Thursday, April 30, 2009

April was the deadliest month in Iraq in a year

If the media weren't behind Obama, this would be front page news.

And, isn't this the kind of news that MoveOn, et al. used to protest with seminars and boycotts and news conferences and demonstrations?

What are we saving?

Under the president's direction, GM and Chrysler are severely cutting employee benefits, greatly reducing the number of employees, reducing by one third to one half the number of dealerships (which in turn destroys jobs), cutting the number of brands, defaulting on and renegotiating loans and investments, and being sold to foreign investors.

If the goal was to save the American auto industry in order to protect good high paying manufacturing, retail and service sector jobs, we will never attain that goal. In fact, we already abandoned that goal. And, the industry that survives will no longer be American owned. Are we really spending billions so that an Italian company can own a rump Chrysler, with a life expectancy of no more than another 10 years?

We should give lump sum direct aid to the workers to retrain, relocate or retire, rather than put a 19th century industrial operation on life support. It would be cheaper, and the aid would go directly to the workers.

"$3.4 trillion . . . a third of it borrowed"

"Democrats in Congress capped President Barack Obama's 100th day in office by advancing a $3.4 trillion federal budget for next year - a third of it borrowed - that prevents Republicans from blocking his proposed trillion-dollar expansion of government-provided health care over the next decade."

Think about that - a "$3.4 trillion federal budget for next year - a third of it borrowed", plus another "trillion-dollar expansion of government-provided health care", also borrowed.

There is no way this government can commit to spending $4.4 trillion dollars, at least $2.13 trillion (almost half) of it borrowed, and not go broke. Get ready for hyper inflation.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

"We do not hire mercenaries to go and kill people"

"As their American trainers shouted out the drill, 15 bearded young Afghan police officers marched back and forth with their U.S.-issue fake guns at an American outpost in the foothills of the Hindu Kush mountains, preparing for the dread day when they return to their valley, which the Taliban control. At a meeting close by, however, the top police official in Nuristan province was offering a solution to the loss of the Doab valley. ''The answer is to kill at least two of the senior insurgent leaders,'' Gen. Mohamed Qasim told the U.S. commander of the Provincial Reconstruction Team. Qasim offered to recruit an assassin, but he said he would need American money ``to carry out the killing.'' It wasn't the first time the issue had arisen, but in Afghan guerrilla country, Navy Cmdr. Caleb Kerr, who's from Little Rock, Ark., responded carefully: ``Actually, that is not the coalition policy. We do not hire mercenaries to go and kill people.''"

"We do not hire mercenaries to go and kill people." But, our "allies" do.

The citizens of this region are living in medieval times. Why do we think we can reach common ground with them?

Iran's defense minister visits Venezuela?

When do we start getting dividends on our out reach to Cuba, Venezuela and Iran?

So far, nothing.

Under the bus . . .

Joe Sestak and all the other Pennsylvania Democratic Obama- and Biden-supporters who thought they were going to run in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary for the Democratic nomination for senate to oppose Arlen Specter. Their reward for loyally supporting the Democratic ticket, supporting the unions and opposing the war? Obama and Biden endorsed, will support and will fundraise for Democrat come lately Specter.

A little perspective

Obama's approval rating at his one hundredth day is approximately the same as Bush's.

Republican party self identification is as low as it's been since 1983 - - the year before Reagan's landslide victory.

It's too early to predict 2010 and 2012 election results.

Swine flu prediction

Any governmental failures are blamed by this administration on prior administrations.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Why do we want better relations with Chavez?

"Peru said Monday it has granted asylum to a Venezuelan opposition leader who faces corruption allegations back home but claims to be a victim of political persecution by President Hugo Chavez. Foreign Minister Jose Antonio Garcia Belaunde announced the decision before Congress, telling reporters later that Manuel Rosales was given asylum for "humanitarian reasons." . . . Rosales, who lost a presidential race to Chavez in 2006, stepped down as mayor of Maracaibo, Venezuela's second-largest city, three weeks ago and went into hiding. Rosales' party said he was being harassed and feared for his safety, and he entered Peru as a tourist April 4 and requested political asylum last week. Rosales says he reported the disputed income in his income tax returns. He calls the accusation a "political lynching" ordered by Chavez and says a fair trial is impossible."

The Obama administration wants better relations with Chavez. Why?

We're not supposed to get along with dictators.

Poor word choice

"Obama launched his budget-paring effort when he told his Cabinet last week to find $100 million in savings -- less than one-tenth of 1 percent of his $3.55 trillion budget . . . Congress is likely to pass a fiscal 2010 budget blueprint later this week that increases nondefense discretionary spending, or the popular programs for which lawmakers can adjust spending easily, by at least 7 percent, one of the biggest single-year increases since the 1960s. Obama, citing the national economic emergency, wants a 10.1 percent increase next year."

When Congress wants to increase nondefense discretionary spending by at least 7 percent, and Obama wants a 10.1 percent increase, and then they want to cut less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the increased bloated total, the phrase "budget-paring" is not an accurate description of the cuts. "Negligible" or "minimal" would be more accurate.

Arlen Specter

"Veteran GOP Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania intends to announce Tuesday he will switch political parties and run in the Democratic primary in 2010."

Remember the lone gun man theory? the Anita Hill slanders? Is all forgiven?

It's "not part of a push for increased talks with Havana"?

"Advocates for trade with Cuba on Monday promised to boost efforts to open markets as a senior U.S. State Department official met with Cuba's top diplomat. Administration officials insisted the meeting between Thomas Shannon, assistant secretary of state for hemispheric affairs, and Jorge Bolaños, the chief of Cuba's Interests Section in Washington, was not part of a push for increased talks with Havana, even though President Barack Obama's recent overtures to Havana were expected to be discussed."

We're having "meetings", not "increased talks"?

I don't see the difference.

Monday, April 27, 2009

A nation of immigrants

Fascinating chart.

30+% of those born in Guyana, 20+% of those born in Trinidad, 20+% of those born in Jamaica, 15+% of those born in El Salvador, 10+% of those born in Mexico, 8+% of those born in Cuba, 7+% of those born in the Dominican Republic, and 6+% of those born in Haiti now reside in the U.S.

These are not percentages of those descended from immigrants from those countries, but the actual percentages of those born in those countries who now reside in the U.S.

Almost one third of the population of Guyana moved to America?

Withdrawing from Iraqi cities . . . by redefining "city"

"The United States and Iraq will begin negotiating possible exceptions to the June 30 deadline for withdrawing American combat troops from Iraqi cities, focusing on the troubled northern city of Mosul, according to military officials. Some parts of Baghdad also will still have combat troops. . . . In Baghdad . . . there are no plans to close the Camp Victory base complex, consisting of five bases housing more than 20,000 soldiers, many of them combat troops. Although Victory is only a 15 minute drive from the center of Baghdad and sprawls over both sides of the city’s boundary, Iraqi officials say they have agreed to consider it outside the city. In addition, Forward Operating Base Falcon, which can hold 5,000 combat troops, will also remain after June 30. It is just within Baghdad’s southern city limits. Again, Iraqi officials have classified it as effectively outside Baghdad, so no exception to the agreement needs to be granted, in their view. . . . "

In other words, the "anti war" candidate is now the president whose "withdrawal" plan will accomplish its goals by redefining the definition of "city". That should be a comfort to the spouses, children, families and friends of our combat troops in Iraq. Remember them?

There's a word for this . . .

"[T]he Obama administration is quietly pushing forward with efforts to reopen channels of communication with Cuba, according to White House and State Department officials. The officials said informal meetings were being planned between the State Department and Cuban diplomats in the United States to determine whether the two governments could open formal talks on a variety of issues, including migration, drug trafficking and other regional security matters. . . . to see whether the United States and Cuba could develop a “serious, civil, open relationship.” . . . Officials who discussed the plans did so on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the efforts. . . . [b]ut their comments indicated a departure from the White House’s previous position that it would not make further moves toward engagement until the Castro government reciprocated President Obama's lifting of restrictions on Cuban-Americans who wished to travel to Cuba or send money to relatives on the island."

What do you call it when you publicly announce one policy, but secretly follow another?

Iraq accuses U.S. of war crime - - yesterday

"Iraq's prime minister denounced a deadly U.S. raid on Sunday as a "crime" that violated the security pact with Washington and demanded American commanders hand over those responsible to face possible trial in Iraqi courts.

