Monday, June 13, 2011

GOP Debate Tonite, Stealing The Americans Blind, Chess Diplomacy With Qaddafi

Steve Benen
Paul Krugman
Matt Latimer
"It's not a great day for the King of Sweden. He’s facing pressure to step down over rumors that he frequents strip clubs. Now, I think I speak for every American when I say, 'Oh Sweden, your political sex scandals are so adorable.'" – Craig Ferguson

"There a giant fire burning in Arizona, the biggest fire ever in the history of the state … I'm not saying these two things are connected, but a few weeks ago Sarah Palin moved to Arizona, and then the state burst into flames." –Bill Maher

"I feel bad for Sarah. She heard all the alarms and sirens and she figured the British were coming." –Bill Maher

"People keep asking me if Sarah Palin is running for President. How the f*** do I know? What am I, the idiot whisperer?" –Bill Maher

"We don't even need Sarah Palin for comedy in this presidential election because yesterday Newt Gingrich got fired by his own campaign. Did you see this? His entire staff quite en masse because they had a little disagreement about strategy. You see, Newt entered the race three weeks ago, and then his staff got mad at him because he spent the last two weeks campaigning in the wrong country. The last two weeks he's been on a yacht touring the Greek Island, stopping only at Tiffany's on his mission to warn America that Obama is an elitist." –Bill Maher

For those of you who have read more than one post, I want to assure you that I'm not a gay Syrian blogger or the 40 year-old man who really is her. I am what I say I am: a 58 year old liberal Republican and official grumpy old man. Besides reading the newspapers and looking at news websites, my largest activity is being hooked up to an airhose and breathing deeply before I fall asleep with the cat in my lap...

What is the difference between wikileaks releasing and publishing low-level government reports and the government of Alaska releasing and publishing Sarah Palin's emails while she was in office? Besides, we only want to know secrets if they are going to be embarrassing. Then, give Sarah enough time... Also interesting to note that both wikileak's founder Julian Assange and Dominique Strauss-Kahn were under house arrest in multi-million dollar properties...

Tonite is CNN's turn at hosting the GOP candidate's debates. Sure, there are some left off of the agenda, which might piss you off if you live in New Mexico, but it should be pure entertainment. Don't look for anything substantive in the way of policy, just admire how they dodge giving any serious answers this early on. Can Michelle hang with the guys? Who will suck up the most to the tea party and its dwindling followers? Remember not to take it seriously, that the real contenders will show up for the election in 2016... If all of the others gang up on Newt, will they make him start to cry? Can he pretend to be an emotionally crippled alcoholic like John Boehner as an excuse? A fun time is promised...

I'm always surprised whenever I read stories about entities like the Kabul Bank, who made hundreds of millions in dollars of bad loans, and doesn't have to be responsible for repaying the money. In Iraq, over $6.6 billion dollars in cash was flown over during the first months of occupation, and promptly stolen. It's a story that surfaces every few months, the latest twist comes from Politico: "The government has previously said accounting errors led to its inability to account for the cash, which was flown to Iraq in C-130 Hercules cargo planes. About $2.4 billion in U.S. currency could fit on each cargo plane.

“Congress is not looking forward to having to spend billions of our money to make up for billions of their money that we can’t account for, and can’t seem to find,” said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the former chairman of the House Government Reform Committee.

The revelation comes days after Rep. Dana Rohrabacher suggested during a Baghdad visit that Iraq’s fledgling government repay the United States for money it spent on the 2003 invasion and post-war reconstruction.

The comment infuriated Iraqi officials and led the Iraqi government to ask the five-term California Republican and his congressional delegation to leave the country. “We as a government reject such statements, and we have informed the American embassy that these congressmen are not welcome in Iraq,” government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told The Associated Press Sunday.

During the chaos following the fall of Saddam Hussein’s government, U.S. officials did not keep tight control over cash being sent to Iraq, with millions of dollars transported in bags and on pickup trucks to Iraqi agencies and contractors, officials told Waxman’s committee.

The Pentagon has long said it could determine what happened to the money if given time, but it has yet to do so. Iraq’s government says the U.S., which controlled the country at the time, is responsible for the funds." The thieves of Baghdad have no intention of ever paying the money back, even if you could get someone in the US government to give a damn and track it down.

But those amounts lost pale in comparison to what happened under the tenure of Dov Zakheim, the Pentagon comptroller in charge of finances during the time leading up to 9/11. Somehow, he lost over $3 trillion dollars, and he has never been called to account for it. Instead of being put behind bars, he now has a consulting position at Booz Allen Hamilton and works closely with the DARPA research arm of the Department of Defense Department, until he retired last July. If we could hire Arnold as the Terminator to recover the money and return it to the taxpayer's. It might help the poor guy regain some of his self-esteem, instead of sitting around all day staring at his wedding ring and dreaming of being less of a jerk... Three trillion here, six billion there, and still nobody has bothered to trace it to the individuals who have it now in their bank accounts. Wait, I feel another immigration or personhood amendment getting ready...

So, now that Hillary Clinton is going around the Middle East and North Africa dissing Moammar Qaddafi and trying to get some of his allies to move away from supporting him, how goes the Russian effort to mediate, I hear you asking? Moscow Times relates the latest sojourn into foreign policy: "Moscow’s efforts to mediate in Libya’s civil war took a bizarre turn over the weekend when FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov showed up in Tripoli to take on Moammar Gadhafi for a chess party.

Ilyumzhinov said Monday that the embattled Libyan leader told him that he would never leave his country after showing him the house where he claims that a son and three grandchildren were killed by NATO bombs a month ago.

“He said, ‘If I lost my children my grandchildren, where should I go? I will stay here,’” Ilyumzhinov told Ekho Moskvy radio.

At Sunday’s meeting, the flamboyant Ilyumzhinov invited his host to a game of chess, which he seemingly won quickly. Libyan state television footage available on YouTube showed Gadhafi making some slow moves that were quickly countered by a smiling Ilyumzhinov, and the two men soon shaking hands.

Asked who won, Ilyumzhinov said Monday that defeating Gadhafi would not have been diplomatic because the Libyan leader was an “amateur.” “I proposed a draw with him,” he said.

Ilyumzhinov, who served as leader of his native Kalmykia republic for 17 years before quitting in October and claims to have befriended extraterrestrials, said he held the talks in his capacity as head of the World Chess Federation, which he has headed since 1995.

Mikhail Margelov, President Dmitry Medvedev’s special envoy for Africa and Moscow’s point man in the simmering conflict, said Ilyumzhinov had informed him about the upcoming visit last Friday.

“He called me, and I advised him to play white and move E2-E4 and make it clear to Gadhafi that his side is close to the endgame,” Margelov told Interfax.

Ilyumzhinov, however, chose to play black." Stay thirsty, my friends...

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