Sunday, May 31, 2009

Why imperial embassies?

"The U.S. is embarking on a $1 billion crash program to expand its diplomatic presence in Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan, another sign that the Obama administration is making a costly, long-term commitment to war-torn South Asia, U.S. officials said Wednesday. The White House has asked Congress for — and seems likely to receive — $736 million to build a new U.S. embassy in Islamabad, along with permanent housing for U.S. government civilians and new office space in the Pakistani capital. The scale of the projects rivals the giant U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, which was completed last year after construction delays at a cost of $740 million."

For now, ignore the waste of money.

And, ignore the further evidence that our new "anti war" president is obviously planning on a "long term commitment to", i.e., occupation of, Iraq, Pakistan and Afganistan.

Focus on the fact that these massive imperialist-style building projects make us look like just another in a long line of colonial occupiers. This will not win hearts and minds.

Why not built small, modest embassies, and then use the left over money to fund the construction of hospitals in every major city? That's how you make friends in the third world.

Dialogue doesn't seem to have worked

At the Summit of the Americas, we were told that "dialogue" with Latin dictatorships would result in improved relations and the reduction of tension and terrorism. Not so much.

"Venezuela's recent purchase of the most lethal shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles in the Russian arsenal is sharpening U.S. concerns that parts of President Hugo Chávez's massive weapons buildup could wind up in the hands of terrorists or guerrillas in neighboring Colombia.
Washington's unease is well-founded, U.S. government officials say, because of credible evidence that three top Venezuelan officials offered Colombia's FARC rebels weapons, money and contacts to buy anti-aircraft missiles in 2007."

Putting the cart before the horse

"The question of what to do with 17 Uighur men held at Guantánamo is one of the challenges awaiting an Obama administration seeking to close the prison camps. . . . While Defense Secretary Robert Gates has staffers in Washington writing plans to close the prison camps, the saga of these 17 men called Uighurs (pronounced Wee-ghurs) shows what the architects of any new detention policy are up against. Gates wants Congress to write legislation to block former terror suspects here from asylum on U.S. shores. But that's precisely the remedy of lawyers who have for years helped these men sue for their freedom. Because they are from a Muslim minority in China, all sides agree that sending them back would doom them to religious persecution, perhaps torture, in their communist homeland."

Shouldn't you figure out what you're going to do with the inmates before you decide to shut the prison?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

More Korean nukes

"Korea on Friday vowed to retaliate if punitive U.N. sanctions are imposed for its latest nuclear test, and U.S. officials said there are new signs Pyongyang may be planning more long-range missile launches. With tensions rising, the communist nation punctuated its barrage of rhetoric with yet another short-range missile launch, the sixth this week. Perhaps more significantly, officials in Washington said there are indications of increased activity at a site used to fire long-range missiles."

International "resolutions" and "condemnation" are having no effect.

Eventually, Obama won't be able to change the subject by appointing a judge or announcing a new "czar".

He will have to do something.

Cuba "galled"?

"Cuba criticized Microsoft on Friday for blocking its Messenger instant messaging service on the island and in other countries under U.S. sanctions, calling it yet another example of Washington's ''harsh'' treatment of Havana. The technology giant recently announced it was disabling the program's availability in Cuba, Syria, Iran, Sudan and North Korea to come into compliance with a U.S. ban on transfer of licensed software to embargoed countries."

Of course, the US and Microsoft will face international criticism for their "galling" and "harsh" treatment of the world's most brutal dictatorships.

But, no one protests Cuba's limitation of "access to e-mail through schools, workplaces and post offices" and "government restrictions keep[ing] most citizens from unfettered access to the Web".

The only Cuban institutions allowed to use IM technology are the dictatorial government and the military. Under those conditions, there is no good reason to allow the Cuban government to use IM technology.

Friday, May 29, 2009

A really bad interviewee

First, Caroline Kennedy wanted to be appointed Senator from New York. After a round of interviews with politicians and the media, she was rejected.

Next, she wanted to be appointed Ambassador to the Vatican. After a round of interviews with politicians and the media . . .

"President Barack Obama's candidate to represent the United States at the Vatican is a product of Miami-Dade public schools and a pro-life Cuban-born Democrat who served as a religious advisor for the presidential campaign. Miguel H. Díaz is also one of the nation's top Hispanic theologians . . ."

With the Kennedy name, and hundreds of millions of dollars behind her, Caroline can't get a high profile job. She must be a really bad interviewee.

Prisoner abuse pictures

First, Obama reversed his campaign promises regarding the release of the prisoner abuse pictures.

Next, the Obama administration went to court to stop the release of the prisoner abuse pictures.

Now, we find out (from foreign newspapers quoting a U.S. general) that the pictures include "graphic images of U.S. soldiers raping and torturing Iraqi prisoners".

Why is it only British papers that care if Obama keeps his word and obeys the law?

Rape is a crime that must be prosecuted, even if Obama now wants to adopt the Bush / Cheney defense.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

There's still a war in Iraq

"A roadside bomb killed a U.S. soldier Wednesday in Baghdad, making May the deadliest month for the American military since September. . . . The fatal attack occurred two days after a blast struck a U.S. convoy west of the capital, killing three Americans, including two civilians and a soldier. The spike in deaths comes as U.S. forces face a June 30 deadline to pull back from urban areas as part of a U.S.-Iraqi security pact that took effect this year. At least 20 American service members have died so far this month, compared with 25 in September, according to an Associated Press tally. The 20 deaths include five service members killed in a May 11 shooting at a mental health clinic in Baghdad. Sgt. John M. Russell has been charged with murder in the case."

Remember when this was front page news?

Remember when newspapers published daily box scores of the dead and wounded?

Remember when two Americans dead every three days was considered a tragic waste of life?

I guess people were never really against the war. They were simply using the issue to gain power.

Cuba in the OAS?

"As more nations clamor to lift the communist country's 1962 suspension from the [Organization of American States], the U.S. State Department on Wednesday tried to head off the growing movement by submitting its own proposal that would eventually bring Cuba back -- as long as Havana abides by the organization's democratic principles."

It seems that all the intelligent foreign policy proposals are coming from Clinton's State Department rather than Obama's White House.

Schwarzenegger wants federal loan guarantees

"In a move with only one modern-day precedent, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democratic lawmakers are pressing the Obama administration and members of Congress for federal loan guarantees to help the state out of a desperate, multibillion-dollar jam."

Remember when Schwarzenegger stood up at the 2004 Republican Convention, and described all those concerned about out of control spending, deficits and borrowing as "economic girly men"? It seems that no one in politics ever has to apologize or admit a mistake. Instead, they just get the taxpayers to bail them out.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

It's still Miss California's fault

"The California Supreme Court upheld a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage Tuesday, but it also decided that the estimated 18,000 gay couples who tied the knot before the law took effect will stay wed."