The U.S. military, however, strongly denied that it overstepped its bounds and said it notified Iraqi authorities in advance—in accordance with the rules that took effect this year governing U.S. battlefield conduct."

Obviously, the media coverage of accusations of "war crime" depends upon the identity of the accused criminal. It seems only pre January, 2009 war crimes are newsworthy.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Jordan's monarchy needs to stay home

It's bad enough having to listen to Dowager Queen Noor of Jordan (nee American socialite Lisa Halaby, who converted to Islam to become the fourth wife of Jordan's King Hussein in 1978) whenever she makes the rounds of TV talk shows, lecturing America and Israel about their evil ways. For some reason, Mika and Barbara and Oprah and the rest never ask about human rights abuses under the Jordanian absolute monarchy.

But, waking up this morning to King Abdullah II of Jordan on "Meet the Press" was too much. Abdullah claims to be a modernizing democrat. Of course, that didn't stop him from jailing Toujan al-Faisal, Jordan's first female member of Parliament and a human rights advocate, for "slandering the government" after she charged it with corruption in a letter to Abdullah.

And, Abdullah's idea of "promoting democracy" was a new law licensing and regulating political parties. Only fourteen of Jordan’s thirty six political parties were able to comply with Abdullah's regulations, which include obtaining a "certificate of government support". The other twenty two parties were banned, and membership is a crime.

Notwithstanding his country's human rights record, Abdullah was on television this morning opining on America's failure to adher to democratic values. The absolute monarch believes we Americans "lost our moral bearings" "by engaging in torture".

Meanwhile, according to both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, Jordan tortures, and served the Bush Administration from 2001 to 2004 as "proxy jailer" using "methods even more brutal" than those of which America is accused.

Why does the American media let Jordan's totalitarian hereditary leadership get away with this nonsense?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Remember Cambodia?

You saw the movie about "The Killing Fields" and you said, "How could things like this happen?"

Well, the latest Cambodian government is up to some of its old tricks.

Mu Sochua, human rights leader, Nobel prize nominee and Cambodian parliamentarian, stands up to corruption and violence in her country - - and is about to be stripped of her rightful place in the Cambodian Parliament, and imprisoned for her efforts on behalf of the voiceless and the powerless.

Get the details:


CALL THE WHITE HOUSE: (202) 456-1111


The Bob Kerrey Bridge - intelligent environmental design

Yesterday afternoon, I was in Council Bluffs, Iowa with a few hours to kill. So, I started hiking the urban trail along the Missouri riverfront (in the tracks of Lewis and Clark), past the casinos and the riverfront developments and the old golf course, and then across the "Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge" spanning the river into downtown Omaha, Nebraska.

Opened in 2008, the pedestrian bridge is 3000 feet long, 15 feet wide, and reaches a height of 60 feet above the 25 foot deep Missouri River. The bridge and its walkway, cables, pylons and towers are lit at night with spot and LED lights, making it a visual focal point and urban renewal spark for both communities. There are 150 miles of recreation trails on both sides of the bridge.

This bridge permits you to commute by foot or bicycle between two major regional urban centers in two different states, to work, recreate or exercise. This is an example of intelligent practical environmental design. If you want people out of their cars and off their butts, you need to give them options.

BTW, I'm against earmarks. But, this bridge was the result of one of Sen. Kerrey's final acts before leaving office in 2000, a $19 million federal earmark for construction of the bridge.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Don't be more like your opposition

After the elections of 2000 and 2002, the talking heads all had the same prescription for the Democrats - - be more like the Republicans. The Democrats tried in 2004, and lost again. So, instead, in 2006 and 2008, they found attractive articulate leaders to clearly state their principals. They won.

With all due respect to McCain's daughter and his former media adviser, the Republicans today don't need to become more like the Democrats. They need to recruit and promote attractive leaders who can intelligently articulate their philosophy.

A healthy democracy requires at least two strong opposing political parties, to keep each other honest and fight complacency. One party government inevitably leads to corruption and abuse of power.

As a Democrat, I wouldn't mind seeing the Republicans reduced to an echo of the Democrats. But, as an American, I think we need a strong Republican party.

Grenade accident kills Yemeni Gitmo detainee's sons

"The two young sons of a Yemeni detainee at Guantanamo died when a grenade they were playing with accidentally detonated inside their home, a human rights lawyer and the detainee's brother said Thursday. The two boys were the sons of Guantanamo prisoner #1463, Abdelsalam al-Hilah, a businessman who was captured in Cairo in 2002 and sent to Guantanamo on charges of terrorism, said Ahmed Irman of the Hood Organization for Defending Human Rights, an organization that advocates for Guantanamo detainees in Yemen. The children, Youssef, 11, and Omar, 10, were playing unsupervised with the grenade in a room in the house when it exploded. It is unclear why the grenade was in the house."

"It is unclear why the grenade was in the house"? Really? I realize this may be "thinking outside the box", but it seems pretty clear to me that "the grenade was in the house" because an adult in the house is a terrorist. Why else would they have "the grenade . . . in the house"?

This time, it looks like their activity killed their own. Next time?

Oppose torture, close Guantanamo, Bush bad, Obama good, etc., etc. But, remember - - there really are terrorists, and some of them are in U.S. custody, and we need to keep them locked up.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

This is interesting

Obama's approval is down to 53%.

And, in possible 2012 matchups, Obama leads Newt Gingrich 52%-39%; he's ahead of Mike Huckabee 49%-42%; he beats Sarah Palin 53%-41%; and he leads Mitt Romney 50%-39%.

The rule of thumb is that an incumbent under 50% is in trouble.

Obama's under 50% against Huckabee, he's just at 50% against Romney, and he's at 52% or 53% against the two most controversial and divisive Republicans.

Overall, not good during the first hundred day honeymoon.

Pakistan policy on verge of spectacular failure

"Taliban move to new Pakistan area . . . Gunmen attacked a Pakistani paramilitary force sent to a Taliban-infiltrated district just 60 miles from the capital Thursday, killing a police officer and feeding growing doubts about the government's peace deal with extremists in the area. A meeting between Taliban representatives and tribal elders ended with the militants making some concessions but no pledge to withdraw from Buner, where they have established bases since crossing over from their stronghold in the neighboring Swat Valley. Swat's Taliban appear to be emboldened after their bloody, two-year campaign in the valley led the government to agree to a peace accord that imposes Islamic law in a wide swath of the northwest bordering Afghanistan."

The "wide swath" of Pakistani territory now controlled by Taliban extends to "just 60 miles from the capital". If the Taliban seize control of Pakistan, they seize control of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal.

Castro brothers sending mixed signals?

"Seeming mixed signals from Cuba's Castro brothers . . . Raul Castro seems ready to discuss improving relations with Washington. Brother Fidel is clearly uncomfortable with the idea. Do the mixed messages from Cuba's current and former presidents reflect the communist leadership's resistance to moving too quickly? Or are they a ploy for leverage ahead of any talks?"

When you're dealing with brutal murderous thugs, don't be surprised if they act less than honest and forthcoming. And, don't trust them.

Give them Chirino CD's

Responding to the new opening towards Cuba, "Cuban-American singer Willy Chirino made an appeal to Cuban President Raúl Castro on Wednesday: Let my music and that of other Cuban Americans flow -- uninterrupted -- to the island. ''I call on you to stop being an impediment and allow Cubans on the island to freely enjoy the fruits of the Cuban artistic community,'' Chirino said . . . Chirino then challenged the Cuban government to broadcast his upcoming Miami concert in Havana, at a park along the famed seaside Malecón -- and even offered to pay all costs related to sending a satellite feed. The broadcast in Havana, he added, should be free and open to all islanders."

Of course, the songs of Chirino (who was smuggled out of Cuba as a child by the Catholic Church) "are officially banned on the island" (although "popular among salsa lovers"). The reason for the ban? Chirino's political songs, "such as Viva La Libertad (Long Live Freedom)".

The next time Obama is exchanging gifts with South American strong men, maybe he can give them a Willy Chirino CD.


Former secretary of state and Obama supporter Colin Powell has to be worrying that the Obama administration will ultimately indict him in the torture investigations. Irony, and karma.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Miss California

There's all this media hubbub going on about Miss California and Perez Hilton and gay marriage.

I support marriage rights for all people.

