Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Rant In The Time Of Cholera, Sarah Palin As National Resource

William Schulz

''It may be a blessing in disguise. ... Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it. Haitians were originally under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon the third, or whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, we will serve you if you will get us free from the French. True story. And so, the devil said, okay it's a deal. Ever since they have been cursed by one thing after the other.''  — Pat Robertson
2011 is looking to be a rowdy and contentious year, with people, political parties, and countries gearing up for a fight. Compassion and understanding may have to take a back seat and join me in a few drinking games designed to turn tragedies into humor and entertainment. Some things defy transformation, though, and the cholera deaths keep increasing in Haiti. The US is responsible for introducing the disease onto the island, we know how to stop it, and we have the medicine to help the people infected, yet we sit on our butts and talk about how all of the countries that promised humanitarian aid did not pony up and follow through on their promises... We may not be worried about cholera here in the US, but flu season has taken hold and is spreading. The Center for Disease Control said that reports have come in from New York, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Virginia.

"According to a new U.N. report, the global warming outlook is much worse than originally predicted. Which is pretty bad when they originally predicted it would destroy the planet." -- Jay Leno
More intense weather patterns are expected to continue, all over the globe. We have strong winter blizzards, which cause strong rains below the equator, and countries like Australia have problems from rains and flooding, affecting over 200,000 people in Northern Australia... The droughts and long times without rain that affected Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and Russia, killed off a lot of agriculture. That trend will continue, made worse from devastating wildfires in Russia and Eastern Europe. At the same time that crops are dying from lack of rain, the monsoon season takes place in Southeast Asia. Last year they caused drowned crops in Vietnam and China, while flooding about 1/3 of Pakistan. The same area in Pakistan is vulnerable this year, because little has been done to fix levies and dikes when you are being forced to fight the Taliban... By the way, the US and the Taliban in many areas were the only sources of food and aid. The weren't working side by side, but let each other deliver help without hindering them...

As long as the US and NATO is shoveling billions of dollars into Afghanistan, there will be conflict. As long as companies can have million dollar contracts without any oversight, they can just pocket the money and never have to provide their services. There are very few projects that ever finish, and fewer of those that are of any practical help to the villagers and citizens of Afghanistan. We might as well forget about shooting and killing people, just continue to take bags of cash and distribute them to every village. It would be fairer than giving large amounts to the government , which allows members of Parliament and their relatives to buy houses in Dubai, send their children to live there, while they only come back to Afghanistan for work. We have sent more pork to Afghanistan, and Iraq before that, than all combined earmarks for all 50 states. And the Taliban find a way to get their share, millions of dollars have gone to the leadership, enough so that they have their homes in Pakistan and don't have to fight anymore, content to let the younger, fresher, and more extreme younger men do all of the dirty work.

No offense, but it is hard to justify to soldier's families why their children died. That is, if they want a set of ideals to fight for. We have built up the most efficient, technologically advanced military, made up of career professionals, who are OK with fighting because that's what they do. In other words, we have the largest mercenary armed forces on the planet, who don't need any trumped up patriotic excuse, and we have developed a huge support system for them. Well, the support system is there because we had to embarrass the Pentagon into creating it, pretending that they cared for soldiers once they returned from battle... Unfortunately, it's a system that abuses our soldiers, constantly sending them back into battle until many of them snap from the stress, or the stress causes irreversible changes and they are damaged for life, one big reason that we have the highest rate of suicides in soldiers who came back after repeated tours of duty...

"Sarah Palin says she wants limited government. Does she mean fewer elected officials or more officials who resign in the middle of their terms? I think limited government will be perfect for her limited abilities." –David Letterman
If we really want to make the Afghan war end, we need to put Sarah Palin in charge of the troops. She'll have us out in 21/2 years... In fact, we could use Sarah like a national resource, to resolve many pressing problems. We could rent her out, say, put her in charge of the Iranian nuclear program, it'll be ruined in 21/2 years. Or, we send her to North Korea, where she'll be able to see China from her house. She could bring the whole family, Bristol could show the troops how to ballroom dance... I think she would be more successful than Hilary in these cases. If nothing else, it would get her out of the country and have her experience other viewpoints than those from rural Alaska...

"Well, here's more big news going on in Iran. You folks been following the Iranian elections? Well, here it is. It's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his opponent, Mir Hussein Moussavi. And they had one of those friendly bets. If Ahmadinejad wins the election, he gets a crate of figs, see. If Moussavi wins the election, he gets brutally slain." --David Letterman
Iran will use the coming year to see if it can successfully put everyone who ran against Ahmadinejad in the last election into prison. It's a Muslim tradition, evidently. The charges will be trumped up, after all, how can you prove or disprove that someone has been fighting against God? Or is a traitor to Islam? The  judicial branch is leaking the charges and their intended actions to see how much public protest there will be. Then, with the Grand Ayatollah acting out the part of Vladimir Putin, they will be put on trial with a guilty verdict as a planned outcome, not any better or worse than what could happen in Russia, right?

"The Statue of Liberty is no longer saying, 'Give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses.' She's got a baseball bat and she's yelling, 'You want a piece of me?'" —Robin Williams
2011 will be listed as one of the worst years for human rights, with abuses from Russia to Iran, Africa to the US. The US sets a poor example to the world by not investigating Senator John Ensign for ethics violations, for trying to arrest and jail Julian Assange, a native of Australia, and keeping a Presidential Assassination list, which no reporter seems to have asked Obama why he, of all people, keeps one...


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Reconcile Helen Thomas, Free Gilad Shalit, Creating McMecca

Mat Bai
EJ Dionne Jr
Jeff Stein
"Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice." - Barry Goldwater
"More to the point, the chaos is only going to intensify, which is why the presidential season ahead is likely to feature the most unruly and flat-out fascinating contest Republicans have staged in 35 years." - Matt Bai
"The liberals and Obama need to escape the bubbles of legislative and narrowly ideological politics and re-engage the country on what can only be called a spiritual level. Modern American liberalism is not some abstract and alien creed. At its best, it marries a practical, get-things-done approach to government with a devotion to fairness, justice and compassion." - EJ Dionne Jr

The Daily Beast ranked Denver 12th out of 40 of the most drunken cities, citing these statistics:

Average drinks, per person, per month: 12.94
Percent of adults who are heavy drinkers: 5.9
Percent of adults who are binge drinkers: 17.1
Deaths per 100,000 residents from alcoholic liver disease: 7.0

Number one in their rankings was Milwaukee, WI, followed by Fargo, ND. Another smaller town that ranked at number six, was Burlington, VT. Well, at least Milwaukee has a country song about it and Schlitz beer, you can even choose between the Jerry Lee Lewis version or the later one by Rod Stewart:

What's Made Milwaukee Famous
Has Made a Loser Out of Me...

