Sunday, February 28, 2010

Thai King, Bruised and Hungry Planet,Puerto Rico Immigrant No More

Niall Fergusen
Marwan Bishara
Mike McConnell

"The United States is fighting a cyber-war today, and we are losing." - Mike McConnell
"I think this is an issue of integrity regardless of which end of the political spectrum that I stand on. I was raised in a family to know right from wrong and politics, whether or not you fall in the middle, the left or the right its an issue of integrity, no matter what your opinion is, and I say that with the utmost conviction." - Miss Arizona

One of the more stable Asian countries will erupt into chaos soon. No, it's not from the recent protests or the recovery of over one billion dollars from the corrupt hands of its ex-prime minister. The King of Thailand has been in the hospital for over the last five months, and the poor old man is going to die soon.

The reverence that people have for the King, who is considered as the head of buddhism, acts as a stabilizing force when factions and emotions get out of hand. In the past, if he made a critical remark about your political movement or your military action in public, it was enough to disband the movement and cool down a bad situation. I liked him because he was born in Boston, Massachusetts and wore glasses. If you got into an argument with a cab driver and tore up the money he demanded and threw it at the driver, you could be put in jail for defacing the image of the King. A true story...

He does have sons, but they are not held in such high esteem, more like arrogant, strutting peacocks. So I don't know who will keep a cool heart for such an emotional country, the whole region could become destabilized from the outcome. King Bhumibol Adulyadej is 82, and the world's current longest serving monarch.

We're having an intense year, weather-wise. The Haitian earthquake was bad, devastation made worse by the length of the quake and bad construction methods. Really intense snow storms have pummeled the East Coast, leaving over 200 thousand without electricity, and horrible storms have raged across Western Europe, killing at least 50. Another set of earthquakes, one in Japan and the other centered in Chile, this one hundreds of times stronger in magnitude than the one in Haiti. And to top it off, a huge iceberg ran into the Mertz ice shelf in Antartica, creating another iceberg over 950 square miles to break off the glacier. The two dueling icebergs could affect the way that colder water sinks to the bottom of the ocean, and further complicate weather patterns over the entire planet. The iceberg contains about 30 percent of the world's water consumption.

I'm not going to get into the silly arguments over whether global warming is natural or man-made, the fact is that changes are occurring. For someone to open their door and look at the snow outside, then declare that there is no such thing, only proves that person is an idiot and needs to pick up a book or three... Hundreds of earthquakes happen every day, most occur where there is little population density, and in faults under the ocean. They are the result of the motion of tectonic plates moving in response to the earth's rate of rotation. And it isn't a smooth rotation, there is a wobble, which is thought to affect the magnetic poles, which occasionally shift.

Another fact is that there are hundreds of lightening strikes per day all over the earth, and scientists still cannot explain why it happens. Sure, we know that there is an accumulation of positive electrical energy that builds up in clouds, and that the earth acts as a negative ground, and that lightening will strike, but we cannot tell you the exact mechanism that triggers the lightening strike. But, I digress...

We are already taxing the amount of food and relief that are being provided to the countries hit by the earthquakes, and with our shortened attention spans, its doubtful that we can accommodate both long term assistance past the next six months. The UN food program has already had to cut back allotments to places like Yemen, which is undergoing a drought along with the Mid East and Northern Africa. I hate to project doom and gloom, but a few more of these major natural disasters will have us choosing who will live and who will have to die. We see it now in the Haitian disaster, where we could only provide food for 2 million people when the original reports said there were three million people in need. Either the calculations were incorrect, the figures were later revised downwards to cover-up, or I sorely need new reading glasses. I sincerely hope that my memory is at error, I can accept that fact more easily than I can accept cold calculations and lack of compassion among those whose job it is to care...

I guess we're all Puerto Ricans now, right John? As of this weekend, Puerto Rico has invalidated all of its birth certificates. If you were born there before this weekend you will have to apply for a new one. The application fee is waived for those over 62, or who are veterans.

At first, I thought that this was another weird twist on the birther theory, and next they were going to say that Barack Obama was actually born in Puerto Rico with a fake certificate, until I realized that: "People born in Puerto Rico, a U.S. commonwealth, are U.S. citizens at birth. Anyone using a stolen Puerto Rico birth certificate could enter and move about the U.S. more easily, which could also pose security problems.
Puerto Rico's legislature passed the law after raids last March broke up a criminal ring that had stolen thousands of birth certificates and other identifying documents from several different schools in Puerto Rico. As much as 40 percent of the identity fraud in the U.S. involves birth certificates from Puerto Rico, Kenneth McClintock Hernandez, the commonwealth secretary of state, said he was told by the State Department."
"It's a problem that's been growing, and as the need in the black market for birth certificates with Hispanic-sounding names grew, the black-market value of Puerto Rican birth certificates has gone into the $5,000 to $10,000 range,"
Now I want to present Tom Tancredo with his very own Puerto Rican birth certificate, I'm sure I can pick one up on e-bay now, or at Orly Taitz's web site...

Saturday, February 27, 2010

New Jacked Taliban, My Favorite Fatwa

Dana Milbank
Kristen Saloomey
Kevin Connor

"Could I just finish, please?" - John McCain
"Tough shit!" - Jim Bunning

Pakistan seems to be arresting links to al-Qaeda right and left, lately, scoring brownie points with both the US and Iran. Not only have they captured leaders from the Pashtun Afghan Taliban group, who seemed to be living so far from where the action has been, but they also captured Abdulmalik Rigi, the leader of Jundallah, a Sunni insurgent group active in southeastern Iran. This is in contrast of the official story that the plane he was flying in was ordered to land and he was captured by Iranian authorities.

Common wisdom state that not much escapes the Pakistani Intelligence Service, and the recent turn of events may have been because the American military and CIA are now negotiating and bribing Intelligence officials directly instead of going through the civilian government's middle men. Given this cozy relationship, the turning over of Abdulmalik Rigi to Iran is meant to tell the US that Pakistan is not beholden to them, that they have some independence left. Mr Rigi has gone on Iranian television and announced that his group, which also has ties to al-Qaeda, was sponsored by the US and promised that they would get weapons and an operating base in Afghanistan to wage annoying sorties at the predominately Shia nation. This also gives notice on remaining al-Qaeda operatives in Pakistan that any day now they, too, could be given up. Al-Qaeda will probably respond with a few more suicide bombers detonating themselves in crowded bazaars, mindlessly killing innocent people. After all, Spring is just around the corner...

To show how there can be many layers to an attack attributed to the Taliban, consider yesterday's suicide bombing in Kabul, aimed at a hotel where many Indian doctors live, on the Prophet Mohammed's Birthday: "The timing is also striking. Yesterday, the first Indo-Pakistani talks after the Lashkar-e-Taiba attacks in Mumbai on November 26, 2008 were yesterday in New Delhi on the foreign secretary level. This possibly is no coincidence. In this connection, today’s attack in Kabul can be read as another attack on Indian targets in Kabul (the Indian embassy here was bombed in July 2008) and -- indirectly -- on initiatives to improve the Indo-Pakistani relationship?

