Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Democracy In North Africa

Michael Tomasky

"My problem with Perry’s zeal is one of my problems with the Tea Party generally: Though it claims to be libertarian, it is remixing the religious right’s greatest hits." - Dana Milbank

So, we've spent over $60 billion on Iraq and Afghanistan, we can sit back and view our accomplishments with pride. The other billions of dollars that European countries contributed in humanitarian aid and buying townhouses in Dubai by friends of Hamid Karzai, demonstrates what happens when you throw money down the rabbit-hole. They don't even get any free heroin for their efforts...

Thinking that after 10 years of occupation, the folks of Baghdad might have some advice for the dazed citizens of Libya, the NY times reporter, Michael Schmidt, walked into a crowded cafe and began befriending people and asking questions. The results were pretty interesting: "The men said they had learned the hard way what they never understood living under decades of repression: that democracy is not just the absence of oppression, but that it also involves challenging concepts of tolerance, compromise and civic responsibility yet to take root in Iraq, or in Libya."

Other advice was directed at the Ahmed Chalabi wannabees now traveling back to Libya: “People came from the outside to run Iraq, and they didn’t understand the suffering we had lived through,” said Firas Abdul Hadi, 28, an engineer in the office of the mayor of Baghdad, referring to how Iraqis who fled the country under Mr. Hussein’s rule tried to claim power when they returned.

“They came back and claimed to be patriotic,” he said. “The Libyans should vote for people who suffered like them. People who were abroad didn’t feel what they did.”

I had been wondering why the US spend all of this time, money, and effort in Iraq, only to watch them adopt the British style of government. It makes no sense, and I haven't yet found an account of how this came to be. Unfortunately, it's a more dysfunctional style of governing and Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Libya would be better off coming up with a simpler form that will serve them better: The parliamentary system in Iraq has failed, said Thaar Abdul Kadhum, 34, a contractor. “They should have a president who can make all the decisions, and not have all these blocs like we have now.”

The character of the politicians matters, too, they said. If the leaders do not have strong enough personalities, the men said, corruption will be rife, as it is in Iraq, where bribes are commonplace. “People with weak personalities are seduced by the power, and they use the power to steal money from the people,” Ahmed Ali, 46, a shop owner, said shortly after losing a game of chess.

Finally, people of Libya, Syria, Egypt, and Tunisia, be careful in what you ask for: "The men said that Libyans should be wary of freedom of speech. In Iraq, they said, they are now free to express themselves, which they could not do under Saddam Hussein. But this right is almost useless, they said, because the government is not responsive to the public.

“Nobody listens to the people,” Mr. Hadi said."

Eight years after the United States-led invasion, there are still bombings and assassinations in Iraq almost every day, and unemployment is high. It is far from the country that the Bush administration had hoped for after Saddam Hussein’s government fell... amen to that, brothers. I have to use the word amen because we are still so Islamophobic in the US, or at least in Herman Cain's and Rick Perry's America... For $60 billion we could have bought every citizen a Chevy and an air-conditioning unit, with change left over...

An Italian news station claims that Moammar Qaddafi is still inside Libya, holed up in a town about 60 miles south of Tripoli. I would have thought that he had made plans for a safe, quick getaway, but after 42 years in the same bunker inside the same compound, he got complacent. Probably began believing his own BS about being beloved by all of the people, before he went crazy. I know, using the word crazy is politically incorrect, but then, so is being a dictator. To be honest, Qaddafi wasn't all that bad, as far as dictators go. He has a wacky charm, and if he'd shared more of the oil revenue with the rest of Libyans, he might still be in power today. It will be interesting to see if these countries can avoid the sectarian fighting, and if they end up substituting a religious dictatorship for the post-colonial autocrats they just deposed...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Qaddafi Sends His Family as Guinea Pigs

Robert C Kaiser
Maureen Dowd
Paul Krugman

It looks like Moammar Qaddafi has sent his second wife, daughter, two sons and their children to act as guinea pigs, entering into Algeria for asylum. He may be keeping his son Saif back in case there are any more taunts to make at the Western press. Many citizens of Tripoli think that he is still hiding out in some bunker beneath their feet; after all, he's had 42 years to prepare and stock up... wonder if he has any energy drinks with him? Or Pakistani porn like the kind that bin Laden watched, Debbie Does the Silk Road...

The next debate will be to see if the families can stay in Algeria, or will they be extradited back to Libya. If allowed to stay, then probably Papa Bear will show up to join them. Fashionistas will want to know if he has designed something special for a dictator to wear while traveling into exile, or if he has just thrown something on from off the rack... The rebels aren't sure what kind of government will come next, but they are united in wanting some sane people to be in charge.

Now the European powers-that-be and the US intelligence services are debating what to do about Syria, where not a day has gone by without citizens being shot by the military. Even Iran has asked the Syrian government to tone it down. Turkey has been hinting at some kind of military solution of its own. If Syria lost its ruling class of Allowites, it could mean the end of possible Iranian hegemony, pushing the area into a Shia - Sunni civil war. Israelis are concerned that the anger bred by a civil war could easily become focused towards them, and then they'd have to pull out the nukes that they say they don't have.

Thankfully, we no longer have someone like Dick Cheney in charge of foreign policy anymore. I'm sure that he'd have us charging in like we did going into Iraq, pretending that we believed whatever bullshit excuse he had concocted. At least George W bush has been smart enough to keep his mouth shut after he retired... In fact, I'd much rather have George W as president than Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann, I bet he'd be a lot different now that he learned how to stand up to Cheney and ignore his interventionist advice...

Friday, August 26, 2011

Moammar Hearts Condoleeza, smarmy Pat Robertson

Anthony Shadid
Michelle Goldberg

Now that the Libyan rebels are playing a gigantic version of Whack-a-Mole, waiting to see which hole that Moammar Qaddafi and his family pops out of, it will take awhile to explore all of the tunnels beneath the compound in Tripoli. I wouldn't be surprised if one tunnel didn't end up in a certain back alley in Cairo... More logically, they will find that the Qaddafi family fled to the docks in Tripoli and have sailed away to a pre-determined country that will try to hide them for as long as possible. We know that we have CIA spotters in just about every African country, so unless there's a new compound bought in Dubai or Riyadh, your guess is just as good where he will end up... Who, beside another crazy person like Robert Mugabe, will welcome Qddafi. When the rebels were just a bunch of protesters, Moammar called them outside agitators, members of al Qaeda, and drug crazed college students. Everyone knows that when you are stoned on hashish its so much easier to fire an automatic weapon...

First and foremost, for European countries that have had oil contracts like Italy and France, will be stabilizing the oil fields and bringing production back up safely. Forming a stable government will be a pain in the ass, because every tribal and ethnic group that was oppressed by Qaddafi will want to flex their new found freedoms, and there could be civil wars like what happened in Iraq. Whether the rag-tag rebels groups can coalesce into a government that can guarantee some freedoms seems like a stretch of the imagination right now.