"But, to this day, there has been almost no compassion, empathy or respect shown for one of our great journalists, Helen Thomas, who has been presumed guilty and sentenced to oblivion with barely a word spoken in her defense. How can we expect Israelis and Palestinians to reconcile if our media won't set an example by reconciling with Helen Thomas?"  - Danny Schechter

During the Christian holidays, our attention naturally focuses on the Holy Land and the Middle East, prating that all will be quiet and no altercations break out. The worst treatment of Christians has taken place in Iraq, with more communities being attacked by people who claim to belong to a resurgent al Qaeda. There aren't many people left who want to join al Qaeda anymore, they're like an old street gang that's lost its credibility, and they are engaging in more desperate acts to get attention. A couple more years and they will be a legend, an insurgent group that broke away from their CIA masters and broke with the covenant that Muslims should never kill or maim or bomb other Muslims, until it became bloody normal behavior. 

The borders around Gaza are getting a buildup of Israeli tanks and troops, because groups other than Hamas have been smuggling in missiles and firing them into Israel. Hamas has also been stockpiling munitions, mostly Russian-made missiles that can penetrate a tank. It's claimed that Hamas has so much new toys that its fighters don't know how to use them, yet. Hamas and Israel have yet to engage in any public peace talks, so far everything has been in secret, mostly still trying to free Corporal Gilad Shalit. Tensions are rising, hopefully they will cool down, because the innocent Palestinians caught in the middle of this posturing will end up paying with their lives...

The most controversial construction projects are happening in Mecca, with a lot of the natural landscape is being churned over to make way for expensive hotels, observation boxes that overlook the Grand Mosque, shopping malls, restaurants, did I say more more expensive hotels: "It is an architectural absurdity. Just south of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the Muslim world’s holiest site, a kitsch rendition of London’s Big Ben is nearing completion. Called the Royal Mecca Clock Tower, it will be one of the tallest buildings in the world, the centerpiece of a complex that is housing a gargantuan shopping mall, an 800-room hotel and a prayer hall for several thousand people. Its muscular form, an unabashed knockoff of the original, blown up to a grotesque scale, will be decorated with Arabic inscriptions and topped by a crescent-shape spire in what feels like a cynical nod to Islam’s architectural past. To make room for it, the Saudi government bulldozed an 18th-century Ottoman fortress and the hill it stood on.

The tower is just one of many construction projects in the very center of Mecca, from train lines to numerous luxury high-rises and hotels and a huge expansion of the Grand Mosque. The historic core of Mecca is being reshaped in ways that many here find appalling, sparking unusually heated criticism of the authoritarian Saudi government."
“It is the commercialization of the house of God. The closer to the mosque, the more expensive the apartments. In the most expensive towers, you can pay millions” for a 25-year leasing agreement, he said. “If you can see the mosque, you pay triple.” - Sami Angawi
It seems as if the members of the Royal family who are involved in this project have been spending too much time indoors, jetting between Las Vegas and Dubai, letting their vast personal fortunes insulate and distort their perceptions of what is appropriate. Instead they are turning one of the world's most holiest of places into a Disneyland, robbing it of its spiritual connection with the common believer. Soon, there will be McMosque franchises in malls throughout the world. Instead of making the pilgrimage all the way to Mecca, they will be able to go to the local mall for their holy experience and buy their hajj t-shirts and trinkets... And if you sill want to make the journey to Mecca, you will soon be able to do it by plane, train, and limosine, always in air-conditioned comfort, never having to step outside. You can rent your skybox overlooking the Grand Mosque and pretend that you are one of those who actually made the trip on foot, and are now circling around the Kaaba. Or, we will put it all on a DVD for you...

Anyway, have a Happy New Year, and say a prayer for peace before you go out to party...

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Goodbye 2010 Rant, Next Year Will Get Worse...

Mikhail Gorbachev
Simon Tisdall
Yuri Schmidt

"Don’t retreat. Instead — reload!” - Sarah Palin

The next few days everyone will be talking about the best things that happened during 2010. The lists are fun to go over, but I think we've already wrung enough meaning out of our past events, and most things that happened this year have been pretty depressing. Yet, it feels like a set up for 2011, where we again will be faced by our failure to come together and find solutions to our economic problems. It will be felt worse by cities and state governments that are required to have a balanced budget each year, with California leading the way. Statistically, the number of police officers who have been shot and killed in the line of duty has risen over 2010, even though the number of people sentenced to jail went down.

Our infrastructure is crumbling; the money our cities should have spent on maintaining roads, bridges, and buildings were shuffled off into other areas, and soon the landscape of our cities will look more like the were transported from the third world. The city where I live has already cut back to the bare bones because we are good libertarians. We have sold off our two police helicopters, laid off police , fire, park, and maintenance workers, and we still will have millions in deficits to deal with this coming year. We are considered to be one of the better off cities, there are thousands in worse economic conditions than we are, and we will see cities trying to go bankrupt in 2011, which will play hell with the bond markets. Our economies will get worse this next year before it begins to get better, and last longer than it should if we can't figure out how to provide jobs for folks. This Spring may see an exodus of New Yorkers spreading out through the Hamptons, surrounding the houses and compounds of those who benefitted from the tax cuts, and demanding to be hired as domestic help, gardeners, and nannies for their progeny...

