Saturday, October 31, 2009

Lack of Water in Gaza, Dick Cheney's Alzheimer Experience

Mikhail Gorbachev
Guatam Adhikari
Mona Sarika

"The more Taliban feel hemmed in by the Pakistani military presence around South Waziristan, where the Taliban has strongholds, the more they fight back like cornered animals," - Haroon Rashid

oh, that rough beast...

The Middle East and Africa is in the middle of a drought, and there isn't enough emergency food and medical supplies to go around, what with the wars and all. Israel is being accused of rationing more water to Israelis than to Palestinians: "Israel is denying Palestinians adequate access to clean, safe water while allowing almost unlimited supplies to Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank, human rights group Amnesty International has said.

"Swimming pools, well-watered lawns and large irrigated farms in Israeli settlements... stand in stark contrast next to Palestinian villages whose inhabitants struggle even to meet their domestic water needs," the group said in a report released on Tuesday.

Amnesty said between 180,000 and 200,000 Palestinians in West Bank rural communities have no access to running water, while taps in other areas often run dry. Israel is already tying to limit the amount of water it has agreed to send on to Jordan, and the Sea of Galilee is drying up at a rapid rate.
"Israel allows the Palestinians access to only a fraction of the shared water resources, which lie mostly in the occupied West Bank"  -  Donatella Rovera, an Amnesty researcher

In addition to lack of potable water, in Gaza the aquifer is being polluted by sewage and a rising level of seawater: "Gaza's aquifer and only natural freshwater source is "in danger of collapse," the UN is warning. Engineers have long been battling to keep the densely populated strip's water and sewage system limping along.

But in September the UN Environment Programme warned that damage to the underground aquifer - due to the Israeli and Egyptian blockade, conflict, and years of overuse and underinvestment - could take centuries to reverse if it is not halted now."

The situation is similar when sewage plants in the US would dump water into the ocean and rivers, killing fish and making the area uninhabitable. So what if a few surfers became ill? But the rising nitrate levels can have serious consequences: "Another concern is the blood disorder dubbed "blue baby syndrome", which is associated with nitrate pollution.
It results in low oxygen levels in an infant's blood, which can cause breathing trouble, diarrhoea and vomiting, and in extreme cases, loss of consciousness, convulsions and death."

With over 90% of Gaza's water supply unfit for humans, Israel has responded typically to the accusations: "Israel's water authority called the report "biased and incorrect, at the very least" and said that while there is a water gap, it is not nearly as big as presented by Amnesty. The authority said Israel had met its obligations under the Oslo peace agreement but said the Palestinian authorities had failed to meet their own requirements to recycle water and were not distributing water efficiently." 

Over half of the Gaza population are children, and this policy may constitute genocide. If all of the Palestinians have to evacuate Gaza because it will be too toxic to live there, the diaspora will provide another excuse not to create a Palestinian state within Israel, and cancel any peace talks indefinitely. Mahmoud Abbas has already gone along by not even bringing this problem up, instead he continues saying that there cannot be any peace talks unless Israel stops creating more settlements in the West Bank, despite the efforts of Hillary Clinton. Hmmmm, maybe we've found a great place to ship nuclear waste instead of off the coast of Somalia... Remember, take two steps backwards and call it progress...

lou dobbs disease...

It looks like Dick Cheney is entering the first stages of Alzheimer's, or, as it's now being called, Lou Dobbs Disease. The interviews of Cheney by the FBI over the Valerie Wilson case, where she was outed s an intelligence officer of the CIA. Comment on what the released interview contained was: "Mr. Cheney had displayed “an astonishing inability to recollect even simple facts.”

"Mr. Cheney said in the interview that he could not recall how or when he had learned of Ms. Wilson’s identity and that he could not recall discussing it with Mr. Libby. Mr. Cheney denied knowing who, if anyone, at the White House had talked to the columnist Robert Novak about Ms. Wilson’s identity. He said he did not know of any reporters who might have been given this information before it was disclosed in Mr. Novak’s column on July 14, 2003." Ahh yes, the old I don't know what you are talking about defense. This is so lame that it's no wonder that the prosecutor said:
"There is a cloud over the vice president"

In interviews with Scooter Libby, who took the fall for Cheney and did time in prison, gave a very different account: "But Mr. Libby, the vice president’s chief of staff at the time, gave a sharply different account of Mr. Cheney’s behavior in July 2003. Mr. Libby offered a detailed account of Mr. Cheney’s role in authorizing the intelligence report to be shared on July 8 with Judith Miller, then a reporter for The New York Times.

He testified under oath in March 2004 that Mr. Cheney had thought it was “very important” to get out the information in the report that Mr. Hussein had tried to acquire uranium, saying “the vice president instructed me to go talk to Judy Miller to lay this out for her.” He also sid that Karl Rove was another of Robert Novak's sources.

 I find it amazing that America lets this man get away of blatantly lying and hangs on every word and that of his confused daughter. They must be invited to the talk shows for the entertainment factor, knowing the storm that will follow each appearance. It certainly isn't in the search for truth. That's Hollywood...

good-bye mr. dobson...
Now that our own James Dobson will stop broadcasting his radio show for Focus on the Family in February, perhaps he will try and get his therapy license for the State of Colorado. There certainly is no law against broadcasting free advice, just a there is no law preventing you from buying his books. It remains to be sen if rebroadcasting his old shows will be the same cash cow for the Focus organization...

The view from Colorado during the past two days:

Friday, October 30, 2009

Hillary's Pakistani Moment, Zelaya's Final Solution, Free the Military Panel 7

Paul Krugman
David Brooks
Eugene Robinson
Dana Milbank

"Nancy Pelosi, you'll burn in hell for this," said a voice, amplified by a bullhorn, from about 50 yards away.

"Thank you, insurance companies of America," Pelosi replied to the man. Actually, they were abortion protesters, and they were loud."  - Dana Milbank

To say that Hillary Clinton bombed during her visit to Pakistan is close, she got an explosive reception with a bomb going off in Peshawar  on the day of her arrival. She had given interviews to talk shows before she left, telling that it was time to ask the tough questions publicly what politicians have been saying privately for a long time: "She said al-Qaeda had enjoyed a "safe haven" in Pakistan since 2002 and suggested that some Pakistani officials might know where the group's leaders are hiding.

"I find it hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they are and couldn't get them if they really wanted to," Well, so much for diplomacy...

Her Pakistani hosts were embarrassed by her tough love, they prefer more polite avoidance of answering questions. The Pakistani intelligence service and much of the military in the past have supported some Taliban groups, encouraging them to make mischief in India and help their brothers in arms in Afghanistan. The head of the Afghani Taliban lived for a few years in the same town that Hamid Karzai was exiled to, needless to say, they did not play very well together...

In interviews and a town-hall meeting, the citizens of Pakistan dished it right back to Ms Clinton, and it was her turn to avoid giving answers: "An interview with several women who are prominent Pakistani television anchors, broadcast live, turned into a pointed, sometimes raucous back-and-forth, as her questioners cut each other off and shouted to be heard as they parried with Mrs. Clinton. They criticized American drone strikes in Pakistan, said the military presence was stirring unrest and expressed their doubts about whether the United States had a long-term commitment to Pakistan... One of the women said that Pakistanis were experiencing “daily 9/11’s,” and an audience member asked Mrs. Clinton whether the drone strikes amounted to acts of terrorism."