So, why do the Taliban make themselves an instrument of those -- by claiming responsibility -- who do not want to see such an improvement to happen? Does the whole Taliban movement support such a strategy? What about Mullah Omar’s statement of late last year that the Taliban do not threaten any neighboring and also any other country? Does that not apply for India? Does Zabihullah Mujahed speak for Mullah Omar or not?

Or has this attack been carried out by other elements: Pakistani Taliban, the Haqqani network or those linked to groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba or al-Qaeda that has declared ‘Hindu’ India a target, too? Are Afghan elements linked to these groups (like the Haqqanis) out of Mullah Omar’s control? This would apply to spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed, too.

What repercussions does that have for the Taliban’s readiness to look for a political solution that was assumed for the Taliban leadership in Kandahar or, at least, elements of it? Possibly, the attack is another element in a development assumed by some observers here that the ISI currently is staging a turn-over in the overall Taliban leadership, away from politically people minded to radical 'hawks,' In this reading, the arrest of reportedly pro-talks people like Mullah Baradar, Maulawi Kabir and former Zabul shadow governor Mohammed Yunos would be another indication that this assumption is true. This would not augur well for chances of a political solution in Afghanistan." In the Great Game, the US is strictly an amateur...

 From a US military handbook that soldiers could keep in their back pockets as they whizzed through the streets of Iraqi cities: "A 2003 handbook for the U.S. First Infantry Division in Iraq exhorts soldiers to 'Do your best to prevent war crimes' and warns that 'when an Arab is confronted by criticism, you can expect him to react by interpreting the facts to suit himself or flatly denying the facts.' Since then, soldiers went on to work and live with Iraqi troops, then withdrawing from all interaction, to where they rest today, practicing their Nintendo skills.

With the increasing use of drones by just about every aggressive country in the world, and new generations being made, we now have to upgrade our GPS satellites so they can receive photos and messages from places like the remote regions of Afghanistan. Here in Colorado, Raytheon is the recipient of an $865 million contract from the Defense Department. As a side-effect, your GPS equipment will soon work better than ever... Back in the 1980's and 90's, my father used to boast that the cameras on the spy satellites could count the hairs on a gnat's ass, they were so good. Just think how optics have improved since then, and what information we will soon receive by installing them on drones and having the capacity to capture the signals without degradation...

my favorite fatwa...
Even though we pat ourselves on the back for all of the progress that has been made in the world up till now, the basic fact is that in most places it just sucks to be a woman. From selling children into prostitution in Thailand to stoning women to death in Turkey, or throwing acid on the faces of women in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the fairer sex has to be extraordinary tough and resilient to survive.

Most of this injustice is from people trying to literally interpret sections of the Bible and Koran into how we must live today. People who know nothing of what religion really is, make proclamations to bolster their own power, intent on telling you how to live, and making up justifications for it in Holy texts. You would think that as time goes on we would have less of these obviously crazy people among us, that they would have been bred out of existence, but somehow they are thriving and getting elected to the US Congress...

The most recent furor over not much at all comes out of Saudi Arabia, where a cleric, Abdul-Rahman al-Barrak, issued a fatwa: "that states that all those who promote the mingling of sexes are apostates that should to be killed."

Needless to say that it has spurred a lot of debate: "Islam allows the mixing of men and women as long as it within the limits of decency and respect, said Sheikh Abdul-Hamid al-Atrash, former head of al-Azhar's Fatwa Committee."It could be considered a sin, but not one that is punishable by death. A woman can go out to work as long as she is modestly dressed and will not deal with men in a way that arouses them" he told Al Arabiya. "Indecent mixing is what should be prohibited." You won't get much argument from certain sects in the US, that also ban music and video games. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia has had their first woman appointed to a Ministerial level, and they now allow women on tv...
"Barrak might have just wanted to stir public opinion. That is why I think there is no point in responding to his fatwa. This will just lead to endless arguments that will eventually boil down to nothing."
And, there other growing opportunities throughout Asia and the Middle East for women who know their proper place:

Friday, February 26, 2010

George Hearts Cheney, Happy Birthday the Gaddafi and Khamenei Way

Dana Milbank
Ezra Klein
Paul Krugman

"The debate ended as it began: with Democrats offering moderate plans that draw heavily on past Republican ideas, and Republicans responding with slander and misdirection." - Paul Krugman
"Republican legislators these days see the purpose of federal office as something that an individual trades on for personal enrichment... Some elected Dems practice the GOP approach as well." - jprs
"It's interesting to watch you try to understand the right, but if you really understood it you wouldn't be on the left in the first place." - cpurick
“I’m reminded of that every day.” - John McCain

So France's Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy went to Rwanda to begin healing the rift between their two countries, while Barack Obama invited Democrats and Republicans to meet to heal the rift between them over health reform. Mr Sarkozy spend a whopping three hours in Rwanda and Mr Obama spend seven hours under the television lights of CSPAN. Of the two, which do you think was more effective? The mood that the right wing has been in this past year, you'd think they, too, are ready to commit genocide by killing off all of the moderates in their party, you know, starting over from scratch with a blank piece of paper...

Former President George W Bush has come out publically making a statement in praise of Dick Cheney: "George W. Bush has said publicly that he approves of former Vice President Dick Cheney’s high-profile role in defending the past administration’s national security policies.

“I’m glad Cheney is out there,” Bush said Friday morning at a reunion breakfast that was the inaugural event for the Bush-Cheney Alumni Association." Dick couldn't attend because he is still recovering from his fifth heart attack. By now, he is like the landscape of California, he just rolls them off. But get well, Dick, get well.
"Former Vice President Dick Cheney was released from the hospital today after being treated for a mild heart attack, his fifth heart attack. Next one's free." –Jimmy Kimmel

"Something weird happened in the hospital. When they were putting the electrodes on him for the EKG, he suddenly started screaming, 'Stop! I'll tell you everything you want to know!'" –Jimmy Kimmel
Some other words of wisdom that George is supposed to have said: “Don’t swagger. Sometimes I got carried away rallying the country. I think the swagger criticism was fair. A lot of others weren't. I hope I conveyed a sense that I was a lowly sinner who found redemption. I'm not better than anyone else. What makes me different from others is that I realized I needed help.”

“I’m religious — I confess,” he continued. “One of the challenges in life is: Maintaining religious piety is harder when the pressure is off than when it is on. But now there is still a dependency in a greater grace.”

Bush made it clear he plans to continue to keep a low profile: “I have no desire to see myself on television. I don't want to be a panel of formers instructing the currents on what to do. I'm trying to regain a sense of anonymity. I didn't like it when a certain former president — and it wasn't 41 or 42 — made my life miserable.” That was a reference to Jimmy Carter, the 39th president.

"Newt, I am Your Father!"

cake and ice cream, too...
Happy Birthday to the Prophet, May Peace Be Upon Him. Today, many leaders took it upon themselves to address this great occasion in sermons to the masses. Instead of the usual,  how Islam is the religion of peace and love, the crazier among them had to be mean and cruel, lashing out at their opponents, both imaginary and real.

We begin with the imaginary, which centers in Libya and Moammar Gaddafi. Gaddafi raised his son Hannibal to be like the chip off of the old block. A couple of years ago, Hannibal Gaddafi was arrested in Geneva, Switzerland, for abuse and assaulting two servants. In the Mid East, where foreigners are considered less than dirt, you can get away with this kind of treatment, and it is quite common in every country. But not in western countries that give lip service to the idea of human rights. Mr Gaddafi was humiliated and asked to leave.