To atone for all of this the Republican Party plans to change things in a major way in the House: on January 5th they will have a full reading of the Constitution. But, will all GOP members be required to be there, or will CSPAN show one lonely reader speaking to an empty chamber? Wait, there's more! In a nod to the tea party's obsessions, they will then: "require all bills to cite the constitutional authority to enact any given law."
"It appears that the Republicans have been listening. We're so far away from our founding principles that, absolutely, this is the very, very tip of the iceberg. We need to talk about and learn about the Constitution daily." - Jeff Luecke, a Tea Party organizer
"I think it's entirely cosmetic. This is the way the establishment handles grassroots movements. They humor people who are not expert or not fully cognizant. And then once they've humored them and those people go away, it's right back to business as usual." - Kevin Gutzman, a history professor
It feels like the Republicans are just planning more political masturbation. After Barack Obama was elected, I felt that the Republican Party was going to re-define itself, become more welcoming to new ideas and people of differing ethnic backgrounds. Instead, it listened to the whinings of the extreme conservatives, whose philosophies had just been proven to not work in the real world. In fact, their dominance in policy over the past 20 years had created an arrogant bureacracy in government that dictated to people and never listened to them. We ended up with an economic climate that created chaos in the markets by hampering the duties of its regulators, getting rid of as much regulation as it could get away with, and without any oversight, the greed machines took over and nearly brought about total global economic collapse. We now have a military that has increased its annual budget by over $500 billion, has been constantly engaged in wars and military skirmishes for the last 20 years. We have created a labyrinth of spy agencies that still cannot work together or predict any major political upheaval that took place, and would rather go after wikileaks than all major terrorist groups. And now we have Mutt and Jeff dictating all further political strategies, when they have constantly proven to be failures... These people's times have come and gone, they need to be put out to pasture and replaced by a lot of younger ones. Michael Steele, who was elected to show that the GOP also supported Black leaders, needs to be replaced by a gay Mexican-Chinese, whose families were recent immigrants, and now run medical marijuana dispensaries...

I'm usually drawn to the pessimistic year-end essays like David Rothkopf in Foreign Policy: "I however, am a New Year's curmudgeon. The holiday is a fraud celebrated by idiots. Our arbitrary slicing of time into comprehension-sized chunks and then celebrating the false distinctions between December 31 and the first of January is a big honking nonsense.

The fact that this ersatz holiday then motivates people to put on silly hats and drink to excess to celebrate the non-event event compounds the ridiculousness of it all and makes it dangerous to leave the safety of your couch. .." It's purple prose like this that brings tears to my eyes, then spend the next ten minutes cleaning off my glasses. I will venture to make one prediction for the next year. The next terrorist act to happen inside of the US will have traveled through Canada and snuck across the border of our Northern neighbor...

I wish there will be less dictators, but for some reason we seem to need a constant reminder of how to be cruel to our fellow human beings while feeding a meglo-maniacal ego. It's all about the hidden bank accounts and plundering a country's wealth and resources, the ultimate in privatization of capitalism. I understand that the textbook is being written by Vladimir Putin, with a special section on the Chinese and how to dictate by committee...

Monday, December 27, 2010

Thugs Win Elections in Kosovo And Belarus, Guantanamo To Remain Open For Business

Ross Douthat
Howard Kurtz
"Over the past three years, American politics has been dominated by a liberal fantasy and a conservative freakout." - Ross Douthat
"America is exceptional - utterly and absolutely exceptional - because the rest of the world depends on American guns, American money and American mediation in a way that no other country or combination of countries possibly might replace." - Spengler

Oh, shades of conspiracy theories and Florida hanging chads, has there been an election within the last few years where there have been no claims of election fraud? Is there some shadowy international consulting company that was once run by Dick Cheney that now advises governments on how to stage a false election so their chosen boy would retain power? If so, Mr Laurent Gbagbo of the Ivory Coast should get his money back... The blatant, in-your-face abuses that have taken place in the Ivory Coast, Belarus, and even the ever-contentious government of Kosovo show that talk of democracy may come and go, but dictatorship will be with us forever...

The Council of Europe just released a report accusing Kosovo's Prime Minister, Hashim Thaci, of having murdered Serbs for their kidneys for organ transplants, and being the drug kingpin for heroin distribution. Pundits think that this might give him difficulty in forming a new government after the election.

It gets worse in Belarus, making the fraud in Iran and Afghanistan look like the amateurish tinkerings that they were, as reported by the Economist: "IT WOULD be more honest if Alyaksandr Lukashenka, Belarus's thuggish and dictatorial president, did away with elections altogether. Instead, yesterday's charade of a poll resulted in false expectations and cracked skulls. As the country's slavish electoral committee declared Mr Lukashenka the winner, with 80% of votes on an improbable turnout of more than 90%, the true outcome of this election began to emerge.

Last night a massive demonstration of some 30,000 people was brutally dispersed by the Belarusian KGB and riot police. Six hundred people have been arrested. Many more have been beaten up. Seven of the nine candidates standing against Mr Lukashenka are in prison, some of them badly hurt. Their supporters are being hunted by the local KGB. Vladimir Neklyayev, a poet and one of the main candidates, was knocked unconscious as he tried to make his way to a demonstration. Later security services removed him from hospital—as his wife, reportedly, screamed from a locked room—and placed him in detention."

Asian times columnist Spengler notes that other powers such as China and Russia is hoping that our Naked Emperor Obama's foreign policy will become more enigmatic and less cerebral, because they certainly don't want to tackle the problems of North Korea, Iran, Lebanon, the looming wars in Africa and the Middle East: "America's competitors have seen the erosion of American power as if through a time-lapse camera, and they don't like it at all. Obama's self-shrinkage of American influence may give us a civil war in Iraq, a new Israeli-Hezbollah war in Lebanon, a nuclear-armed Iran, a replay of the Cuban missile crisis in Venezuela, an unshackled rogue state in North Korea, an ungovernable Pakistan, and - worst of all - another American recession as the US Treasury struggles to fund a government deficit in excess of 12 percentage points of gross domestic product. Confronted with the consequences of a naked emperor in Washington, the other powers of the world can only avert their eyes and hope he will get some clothes before it is too late..." We'll see how many rabbits are left in his hat, after the recent show before Congress.

The GOP freakout should continue, with the Republican control of the House. In order to get any legislation passed in their favor, the Repubs will have to get at least 4 Senators to cross the aisle in voting. Then, there's no guarantee that the President will sign it... TPM also reports on another way that the Repubs will use to obstruct: "What they found is an obscure authority provided by a 1996 law called the Congressional Review Act. It provides Congress with an expedited process by which to evaluate executive branch regulations, and then give the President a chance to agree or disagree.

House Republicans will have carte blanche next year, and will be able to pass as many of these "resolutions of disapproval" as they want. The key is that a small minority in the Senate can force votes on them as well, and they require only simple-majority support to pass." It's not much, but it might be enough to make those afternoons watching CSPAN turn into real snoozers.