I'm still amazed that what Miss California said during a beauty pageant no one watches gets more attention than what the president and the courts say.

10 more years in Iraq?

"The United States could have fighting forces in Iraq and Afghanistan for a decade, the top Army officer said, even though a signed agreement requires all U.S. forces to be out of Iraq by 2012."

Do not expect the "anti war" candidate to withdraw within 18 months, as promised during the campaign. Do not expect the "anti war" president to stick to his plan to withdraw all combat troops from Iraq in 2010, and all U.S. forces by 2012, as announced after he was sworn in. Do expect his supporters and the media and most of the "anti war" movement to forget this promise was made and this plan announced.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Still deciding?

"President Barack Obama is still deciding whether to go to federal court with the death penalty cases against five men accused of orchestrating the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a Defense Department official has notified the thousands of victim family members."

Having promised during his campaign to go to federal court with criminal cases against accused terrorists, what does he have to decide now?

Why they announced the Supreme Court pick . . .

of the first Hispanic and third female, early and unexpectedly, today:

To change the subject from a more important story.

"North Korea test-fires 2 more missiles . . . North Korea reportedly tested two more short-range missiles Tuesday, a day after detonating a nuclear bomb underground, pushing the regime further into a confrontation with world powers despite the threat of U.N. action."

"North Korea's new in-your-face test of a nuclear weapon poses a grave new challenge to President Barack Obama, one with no clear path to a solution. Obama vowed Monday that the international community would ''stand up'' to North Korea for its belligerent action, and the U.N. Security Council unanimously condemned the North Korean test Monday afternoon, calling it a ''clear violation'' of a 2006 U.N. resolution. However, Obama's and the international community's options are limited, and the prospects are none too promising for influencing a rogue nation headed by an aging dictator in poor health who may believe his legacy is making his impoverished country a nuclear power."

Obama picks first Hispanic for Supreme Court

A Hispanic female from a working class background.

It's about time.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The price of Ted Kennedy's endorsement?

Ted Kennedy's endorsement was the most timely, crucial and powerful received by Barack Obama during the presidential primary season.

It signalled that the Washington, D.C. establishment had declared the Democratic presidential primary race over, notwithstanding the remaining primaries and caucuses. And, it signalled that the pressure would be on Hillary to withdraw, notwithstanding her ultimate vote and delegate totals or prior super delegate commitments.

Immediately after the election, the White House got fully behind Caroline Kennedy's unsuccessful (and embarrassing) effort to inherit the New York Senate seat.

Now, the Obama media people are lining up behind Chris Kennedy, the son of the late U.S. Sen. Bobby Kennedy, for Obama's old Illinois U.S. senate seat.,CST-NWS-SNEED08.article

We know that Ted Kennedy believes his family earned and owns a permanent place in the U.S. Senate. It seems clearer all the time that Ted traded his endorsement, machine and mailing list in exchange for a senate seat, any senate seat, for a younger Kennedy.

Hillary's New York ties and prior commitments made that deal impossible. It's a deal Obama could have, and apparently did, make with Ted Kennedy.

Different standards

From Dionne's column:

"Last Thursday afternoon, for example, the White House invited in journalists, mostly opinion writers, to sell them on the substance of the president's big speech on Guantanamo and the treatment of detainees. . . . Unbeknown to the writers until afterward, they had been divided into two groups, one more centrist with a sprinkling of moderate conservatives, the other more liberal. (I was in the liberal group.) The president made an unscheduled appearance at each briefing. As is his way, he charmed both groups. . . . The idea, as far as I can determine, was to sell the liberal group on those aspects of Obama's plan that are a break from George W. Bush's policies, and to sell the centrist group on the toughness of the president's approach and the fact that it squares with Bush's more moderate moves later in his second term."

In other words, saying different things to different crowds, and telling them what they want to hear. This used to be considered a bad thing. Now, the same people say it's awesome communication skills.


"Until President Barack Obama can outline exactly how he plans to close the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, suspected terrorists will remain imprisoned there, lawmakers and the president's top military adviser said Sunday. Senators from both parties and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, pressed Obama for details on how he intends to fulfill his promise to close the detention facility that houses 240 suspected terrorists. . . . FBI Director (Robert) Mueller . . . told Congress it would be risky to relocate Guantánamo prisoners to U.S. facilities, giving House and Senate Democrats an opening to oppose Obama's request for $81 million to close Guantánamo without a detailed accounting of where the detainees will go."

Asking for $81 million to do something before you have a plan to do it is simply incompetent.

Rogue states without oil

The North Koreans celebrated Memorial Day by "carr[ying] out a powerful underground nuclear test Monday - much larger than one conducted in 2006 - a major provocation in the escalating international standoff over its rogue nuclear and missile programs. . . . Russia's Defense Ministry confirmed an atomic explosion at 9:54 a.m. (0054 GMT) in northeastern North Korea, estimating the blast's yield at 10 to 20 kilotons - comparable to the bombs that flattened Hiroshima and Nagasaki. "

Weeks ago, they tested intercontinental ballistic missiles, i.e., the delivery system.

Now we know what happens to rogue states which develop weapons of mass destruction . . . if they don't have oil, nothing.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Guantanamo closing still goal?

"The top U.S. military official says the Pentagon is working to meet President Barack Obama's one-year deadline to close the Guantanamo prison for suspected terrorists."

The Senate voted against closing Guantanamo.

The House of Representatives voted against closing Guantanamo.

In fact, Congress voted against spending money for the planning and implementaton of the closure of Guantanamo.

Under our Constitution, that should be the end of the story.

Not that anyone seems to care anymore

"Two Americans have been killed in separate incidents inside Baghdad's fortified Green Zone, U.S. and Iraqi officials said Saturday, raising concerns about its security as Iraq's forces assume more control over the sprawling district."

Tell the truth

"President Barack Obama says he doesn't feel "weighed down" by a need to pick the next Supreme Court justice based on demographics, arguing that intellectual firepower and empathy with ordinary people are more important."

Why can't our leaders ever tell the truth? Everyone knows he's being pressured to appoint someone from an un- or under represented background.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Pakistan has a "growing nuclear-arms program"

"Additional evidence has emerged that Pakistan is ''greatly expanding'' its nuclear weapons program even as Islamic insurgents have been advancing toward the country's heartland from its border with Afghanistan."

In other words, some of the financial aid that we give Pakistan is going into the manufacture of nuclear weapons which could fall into the hands of al Qaida, if and / or when Pakistan's government falls. Another bad policy decision.

A truth commission

Self styled "anti war progressives" were all in favor of a "truth commission" to investigate any U.S. excesses or irregularities in the course of the war on terror.

Until it turned out that Nancy Pelosi would be a subject of the investigation.