Then, right wingers in Switzerland passed a law recently, banning the construction of new mosques. They have three so far, and maybe less than a hundred Muslims, so it was a rather bizarro thing to do, unless you once were a skinhead now grown up into a local politician.

This morning, Hannibal's father, the esteemed gentleman known to have had packed up his tent in the middle of the night in New Jersey, spoke these celebratory words: "Let us wage jihad against Switzerland, Zionism and foreign aggression. Any Muslim in any part of the world who works with Switzerland is an apostate, is against Muhammad, God and the Koran." Some folks were amused, the UN was not. They pointed out that Mr Gaddafi is not a cleric, just some fake bedouin who cannot issue a fatwa or call for jihad...

Not to be outdone, the Supreme Burrito of Iran took this august occasion to also blast his enemies, hinting broadly that they might be rounded up next and thrown out of the country. From the BBC: "Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, dismissed the possibility of compromise with opposition leaders, saying in harsh language that they had no right to participate in politics, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Ayatollah Khamenei’s remarks at a meeting in Tehran with members of the Assembly of Experts, a clerical body, followed a challenge to the government on Monday by Mehdi Karroubi, one of the opposition candidates who ran in the disputed presidential election in June. Mr. Karroubi called for a national referendum to gauge the popularity of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government.

Without naming Mr. Karroubi or another opposition leader, Mir Hussein Moussavi, Ayatollah Khamenei said “... they have lost their credibility by denying the results of the elections. They did not surrender to the law and committed a great sin,”  The Ayatollah Khamenei, whose comments appeared to be his toughest yet about the opposition leaders, referred to the Islamic government as a rescue ship. He said those who had not accepted the results of the June 12 election “have stepped down from the rescue ship and have lost their credibility to remain within the framework of the Islamic establishment.” Of course, he may have been wearing his tinfoil hat and referring to the mothership, docked just behind the planet Jupiter... Don't forget to whack that festive pinata of the Great Satan... What's so funny about peace, love, and understanding, eh elvis?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Mahmoud is Waiting for the Mahdi, Orly's Moment of Zen

Gen David Petraeus
David Ignatius
Michael Freund

"From Beirut and Damascus in the north to Teheran in the east, and back to Gaza in the south, the "arc of hate" surrounding the Jewish state is speaking openly and brazenly of conflict and destruction." - Michael Freund
“The United States is an arrogant country that plunders the wealth of nations by invading them. It is also a criminal state because it supports Israel.” - Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

At first, I thought that Michael Freund's piece in the Jerusalem Post was a good example of the overwrought paranoia that often feeds the Jewish state, then today I find a good example of what he is talking about. Yes, Iran is back in the news, starring that wacky, furry little dictator, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In a rambling speech broadcasted on Iranian state tv, that cute curmudgeon exhibited distinct irrationality, waxing on how the actions of the US was hindering the return of the Mahdi.
“If the Mahdi does not come, this will mean that the battle of Karbala could be repeated. The Mahdi will face what the prophets faced and his life will be in danger,”
Just like the Christians have the myth of the Second Coming of christ, Islam has the myth of the return of the Mahdi, the redeemer of Islam. The word mahdi means guided one...: "The 1979 Islamic Revolution, which ousted the Shah and installed the current religious regime, is a prelude to the appearance of the Mahdi, Ahmadinejad argued that the arrogance of the United States is one the main obstacles to the Mahdi’s coming... In an earlier speech he gave in Esfahan in December, Ahmadinejad claimed he had documented evidence that the United States invaded Iraq in order to prevent the coming of the Mahdi and stressed that the Iranian people would prepare the ground for his coming forming the Mahdi Army."

Ahmadinejad belongs to a small Islamic sect with some twisted, Fundamentalist beliefs that reminds me somehow of the Jehovah's Witnesses... Like most people who have amassed a lot of power and have come under stress, he has come to believe that he is holy, or at least holier than thou: "In a meeting he held with cleric Ayatollah Jawadi Amuli, Ahmadinejad claimed a halo of light surrounded him while he gave a speech at the United Nations General Assembly, attributing this to the Mahdi’s support." He has joined the others, like Saddam Hussein, who thought he was the reincarnation of the Chaldean Emperor King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.

As Professor Daniel Pipes explains about this belief in the Mahdi: 'Mahdaviat derives from mahdi, Arabic for "rightly-guided one," a major figure in Islamic eschatology. He is, explains the Encyclopaedia of Islam, "the restorer of religion and justice who will rule before the end of the world." The concept originated in the earliest years of Islam and, over time, became particularly identified with the Shi‘ite branch. Whereas "it never became an essential part of Sunni religious doctrine," continues the encyclopedia, "Belief in the coming of the Mahdi of the Family of the Prophet became a central aspect of the faith in radical Shi‘ism," where it is also known as the return of the Twelfth Imam.

Mahdaviat means "belief in and efforts to prepare for the Mahdi."

As mayor of Tehran, for example, Mr. Ahmadinejad appears to have in 2004 secretly instructed the city council to build a grand avenue to prepare for the Mahdi. A year later, as president, he allocated $17 million for a blue-tiled mosque closely associated with mahdaviat in Jamkaran, south of the capital. He has instigated the building of a direct Tehran-Jamkaran railroad line. He had a list of his proposed cabinet members dropped into a well adjacent to the Jamkaran mosque, it is said, to benefit from its purported divine connection."

Just like the rumors that the reason George Bush invaded Iraq to begin Armageddon and the Rapture, allowing him to make such a bold decision, so does Ahmadinejad's beliefs embolden him: "Mahdaviat is a code for [Iran's Islamic] revolution, and is the spirit of the revolution," says the head of an institute dedicated to studying and speeding the Mahdi's appearance. "This kind of mentality makes you very strong," the political editor of Resalat newspaper, Amir Mohebian, observed. "If I think the Mahdi will come in two, three, or four years, why should I be soft? Now is the time to stand strong, to be hard." Some Iranians, reports PBS, "worry that their new president has no fear of international turmoil, may think it's just a sign from God."

Every leader in the Middle East either wants to be a royal prince or the founding member of a ruling dynasty. It explains why Nuri al Maliki is trying to set himself up in Iraq, building his own Revolutionary Guards by reinstating 20,000 members of Saddam's military elite, and the canny machinations of Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan...

thursday night smackdown...
I really should be glued to CSPAN, watching the health care debates, but instead I am typing this silly blog. I understand one smackdown between Obama and McCain has already occurred:

"In an exchange at Thursday's health-care summit, McCain challenged the president over special deals in the Senate health reform bill provided to states such as Nebraska and Louisiana, asking: "Why should that happen?"

Obama began his response: "Let me just make this point, because we're not campaigning anymore, the election's over."

McCain cut in: "I'm reminded of that every day."

Damn, here I am, without any beer, without any popcorn. I guess I'll have to make do with a big bowl of cereal, instead...

