Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Something is Rotten in Kandahar, Colorado Cons and Crazy Michelle

Kathleen Parker
Dana Milbank
Laura Ling & Euna Lee

"The Republican Party has had a great history with African-Americans and they turned away from it. The Democratic Party has had a terrible history, but they overcame it." - Jack Kemp

"We are thrilled to partner with Elmo," - Kathleen Sebelius

"Well, it's back. You know what I'm talking about. Swine flu. And they say now this year it may be worse than ever. And I was thinking, well, thank God we fixed our healthcare system." --David Letterman

There is something rotten in the state of Kandahar...
The picture coming out of Afghanistan is not pretty. In fact, its quite ugly and has nothing to do with our military. First, there are more stories of ballot stuffing being reported in the NY Times: "Aides to Mr. Karzai’s brother Ahmed Wali — the leader of the Kandahar provincial council and the most powerful man in southern Afghanistan — detained the governor of Shorabak, Delaga Bariz, and shut down all of the district’s 45 polling sites on election day. The ballot boxes were taken to Shorabak’s district headquarters, where, Mr. Bariz and other tribal leaders said, local police officers stuffed them with thousands of ballots.

At the end of the day, 23,900 ballots were shipped to Kabul, Mr. Bariz said, with every one marked for President Karzai. “Not a single person in Shorabak District cast a ballot — not a single person,” Mr. Bariz said in an interview here in the capital, where he and a group of tribal elders came to file a complaint. “Mr. Karzai’s people stuffed all the ballot boxes.” The complaints have now jumped from 550 to over 2,000, and all have to be investigated before any results are official. I don't know who put that clause into their election law, but I wish that we had it in the US... When Richard Holbrooke brought up the subject of fraud to Mr Karzai recently, Hamid went into a hissy fit and ended the meeting. He is merely trying to assume the traditional role of a strongman type of leader, as exemplified in Vladimeer Putin and Saddam Hussein...

Now there are more civilian contractors in Afghanistan than there are soldiers, employed by the State Department and the Pentagon: "The growing dependence on contractors is partly because the military has lost some of its logistics and support capacity, especially since the end of the cold war, according to the report. Some of the contractors have skills in critical areas like languages and digital technologies that the military needs.

The issue of the role of contractors in war has been a subject of renewed debate in Washington in recent weeks with disclosures that the Central Intelligence Agency used the company formerly known as Blackwater to help with a covert program, now canceled, to assassinate leaders of Al Qaeda. Lawmakers have demanded to know why such work was outsourced." Neither the military or the contractors have been able to stop the heroin trade, where some Taliban groups now resemble drug cartels more than ideological insurgents.

When you have so many people not responsible to the military command, abuses can happen, and an oversight committee is reporting that: "Security at the United States Embassy in Afghanistan has been seriously compromised by mismanagement and misbehavior among civilian guards and their supervisors, according to reports by a Congressional subcommittee and a nonprofit oversight organization.

In a report delivered Tuesday to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Project on Government Oversight accused ArmorGroup North America, which was hired in 2007 to provide security, of “a pattern of blatant and longstanding violations,” which resulted in a “pervasive breakdown” in discipline and morale among guards at the embassy in Kabul, which employs about 1,000 people, including American diplomats and staff members as well as Afghans." ArmorGroup is a subsidiary of Wackenhut, and this report is the tip of the iceberg on reported abuses, expect more in the days to come. What is going on at the State Department, you may ask? Can this be the result of the Bush moles, who refused to resign at the end of his term, and are still trying to ideologically sabotage the government, or is this the result of the usual incompetence by career staffers?

Lack of discipline can result in horrible results like what happened in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, or the ultimate disgrace in security, where a member of the government gets assasinated by the Taliban:"The second-ranking intelligence official in Afghanistan and a prominent ally of President Hamid Karzai was assassinated by a suicide bomber on Wednesday morning in a blast that also killed 15 others outside the main mosque in the official’s hometown, near Kabul, officials and witnesses said.

The official, Dr. Abdullah Laghmani, was the deputy director of the National Directorate for Security.
“As an intelligence expert, he knew a lot about Al Qaeda, and he was a person who was very actively fighting against the Taliban and against Al Qaeda in the 34 provinces of Afghanistan,” said the provincial governor, Lutfullah Mashal, in an interview at the scene of the attack here in the capital of the eastern province of Laghman. “His loss is really a major loss.”

A spokesman for the Taliban in Afghanistan, Zabihullah Mujahid, claimed responsibility, saying that the group had long sought to kill Dr. Laghmani, blaming him for detentions and jailings in Kandahar Province when he was head of intelligence there. “We were looking for him for a long time, but today we succeeded,” Mr. Mujahid said." Incredible, the Taliban now has a press secretary... General McChrystal will soon be asking for at least 28,000 more troops, as well as more civilian contractors to help run the government. Either that, or negotiate with the Taliban so they can bolster the new Karzai dictatorship...