"House rejects probe into Pelosi CIA claims"

Obama vs. Cheney

"Obama defends terrorism policy, closing Guantanamo"

"Cheney defends Bush's national security policies"

The amazing thing is that the incumbent president of the United States handled these issues so incompetently that he is now forced to debate an unpopular former vice president as an equal.

One day, we will focus on real issues

For years, we heard every day from Republicans about the evils of partial birth abortion, as if it were a common every day form of birth control. In fact, there were less than two dozen partial birth abortions per year in the entire country during the height of that debate. Each was in a high stress "life of the mother or life of the child" type situation.

Today, we hear from Obama's Democrats about waterboarding, as if it was a common every day Bush administration interrogation technique. In fact, only three people were waterboarded. Each was a high level suspect perceived as having information of imminent or planned attack.

One day, we will focus on real issues.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Afghani civilian deaths: Does anyone think this helps?

"U.S. military investigators concluded that roughly 50 people, including at least 20 militants, died in an American airstrike in western Afghanistan this week, disputing Afghan and Red Cross reports of a much higher civilian death toll, according to senior American officials. In the aftermath of the Monday airstrikes in the village of Granai, Afghan officials said as many as 120 civilians had been killed. The International Committee of the Red Cross largely backed the Afghan claims and said dozens of civilians died."

Does anyone think "we only accidently killed 30 civilians, not 120 civilians" is an argument that wins Afghani hearts and minds? Get. Out. Now.

Finally, some common sense

"Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that Cuba should not be allowed to rejoin the Organization of American States until it makes political reforms, releases political prisoners, and respects human rights."


"The Senate voted 90-6 Wednesday to strip money from emergency-spending legislation to close the Guantanamo Bay detainee facility, a clear concession by Democrats that they lacked the political muscle to shutter the prison."

When they promised to close Guantanamo, were they lieing, or just too dumb to consider all the ramifications?

Obama's pal

Remember Hugo Chavez? Him and Obama swapped hugs and gifts and nods of approval during each other's speeches at the Summit of the Americas.

"Disloyalty is costly for Hugo Chávez backers - Hugo Chávez's revolution in Venezuela targets more than the president's enemies. Even supporters are punished when their loyalty comes into question."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Remember those "stupid" Bush proposals allowing firearms in national parks?

The credit-card bill (on its way to the president for signature) includes the Coburn amendment, which codifies the Bush regulatory proposals, and allows the carrying of firearms in national parks.

This is the National Rifle Association's biggest victory in a decade.

The amendment was attached with 67 votes in the Senate. See:

And, overwhelming majorities in the House and Senate will vote for the bill, pro gun amendment and all. Of course, Obama will sign it.

Is this another dumb idea that's only dumb when proposed by Bush?

Judge admonishes Obama administration on detainees

"A federal judge has ruled that the United States can continue to hold some prisoners in military detention indefinitely without any charges. U.S. District Judge John Bates' opinion issued Tuesday night limited the Obama administration's definition of who can be held. . . . Earlier this year, Bates ordered the Obama administration to give its definition of whom the United States can continue to hold at Guantánamo. The administration responded with a definition that was largely similar to the Bush administration's, drawing criticism from human rights advocates.
But it made no mention of whether the new White House would label the detainees ``enemy combatants.'' In his opinion, Bates said he agreed with the Obama administration that ``the president has the authority to detain persons that the president determines planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, and persons who harbored those responsible for those attacks. ''The president also has the authority to detain persons who are or were part of Taliban or al Qaeda forces or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed (i.e., directly participated in) a belligerent act in aid of such enemy armed forces,'' Bates wrote. But he said the Obama administration went beyond the law of war by including in its definition those who ''supported'' enemy forces. 'The court can find no authority in domestic law or the law of war, nor can the government point to any, to justify the concept of 'support' as a valid ground for detention,'' Bates wrote."

Let's review:

Obama's not closing Guantanamo.

Obama's not going to try all terror suspects in federal court.

Obama's not going to fully withdraw from Iraq within 18 months.

Obama's not going to repeal DADT.

And, according to the judge, Obama's over reaching on who he can detain without trial.

This is no different than what McCain proposed. Except, McCain honestly said what he would do.

Clothes-gate closed

"The Federal Election Commission has dismissed a complaint over the clothes and accessories purchased for Gov. Sarah Palin and her family on the campaign trail. The Republican National Committee bought designer outfits during Palin's vice presidential run last fall. Wardrobe and related expenses reportedly ran more than $150,000 and included purchases from Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus."

Let's be fair. Where do the people who filed this complaint think Michele Obama and Nancy Pelosi shop?

California voters reject budget ballot measures

"California voters have crushed efforts by elected leaders to patch a gaping hole in the state budget with a package of ballot measures that included borrowing, extending $16 billion worth of taxes and promising to reform future budgets with a reserve fund and a spending cap."

Voters in our largest state said "no" to more taxes and borrowing.

Of course, this will be ignored in D.C.

Iran tests missile

"President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran test-fired a new advanced missile Wednesday with a range of about 1,200 miles, far enough to strike Israel, southern Europe and U.S. bases in the Middle East."

America's response?

"The announcement will not reassure the U.S. government, coming just two days after President Barack Obama declared a readiness to seek deeper international sanctions against Iran if it shunned U.S. attempts to open negotiations on its nuclear program. Obama said he expected a positive response to his outreach for opening a dialogue with Iran by the end of the year."

"Deeper international sanctions" and "outreach for opening a dialogue" won't stop nuclear armed Iranian missiles from killing Israelis, southern Europeans and U.S. troops based in the Middle East.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Not one

Today, we learn that the Guantanamo prison closure is unfunded and to be delayed.

And, the "complete withdrawal" from Iraq has become a "draw down", with a significant number of troops remaining long term (and the withdrawn troops being transferred to Afghanistan).

I honestly cannot think of one foreign policy promise that's been kept.

Officials not liable for detainee abuse

"The Supreme Court served notice Monday that it would set a high bar for anyone seeking to hold top government officials liable for abuse suffered by prisoners held as part of the Bush administration's war on terrorism. . . . "It should come as no surprise that a legitimate policy directing law enforcement to arrest and detain individuals because of their suspected link to the attacks would produce a disparate, incidental impact on Arab Muslims, even though the purpose of the policy was to target neither Arabs nor Muslims," Kennedy said. "The Sept. 11 attacks were perpetrated by 19 Arab Muslim hijackers who counted themselves members in good standing of Al Qaeda, an Islamic fundamentalist group." . . . In the decision, the high court shielded Ashcroft and Mueller from being sued because Iqbal could not show that the two personally ordered that he be mistreated.",0,6681345.story

I hope all those talking about the rule of law will abide by the rule of law, and defer to the Supreme Court's definitive ruling. There will be no judicial payback.

