EJ Dionne JR
Over the weekend, Russian President Dimitry Medvedev admitted to CNN that Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came secretly to Russia for talks: “He did this under a closed regime, this was his decision. I don’t understand what this was connected with, but sometimes our partners decide it this way,” Mr Back Door Man... Pretty closed-mouthed, but it's now speculated that what I wrote about weeks ago is correct; Israel was trying to get Russia to stop sending "ultramodern S-300 air-defense systems to Iran. The latest version of the weapon, known as the “Favorit”, can simultaneously engage 12 targets flying at any altitude from about 30 feet to 20 miles, and strike them at a range of up to 75 miles away." One shipment was on its way, hidden in a load of lumber on the mystery ship that was hijacked in the Baltic Sea. Israel has been putting pressure on its allies to influence Russia in not fulfilling the outstanding contract for the missiles.
The big question, is what promise has Russia extracted from Israel in return? Israel has helped to train troops in Georgia, which went briefly to war last year with Russia. That's when John McCain announced that we are all Georgians now, which certain Southern Americans thought he was talking about them and inviting them to all future townhall meetings... Israel provided Georgia the use of Predator drones, which the US had generously given them. The US hasn't even given drones to Pakistan or any of its other Middle Eastern buddies, so this was seen as a breach of war etiquette on Israel's part, one that Russia wanted to rectify. Also, the umbilical ties between the motherland and the Russian mafiya who had emigrated to Israel is still pretty strong.
The Christian Science Monitor has a commentary on the GAO's report on the still unfinished fence on the border between the US and Mexico: "Some $2.4 billion has been spent since 2005 on a still-unfinished project to erect more than 600 miles of new fence along the US-Mexico border – a finding that is being met with surprise, anger, and consternation by immigrant groups and at least some border residents. The report also says $6.5 billion will be needed to maintain the new fencing over the next 20 years. So far, it has been breached 3,363 times, requiring $1,300 for the average repair."
It goes on to report that the workers on the fence are often housed and fed in local hotels, while as many as 40 people per day slide past them into the land of the free, unless Joe Wilson and Tom Tancredo have their way. Incidentally, at a recent press interview, Mr Wilson declared that he had been an immigration lawyer, but he has never been registered as one.
Anyway, the Border Patrol says the fence has helped a lot to keep the unwanted and unwashed out, despite the number of repairs to the part that's already been built. Of course, if we canceled the billions allocated for this fence, along with the billions we are spending in Iraq and Afghanistan, there really wouldn't be much of a national deficit. Get rid of the tax loopholes where corporations don't pay any taxes, and you could pay for any kind of health reform, too.
Big Bro is watching...
Be careful when you are on Facebook and decide to friend Barack and Michelle. The Washington Times reports: "The White House is collecting and storing comments and videos placed on its social-networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube without notifying or asking the consent of the site users, a failure that appears to run counter to President Obama's promise of a transparent government and his pledge to protect privacy on the Internet.
Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said the White House signaled that it would insist on open dealings with Internet users and, in fact, should feel obliged to disclose that it is collecting such information." I don't have anything funny to say about this. There are too many instances indicating that the new administration is continuing many of the old policies of snooping on us citizens, even adding new ones such as this. Who are our friends in this brave new world that is creating the new world order?
late night jokes:
"Well, according to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, he says the recession is over. You know, where is that 'You lie!' guy when you need him?" --Jay Leno
"You know, they used to say a recession was when your neighbor lost his job, and a depression was when you lost your job. You probably heard this, right? See, now, a recession is when Wall Street guys get bailed out, and a depression is what you get thinking about it." --Jay Leno
"Senator Max Baucus has unveiled his health-care reform bill. It will require that every single American obtain health insurance. Well, let's hope it works out as well as that California law that says that everybody has to have car insurance. O.K., what happened to that one?" --Jay Leno
"Oh, and of course, there's that big scandal with A-porn, I mean Acorn. They're an organization that gets government money to help poor people. Well, now, they're in a lot of trouble. It seems these two filmmakers went to Acorn's office posing as a pimp and a prostitute, saying they wanted to buy a house and run it as a brothel. And Acorn workers gave them advice on how to get away with prostitution and how to avoid paying taxes. See, here's my question. If they want to get away with prostitution and not paying taxes, go to Congress. These are the professionals. These are the people that know." --Jay Leno
"Big story. Earlier today, President Obama said that he's dropping President Bush's plan for a missile defense shield. Obama is also dropping President Bush's plan to build an elite army of Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots." --Conan O'Brien
"The Senate just passed a bill allowing Amtrak passengers to carry guns in their checked luggage. However, folks, Greyhound passengers are still not allowed to carry deodorant." --Conan O'Brien
"Today, what else is going on? Former Vice President Dick Cheney underwent minor surgery on his back. The doctor told Cheney it's a simple operation, he'd be up and having heart surgery in no time." --Conan O'Brien
"Dick Cheney is having surgery today to relieve his lower back pain. And do you know how they administered the anesthesia? They just shot it right in his face." --Jimmy Fallon
"A new Nielsen survey found that Washington, D.C., has the most 25- to 34-year-olds in the country who make over $100,000 a year. Yeah, and they're called hookers." --Jimmy Fallon
"Vince McMahon's wife, Linda, is stepping down as the CE. of World Wrestling Entertainment to run for the Senate in Connecticut. Things are going well for her. She's already raised a ton of campaign money from the folding chair industry." --Jimmy Fallon