Finally, it looks like Guantanamo prison will remain open for business and rendition indefinitely. It was once thought that the land could be returned to the Cuban government and they could turn it into some kind of Club Med resort to celebrate the thaw in American - Cuban relations. Obama had hoped to send what prisoners remained to prisons in his home state of Illinois, but those plans were shot down. No other state really wants them, but Sharron Angle did volunteer to set up tents in her own backyard, and tom Tancredo promised to slander them on his new anti-immigration radio show.

We'd have taken them here in Colorado, after all, the Supermax facility has every other major criminal under its lock and key. But the local residents were too busy getting ready to open up all of the old uranium mines, now that our nuclear industry is coming back. All that talk about reactors being built in Iran and the Middle East, why look at all of the new permits that have been issued here in the US... that's right, none... It seems that the same people responsible for Denver's real estate bubble are behind the mining operations, so we know that we can trust them... It was only two years ago that tailings from an old mine north of Denver was threatening to leach into the aquifer, which was caught in time, and fixed so that the next couple of generations would not be mutating in the near future... ahh well, the locals see working at a mine as better than driving to Telluride and cleaning motel rooms...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sunday Rant on Next Two Year, How Drug Laundering Rebuilt Our Economy

Nicholas Kristoff
Samuel Jacobs

"President Obama signed into law the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' What does it say about us that we think gay men can handle armed combat, but can't handle marriage?" – Jay Leno
"Security officials say that al-Qaida once considered spreading poison through salad bars across the U.S. But they abandoned the plan after Sizzler beat them to it." – Jimmy Fallon

 My Christmas evening was filled watching the Dr Who Christmas Carol, followed by the cutest puppies and kitten videos culled from YouTube by Animal Planet. It was enough to let me nod off in my favorite chair before I could finish the two paragraphs I kept trying to comprehend. Basically, I was on autopilot after eating dinner, which I am beginning to accept as a function of old age, or diabetes...

Hindsight is 20-20, and the story now is how Obama took a gamble and played everyone, both conservative and liberals, by conceding to extend the Bush tax cuts, which enabled him to get at least three other major pieces of legislation passed. His approval marks jumped over 30% while his opponents dropped, and were made to look like the amateurs they really are. It will be interesting
 to be a fly on the wall during the next session of Congress. Supposedly, there is going to be a lot of squabbling over who has the most authentic interpretation of conservative beliefs between the current strain of Republicans and the newly-elected tea party candidates. Most of the debates will be over spending and economics, with dog-eared copies of badly-written Ayn Rand books serving as textbooks and Bibles... Weirdly enough, Michele Bachmann will remain as the most lucid interpreter of tea party theory, letting Rand Paul go off and ramble where his spirit takes him... With the House so occupied, Obama and Harry Reid may still pull off some sly moves to advance his agenda further, and here we're talking immigration reform, the boondoggle that every President has avoided tackling for over the past 50 years.

The White House announced that there won't be any shake-up in personnel, other than replacing people who have stated that they will retire from service, like Larry Summers. The smartest things that the Obamas plan on doing during the next couple of years, will be to do more traveling and hanging out with regular American people, outside of planned photo ops. On NBC's Meet the Press, top advisor Valerie Jarret said: "He often says that this is his biggest regret is that when he took office, because of the crisis that was presented to him, he had to spend almost every waking hour in Washington focusing very hard on finding a resolution. And what he missed sorely was the engagement with the American people," Jarrett said.

Jarrett said that just before Obama left for his Christmas vacation in Hawaii, he underscored the point, saying, "When I get back, I really want to figure out a way where I can spend more time outside of Washington, listening and learning and engaging with the American people."

"It’s really what gives him his energy and his strength. And so, we’re determined in the new year to make sure that his schedule reflects that priority," she said." Besides posting the same kind of suggestions here, I also wrote to the White House suggesting this kind of action. There must have been quite a chorus, all suggesting the same thing, and meeting the public is where Obama's charm and humanity is his greatest strength. Especially if juxtaposed with whatever grumpy thing that John McCain is doing at the same time...

I haven't written about Rush Limbaugh in months, he is becoming increasingly irrelevant in our current political dialogue. Glenn Beck has proven to be the court jester, time to put him out to pasture with all of the rest of the demon sheep... I'm feeling more relaxed about the coming year, and as long as we don't get sucked into another war in the Ivory coast or North Korea, it should be a productive time. Spending time in the islands can do that...

Double-click on image to enlarge

Instructive to what helped cause our economic meltdown a couple of years ago, especially if you believe that mortgage-failure myth, is to read up on what happened to Russia once the Berlin Wall came tumbling down. Suddenly, everyone and their second cousin wanted to find ways to strip out all of the money from the Russian banks and vaults, in a feeding frenzy during its "transition" to capitalism. Overnight, over 40% of the population became penniless, many died during the winters, though you never heard of it. Before this, as Daniel Estulin writes, you had plots to destabilize and destroy the Russian economy, where "western intelligence services worked with black market profiteers, leading banking houses, the Italian Costa Nostra, the American Mafia and the Russian Thieves' World, former KGB officers, and unemployed military officers" all working together on audacious and insane intrigues. It's no wonder that Boris Yeltsin devolved into a depressed alcoholic, while mafiyas and CIA's were shoveling money into vans and driving them out of the country in conga lines...

The simplest scams involved the largest amount of money. Robert Friedman explained how it works in a 1996 issue of the New Yorker: "Russian assets, such as oil, are stolen by underworld figures or corrupt plant managers and sold on the spot market in Rotterdam. The proceed are wired through front companies on the Continent and deposited in London banks. Gangsters place an order for, say, $40 million in US currency through a bank in Moscow. The bank wires their bank of choice, placing a purchase order for the cash. The bank of choice buys the currency from the New York Federal Reserve. Simultaneously, bank of choice receives a wire transfer for the same account from the London bank. Bank of choice pockets a commission and flies the cash from New York to Moscow. It is then used by mobsters to buy narcotics or villas, or run political campaigns.

A Wall Street brokerage or investment bank may also go "offshore" in order to legally borrow once-laundered drug money to finance a corporate merger or leveraged buyout. Why do this? If you were a major investment banker or securities firm and could arrange to borrow laundered drug money at say, five percent rather than the ten your bank wants, and you are in a cutthroat competition to buy a company, would you be willing to lower your cost of capital in this way? It is hardly surprising that practices like this are becoming business as usual..."