Disbar Bush lawyers?

"A coalition of progressive groups sought Monday to have 12 Bush administration lawyers disbarred for their roles in crafting the legal rationale for so-called enhanced interrogation techniques that many view as torture."

After Bill Clinton left office, the anti Clinton crazies went after him for "moral turpitude".

Now, "progressives" are going after former Bush officials for "moral turpitude". Is this the new American standard?

Let's hope not.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Pelosi vs Cheney on torture

The fight is over when, not if, Pelosi knew about torture.

But, Pelosi admits she knew before she became speaker, and said and did little or nothing about it as speaker. No laws, no hearings, no bans and no funding cut offs.

As long as we're a nation that reads J.D. Salinger in middle school, hypocrites will never be excused. Pelosi is making Cheney's venal but honest approach look good. Say what you will about Cheney, but he's no hypocrite. When he opposes something, he fights it.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Two friends in the region

America has two friends in South Asia and the Middle East.

Coincidently, they are the only two true democracies, and the two strongest states (economically and militarily), in the region - - Israel and India.

Which means that Obama is kissing up to India's traditional enemy, Pakistan, while calling for an international conference of theocratic totalitarian states to lower the boom on Israel.

It really makes no sense.

Why we never resolve the big issues

"Conservatives Map Strategies on Court Fight . . . While conservatives say they know they have little chance of defeating Mr. Obama's choice because Democrats control the Senate, they say they hope to mount a fight that could help refill depleted coffers and galvanize a movement demoralized by Republican electoral defeats. "It's an immense opportunity to build the conservative movement and identify the troops out there," said Richard A. Viguerie, a conservative fund-raiser. "It's a massive teaching moment for America. We've got the packages written. We're waiting right now to put a name in." Gary Marx, executive director of the conservative Judicial Confirmation Network, said donors, whom he declined to identify, had committed to contributing millions of dollars for television, radio and Internet advertisements that might reunite conservatives in a confirmation battle."

Got that?

"[T]hey hope to mount a fight that could help refill depleted coffers".

It's not about philosophical differences on sexual or economic or political issues.

It's about raising money.

If we ever repealed Roe v. Wade, and passed a constitutional amendment banning abortion (or if the pro lifers ever said, "Okay during the first trimester or for rape or abortion or incest"), these folks would be out of work.

We have thousands and thousands of people in Washington working full time fighting to right real and imagined wrongs. They don't want resolution or closure. They want a continuing cause celebre to feature in their latest fundraising letters.

Don't ever expect the Richard Vigueries to be satisfied on issues of abortion (or the Al Sharptons to be satisfied on issues of race - - it works both ways). If these issue were resolved, they would have to get real jobs and earn honest livings.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


"A major offensive by Islamic rebels has brought Somalia's internationally backed government close to collapse and renewed the possibility that a militant Islamist regime that allegedly has ties to al Qaeda could seize control of the East African nation. That would be a devastating blow to U.S. counter-terrorism and anti-piracy efforts in East Africa, where al Qaeda operatives bombed the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998."

Iraq. Iran. Afghanistan. Pakistan. Somalia.

At some point, we're going to have to give up on conquering and / or reforming and / or civilizing this part of the world, and just figure out how to quarantine the area.

How not to do health care reform

It started with calls for universal health care. Health care as a right. Insuring the uninsured.

Gradually, culminating in last week's summit with health insurance industry executives, it's become less about extending coverage and more about "containing costs".

Ask yourself this - - will health industry executives "contain costs" by cutting profits, or by cutting quality?

We have an answer (on the front pages of McClatchy newspapers):

Headline: "Ways to cut S. Fla. healthcare costs: reduce tests, let terminally ill die at home"

From story: "South Florida healthcare leaders say they know plenty of ways to slash costs - - from cutting down on needless hospital readmissions to not wasting dollars on useless care when patients are dying. . . . If the ideas were accepted, gravely ill patients would be more likely to die at home rather than in intensive care . . . another key is eliminating "futile care" - - treatment given after it is clear that a patient is on an irreversible path to imminent death."

If this is the road we're going down, and if this is the publicity that's going to surround "reform" efforts, don't be surprised if "reform" loses again.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Nancy Pelosi vs. The CIA

Forget the he said / she said dispute over who was told what when.

Look at this statement by Pelosi:

"And now they're trying to say, 'Don't put the spotlight on us; we told the Congress.' Well, they didn't tell us everything that they were doing. And the fact is that anything we would say doesn't matter anyway."

Did the Speaker of the House - - the highest ranking memberof Congress - - really say "the fact is that anything we would say doesn't matter anyway"?

The fact is that Congress could have stopped or modified any CIA practice by passing a law against it. They have in the past (regarding assassinations). They will in the future. That's the purpose of the Congressional oversight committees. That's the duty and power of Congress.

By her own admission, Pelosi knew at least some of what was going on. Pelosi never introduced legislation to stop it. Then, Pelosi acted shocked and appalled when the practices became public knowledge. End of story.

It's not only Republicans who should be upset. Democrats should expect better from their leadership.

Military tribunals: The difference between Bush and Obama

Bush was wrong, but honest.

Obama is wrong, but misstated his intent.

"President Barack Obama will restart Bush-era military tribunals for a small number of Guantanamo detainees, reviving a fiercely disputed trial system he once denounced . . . "

Obama never promised to reform the military tribunal system. He promised to abolish it.

Wasn't the idea to save jobs?

Ten, fifteen, twenty billion dollars in aid to Chrysler to save jobs . . .

"Tamiami Chrysler Jeep Dodge in Miami is one of the largest volume dealers in the Southeast and one of the biggest Hispanic-owned Chrysler dealers in the nation, its owners claim.

Yet those distinctions weren't enough to keep the store at 8250 SW Eighth St. from being listed among the 789 dealerships that Chrysler plans to shed by June 9. The carmaker on Thursday asked a New York bankruptcy court for approval to trim about a quarter of its 3,200 stores."

We were told that it wasn't only jobs with Chrysler at stake, but upstream and downstream jobs as well (with suppliers and distributors and in the sales network). How are we saving the employees in sales when we fire 25% of them?

We're not getting value for our money.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Torture: The difference between Cheney and Obama

"President Barack Obama declared Wednesday he would try to block the court-ordered release of photos showing U.S. troops abusing prisoners, abruptly reversing his position out of concern the pictures would "further inflame anti-American opinion" and endanger U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The White House had said last month it would not oppose an appeals court ruling that set a May 28 deadline for releasing dozens of photos from military investigations of alleged misconduct. . . . Obama, explaining his change of heart on releasing the other photos, said they had already served their purpose in investigations of "a small number of individuals." Those cases were all concluded by 2004, and the president said "the individuals who were involved have been identified, and appropriate actions have been taken." . . . The effort to keep the photos from becoming public represented a sharp reversal from Obama's repeated pledges for open government, and in particular from his promise to be forthcoming with information that courts have ruled should be publicly available."