Throughout her stay, Ms Clinton dodged the drone question, so I'll answer part of it. We don't tell your military in advance because we don't trust them not to leak the information. Many of the predator strikes are ones that we do asked for by the Pakistani military. No, we won't give you any drones like we gave Israel. We would require a larger US presence in Pakistan, which you do not want. We have independent contractors like Blackwater, er, Xe, administering the drones so we can avoid taking responsibility for mistakes.

Actually, the debates she had were good for airing a lot of issues that have been circulating for years, from abandonment by the US after the Soviets left Afghanistan, to pressuring the Pakistani government to be aggressive against the Talibans, like they are currently doing in South Waziristan. Flip a coin to see if it will help relations, especially with answers like this: "Mrs. Clinton said only, “The war that your government and your military are waging right now is an important one for the country.”

zelaya's honduran horror...

Good news, I know this has been worrying you every day, but it looks like the Honduran Horroris about to end, and a new silver lining is visible. The signed agreemnt is: "... to restore the ousted president and allow him to serve out the remaining three months of his term. If Congress agrees, control of the army would shift to the electoral court, and the presidential election set for Nov. 29 would be recognized by both sides. Neither Mr. Zelaya nor Mr. Micheletti will be candidates."

This is such an obvious solution that the only reason it didn't happen before is because of egos and feeling being hurt. Even world leaders only have the emotional development of a five-year-old... Ms Clinton was happy with the US brokered deal: “I cannot think of another example of a country in Latin America that, having suffered a rupture of its democratic and constitutional order, overcame such a crisis through negotiation and dialogue,” Sanction are supposed to be lifted if the election goes well. Of course, it could all fall apart if it is not ratified by the Honduran Congress. We all know the contentions that go on in any Congress, think of the US as the familiar lobbyist offering the bribes...

the ethically challenged...

We have two Congressional panels investigating over 30 members of Congress for ethics violations: "House ethics investigators have been scrutinizing the activities of more than 30 lawmakers and several aides in inquiries about issues including defense lobbying and corporate influence peddling." This makes me so happy, as I'm sure it does for many others who have seen the system perverted by bribes associated with  earmarks and lobbying groups.

Especially satisfying are the seven Congressmen on the military appropriations committee who are being investigated: "The investigations by two separate ethics offices include an examination of the chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on defense, John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), as well as others who helped steer federal funds to clients of the PMA Group. The lawmakers received campaign contributions from the firm and its clients. A document obtained by The Washington Post shows that the subcommittee members under scrutiny also include Peter J. Visclosky (D-Ind.), James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.), Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) , C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.) and Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.)."

Of course, this came after the fight the White House had over cutting useless programs in the military budget that was passed yesterday. Today the confidential ethics reports were "leaked" so the Washington Post could get to the reports online: "Together, the seven legislators have personally steered more than $200 million in earmarks to clients of the PMA Group in the past two years, and received more than $6.2 million in campaign contributions from PMA and its clients in the past decade."

Usually nothing happens as a result of these kinds of investigations, letting the roosters examine the henhouse, but there might be consequences this time because the public is now aware of them.... The big deal so far is when the chairwoman of the ethics committee stopped a session of the House yesterday to apologize for the leak and to warn those being investigated... Happy hunting under the Harvest Moon, will anything really come of all this and more transparency will happen? Who knows, stranger things have happened in this universe...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Military Budget, Economic Growth, Palin's $100,000 Fees

Dana Milbank
Seth Robinson
Amy Sullivan

"The problem is that progress is more gradual than his lofty campaign speeches led voters to believe, and they are becoming increasingly disenchanted."  - Dana Milbank
"For years, assholes in America have had no voice, and I want to be that whiny, nasal voice." - probably not Joe Lieberman

lawyers, guns, and anti-hate...

I've been trying to make sense of the military appropriations bill, it's the largest amount ever,some $680 billion, yet it's being touted by the white House as trimming more wasteful programs than any previous administration: “They probably get an ‘A’ from the standpoint of their success on their major initiatives,” said Fred Downey, a former Senate aide who is now vice president for national security at the Aerospace Industries Association. “They probably got all of them but one or maybe two, and that’s an extraordinarily high score.” And they tacked on the anti-hate crimes bill to it, as an earmark.

The military lobby is the strongest in Washington, they wrap themselves up in the flag while gouging for $120 toilet seats. Many of the weapons developed remain classified because they don't work, and it would be embarrassing if the public learned how much stupid ideas cost to make. The F-22 fighter is the classic example of a project muscled through by lobbyists, making sure the parts for it would be made in 88 different Congressional districts, assuring them of at least that much Congressional support. Each fighter jet, which has never seen combat, cost over $356 million to make, nd for every hour it spends in flight, requires 30 hours of maintenance. We're thinking of selling them to the Iraqi Airforce to recoup some of the money, except its American taxpayer's dollars that is funding the Iraqis...

So, for every bloated military project that gets cut, hundreds of manufacturing jobs spread out across the country are lost, never to return, unless Dick Cheney gets elected next term; then Haliburton and its subsidiaries will get free rein to run the government... er, privatize the government.

economic growth, like a tumor...

The other major headline is that the US economy grew 3.5% last quarter. Idealists are touting this figure as meaning the recession may be over. Yet people are still losing jobs at a rate of 550,000, and consumers have not regained confidence or a paycheck to do more shopping for manufactured goods.

The stimulus money has barely been given out, local and state governments are making millions of dollars in cuts, and small, family run businesses are still folding. On a personal level, I have lost half of my monthly income and my car got repossessed. If you try to find a job on Craig's List, up to 80% of the listings are scams or frauds. The local papers no longer have job listings in their classified sections, you have to use or Yahoo Jobs, it's all very depressing.

On a brighter note are these words from Elizabeth Warren, printed in the Huffington Post, of all places: "There are signs that we may have learned our lesson. Last week, the House Financial Services Committee voted for a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency that would consolidate scattered and ineffective consumer credit regulations and establish a home in Washington for policymakers dedicated to rebuilding the middle class. Other reforms are also starting to move.
The banking lobby is as powerful and deeply entrenched as ever, but it was powerful in the 1930s, too. Nonetheless, the New Dealers learned the Great Lesson: Powerful insiders cannot be permitted to write the rules, and prosperity and security depend on a playing field that supports a vibrant middle class. Today, we face a similar set of questions as we faced then. Will the institutions that created the crisis continue calling the shots and writing the rules, or will Washington take the side of families? Have we learned the Great Lesson?" Elizabeth is chairman of the Congressional Oversight Committee, trying to find out where the stimulus money goes, fighting to get answers from the good old boys of Wall Street and the banking industry.

sarah is an expensive habit...

When she's not sniping at a 19 year old ex-boyfriend of her daughter's, Sarah Palin is making mid-western waves, by confusing an invitation to give a political speech in Iowa for just another gig and asking for her $100,000 fee. Of course, the Iowans have a bloated sense of their importance, but just the same: "The Iowa Family Policy Center’s effort to cobble together $100,000 for Palin would represent a striking departure from customary practice in the first-in-the-nation state, these Republicans say, noting that a generation of White House hopefuls has paid their own way to boost their party and presidential ambitions...

But representatives from other Iowa-based political advocacy groups said they would never consider shelling out money for what many politicians see as a privilege: the opportunity to speak to a room full of sure-fire caucus-goers who often serve as precinct captains and can be instrumental to a presidential candidate’s success.

