Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Mahmoud in Kabul, Gurus Are My Favorite Frauds, Death To For-Profit Earmarks

Dana Milbank
Lee Siegal
David Harris

"If ever a political mentality cried out for analysis, it’s the toxic gray matter lying between the ears of Liz Cheney" - Lee Siegal

As Defense Secretary Robert Gates was leaving his tour of Afghanistan, Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was arriving for some economic talks between their two countries. He gave a press conference that was attended by Western reporters. I never thought I would be saying this, but he actually said something that made sense, mostly because it parrots the current counterinsurgency strategy employed by the US, of course coupled with a sharp criticism: "Asked at a news conference with Karzai about Gates' comments, Ahmadinejad responded: "The question is what are you [Gates and troops] doing here in this region?

"You are 12,000km away on the other side the of the world. What are you doing here? This is a serious question.

"They are not successful in their fight against terrorists, because they are playing a double game. They themselves created this excuse of terrorism themselves, and now they say that they want to stop them. It is not possible.

"The fight against terrorism is not a military one it requires the work of intelligence, through respecting nations and to separate people from terrorists." Actually, this is the course of action  being taken by most Muslim countries, now that the military threat of al-Qaeda has been minimized, and people get tired of being bombed, beheaded, dismembered, maimed, crippled, raped, robbed, and had acid thrown in their face. There have been so many suicide bombers who have gone on to Paradise, that  they have transformed those 72 virgins into working prostitutes, as they take a number and stand in line... In the meantime, a report was released saying that the largest amount of inept handling of funds and lack of oversight is located at the US embassy in Kabul... and the embassy agreed.

David Harris, in his opinion piece above, makes a good point, that the entire Arabian Peninsula has a history of Jews and Muslims living together. In fact, include groups of Christians, Copts, and several other religious groups. Except that since the date when we invaded Iraq, many Christian groups have fled the region, and those who have stayed have faced intense persecution from both Sunnis and Shiites. In Iraq, there aren't many groups as strong as the Kurds who can stand up to the bullying in the midst of a religious civil war. And if you look in Jerusalem, Christians have steadily been leaving the city, with the ones staying keeping their heads down and creating a low profile. Which is weird, because you would think that the wrangling over which site is holiest to each religion would be between Christians and Jews, the Muslims being the late-coming interlopers here. Most holy sites have been torn down by one group and rebuilt over it so many times since the Crusades, that you might think they could acknowledge that the sites are holy to all humans, no matter what faith they believe in, and it is our duty to preserve them and share them. To really achieve peace, we need to take the blindfold off and look outside of the cave...

My very favorite group of frauds are the self-proclaimed god-men, who come out of Indian tadition to prey upon the gullible and foolish among us who would give them money and power. Shri Rajneesh comes immediately to mind, who came to the US and tried to take over a town in Oregon from a militaristic fortified compound. After he was deported back to India, he changed his name to Osho, as if that magically erased his past.

Now there are several such scammers being investigated and put on trial in India, who should have started doing this 200 years ago, but they have been too busy building up their nuclear arsenal to bother. The crimes span from murder to pimping to extortion: " The murder cases relate to the killings of Ramchander Chhatrapati, a local journalist, and Ranjeet Singh, a former disciple.

Chhatrapati would criticize Gurmeet's alleged misdeeds in his news reports, while Ranjeet Singh had accused Gurmeet of raping his younger sister. The CBI has charged Baba Gurmeet with arranging their deaths through his henchmen." It's not every journalist that would the word "henchmen" in a report, I love it. This guru has millions of followers that have rioted before, trying to protect him, even threatened self immolation which caused a mass handing out of fire extinguishers to the police. Politicians snuggle up to these men to woo the votes of their disciples, much the way that James Dobson was coddled in America.

A couple other gurus under suspicion are: "Besides Gurmeet, other religious gurus have recently been implicated in unsavory episodes that purportedly involved police and politicians.

Swami Nithyananda, a god-man who has a large following in the southern states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu was last week filmed cavorting with an unidentified Tamil actress in a television sting operation - he is now on the run. His ashram has said the video footage, run by a television channel, is "fake".

Swami Bhimananda, a follower of the legendry guru Sai Baba, was arrested by police in February for allegedly running a high-end call girl racket in the city. Bhimananda allegedly used a temple in south Delhi for operations allegedly involving about 200 prostitutes, including air hostesses from a foreign airline and students. Bhimananda has been arrested on similar charges in the past."

It gives a warm feeling to know that not only old hippies and starry eyed college kids can fall for a charismatic fraud, give up and devote their lives to perpetuating a god-like ego, walk around wearing silly orange pajamas. And then there was the Creative Consciousness Community, a scam started by the Reverend Moon, who owns the Washington Times newspaper and lives in Korea. I don't think he's allowed back into the US, either... Besides, these guys give someone like Sean David Morton someone to look up to, a goal that he can psychically aspire to...

another small step forward...
The House Appropriations Committee announced some good news today: "... it will no longer approve earmarks for for-profit companies.

Agency inspectors general will also be required to audit at least 5 percent of earmarks for nonprofits to protect against corporations hiding behind a nonprofit veil, according to an announcement from Appropriations Chairman Dave Obey (D-Wis.) and Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), the head of the defense appropriations subcommittee." This is aimed primarily at defense contractors, who spend millions lobbying for projects while their executives contribute to political campaigns. It's another small step in reform, next should come banning all earmarks, make them go through a vetting and normal legislative process. Then, either ban all lobbyists, or make them fair game for the guys who like to wear their guns around on their hips, give them something constructive to do...

And now, a word from my PEEPS:

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