It's pretty amazing that the rebels have been able to accomplish what they have already, driving small pick up trucks and wearing flip flops, without any military training. Watching the invasion of the Qaddafi compound on television was fascinating. Every third person would approach the cameras and flash the peace sign, and I even saw a few men wearing dreadlocks. In Tripoli, many conspiracy theories run amok. My favorite one was that because Qaddafi had hired a lot of African mercenaries, they were actually an army sent by Barack Obama, the black American president, to guard the Qaddafi family. A bit racist and naive, but typical of many stories going around... Even creepier, is the photo album of Condoleeza Rice that was found in the compound. coupled with these past words Moammar used to describe her:
"I support my darling black African woman. I admire and am very proud of the way she leans back and gives orders to the Arab leaders ... Leezza, Leezza, Leezza. ... I love her very much. I admire her and I'm proud of her because she's a black woman of African origin."

During the last earthquake that took the East Coast by surprise, the Washington Monument got a crack in it, and was closed down for repairs. Crackpot televangelist Pat Robertson claimed that it might be a sign of divine angry intervention. He didn't have the guts to preach real fire and brimstone, tried to be coy and cute about it: "Now there's a crack in it, there's a crack in it and it's closed up. Is that a sign from the Lord? Is that something that has significance or is it just result of an earthquake? You judge, but I just want to bring that to your attention." I wonder what Mr Pat will say after the hurricane hits... By the way, all of these Easterners complaining and being afraid over a 5.8 earthquake. Having been raised in California, my first thought was, what a bunch of wimps. I've literally slept through worse earthquakes than that...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Arab Springs Into Fall, Rick Ron and Michele: A Confederacy Of Dunces

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - Hunter S Thompson

I just read an interesting analysis at the website on the Arab Spring movements. Because we Westerners are irrepressible idealists, we somehow believe that the end results from the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt will result in democracies that will emulate the kind of governments that we have. It was pointed out that in Egypt, all that changed was the ruler, that the country is still managed by a military committee, most of whom were doing the same thing under Mubarak. Even if a civilian government were elected, it's doubtful that it would be strong enough to replace the military. Women have already been co-opted from political positions.

The Libyan rebels can only function beneath a blanket of bombings from NATO, and they haven't produced anyone more competent than those already in the Qaddafi government. The main problem when a family ruler for over 40 years, like in Libya and Syria, is there is a large section of folks making money and don't wish to change their situations, coupled with what I call the group of mindless marching morons, or lack of leadership. I have no doubt that Bashar al Assad is being locked inside his bedroom and only let out on alternative Tuesdays, while his family and fellow Allowites wreak havoc on the general population. Right now, I'll bet he wishes he were back to practicing dentistry and able to keep those fantasies of being a Nazi war criminal deep inside his head...

Regardless of how things turn out in Libya and Syria and Yemen, the resulting governments may not be what we are wishing for. They could be just as fascist, but without the strong-arm ruler at the top. Maybe all the citizens want is to be able to have a cup of coffee without feeling they are being spied on by the police. Kids want to be able to listen to and play any music they like, and to experiment with ideas in free discussion. By alienating the younger generations, they radicalized their parents, and now we have had over six months of protests in Syria, the one country where it was least expected.

There has been a wave of global conservatism, affecting every country, and it manifests differently in each country. How the forces of good and light choose to deal with this is due to how conscious each set of leaders are. From shooting teenagers in Norway, to using suicide bombers during Ramadan, to unleashing a highly weaponized military on unarmed towns, express the darkest part of this wave. Our challenge is how we confront these evils and create a more positive outcome. So far more darkness has been created, threatening to engulf all of the Middle East once again and most of Africa, despite Turkey's attempts to help Somalia... As for the Israelis, they remain a part of the darkness as long as Benjamin Netanyahu remains in charge...

Iran just sentenced the two American hikers it has kept in jail for the past couple of years, to eight years for spying. Usually in spurious cases like this that are all politically motivated, after the sentencing comes some kind of agreement to deport the defendants. That may not happen here, unless Russia agrees to sweeten the pot with some more up-to-date nuclear technology... Iran is getting ready for their Fall PR  offensive, hooking up Ahmadinejad to the battery charger... We haven't heard much from him because of the internal game of whack-a-mole that was going on, using him as the mole. Now that he has been appropriately humbled, it's unclear if he has the heart to attack the US. Instead, he may arrange for the CIA to extract him and he can retire to a condo in Miami, baybee...

Where is Obama in all of this mess? Has he been handcuffed and tossed in the closet while his robot double travels about making watered down speeches for him? What does it mean whenever people watch Rick Perry, the Texan they wax nostalgic over is Ross Perot? On the down side, Ross's defunct party gave us Jesse Ventura and Pat Buchanon as presidential candidates. On the plus side, he has made $3.7 billion while sucking at the government contractor's tit, another success story using your tax dollars at work... Anyway, those of you who oppose Mr Perry can use my new bumpersticker and slogan:

NAT: Not Another Texan

I am so looking forward to another year of gaffes and electioneering from the like of Mrs Marcus Bachmann and Rick Perry and Ron Paul. They have shown a willful ignorance of realities like economic policies and the birth date of Elvis Presley, and we have months more of this to go! I was getting grumpy because the tea partiers in Congress weren't being funny anymore, they were just being dumbasses. Now that we have a trifecta of dumb people bound to make even dumber statements, I have something to look forward to whenever I turn on the news at night. God bless the state of Michigan and God bless the state of Texas, for reaching deep into its heart and producing a yellow rose for us to contemplate. Yellow from having been urinated on or yellow as a form or cowardice, or yellow as the finest that Texas has to offer? Yes, they really are a confederacy of dunces

Friday, August 19, 2011

Coming War In Middle East

Charles Krauthammer
Greg Sargent
"Republican Congressman Phil Hinkle, who voted to ban gay marriage, was caught propositioning a male prostitute. Hinkle said, 'Well, I wasn’t going to marry him.'" – Conan O'Brien

"Michelle Bachmann paid $30 each for 6,000 voting tickets in Iowa and got 4,800 votes, so 1,200 people stole her $30. It’s funny that someone who doesn’t believe in government handouts paid 6,000 people to vote for her." – Jimmy Kimmel
"President Obama is touring the country in a bus, because nothing inspires hope in the economy like the president riding in a bus." – Jimmy Kimmel

The two opinion pieces I have linked at the top of this post is to Charles Krauthammer's tired reciting of the conservative talking points against Barack Obama, while accusing Obama of doing the same to them, and Greg Sargent's piece also criticizing Krauthammer. Charles is one of those writers that should have retired about 10 years ago, and is just typing it in...

How incredibly bizarre is Middle Eastern politics, especially in the Summer, when temperatures fry brain cells at 120 degrees or more. Mix in the emotional ups and downs of having to fake a fast for a month, and crazy behavior is bound to happen. We begin with the implosion of all reason with Bashar al Assad in Syria, his whacked-out military sending in tanks and using the Navy last weekend to bombard Palestinian refugee camps in the port city of Latakia. It's bad enough that these camps have been there since 1948 and none of their Arab brothers have ever bothered to help them, even Hamas and Hezbollah have been twiddling their thumbs, betting that the Assad government will survive and later reward them for their failure to react and support their countrymen. The historical analogy is that they are acting the same way that the Zionist Jews did when collaborating with the Germans, in order to gain support for a country in Palestine further down the world war road...