I don't support hypocrites.

It's funny how all the people (like Perez Hilton) who call Miss California "a dumb (expletive)” because "she does not agree with same-sex weddings" ignore the fact that President Obama and Vice President Biden agree with her 100%! In fact, these critics of Miss California (including Mr. Hilton) support Obama and Biden.

You'd think they'd be more concerned with the opinions of the president and vice president than with the opinion of some blonde beauty queen who will be forgotten tomorrow.

Prosecuting your enemies

"Under pressure, President Barack Obama reversed statements from his own top White House aides and opened the door Tuesday to prosecuting Bush administration officials who approved harsh interrogation techniques of suspected terrorists. Obama repeated his stand that CIA officers should be immune from criminal charges for their work interrogating suspects using techniques like waterboarding, which critics call torture, so long as the interrogators followed guidelines written by senior Bush administration legal officials. He said, however, that he'd leave it to Attorney General Eric Holder to decide whether Bush administration officials should face criminal charges for approving the use of such practices. "

Another Obama flip/flop.

Another Obama sacrifice of national security to politics.

Another Obama cave-in to his left wing.

Obviously, Obama learned one thing at his summit with all those left wing South American strong men - - - use the organs of government to prosecute your political enemies in order to consolidate your hold on power.


Yes, the right wing secessionists in Texas and Alaska and elsewhere are silly sore losers, and it's a nonsense movement of the uninformed that will go no where.

But, isn't it ironic that some of the leading critics of right wing secessionists wanted New England and New York to leave "Jesusland" and join Canada after Bush was reelected? Remember those funny maps?

Again, we need a little less hypocrisy from both ends of the political spectrum, the ultra right Republicans and the ultra left Democrats.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Some more folks Obama's talking to . . .

The state of democracy in Venezuela

"A leading opponent of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez skipped a court appearance Monday to avoid being tried on corruption charges and instead is seeking asylum abroad to escape what he says is a trumped-up case and political persecution."

His crime? He was "Chávez's opponent in the 2006 presidential election".

Maybe Obama can meet with this guy, too, instead of only with Chavez.

Remember when our presidents met with dissidents, and not just with dictators?

Chris Dodd be gone!

At all relevant times throughout our current financial mess, Sen. Chris Dodd was ranking minority member and since 2006 chair of the Senate banking committe.

All the while, he's been firmly and deeply in Wall Street's pocket, taking favors and "VIP" loans while lieing about his behind the scenes role. You can read all about his career highlights, including the "Countrywide Financial loan controversy", "Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac controversies", "Irish Cottage Controversy" and "Bailout and bonuses controversy".

Now, as his popularity hits record lows, it's clearer than ever that he's just another corrupt politician on the big guys' payroll.

"Wealthy Wall Street executives may be outcasts to some Americans, but not to Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd. Facing his toughest re-election fight, the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee is reaching out to the financial sector's deep-pocketed donors for the campaign cash he needs to hang onto his Connecticut seat. It's a practice that worked for Dodd in the past as millions flowed in and the five-term lawmaker cruised to victory. Down in the polls and looking at a tough Republican challenge next year, Dodd again is turning to the financial industry for campaign money, undeterred by the populist Main Street anger. More than $100,000 of the $1 million Dodd raised in the first three months of this year came from political action committees for the financial, insurance and real estate industries, according to his latest fundraising report. Among his donors were PACs for the American Insurance Association, Mortgage Bankers Association, Vanguard, Oppenheimer Funds, Charles Schwab, Real Estate Roundtable and Ameriprise Financial. Dodd raised $608,995 from individuals, among them top executives from companies such as Fidelity, Citigroup and Citizens Financial Group. His take from Connecticut residents was $4,250, an especially anemic display of political enthusiasm for the state's senior senator."

Remember the promises of new ethics rules and higher standards? The Democrats need to dump him, now. It's an embarrassment that he remains Senate banking committee chair.

BTW - Chris Dodd is a second generation Senate embarrassment. His dad, Thomas Joseph Dodd, also a Connecticut Senator, was one of only six people censured by the Senate in the 20th century. He stole campaign funds. Of course, Daddy Dodd's corruption was rumored to be broader in scope, but his electoral defeat, alcoholism and sudden death brought an early end to all investigations.

What Obama could have done at the Summit of the Anti Americans

The Summit of the Americas (or, more appropriately, the Summit of the Anti Americans) is over. According to the various speakers, all the problems of South America are the fault of Yanquis, gringos and blue eyed Zionists. Moreover, all (including our president) agreed that the U.S. is guilty of both (1) neglecting South America and (2) interferring and meddling in South America (seemingly contradictory sins).

Of course, Obama has been criticized for sitting their smiling through the over long attacks upon America from Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, et al. (while Cuban delegates lurked in the hallway).

Obama's defenders respond to the criticism by asking, "What could he have done? Yelled, walked out, hit the guy?"

Valid questions. And then I remembered the debates . . .

Obama could have rolled his eyes with a "shut up, you old gas bag" look on his face, just like he did when Biden rambled on and on about how clean and articulate he was . . .

Obama could have used that crooked grin with raised eyebrows he tossed at Edwards, whenever Edwards would call for some populist program we couldn't afford (that Obama opposed then but supports now) . . .

Obama could have used the dismissive "she's nice enough" attitude while avoiding eye contact (the way he treats female opponents) . . .

Obama could have used the "he's a crazy old coot" chuckle that he always used against McCain . . .

Instead, Obama smiled and grinned and shook hands and thanked people for insulting gifts and listened respectfully as they trashed America.

Maybe Obama could have shown the same anger and annoyance in defense of his country that he shows in defense of his ambition.

Monday, April 20, 2009

More America bashing - - from Americans

Hailing Obama's "resetting of US foreign policy" as "a welcomed [sic] breath of fresh air", Charles Lemos of mydd applauds Obama's "owning up to [the United States'] excesses and mistakes." "For too long, American foreign policy has been predicated on a notion that only the United States has it right and that the rest of the world would do well to replicate the American way of life."

Read the whole thing:

In fact, the United States does have it right, and the rest of the world would do well to replicate the American way of life.

But, for some reason, these Obama people applaud Chavez and Castro and every other tin pot third world banana republic strong man, and only see the dark side of America.

The irony? Given the chance, the citizens of all these countries vote with their feet, and are more than happy to come to America to partake in the much-maligned "American way of life". Maybe Lemos would like to trade places with an Afro-Cuban political prisoner in Castro's workers' paradise? I have a feeling the new guy would be more appreciative of America.

Something they won't report on MSNBC after 9 a.m.

"Fifty-one percent (51%) of Americans have a favorable view of the “tea parties” held nationwide last week, including 32% who say their view of the events is Very favorable."

Summit of the Anti Americans

Now that Obama has returned from his one day trip to the Summit of the Americas, cured all the ills in our hemisphere, stood by while speaker after speaker trashed the U.S.A., her people and her culture, and again apologized for all our sins, I have a question.

Assuming all the problems of South America are the fault of Yanquis, gringos and blue eyed Zionists, is the root issue (1) our neglect of South America or (2) our interference and meddling in South America.

I 've heard us accused of both, but that's impossible. So, which is it?

"Obama aide takes dim view of anti-tax tea parties"

"A top adviser to President Barack Obama . . . David Axelrod [discussing] last week's anti-tax "tea parties" . . . said Sunday . . . "I think any time that you have severe economic conditions, there is always an element of disaffection that can mutate into something that's unhealthy."

Free assembly? peaceful protest? non violent expression of political opinion? That's "unhealthy"?

I remember when we thought non violent protest was healthy.

No wonder these guys get along so well with Castro and Chavez.

Fighting Somali pirates

"As the American skipper once held hostage by pirates reached dry land here Thursday aboard a U.S. warship and his 19-man crew received a heroes' welcome in the United States, the source of the piracy plague in the Indian Ocean -- Somalia -- said it could help fight the problem. Somali Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke told McClatchy that aggressive actions by foreign navies -- such as Sunday's high-seas U.S. Navy assault that freed ship captain Richard Phillips after five days in captivity -- could at best be a stopgap measure against piracy. Its roots are on Somali soil, he said, and the Somali government, though desperately weak, could attack pirate bases and money networks with a little more financial help from foreign donors.
''We have information on how they do business,'' Sharmarke said of eight pirate ''cartels'' that Somali officials had identified. ``We can stop them before they go into the water.'' "

That would be great news if there actually was a Somali government. Unfortunately, the "government of Somalia" is whichever militia gets enough foreign backing to seize the capital. "Somalia" no longer exists - - it's a collection of feudal style fiefs ruled by various thugs with private armies. And, like late Tudor England, they fund their feudal estates with the profits from piracy on the seas.