“If somebody tells me they want me to pay an appearance fee, it tells me they’re not very serious about running for president,” said Ed Failor, Jr., president of Iowans for Tax Relief and an influential GOP insider. “I found it really, really odd,” 

He noted that his group had not and never would pay for a politician to speak—pointing out the obvious in-kind contribution any potential presidential hopeful receives by appearing in the state that kicks off the presidential nominating process." Sarah recently snubbed the GOP by endorsing a Conservative Party candidate in Watertown, New York. Yeah, I've never herd of it either. The GOP candidate is a moderate Republican, and was endorsed by Newt Gingrich, who was hurt and befuddled by the aggressive tactics of the Susan B Anthony group, who endorse candidates that are not for abortion. Sarah's guy is someone who has never run for political office before, doesn't live in the district, and couldn't give answers to any local issues asked by the newspaper. But, he probably did come up with her fee... after all, she is the sole breadwinner for her family now, even if, as Levi Johnston dishes, she constantly make references to her retarded baby... the one with Downs Syndrome, not Todd. She has to make up for the fact that her book has already been discounted down to $9, before it was distributed...

Another moment of Zen:

"It was a sobering reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices that our young men and women in uniform are engaging in every single day, not only our troops but their families as well."

"And obviously, the burden that our troops and our families bear in any war time sit is going to bear on how I see these conflicts. And it’s something that I think about each and every day." - Barack Obama

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Karzai No Dope - Dealer, French Rule Scientology Fraud

Maureen Dowd
Kathleen Parker
Caroline Baum
Thomas Ricks

This is the second time that Maureen Dowd and Kathleen Parker have published on the same subject. Is it eerie or cool? Do they have a psyhic pundit link, or do they meet for coffee once in awhile?

"There is no doubt in anyone's mind that the Karzai family will be to back running a chain of kabob joints in suburban Maryland without the support of the US government." - A Veteran Infantryman

taking a leak...

Last night on the news I heard about this and almost rushed to the computer, but decided to wait and read it in the morning's paper over a cup of coffee. And it didn't disappoint, that Hamid Karzai's brother has been accused of being on the CIA's payroll for the past 8 yers: "Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of the Afghan president and a suspected player in the country’s booming illegal opium trade, gets regular payments from the Central Intelligence Agency, and has for much of the past eight years, according to current and former American officials. The agency pays Mr. Karzai for a variety of services, including helping to recruit an Afghan paramilitary force that operates at the C.I.A.’s direction in and around the southern city of Kandahar, Mr. Karzai’s home."

This revelation is designed to cause international uproar, and doom Hamid's chances in the re-election. So, who blew the whistle? Yesterday we had a top US official in Afghanistan resign in protest over the direction we were going there, and now this story, leaked by an anonymous former government official... The implication is that the CIA is once again involved in the heroin trade, just like in Vietnam, or that they have knowingly turned a blind eye, wink, wink...

Also, the contender in the re-election, Abdullah Abdullah, has just spent the week in the US and went on two Sunday talk shows. He supports General McChrystal's plan and has been cozying up to the military's top brass. He could have easily have leaked information over dinner some night. Mr. Karzai has been accused of orchestrating election fraud in favor of his brother, from filling in the ballots beforehand at polling stations, to setting up ghost polling stations.

Let's not forget frustrated drug officers trying to eradicate the drug trade, they make good leaks, too. As one former CIA official said: “Virtually every significant Afghan figure has had brushes with the drug trade,” he said. “If you are looking for Mother Teresa, she doesn’t live in Afghanistan.” Mr Karzai is in control of several bridges that cross the Helmand River. He charges a fee to let opium filled convoys use each one. He also rules the area of Kandahar province like a warlord... Ahmed's reply to all of this: "Wali Karzai said U.S. officials are trying to put political pressure on President Karzai for two reasons: to deflect attention from civilian casualties caused by U.S. military actions and force Karzai's government to release a prisoner the U.S. wants to talk to.
"Whenever there is a problem between the Afghan president and the international community I have been used as a punching bag," said Wali Karzai, who called a news conference in Kandahar today to address the New York Times article. "I challenge everyone in the international community and in Afghanistan that they are welcome to take me to court. ... If they can prove (allegations), I am ready to serve any kind of justice," What I want to know, is James Carville still working for the opposition?

Or, it could just be that the officers in the field have gotten fed up with the obstructionist bs involved, and decided to do a little outing on their own.

viva la france...

God bless the French, today they ruled that the business practices of Scientology comprised fraud and fined their butts almost $900,000: "The case was brought by two former members who said they were pushed into paying large sums of money in the 1990s, pressed to sign up for expensive “purification courses” and harassed to buy a variety of vitamins and other forms of pharmaceuticals, plus electronic tests to measure spiritual progress. One woman said she had been pressed into spending more than $30,000."

This is the first time charges have been fled against the organization, in the past charges were filed against top individuals. Only the US recognizes Scientology as a church, everywhere else, like France, rules that it is a sect. Started by a bad science fiction writer in 1954 as a joke. I guess if we can legitimize cults like Mormonism and Christian Science, why not Scientology? The major benefits that people like Mit Romney receive running businesses under a church's umbrella, is the tax exemption status. I'm hoping that Mit will be a contender in the next election cycle so that we can have a national debate on the subject.

"In June, The St. Petersburg Times in Florida reported as part of a major investigation that the longtime head of Scientology, David Miscavige, ruled the church through a “culture of intimidation and violence,” including physical assaults on his aides. Last week, the ABC News program “Nightline” broadcast a two-part series reviving those allegations and interviewing former church executives who said they had quit after being beaten by Mr. Miscavige. Scientology has denied that Mr. Miscavige attacked any of his staff members.
“This is a historic decision, it’s the first time in France that the entity of the Church of Scientology is condemned for fraud as an organized gang.”  - Olivier Morice

how about some late night political jokes?

"The pope's funeral continues. They keep coming up with these new facts all the time. I was watching it today, and they said that the Vatican, just today, released the pope's will to the public. I didn't know that he had a will. The surprising thing is, he left everything to the Church of Scientology." --Conan O'Brien

"In fact, he has played more golf in his few months in office than George Bush played in eight years. So Barack Obama, playing more golf than George Bush. But to be fair, President Bush played more mini-golf." –David Letterman

"I mean, it's no secret, if you're the President of the United States, the pressure is incredible, unrelenting, it will crush you. You've got to get out and do stuff. You have to take a break. You have to go play golf. You've got to ride a bike and go jogging. You have to shoot a hunting buddy in the face. I mean, it will kill you, the pressure." –David Letterman

"Sarah Palin is promoting her brand new book. It's called 'Going Rogue' because she really was out there on the edge. The book is going to be huge. It will be an enormous. As a matter of fact, the FDA gave it quite a boost. The Food and Drug Administration said her book has been approved as an over-the-counter sleep aid. It will be crazy big." –David Letterman

"But if you think about it, Sarah Palin and Oprah Winfrey have a lot in common. They both helped get Obama elected." –David Letterman

"In a speech in Canada, former President George W. Bush said he was proud that when he was in office he didn't sell his soul, which is true. He rented it to Dick Cheney, who then sublet it to Halliburton, but it's totally different." –Jay Leno

"And an auditor found rampant fraud in the government's first-time home buyers program. The auditor found that starter home money even went to 4-year-olds. Imagine that. Four-year-olds got a home loan, which is good news for Jon and Kate's kids because now they can get their own place. Don't have to deal with those two idiots anymore." –Jay Leno

"And Osama bin Laden's ex-wife has written a tell-all book about the terrorist. Even terrorists get scared when their ex-wives write a book." –Jay Leno