This is essentially how the Mexican drug cartels are getting their money out of the US, when you read about them tapping into and stealing barrels of oil from Pemex... So now we know how Goldman Sachs and other big boys were able to bounce back and make profits so fast, they used laundered drug money as their base. With varied results, like a Russian businessman buying the New Jersey Nets basketball team... And now the destabilization process is happening in Ireland, Greece, with Spain and Portugal as the next victims... It's estimated that about 40% of the world's economy is based on the sales of illegal drugs. If we were to eradicate all of these drugs overnight, everything would collapse, including all of your major banks in Europe and the United States...

Friday, December 24, 2010

Santa Undercover, Russia Will Also Approve SALT Treaty, Merry Christmas

Paul Krugman
Lloyd Grove

"We should never assume malice when ignorance remains a possibility." - Paul Krugman

Even though NORAD keeps a Santa watch every year, in some places Santa has been striking early. He sees you when you are sleeping. He knows if you are awake. He knows if you are a member of the Sicilian Mafia, and he will bust you, for heaven's sake!!! From Spiegal comes this modern Christmas tale: "Santa Claus can do it all: deliver presents, climb down chimneys, fly through the Christmas sky in his sleigh. And, as it happens, he can also make arrests. On Thursday, he busted a suspected member of the Sicilian mafia.

Santa Claus, as every child is aware, knows if you've been naughty or nice. In Italy, apparently, Santa also knows if you are a member of the mafia. And he might arrest you if you're not careful.

That, at least, would appear to be the lesson of a rather unusual arrest in the Sicilian town of Catania. A policeman dressed in a Santa Claus outfit was part of a Thursday sting operation to apprehend a suspected member of the appropriately named Santapaola mafia clan. The 37-year-old suspect was nabbed as he came out of a store where he was thought to have collected monthly protection money. The store's owner had allegedly been forced to pay €260 per month for the past 10 years.
The suspected mafioso had been under observation for several weeks. The undercover Santa was waiting in the parking lot carrying a basket full of sweets -- which he carefully placed on the roof of the suspect's car as he made the arrest.

According to media accounts of the arrest, the shopkeeper gave Santa a big hug following the arrest."

The latest notification from Homeland Security to our airport screeners, is to be alert and check out coffee thermoses, especially ones that are empty... If you'll recall that last year's would-be bomber had the home-brew taped to his genitals, and only succeeded in giving himself some very bad burns. The explosive came from the same batch used by the shoe-bomber from several years earlier, which told us that, despite they hysteria surrounding the incident, that the Yemen cell of al-Qaeda was using old explosives and primitive technology. Now that we have every body orifice covered, so to speak, our Christmas should be quiet and uneventful, full of bad football games, and the station that carries nothing but the Yule log burning... just in case, if you are traveling, leave the thermos of hot, buttered rum back at the house...

Russia is rushing to do their part in ratifying the START treaty, it has just passed in the lower House, and has only Parliament's approval. which should come early next week. Dmitry Medvedev applauded the US's approving the treaty. For any Republicans reading, the nuclear non-proliferation treaty was considered on of Ronald Reagan's crowning achievements and one that he was most proud of. It's one of a few tangible things that keeps us from sliding back into a Cold War up, a test ban treaty...

John McCain and John Kyl were the two most vocal opponents to the treaty, with McCain's objection being: "The New START Treaty was supposed to deal solely with strategic offensive weapons. It does not. It re-establishes an old and outdated linkage between nuclear arms and missile defense, which is no longer suited to the threats of today's world. I remain concerned that the Treaty in its final form could still be used by Russia to limit the development, deployment, and improvement of U.S. missile defense. I will work tirelessly in the years ahead to ensure that this never happens."

We are having a quiet Christmas here in Colorado. It maybe freezing everywhere else, but the weather is surprisingly mild here in the shadow of Pike's Peak. Books, music, and some fresh baked cookies are on tonight's agenda. We usually dread the holidays, fearing that our younger brother has figured out where we live and will try to contact us. He is a sociopath, who lived over 20 years in my parent's garage with two large dogs. We think he had something to do with the death of our youngest brother. My father refused to have an autopsy performed because he didn't want to know the exact cause, either. 

After my mother came down with diabetes, she feared that he was putting sugar in her dinner, and was just about to move out of the house when she passed away. What actually killed her was lung cancer from chain smoking for too many years. My brother was supposed to take care of my father after he had surgery, and his condition stabilized afterwards. I wanted my dad put into a nursing home because I didn't trust my brother, but my dad preferred to be in familiar surroundings. He died less than 10 hours after being discharged from the hospital, while my brother claims that he was asleep. It could be all a coincidence, if my brother hadn't threatened to kill me, too. So, I hope that his bad health will take its toll and he will be the next one in our family to pass away and taken by the dark angel, because I'm not sure how I would react if he suddenly appeared at our door. I believe in forgiveness, I don't know if I can practice it...

And I've never told any of my friends the extent of our family's dysfunction, only my sister, her husband, and myself have shared all of the stories surrounding our psychokiller brother. We'd like to see him behind bars, but we have even less respect for the police, especially those in the city of Torrance, who are both incompetent and corrupt. Merry Christmas...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Obama To Focus On foreign Policy, Time To Fix Rape In The Military, My Apologies To The Custodian Of The Two Holy Mosques And Wish Good Luck To His Health

Gail Collins
Dana Milbank
Steve Benen
"President Obama met with leaders of 60 American Indian tribes. I don't want to say the country's in bad shape, but he offered to give it back to them." – Jay Leno

"The president was honored by the Indians with his own Indian name. They now call him, 'Dances With Republicans.'" – Jay Leno
"It was so cold in Washington, President Obama got into bed with the Republicans just for the warmth." – Jay Leno

Funny how, in just a few days, Barack Obama went from being the goat of Washington, to the master negotiator, getting through the DADT legislation, the START treaty, and health care for 9/11 first-responders. Mitch McConnell is warning that if that's not enough, he will really give him hell over the next two years...

And Obama really doesn't have to do any more legislation, just fine tune and tweak what has already been passed, probably try to protect the health care bill from all of the legal attacks that are mounting up in the courts. The real emphasis will  be on foreign policy, since most of his national security team may have retired, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and even Hillary Clinton, who is tired from the sheer amount of work she has to do in her job as Secretary of State. There will also be a new team of military commanders taking over, and Leon Panetta has said that he might quit the CIA. Richard Dreyfuss blogs in the Nation, that: "Obama could recast his foreign policy by ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, making a deal with Iran,and reducing military spending and improving relations with China and Russia." Each step being fought and challenged by the GOP, brought to you by CSPAN... If he does accomplish all of this, he will have been the most successful president we've had, despite whatever trash talk McConnell and Boehner attempt...