The Palestinians in Gaza respond by firing off rockets at Israel and sending a militant splinter group to the border to bomb three mini-vans filled with soldiers and civilians on their way to work. The Israelis respond in their usual heavy-handed fashion, killing all fleeing militants and then bombing their headquarters in Gaza, probably killing its leader. While they were in the region, they bombed a few Hamas buildings. too. Hamas has responded by firing a constant barrage of cheap rockets into Israel... It looks like Palestine has just given up their poker hand, losing credibility when they go to the UN next month to ask for recognition as a separate state within Israel. Perhaps Mr Assad is secretly in the CIA's payroll...

We now have a situation that could easily drag the entire region into armed conflict, and there's nothing as vicious as Sunnis against Shias. Iran can just sit back, then pick up the pieces during the aftermath, annexing Iraq and Syria as part of the "new" Iran, run by the Revolutionary Guard. They have been out of the spotlight for several months, even though they still have been threatening to put their nuclear plants into full operations; its just that nobody but Russia seems to be paying attention... Of course, now that the Revolutionary Guard has successfully taken over the country by having one of its own appointed oil minister, they might be out of practice... In fact, to celebrate the latest business victory in the oil ministry, the CIA and the Mossad blew up the oil pipeline that goes to Turkey. Or, the Kurds did it so that the Iranians wouldn't raid them in Kurdish Iraq, while there's a steady stream of tanker trucks filled with gasoline driving into Iran...

A new kindler, gentler crackdown on the old dissidents has been taking place in Tehran, going back and re-arresting those who were jailed before, and often passing sentence on them and hanging them without public acknowledgment. The problems that Iran and Syria faces is that the old school dictator-style way of ruling worked well when most of the population was uneducated and had little exposure to the world outside of their villages. That the people of Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen and Bahrain all wanted the same kind of freedoms and human rights is a condemnation of that style of ruling, and hopefully, the Middle East can transition into a more liberal, peaceful way of life before the famine and droughts take hold... Of course, it may take people starving to death to get the Syrian government to put down their guns and help pick up the plow. The Shabob learned this cruel lesson in Somlia, they didn't have it in them to shoot and kill starving children, o they have let in the relief organizations, content to let the local warlords steal 80% of the food and sell it in the marketplace instead of giving it away to starving citizens. After all, I'm sure that Ayn Rand would approve, right?

The end may be in sight in Syria, even though its military has taken over just like the Revolutionary Guard did in Iran. Turkey and Saudi Arabia may invade as the logical next step to their warnings about stopping the violence. We may have a chess match with Tehran trying to resurrect the Persian Empire, playing against the rising Ottoman Empire, played out at the end of Ramadan a couple of weeks away. Hillary Clinton is wisely staying away, we'll see who Russia and the Chinese have given their blessings to soon enough... The moving pen, having writ, moves on...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Michele Invokes Ghost Of Elvis, Putin Puts On Manly Spectacle Again

David Ignatius
Maureen Dowd
“Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treacherous — or treasonous in my opinion. I don’t know what y’all would do to him in Iowa, but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas.” - Rick Perry
"Why do conservatives always have to brand people traitors? Why can’t they just say “You’re mistaken”?" - Maureen Dowd
“We may disagree with our political opponents, but we certainly think they’re all patriots — even those who wanted to secede from the union.” - Jay Carney

Not only is The King turning over in his grave this year, but he is stalking the Midwest and the South. In South Carolina yesterday, Michelle Bachmann played Elvis tunes before her political rally. She then went on in typical Michelese: "Before we get started, let's all say 'Happy Birthday' to Elvis Presley today," said Bachmann while speaking in the Palmetto State. "We played you a little bit of promise land when we pulled up. You can't do better than Elvis Presley."

The only problem is that Elvis was born on January 8, 1935. People acknowledged that yesterday was the anniversary of the day that Elvis died, many held a candle-light vigil in front of Graceland, where Mrs Bachmann dare not set foot anytime soon... What with fried butter-on-a-stick at the Iowa fair, with Elvis music in the background, his ghost must be out stalking Michele Bachmann, hunka hunka burning ectoplasm...

Summer nights, ghosts, political desire, and monster films reminds me of the ending of the poem "The Bride of Frankenstein" by Edward Field:

And perhaps even the monster lived
to roam the earth, his desire still ungratified;
and lovers out walking in shadowy and deserted places
will see his shape loom up over them, their doom --
and children sleeping in their beds
will wake up in the dark night screaming
as his hideous body grabs them.

I'm not sure if I'm trying to make fun of Marcus Bachmann or Rick Perry, the monster hidden deep within me refuses to fully reveal itself. All I know is that it's certainly fun with all of the conservative crazies out and empowering themselves in public. It took two days before Mr Perry started waxing vitriolic. Being downright mean and attacking your opponent personally is just good old Texas-style politics, he don't know no other way... I know that we're not supposed to mess with Texas, but what happens when a Texan messes with us? Maybe we could ask Karl Rove...

Well, at least in Russia they give their citizens more of a choice for political office  - not. It's time for the next President, the current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, to begin going out in public and get himself photographed doing manly things. As reporter Ellen Barry put it in the NY Times: "Political competition has been all but extinguished since Vladimir V. Putin came to power, so elections serve as little more than a ritual display of loyalty. But Kremlin insiders see popularity as a key to the survival of a government that, 20 years after the Soviet collapse, has few stable state institutions other than its leaders’ personalities.

This accounts for a political life that sometimes looks like a never-ending campaign, in which leaders extinguish wildfires, upbraid billionaire industrialists, or, as was seen last week, scuba dive in the company of a camera crew. Polling data has become an essential part of governing."

The latest stunt pulled by Mr Putin, had him scuba diving in a whopping six feet of water, and "discovering" an archeological artifact that was planted there earlier. Why he persists in these charades is beyond me; does he have such blatant ego and little self-awareness to realize how foolish he looks? Maybe that's why the average Russian polls positive on these things, it's their way of getting back at their leaders for exhibiting such greed and corruption. Oh, yes, Vladimir, show us again how brave and courageous you are! Just wait until we open this next bottle of vodka... Not to be outdone, Dmitry Medvedev has negotiated with Iran a proposal to reopen nuclear talks. If you can't retrieve an ancient artifact, nuke em...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me


Monday, August 15, 2011

How Iraq Celebrates Ramadan, A New Tradition...