"The University of Chicago, where President Obama once taught law, they want to house the Barack Obama presidential library. The library will be just like President George W. Bush's library, except it will have books." –Jimmy Fallon

"Speaking of former President Bush, he gave a motivational speech in Florida yesterday. Bush spoke for half an hour and said he 'just hopes' his 'words were inspirationistic.'" –Jimmy Fallon

"Bush is actually really good at motivating. Last year, he motivated everyone to vote for Obama." –Jimmy Fallon

"After the President invited only men to play basketball with him earlier this month, the National Organization for Women is complaining that the Obama Administration has a 'boy's club' atmosphere, not to be confused with the Clinton Administration, where they had a gentleman's club atmosphere." –Jimmy Fallon

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Lebanese Conflict, Saudis Have a Flogging Good Time

David Brooks
Dana Milbank
James Surowiecki

"Over the past year, the bonfire of overconfidence has shifted to Washington. Since the masters of finance have been exposed as idiots, the masters of government have concluded (somewhat illogically) that they must be really smart."  - DavidBrooks
"The St. Louis Rams lost yesterday to the Indianapolis Colts. The Rams are now 0-7. In fact, they're so bad, the Rams called Rush Limbaugh collect and said, 'Make us an offer. Anything, please.'"  – Jay Leno

drones are now so passe...

Here's a muddled story that may have disastrous consequences: It begins with Hizbullah in Lebanon, claiming to have found three spying devices planted by Israel, who then remotely exploded one of the devices. "Hizbullah has for years been claiming to find various forms of "listening" or "spying" devices on Lebanese soil." Israel said that the elaim was a coverup by Hizbullah, because the explosion was really an arms cache that had ignited. Members of Hizbullah tend to bury lots of weapons in their back yards. No description what the spying devices were or how they would work was given. Israel has used drones before, and has several type of spy bots, including the inexpensive Eyeball: "The EyeBall is a small, inexpensive robot equipped with day and night cameras and a mic, meant to be tossed into a room, so the thrower can look and listen without being seen." So, Hizbullah's claim may not be that far out of bounds.

This morning Hizbullah fired a rocket from Lebanon into northern Galilee, causing a fire to break out. "Channel 2 reported that IAF planes carried out strikes in southern Lebanon within an hour of the rocket being fired; other media sources said artillery shells were fired at the source of the rockets. The army called the rocket attack "a grave incident," and stressed that it was holding Lebanon responsible for the attack." This incident and response may escalate into another war with Lebanon, with Israel treating it as a training ground for when they will attack Iran...

flogging good time...

Living in the imperfect United States, I take many things for granted, and enjoy watching the culture wars on the television. I tend to forget that this freedom of expression is not allowed in many other countries, especially when it comes to sex. In Saudi Arabia, a woman was recently pardoned by the King from her sentence of 60 lashes: "for her role in a television show in which a Saudi man detailed his sexual exploits." Ouch!

"In that episode of the show, aired by the mainly Saudi-owned Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation (LBC), Mazen Abdul-Jawad, a Saudi man, spoke openly of his sexual experiences including giving tips on how couples can spice up their sex lives. On camera from his bedroom, he spoke about how he picked up girls in the city of Jeddah and had sex with them.

Earlier this month, Abdul-Jawad was sentenced to five years in jail and 1,000 lashes."

Saudi Arabia is a country stuck between ancient and modern times, with many archaic laws that are vigorously upheld. It's against the law to talk or write about sex on tv or in newspapers and magazines. Yet behind closed doors, many people watch movies and a lot of porn, just like we do. The areas in the US that sell the most porn are the ones dominated by conservative Christian mores, so it's not surprising to see a similar situation in prudish places like the Kingdom.

Public floggings take place regularly throughout the Muslim world, and is especially upheld by Sharia law. It's one reason that villages in places like the Swat Valley in Pakistan resent the Taliban coming in and enforcing Sharia law on them, whether they want it or not. Because if you spare the rod, you'll spoil the child... but  1000 lashes just seems too barbaric to me, I cringe at the thought...

let's liven things up with some late night political jokes:

"President Obama is in the news. He's been criticized for only playing sports with other men. He's been taking some slack for that lately, so yesterday, he played golf with one of his top female advisers or as Fox News reported it, 'Obama plays a round with another woman.'" –Conan O'Brien

"Well, according to CBS News, President Obama has played more golf in nine months than George Bush in nearly three years. Actually, Obama's a good golfer. You know what his handicap is? Joe Biden." –Jay Leno

"And former Vice President Dick Cheney has accused the White House of 'dithering' over the strategy for the war in Afghanistan. Today, the White House said they're thinking it over, and they should have an answer for him in six to eight weeks." –Jay Leno

"It's getting nasty. Cheney said that when it comes to Afghanistan, Obama seems to be 'afraid.' Afraid? Isn't Cheney the one that was hiding in the underground bunker?" –Jay Leno

"An MSNBC anchor, Contessa Brewer, made an embarrassing mistake on the air last week. She called Jesse Jackson, 'Al Sharpton.' Even worse than that, after he told her, 'I'm Jesse Jackson,' she said, 'Are you the one that's between Jermaine and Tito?'"–Jay Leno

"It's a great day for America, everybody. Yes, it is. It is our secretary of state's birthday. It is Hillary Clinton's birthday. Happy birthday, Hillary. President Obama asked her what she wanted, she said 'Your job.'" –Craig Ferguson

"Bill Clinton is planning a romantic candlelight dinner tonight. Then he'll go home and see Hillary." –Craig Ferguson

"Hey, guys, this is big news. President Obama just declared the swine flu outbreak a national emergency. A couple of weeks ago, it was like, 'Calm down, it's going to be fine.' Now it's a national emergency. I'm telling you, swine flu is a big threat, then it's not, then it is. Make up your mind. This thing is like the Brett Favre of infectious diseases." –Jimmy "Fallon

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Night in Tunisia, Sweden's Use of Bunny Power, Tim Pawlenty

Paul Krugman
Louis Menand
Vali Nasr
Fareed Zakaria

"In American politics, it should be considered a good thing when, after you have won a Presidential election by more than nine million votes, your chief critics accuse you of filling your Administration with Nazis, Maoists, anarchists, and Marxist revolutionaries. That is the voice of the fringe, and the fringe is exactly where you want the opposition to set up permanent shop." - Louis Menand

The North African country of Tunisia had elections over the weekend: "Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali has won a fifth term in office by a massive margin, near-complete results from the North African country's presidential election showed on Monday.

Vote tallies from 20 of Tunisia's 26 regions showed that in two regions Ben Ali won 99 percent of the vote, and in the rest his support did not dip below 84 percent, according to figures from the Interior Ministry, which oversaw Sunday's election. Ben Ali has been in power for 22 years." Tunisia is considered a moderate Islamic country, friendly to tourists and Western ideals, if a bit lacking in personal freedoms. It probably wouldn't have made any headlines today if the president hadn't gone on television the night before and threatened to sue and put in jail anyone who declared the elections as fraudulent. Guess all of the Islamic states are a bit touchy on the subject lately.

So it comes as no surprise when Mr Ali won all five of his elections with a margin of 80-99% in his favor, each time claiming a massive voting turnout. Cynics believe this non-fraudulent election turnout was, in reality, much lower with most citizens staying in the cafes instead of wandering to the voting booths: "What is the point in taking part?" said one young man in a cafe in Tunis, who asked not to be identified. "Everything that is happening is just a show."