Now that it's officially OK for gays to join the military, we can tackle the problem of heterosexual rape in the military, with reported incidents steadily going up each year. This was one reality that was feared would happen ever since the military was integrated for women; that male soldiers would attack the females. So far it has been swept under the rug instead of confronting head-on. The incidence of soldiers raping members of the native populations have also continually gone up since 2001...

I guess I can eat a little crow for dinner tonight. Yesterday I posted that the King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia's health was going downhill because of the lack of communication from his retinue. This morning, Saudi Arabia issued a press release that the King had been discharged from the hospital and was on his way back home: "The king underwent two surgeries in a New York hospital following a herniated disc and blood clot. The first surgery to correct the disc and remove the clot was undertaken on Nov. 24. The second operation on Dec. 3 was to stabilize several vertebrae on the spinal cord, according to an earlier Royal Court statement."

What I have to do now is learn the obscure way of using flowery compliments and being able to work in everyone's full title when referring to them. King Abdullah is "Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah," and if I want to congragulate the king on his recovery, I have to include his sons, some ministers, and maybe his racing camels that produce such fine camel's milk chocolates, too. All I know is that each compliment must be better than the preceding ones, until we all have thanked Allah: "Assistant Minister of Interior for Security Affairs Prince Muhammad bin Naif expressed his great happiness at the recovery of King Abdullah who left hospital late Tuesday.“This is a historic day that will remain fresh in the hearts of all Saudis.”

Prince Muhammad congratulated Crown Prince Sultan, Deputy Premier and Minister of Defense and Aviation; Second Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Prince Naif and the entire Saudi citizens for the recovery of the king.

In a statement on the occasion, Secretary-General of the Shoura Council Muhammad Al-Ghamdi congratulated the crown prince, second deputy premier and the royal family. State Minister and Member of the Council of Ministers Prince Abdul Aziz bin Fahd expressed his happiness at the news of the king leaving the hospital.

On receiving the news of the king’s regained health, President of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Humayen thanked Almighty Allah." I hope I haven't left anyone out, and really am happy to see Abdullah in good health, especially because he is such a stabilizing influence in his country and in the region, despite calling on the US and Israel to remove the head of the Iranian snake... If these guys have to refer to each other all of the time by their titles and their names, it might explain why it takes so long to get anything done in the Middle East. Because this reads like such a good-old-boys network, women working to get their rights must feel like they are flinging themselves against a brick wall... or is it that I don't understand Old World courtesy?

When is a lame duck Congress not such a lame duck? The GOp spent the last two years just saying no and being content to filibuster their time away. They didn't do diddlysquat to help make any of the legislation that has been passed, and now they are complaining that they have been had... You can't even give them a grade for effort, not one Republican tried to work with any of the Democrats, except when Ron Paul and Barney Frank got together to ask for an audit of the Fed, which is now available... TPM has the full list of complaints, here I offer you a sampling:

Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC) attacked his fellow Republicans for the Democrats' legislative wins: "Harry Reid has eaten our lunch. This has been a capitulation in two weeks of dramatic proportions of policies that wouldn't have passed in the new Congress. The lame duck session was meant to basically transition from one Congress to the next, not take every special interest item the liberals want and pass it in two weeks."

Sen. Jim DeMint (SC) tweeted his displeasure over the START Treaty: "Passing a major arms agreement in lame duck is outrageous. Dems trying to jam through a liberal agenda before conservatives come to town."

Sen. John Thune (SD) agreed: "It really does appear that the Administration wanted a treaty so badly that they agreed to a bad treaty. And I think the reason they're trying to rush it through here at the end of the year, here in a lame-duck session, when most Americans aren't paying attention, is because they know all the concessions our side made in order to get this."

Sen. Jon Kyl (AZ) hearkened back to an even darker time in Senate history -- when the health care bill was passed: "I remember just a year ago when we were here on this Senate floor debating the health care bill, and one of the primary criticisms of it was the way it was done." Kyl said that now he is "concerned about the precedent that we're setting here in the Senate, taking a lame-duck session to jam so many things through."

And, of course, no Republican outrage would be complete without the Tea Partying-est members of Congress. Rep. Louie Gohmert (TX) talked about START on the House floor, calling it "so inappropriate" for the treaty to be passed during the lame duck. "People who have been voted out of office because the majority in their state did not want them representing them anymore and they're down there cutting a deal with the Russians. The election should have consequences." Hint: Louie Gohmert has to be one of the dumbest people in all of Congress, along with Little Jeff Sessions...

Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN) told Fox News host Greta Van Susteren that the lame duck is "awful." She listed all of the legislation that is being passed, and said: "In other words, a whole year's worth of work after the voters already spoke at the polls." For her part, Van Susteren shot back: "Well that's because you all didn't do it before the election." Amen to that, Sister Greta, amen to that...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Time To Purge McConnell, World Needs A Universal Parent, King Abdullah Is Dying

Eugene Robinson
Desmond Tutu and Jimmy Carter
Dana Milbank
"A new survey finds that although his approval ratings are low, President Obama is still ahead of the most prominent Republicans. Have you seen his tax plan? He is the most prominent Republican." – Jay Leno
"The House has voted to repeal the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy. Nancy Pelosi said, 'Now's the time to act,' meaning before Democrats lose their majority in a couple of weeks. Which raises the question: Why didn't they act the last four years when they had the majority?" – Jay Leno

"According to a new Rasmussen poll, only 23 percent say America is heading in the right direction. In Mexico, it's different. There, 77 percent say the right direction is heading to America." – Jay Leno

Despite the best whining and complaints from the Mitch Connollites, the START treaty was ratified, and President Obama officially signed the repeal of DADT. All in all, Obama has had a pretty good couple of years, despite the constant belittling and negativity spread by the Republican Congressional leadership. As Dana Milbank notices: "Petulant leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) spelled out the real reason on the Senate floor Monday. McConnell, who said Republicans' "single most important" goal was Obama's defeat, said that in this case he didn't want to facilitate "some politician's desire to declare a political victory and host a press conference before the first of the year."