Paul Krugman
Elizabeth Rubin
Richard Parker
"Corporations are people. It's time to remake 'Guess Who's Coming to Dinner' where the daughter brings home an oil rig. You know Spencer Tracy won't want to see his daughter drilled." – Stephen Colbert, on Mitt Romney's declaration that "corporations are people"

"Congress is now appointing a debt committee to deal with the debt. I thought Congress was the debt committee. Aren't they the ones who put us in debt?" – Jay Leno

"President Obama said this week that the downgrading of our credit rating should give America 'a renewed sense of urgency.' A renewed sense of urgency? When was this not urgent? The only people that don't think it's urgent are the Congressmen that just went on a five-week vacation. Can we get their asses back here?" – Jay Leno

"President Obama says he inherited most of the problems with the economy. I think he's being modest. He deserves a little credit." – Jay Leno

“It is Ramadan this month and we should pray that we won’t kill each other."  - Saad Ahmed
To prove how crazy dangerous life has become in Iraq, some group, either al Qaeda or part of the police, set off one of the deadliest days, of multiple bomb and suicide bomber attacks all over the country that killed 86 people and wounded over 300. This ends up putting stress on the hospitals, that don't have enough doctors or medical supplies, despite the billions of dollars in aid sent to Iraq each year. I mentioned the police because one man in Kut, who was a vegetable seller in the bazaar, said that the car with the bomb had been parked where it was since Sunday night, and that it was behind barriers set up by the police, and the only way the car could have gotten there was by the police letting it past the barriers and letting it park overnight. It was the first of many conflicting stories...

Critics say that the bombings are a protest over the Iraqi government agreeing to sit down and hammer out an agreement with the US, to see how many troops we will leave in the country after the end of the year. The main group that would benefit from having all troops gone is Moqtada al Sadr's party, and they have the Iranian connections that would get them enough bombs and munitions to pull off such a caper... Then there are the sympathists to the old Baath Party, who may be saying screw everybody, let's cause some trouble... There is always the possibility that different factions in the existing government use the fear generated to jockey for position and more money for the police, know who your friends are... I'm sure that every neighborhood in every town has a different theory for why this happened.

Oh, yeah, it could be al Qaeda. It was pointed out by an Afghani warlord that groups like the Taliban and al Qaeda use suicide bombers because they don't have enough men to fight any kind of battle, so they turn to these pathetic, anti-Islamic tactics... Who knows just how crazy their members have become now that they have been deprived of their Pakistani pornography and their leadership gone. Just as living in the jungle and eating bugs turned Pol Pot and his Kmer Rouge into batshit killing machines, living in the desert when the heat is above 120 degrees must cook the brain cells until they are crispy fried... The local al Qaeda representative thinks that the citizens of Iraq enjoy being made the targets of so many bombings, and that they look forward to the next attacks. Certainly, al Qaeda worships death above all other religions: ”We have men who have divorced themselves from life and love death more than you love life, and killing is one of their wishes,” What a wonderful path towards liberation. Maybe it was Osama bin Laden who kept the mentally ill from taking over. And why is it that suicide bombers only seem to be in Baghdad, Kabul, Islamabad, and New York? OK, that last was a cheap shot, considering that the last ones caught in America came from Colorado, Salt Lake City, and Fort Hood, Texas...

Ironically, many Iraqis have fled to Syria to escape the violence. The current level of bombings and shooting by the Syrian government on its civilian population must feel like deja vu all over again... I wonder, if after the US actually does leave Iraq alone, how many Iraqis will then move to Iran? Will the borders become porous like the EU, or will they tighten up enough to build a fence? Maybe that could be our last gift to them, a lasting legacy that would affect their lives about as much as the Berlin Wall did... Of course, like along our own border, it would only get about 2/3 built before running out of funding... I'm beginning to think that the whole Middle East needs to get rid of their male leaders, and let the women run things for a good few hundred years, that is, if you guys can keep yourselves from assassinating them...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Iowa Straw Pole and Hillbilly Handfishing, London Needs Egyptian Peacekeepers,Texas Says Take Rick Perry ... Please

"They say the price of gas could soon be under $3 a gallon. Do you know what that means? You can now afford to drive by the house you used to live in, go by the job you used to have, and go see the bank where you used to have money." – Jay Leno

"President Obama said this week that the downgrading of our credit rating should give America 'a renewed sense of urgency.' A renewed sense of urgency? The only people that don't think it's urgent are the congressmen that just went on a five week vacation." – Jay Leno

"Sarah Palin's daughter-in-law just gave birth three months after getting married, and thus won the annual Palin Almost Abstinent Award." – Jay Leno

"Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman announced that he received the endorsement of Jeb Bush, Jr., who is the son of the brother of the former president. Analysts say he's sewn up the crucial 'guy you didn't know existed' vote." – Conan O'Brien

The newspaper delivery people didn't deliver my papers today, and I've been trolling through the news web sites, but it really isn't the same. I'm old fashioned and take satisfaction in holding the paper while I'm reading it, getting newsprint all over my face and hands. Same for reading a book, except its less messy, and I have to return it to the library, afterwards... The big news is that Michele Bachmann won the Iowa straw poll, with Ron Paul coming in second. This is big news in Iowa, perhaps, a big hit with the blue rinse and suspender wearing crowd, but I don't think many people under 30 went and voted. Perhaps the older a person is in Iowa, the closer to death they are, and the more evangelical they are so they don't have to admit how much they have wasted their lives... sorry, I was making an oblique reference to the poem by the mid-western poet James Wright:

Over my head, I see the bronze butterfly,
Asleep on the black trunk,
blowing like a leaf in green shadow.
Down the ravine behind the empty house,
The cowbells follow one another
Into the distances of the afternoon.
To my right,
In a field of sunlight between two pines,
The droppings of last year's horses
Blaze up into golden stones.
I lean back, as the evening darkens and comes on.
A chicken hawk floats over, looking for home.
I have wasted my life.

Tim Pawlenty, who came in a distant third in the straw poll, decided to drop out of the race and go back to that hammock in Minnesota... Now people can dissect the reasons that T-Paw failed to capture the right wing imagination. Mostly, because he is a BORING clone without an original idea expressed during his campaign, whose past accomplishment also blaze up into golden stones,which, upon further examination, is all horse manure... Now, all of the energy wasted sniping at one another can happen among Michele, Rick Perry, and Mit. None of the other candidates count, including the 13 other Texas folk who filed their presidential running papers. The only candidate who sound reasonable and has standards that he won't compromise, is John Huntsman, and who's gonna vote for him outside of Utah? In a culture where the participants get more excited in the show Hillbilly Handfishing than debating the future of our country, you get the candidates that you deserve... that said, I can hardly wait for the next caucus to take place in Colorado next year...

The news that accompanied Rick Perry throwing his hat into the ring also talked about the amount of money he has committed to his campaign. This is actually a form of boosterism by the papers, because Rick doesn't have as many backers as he would like you to believe, so that you might be more willing to go with the flow and donate to his campaign. Just like John McCain never got the endorsement of the Goldwater family in Arizona, so, too, Rick Perry doesn't have the endorsement of the Bush family in Texas. More importantly, Perry doesn't have the support of the "Bushies," who helped finance George W Bush's sojourn out from Texas. In fact, rick Perry has been losing support among average Texas voters lately, where the jobs and water have been drying up; he is seen as the same kind of hypocritical candidate who will say or do anything to get elected, and doesn't have the brain-power to speak off-script... Good thing he is a man with Faith, because that may have to sustain him...