I haven't dissed on Sarah Palin for awhile. She's been laying low, counting her newly minted cash, while allowing her daughter Bristol to follow in ex-hubby's footsteps to Hollywood. I wonder if we'll see the little mommy in Playboy, once she shakes off the family shackles... Anyway, when Jeb Bush, the ex-Governor of Florida and the member of the Bush family who's further political career was ruined by his baby brother George, gave an interview with Newsmax, he was asked about Sarah Palin as a future candidate: "My personal belief is that for Governor Palin to be a successful candidate for higher office, she needs to take this charisma she has and also add to it some depth of understanding of the complexity of life that we're living in today. If she had the combination of that, she would be a formidable candidate." Ouch. Ya gonna take that, baby girl???

going off the deep end...
we go straight to Orly Tait's web site, where she is demanding a public apology from John McCain and wants him to book them on Sean Hannity. Orly is the loudest member of the birther movement, claiming that Barack Obama is not a citizen of the US and doesn't have a correct birth certificate. Back when this seemed to be catching on, many craven Republicans in Congress were hopping onto the train. Here is a letter that McCain sent Orly, sympathizing with her brave quest:

Then, John released a re-election ad saying that we had more important things to do than debate this issue, so dear to her heart. Orly takes it from here: "Today he released a National re-election campaign add, where he included a clip of my NBC interview and where he is saying that we have more important things to do, then deal with Obama’s illegitimacy to presidency. This is a despicable behavior. Though I respect McCains military record, his latest add is appalling. There is nothing more important today then the issue of Obama’s illegitimacy to US presidency, the issue of Obama sitting in the White House and fraudulently using SocialSecurity number 042-68-4425 that was issued in CT to an individual born in 1890.
By releasing this add McCain is not only ignoring the most important issue, the country is facing today, but he is also influencing Chief Judge of the US District Court for the District of Columbia Royce Lamberth, who is supposed to render in 12 days a decision on my Application for preliminary Injunction in Taitz v Obama, he is influencing the Appellate judges in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, who are supposed to render a decision on my appeals in Cook et al v Good et al and Rhodes v McDonald and he is influencing judges in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, who are supposed to decide on my Barnett et al v Obama et al, where I represent 40 high ranked members of US military, State representatives from all over the country and Ambassador Alan Keyes.
Senator McCain owes me and my clients an apology and an opportunity to discuss this matter with him on the merits on the National TV, as his add was shown all over the National TV and all over the Internet, on a widely watched show, such as Sean Hannity show. (my husband’s favorite)."

My only wish is that there could be a tv show to share these eloquent gems. Whenever I get to worrying about the sanity of our world leaders, it gives me a warm , fuzzy feeling to know that there are people like Orly around to brighten up my world. I've always delighted in off-beat characters, they add just the right note of whimsy and oddity to the symphony we are creating. It's also a reminder what we can do when we go off our meds...

Orly's moment of Zen:

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Preview For Tomorrow's Health Care Rant, More Dubai Suspects

Thomas E Ricks
Kathleen Parker
Bob Barr

"Ideology offers human beings the illusion of dignity and morals while making it easier to part with them." - Vaclav Havel
"These true conservatives and RINO-hunters are, to put it mildly, a problem for any candidate or incumbent who tries to speak bipartisan, which translates into "treason." - Kathleen Parker
"You have to love the idea that the Justice Department (responsible for enforcing the law) feels the need to violate the law in order to prosecute those who may be violating other laws." - neo-carlinist

Well, soon the big entertainment will be the health care summit between President Obama and any Republicans that bother to show up. The agenda has been set, and the Repubs are whining "setup." And they're right, it is a setup, especially after Obama gave them all such a schooling when he did give and take with all of the House Republicans a few weeks ago. Personally, I want to see Mitch McConnell and John Boehner take on Obama and get slapped down. If they are game, and try to engage him in debate, it could make for a good drinking game... Not only does Obama give better speeches than anybody else in Congress, it looks like he is a better debater. I think a lot has to do with the lack of intelligence of our Republican leaders, poor John Boehner looks like a spray-tanned wooden puppet whenever he talks... John McCain is scheduled to be there, the idea being that the Repubs can score points if it looks like Obama is beating up on a senile, old man. All bets are off, though, if McCain loses his temper and throws a tantrum. Double shots if he does...

Obama reduced over 1900 pages of proposed legislation to seven pages of talking points. In contrast, the Republicans had one page of talking points posted on their web page The sad part is that no matter what the outcome, there will be a crappy bill produced and passed, and nobody will be happy with it. Just the nature of compromising. I still think what the Obama administration should have been doing from day one was to have supported and sponsored the national association of free clinics, making sure that at least one is held in every state. Backing up the rhetoric with positive actions, and building consensus for health reform based around demonstrating the need for it, then crafting a more popular bill. It would negate and put in sharper contrast the mean-spirited, negative, just say no campaign that the Repubss so successfully dangled before the craven media.

Hey, if Scott Brown shows up, another drinking game could be whenever one of his party shouts out "YOU LIE!" Of course, it will probably be all over by the time I get ready to watch it tonight, and I'll have to settle for three or four reruns of Criminal Minds, thank god there is a marathon of them on this Friday...

If its any indication of how the health bill will pass, the Senate passed the jobs bill by a vote of 70 - 28, once it got on the floor for a vote. That's one down, and 209 bills that are backed up because the Repubs are using the filibuster for every single bill that comes up for consideration. Maybe the revolt against  Rush Limbaugh's strategy that Obama-Must-Fail-at-Everything that Scott Brown began with his vote yesterday, will let other moderates open their mouths and say what they really think instead of being cowed by party politics. Just chew your cud and move along...

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi isn't sure she can muster the needed votes to pass tomorrow's health bill, so Obama's performance will have to be masterful to sway the Blue Dog Democrats and the Liberals who feel cheated because there isn't a public option. If it does squeak by, will the insurance companies all move to Texas and secede from the Union, or will the tea parties fall apart since they have no reason to go on?

 I forgot where I was reading this, in interviews with 60-ish tea partyers, they say they woke up to the fact that Big Brother is trying to take over! Wow, it only took forty years for this to sink into their brains! See, that's the benefit of using medical marijuana. Like so many of us did back in the sixties and seventies, paranoid thoughts can penetrate into your system much faster through smoke than without it. Without inhaling, you end up going on with your life blissfully unaware until you grow into a bitter, old person, who suddenly glances down and realizes that they've been walking around without any clothes for all of those years... Next, we'll find out that what caused many of their conversions was that they also were abducted by aliens...

more dubai suspects...
The Dubai police have uncovered more suspects using fake passports who used them to enter their country: "Investigators in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) say they have identified 15 more suspects in the assassination of a Hamas official at a Dubai luxury hotel last month.

Wednesday's announcement by Dubai police brings the total number of people believed to be involved in the murder of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh to 26." Somehow, I doubt that it took 26 people to off one Hamas member. But it opens the possibility of the number of people using fake passports in the world. It would be interesting if Dubai were to check their records for one year. If they turned up 26 in one week, times 52 weeks, equals 1,352. Either Mossad is one busy agency, or their are a hell of a lot of spies renting hotel rooms in Dubai, could be the major source of their tourist industry... More interesting, if countries like Britain, India, and the US were to check for fake passports, I wonder what the numbers would be? There is a lot more illegal activity going on than we, or Graham Green, ever imagined. For the fun of it, check to see the number of fake passports that have come into Haiti during the last two months...