Colorado cons on the loose...
It wasn't too long ago that lawmakers in Colorado were waxing hysterical, making grandstanding statements to the Federal government that they would not house any inmates from Guantanamo. My hometown even voted on a declaration to that effect, to prove their right wing bonafides... Now: "Colorado officials say they are planning the early release of about 15 percent of the state’s 23,000 prisoners to help slash millions of dollars from the state budget. A spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections, Katherine Sanguinetti, said that budget cuts that took effect Tuesday call for the release of 3,500 inmates in Colorado prisons in the next two years. The move is expected to save about $45 million. In addition, 2,600 parolees will be released early from their parole obligations. Prisoners within six months of their mandatory release date will be eligible to end their sentences early. Those eligible for early release from parole have to have served at least half of their supervised term and have been meeting the conditions of their parole" I wonder if the state will provide job training or enroll them all in the local colleges. If they just open the doors and kick their butts out, will we have a new rash of crimes, or will we send them to California and Nevada where they can join a militia or two... I'd say they could join groups like Focus on the Family, but they are going to announce more layoffs later today, 200 people were let go in typical compassionate fashion last year. And if Denver ends up laying off some of their police force like they are threatening to do, it could be a hot time in the old town this coming year...

Here she is, Michelle Bachman!
One of my fellow blogs, the Colorado Independent has the story about the recent appearance here by Michelle Bachmann. Did she get the right wing crowd pumped up? Yep. Did she say some crazy-ass stuff? Of course she did: "In a fiery speech that had her conservative Colorado audience cheering, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann railed against the dangers of health care reform and other Democratic initiatives, warning the proposals “have the strength to destroy this country forever.”

“This cannot pass,” the Minnesota Republican told a crowd at a Denver gathering sponsored by the Independence Institute. “What we have to do today is make a covenant, to slit our wrists, be blood brothers on this thing. This will not pass. We will do whatever it takes to make sure this doesn’t pass.”

Something is way crazy out there,” I couldn't have said it better, Michelle. She has been making these teenage declarations like let's form a club and slit our wrists in eternal bonding and we'll be best friend forever and ever at almost every speech... Michelle, if you make a mistake in slitting your wrists, you'll be committing suicide, similar to Jonestown... don't forget to drink the Kool Aid first.

The blogs associated with the Independence Institute have kept a pretty low profile after the speech, but if you want to watch her speech, you can go here, until I figure out how to embed videos... Michelle Malkin didn't mention it at all on her blog, and she's a meaner junkyard dog... perhaps she doesn't get along with the folks at the Independence Institute.

late night jokes:

"It's interesting to me that since they've been out of office, Dick Cheney has really got his nose out of joint. Have you noticed this? He's out there. He's upset. He's attacking people. He's shooting his mouth off. And now he is criticizing the Obama Administration for looking into the CIA torture policy. He says 'You shouldn't be looking into the CIA torturing policy.' He made that announcement, then he went back to his private island to hunt human prey." --David Letterman

"But Cheney says he won't cooperate with the prisoner abuse program probe. The only way we cooperate is if he tortures himself into talking. And he said, 'I'm not going to do that.'" --David Letterman

"Cheney accused Obama of setting a 'terrible precedent.' That's what Cheney said, Obama is setting a 'terrible precedent,' not to be confused with George W. Bush, who was a terrible president. That's a different deal." --David Letterman

"There was a minor earthquake in South Carolina. As a matter of fact, Governor Sanford, because of the minor earthquake, was actually knocked on to his wife." --David Letterman

"And you know, now they're talking that Governor Sanford may be impeached for having an affair. And today, he was made an honorary Democrat, so congratulations." --David Letterman

"Barack Obama and his family took a vacation on Martha's vineyard and they're back. And the President now has asked all of the major networks for some air time tomorrow night to show his vacation photos." --David Letterman

"But now here's the deal. When are you a president, you can't do anything. People always looking for you to make some kind of trouble for you. Did you see the picture of Barack Obama out bicycling with the kids? He's not wearing a helmet. And people are all over him now. And I, well, I hope this guy has got some pretty good health insurance." --David Letterman

"I believe the President is the most prominent Democrat to go without protection since John Edwards." --David Letterman

"In a new interview, Dick Cheney says former President Bush ignored his advice to take military action against Iran's nuclear program. That's true. Bush also ignored Cheney's advice to attack Switzerland, Jamaica, and Antarctica." --Conan O'Brien

"Jenna Bush was hired as a correspondent for the 'Today' show. People wonder if her dad was a factor in her getting the job. If he was, it looks like she overcame it and got the job anyway." --Craig Ferguson

"Big announcement at NBC. George Bush's daughter, Jenna, was just hired as a correspondent on the 'Today' show. The show said they wanted someone who would make Kathie Lee look sober." --Jimmy Fallon

David Letterman's Top Ten Ways To Irritate Dick Cheney

10.Try to talk to him before he's had his morning heart attack
9.Don't have weapons of mass destruction he keeps saying you had
8.Reveal plot spoilers before he's had a chance to watch "Gossip Girl"
7.Leave the lights on in the dungeon -- "You think I'm made of money?!?!"
6."Accidentally" throw out tub of Crisco he was saving for lunch
5.Call him "Ricky"
4.Beat him in sneering contest
3.Replace Lipitor with refreshing Mentos
2.At dinner ask, "Who's got a good hunting accident story?"
1.Irritate Cheney? No, he's a pretty laid back dude

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