The real difference between Cheney and Obama on torture?

Cheney was honest and consistent (if not correct) on the issue.

Obama "abruptly reverses his position", "changes his heart", "sharply reverses repeated campaign pledges" and ultimately adopts the Cheney position. Remember when Obama said "concern that the pictures would further inflame anti-American opinion and endanger U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan" was a bogus excuse?

Cash for clunkers?

"Consumers could get up to $4,500 each to help replace old gas-guzzling cars under a plan that has gained strong support from the White House and leaders of Congress. The ''cash for clunkers'' movement has proved so strong that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is seriously considering making it part of the emergency Iraq and Afghanistan war-spending bill."

The program seems to be too expensive, and none of the federal government's business.

But, among all the wild new spending programs, this program would at least appear to be effective, and would reduce dependence on foreign fossil fuels.

So, why "mak[e] it part of the emergency Iraq and Afghanistan war-spending bill"? I thought that was the kind of legislative trickery the Democrats were going to change once they took charge.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

There better be oversight

Obama's sending out hundreds of billions of dollars of new spending, much of it through "activist" organizations and individuals.

Unless we have strong audits and oversight, you'll be seeing lots of stories like this:

FDA enforcement: It's about time

"Federal regulators have scolded the maker of Cheerios, saying the company made inappropriate claims about the popular cereal's ability to lower cholesterol and treat heart disease."

Let's hope the FDA gets back in the business of regulating false and misleading claims by diet, vitamin, supplement and health food salesmen.

None of these people - - not even Jennie McCarthy, Oprah or Kirstie Alley - - are doctors. They shouldn't be dispensing phony and unproven medical theory, no matter how well meaning.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

They just make stuff up

"The Obama administration is defending its claim that the $787 billion economic stimulus plan will save or create 3.5 million jobs before 2011 even while conceding that unemployment will likely continue to rise beyond its earlier predictions. . . . The assessment was the same as what Obama's economists forecast in January, when they predicted that the economic stimulus would prevent unemployment from rising above 8 percent. But unemployment reached 8.9 percent in April and the chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisers, Christina Romer, said over the weekend that current predictions that unemployment would reach 9.5 percent were "pretty realistic."

Get that? The Obama economic stimulus plan was supposed to prevent unemployment from rising above 8 percent. But, unemployment reached 8.9 percent in April. Current Obama administration predictions are that unemployment would soon reach 9.5 percent. Doesn't that indicate that the Obama economic stimulus plan failed, by the Obama administration's own measure?

Our friend Cuba

The U.S. has improved relations with Cuba, and eased restrictions without asking for concessions.

On the other hand:

"The European Union said it made no headway Monday in nudging Cuba to improve its human rights record, a pivotal issue in an EU debate about whether to lift diplomatic sanctions against the Caribbean island. . . . The EU imposed diplomatic sanctions, including a ban on political and other consultations, against Cuba in 2003 after the arrests of dozens of dissidents. While the sanctions were suspended in 2005, they have not been lifted and relations have remained touchy. . . . The EU has been reviewing the relationship and set tough conditions for Havana to have better relations. These include the release of all political prisoners, unhindered access for Cubans to the Internet, and the right of EU delegations arriving in Cuba to be able to meet with opposition figures. Its review coincides with signals that Washington may be ready for a new start with Cuba."

Under Obama, Europe is getting tougher on Cuba than the US.


Our friend Venezuela

In response to Obama's attempt to improve relations . . .

"Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez is threatening to close a TV station critical of him . . . for reporting an earthquake before the government announced it."

I'm sure Obama will apologize for something.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Will Joe Biden ever apologize . . .

for needlessly freaking people out about the swine flu?

Not a surprise

Discussing growing Congressional opposition to the continued wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is noted that:

"House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., had supported timelines when George W. Bush was president but is discouraging them now."

The failure of Obama, Pelosi and Reid to end the war in Iraq is a complete political betrayal of their supporters.

What did we get for $15+ billion

"For General Motors Corp., the task at hand is so difficult that experts say a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing is all but inevitable. To remake itself outside of court, GM must persuade bondholders to swap $27 billion in debt for 10 percent of its risky stock. On top of that, the automaker must work out deals with its union, announce factory closures, cut or sell brands and force hundreds of dealers out of business - all in three weeks."

Why did we spend more than $15 billion in public funds for this outcome?

GM could have filed bankruptcy $15 billion ago, and ended up approximately in the same place (and we taxpayers would still have our $15 billion).

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Our friend, Afghanistan

"When it's harvest time in the poppy fields of Kandahar, dust-covered Taliban fighters pull up on their motorbikes to collect a 10 percent tax on the crop. Afghan police arrive in Ford Ranger pickups -- bought with U.S. aid money -- and demand their cut of the cash in exchange for promises to skip the farms during annual eradication. Then, usually late one afternoon, a drug trafficker will roll up in his Toyota Land Cruiser with black-tinted windows and send a footman to pay the farmers in cash. The boss inside the Land Cruiser never shows his face, but the farmer says he presumes it's a local powerbroker who has ties to the U.S.-backed Afghan government."

Our increasing involvement in Afghanistan will not end well, for them or us.

Not a well thought out plan

"At Guantánamo, life drags on behind razor wire. The prison can't close until 240 terror suspects are relocated. So far, no one will take them."

You would think Obama would decide what to do with the prisoners before deciding to shut the prison.

It's like watching The Three Stooges move a grand piano.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Nancy Pelosi lied

Notwithstanding her denials, notwithstanding her public rejection of torture and "enhanced interrogation techniques", notwithstanding her posturing, "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was briefed on the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” on terrorist suspect Abu Zubaydah in September 2002, according to a report prepared by the Director of National Intelligence’s office".

The story goes on:

"The report, submitted to the Senate Intelligence Committee and other Capitol Hill officials Wednesday, appears to contradict Pelosi’s statement last month that she was never told about the use of waterboarding or other special interrogation tactics. Instead, she has said, she was told only that the Bush administration had legal opinions that would have supported the use of such techniques. The report details a Sept. 4, 2002 meeting between intelligence officials and Pelosi, then-House intelligence committee chairman Porter Goss, and two aides. At the time, Pelosi was the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee. The meeting is described as a “Briefing on EITs including use of EITs on Abu Zubaydah, background on authorities, and a description of particular EITs that had been employed.” EITs stand for “enhanced interrogation techniques,” a classification of special interrogation tactics that includes waterboarding."

Of course, Pelosi is the feminist who "neutrally" urged the woman candidate with the most primary votes to drop out of the presidential race. And, Pelosi is the "anti war" representative elected speaker in 2007, who still doesn't support a war funding cut off. Another disappointment.