Of course, the real story from Iowa is that Ron Paul came in second. Ron has enough idiosyncratic views to piss off both Republicans and Democrats, while the youth loves that he supports legalizing marijuana.  He also advocates in immediately bringing our soldiers back home, cutting the Pentagon's budget, and getting rid of the Federal Reserve, all which have support from folks all over the political spectrum. Then, he has some incredibly squirrely ideas that make you doubt his sanity, like all other Libertarians. To get the real flavor, you have to listen to him for at least an hour at a time, and in a pinch, listen to his son, who is even weirder, and I don't mean Mormon when I say that.

I read a report that said that the recent heatwave will have affected the crop yield, and that the cost of many items will rise. In fact, the predictions of less yields has prompted the rise in futures trading in commodities, which has guaranteed the rising prices, as the money lost in shorting stock will have to be made up at the cash register, meaning you and I pay to recover the money that others are making and losing in the stock market. Not only should this be illegal, but if we stopped futures trading and allowing short selling, the price of gasoline and food items would be cut by almost half, relieving much of the critical shortage of food in much of the world today... Also, if the large multi-national food corporations allowed poor countries to go back to subsistence agriculture instead on insisting they each grow only one or two products for the world market, they might be able to ward off the inevitable famines, coming to a third world country near you...

Now that the British government resembles more like the 'Syrian government, will they be sending in tanks to patrol the streets of London? Of course, things have settled down now that most of the looters got their flat-screen televisions, and suddenly have nothing else to riot for... Perhaps what Britain needs next is a force of Egyptian peacekeepers... If Bashar al Assad continues to go batshit on his citizens, I almost expect the Egyptian Army to invade and send him to the same hospital as Hosni Mubarak is dying in. Add Moammar Qaddaffi and the head of Hezbollah, and they will have enough for an endless game of cards... both turkey and the Saudis have said that they will support Assad if he stops murdering his citizens and calling them members of al Qaeda...

Speaking of al Qaeda, the CIA propagandists have been hard at work, trying to link the Yemeni al Qaeda movement to the making of the poison ricen. They also keep trying to pin all the blame of the Yemeni franchise of al Qaeda on the American, Anwar al Awlaki. He gets mentioned in every press briefing on Yemen, and soon we will mount a multi-million dollar mercenary and drone hunt for him, oh, wait, we already are doing this without informing the american public or most members of Congress. But it's OK, because he has been put on a death list, of people the president says it's OK to kill on sight. I wonder how much larger the death list would be if George W bush was still in office, or if Marcus Bachmann or Todd Palin got their mitts and t-paws on one...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

London Calling, Them Crazy Eyes

Richard Sennett
Leslie Bennetts
"Only a couple of days until the big Republican Iowa Republican straw poll. Pollsters say it's a dead heat between the guy you never heard of, the guy who used to be somebody, and the woman who has no chance of winning." – Jay Leno
"We owe China more than a trillion dollars. Why don't we just give them Florida?" – Jimmy Kimmel
"I don't want to say the economy is worrisome, but I turned on CNN and MSNBC and the blond anchor lady was just sitting there eating a pint of ice cream." – Bill Maher

I've been watching debates between pundits over whether we'll see riots like the ones in Britain here in the US. Let's see, do we have a large amount of people who are unemployed? Are many of them young,  sitting around growing sullen and bored? We might as well start betting on which month it will happen in, maybe which city... You would think that a group of angry people in the US would feel solidarity with the London rioters, but the tea partiers are scared to death. After all, Britain is in the middle of austerity measures, they are shrinking the government and firing over 16,000 police officers next year, and that was planned before the hacking scandal broke... Now that we have committed to $2 trillion in cuts, we will be laying off thousands of government workers, releasing thousands of soldiers from active duty, yet retaining the generals in the Pentagon that can't keep track of $70 billion in Afghanistan. We will cut back on all social services, and if you have a child with special needs, good luck, you are on your own unless you want them to have a lecture on the benefits of abstinence...

I'm surprised that we haven't had more riots around the world. The demonstrations in the Middle East began over rising food prices and the lack of jobs. Neither of those problems have been solved, if anything, they have only gotten worse. Expect riots in Iraq and Afghanistan once the US leaves and the populations realize just how badly their own governments suck... We really haven't had a knock down, send in the tanks riot in Pakistan yet, and once we leave the region, they won't have us as a scapegoat anymore, and can safely turn on each other. Damn, that means that a few more Sufi shrines will get destroyed...

As always, for an even scarier view of the world, we can always go to either Russia or Germany. From Spiegal online: "One month ahead of a state election in Berlin, the far-right extremist NPD party is under fire for a provocative new campaign poster. Party leader Udo Voigt is pictured on a motorcycle with a phrase that translates to "step on the gas," a slogan many are reading as an open allusion to Nazi death chambers..."

Speaking of ranting, here's Bill Maher:
"The only way they’re going to pull the debate back from the far right is for liberals to elect their own slate of 60 unstable, looney-toon, mad-as-a-hatter, crazy motherf**kers." –Bill Maher

"So please liberals start trolling Whole Foods parking lots, nude beaches, erotic cake stores, the MSNBC commissary. Anywhere where you might find angry left-wing lunatics to create a party within a party, as the Tea Party is a party within the Republicans, and to show that we will not back down in a crazy-off against anybody. The party within a party will be called the Donner Party." –Bill Maher

"That’s right, we will literally eat each other before we give an inch, and this is our leader, Face Ripper Monkey… And don’t tell me that there already is such an entity on the left, that it’s the ACLU, Greenpeace and Oh please, those are educated people lawyers and scientists. We need loudmouths and bad dressers who can match the tea people maniac for maniac, and say to them you think you can be pea brained, single minded, and purple with rage?" –Bill Maher

"Well, the Donner Party is a dog that can bark at a pine cone for nine days and not get tired. You say no new taxes on the rich. We say tax the rich at 100%. You call for a constitutional amendment banning abortion. We call for a federally funded partial birth abortions at the drive-thru at McDonalds. You want Reagan on the fifty dollar bill. We insist on Jeanine Garofalo, because apparently crazy is the new sensible and will not lose the war of bad ideas." –Bill Maher

Is this the face of a crazy woman? She and her handlers approved the picture before it was published, but other conservative groups have said that her eyes look crazy in this picture, they found it unsettling having her stare at them from the supermarket check-out line... Yet, Michelle is one of the frontrunners going into this weekend's meaningless Ames Poll at the University of Iowa. State caucasus and election don't happen until a little over a year from now, and so many things can happen between now and then. the only good thing that could happen after this Iowa poll, is that Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum may have to drop out... Michelle is looking good ever since she attended the first candidate's debate, looking more alive than the men, and putting her answers in neat, short sound bites, all the better for old folks to understand... Besides, I worry more nowadays about Mr Bachmann, who really is out of his freaking mind...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Watts, Err, London riots, MEK Apologists, Diana Nyad Fails

Joe Nocera

The riots in London remind me of when we had rioting in Detroit and Los Angeles. The rioting them seemed impossible to predict, unless you lived in the neighborhoods in question. What bothers me is the British government calling people responsible for the rioting terrorists. The phrase is used much too freely and loosely... The last government to call its war against its citizens is the Syrian government, rolling in the tanks and killing "outside terrorists" during the holy month of Ramadan. No wonder that Saudi Arabia and Turkey have tried to get Assad to stop. But, he and those surrounding him are way over the edge of sanity, and the only way out for them will be either jail or a bullet... Britiain will have to do some soul searching, it's one thing to allow immigrants into your country, but if you don't give them paths to assimilate, then you end up with ghettos filled with poor, bitter people, preyed upon by predators and drug pushers.