Personally, I don't see why the Repubs put up with the narrow-minded focus of Mitch McConnell and John Boehner. Just because you are at the top of the seniority list doesn't make you an effective leader, and these two have done nothing but piss off older Republicans who disagree with their tactics. Let's face it, McConnell and Boehner are one-trick ponies without the intellectual capacity to focus one more than one item at a time. Ok, they're dumb-asses, and those who allow themselves to be coerced into following them for the sake of unity, are going to feel pretty silly that they didn't stand up for themselves when the new crop of Congressmen come in next session. I think that there will be more haggling and in-fighting among Republicans than with the Democrats, and the next two years Congress will be brought to a standstill. So, it's a good thing that Obama had a majority of his agenda passed, he can spend the next two years fine-tuning the implementation, as well as enforcing the good regulations now in place in banking and financial sectors. Unfortunately, McConnell has one or two more obstructionist tricks up his sleeve, which promises to make Congress an even more uglier place. Too bad we can't send him back home to Kentucky tarred and feathered... As Mitch himself says: "If they think it's bad now, wait 'til next year..."

The more that I see our leaders acting like petulant little boys, the more I think we need some kind of Universal Parent that's allowed to jump in and stop them from throwing tantrums. The closest we have seems to be Oprah,who is pretty, classy, and comfortable enough to confront world leaders; I want someone who can grab Laurent Gbagbo by the ear and make him sit down facing the corner until he can come out and act more politely, or at least accept defeat from the last election... I want someone who can barge in on Kim Jong-Il and read him the riot act while whipping up a meal of fried chicken and garlic mashed potatoes, because maybe his diet is causing his emotional instability, crazy from too much cold rice and kimchee during the winter... Most of all, I want someone who can take Benjamin Netanyahu, Mahmoud Abbas, and their teams of negotiators, and lock them in a room, not let them out until all of the details for a Palestinian state have been hammered out... A UN Ambassador at large, She Who Must Be Listened To... because, Lord knows, the dirty little boys have long made a mess out of things, more than this planet can bounce back from, worse than any predictions from Nostradamus can portray...

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is dying. He is 87, and just had two spinal surgeries. In these kinds of cases involving elderly folks, the anesthesia can often be more deleterious and fatal than the surgery itself. The royal family has erected a cone of silence about the king, which also doesn't bode well. The blockage of all health information will continue until they have worked out who will succeed him and all funeral plans are in place. I hope I am wrong, because the King was a moderate force in an often extreme part of the world, and none of those next in line share his same moderate views.

The current balance of power in the Middle East will be shaken, especially if another ruler who is in his 80's, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, also passes. These are eventualities that Iran is already making plans to taking advantage of, giving themselves and the Shiite communities in Saudi Arabia and Egypt more clout. Their ultimate goal is for Iran to be a major player in the region, and the Shia world-view to be dominant. If they can influence Egyptian policy enough to have them change their attitudes towards Israel, then we will see more than a few Hizbollah-backed SCUD missiles being fired from Gaza, and definite major movements in munitions being dug out of the desert sands and dusted off...

Of course, right now Iran is having some minor problems in making their own gasoline. Before sanctions, it was cheaper to buy it back. Unfortunately, as you can see from this picture, they are making gasoline full of particulants, causing the worst two months of smog, that has put many in the hospital and caused all kinds of irritation and sinus and lung infections. We thought that the Green Revolution was going to rise up and cause regime change. It actually might happen because the government is poisoning off the residents of Tehran, and they aren't going to take it anymore, that is, if they can see more than 3 feet in front of their eyes... the movie Blade Runner may have to go back and change the setting of the film to Tehran instead of Los Angeles...

Monday, December 20, 2010

60's Burnouts, DADT and the Marines, Kick - Starting Palestinian Negotiations for Christmas

Paul Krugman
Benjamin Sarlin
William K Black
"In Washington, the view is that the banks are to be regulated, and my view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks." - Spencer Bacchus (R) Alabama
"I don't think we need regulators. We need law and order. We need people to fulfill their contracts. The market is a great regulator, and we've lost understanding and confidence that the market is probably a much stricter regulator." - Ron Paul (R) Texas
"When historians look back at 2008-10, what will puzzle them most, I believe, is the strange triumph of failed ideas. Free-market fundamentalists have been wrong about everything — yet they now dominate the political scene more thoroughly than ever." - Paul Krugman

All of my links are to articles on the economy, the ones by Paul Krugman and William Black are very good, explain why the conservatives who are still extolling free-market theory, louder than ever before, are still wrong. You might think that since these theories just about tanked the US and Western Europe's economies, and we are going to be clawing our way out of the cesspool for several more years, these people would get a clue and pick up a few other books on other economic theories. It also points out how someone like Ron Paul can at times sound like a wizened, little Yoda, and at other times, like now, sound like such a dumbass. Sure would be nice if the television reporters were more than talking heads, and they were bright enough to challenge Ron and Spencer on their gaffes. .. Several years ago I knew someone who was the news anchor at our local station, and his head was literally too big for his body. Since I saw him a lot at the gym, we threatened to nail his feet to the floor and he could be our own private bobble-head doll while we worked out...

Since most of the far-right conservatives are men of my generation, if not a bit older, I wonder what these guys were doing during the 1960"s. Were these the guys who were too scared to take recreational drugs, then spent the rest of their lives afraid that they might meet a hippy in some dark alley? Or are these the drug burn-outs, the ones who carried emotional baggage when they took their LSD, guaranteeing that they would have a bad trip? Guys like my friend John from high school, who had to be talked down from his bad trip during a Grateful Dead concert in Santa Barbara. Probably more like the guys who constantly took a variety of drugs just to keep from encountering the realities of their parent's and their own lives, lost souls later scooped up into Jesus Freak cults, whose recruiting methods were later adopted by the Rev Sun Moon, and even later than that, the Tea Party Express...

There was an article in the newspaper today, about how young Marine recruits aren't sure if they could go into combat situations with homosexuals. This was to illustrate the testimony given by the head of the Marine Corps in front of Congress, the only military head who did not support repealing DADT. Ahh, these naive young men... first of all, anyone who volunteers to put on a costume might be suspect, even if we call that costume a uniform. Yep, dress up in costume on a weekend, and go hang out in bars, cruising for a bruising, now what kind of cultural behavior is that? Besides, with about one in every ten people being gay, a lot of your officers have had to hide themselves for their whole careers. Everyone who has served in the military knows at least one gay officer they have worked with, it's a matter of statistics... Now that DADT has been repealed, the military culture will change slightly. Now, whenever someone calls you a c***s***er, it will be a compliment..