Obama's deal with Cuba

"A top Cuban official on Thursday said Cuba is willing to discuss everything with the Obama administration, but it won't give up its form of government in talks to improve relations. The comments by the director of Cuba's Foreign Ministry's North American Department echoed the sentiments of President Raul Castro, who has said repeatedly that officials would be willing to sit down for direct talks with U.S. leaders as long as his country's sovereignty is not threatened. President Barack Obama has suggested it may be time for a new beginning with Cuba, and the White House authorized unlimited travel and money transfer for Americans with relatives in Cuba. But his administration has said it would like Cuba to respond by making small political and social changes to its single-party communist system. Castro has bristled at that suggestion. "Cuba cannot be asked to give up its form of government as a condition to establish normal relations with the United States. That position is a nonstarter. It will lead us no where," the Cuban official, Josefina Vidal, said at the start of a Cuban academic conference in Canada. "In doing so, the United States would make the same mistake that previous governments have done."

In other words, the US will end the embargo and give the current Cuban regime money, aid, support and legitimacy. In exchange, we get nothing, and the Cuban people will remain the oppressed subjects of a totalitarian dictatorship.

Why would we agree to this?

The budget cuts are no cuts

"Once again, President Barack Obama has dramatically proposed budget cuts, but his reductions would trim less than half of 1 percent from his proposed fiscal 2010 budget. Obama unveiled a plan Thursday to cut or terminate 121 government programs and save $17 billion. Even if Congress goes along, however, his budget would double the national debt in a decade."

In other words, "Once again, President Barack Obama" broke his word regarding "budget cuts", and it is now clear that his economic plan will leave our economy in worse shape than he found it, i.e., "his budget would double the national debt in a decade."

So, why was everyone making fun of those protesting high government spending?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Extraordinary rendition, Obama-style

"Extraordinary rendition and irregular rendition are terms used to describe the apprehension and extrajudicial transfer of a person from one state to another. "Torture by proxy" is used by some critics to describe situations in which the United States has purportedly transferred suspected terrorists to countries known to employ harsh interrogation techniques that may rise to the level of torture."

If you watch MSNBC, extraordinary rendition is one of the horrible rotten things that were done by Bush, Cheney, Rice, et al., for which the Obama administration constantly apologizes and for which many think there should be investigations, trials and disbarments.

Unless, of course, Obama does it.

"The Obama administration says it is inching closer to a deal that would send an estimated 100 Yemeni detainees at Guantanamo Bay to Saudi terrorist rehabilitation centers and speed the closing of the Navy prison."

In case you didn't know, Saudi Arabia is one of those "countries known to employ harsh interrogation techniques that may rise to the level of torture".

The Saudis are the people with the medieval justice system in which the testimony of men outweighs the testimony of women, and in which punishments include beheading and whipping and stoning and chopping off the hands of thieves.

The occasional waterboarding is the least of your worries in a "Saudi terrorist rehabilitation center".

Cuba: Why didn't the CBC meet with him, too?

"An Afro-Cuban dissident on Wednesday urged members of the Congressional Black Caucus who recently met with Fidel Castro to pressure Cuban officials to stop harassing opposition leaders on the island. Berta Antunez delivered a letter in Washington on behalf of her brother, who spent 17 years in prison in Cuba. Since his release last year, Jorge Luis Garcia Perez Antunez remains under heavy surveillance on the island. He also recently spent a month on a hunger strike protesting treatment of political prisoners. His wife, Iris Perez Aguilera, who also is black, heads a group in Cuba called the Rosa Parks Feminist Movement for Civil Rights. "

The CBC's response to criticism that it met with the European descended Communist leadership, but not the Afro Cuban dissidents?

"U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush . . . said democratic freedoms are a concern of his but weren't the focus of last month's trip. He plans to offer a bill this week to lift trade restrictions against Cuba and to remove it from the U.S. list of nations that sponsor terror."

Rush, who formerly held a "leadership role in the Black Panthers", never responded directly to Perez' request for a meeting:

"[Perez] wrote, "While you were meeting with the Castro brothers, only 300 kilometers away from the capital, our home and the five protesters who remain within it were subject to a brutal siege" by police."

The Afro-Cuban majority in Cuba has been excluded from power under every leadership regime, whether monarchist, republican, capitalist or communist. It's a system of political exclusion akin to South African apartheid. You would think the CBC would care about that.

Budget cuts?

"Obama first submitted a $3.55 trillion fiscal 2010 budget outline in February, offering his general priorities and overall spending and tax plans. Congress last week adopted his plan with some spending cuts of its own, but with few major changes. Its $3.4 trillion budget would reduce this year's anticipated $1.7 trillion deficit to $620 billion by fiscal 2012 . . ." "President Barack Obama plans to unveil Thursday a fiscal 2010 budget full of details on his plans to save as much as $17 billion by cutting -- and in some cases ending -- 121 government programs." "About half of the $17 billion in savings in Obama's plan would come from cutting or ending nondefense programs and the rest would come from defense."

Is there a dictionary anywhere in which trillion dollar spending increases are defined as "savings" or "budget cuts"?

I guess we're not so bad

Remember the Summit of the Americas, where it seemed like all the participants (including our president) attacked the US for its history of meddling, imperialistic, exploitative behavior?

And then the swine flu hit Mexico . . .

"Angry Mexican officials have issued unusually harsh protests against the decisions by Cuba, Argentina, Ecuador and Peru to suspend direct flights from Mexico despite World Health Organization warnings that such measures are unwarranted. How can one explain that Latin American countries with relatively little traffic with Mexico have suspended direct flights from Mexico, when the United States -- which shares a 2,000-mile-long border with Mexico that is crossed by the bulk of the more than 20 million people visiting Mexico annually -- has not done so? Mexican officials ask. "

"Haitian officials rejected a Mexican aid ship carrying 77 tons of much-needed food aid because of ''unfounded'' swine flu fears, Mexico's ambassador said Wednesday."

So much for solidarity against the evil blue eyed yanqui gringos (in the words of the presidents of Brazil, Cuba and Venezuela.)

On the latest religious scandal . . .

Sometimes, one quote says it all:

"''I would have condemned him if it would have been a young boy, but it was a woman,'' said Zunilda Junco, 81, who attends the church frequently."

When you have to lower the bar, you're in trouble.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Not only is the Taliban winning in Pakistan . . .

. . . but our strategy is making them popular.