"The Obama administration has clung for so long to the Bush administration’s expansive claims of national security and executive power that it is in danger of turning President George W. Bush’s cover-up of abuses committed in the name of fighting terrorism into President Barack Obama’s cover-up." -- NY Times OP ED
to dream of 10,000 virgins...
Those damned Iraqis are blowing themselves up again, this time in one of the worst incidents since 2005,  two cars filled with explosives managed to get through the road-checks and blow up in front of some government buildings, injuring more than 400 people. How times have changed... Way back in 2003, the Iraqi insurgent groups refused to use suicide bombers because it was against the Koran to kill other Muslims. Notice how quickly they have found other justifications for this evil they do.

Most of your suicide bombers are recruited from the hordes of hungry young men, who have no education and little future. They are taken in, given shelter and food, and taught to memorize the Koran while rocking back and forth. Hours of this creates a state of hypnosis that we see in autistic children, and with the extreme right wing views they are also taught, it is easy to see why people volunteer as bombers. It's a technique straight from Alamut, taught by the Old Man of the Mountains, leader of the cult of the Assasins, modified for modern times.

"If the president were to quickly invade a country on the basis of half-baked intelligence, would that demonstrate his courage and decisiveness to Cheney? In fact, it's not a bad idea for Obama to take his time, examine all options and watch how the post-election landscape in Afghanistan evolves." - Fareed Zakaria

bunnies as biofuel... 
I'm still not sure if this story is a hoax or not, but Foreign Policy has this story that Sweden is using cute, cuddly bunnies as fuel for warmth: "Thousands of stray rabbits in Sweden are being shot, frozen and then burned for heat. Stockholm even hires rabbit hunters for the task, like Tommy Tuvuynger, a modern day Elmer Fudd. "We are shooting rabbits in Stockholm center, they are a very big problem," he said. "Once culled, the rabbits are frozen and when we have enough; a contractor comes and takes them away."

Hey, we could do that here in the US, it would be a good use to the millions of animals that are put to sleep each year in our animal shelters, and the road-kill scooped up off of our highways. It sure beats having them turn up as mystery meat in curries at your local Asian restaurant, and we could label it as "Cute Energy" ...

another attack bunny in the news...
In a blatant move to try and establish his credentials for the 2012 presidential race, Politico reports that the incredibly wimpy Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has begun seriously dissing Barack Obama: "Pawlenty criticized President Barack Obama on Monday for “projecting potential weakness” on national security... History proves that it is weakness, not strength, that tempts our enemies,” Whoa, those are fighting words my friend, meet me outside in the back alleyway!

This is the same, worn-out GOP approach that they have used for over 40 years, to make themselves look like a manly Ronald Reagan or John Wayne while calling their opponent a pansy. It still hasn't registered that Ron and John were actors, and not very good ones at that. They had no range, and John especially was a coward who refused to go into service for his country and fight in WW11. He felt guilty about it for the rest of his life, and became an abusive alcoholic, beating up his Hispanic wives. Oh yeah, Tim Pawlenty reminds me of John Wayne...

Mr Tough Guy went on to label Obama a: “movement liberal,” whose policy prescriptions include the “federalization of policy, spending way beyond anything we’ve seen in terms of deficit or debt levels [and] spending the country into bankruptcy.” Oh man, it makes me want to curl up into a helpless ball and cry... The idea is to make up cliches to see what might resonate with the public. The "federalization of policy" is what all governments do, regardless of which Party is in charge. Its a term of definition, and he is trying to put a negative connotation on something that is neutral. It will get worse, I listened to Newt Gingrich on C-SPAN last night, and he couldn't speak a single sentence without putting in a trite phrase meant to pull an emotional trigger. To myself, it just makes him look like a has-been hack, and I think it's the opinion of many younger generations, too. It looks like these old school GOPers are too set in their ways to change, and we will be exposed to wave after wave of obnoxious commercials trying to bring fear into our lives. Even Lee Atwater apologized for the sick things he did before he died and I wonder if Tim and Newt will have enough self-consciousness to be able to do the same...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Soupy Sales RIP, Dick Cheney's Abusive Legacy

 Glenn Greenwald
Adele Stan
Clarence Page

"I don't do Halloween. It's not that I'm afraid, it's just… Folks, I can't do it. Some four-year-old from Chicago might show up with a razor blade." - Rush Limbaugh
"We have to tolerate the inequality as a way to achieve greater prosperity and opportunity for all." - Goldman Sachs Advisor
"A deeper problem is what the flap reveals about Team Obama, which seems to be more comfortable with campaigning than governing."  - Clarence Page

oh, how I love to get a pie in the face...
I just found out that Soupy Sales died this week. When I was a kid I enjoyed watching his show the most. It was so much better than Sheriff John or Captain Kangaroo, and was the precursor to shows like Rocky and Bullwinkle. It was the funniest because he had the silliest puppets and the show like White Fang and Black Tooth, and would always end with him getting a pie thrown in his face. Ahh, those were the best of times, we dreamed of all the adults who would benefit from a pie in the face, a fervent set of dreams that I continue to carry into my old age. "Sales was the sweetest and goofiest performer. Outfitted in a sweater and bow tie, his elastic features sporting a nonstop smile, as if he were laughing at his last or next joke, Sales was a Mr. Rogers for kids who didn't watch PBS."

He did a lot of old vaudeville shtick, never told dirty jokes, but we swore that he was drunk a few times... The trick he got in trouble with the network was: "He did make trouble for himself on New Year's Day 1965, when, annoyed by having to work on a holiday, he impishly instructed kids to tiptoe into their parents' bedroom, take out "green pieces of paper with pictures of guys with beards" and send them to his New York station. The punch line: "And you know what I'm gonna send you? A postcard from Puerto Rico." For that he got suspended. He said that the kids were hipper than his bosses: many sent him Monopoly money."

I worked for a time with Barbara Scott, the daughter of Bill Scott, who was the voice of Bullwinkle, Dudley Do-Right, and Captain Crunch, to name a few. She was one of the funniest people I've ever known. She told me that their family would sit down together for dinner and it became a pun contest, with her father writing down the best ones later for his characters. And, he too, got in trouble for pulling a prank on the air, from Wikipedia: "When first shown on NBC, the cartoons were introduced by a Bullwinkle puppet, voiced by Bill Scott, who would often lampoon celebrities, current events, and especially Walt Disney, whose program Disneyland was the next show on the schedule. On one occasion, "Bullwinkle" encouraged children to pull the tuning knobs off the TV set. "In that way," explained Bullwinkle, "we'll be sure to be with you next week!" After the network received complaints from parents of an estimated 20,000 child viewers who apparently followed Bullwinkle's suggestion, Bullwinkle told the children the following week to put the knobs back on with glue "and make it stick!" 

There doesn't seem to be anything as creative for kids on the tube today, especially with the Disney Channel funneling their child actors into these cloyingly cute half-hour templates, where they're trained to tell jokes and act the same way, with incredibly bland results.

So, goodbye Mr. Sales, I'm sure that even in heaven you'll receive that pie in the face, because ya love to keep 'em laughin'...

There is something Greek about the Cheney family’s obsessive persecution of President Obama...
So says Lee Siegal in the Daily Beast: "First Dick Cheney, on three separate occasions, declares that Obama is making the country more vulnerable to terrorist attack, accuses the president of using the economic crisis as a pretext to expand the government, and agrees with a conservative talking head that Obama is “telegraphing weakness” to the terrorists... Then his eldest daughter, Liz, proposes on Fox News that in the wake of Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize, the president send the mother of a fallen soldier to Oslo to accept the award on behalf of the U.S. military—as if it was Obama, and not her father, whose stupidity and greed has sent thousands of Americans to their death in Iraq. And recently, Cheney’s youngest daughter, Mary, announced the creation of an international consulting firm that will, no doubt, facilitate any and all opposition to the slightest Obama initiative."