When will people realize that we're dealing with enemies who live in another century?

Pakistan: a realistic assessment

"A growing number of U.S. intelligence, defense and diplomatic officials have concluded that there's little hope of preventing nuclear-armed Pakistan from disintegrating into fiefdoms controlled by Islamist warlords and terrorists, posing a greater threat to the United States than Afghanistan's terrorist haven did before Sept. 11. ''It's a disaster in the making on the scale of the Iranian revolution,'' said a U.S. intelligence official with long experience in Pakistan who requested anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak publicly. Pakistan's fragmentation into warlord-run fiefdoms that host al Qaeda and other terrorist groups would have grave implications for the security of its nuclear arsenal; for the U.S.-led effort to pacify Afghanistan; and for the security of India, the nearby oil-rich Persian Gulf and Central Asia, the United States and its allies. . . . The experts that McClatchy Newspapers interviewed said their views aren't a worst-case scenario but a realistic expectation based on the militants' gains and the failure of Pakistan's civilian and military leadership to respond. ''The place is beyond redemption,'' said a Pentagon advisor who asked not to be further identified so he could speak freely."

If intelligence and defense experts agree that "the place is beyond redemption", how many U.S. lives and how much U.S. treasure will we expend to avoid the inevitable? Why is the administration increasing our involvement in the Af/Pak theatre of operation? If only we had elected the candidate who promised to end our wars in the Middle East . . .

Another one day overseas photo op

"President Barack Obama scored high marks in his first meeting with Latin American and Caribbean leaders, but the 34-country Summit of the Americas was largely inconsequential, and its final resolution a joke. . . .
Obama won near unanimous praise from hemispheric leaders for Zen-like willingness to listen, and reach out to U.S. critics. . . .
As for the 97-article final declaration of the Trinidad summit, it is so ridiculously long and full of contradictory statements or meaningless agreements -- ''we are determined to intensify our fight against poverty,'' reads a typical one -- that I came across almost no senior official who was taking it seriously. . . .
All we have is a new U.S. president who has made a good impression in Latin America -- which can be a good thing if it leads to more ambitious regional agreements in the future, and pretty meaningless if it doesn't."

That says it all so far . . . we have a new U.S. president who makes a good impression, but accomplishes little else. Maybe next time, he can send his secretary of state, stay home, and get something done besides mugging for the cameras.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Iran again

"An Iranian court has sentenced the Iranian-American freelance journalist Roxana Saberi, who was accused of espionage, to eight years in jail, her lawyer said today. "She has been sentenced to eight years . . . I will appeal," Abdolsamad Khorramshahitold Reuters. Saberi, a 31-year-old dual US-Iranian citizen, was arrested in late January and initially accused of working without press credentials. In a case that threatens to complicate efforts to improve relations between the US and Iran, she was subsequently accused of passing classified information to US intelligence services. The trial took place behind closed doors."

This shouldn't simply "complicate" "efforts to improve relations between the US and Iran". This should preclude such efforts until our fellow American is released from unjust imprisonment by the Iranian theocratic dictatorship.

Soothing words at the the Summit of the Americas

The U.S.'s Barack Obama and Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's anti American strong man, are "hinting that relations between the two countries could finally be warming" and "inching toward rapprochement".

Remember when Democratic administrations had a human rights policy, and wanted to reform and democratize dictatorships, not just get along better with them?

By the way: "the Venezuelan leader topped off his warm handshake, kind words and uncharacteristically short speech during a group meeting with President Barack Obama with a back-handed gift: Uruguayan journalist Eduardo Galeano's 1971 book Open Veins of Latin America, about the history of U.S. meddling in the region. Its subtitle: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent."

This calculated insult from Chavez is a clear sign that the Venezuelan junta wants better relations on their terms only. Further, it's a clear test by Chavez of the type of man we have in charge. So far, we failed.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

At least he paid his taxes

Finally, an Obama appointee paid his taxes!

Then again . .

"Auto task-force head Rattner linked to probe . . . Steven Rattner, the leader of the Obama administration's auto task force, was one of the executives involved with payments under scrutiny in a probe of an alleged kickback scheme at New York state's pension fund, The Wall Street Journal reported late Thursday, citing a person familiar with the matter. A Securities and Exchange Commission complaint says a "senior executive" of Rattner's investment firm met with a politically connected consultant about a finder's fee, the report said. The firm subsequently received an investment from the state pension fund, then paid a $1.1 million fee, it cited the complaint as saying. The "senior executive," not named in the complaint, is actually Rattner himself . . . "

This ought to restore confidence in the auto sector.

Why does anyone trust the Castros?

Carter reached out to Castro . . . and Castro responded with the Mariel boat lift, making you pick up inmates from his prisons and mental asylums as the price of picking up political refugees or family members. Castro saw weakness, and emptied his prisons and mental hospitals onto the streets of Miami.

Obama reached out to Castro . . . and Castro responds by offering to trade convicted murderers and spies in U.S. jails for innocent non violent peaceful freedom loving democracy advocating Cuban political prisoners. Of course, Castro won't free them to express their opinions in Cuba. Castro wants to send them here, with their families.

It will be Mariel, Part II. And, people will still be sent to jail in Cuba for non violent expressions of political opinions.

More stem cell politics

Read about the new federal stem cell research rules:

"The Obama administration issued guidelines yesterday limiting government-sponsored embryonic stem cell research to cells taken from excess fertility clinic embryos, a compromise based on its reading of public opinion about the cutting-edge science. The decision fell short of the open-ended policy some scientists and patient advocates had hoped for, but is far less likely to spark controversy. It also will mean that tax dollars could begin flowing as early as fall to projects involving hundreds of new stem cell clusters. Raynard S. Kington, acting director of the National Institutes of Health, said yesterday that the administration was guided by "broad public support" in establishing a policy that prohibits creation of embryos for research purposes as well as any type of therapeutic cloning. Specifically, NIH modeled its approach after legislation that twice passed Congress, he explained. Those votes are "the strongest indication of public support," he told reporters yesterday morning. "There is not similar broad support for using stem cells from other sources." Ironically, one of the chief architects of that legislation, Rep. Michael N. Castle(R-Del.), said yesterday that although he was pleased by the NIH action, "there is opportunity for more expansive guidelines." Some proponents of aggressive research policies expressed disappointment in President Obama, who stressed a month ago that science ought not be hampered by political considerations. "I am really, really startled," said Susan L. Solomon, chief executive of the private New York Stem Cell Foundation. "This seems to be a political calculus when what we want in this country is a scientific research calculus.""

Did you get that? The new rules are based upon the administration's "reading of public opinion", and reject research for which there is no "broad support".

I thought we were getting the politics out of science.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Another one bites the dust

"In a visit to this country racked by drug-related violence, President Obama said Thursday that he would not seek a U.S. ban on assault-style weapons, but instead will push better enforcement of existing laws to stop guns from being taken across the border. Mexican President Felipe Calderon has been urging the United States to renew the ban on assault weapons, which expired in 2004 and prohibited sales of certain semiautomatics with military features. Calderon says such gun sales are arming Mexico's increasingly violent drug cartels. "I have not backed off at all from my belief that the assault weapons ban made sense," Obama said at a news conference with Calderon. "But none of us is under the illusion that reinstating that ban would be easy. So what we have focused on is how we can improve our enforcement of existing laws," Obama said."

That's true. He hasn't "backed off at all" from his belief that the assault weapons ban made sense. He just backed off from his campaign promise. Again.

Battalion sent to Afghanistan after 2 weeks in Iraq

"That was the message delivered to the Army's 4th Engineer Battalion just two weeks after arriving in Baghdad for what was supposed to be a year-long tour. Despite the stress caused by the unusual change of plans last month, many of the unit's approximately 500 soldiers said they realized their specialty — clearing roads of bombs and other obstacles — is more needed in the area of southern Afghanistan, where they'll likely begin patrols in a few weeks. "If we were in the frying pan, we're now heading directly into the fire," Capt. Heath Papkov, one of the unit's company commanders, said this week as the soldiers packed their gear to leave. . . . The decision underscores how military commanders are scrambling to meet President Obama's orders to draw down the U.S. presence in Iraq while deploying an additional 21,000 troops to combat the growing insurgency in Afghanistan."