"Pakistani army's attack on Taliban draws civilian anger . . . Residents in northwest Pakistan say the military's assault on the Taliban is indiscriminate and it's destroying their lives. . . . The Pakistani army's assault against Islamic militants in Buner, in northwest Pakistan, is flattening villages, killing civilians and sending thousands of farmers and villagers fleeing from their homes, residents escaping the fighting said Monday. . . ''We didn't see any Taliban; they are up in the mountains, yet the army flattens our villages,'' Zaroon Mohammad, 45, told McClatchy as he walked with about a dozen scrawny cattle and the male members of his family in the relative safety of this village in southern Buner. ``Our house has been badly damaged. These cows are now our total possessions.'' His and other residents' accounts of the fighting contradict those provided by the Pakistani military and suggest that the government of President Asif Zardari is rapidly losing the support of those it set out to protect, as it has in previous operations against militants along Pakistan's rugged border with Afghanistan. . . . ''I don't think they've killed even one Taliban. Only ordinary people,'' he said."

Inflation coming

Multi trillion dollar deficits will ultimately result in inflation. End of story.

"In the 1970s, with inflation rising, I often described the Federal Reserve as knowing only two speeds: too fast and too slow. At the time, the Fed’s idea was to combat recession by promoting expansion, printing money and making it easier for businesses and households to borrow — and worry only later about the inflation that resulted. That strategy produced a sorry decade of slow productivity growth, rising unemployment and, yes, rising inflation. If President Obama and the Fed continue down their current path, we could see a repeat of those dreadful inflationary years."

Another foreign leader we apologized to

"With some newspapers and broadcast outlets relentlessly exposing the government's shortcomings, President Evo Morales and his supporters say the privately-owned media have sided with his opponents. The government has filed criminal charges against a major La Paz newspaper over corruption-related headlines, created a new state-controlled television network and newspaper and some allege is intimidating those who print or broadcast news the government deems unpleasant. . . . In recent weeks, Morales, the editor, his family and other La Prensa reporters have received telephoned death threats telling them to stop publishing such stories. While there is no evidence that those calls came from government officials, Morales believes they are inspired by the government's anti-media message and are carried out by followers of the president to intimidate and silence the press. . . . At the Inter-American Press Association annual meeting in Paraguay in February, the Bolivian National Press Association reported 46 cases of physical attacks, harassment and verbal assaults on its members and warned that the free press was under assault in Bolivia."

Again, we shouldn't want better relations with authoritarian strongmen. We don't have to meddle, but we don't have to give our approval.

Taliban closing in on nuclear supplies

"Armed Taliban insurgents seized control of the main town in Pakistan's Swat valley, sending thousands of residents fleeing in advance of a possible showdown between the Islamic militants and the army that could help decide the future of nuclear-armed Pakistan. . . . The militants are drawing closer to some of Pakistan's nuclear weapons and other military facilities. Swat and Buner also are close to the huge Tarbela dam and to two important highways, one of which is a main supply route for U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan and the link between Islamabad, the capital, and Peshawar, a city of about two million and the capital of the North West Frontier Province."

Of course, while this is going on, the administration is apologizing to dictators and trying not to offend any terrorists. This is scary.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


What could this mean?

"The Obama administration's bid for $50 million to move prisoners from the Guantánamo Bay detention facility was left out of the Democratic-authored emergency war spending bill unveiled Monday. Defense Secretary Robert Gates had sought the funds in case the U.S. wanted to build or retrofit an alternative facility for the detainees in the United States. He called the funds ''a hedge'' in case the government wanted to start construction. However, when Democrats in the House of Representatives released their spending package Monday for funding the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and related expenses, the $50 million for Guantánamo was missing. "

You can't close the prison or move the prisoners without money.

Another promise broken?

This is what they should be doing

Forget radical change. They should be making common sense reforms.

"Following through on a campaign promise to stop rewarding companies that send jobs and money overseas, President Barack Obama on Monday called for eliminating various loopholes that benefit offshore tax havens and ratcheting up overseas enforcement, which he said could save $210 billion over a decade and encourage more job creation at home."

Our system is fine. We simply need to make it fairer and more efficient.

The only opposition left

"Moderate Democrats could hold the key to the fate of President Barack Obama's agenda this year. They have the numbers to be decisive in the House of Representatives -- the 51-member Blue Dog Coalition could doom an initiative if it sticks together, since Democrats control 256 seats, it takes 218 votes to win, and no Republicans have voted for major Democratic budget bills this year. So far, though, it's debatable how much sway the Democratic centrists have had. They declared victory last week when they got written promises from Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., that they'd support paying for major spending measures with offsetting spending cuts or higher taxes to avoid driving up deficits."

With the Republican party imploding, the blue dogs are the only voice of fiscal sanity left in Washington.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Fiat May Spin Off Auto Division If It Buys GM Europe

"Fiat SpA, the Italian carmaker taking a stake in Chrysler LLC, may spin off its automobile division following a purchase of General Motors Corp.’s European unit."

In other words, we're spending billions of dollars so that the best parts of GM and Chrysler will survive . . . as divisions of an Italian auto maker. Wasn't the original idea to save the US auto industry?

Mr. and Mrs. Edwards

"Federal investigators are sifting through the records of money that helped John Edwards' presidential campaign to determine if any was used to keep quiet his affair with Rielle Hunter."

Which is worse - - the candidate who cheated on his cancer stricken wife, while seeking sympathy votes because his wife had cancer? or, the wife, who kept campaigning for him after she knew he was cheating and had to know he'd eventually get caught?

Obviously, they were made for each other.

Wolves in some areas of U.S. to leave endangered-species list

"Wolves in parts of the Northern Rockies and the Great Lakes region come off the endangered species list today, opening them to public hunts in some states for the first time in decades. Federal officials say the population of gray wolves in those areas has recovered. The animals were listed as endangered in 1974, after they had been wiped out across the lower 48 states by hunting and government-sponsored poisoning. "We’ve exceeded our recovery goals for nine consecutive years, and we fully expect those trends will continue," said Seth Willey, regional recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. State wildlife agencies will have full control over the animals. States such as Idaho and Montana plan to resume hunting the animals this fall."

I hope you remember the presidential election of November, 2008, when anyone saying wolves didn't belong on the endangered species list was an ignorant redneck unsuited to high office.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Man in Iraqi uniform kills 2 American soldiers

"A gunman wearing an Iraqi army uniform opened fire on a U.S. military team Saturday, killing two American soldiers and wounding three, the U.S. military said, in an attack that could sharpen worries about infiltration in Iraq's security forces."

100+ days into the "anti war" candidate's presidential administration, and we still have 130,000 troops in Iraq.

No boost in Social Security foreseen?

For the first time in more than three decades, Social Security recipients will not get any increase in their benefits next year.
Again, why is the Democratic party letting a Democratic congress and a Democratic president get away with what we wouldn't stand for from the Republicans?

Our friend Bolivia

"The killings of three men characterized by Bolivia's President Evo Morales as extremists and potential assassins has some European countries wanting an explanation."