Personally, I think Dick Cheney is stuck in a rut. He has to make a living now by giving speeches, and he is so emotionally and intellectually shallow that he can only harp on the same subjects over and over again. Glad I didn't buy a season ticket... The whole family is to the right of Atilla the Hun, even, surprisingly, the youngest gay daughter, who has come up with her own brainstorm to cash in on the family legacy. He is stewing in his own bitter juices, instead of a grateful country singing his praises, he is getting criticism and the changing of many policies that he instituted and is proud of. I'd be bitter too if I had to read in the newspaper what a bloodthirsty monster I had been, making all the wrong decisions that cost our country so many lives...

The part I like about Cheney is that he is so grumpy, I can relate. He is in pain all of the time, addicted to surgeries like so many others are addicted to the pain from getting tattoos. When you are in pain a lot you tend to lash out at others and never apologize for your behavior. He is the perfect candidate for a pie in the face.

Here is a man who is so enamored with secrecy that he had the escape tunnel from the Vice President's office under the Potomac River refurbished, asking the Obama administration to declassify document to prove his point on water-boarding. He is criticizing Obama for not making a quick decision on sending more troops to Afghanistan, when he made similar decisions based on false information planted by Iranian Intelligence and trusted faulty information obtained from prisoners by torture above information obtained by other means.

The part I dislike the most about Cheney is his bullying style that doesn't allow questioning. It's obvious that he bullied his children because his daughter Liz has adopted that style and taken it a step further. Its a shame that she also is passing this same form of abuse on to her five children, building a family legacy that, unfortunately, will endure...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

All Election Post: Palestine, Iraq, Russia, and Afghanistan

Kathleen Parker
Julian Delasantellis
Joe Klein

"30 Republican members of the U.S. Senate have been getting phone calls lately from people asking, "Why do you support rape?" - Kathleen Parker
"Let me be precise here: Fox News peddles a fair amount of hateful crap. Some of it borders on sedition. Much of it is flat out untrue."  - Joe Klein

It has become the normal way that politics is played out in the Middle East: to take two steps backwards and call it forward progress. It explains Iran's behavior in missing the deadline on the nuclear agreement, which they originally proposed thinking no-one else would like it. It also explains why the Palestinian groups Fatah and Hamas can't reach an agreement among themselves, yet saying that there are no problems with the Egyptian brokered deal. Well, Fatah has agreed, Hamas has not, thinking that if they ignore deadlines like their buddy Iran, they will ultimately get their way.

Anyway, the Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, who's term actually expired earlier this yer, has decided to move on and call for elections on January 24. The reaction from Hamas is: "Hamas officials said Mr Abbas's election call would deepen divisions between their faction and Fatah.
"This is an illegal and unconstitutional step because Abu Mazen's [Mr Abbas's] tenure is over and he has no right to issue any decree concerning this," Hamas officials declined to say who had the authority to create n election. They are afraid that they will lose power if they don't get  landslide results like the last election, which boosted them into power and created the isolation of the Gaza strip. It's certain that Hamas will lose some seats in the election, just like the Democrats will lose some seats come 2010...

Hamas has finally begun taking responsibility for the well-being of the citizens of Gaza after the recent invasion by Israel. The firing of missiles into Israel are down to a few per month, where before they were raining down with awful regularity, splatting in the fields of southern Israel like lethal toads.

 Despite smuggling in everything from goats to motorcycles through the Gaza tunnels, most residents are dependent on food donated through the UN. Many houses that were reduced to rubble have not been rebuilt, and the complaints sound eerily like those victims from Hurricane Katrina. Is it the universal nature of those in authority to drag their heels when it comes to being merciful and charitable? "Mr Abed Rabbo, 55, and his wife share a rickety shed in the shadow of his former home. He is tired and fed up. "Of course, Hamas is responsible here in Gaza," he says, his arms waving. "They have to start rebuilding. But they're the ones who are rejecting reconciliation with Fatah. This will cause us another hundred years of suffering. The whole Palestinian cause is in danger." Amen to that, brother...

dead but not forgotten...
In an aside, the Angry arab is reporting: "Did I tell you that "somebody" is launching a Saddam TV satellite channel that will air Saddam speeches and songs non-stop? Did I also tell you that Saudi propaganda outlets (erroneously known as media) have been promoting it???" I wonder if it will be a new feature on the Fox Network???

more Sunni democracy...
The UN is taking a greater role in the upcoming Afghan runoff election, hoping that the same fraud will not happen again. The Afghan election commitee is scrambling around like a headless chicken, firing as many corrupt officials as they can, which, in as poor a country as this, may be all of them. The problem here is that this won't be seen as legitimate in the eyes of local villagers, so maybe the UN should butt out. I have never seen UN observers at any American elections, and Lord knows there have been a lot of fraudulent ones...

The Taliban, of course, are threatening more coordinated attacks: "The Taliban called the elections an "American process" and said its fighters would "launch operations against the enemy and stop people from taking part".  Not only do they see themselves as the only rulers of the country, but if they can disrupt and scare away enough people so there aren't enough voters to legitimize the election, then maybe the US won't send in another 60-70,000 troops. No matter who wins they will be characterized as puppets of the US military, helpless to stop those independent contractors from partying and pulling denigrating pranks...

Of course, they could do what Iraq is threatening to do, postpone their elections indefinitely. These are all examples of how the Sunnis interpret democracy. Shia democracy takes place in Iran, where they justify the results with a military crackdown and murdering their citizens. So, how is this Democracy thing working out for you?

I wish this was something completely different...
Another country where election fraud and corruption is a time-honored tradition, is Mother Russia, or Putinland as it is fondly nicknamed: "The Kremlin doesn't rig elections; it engineers them. This is something everyone in Russia, no matter what their rhetoric or political persuasion, knows and accepts. So when recent local elections returned some unusual results, the only surprise was the intensity of the backlash." The reult is that most Russians are disillusioned with participatory democracy. The last election had a turnout of just 29%.

Cynical? Sure. "The joke making the rounds in Moscow when Dmitry Medvedev was up for election in the spring of 2008 was Medvedev's mom calling on election night, frantically asking if he'd won. "Mom," he says, "don't you fuck with me, too."

After the election there was a brief, surprising revolt: "It was a bit much even for those used to such Kremlin antics. But still, it all could have passed without remark, because, still, no one cares. And absolutely no one expected the plot twist: On October 14, three days after the elections, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the nationalist right-wing LDPR party, stood up before the federal Duma and declared the election results unacceptable. He and his party, he said, were leaving, and they wouldn't come back until the Central Election Committee chairman was fired and until they could secure a face-to-face with Medvedev. Then the leader of A Just Russia (SR), a center-left party engineered by the Kremlin to serve as an opposition magnet, got up and said her people were out of there, too. Then the Communists followed, and all of a sudden, only United Russia was left in the chamber." 

It didn't last long, they all came back a few days later: "Duma representatives insist they will keep fighting, but they are, at this point, simply saving face. The revolution is very much over..."

This exemplifies the weariness and deep cynicism that happens when a person's vote no longer counts. Voter fraud engineered by the parties in power in countries like Russia, Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan makes a mockery of each system while their citizens are made to look like fools. It's sad to watch, and bears a grim lesson of where we may be heading in the US, as more and more people are leaving the Democratic and Republican parties. Actually, Fox News is already reporting it, in their unique fair and balanced way...