There are whole generations who have lived in London and never found a job to sustain themselves. Mix with the teenage rebellious spirit, and it's easy to see why looting erupted. Unfortunately, a Sony warehouse was set on fire, burning hundreds of thousands of music cds, movie dvds, and vinyl records, a cultural loss that will be felt across Europe for quite some time...

There is a certain group of Iranians living in Iraq, known as the MEK. They were originally a counter-insurgency group that wanted to wage guerilla war against Iran. When the US invaded, they had to take the tanks that they originally gave them, and tried to quarantine them in one village. The village was supposed to have been under American protection, but raids from the new Iraqi army have happened "by mistake" from time to time. The MEK army is also on the US terrorist watch list.

There have been recent efforts by some members of Congress to get the MEK off of the terrorist list. This is the preliminary work so that we can then bring the MEK to the US as special immigrants, about 10,000 in one swoop. We may leave individuals we hired as translators and contractors, but the MEK will survive... Could be worse, in Afghanistan, the US has processed a whopping total of two visa applications, one of them was denied...

The PR pablum that was given out, was that Diana Nyad, the 61 year old marathon swimmer, was doing it for the rest of us, and us old farts could take pride in ourselves and our being over age 60. Except Diane had to quit halfway between her destination of Havana, Cuba, and Key West, Florida. Her body was exhausted, and she just couldn't swim anymore. In her statement to the press afterwards, Ms Nyad had the incredible bad taste of saying: "I don't know if there's a more famous stretch of ocean than the one between Cuba and Florida. How many Cubans are on the bottom of the ocean who didn't make it across?"

I guess that's the question, Diana. How many Cubans attempted the 103 mile swim as an attention getting device, hoping to tie it to the goals of their fading youth? I would have been more impressed if Ms Nyad had taken all of the money she had raised and given it to a Cuban charity instead of pocketing it all for the sake of 60 plus individuals everywhere...

Instead of taking joy in your smarmy urgings for folks over 60 to live passionately and intensely, I will take the bitter advice of the Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas, who, in his drunken fashion, bid us to:

rage, rage against the dying light,
oh do not go gentle into that good night

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Vacationing In Israel, Building A Cheaper Spy Plane, Drones In Mexico

Paul Krugman

Congress is on vacation for the rest of the Summer, do you know where your Congressman will be? I have no problems with my local Congressman traveling, in fact, I wish Doug Lamborn would take a much needed educational tour of Africa, but I thought that our representatives had vowed not to accept gifts from lobbying groups.

About 80 of our Congress members will be traveling to Israel, paid for by The American Israel Education Foundation. The Democrats will be led by Steny Hoyer and the Republicans by Eric Cantor. Because of the friction between Israel's Prime Minister and our Democratic administration, it's obvious that the Foundation hopes to influence the Congressmen. In September will be the coming vote in the UN to legitimize Palestine as a state. Let's hope that our travelers won't be inspired by the recent legislation passed by the Knesset that makes it a crime for any Israeli citizen to support an anti-Israeli rally. It looks like the results of the Arab Spring have freaked out certain elements of old men...

One of the star attractions of last week's black Hat Conference in Las Vegas, was the WASP, or Wireless Aerial Surveillance Platform. It's a remote-controlled plane with a computer inside, that can fly up to 400 feet, and monitor wireless networks, and can even attack on if it wanted to. It can also eavesdrop on cell phones and text messages.

Instead of some high priced drone, it was built for $6,190 with off the shelf parts from a hobby store. It was built to prove that something like it could easily be built, how vulnerable our networks actually are. It cold hover over a building, checking to see if the network is secure or not. If secure, it then could follow an employee to a neighborhood Starbucks, mimic the store's network and allowing access to a laptop or cellphone. As one of the plane's builders put it, "In Starbucks, no-one can hear your laptop scream..."

The US administration wants to send some CIA contractors to Mexico, to handle some of our drones for them. We already have soldiers, police, and CIA there to train the Federales in our style of gaining information on the drug cartels. We won't be giving any drones to Mexico anytime soon, because we don't trust them with our toys, just like we don't trust the Afghan Army, the Iraqis, and the Pakistanis. Other than letting private contractors be in charge of our drone program, what else is wrong with this picture? There have been over 45,000 innocent people killed in the crossfire of this ugly drug war since it was declared, and,  thanks to our help, the carnage is about to be accelerated...

Sunday, August 7, 2011

S &P Downgrade

Maureen Dowd
EJ Dionne Jr

“Yes, we can!” has devolved into “Hey, we might.” - Maureen Dowd
"This recession has been pulling away the football from forecasters like Lucy and Charlie Brown." - Kenneth Rogoff
"The first week of August 2011 will be remembered as a singularly irrational, wasteful and shameful moment in the political and economic history of the United States. It reflected much of what is wrong with the priorities of our political elites and the obsessions of those who now hold effective veto power over our government." - EJ Dionne Jr

So, everyone is pointing the finger at each other, saying how irresponsible the other party is, while S & P downgraded the US government from a AAA rating to a AA rating, the first time it has ever happened to our government. S & P says that the recent negotiation over the deficit was a piss-poor plan, and so the government deserved the downgrade... One wonders if there might be some kind of snippy attitude, rubbing the government's face in its basic ineffectiveness. During the lead-up to the financial crisis, the ratings companies like Moody's, Fitch, and S & P threw their ideals down the drain and were selling AAA ratings to bundles of mortgages so that other companies like Goldman and Sachs could resell them. And now they are reacting to a high drama of smoke and mirrors by extremist conservatives who feel that everything can be solved if only there were enough tax cuts... I know I was looking forward to a long, hot summer that would make people bitchy and mean, but this is more than I bargained for... If nothing else, the downgrade has certainly caught the attention of the pundits-that-be, and maybe we will start coming up with some pragmatic ideas on how to get out of this mess. after all, the rest of the world is hoping that we do so that they can follow in our footsteps, since the only ideas they have come up with is austerity programs, which isn't working out very well...

One of the statistics from the employment and unemployment statistics about last month, stated that the unemployment rate had gone down slightly, but that was because 193,000 people have stopped searching for jobs, leaving only about 25 million unemployed. But, what is going to happen to those 193,000? Does a similar amount of people give up each month, or is that when their unemployment insurance runs out? Will we see a super crime wave soon, or a rash of suicides? What happened to the dignity of a human life and the American Dream?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Missing Richard Nixon, Shrinking Tea Parties

Kurt Anderson

Well, did you have a good time at Rick Perry's faith rally? I hope you viewed it as a positive and humbling experience, not as an event cynically manipulated by a man who will be seeking your votes. I don't think that Rick is smart enough to do the latter, but his handlers sure would... I am always wary of any politician who brings their faith into the public limelight. It's like introducing your children on stage and bringing them to rallies, then complaining that it was unfair for people to write about them, an act now known as Pulling A Palin... I also am leery of anyone who asks God for an answer in prayer without practicing meditation in their life. It's too easy to deceive them, have any minor demon pretend they are god, and give them a false answer, ending with the ignorant fools believing they had a vision...