And now, a moment of Zen:

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Darfur Peace Treaty, Old Mid Eastern Paradigms, MS the Party Animal

Dana Milbank
Jackson Diehl
Reza Aslan

"The common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of Party are sufficient to make it the interest and the duty of a wise People to discourage and restrain it, it serves always to distract the Public Councils and enfeeble the Public Administration. It agitates the Community with ill founded Jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another." - George Washington
"How odd, then, that Iraq -- where the United States has invested $700 billion and the lives of more than 4,300 soldiers over the past seven years -- is no longer a top priority for the White House, the State Department or nearly anyone in Congress." - Jackson Diehl

The most important thing that occurred today is Sudan's Prsident, Omar al-Bashir, arrived in Qatar to sign a peace treaty with the major rebel group JEM. The treaty is a framework for peace in Darfur, and letting JEM join in the political process, offering them some government positions and letting them participate in the next elections: "The conflict in Darfur, which has pitched ethnic African tribesmen against the Arab-dominated Khartoum government, has raged far the last seven years.

While numerous ceasefires agreements in the past have been short-lived, analysts say that the forthcoming elections in Sudan and increased international pressure could give this initiative a better chance of survival." There is another armed group that has refused to be a part of this treaty, and their actions in the future may determine success or failure. Here's hoping that the details get worked out and it is a success. Then, we can ask the negotiators who engineered this deal to help work out the conflicts in other countries, ok, just about every other country on the African continent...

It seems as if every time there is a glimmer of hope for a negotiated settlement of the Palestinian - Israeli problem, one side shoots itself in the foot by doing something detrimental that the whole process gets postponed. It's been going on like this for at least 30 years, and is so predictable that it becomes clear that neither side wants to finish, that the status quo is lining the pockets of all parties involved. The US keeps things burning by pouring money onto the fire, enough so that no matter what naive variation of the carrot and stick game we try, we always will fail.

Martyn Indyk, in his memoir Innocent Abroad, sums up the American foreign policy and the Arabian reaction to it this way: "US foreign policy, when it seeks to intervene in the affairs of other states and regions, is often inspired by an idealism that leads Americans to want to extend the bounteous beneficence  they have experienced in their own lives to other people."... George W, are you listening?... But  in the Middle East this do-good impulse is greeted with a cynicism that is the product of the Arab experience in competing for scarce resources in societies where opportunity is determined by tribal or family connections rather than on merit.

American good fortune has also bred a "can-do." problem-solving attitude to complex challenges. The prevailing assumption among Americans is that every problem has a solution. among Arabs - and increasingly among Israelis, too - the prevailing assumption is that most Middle Eastern problems are too complex to lend themselves to ready, man-made solutions. And since authortarian leaders who are detached from their people have always made the decisions, the average citizen tends to accept his or her fate rather than trying to change it" ... right ladies? If you want to make positive changes, you will have to change the accepted paradigm, first. If the US decided to take the financial incentive away because we no longer could afford to send foreign aid, oh maybe because we need to balance out budget this year, it might prove an incentive... Every day I read Jewish and Arabian news sites, and even though a lot of the writing is learned and well-written, it ends up as the same old, same old bullshit. Maybe I need a vacation, or at least a medical marijuana card so I can mellow out for awhile, listen to the latest Delbert McClinton album, or Allen Toussaint... Instead I have been getting jacked up watching reruns of the tv show Criminal Minds, having bad dreams about serial killers, then waking up and reading the newspapers in the morning. Man, talking about having a mean and cynical view of the world...

When I go to the news sites I am a lurker, even though I enjoy reading comments on a news story, I seldom will add one myself. Sometimes I can't but add to the silliness. For example, there is this story in Al Arabiya over Iran threatening the other Gulf states to list the name of the gulf on their domestic airline bulletin boards as the Persian Gulf, not the Arabian Gulf, as they currently have been doing. Otherwise, Iran will ground their domestic planes at its airports...

A mild debate began over the merits of either name, people taking sides passionately and calling each other names. I decided to offer an alternative, which probably won't make it past the censor and get posted, but why debate over two forms of an older, imperialistic naming? Why not come up with a new name? A couple example could be the Great Oil Slick, or the Qatar Play Pond...

Aww, jeez, you just can't make this stuff up, a headline from the LA Times:

  Woman pleads guilty to selling 2 children to Louisiana couple for a cockatoo and $175 cash

party animals...
I received in the mail a fundraising request from the RNC, poorly disguised as an opinion poll. They even asked mr to furnish my own postage stamp on the reply envelope to save them money. But today I find out that RNC Chairman Michael Steele has been spending money like he believes that the GOP is the party of privilege: "When Steele took over the chairmanship last winter, he inherited a $23 million surplus. Since then, the former Maryland lieutenant governor has raised $10 million less than the party collected in 2005 and has spent $10 million more. By the end of 2009, the committee’s surplus had shrunk to $8.4 million, according to campaign finance reports.

Just last week, RNC officials touted a January fundraising haul of more than $10 million. But after hosting the sun-filled winter meeting in Hawaii, paying for the holiday party and taking care of other bills, the committee spent almost all of it. Consequently, the RNC added only $1 million to the committee’s $8.4 million in cash, the reports show."
“Michael Steele is an imperial chairman. He flies in private aircraft. He drives in private cars. He has private consultants that are paid ridiculous retainers. He fancies himself a presidential candidate and wants all of the trappings and gets them by using other people’s money.”
"Donors grumbled when Steele hired renowned chef Wolfgang Puck's local crew to cater the RNC's Christmas party inside the trendy Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue, and then moved its annual winter meeting from Washington to Hawaii.

For some major GOP donors, both decisions were symbolic of the kind of wasteful spending habits they claim has become endemic to his tenure at the RNC. When Ken Mehlman served as the committee chairman during the critical 2006 midterm elections, the holiday party was held in a headquarters conference room and Chic-fil-A was the caterer."

Think I'll put a stamp on it... I gotta get on the RNC payroll, Michael Steele is living large! PARTY IN HAWAII, BABY!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Marijuana in the News, Drone Wars, Off the Grid in Latin America

Paul Krugman
Glenn Greenwald
Marc Thiessen

"There's a major political fraud underway: the GOP is once again donning their libertarian, limited-government masks in order to re-invent itself and, more important, to co-opt the energy and passion of the Ron-Paul-faction that spawned and sustains the "tea party" movement. " - Glenn Greenwald
“Sounds like the Democrats spell summit: S-E-T-U-P.” - Mike Pence
"The president’s real objective is to paint GOP leaders as obstructionists -- so that Democrats have an excuse to ram through their health-care legislation using extraordinary parliamentary procedures." - Marc Thiessen

marijuana in the news...
I haven't applied for my medical marijuana card yet, but I probably should if I want to follow the national trend, as reported in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's National Survey on Drug Use and Health. It states that over 4.5 million people in my age group, 50 - 59 years old, are using marijuana on a regular basis. In this group, medical marijuana is used more than non-medical sources, but the use of illegally obtained prescription drugs is even greater. Consider that the source are members in federal substance abuse programs, I'm not too surprised. I wouldn't know where to get anything sold on the street these days, especially since I'm in bed by 11 pm...