In other words, the "anti-war" president is keeping his campaign promise to pull out of Iraq . . . by transferring the troops, on short notice and insufficiently prepared, from Iraq to Afghanistan, i.e., in our soldiers' words, from the frying pan into the fire.

Where are all the "anti-war" protesters?

CIA officials won't be charged for previous torture

"CIA officials won't be charged for previous torture . . . Attorney General Eric Holder says the government won’t prosecute CIA officials for using waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics on terror suspects. . . . Holder said in a statement today it would be unfair to prosecute CIA employees for following the legal advice given at the time. And he says the government will defend any CIA employee in any court action brought in the United States or overseas."

Let's sit back and enjoy watching the "Bush and Cheney are war criminals" crowd in the media and politics justify this one.

Mixed messages?

Secretary of State Clinton went to Mexico, and logically observed that the best way to fight the gangs that import recreational drugs to America is to reduce American demand for Mexican recreational drugs.

Over the next weeks, President Obama responds by: (1) mocking the concepts of legalization, regulation or taxation of recreational drugs; (2) promising paramilitary action on U.S. and Mexican territory against Mexican drug exporting gangs; (3) appointing the actor who played Kumar in the pro pot "Harold and Kumar" movies to a White House communications job (I guess Cheech and Chong are too old); and, (4) honoring the surviving members of druggy jam band the Grateful Dead at the White House.

Talk about mixed messages from the Oval Office - - pledge to continue enforcing anti drug laws and escalate the war on drugs while promoting pro drugs figures from the entertainment world.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Daily Kos figured it out

It's not taxes, it's not spending, it's not weakness abroad and it's not over intrusive over extended government at home.

Nope, there's only one reason why any person would oppose Obama.

And, if you want to read something even dumber, try this:!

The author "can't wait until 2050 when these white male racist reaKKKtionaries are a minority themselves and we can have true progress and freedom FROM religious oppression." Not to confuse anyone with facts, but assuming all white males are "white male racist reaKKKtionaries", they've always been under 50% of the population since 1776.

Finally, sandwiched between these articles is a little gem from Congressman Eric Massa (that's right, a real live member of Congress):

Seriously, a real live actual member of Congress shares space with these extremist nut jobs. Why don't you let the Congressman know what you think of the company he keeps? You can contact him through his official website:

The tax protests

Yes, there's a number of loonies and extremists and bigots in the crowd. That's why I remain a Democrat.

Yes, the leaders of this "movement" are phonies or worse. Where were they when their congress and their president borrowed and spent and ignored all the warnings of danger ahead? Again, that's why I remain a Democrat.

But . . .

they do make a few good points, which Democrats ignore at their peril.

Spending is too high. Trillion dollar deficits are unsustainable. Eventually, we will need to increases taxes, increase borrowing or print money, and each of those options eventually kills your economy. Bush was wrong with his crazy out of control borrow and spend policies. We need to stop being wrong, not be wrong for good purposes.

Taxes are unfair and corrupt and too high. Basically, if you have a powerful trade organization, and you hire a good lobbyist (maybe the Gephardt/Hastert team?), your activity gets favorable tax treatment. If not, don't expect any favors. Case in point - - we bail out the financial sector, and propose to extend the business loss carryback to 5 years, but will do nothing in the tax code to address the huge loses in individual self funded retirement savings accounts, by credit or deduction. Because, unless you're a Buffett or a Walton or a Soros, individuals don't have their own lobbyists. Taxes are too high, and the burden unfairly carried.

Obama remains personally popular, but his policies, less so. There was a good reason why his campaign focused on "hope" and "change" and avoided details. (Yes, the details were posted on web pages no one but the political junkies ever read, but in the debates? in the commercials? I don't recall discussion of trillion+ dollar deficits and bail outs and corporate takeovers, other than to oppose them.)

Remember, Ford was beloved and popular, and then his policies caught up with him, and he lost. Carter was beloved and popular, and events caught up with him, and he lost.

I assume the average voter looks at the tax protesters with their hand written signs and tea bag earrings and thinks, "they're a little off . . . but they're not all wrong." The Obama camp mocks the tax protesters as a strategy. It's probably a good strategy. But, as with all protests, ultimately you ignore legitimate grievance at your peril.

Saving good secure high paying jobs . . .

by turning them into bad lowing paying jobs.

"Fiat Group SpA will walk away from alliance talks with the floundering U.S. automaker unless Chrysler’s unions agree to make significant concessions, Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne says."

Then, what's the point?

By the time we're done "saving" Detroit, it still won't be worth saving.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Two headlines

"Iran Plans to Launch a Space Satellite"

"N. Korea vows to restart nuclear reactor, end talks"

By the end of Obama's first term, Iran and North Korea will both be nuclear armed with intercontinental delivery capability. Because they think they can get away with it.

They're right. They can. They will.

Yesterday's speech . . .

"The president's speech was intended to warn against public or congressional complacency. As stock markets start to rebound and credit begins to flow, the administration does not want to lose momentum in its effort to restructure the economy."

The public wants him to fight the recession, and then back off.

He wants to "restructure the economy".

There's a big difference.


55% of Americans think the government is spending too much.

83% of Americans want the expanding role of government to be reduced over time.

50% of Americans think the government is trying to do too much.

Obama is popular and trusted. His policies are not. One of those will change over time.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Islamic law in Pakistan

"Pakistan's pro-U.S. president signed a regulation late Monday to put a northwestern district under Islamic law as part of a peace deal with the Taliban, going along after coming under intense pressure from members of his own party and other lawmakers. Asif Ali Zardari's signature was a boon for Islamic militants who have brutalized the Swat Valley for nearly two years in demanding a new justice system."

Surely, any visiting American would take issue with this . . .

"Also Monday, visiting U.S. Sen. John Kerry met with Pakistan's president, prime minister and other top officials, including Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shujaa Pasha, head of Pakistan's most powerful spy service, Inter-Services Intelligence. . . . During a news conference, Kerry took a friendly stance when asked about U.S. allegations that elements within Pakistan's spy agencies are assisting militant groups, saying he had a good meeting with Pasha. "I think that he and your government are making enormous efforts to guarantee the absolute cooperation and accountability of the intelligence efforts in this country," Kerry said.";jsessionid=E302997BB7A510C31FC689BF0FAD1530.wap2

On the day Pakistan signs a "peace deal with the Taliban" "to put a northwestern district under Islamic law" as "a boon for Islamic militants who have brutalized the Swat Valley for nearly two years in demanding a new justice system," Kerry applauds the "enormous efforts" of the Pakistani government.

No wonder Kerry is the only Democratic presidential candidate since the 1980's to fail to come in first in the popular vote.

UN Security Council condemns rocket launch

"The UN Security Council has formally condemned North Korea's April 5 long-range rocket launch in a non-binding statement that finds Pyongyang "in contravention" of Security Council resolution 1718, which bars it from missile-related activities."

North Korea was "formally condemned" in a "non-binding statement" for being "in contravention" of a prior resolution?

In the real world, they just told North Korea they can get away with it.

Doing nothing would have made the U.N. look stronger.

Fight bias against [fill in the blank]

"New York Archbishop-designate Timothy Dolan said Monday, on the eve of his installation, that he will challenge the idea that the Roman Catholic Church is unenlightened . . . [and] he said Catholics also must defend themselves against bias, which he said was still deeply ingrained in American culture."

Whether you're black, white, brown or yellow, Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim or Hindu, straight, gay, bi or whatever, can we all agree that we as Americans are freer than our ancestors could have imagined in their wildest dreams? Can we all just take a break from allegations of bias, and savor the great triumphs and achievements of American multicultural democracy?

Sebelius lowballed donations from abortion doctor

"Sebelius lowballed donations from abortion doctor . . . President Barack Obama's health secretary nominee got nearly three times as much political money from a controversial abortion doctor as she told senators. . . . Sebelius did not tell senators about that additional money, although Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., asked specifically about any Tiller donations to her PAC."

Sebelius also had a "tax problem" - - she didn't pay all of them.,0,2062862.story

I'm pro-choice, but anti-liar, anti-perjurer and anti-tax cheat.