"Here, you can falsify as much as you want because the voter has nothing invested in it." - Russian citizen

Friday, October 23, 2009

Obama, Obama, Obama, What's in the Henhouse?

Paul Krugman
Judd Gregg

Eugene Robinson
Dana Milbank
"Ladies and gentleman, I, Rush Limbaugh, live in Barack Obama's head rent-free." - R Limbaugh
"As an American I am relieved that President Obama is ignoring the howls of political thugs." - Karen Finney

In November, President Obama will be addressing the United Jewish Communities General Assembly, and it will be an opportunity for him to state more clearly his position regarding the Israeli-Palestinian question. Benjamin Netanyahu will announce by this Sunday if he will also attend or not.

The UJC is one of the most prestigious and important umbrellas for Jewish groups, both in America and internationally: "The GA generally features discussions and presentations on aspects of Jewish Diaspora life and Israeli issues. The UJC is the umbrella body of American and Canadian Jewish federations, bringing together more than 500 communities large and small to form the second-largest charity in North America." I expect one of his better and meatier speeches, and he had better not disappoint...

lack of focus, groups...
One of the main problems Obama faces is the public perception of a scattershot approach to domestic and foreign policy, that he is attempting to do too much all at once. In other words, he lacks focus, and that perception may damage seeing several projects through to the end. The Politifact web site keeps tract of all of Obama's campaign promises and how he is doing so far:

Promise Kept        48
Compromise         13
Promise Broken     7  
Stalled                14
In the Works      125
No Action          308

get over it, already...
Ever feel like such a loser when your favorite candidate loses an election? That's because of a drop in testosterone, as postulated by a recent study: "Researchers at Duke University and the University of Michigan, showed that following the announcement of the 2008 election results, male supporters of John McCain and other candidates who lost experienced a dramatic drop in testosterone. In contrast, men who supported Barack Obama maintained relatively stable levels of testosterone after learning he had won.

In addition to the lowered levels of testosterone, men whose candidates didn't win also reported feeling more "controlled," "submissive," and just all around "unpleasant" than men who supported Obama." See? It's not just fear of a black man, it's your actual loss of virility. This may explain Tom Delay getting in touch with his feminine side on Dancing With the Stars, or why Meghan McCain and Liz Cheney are currently more popular than their fathers. God only knows what happens if your favorite baseball or football team loses; actually, it may explain the rash of Viagra and Ciialis ads on the tube... To date, no study has been done on the possible effects on women, I suppose they just divorce that loser and move on...

throw the aussie on the barby...
Time for the White House and Fox News to get together for a beer, so we can move on from this silly non-story. Whenever Rupert Murdoch buys a property, he immediately dumbs it down to his taste, an Aussie every-man sensibility mixed with tabloid mentality. Look what he's done to the Wall Street Journal... unless you hang onto every word that Dick Cheney and Karl Rove ever wrote... When he created the Fox Network, in order to get some ratings, he came up with shows like Married, With Children, a cruder, disparaging style of production that became popular. It has provided the formula for everything else Fox has done, he enjoys inciting people's emotions instead of their intellects, reducing everything down to the level of a 14 year old, nyuk, nyuk, nyuk. What was successful for the Three Stooges works well for Glenn Beck. But, yeah, Obama needs to learn to become more aloof when criticized, and not be as petulant as his predecessor was. Once you get dragged down and  become sprayed, the stink will never come off...

And now, a moment of Zen:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

World Drought, Yemeni Rebels, Cocaine Cowboys Running Short On Supply

David Ignatius
Dana Milbank
Steve Benen

Attack Bunnies
Karl Rove
Dick Cheney

"Perhaps more accurate than saying that McConnell gave 50 health-care speeches would be saying that McConnell gave the same health-care speech 50 times, with minor changes."   - Dana Milbank
"We told the Americans, stay away. Let us do it." - Pakistani Military Spokesman

The map above is a projection of problems the world will have over lack of rainfall. Many of the red areas are already experiencing drought situations...While the Phillipines will experience the fourth typhoon this month, places in the Middle East and Africa have been experiencing acute drought. The fabled Garden of Eden, located between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers is drying up: "It's hardly rained in Iraq for more than two years, the river levels have dropped by half in some places, and farmland is drying out....The Tigris - and the Euphrates to the west - are 50% to 70% lower than they were 10 years ago... The shortage of water for each river is caused mainly by lack of rain and snowmelt in the mountains of Turkey where the rivers rise... Another factor is a series of dams on the Euphrates in Turkey and Syria, reducing flow before the river enters Iraq... Hardly any rain means farmland turns to dust. Baghdad used to expect to endure about eight serious dust storms a year. Now there are more than 30 storms that turn the air of the capital orange." Drought may also become a factor pushing Iran to the bargaining tables...

Once again, the worst famine is happening in Ethiopia, the worst in 25 years. Drought is spreading across Africa, from Kenya to Nigeria, and many of the west African countries that traditionally don't experience it.  Crops are failing from lack of rain. October is usually the rainy season and farmers time their crops to the rains. Future wars may well be over water rights and access to land for farming, making the ideals of groups like al Qaeda look silly and an indulgence.

It doesn't matter wether you believe in global warming or not, right now we are experiencing global climate change, and countries like India and China are making agreements to help each other in unprecedented ways: "Under the agreement, India and China will work together to increase energy efficiency, boost the use of renewable energy sources, develop "clean coal" technology, and improve afforestation techniques. 

This "takes cooperation on climate change between the two countries to a new high," said Xie Zhenhua, China's top climate change negotiator, at the signing ceremony." China is already the largest exporter of solar panels, which are used around the world, and has created a black-market for them in africa and the Middle East. This pact also helps position them for the upcoming climate summit in Copenhagen come December.

from those Houthi websites...
It seems that just being a rebel terrorist group isn't enough these days, you also have your propaganda and websites set up. Take the Houthis... please. Vaudeville routines aside, these rebels have been trying to take over Yemen for several years, and yes, they want to establish an Islamic Caliphate there to train and spread others in sympathy to the cause. Or so the Yemeni government claims.

"Rebels in northern Yemen say they have clashed with Saudi forces at the site of building work for a fence along the border between the two countries. A statement on the rebels' website said there were a number of deaths and injuries on both sides.
The rebels, known as Houthis, say they are fighting discrimination in Yemen and accuse Saudi Arabia of supporting the Yemeni government." The Houthis are a tribal Shia minority in a predominantly Sunni region. The Yemeni government has been perceived as the weakest link, but has been receiving help from neighboring Saudi Arabia, who doesn't want Yemen to become ruled by a Shia group with ties to Iran.

So, it's a game of chess, make a move and deny it. But make sure to post your opponent's move on the Internet...

project coronado...
The culmination of three and a half years of investigation has culminated in 1,200 arrests yesterday and today, mostly in places like Los Angeles, Texas, and Georgia.

Georgia? Evidently the Mexican drug cartel La Familia has been setting up shop in the South, where the drug of choice is methamphetamines: "At a house in Lawrenceville -- a "conversion laboratory" where La Familia members worked -- authorities said they recovered 174 pounds of crystal meth. Authorities seized 17 kilos of cocaine, 13 weapons and $50,000 in the raids across metro Atlanta. Agents also raided locations in Dallas, New York, Boston and in California, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee."La Familia's leadership here is out of business today," Rodney Benson, special agent in charge of the DEA's Atlanta Field Division, said at a press conference at the Gwinnett courthouse."