Kurt Anderson's column in the NY Times reminds us of Richard Nixon's madman theory, that if he could persuade the North Vietnamese that he might do anything, including crazy actions, then he might get them to sit down and negotiate his way.
Anderson also claims that Nixon was the farthest to the left of all President's that came after him, his argument: "The overreaching Euro-socialist nanny state that today’s Republicans despise? That blossomed in the Nixon administration.

Spending on social services doubled, and military budgets actually decreased. He oversaw the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. His administration was the first to encourage and enable American Indian tribal autonomy. He quadrupled the staff of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, almost tripled federal outlays for civil rights and began affirmative action in federal hiring. He supported the Equal Rights Amendment and signed Title IX, the law granting equality to female student athletes. One of his Supreme Court appointees wrote the Roe v. Wade decision.

Nixon made Social Security cost-of-living increases automatic, expanded food stamps and started Supplemental Security Income for the disabled and elderly poor. It helped, of course, that Democrats controlled the House and Senate. But it was the president, not Congress, who proposed a universal health insurance plan and a transformation of welfare that would have set a guaranteed minimum income and allowed men to remain with their welfare-recipient families. It was Nixon who radically intervened in the free market by imposing wage and price controls, launched d├ętente with the Soviets, normalized relations with Mao’s China and let the Communists win in Vietnam."

My own first run-in with Richard Nixon happened in the fifth-grade. Everyone else's parents were for John F Kennedy in the election that year, and it seemed that mine alone, and by extension myself, were supporters of Nixon. I was chased around the playground by former friends who were Catholic, and beaten up after school, all for expressing verbal support for my parent's choices. I later took it personally when Kennedy was assassinated on my birthday...

Nixon, to me, is one of the most interesting political figures we have produced. I first began reading biographies about him because I remained appalled by him when he was President, and felt that I should confront those emotions. He reinvented himself several times during his career, going from craven, communist-baiting congressman to elder statesman just before he died. He is one of the few people I wished that I had sat down with and shared cigars and cognac with, along with folks like Richard Pryor, Jorge Amado, and the poet James Wright... Evidently, Nixon's legacy continues to haunt today's right wing, as they want to eliminate everything that he created. How ironic that in our current political climate, richard Nixon is considered to have been too liberal... I think everyone of my generation has to make their peace with Nixon's ghost, even if we don't have him to kick around, anymore...

Of course, many articles written these past few days are about how support for the tea party has been diminishing. Phone surveys have asked folks if they were favorable or not towards tea party views. In 2010, when the question was first asked, 18 percent had an unfavorable view. This year, the unfavorable rating was 40 percent, quite a jump. This may be attributed to the recent hijinks performed by conservative members of Congress, or it may be due to the hijacking of the tea party organizations by extremists who have imposed their views and shut out others. Matt Kibbe, the president of Freedomworks, insists that the tea parties are pushing the agenda of balancing the budget, reducing the debt, and cutting the size of the government. The last issue was the only subject I heard people giving speeches about in the first tea party rally here in Colorado Springs, now home of the white tar baby, Doug Lamborn. He actually is a coal-tar baby,who also sticks to the inside of your lungs... Doug supports my theory that the only time our city makes national headlines, it's because of something embarrassing happening. We have the Olympic Committee headquartered here, so we're just ripe for another scandal...

A lot of tea party web sites have disappeared, and our local tea party newspaper, the Constitutionalist Today, went out of production after a few issues, partly because the woman who was the editor couldn't make a cohesive argument in writing even if she was paid for it... As a past editor of narrow niche fare, I understand all to well the surprise and feelings when you discover that you are not catapulted into the national spotlight and that you will not be making a living off of your dreams... but it could all boil down to the simple fact that many folks are tired of being angry and have decided to focus their attentions elsewhere. Plus, us old folks don't have much of an attention span, thanks to the behavior modification techniques from years of watching television. Both the behavior modification and the hidden liberalism of folks like Nixon and Reagan come from essays written by Jerry Mander. I wonder what he has written lately?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Job Numbers, Hacktivism May Be Good For You

Michael Gerson
Paul Krugman
"Both parties read the same Bible and pray to the same God — but apparently listen to different economists." - Michael Gerson
"It’s not just that the threat of a double-dip recession has become very real. It’s now impossible to deny the obvious, which is that we are not now and have never been on the road to recovery." - Paul Krugman

Job numbers released today claim that the private sector added 117,000 jobs, however, as Paul Krugman relates, over 40% of our population is now unemployed, maybe permanently. The indications of the incentives that the Obama administration is working on may make him look ridiculous, a drop in the bucket that evaporates in the seasonal heat. Certain areas of the economy continue to make money, for example, GM posted an 89% increase in sales over this time last year, simply by raising the base price of their cars and trucks, twice... And despite the volatile stock market, companies like Goldman Sachs continue to rake in money hand over fist, even AIG has posted a profit since their almost demise three years ago...

Still, the right wing uses smoke and mirrors to hide their ineffectiveness at coming up with practical solutions, creating all of this high drama over the debt ceiling, and saying the next fight will be over a balanced budget. Right now, we should be focusing on the getting the economy back on its feet, not letting the regulators sit around on their thumbs, and rebuilding trust among our friends and allies. After all, a balanced budget hasn't done well for states like California, and it could create a bigger mess on the federal level. But it might be a good thing to have the whole federal government shut down on Fridays, including the air traffic controllers...

Now that the House is on recess for five weeks, why not sublet all of their offices for the season? Or, we could put some refugees in there, say, from Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, or Somalia... To save some money when they come back, we should limit the number of staff each Congressman has, say, to three or four people. If they want more, let them pay for them out of their own deep pockets. Or let the folks back home decide how many they want to pop for... In the case of my own representative, who does nothing, we could limit him to one part-time secretary. Even then, he would find a way to make it onto Keith Olberman's Worst Persons In The World list...

One of the sectors that is booming, is the area of computer security, mainly because all government agencies use private sector companies instead of developing departments of their own. See, we already are limiting government in so many ways. Not only is security a growth industry, but lately many of the security companies themselves have come under cyber- attack, especially the ones that boasted how they could bust the hacker group Anonymous: "The Web site of ManTech International, a $2.6 billion computer security company that won a major F.B.I. contract, sells its services this way: “Whether an intrusion is conducted by a skilled outsider with criminal intent, an adolescent hacker seeking a thrill or a disgruntled employee bent on revenge or espionage, the potential risks to the organization are enormous.”

Last Friday, ManTech was that organization.