Morales sends out a government hit squad to kill men he suspects of being criminals, while our government apologizes to and seeks better relations with Morales. Why do we think we owe him an apology?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Deadliest month in Iraq for US troops since September

"Three U.S. troops were killed in Iraq on Thursday, making April the deadliest month for U.S. servicemembers this year. Two Marines and a sailor were killed during operations against militants, according to a U.S. military news release. The military did not release the names of the troops. In April, 18 U.S. troops died in Iraq, according to a CNN count of reported troop fatalities. Sixteen of those troops died in combat."

Of course, now that we have an "anti war" Congress and an "anti war" president, no one cares.

Venezuela, again

"Venezuelan police using rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons broke up a march by unions and political parties opposed to President Hugo Chavez on Friday in the latest clash between the government and critics. Socialist Chavez has increased pressure on opponents in recent months after they won some key states and cities, including Caracas, in regional elections last year."

I'm still waiting for someone to explain why our government wants to improve relations with Chavez rather than support the opponents of his dictatorial authoritarian regime. Shouldn't we be on the side of the peaceful protesters?

Another result of constructive engagement with our enemies

"North Korea warned Wednesday it will fire an intercontinental ballistic missile — or even carry out another nuclear test — unless the U.N. apologizes for condemning the regime's April 5 rocket launch."

Congress can be stupid

There used to be regularly appearing news stories, every few years, of floods along the Mississippi wiping out individual families and houses and whole subdivisions. Then, the Clinton administration adopted a rule saying that they wouldn't let you use your federal disaster aid to repeatedly rebuild in the same flood prone spot. Instead, the disaster victim was given a check and told to relocate, and the government received title to the flood prone land. In many areas, that land now serves as riverfront parks and walkways and wetlands.

The federal government tried to impose similar common sense after Katrina. In the future, we wouldn't use disaster funds to repeatedly rebuild some millionaire's beach front Gulf view vacation retreat.

The senate's response?

"A senator from Louisiana is stalling Florida emergency management director Craig Fugate's nomination as head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. . . . Republican Sen. David Vitter says he has blocked Fugate because of his concerns with FEMA. ''I have a hold on the FEMA nomination because I sent a list of hurricane recovery questions and projects to FEMA, many of which have not been adequately addressed,'' Vitter said . . . Vitter's fellow Louisiana senator, Democrat Mary Landrieu . . . said she understands Vitter's concerns, which apparently relate to FEMA's controversial ''high velocity flood zone'' maps. Federal regulations currently prohibit FEMA from funding new construction in such zones and Louisiana officials want more flexibility. . . . She noted that she shared Vitter's concerns and at Fugate's confirmation hearing questioned him about changing the federal rules that ban new construction."

In a classic example of bipartisan stupid, Louisiana's Republican and Democratic senators have reached across the aisle to fight common sense regulations which attempt to stop people from using federal disaster aid to rebuild in areas where people drown during hurricanes, and where houses have been repeatedly blown away.

I guess the lost revenue of Louisiana construction companies is of more concern to these two senators than the lives of their constituents or the government's fiscal burden of reconstruction.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Our friend Saudi Arabia

"An 8-year-old Saudi girl has divorced her middle-aged husband after her father forced her to marry him last year in exchange for about $13,000, her lawyer said Thursday."

This is who we went to war to protect.

Our friend Pakistan

"Under the terms of a recent controversial accord, Pakistan is to impose Islamic law ( sharia) in return for peace in Swat, a scenic valley and former tourist haven only 160 kilometres from Islamabad. The Taliban are not supposed to “display weapons in public” and must “recognize the writ of the government.” But even without leaving Mingora, the seat of district administration in Pakistan's Swat valley, flagrant breaches of the peace accord with the Taliban are visible. Conditions on the ground indicate the Taliban militia is tightening its grip, making it even less likely that they will be willing to give up power. A ceasefire accompanied the announcement of the deal in February, ending a failed 16-month counterinsurgency operation by Pakistani security forces. With troops back in their barracks, the Taliban are unopposed and have no need to function surreptitiously."

Why do we consider Pakistan our friend and ally? The just gave the Taliban an independent state within a state 100 miles from the Pakistani capital.

British forces out of Iraq but . .

"At the height of combat operations in the months after the U.S.-led invasion, Britain had 46,000 troops in Iraq. Washington still has about 130,000 troops in Iraq and has shifted units south ahead of the British pullout. . . . President Barack Obama has said he plans to end American combat operations in Iraq by Aug. 31, 2010, leaving a contingency force of up to 50,000 to train and advise the Iraqi security forces. The remainder of American troops are required under a U.S.-Iraqi security pact to leave by the end of 2011."

At least 50,000 American troops in Iraq until at least 2011? Someday, someone will explain to me why the "anti war" Democratic candidate is doing what the "pro war" Republican candidate proposed. And, why the "anti war" Congress elected in 2006 still hasn't cut off war funding.

Obama figures out how to defeat terrorism

Simply change the definitions, and you're no longer a terrorist or sponsoring terrorism (even if you're harboring terrorists and fugitives).


"A cry of "not in my backyard" is growing louder over where to relocate terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay once the military-run prison is closed."

Send them to the states and congressional districts of those who urged the government to close Guantanamo.

Skilled foreigners

It's as if Congress purposely refuses to get it.

"At Duke University in North Carolina, where foreign nationals account for 60 percent of this year's master's class in engineering, Vivek Wadhwa is watching his students struggle to get jobs.
Some of them are getting employment offers withdrawn, while others are frustrated and ready to move back home. Wadhwa says it's the result of xenophobic messages coming out of Washington. The culprit is a law passed by Congress in February. It forces banks that receive federal bailout money to hire American citizens over foreign guest workers.
Two months later, its reverberations are being felt across the country, particularly on college campuses. The effect could be most acute in states such as California and New Jersey, national leaders in immigrant-founded engineering and technology businesses. In California, foreign nationals helped create more than half of the start-up companies in the Silicon Valley, according to a Duke University study. And in 2007, foreign nationals accounted for nearly two-thirds of all engineering doctorates awarded from the University of California and California State University, the study found."

Americans do not object to the immigration of foreign born doctors and nurses and biochemical engineers and others with post graduate skills and training, who are assimilated and educated and will be pay more in taxes than they ever take away in social benefits.

What people object to are unskilled, uneducated, undocumented immigrants who take away blue collar jobs from our own working class, depress area wages, and tend to be a drain on our social services.

Nonetheless, Congress decided to deport foreign born engineers (after we've paid to educate them in our state universities), while allowing their untrained undocumented cousins to sneak over the border, work off the books without paying taxes, and apply for government assistance and free medical care (unavailable to U.S. citizens).

Let's be clear. Most Americans have no objection to the foreign born doctor or nurse working in the emergency room. We have an objection to the foreign born undocumented worker receiving free medical care in the emergency room.