Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Meta Bank of Assassins, Iraqracy, The Ides of Dan May

Clarissa Estes
Dana Milbank
Anthony Weiner

"The Republican Party is increasingly the party of the declining white working class. Non-Hispanic whites are shrinking as a percentage of the U.S. population... To add insult to injury, the Democrats, instead of reaching out to white working-class voters, often have snobbishly dismissed them."  - Michael Lind
"I said it on Wednesday, and I'll say it again: the Republicans really are just a wholly owned subsidiary of the insurance industry... They want to destroy Medicare, shovel money to insurance companies, and screw over the American people." - Anthony Weiner

The first two links above are about Kentucky's Senator Jim Bunning, who is being forced to retire and has been displaying angry, erratic behavior because he has Alzheimer's, or Lou Dobbs Disease, as I like to call it. The other link is to a great rant by Rep Anthony Weiner, just because I have a soft spot for grumpy men. I remember the point where I realized that it was ok to be grumpy myself, quite a liberating moment. I had spent 21 years working where I had to work with the public and always had to show restraint, behavior that was deemed politically correct. After I retired, I remember walking along the outdoor mall in Santa Cruz, California, and had a rather obnoxious street person walk up to me and say hello. This young man was pretty crazy, lived in a treehouse on property at the University, and I had kicked him off of a public bus a few times for panhandling and attempted solicitation of minor girls.

When he walked up to me I then realized that I no longer had to be nice to him, I could walk past him or I could yell at him to leave me alone, or just about anything except say hello back to him. I was so elated that I went and bought coffee for the next two street people I saw, plus a breakfast burrito... It took awhile to be able to say out-loud what I was really feeling, and why I enjoy writing this blog today... rant on, white man, rant on...

I wonder what I would do if I found out that the bank I used was actually a CIA conduit. Would I take my money out and switch banks, or re-apply for a credit card? That may be the dliemma facing customers of Meta Bank, a small, chartered bank based in Storm Lake, Iowa, of all places. Interpol and the police in Dubai have traced plane tickets bought by assassins of the Hamas official in a luxury hotel with credit cards issued by the bank.. Money spent was also traced to another company in New York, called Payoneer, owned by an ex-Mossad agent. It is like Paypal but obviously not as successful, possibly only funding Israeli operators inside of the US.

Two of the assassins fled Dubai and entered the US: "One suspect traveling on a British passport arrived in the United States on Feb. 14; the other used an Irish passport and arrived on Jan. 21. He did not say where the men entered the country, and added that there was no known record of their leaving.

Many of the 26 suspects identified in the case used stolen identities — most of them taken from people with dual citizenship living in Israel — and that appeared to be true of the two men who traveled to the United States, who used the names Roy Allan Cannon and Evan Dennings. On Friday, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz identified the real Mr. Cannon as “a 62-year-old, ultra-Orthodox father of six” who moved to Israel in 1983. Irish officials said last week that they believed that Mr. Dennings was also a victim of identity theft.

As foreign citizens, the two suspects would have been photographed and fingerprinted on arrival in the United States, and could therefore presumably be tracked. But in light of the identity theft practiced in the case, it seems possible that the men could have left the United States under false travel documents. Although Interpol is assisting in the investigation and has put out alert notices about the suspects, United States officials have been silent about it. On Monday, the State Department again refused to comment on the case." The State Department's silence may mean that they move slowly when gathering information, or that they have knowingly allowed these people here, or even that they are about to be embarrassed because they can't find the damned records, showing no better security efforts since the December incident of the underwear bomber...

Of course, every ex-spy, government hack, and mid-eastern think tank member have given their opinions, but I cynically cynically like the one by Robert Grenier, who was station chief for the CIA in Pakistan, and head of their counter-terrorism unit: "The simple, cruel truth is that in the end, no one - and here I would include all the governments concerned, including the concerned Arab states - is really going to care all that much, or for all that long, about the fate of one Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. Yes, there will be a bit of unpleasantness for a while, but before long, life will go back to normal. Whether or not that is the way it should be is irrelevant; it is quite clear, on the basis of much past evidence, that that is precisely the way it is going to be..."