 Next, we will get surprised comments from Colorado law officers who didn't know that meth labs were in their cities. A townhouse in the same complex where I live was busted a couple of months ago. It has other townhouses on either side of it, but no investigations were done to determine if they were affected by the volatile chemicals. In fact, the meth lab has already been rented out again, and I doubt it if the landlord disclosed its recent past to the new renters... I just love the image of cranked up good ol' boys driving around in their pick-up trucks with their gun racks in the back, it gives the term "road rage" a tweaking new twist...

late night political jokes:

"And under the new guidelines issued by the Obama Administration, Federal agents will not pursue pot-smoking patients in states that allow medical marijuana. This new policy is called 'Don't Ask, Don't -- What Was I Talking About?'" --Jay Leno

"The FDA announced plans to clamp down on food labeling that may mislead consumers into thinking food is more nutritious than it really is. Is that going to work? Huh? You think Americans will change their eating habits by reading that? 'Oh, look, honey, on the label, these chocolate doughnuts aren't as nutritious as I thought they were.'" --Jay Leno

"President Obama is very smart. He figures if he couldn't appease the left by withdrawing from Iraq or closing Gitmo or appealing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' they'll all be too stoned to care." –Jay Leno

"President Obama today agreed to commit an additional 40,000 troops to help fight Fox News." –Jay Leno

"It's getting ugly in the press room. Well, senior White House adviser David Axelrod told reporters that Fox News is just pushing a point of view. Well, yeah. But at least they got a point of view." –Jay Leno

"And according to USA Today, car sales are now at a 20-year low. Well, sure, it's hard to steal a car when the owner's living in it." –Jay Leno

"Well here's some good terrorist gossip. Osama bin Laden's first wife has written a book about him. And you know, typical ex-wives, they always make the guy look like the bad one." –Jay Leno

"No, Osama bin Laden's first wife and her son have written a book about her marriage. The son said that bin Laden would get angry if they turned on the air conditioner. So in a lot of ways, bin Laden just sounds like a typical dad. When it comes to thermostats, all dads become fanatical tyrants. Why is that?" –Jay Leno

"Oh, this is interesting. Did you know bin Laden's first wife was also his first cousin? That doesn't sound like al Qaeda. That sounds like Alabama, doesn't it?" –Jay Leno

"Well this is kind of odd. Sarah Palin has posted her resume on an employment networking site. Under 'jobs held,' she -- you know, she was a sportscaster. Did you know that? She was also, of course, governor of Alaska and, most recently, private nurse for Senator John McCain. I didn't realize that." –Jay Leno

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Twisting With Hamid the Night Away, Rocky Mountain Highs

Kathleen Parker
Dana Milbank
Andrew Kramer

"The debate over whether Americans ought to have the right to be stupid -- or to make other people seem more interesting -- continues apace after 40 years of the (failed) "war on drugs." - Kathleen Parker
"The United States has the most privatized health-care system in the advanced world, and also the least efficient."  - Paul Krugman

The big story today is that the runoff election will happen in Afghanistan. No big deal, we have them all the time. But its a big deal in a country rated as having the fifth most corrupt government in the world. Senator John Kerry spent the last five days working on Hamid Karzai to accept the election committee's findings and have the runoff. I think Kerry threatened to bring his wife and move in with Karzai until he changed his mind... The unsettling part is how Kerry and Hillary Clinton had to buddy up to Hamid and confess their own electorial defeats and in Kerry's case, allegations of fraud in Ohio. Hey, don't feel bad about being a loser...

The UN had to be embarrassed into action, when an American whistleblower was fired after he accused his boss of withholding information of fraud, afraid to confront Mr Karzai. Then, pressure was on the Afghani election committee to accept the UN recount. The Obama administration favored creating a coalition government, with Karzai sharing with his hated rival, Abdullah Abdullah, but it has been pointed out that it is against the Afghan Constitution."Mr. Abdullah said he had received a telephone call Tuesday from President Obama. He said President Obama congratulated him on the results and thanked him for his conduct during the election. But he said the president did not ask him to join in a coalition with Mr. Karzai. “I am not under any pressure from the international community for any scenario,”

The real problem will be to get involvement in the runoff by the population. Its hoped that this would re-establish faith in the government as a democratic entity, when most people see it as a means to corruption, bribery, and amassing wealth illegally. Yeah, they pretty much have it right. Nobody has asked people in the villages what they think except for some soldiers, and nobody has bothered to ask the soldiers what they think about the war, so we have a rather large group of opinions that are being ignored. As always... It remains to be seen if the UN will monitor the runoff elections, the Afghan election committee may not allow it. Mr Karzai has appointed almost all of the committee members, so he has a stake in local control. In solidarity with the Afghan people, I propose that Mr Karzai duct tape his brother to a chair and televise it for the length of the election. It may do the most to legitimize it, and I propose a campaign slogan: Too Legit to Sit...

Its interesting that most of the constructive diplomatic work has been done by John Kerry, Jim Webb, Bill Richardson, and Bill Clinton instead of the special envoys and ambassadors. It's good these people have created special relationships that we can take advantage of. They are all Democrats, perhaps we can find some Republicans who have forged a special bond with other right wing dictators and take advantage of them, in the spirit of bi-partisanship, of course.

rocky mountain high, Colorado...
Guess I'm going to have to change what I write about and apply for a new job at the paper Westworld. They are going to hire a critic of the medical marijuana dispensaries that are popping up all over the state. This will be a popular column, especially after the Federal government publicized its new wide stance of tolerance towards the medical marijuana industry. I'm waiting for the special Consumer's Digest issue, with their Pot Poll...

I've actually been toying with the idea of becoming a user of medical marijuana. I have consistent lower back pain 24/7, and now the cortisone injections I had several weeks ago are wearing off. It was nice to have had the pain lessened, I walked straighter, took stairs more confidently, and my grumpiness took on a silver lining. The only other thing that helped was smoking some marijuana before I went to sleep before I discovered tramadol, a non-narcotic pain reliever. But in the interests of journalism I could convert back, pun intended.

The Colorado Attorney General is worried that the rise of marijuana dispensaries is causing a rise in crime, and that they are turning to the dreaded Mexican drug cartels to restock supplies: "Still, in an attempt to undermine what Kriho sees as scare tactics, Cannibis Therapy Institute is encouraging caregivers to take a new pledge -- to Always Buy Colorado cannabis.

According to Kriho, Mexican cannabis is a snap to identify. "They compress it into large bricks," she says. "You can tell the difference immediately." Moreover, she argues that alleged shortages are fictional. "I just talked to a dispensary owner in Nederland, and he said there's actually a surplus at this point. It's harvest season, and everybody's harvested their outdoor crop. He said he's had people coming in to try to sell him locally grown cannabis."

Given this evidence, Kriho believes "the attorney general and the DEA are working off the fear factor, trying to make the public afraid of problems that don't even exist at this point." Sometimes, being patriotic to your home state seems like the right thing to do... Support here for medical marijuana comes from all sides of the political spectrum, even from those who have never inhaled. Personally, if it can help those who suffer from acute chronic pain, then let's give the stuff away for free. If you have ever been in a hospital setting where people are literally crying out because they are in pain, it strains the limits of compassion. And if it could be an alternative to getting those people in the hospitals addicted to morphine and other, stronger painkillers, let's use it in as many theraputic settings as possible. Just keep it away from your kids...