The UPI reports that a semi-trailer containing 1,700 pounds of marijuana was confiscated on Feb 10 in Memphis. Police officers then escorted it to Louisville, where they evidently sat around in their cars and watched several other vehicles drive up to where the truck and trailer was parked and emptied the trailer. My guess is they were too stoned to move. This proves the long known fact that if you want the best drugs, hang out and party with police officers. When I was in college a good friend of mine worked in the Torrance police property room. He said that most drugs seized as evidence never made it to court because they would mysteriously disappear during the time kept under lock and key. And I used to worry if our local boys in blue were getting enough pay...

If you go to the Denver Post's website and click on the news link at the top left of the page, one of the links that are revealed is one for marijuana news... A Colorado man was pretty stupid, going on local television and bragging about the 200 plants he had growing in his basement, for the medical marijuana industry, of course. The Federal District Attorney felt that was too brazen, and the next morning authorities raided his house and confiscated the plants. He has been arraigned in Federal court, and the case could set a prescedent in the battle between Federal law and state's rights.: "Colorado's legal protection for medical marijuana is written into the state's constitution, whereas other medical-marijuana states have lower protection... The U.S. Supreme Court, however, has ruled in a prior case that the federal government can regulate marijuana, even if it is grown, sold and used entirely in a medical-marijuana state.

The other wild card is the Justice Department's October memo, which said the government wouldn't target people in "clear and unambiguous" compliance with state medical-marijuana laws. Hermes said it is possible that defense attorneys could use the memo as ammunition in a federal case. Indeed, there is a defense called "entrapment-by-estoppel," where defendants argue the government fooled them into breaking the law by leading them to believe what they were doing was legal.
But prominent California medical-marijuana attorney Bill Panzer said the memo likely doesn't offer enough protection for that defense.

"All it says," Panzer said, "is you might not want to go after a cancer patient." Medical marijuana was the largest growth industry in Colorado last year, with over 300 related stores and  related outlets opened for business.
"Washington & Jefferson were said to exchange smoking blends as personal gifts. Washington reportedly preferred a pipe full of "the leaves of hemp" to alcohol, & wrote in his diaries that he enjoyed the fragrance of hemp flowers. Madison once remarked that hemp gave him insight to create a new & democratic nation. Monroe, creator of the Monroe Doctrine, began smoking it as Ambassador to France & continued to the age of 73." - donr

a mirage in the desert...
Let's see, the head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas is visiting France today. He is exploring to see if France will publicly announce that it recognizes a Palestinian State in Israel even if there have been no agreed upon boundaries, a virtual state, if you will. The French Foreign Minister has said that it is hope that it could be a boost to getting the two parties back to the negotiating table, which stopped when Israel rolled into Gaza last year.

Both spokesmen for Israeli's Prime Minister and Hamas said the same thing in response, that it would be a mirage, proving that some of their body rhythms are in synch...

Breaking out the bottles of champagne, the proud Israeli airforce inaugurated a new family of drone airplanes: "Israel's air force on Sunday introduced a fleet of huge pilotless planes that can remain in the air for a full day and could fly as far as the Persian Gulf, putting rival Iran within its range.

The Heron TP drones have a wingspan of 86 feet, making them the size of Boeing 737 passenger jets and the largest unmanned aircraft in Israel's military. The planes can fly at least 20 consecutive hours and are primarily used for surveillance and carrying diverse payloads." They can fly from Israel and reach the Persian gulf to give an aerial kiss to to Iran, who haven't received their latest anti-aircraft missiles from Russia due to clerical errors...

The US is finding more ways to use our drones, some are in the Gulf of Mexico, looking for drug smugglers, while others are in the Caribbean, looking for Haitian refugees... See, we can do more than miss our military targets and blow up civilians...

power to the...
A few months ago, all of the power went off in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The affected power grids even extended outside of the country. Nobody had a clue as to what had happened, and I haven't been able to find an official excuse. Last month, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was claiming that someone was screwing around with his country's power grid, hacking in and causing blackouts and rolling brown-outs. These large scale operations are controlled by computers, so the question is: is somebody hacking into these systems? If so, are they practicing for something more dramatic in another country? You can see how my paranoia runs loose, because both Iran and China are large trading partners with both of these South American countries, and recent cyber-attacks have been traced back to computers in China... Security experts also have commented on how vulnerable the United State's power grids are a few years ago, after we experienced brown-outs in the Midwest region, giving someone who was then a nerdy teenager an idea...

And now, a moment of Zen:

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Joseph Stack Anti-Hero, Newt's Hypocrisy

Benjamin Sarlin
Bill Moyers
Matt Taibbi

"I have not heard people in the Republican Party admit yet that they have a problem, I haven't seen the Come-To-Jesus moment from Republicans yet." - Glenn Beck
"That famous definition of a cynic as someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing has come to define this present moment of American politics." - Bill Moyers
"The post-bailout era in which Goldman thrived has turned out to be a chaotic frenzy of high-stakes con-artistry, with taxpayers and clients bilked out of billions using a dizzying array of old-school hustles that, but for their ponderous complexity, would have fit well in slick grifter movies like The Sting and Matchstick Men" - Matt Taibbi

Here is a link to the latest on the Dubai murder of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, and it looks more and more like Israeli intelligence planned it, and the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed off on it, giving the green light for the assassination. What is it about political power that people can make decisions to capture or kill an opponent? Dick Cheney had his Blackwater hit squad bumbling about the Middle East, capturing people, torturing them, then releasing them back to their home countries like they were prize fish. Now Israel's Prime Minister is echoing those kinds of morally ambiguous actions. perhaps after watching a Cheney interview on CNN... Worse, what crazed form of psychological illness allows a leader of a country to invade another one on no other reason than he wanted to prove that he was better and tougher than his daddy was, making up lies about mythical weapons of mass destruction and feeding into our fears and paranoia...

Now there are web sites calling Joe Stack a hero for diving his plane into an IRS building, calling on others to take on big government in similar fashion. Do unto others... Conspiracy theorists claim that the FBI already knew and had issued a warning for that day: "The claim dovetails with reports we are receiving from Austin residents that the FBI were immediately on the scene after the plane crash and were filming both the building and eyewitnesses. A separate witness told KXAN News that there were Hazmat teams and fire trucks in place across the street before the plane struck the building."

Of course, this is probably made up, as the actual hero, a two time Iraqi veteran, who used the ladder on his truck to rescue five people trapped inside of the burning building, arrived before any emergency vehicles. My nephew, who was working then as an EMT, was stationed not far away in Georgetown, and arrived with his ambulance a few minutes later, did not see any filming by Federal agents. Probably the folks saw tv cameras filming when reporters arrived, and ascribed that to being FBI, because we all use our imaginations to embellish a good story... I don't know how premeditated his actions were, he decided to commit suicide the night before after his wife left the house with their daughter, he spent the rest of the night typing away at his web site, finishing at 6:42 in the morning, set a timer that set fire to his house, left a similar device in his car at the airport, and left the airport without filing a flight plan, thought that would have been interesting, I'm only flying a few miles away into downtown Austin, try and stop me... And the vultures out there, who ignore all of this man's built up pain, his failed family, and use him as a symbol for their own twisted reasons, are the real reasons why we may fail as a nation.