I don't know if MJ Rosenberg has been reading my posts or not, but I'm happy to see my suggestions on how to get negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians started again, reaching a broader audience. Rosenberg pointed out a few things quite well, such as: "There is only one reason that Israeli-Palestinian negotiations collapsed. It is the power of the "pro-Israel lobby" (led by AIPAC) which prevents the United States from saying publicly what it says privately: that resolution of a conflict which is so damaging to US interests is consistently being blocked by the intransigence of the Netanyahu government and its determination to maintain the occupation."

"... The Israelis hold all of the disputed territories. Yes, the Palestinians have administrative control of some parts of the West Bank but its authority — and it is very small — derives from the Israelis. Gaza is controlled by Hamas but it is a reservation or ghetto, not a free entity. Its borders are entirely blocked by the Israelis (and the Egyptians who do whatever Israel demands on their border with Gaza). It remains under Israeli blockade, lightened only a bit since Prime Minister Netanyahu admitted that the blockade was not necessary for Israel's security. And then there is Arab East Jerusalem, where the Netanyahu government has expanded efforts to push Palestinians out of their homes and replace them with settlers.

The Palestinians have no power at all although they have done everything that Israel and the United States demanded. The Israeli government does not intend to give up territory it wants; it gave up Gaza because it decided that it better served Israeli interests to just blockade it. Why would Palestinians believe that Israel is negotiating seriously when it keeps building inside the future Palestinian state?

All this is obvious to anyone paying attention — especially since Prime Minister Netanyahu absolutely refused to freeze settlements for even 90 days in exchange for the United States doubling the aid package. Really, if he won't freeze for 90 days for $3.5bn, only a fool would believe that he would ever actually give up any land permanently..."

My solution then, is to freeze all foreign aid money to Israel, including military equipment, until negotiations are finished. To be fair, also suspend the money we give to the Palestinian Authority until the goals of negotiations have been met, because money talks, and lack of money will get them to start talking again. If it works, and a Palestinian state is created, we can be the tough-love hero. If it doesn't, well, we just saved ourselves billions of dollars per year which can go to pay off our national debt, or funnel down the black hole that is our military budget.

The main objections to this will come from the American Jewish lobbies like AIPAC, who use their money to bribe the Jewish members of Congress. For example, after Netanyahu declined our request to freeze settlement construction for 90 days more, AIPAC drew up a bill last Monday and had it presented to Congress: "Congressman Howard Berman (D-CA), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, presented a resolution condemning the Palestinians for publicly suggesting that, in the wake of Netanyahu's refusal to freeze settlements and negotiate, they will consider a unilateral declaration of statehood." Because Netanyahu doesn't like America, has had contempt for us during his entire career, he is happier when we just go along with what he wants, and will continue to ignore all further suggestions from us on the negotiations. The right wing in Israel will not give up any more land to the Palestinians, and will continue to build housing and get as many settlers in Palestinian lands as they can, and screw you if you don't like it. To be perfectly honest, the goal of the Israeli right-wingers is to deport all Palestinians to Jordan, Lebanon, and all other surrounding lands. Those countries can be their Palestine, leaving Israel a 100% Jewish state, and while we are at it, will you lousy Christians please leave Jerusalem and Bethlehem?!

So, Barack and Hillary, this is my Christmas present to the Middle East, and I hope you adopt it as official foreign policy by the end of the year. We cannot wimp ourselves along, attempt to lead at the beginning, only to roll over and play dead like some good Labradoodle. Time for phase two, to take away their pocketbooks for being very bad this year, and if they want any money back, then they have to act like adults and finish negotiations within the next six months...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday Rant: Which Temper Tantrum Will Kill John McCain - a Drinking Game

Matt Latimer
Frank Rich
Dana Milbank

After watching John McCain going batshit over trying to single-handedly keep the repeal of DADT from happening, two types of consequences seem to be happening. First, more than a few Republicans are staring at Senator Ring Mood and are thanking their lucky stars that the man did not win the election. The man has become so bitter and filled with rage, that the mere mention of Barack Obama is enough to send him into fits of filibustering... If he can't ban the homos maybe he can nuke the russkies... I fully expect to see John have a heart attack while throwing one of his temper tantrums on the Senate floor...

The second consequence is that the conservative wackos are coming out of the woodwork, wanting to run for the Republican nomination. Case in point, is Mr John Bolton sending his alien feelers out. I don't know why people like this, who don't have a chance in hell of ever being elected to office think that now is their time. What drives them to seek out public humiliation? I really want to know, because when I was a sophomore in high school I ran for class president. The one person who I knew would win it if he chose to run, told me he wasn't interested, then turned around a decided he was going to after all. My best friend at the time became his campaign manager. Instead of dropping out, I decided to go through the whole process, which included getting heckled at the school rally for the candidates, losing by a large margin, and enduring the estrangement of people I thought were my friends. So, if you know why lemmings drive themselves off of cliffs, or why fools rush in where angels fear to tread, or why our silly arrogance thinks we can be a viable political candidate, for the sake of self-knowledge and enlightenment, please let me know...

Not that I'm feeling sympathetic for the suddenly prolific pundit on our foreign policy and national security: "The case for Bolton is a straightforward one: He would be the national security candidate. As he sees it, there wouldn’t be any meaningful competition for that designation." He's a hawk and he's so very wrong, and he's so very belligerent about it, that I wish that Gore Vidal were alive, 50 years younger, and up to debating again. Remember when Gore debated William F Buckley Jr and cleaned Buckley's clock so much that Buckley stormed off of the set? I was a kid, and had only watched Buckley on his television show, Firing Line, and was in awe of Buckley's sneering put-downs of his guests, that it was a revelation to watch someone do it back to William Buckley, who avoided Gore Vidal for the rest of his life... So yes, I yearn to see someone destroy John Bolton in the debatable way that he richly deserves. Ironically, either Hillary Clinton or Bill could do the job...

The next two years are going to be worse than all of the eight Bush years, combined. The seething new conservatism that is spawning these translucent demons, moving like wraiths of smoke through the corridors of power are seeking their revenge. They will not be content until the government has been whittled down to their size, or that everyone else in the country has the same misinterpretations of the constitution as they have, because ignorance loves company... We will have to wait until they wear themselves out or cannot endure the humiliation any longer; then we can look for candidates who know that conservatism is a set of philosophical constructs, not an evangelical religion...