obama said, 'What black man from Hawaii doesn't?'" --Conan O'Brien

"Of course, remember those female journalists that were rescued by President Clinton? Well, one of the female journalists freed from North Korea said she's surprised, 'cause former President Clinton has repeatedly called to check up on her. That's true. Yeah. Even more surprising, the calls are coming from inside her house." --Conan O'Brien

"You can have dinner with Sarah Palin. They're auctioning it off. Have you heard of it? And the starting bid are $25,000. And this could be exciting. And they say now, unofficially, that for an extra grand, an extra thousand dollars, she'll actually shoot the main course." -David Letterman

"The winning bidder gets to have dinner with Sarah Palin. ... Dinner with Sarah Palin. I mean, talk about a bridge to nowhere. I mean, my God!" --David Letterman

"President Obama is continuing to push hard for his health care plan. On Sunday night, Obama will be interviewed on '60 Minutes,' or as he calls it, 'the death panel.' 32.1 million people watched President Obama's speech to Congress Wednesday, down 20 million viewers from his last speech to Congress. But to improve ratings for the next one, Obama will replace Nancy Pelosi with Ellen." --Jimmy Fallon

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