Watching the Olympics was certainly more fun this weekend than following the CPAC Conference. Notice that Glenn Beck will never appear on the same stage as Rush Limbaugh or Sarah Palin. Years past, this gathering of so-called conservatives would never get much news coverage, but now it does, and every speech is pored over to see who will commit to running for president. Newt Gingrich: "Addressing a standing room-only crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday, Gingrich called the “secular, socialist machine” that he said now controls the country “antithetical to the survival to America as a prosperous healthy country based on sound principles.” He also called for a balanced budget amendment. This is so typically hypocritical, calling for a balanced budget one year after our economy almost collapsed, and a record deficit was incurred by George W Bush. If Newt ever had been serious about this, he could easily have passed this kind of amendment when he was Speaker of the House, and the Republicans controlled Congress. He's just being an opportunistic bastard, yet already this theme is being used by lesser candidates like Jane Norton, who is running for the Senate here in Colorado.

We are not waging a war for America, the Republican Party is waging a war for its survival, different packs of conservative wolves taking nips at each other as they circle around the carcass of each Congressional bill they try to veto. But most of the CPAC audience was made up of the real future of America and the GOP - the younger generations, who booed an anti-gay speaker and went to workshops on the lies behind the war on terror. This next election maybe the last hurrah for the old dinosaurs before they sink into the ooze and mud. The only sound principles our country needs to run on is common sense, not Christian fundamentalism or any other "ism" that excludes one group of Americans for another. The speeches of Newt, Tim Pawlenty (who offered his Swiss cure for America's problems), Glenn, and the others are designed to strike the emotional chords of anger, worry, and fear, with themselves as the tough guy who can be the solution, incredibly wimpy folks that they really are. In contrast, Obama's speeches invite you to think about our problems and offer solutions, he tries to resonate on hope, and pride and self-worth. You come away more proud to be an American, not angrier and more cynical... Plus, he's a good debater, and I look forward to him debating Thursday's health care forum... See you there.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Abbas Corrupt?, My Theory on Murder of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh

Ali Younes
James Carroll
David Kenner

"Many people participate in the movement on the Internet, but the majority of them don't go to the street." - Amr Choubaki, Egyptian Analyst

With the recent sex scandal of one of his aides, the focus and pressure has been put on the Fatah top dog, Mahmoud Abbas. Many more complaints over his style of leadership, which follows on the corrupt template that Yasser Arafat created. From the op ed link above by Amr Younes: "In the much more stable Arab states, corruption is done like secret Mafia scams. Theft of public funds is systematic and much more organized. People in power and their families tend to skim their desired shares of state’s oil revenues or their shares of state’s natural resources right off the top and in most cases leaving their people in abject poverty.

The late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat used corruption as a tool to manage and control his chaotic Palestinian Authority, PA, and thus bred corruption as a way of life and a method of governance in the PA. President Mahmoud Abbas is no different according to many complaints against him by Palestinian intellectuals.

Furthermore, the manner of which the charges of corruption and sexual harassment were revealed on an Israeli TV station resulted in a public revulsion against the PA and its officials. Many commentaries in Arab press described the PA is a decaying corps that it is better off buried to save the people its stench."

Interestingly enough, although in public Mr Abbas is digging in his heels over going to the negotiating table with Israel, another scandal-free aide has said that talks have been continuing through third-party intermediaries. Hamas has released a statement advising the US to butt out of the Israeli - Palestinian conflict, but if Fatah and Hamas would stop issuing petty preconditions for meeting and actually man up and actually start negotiating, they would gain a lot of respect from Palestinians who are bone weary of all of this bullshit.

Yes, Israel has been two-faced, agreeing to one precondition and then ignoring it or taking partial action, made to thumb Palestinians in the eye, but the general consensus in Israel accepting a Palestinian state has come a long way from their previous stance, and negotiators would be fools to ignore it while it is out in the open. Despite the constant border skirmishes, murders in Dubai, and various protests, right now is the best window of opportunity for success. There is more communication between Arab states than there ever has been, and for years there has been the Saudi blueprint for a Palestinian negotiated state and peace. Why must Mr Abbas continue putting off negotiations just so he can continue his lavish lifestyle skimming money from US aid and the sweat of thousands of poor people who have put their faith in his hands?

I have become obssessed with the murder in Dubai of the Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. I'm disappointed that the Dubai authorities haven't asked me to write the story, it has generated so much international attention that it would be certain to be a bestseller. Maybe I could even get to stay in the hotel where the assassination took place, I'm sure that there are plenty of empty rooms...

The Dubai police released  phone records and credit card transcripts from the alleged assassins, saying this proves that they were Mossad agents but not providing the actual link that proves this claim. They have two Palestinians in custody that were helping, and Both Fatah and Hamas are pointing fingers and saying they belong to the other group. Hamas is also claiming that Mr Mabhouth made his hotel reservations and plane tickets over the Internet, which, as we all know, any sixth grader can hack into.

The spin being published in Israel now is that the hit was done by the Mossad, that it was successful, and that who knew the Dubai police were so good? Why, we expected them to behave like some bumbling stereotype out of the movie Casablanca, not to have the roles reversed and have our guys look stupid as they walk by and smile up at the surveillance cameras... And Mahmoud al-Mabhouh deserved to die, he had bloody hands, responsible for killing Israeli soldiers and smuggling missiles in from Iran. What's the difference of smothering your enemy with a comfy pillow and killing with missiles from a remote-controlled drone, you smug, hypocritical, bleeding-heart liberal?

Ouch, says this bleeding-heart moderate.

Here's my latest theory, which will have changed by tomorrow as the plot thickens. This, of course, was an international effort, began by an element within Mossad but not sanctioned by the top officials. It's very possible that top officials in Hamas are involved, providing the itinerary and vanishing his bodyguards, among other things. The passports were obtained in Great Britain by members of the IRA who were hired to be part of the squad, because it's easier to hack into Britain's computers than Israel's. The Israeli element involved are right wing hardcore who are not too smart, and related to the Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who was a hired thug when he lived in Russia. One of the purposes was to embarrass the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was previously associated with a botched assassination attempt on the Hamas leader, which provides a revenge factor for Hamas being involved.
The people involved will eventually be found because their pictures are plastered everywhere, the current game is to find them and find out what countries they are hiding in, a Mormon ranch in Colorado or working at a restaurant in Argentina...

I will now give space to my friend, the Angry Arab, the chase is afoot Watson! "I watched carefully the video footage of the dumb Israeli terrorists in Dubai. I don't want to play Sherlock Holmes, but notice the segment when the Hotel employee is escorting Mabhuh to his hotel room. At one point, she looks behind her and spotted clearly the two dumb Israeli terrorists. But instead of stopping to let them pass, she continued to walk thereby allowing the dumb Israeli terrorists to spot the hotel room of Mabhuh. I dont know what this means but it could mean something."

Hi. I am a top secret Mossad agent. I traveled to Dubai under the name of Gail Folliard. Now my true name is Erika Maria Chambers. But no one--I mean, no one--is supposed to know my real name. I am super secret.