It's time for her to go.

Cuba policy change: much ado about nothing much

Basically, and allowing for technological advances (cellphones, satellites, internet, etc.), the "new, improved and hopeful" Obama policy removes most of the additional restrictions on family travel imposed by Reagan, Bush and Little Bush, but is more restrictive than the Carter policy.

In return, we've received nothing, not even the promise of anything.

And, you do remember what Castro gave us in response to Carter's liberalization? The Mariel boatlift.

P.S. - Democratic candidates are not exactly embracing these proposals. ("At a Monday morning rally for his U.S. Senate campaign, [U.S. Rep. Kendrick] Meek said he supports curbing the amount of money Cuban Americans can send to their relatives because the communist government takes a 20 percent cut.")

Monday, April 13, 2009

Don't words have meanings?

Now we have the Obama fan club arguing that Obama is "bipartisan", "even if he hadn't gotten many Republicans to go along with his agenda." All you have to do is redefine the word.

Redefining words for political advantage. Just like in Orwell's "1984".

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, our new commander in chief

In 2006, the Democrats pledged to end the war in Iraq. U.S. voters gave control of Congress to the Democrats.

In 2008, the Democrats pledged to end the war in Iraq. U.S. voters gave the presidency to the Democrats.

In 2009, "The top U.S. commander in Iraq said Sunday that a decision on withdrawing American forces from Iraq's major cities by a June 30 deadline will be made by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki with U.S. military advice. Gen. Raymond Odierno did not specifically say whether U.S. troops would leave Iraqi cities by the deadline, which is part of the plan for the gradual drawdown of American forces. . . . "So we will continue to conduct assessments along with the government of Iraq as we move forward (to) the June 30th deadline. If we believe that we'll need troops to maintain a presence in some of the cities, we'll recommend that, but, ultimately, it will be the decision of Prime Minister Maliki," Odierno said."

Or, according to another source, "Gen. Ray Odierno, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, said on Sunday that U.S. forces may have to remain in Iraqi cities past the June 31 deadline for withdrawal. Odierno refused to commit to meeting the deadline, instead saying that the military would “continue to conduct assessments with the Iraqi government” regarding troop presence in the troubled cities of Mosul and Baqubah. If he concludes troops should remain in the cities past the date agreed upon between the United States and Iraqi governments, Odierno said he would make that clear to Iraqis. “We will tell [Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki] what we believe is the right thing to do, but ultimately it will be his decision,” Odierno said . . ."

Under which provisions of the U.S. Constitution does the Iraqi prime minister get to make the final decision regarding the placement and deployment of U.S. troops (after U.S. voters made their choices loud and clear in the last two national elections)?

BTW, this is a bipartisan snafu. Bush negotiated the agreement with Maliki, and Obama will abide by it.

And, just in case anyone still cares, "A roadside bomb killed an American soldier north of Baghdad on Sunday, the sixth U.S. combat death in the past three days."

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Leonard Pitts discusses Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston

"If you and I had never heard of him, his affair with Bristol Palin would have run its entirely predictable course -- boy meets girl, boy impregnates girl, boy gets engaged to girl, boy breaks up with girl -- and he would now be wrapped in the darkness of anonymity, working on his GED or talking to an Army recruiter or whatever it is you do to cobble together a life when you're a high school dropout and the future comes knocking."

Read that last bit again: "he would now be wrapped in the darkness of anonymity, working on his GED or talking to an Army recruiter or whatever it is you do to cobble together a life when you're a high school dropout and the future comes knocking."

I guess we now know what Mr. Pitts (and his editors?) think about our military recruits. According to Pitts, et al., military recruits are irresponsible high school dropouts.

If you disagree, and in fact think our military recruits are the finest and the bravest, willing to sacrifice to protect the freedoms of all, let Mr. Pitts know:

If I were a Republican member of Congress from South Florida . . .

I'd be feeling very good about my chances in 2010.

The Congressional Black Caucus just killed Democratic chances against Representatives Ros Lehtinen and the Diaz Balarts.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

An example of everything that's wrong with our politics

Dick Gephardt, former House Democratic Leader, House Majority Leader and House Minority Leader is President and CEO of the Gephardt Group, a Washington lobbying firm that "provides strategic advice to clients on issues before the House, Senate and Executive Branch in the federal government."

The Gephardt Group just hired Dennis Hastert and his lobbying firm, Dickstein Shapiro, to assist on a $35,000-per-month contract for the government of Turkey.

Hastert used to be the Republican Speaker of the House.

"One issue Hastert and others lobbying for Turkey will have to deal with this year is a congressional resolution that defines the killing of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks in the early 1900s as genocide. The Turkish government opposes the resolution and has lobbied against it every time it has been introduced in Congress.

On the campaign trail last year, Barack Obama explicitly said the killing was genocide. But on a recent trip to Turkey, President Obama only said he stood by those prior statements. He did not use the word “genocide,” angering some Armenian-American activists."

When is the slaughter of millions of Armenians not genocide?

When you hire the former Democratic and Republican House leaders to lobby together on your behalf.

Obama: Economy showing `glimmers of hope'

Obama: Economy showing `glimmers of hope'

Maybe it's time to hold Congressional committee hearings on the stimulus plan (the hearings they didn't hold before initial passage) to review 2010 and 2011 spending, in order to determine if it's still necessary?

P.S. - Remember when a Republican Congress was criticized for abdicating their oversight responsibility regarding a Republican executive? As they say, deja vu again.

Trickle down economics, again?

Ever since Reagan introduced the theory of "trickle down economics" (focus spending and tax cuts on the rich, and the money will "trickle down" to the poor through increased spending and hiring by those with disposable discretionary income), all self styled progressives have agreed that it was an inefficient method of spreading government largesse, because it usually missed its targets.

So, are we aiding the auto workers with financial support for re training and/or re location? Nope, we're propping up their dieing, dinosaur industrial employers with federal payments to the manufacturing giants, in the hope that it will "trickle down" to the workers (after their unions make suitably major concessions on wages, hours and benefits, of course).

In order to solve the mortgage crisis, and remedy the effects of the residential property crash, are we focusing our aid on the individual "upside down" mortgagors? (It's been estimated that, for a fraction of the cost of the financial bailouts to date, we could have simply paid down all residential first mortgages in the country to a 90% loan to value ratio, at current market prices.) Nope, we're bailing out the lenders, in effect subsidizing the losses they incur after foreclosure, rather than paying down the mortgages and preventing foreclosure.

Are we in any way assisting those whose 401K's and Keogh's and IRA's have fallen by as much as 50% in the past year, destroying middle class financial security and delaying retirement? Have the consumer victims of the Wall Street manipulators been given tax credits or deductions to ameliorate the losses? Nope, but the financial institutions (those who steered the consumers into their investments and administered their funds, all for pretty nice commissions) are getting billions of dollars in federal bailout funds.

"Trickle down" is an inefficient method of distributing federal aid. It's inefficient when Reagan and the Bushes do it. It's inefficient when anyone else does it, too.

Friday, April 10, 2009

It's only bad when the other guys do it

"President Barack Obama is seeking $83.4 billion for U.S. military and diplomatic operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, pressing for special troop funding that he opposed two years ago when he was a senator and George W. Bush was president. . . . Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, acknowledged that Obama had been critical of Bush's use of similar special legislation to pay for the wars. He said it was needed this time because the money will be required by summer, before Congress is likely to complete its normal appropriations process. "

Get that? It was wrong for the other guy to seek off-budget special funding for the wars, because he was pro-war. But, it's okay for this guy to seek off-budget special funding for the wars, because he's anti-war. As the wars continue nonetheless, this must be a great comfort to the widows and orphans and friends and family.

Worst of recession could be over?

"Bumps ahead -- but worst of recession could be over"

Does this mean we didn't need all the multi year multi trillion dollars worth of stimulus and bailout packages? Does this mean the recovery is starting before we start spending the stimulus money?

I guess those who attributed the economic downturn to the normal business cycle were right. Can we ask for our money back now? or, get them to not spend any more of it?

Iraq: I'm forced to agree with the Arab street

"Six years after the U.S. overthrew Saddam Hussein's government, tens of thousands of Iraqis gathered in the rain in Iraq's capital Thursday to mark the anniversary and renew calls for an American withdrawal. . . . Speakers at the rally called on President Barack Obama to "keep his promise to the world" and withdraw U.S. troops quickly." 10.html

I can't say I disagree.