He is probably right. We can trace these people only so far, until they step behind the curtain and no longer get any co-operation as to their identities. It will depend on how long investigators are willing to spend, what the worth is of any human life compared to the larger geo-political schemes. We are the only mammal on this planet that kills each other for reasons other than for food, and are much more comfortable if behavior like this is confined to an hour long episode of NCIS...

I have to admit that I'm jealous of the Iraqi way of electioneering.: "Gen. David H. Petraeus, the head of the United States Central Command, has offered a special name for it: Iraqracy." Everyone like free stuff, banks and businesses offer stuff all of the time to lure you. But candidates vying for votes in next week's Iraqi elections are kicking it up several notches: "In Babil Province, local candidates have imported sports equipment and thousands of running shoes from China for their constituents. In the southern marshes, politicians travel for hours to pass out toys to children, phone cards to adults and blankets to the poor... Most of the gifts from candidates are utilitarian — blankets for the poor, heating oil, propane tanks, phone cards and food. While residents have reported receiving cash directly, outright bribes are delivered more discreetly."
“I think I will vote for Hashemi,” he said with a smile. “But if someone else gives me something better, I will vote for him. Because after they win the elections, we will never see them or get anything from them. So I don’t care. I will vote for whoever gives me more.”
“We are still receiving many gifts from the parties,” said Mohamed Jumah, from Babil. One of the candidates gave his family $100 in cash, while another gave it food and building supplies. “I have not decided who I will vote for,” 
One government official said that, despite all of the free swag intended to sway the minds of the poor and uneducated: "While acknowledging that many poor people might accept the gifts, he said that their vote remained their own. “The ballot box will be covered,” he said. “Ask your conscience. Ask God.” I know there is a new proverb waiting to be written from this. I'm not sure where the tying your camel up first fits in, perhaps updating it to securing your suicide vest first before entering the voting booth...? Here's hoping that American democracy learns a lesson from our newest imperial conquest, maybe the Colorado Republican Caucus will give me a free frozen chicken for showing up...

mayday, mayday...
We have a newly elected District Attorney, Dan May, who ran for the office because his predecessor was filmed by the local television station drinking beer in a bar during working hours, then driving off in a county car. Then, he denied that what he did was wrong, because he had a strong constitution and could hold his liquor. This manly man was replaced by another conservative, Dan May.

Recently Dan had been getting complaints from his neighbors about a medical marijuana dispensary that had opened up. He says that he decided to file a complaint and this is what happened even though he is the District Attorney: "Filing the complaint against Pure Medical proved challenging, said May, who had to navigate the city’s bureaucracy to do it. He initially went to the city’s zoning office, which referred him to the code enforcement division. He said he called Vice Mayor Larry Small, told him to contact the Police Department. He said he called police Chief Richard Myers, who told him he needed to talk to the City Attorney’s Office.

May said he didn’t know whether Myers takes calls from regular citizens. “I would say that a normal citizen could pick up the phone and call me,” May said. “Of course, maybe the difference is that I’m an elected official.” The police chief is appointed by the City Council. After talking to Myers, May said he talked to Deputy City Attorney Wynetta Massey, who referred him to the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department, which directed him back to the Police Department.

In the end, I think I got treated exactly like any other citizen,” he said." Who says that you can't fight city hall... again, we don't need a smaller government, just a shorter way to process complaints.

This story has caused a local uproar, depending on whose side you are on, because even many evangelicals are stoners in this town, certainly each Libertarian has a completely different take. We'll let Dan have the last word: “It was not my intent to unduly influence,” he said. “Certainly, that’s why I said I was a citizen. It was not my intent to intimidate anybody. It was my intent to file a complaint like any other citizen. That was my entire intent. If I’ve offended somebody, I apologize, but that was not my intent.”

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