Friday, February 19, 2010

IAEA Report, Writing Off Bad Czechs

Paul Krugman
David Schenker
Dana Milbank

"On the Fox Business Network, a host chided a vice president of WellPoint, which has told California customers to expect huge rate increases: “You handed the politicians red meat at a time when health care is being discussed. You gave it to them!” - Paul Krugman
"You cannot make war in the Middle East without Egypt and you cannot make peace without Syria" - Henry Kissinger

The past head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Muhamed ElBaradei flew back to his native Egypt and was greeted by a pleasant surprise at the airport: "Hundreds of people across Egypt’s political spectrum greeted the Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei on his arrival at the airport here Friday and called on him to run for president, a daring political gesture in a country where unauthorized political demonstrations are illegal.

Crowds greeted Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, upon his return to Egypt on Friday.
Dr. ElBaradei’s plane landed several hours late, at 6 p.m., marking his first return to Egypt since leaving his post at the end of last year as director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Though opposition politics in Egypt are constrained by laws that restrict freedom of speech and the right to assemble, a grass-roots effort has emerged to try to draft Dr. ElBaradei to run during the presidential election in 2011.

The broad nature of Dr. ElBaradei’s appeal — as an outsider of international renown with no ties to a political system widely seen as ineffective and corrupt — was on display at the airport. Those gathered included people who said they had never been involved in politics, prominent actors and writers, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, men and women, as well as leading members of groups calling for democratic change."

The question is, what will the 81 year old president Hosni Mubarak do, besides try and nip this movement as soon as he can concoct an evil plan? He may run again, but is feeling the strain of impending old age. He would like his son to take over in a dynastic fashion, but there is already organized opposition to that; it seems that the recent emphasis on free and open elections is spilling over into Egypt. It should prove to be an interesting debate, especially if Mr ElBaradei decides to run for office. Think of him as the John Mellencamp of Cairo...

The new director of the IAEA, Yukia Amano has wasted no time releasing a report that says that Iran has been tinkering with making a nuclear warhead for some time, and contained information that was new, even to US intelligence. It agrees with the Obama administration's assessment that: "... an escalating series of steps are being taken by Iran: the enrichment to 20 percent, its acknowledgment of a secret enrichment plant in Qum, its efforts to metalize uranium and its rejection of a deal to enrich its uranium outside the country.

The report also reiterated evidence that Iran appeared to have tested ways of detonating weapons and to have worked extensively to design warheads small enough to fit atop a missile."

Metalizing uranium is used as the core of an atomic bomb. The Obama spin guys also added some info of their own: "... suspect that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps or its leading religious leaders are betting that an escalation of the nuclear confrontation might distract attention from the protests that have rocked the government, while unifying the country against outsiders supposedly trying to suppress Iran’s rise as a significant power.

The report buttressed that view by indicating that Iran had moved most of its stockpile of low-enriched uranium into an above-ground storage plant at Natanz, where it is vulnerable to military attack.

“It’s odd, and there is no technical explanation for it,” the senior administration official said at a briefing. “There must be some other explanation.” He and other Obama administration officials declined to speculate why the Iranians would deliberately place their stockpile in a place where, with relatively little effort, Israel or another country could strike it." Well, we can speculate. The language that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently used almost dared someone to make an attack. What would Iran gain if Israel or the US or someone else bombed their sitting ducks? They might be hoping to generate a lot of sympathy in the Arabic world, right now they are pretty much isolated. This approach is the lazy way, it takes a lot of work to try and present their case diplomatically. But then, Iran may have jailed anyone who could help it, leaving only the crazies who cannot listen to others, and only lecture or put their foot in their mouth like Mahmoud... Iran also may hope to galvanize its citizens in a burst of patriotic fervor, burning away any arguments and sentiments of opposition to the saviors of Iranian culture, meaning the ayatollahs and the Revolutionary Guard. Hoping that the ruse is good enough that its citizens won't further turn on them because they led Iran into this disaster. Last, a war always seems good for a troubled economy, just ask Ronald Reagan or George Bush... the result of the report and the weak Iranian response has prompted the UN Security Council to begin drafting sanctions. And of course, it all could be a horrible mistake, and the friendly Iranians are just trying to provide power for its citizens, so they can play games on the Internet...
"The West's accusations are baseless because our religious beliefs bar us from using such weapons ... we do not believe in atomic weapons and are not seeking that" - Ayatollah Khamenei
"None of the documents had any confidential or secret stamps on them, and thus it was proved that all of the documents have been fabricated and are baseless and thus do not have any validity.”  - Ali Asghar Soltanieh
"The question is not who has a bomb, but who has hangmen who carry out executions. The Iranians are hangmen trying to get a bomb and it's time to call the hangman by his name, to call a dictator - a dictator," - Shimon Peres

bad czechs...
The Czech Republic may be the smartest country ever: "A Czech court has banned the far-right Workers’ Party, the first time a political party has been outlawed since the Czech Republic was founded in 1993.

In its 120-page ruling on Wednesday, the Supreme Administrative Court said the Workers’ Party, established in 2003, was a threat to Czech democracy. The court described the party as xenophobic, anti-Semitic and homophobic and said it shared the ideology of Hitler’s Nazi party and maintained links to openly white-supremacist and racist groups.

“This ruling needs to be understood as a preventive one, to maintain the constitutional and democratic order in the future,” Judge Vojtech Simicek said in issuing the ruling. Noting that the party held up an uncomfortable mirror to Czech society, he added: “Society must realize that the causes for the Workers’ Party lie deeply within itself. The Workers’ Party is not an external enemy to society, but one of its faces.”

This flies in the face of just about everywhere else in the world, where right wing extremism is on the rise. Which is sad, because right wing extremists are mentally ill, and adjusting their meds won't help. You can be a conservative without being a fundamentalist, whose mental processes have been shortened through operant conditioning watching television (see Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television, by Jerry Mander). Right wing extremism may also be the result, at least in America, from the widespread abuse of prescriptions of drugs like neuroleptics and viagra, or even any other popular drug advertised on the tube...

Why is the Czech Republic so smart? They have flat screen tvs and ipods and cell phones like the rest of the world, their doctors write just as many needless prescriptions as any other country?... It's the beer. They drink more beer per capita than any other nation on earth, about 35 gallons per person per year.

Oh, aren't they a nation of drunks, then? Ahh, not quite, because the important factor is that they drink really good beer, carefully crafted, made with love and attention to details. People who drink such an exceptional beverage are more relaxed and able to talk ideas to each other. They take more care and pride in the settings where they drink, and the interest in the details of how your beer was made creates an intellectual spark that carries over into other areas of your life.

By putting attention to details, and adding care and love to what we eat, we become healthier and more compassionate. This is why even the best of chefs prefer a home-cooked meal, and the better restaurants all have creativity and the attention paid to crafting the meal in common. People who smoke cigarettes, which are made by machine rolling, smoke when they are nervous, using the nicotine to hype up the nervous system, while smokers of fine cigars have relaxing rituals, and the longer lasting cigars often go with good conversation and the finer things in life. The only bad part about cigars these days is how much the damned things cost, when even a Cuban shouldn't cost you more than $5...

"What This Country Needs is a Really
Good 5-Cent Cigar"   - Thomas Marshall