And, I'm quite nostalgic for the days when there were also protesters on the streets of the U.S. capital, demanding complete withdrawal with all deliberate speed.

Or, protesting plans for permanent U.S. bases in Iraq. Remember that? When anti war protesters were opposed to permanent bases and residual troops in Iraq?

Instead, the "anti war left" now seemingly accepts the concept of permanent "residual" forces in Iraq, "residual" being defined as 50,000, two-thirds of the approximately 75,000 U.S. troops in Iraq at the lowest point of the post invasion, pre surge troop draw down (which, ironically, was the height of U.S. anti war protest).

Did people really start an anti war movement in order to reduce the permanent "residual" U.S. troop strength in Iraq by one third?

Bad ideas remain bad ideas, even after they're adopted by good people.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Mirror image liars

When Republican presidents allowed social spending to increase ("increase" being measured by gross amount, comparing the prior year to the next year), but by less than "projected", left wing pundits complained of social spending cuts - - even when social spending increased.

Today, a Democratic president proposes to increase military spending, as measured by gross amount, comparing one year to the next. Therefore, today, right wing pundits complain of defense spending cuts - - even though defense spending will increase.

I hope all the normal people see through the lies on both sides.

With friends like this

Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) agency supports militant groups like the Afghan Taliban, grants them safe haven in Pakistan's Baluchistan region, and aids Pakistani terrorists, such as the group that recently conducted the attack in Mumbai, India.

Why is Pakistan considered our friend and ally, worthy of closer ties and increased support?

Do we really want American troops risking their lives to protect a government that enables and supports the Taliban and other radical Islamic terrorist groups?

The price of phony populism

All the political leaders and opinion makers in Washington, with their phony populist rhetoric (which applies only to the perks of others), have done a great job killing the business travel, meetings and conventions business.

Unfortunately, it's the blue collar union workers in the hospitality, catering and housekeeping departments who are losing their jobs, not the executives or the politicians or the opinion makers.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

"Victory" in Europe

Obama's big victory in Europe? The agreement by NATO to send an additional 5,000 troops to Afghanistan.

Of course, there's a catch.

"White House aides also lauded the agreement by NATO allies to send an additional 5,000 troops to Afghanistan, though they didn't mention that none would be combat troops."

Then whose children will be in harm's way? This agreement simply means that more U.S. troops will be on the front lines, getting shot at, while the NATO troops get the office jobs. In other words, in exchange for the political cover of a 5,000 troop NATO contribution, the U.S. agreed that more of our troops will be at risk.

Your congresspersons visit Cuba

Put aside the fact that we're the democracy, and they're the dictatorship, and thus we're good and they’re bad.

Put aside the fact that there have been thousands and thousands of political prisoners incarcerated and killed in Cuba since the revolution (not according to just any crazy right wing bigot, but according to Amnesty International), hundreds of whom still languish in prison for purely political reasons.

Put aside the fact that the U.S. is expected to make pre negotiation concessions, but Cuba doesn't have to. (Cuba, not the U.S., gets to commence negotiations without preconditions, or any advance showing of good faith.)

What gets me is this quote:

[Rep. Bobby] “Rush said Raúl Castro was ''very engaging'' and ``laughed at himself.”

''He was a down-to-earth kind man, someone who I would favor as a neighbor,'' Rush said.

What exactly does Rush like about Raul? Is it the post revolution firing squads of class and economic enemies without benefit of trial (which featured the death by firing squad of the teenage sons of factory owners, because the junta didn't want the sons to grow up and seek revenge)? Is it the deviant sexual exploitation of men and women, young boys and little girls, by Raul and his cronies in some of the sickest abuses of power imaginable? Or, is it the hundreds of current political prisoners (again, according to Amnesty International)? How much evil does a sense of humor excuse?

I think Rush needs to talk to a few Cuban refugees before inviting Raul to move in next door.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

This is just weird

First, the Obama administration announced paramilitary action along our border with Mexico to fight the drug gangs (rather than address American consumer demand for recreational drugs or the issues of decriminalization or legalization).

Next, in his first "on line town hall meeting", the president mockingly dismissed all talk of legalization, regulation or taxation of recreational drugs.

Today, it's revealed that Obama has appointed one of the stars of the pro-drugs "Harold and Kumar" movies to be the new White House associate director of public liaison.

If you want to fight drug use, do you name Kumar to be one of your spokespersons?

Does the president have a middle name?

Can we use it in polite conversation?

One day, you're a bigot if you mention it.

The next day, the president and his staff all cite his middle name as proof of the triumph of our multicultural diversity.

So, which is it?

Monday, April 6, 2009

"A world without nuclear arms"

"As North Korea fired a missile over Japan, raising fears of proliferation, Mr Obama said the US was the only nation to have used a nuclear bomb and had a "moral responsibility" to seek a world without nuclear arms. A summit will be held this year to plot a four-year plan to secure nuclear weapons and material, he said, in an address to 20,000 people in Prague yesterday. "The threat of global nuclear war has gone down, but the risk of a nuclear attack has gone up," Mr Obama said. "Testing has continued. Black market trade in nuclear secrets and nuclear material abound. The technology to build a bomb has spread. Terrorists are determined to buy, build or steal one . . . The world must stand together to prevent the spread of these weapons . . . I am not naive. This goal will not be reached quickly - perhaps not in my lifetime."

He is not naive? The goal will "perhaps" not be reached in his lifetime?

Anyone over the age of 25 who expresses these thoughts is either frighteningly naive or frighteningly cynical. This is the type of statement you make in front of a college audience, so the cameras can pick up shots of pretty girls with tears in their eyes.

Last month he promised to find a cure for cancer. This month, it's abolish all nuclear weapons. What's next month? Abolish mean people and rainy days and Mondays?

If Bush said this . . .

"At a news conference afterward, Obama said his debut on the international stage had convinced him that “political interaction in Europe is not that different from the United States Senate,” where he served before entering the White House.
“There’s a lot of -- I don’t know what the term is in Austrian -- wheeling and dealing, and people are pursuing their interests, and everybody has their own particular issues and their own particular politics,” he said in response to an Austrian reporter’s question."

Can you imagine the jokes if Bush said the language of Austria was Austrian?

Obama in Turkey II

"Aides said Obama's decision a month ago to add Turkey to his series of European summits was made for both strategic and symbolic reasons: As a bridge between East and West, Turkey has played a key role in many Middle East hot spots, including Iraq and Iran. Turkey had been facilitating talks between Israel and Syria until Israel's war against Hamas in Gaza interrupted progress; As a democracy and member of NATO, Turkey represents a unique Muslim-majority country — one that Obama said could play a critical role in restoring friendly relations between Muslim and Christian nations."

In fact, Turkish non sectarianism is enforced by its army, which has repeatedly intervened to overturn election results and ban fundamentalist parties and candidates. Turkey remains "democratic" and "non sectarian" only because the Turkish military says so. Ironically, the further Turkey moves towards unfettered "democracy", the more sectarian it becomes.

Obama in Turkey

"Obama took an important step toward calming anxieties here about his stand on a congressional resolution labeling as genocide the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of Ottoman Turks in 1915.

Though he had supported the resolution in the Senate and as a candidate for president, Obama told Turkish lawmakers that the United States should not get involved now that Turkey and Armenia are trying to work out their differences on that and other issues. He did not use the word "genocide" in two appearances."

In other words, "The election is over and I no longer need the votes of Armenian-Americans in California."

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Reducing nuclear arsenals

"President Barack Obama will outline in a major speech on Sunday a blueprint for ridding the world of nuclear weapons that calls for the United States to reduce its reliance on history's deadliest arms and lead a new international effort to prevent terrorists from acquiring them.

The plan would reverse the former Bush administration's policy that made nuclear weapons a central pillar of U.S. security policy by preserving an arsenal of thousands of warheads, expanding the targets against which they could be used and embracing the development of new weapons.

Under Obama's proposals, the United States also would return to its previous policy of negotiating complex international arms agreements, an approach that the former Bush administration viewed as being too cumbersome and restricting of U.S power. "

Great idea. Except that the danger is from nuclear armed rogue states and terrorist groups, and they don't respect treaties or good intentions.