A band of Internet vigilantes calling itself Anonymous said it had sneaked into ManTech’s computers to demonstrate the company’s insecurity. The group released what it said were internal company documents and, in language that suggested the handiwork of an adolescent hacker seeking a thrill, taunted the company online: “It’s really good to know that you guys are taking care of protecting the United States from so-called cyber threats.”
“A little bit of public humiliation is going to go a long way in helping the security industry clean up.” - Jeff Moss
Public humiliation is the best way to institute change, especially in the egotistical world of hacking and security. Even after an embarrassing hack, many of the companies that sell their software and services to groups like the Pentagon and the FBI, continue to peddle their flawed products to the paranoid children in procurement. No wonder the Chinese have had such an easy time obtaining information on military contracts...: "The most notorious breach of a security company came early this year after an executive at HBGary Federal, a relatively small consultant eyeing a government contract, boasted publicly of his ability to unmask the members of Anonymous. In response, hackers made off with a large trove of the company’s e-mail messages and dumped them online, exposing details of its business transactions.

Greg Hoglund, who is the chief executive of HBGary, the parent company that owns a minority stake in HBGary Federal, said that the breach was the result of “a human mistake” and that his firm, along with other security companies, had fortified their systems since then.

"It was a wake-up call for the entire security industry,” Mr. Hoglund said. “It probably needed to happen. I wish I didn’t have to be the sacrificial lamb.”

We are poor little lambs, who have lost our way, baaaa, baaaa, baaaa... Thankfully, we have the Black Hat conference, now taking place in Las Vegas, and groups like Anonymous that engage in hactivism, exposing the weaknesses of human designed systems... Stay thirsty, my friends...

How about those late night jokes?

"A man jumped the White House fence, but after a brief chase, the Secret Service was able to talk President Obama into coming back and finishing his term." – Conan O'Brien

"I see Congress more as a bunch of monkeys. High-fiving each other in celebration, having forgotten that mere moments ago they were throwing their own feces." – Daily Show correspondent Jason Jones

"Our prayers are answered! America's own 'Legion of Doofs.'" – Jon Stewart on the new congressional Super Committee

"President Obama signed the new debt bill into law. But it doesn't really solve the problem. Economists say in 10 years, the deficit will be $27 trillion. But you know what? In 10 years, that'll be President Bieber's problem." – Jay Leno

"Just 10 days until the big Iowa Republican presidential straw poll. How many think Mitt Romney will win the straw poll? How many think Michele Bachmann will win? How many would rather vote for the straw?" – Jay Leno

"Happy birthday to President Obama, who is turning 50, although Republicans in Congress are demanding he cut his age to 40." – Jimmy Kimmel

"President Obama celebrated his 50th birthday in his hometown of Chicago. Oprah jumped out of the cake. Then she jumped back in. She loves cake." – Jimmy Kimmel

"It's interesting to see the Tea Party go from a small group of people that everyone thinks is crazy to a large group of people that everyone thinks is crazy." – Jimmy Kimmel

"President Obama celebrated his 50th birthday in Chicago. Obama cut the cake, then Republicans cut everything else." – Jimmy Fallon

"While eating at a burger place , President Obama gave a free milkshake to an 11-year-old boy. Not to be nice, he just wanted to get rid of it because he saw Michelle coming." – Jimmy Fallon

"According to a new poll, voters described the way Congress behaved during the debt debate as 'disgusting, stupid, and ridiculous.' They would have also accepted 'gutless and cowardly.'" – David Letterman

"A lot of people want to know what Osama bin Laden's last words were. In a new article, they tell you: 'Come in.'" – David Letterman

"The Louvre has more bare breasts than any other institution in the world, with the possible exception of the Clinton Library." – Craig Ferguson

‎"I don't believe in birth control. If you want to control your fertility, do it the way God intended: with a cold, loveless marriage." – Stephen Colbert

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Global Stock Downer, Warren Jeffs Guilty, Global Porn Ring Busted, For Now

Nicholas Kristoff
"July was the hottest month on record in Washington, D.C. But it's not the heat that gets you; it's the stupidity." – Jay Leno

"A new report has found that adults in Washington D.C. are among the top users of cocaine in the country. Hence the name 'District of Columbia.'" – Jay Leno

"That's what the study said. The study found that Washington D.C. residents were the top abusers of alcohol, cocaine, and marijuana. All this time we thought the problem was government waste. Nope – the government is wasted." – Jay Leno

The Dow Jones fell over 500 points, and people interpret that as the market being worried? That the economy may be in permanent recession and we will never recover too our former glory before George W Bush took office? As long as we have 1% of the population controlling 46% of the economy, things will never balance out. There is a finite amount in the pie chart, and unless the super-rich give some of it back, there won't even be any crumbs left for the middle-class on down... What we will soon be seeing and rooting for, is a few Robin Hood steal-from-the-rich scenarios, so start traveling to the Southwest border towns to buy your automatic rifles, either the Revolution is coming or the End times is beginning, and you don't want to be caught on the sidelines sipping tea...

Rupert Murdoch's corporation is financing the new movie, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, opening this Friday. There have been so many commercials for this film, that you might think they are trying to divert your attention away from the hacking scandals of the Murdoch family. All of the apes were digitized in the film, which is quite incredible, and I understand that the monkey hero of the film does resemble a young Rupert...

Speaking of trying to divert your attention, the Mormon Church has been making commercials showing how diverse their members are, both ethnically and socially. Yet today, renegade polygamist and cult leader Warren Jeffs was found guilty of having sex with underage girls and marrying others to men of his church. A couple of days ago he threatened the lives of the judge and the prosecutors, but put it in the language of being punished by God. It looks like fire and brimstone didn't work on the jury, and hopefully, we won't have Mr Jeffs on our radar any longer. I don't care about the polygamy part, if it was done by equally consenting adults. The sad part, is the number of brainwashed zombies he leaves behind that still try to honor him and live according to his wishes, proving that bad religion is a lot like taking meth in killing your soul...

I have to provide this link before the news story gets buried, like all of the previous ones... Every few years police around the world bust an international child pornography ring. Then, a few years later, the ring reforms and is back in business. Here is today's news announcement:

"About 600 people around the world were members of the online bulletin board “Dreamboard” before it shut down this spring amid the investigation, officials said. The Justice Department announced that 72 people had been charged so far, including more than 50 already arrested in the United States and abroad.

The network specialized in graphic and often violent images of the sexual abuse of children under the age of 12, including infants. It created an incentive among its members to create new files by kicking them out of the network if they did not upload material at least once every 50 days, and by granting them greater access to its archives if they created their own child pornography, said Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer."

To give you an idea how pervasive this is: "members had also been arrested in Canada, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Germany, Hungary, Kenya, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Qatar, Serbia, Sweden and Switzerland." This network had the name of Dreamboard. When it was based in Los Angeles, it was called Wonderland. During the last 15 years, the names changed, and the servers were put in different countries. Arrests that supposedly put them out of business occurred in Los Angeles, Saint Petersburg, Japan, Spain, and Portugal. Often, a highly recognizable celebrity, politician, or police chief was involved. Of the 600 some members of Dreamboard, only 72 have been arrested, leaving the bulk at large.

This is the dark side of the Internet, and it also involves in the trafficking of children, using them for pornography, then often discarding the children, ending their lives. Under one percent of the children identified in the porno videos have been later found and recovered. I'm sorry to report on such dire subjects, making fun of dumb politicians is so much easier...