"Estimate says bailout will cost taxpayers more"

"Bailing out the financial sector will cost taxpayers $167 billion more than originally anticipated, according to a Congressional Budget Office estimate.

The original figure in January was $189 billion, but it is now $356 billion — $152 billion more for 2009 and $15 billion more next year, the CBO says in its March report updating the budget and economic outlook."

Is anyone surprised? Isn't that what the critics predicted?

U.S. to N.K.: Young man, if you do that one more time . . .

Have you ever heard the ineffectual parents in the mall, who repeatedly warn their kids not to do something (without consequences), and the kids repeatedly ignore their parents, getting bolder each time?

That's our North Korea policy (bipartisan, from Bush to Clinton to Bush to Obama).

"North Korea defied international warnings and sent a rocket hurtling over the Pacific on Sunday, a launch President Barack Obama called an illicit test of the regime's long-range missile technology that threatened the security of nations "near and far."

Obama and European Union leaders meeting in Prague condemned the move and said North Korea's dangerous defiance demanded an international response. Diplomats at the United Nations scheduled an emergency Security Council session for later Sunday to discuss what Obama called a clear violation of U.N. resolutions."

Another U.N. resolution condemning North Korean violation of prior U.N. resolutions is the equivalent of yelling across the aisle in Sears, "Young man, if you do that one more time, I swear, you're in big trouble!"

We either depose the current North Korean regime, and hand the North over to South Korean control (impossible, and with unimaginably scary international consequences), or we accept that North Korea will possess nuclear armed long range missiles. That's our choice. We can continue to issue ineffectual warnings, but that's not a real option. And, it just makes us look weak.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Blagojevich Tried To Extort Rahm Emanuel

Did Rahm report that to the authoritites? And, if so, why did Rahm endorse Blago for reelection in 2006?

Franken vs. Coleman

The Minnesota U.S. Senate recount and related litigation continue, with no end in sight, with Franken up by 225 as of April 2, 2009.

In the words of a Twin Cities' television news director and straight ticket Democratic voter (speaking on the top of a ski lift at Minnesota's Lutsen Mountains Resort overlooking Lake Superior), Franken was "a singularly divisive nominee". Franken was hurt by replays of perfectly acceptable television and radio jokes and comments that in the context of a campaign were deemed less than "senatorial".

In the words of a local canoe outfitter and Democratic activist (and early Franken supporter) from Tofte, Minnesota, any generic "Democratic mayor or state senator" would have beaten Coleman handily. Instead, they're stuck in limbo.

Democratic online activists need to remember that as they declare war on the "blue dogs" for straying from ideological purity. Any blue dog Democratic nominee from the Minnesota state legislature would have been declared the winner of the U.S. senate seat approximately 150 days ago.

Friday, April 3, 2009

More Af/Pak news

"The situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan is ''increasingly dire,'' top defense officials told Congress Wednesday, and they said that President Barack Obama may have to send another 10,000 troops beyond the 21,500 he has announced since taking office. Michele Flournoy, the undersecretary of defense for policy, said the administration hasn't yet developed benchmarks to measure progress, but she predicted high human and financial costs for the U.S. in the campaign against Islamic militants in the two countries. Adding to the bleak picture, Army Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of the U.S. Central Command, expressed doubts about the reliability of Pakistani security forces in supporting the U.S. effort to curb the spread of Islamic extremism in South Asia. Petraeus conceded that the Pakistanis have betrayed America's trust in the past. He said, however, that the U.S. must show its commitment to the region, saying: ''It is important the U.S. be seen as a reliable ally.'' He said the military may need to send 10,000 more troops than the number Obama already has announced, and a decision must be made in the fall."

Let's review.

We're going to have a 50,000 troop permanent "residual force" in Iraq.

We're going to have up to 31,500 troops in Afghanistan and Pakistan, before we develop benchmarks to measure progress, notwithstanding projected "high human and financial costs", notwithstanding "doubts about the reliability of Pakistani security forces" and notwithstanding "that the Pakistanis have betrayed America's trust in the past".

Of course, William Kristol, Robert Kagan and other leading neoconservatives think this is a great plan. So, who are we to judge?

How does this stimulate anything?

"Before it doles out federal stimulus money for transit to any municipality, Miami-Dade County has decreed: It's going to cost you. Calling it a ''processing fee,'' cash-strapped Miami-Dade Transit plans to charge 5 percent off the top to the 28 cities in the county that qualify for $13.4 million in federal transportation stimulus funds. . . . ''It is not in the spirit of what the funding is for,'' said North Miami Mayor Kevin Burns, a member of the Metropolitan Planning Organization, which last week passed a 9-3 resolution urging MDTA to drop the idea. . . . The surcharge came as news to members of Congress who voted on the stimulus package last month."

Maybe if they had held hearings on the bill, or debated it, or even read it before passage, this wouldn't "come as news to members of Congress".

Are you surprised?

What's the one thing worse than politicians who promise tax cuts and balanced budgets by cutting waste and inefficiency?

Voters who believe them . . . every four years.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Finish what you started

It appears Senator John Kerry is gung ho in support of U.S. intervention in the Mexican drug wars.

"John Kerry: Sharing the battle to win the war"

You remember John Kerry. When Kerry was an anti war Vietnam vet, he famously asked the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971: "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" tor-john-kerry:-how-do-you-ask-man-be-la st-man-die-vietnam

Why doesn't Kerry use his power and influence as chair of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee to wind up one of the three wars we're currently involved in, rather than start a fourth?

By the way - - the Democrats won the popular vote in 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2008. The only Democratic presidential ticket to lose the popular vote since the 1980's was headed by John Kerry. Why does he retain any respect or influence?

Sebelius becomes latest Obama Cabinet pick with tax troubles

"Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius on Tuesday joined a list of Cabinet nominees who were forced to pay back taxes because of errors in their returns.

In a letter to the Senate Finance Committee, Sebelius, President Barack Obama's nominee to head the Health and Human Services Department, said she repaid nearly $8,000, including interest, because of "unintentional errors.""

If only Leona Helmsley were still alive. ("We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes . . .") Surely, there'd be a job for her in this administration.

"Campaign takes aim at insult"

"The Special Olympics launched a campaign Tuesday to banish the word ''retard,'' a casual insult that derives from an out-of-favor medical term.

People signed pledges not to use the word and students gathered to denounce its use at rallies from Florida to Alaska. Over the long-term, organizers hope to change attitudes about people with mental disabilities, who number more than 190 million worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

''It's insulting, it's painful and it hurts people,'' said actor Eddie Barbanell, who has Down syndrome and appeared in the movie The Ringer. ``Get that word out! End the word! Bury it!''"

Definitely a good idea. After all, what kind of cold hearted creep would make fun of the Special Olympians?

He really should be embarrassed

"Barack Obama's Kenyan aunt lost her bid for asylum more than four years ago, and a judge ordered her deported. Instead, Zeituni Onyango stayed, living for years in public housing.

Now, in a case that puts the president in a tough position both personally and politically, Onyango's request is being reconsidered under a little-used provision in U.S. immigration rules that allows denied asylum claims to be reheard if applicants can show that something has changed to make them eligible.

Such as the ascension of her nephew to the presidency of the world's most powerful country.

"If she goes back to Kenya, she is going to be much more in the limelight, and that, in and of itself, could put her at a greater risk. The chances of her going back and keeping a low profile are gone at this point," said Boston immigration attorney Ilana Greenstein.

Onyango, 56, the half-sister of Obama's late father, moved to the United States in 2000. Her first bid for asylum was rejected, and an immigration judge ordered her deported in 2004; she continues to live in public housing in Boston."

The Obama's earn over $600,000 per year from salaries and books.

Can't they at least pay his aunt's rent, so she can get out of public housing, while she stalls, delays and avoids a legal deportation order?

They should be embarrassed that their aunt is in this country, illegally, on welfare.

A one day summit

The G-20 summit is a one day summit.

It's a photo opportunity, not a conference.

And what about this?

"Yet in the weeks leading up to this summit, transatlantic tensions mounted. The Obama administration criticized European allies as not doing enough to stimulate their economies; they retorted that the U.S. is moving too slowly to put new rules in place to rein in large financial institutions."

I thought the new approach was to listen and seek consensus with our allies. This sures sounds like continued, go-it-alone, cowboy diplomacy.