MyWatch (May-July 2011)

Can we afford rich people anymore?

If I were an American oligarch, I’d be pushing my jester-dwarves on Capitol Hill to attack the deficit, too – don’t get me wrong. Nothing upsets super-rich magnates more than devalued dollars. Multi-billionaires become mere billionaires and billionaires are millionaires once again. That’s deflation at its most personal.

So… yeah… to hell with jobs, jobs, jobs for slobs, slobs, slobs. Our primary goal, our life-and-death struggle, should be reducing the balance on America’s maxed-out credit card. Our entire Congressional roster is now battling hip and thigh to protect tax-cuts for our detached, contemptuous wealthy. Why – it’s a crusade along lines of ‘World War II. Lend them our bailouts and the Fortune 1000 will Lease the country back us.

But they seem committed to bringing down the whole works – ratty as they are - if they don’t get their way. Prodding Republicans to play this infantile game of chicken over our debt ceiling is brinksmanship that could end up biting us all in the ass. Wasn’t gambling away the national treasury enough? Now they must turn America into international deadbeat? Wino bum of the Western World?

Someone will blink before next Tuesday. They’ll have to. But I’m becoming more and more convinced the White House won’t this time.

That may just shock to death the GOP. …And me, too.

- July 28, 2011

The guy who tried DIY surgery with a butter knife - or John Boehner?

In whose shoes would you least rather be?

The Speaker of the House not only put his name on a spending reduction plan off by 50 percent of supposed $1.7 trillion in savings, he’s seeing his once hyper-confident party fragment into hostile factions. Tea Partiers are warning they want even stronger, crazier and more irresponsible cuts than are offered in extant proposals. Will anyone finally call the bluff of these assholes?

We also must remember he’s under terrific pressure from the financial industry. There may be some in that seedy enterprise that actually want a credit rating drop – but most of them stand to lose their shirts if the debt ceiling isn’t raised and our propped-up obligations default.

Boehner’s looking more and more haggard. Somehow, I don’t think the White House is going to blink on this one. President Obama has the Speaker at check and has his finger on its mate, less than a week from deadline. The Speaker’s only hope: Democrat proclivity to shrug and trudge back down the trail within steps of Everest’s summit - wheedlling that for risky sport, parasailing is preferable.

- July 27, 2011

This sounds like one of many screwy ideas whose time has come incrementally over the past sorry decade:

 Debt ceiling negotiators think they’ve hit on a solution to address the debt ceiling impasse and the public’s unwillingness to let go of benefits such as Medicare and Social Security that have been earned over a lifetime of work: Create a new Congress.

This “Super Congress,” composed of members of both chambers and both parties, isn’t mentioned anywhere in the Constitution, but would be granted extraordinary new powers. …Legislation to lift the debt ceiling would be accompanied by the creation of a 12-member panel made up of 12 lawmakers – six from each chamber and six from each party.

 Legislation approved by the Super Congress – which some on Capitol Hill are calling the “super committee” – would then be fast-tracked through both chambers, where it couldn’t be amended by simple, regular lawmakers, who’d have the ability only to cast an up or down vote. [HuffPost Politics]

Last year, the debt-relief panel was stacked with anti-Social Security fanatics like Alan Simpson, who’d turn back the clock to Hoover-era law of the jungle as far as government benefits are concerned. That mystified us, since he was nominated by Barack Obama. Now it seems both parties are answering appeals to radically alter social spending and starve out these programs. Social Security is one of the few federal budgets that always runs at surplus – despite all those Cassandras assailing its imminent bankruptcy. America’s financial sector would be glad to gamble away money now set aside for retirees in this trust fund. Somehow, someway, this successful project which has lasted well for almost 80 years needs privatizing.

Right now, bickering over the debt, spending, taxes and budget cuts is really a fight over which party will take lion’s share of blame for actually cutting these programs. There will be no end to tax cuts for the wealthy, no closing of loopholes or reformation of corporate tax codes. The budget will be balanced, in creaky, temporary manner, on the backs of America’s working poor. This is from where our revenue is sucked up; there is little that can be called “middle class” anymore. It’s certain voters will like this as much as they did mandated insurance in last year’s health care “reform”.

So they’ll stack this panel with one-timer hacks, imminent-retirees and Congressionals from safe districts and states. They’ll hot-wire legislation and take the fallout. “My hands were tied – I couldn’t amend it. Don’t blame me for your neo-Hoovervilles”. …Rule by subterfuge that fools few.

Perhaps religious fanatics are right: We have become ancient Rome. Democratic Senate passes authority to elite tribune, and that panel is subverted by sole dictator. Without acceptance of responsibililty at any level, there is no democracy.

- July 24, 2011

If they’re washing their hands of the case, how dirty are those hands?

Anyone who’s watched the long, balky investigation into the anthrax poisonings following 9/11 can only be troubled at seeming unconcern by federal lawmen over who committed these atrocious acts. In case it’s slipped your mind – forgivable given spotty media coverage the past decade – five people were killed when letters spiked with disease-carrying spores were sent to or came in contact with them in fall 2001.

For the past three years, FBI has maintained the killer was Ft. Detrick bio-weapons researcher Dr. Bruce Ivins, who committed suicide after a long hounding by agents. They kept to that story this week, answering a courtroom bumble by its umbrella bureaucracy, the Justice Department. The Attorney General’s office is battling a lawsuit against the government for negligently employing ostensible crazy Ivins by seeming to hint Ivins might not be guilty. After all, the AG’s motion noted, he didn’t have machinery to manufacture weapons-grade powder the envelopes contained. The FBI fired back such machinery was in the building were he worked, and so the agency still considered him sorta guilty. So there!

But other scientists have maintained Ivins lacked access to those labs,  and probably didn’t have proficiency with such procedure, anyway. And that’s just one of several problems with FBI efforts to nail Ivins with the crime mostly on evidence of his own suicide.

A fine column this week by Justin Raimondo points to the single piece of evidence key to the case: The so-called “Quantico Letter” framing the FBI’s original suspect, Stephen Hatfill. The letter was mailed before the toxic letters, indicating whoever wrote it also sent the anthrax.

What makes this case so pertinent still was its use in the campaign to invade Iraq. Saddam Hussein had a bio-weapons program focusing on anthrax, or so everyone mistakenly thought at the time. Every effort was made to create impression those godless Iraqis were behind these murders. If Ivins isn’t guilty, someone else certainly had motive to send them: End result would station an American military force in the middle of the Middle East, apparently in perpetuity.

- July 22, 2011

Murdochs’ day in the docket…

If yesterday’s appearance before a Parliament committee is any indication, investigation into News Corp.’s now-infamous phone-hacking scandal won’t get many scoops from owner Rupert Murdoch and son James. They were polite, even friendly, and gave MP’s the usual, Watergate-style nothing:

  • Didn’t know about it
  • Didn’t approve it
  • Someone else down the ladder must be guilty

That may not hold for long, once those lower-rung fall-guys (and gals) get squeezed and offer up deals to avoid jail or at least long sentences. As that happens, and if this case trails back to the Murdochs’ front office, losing control of their international media conglomerate will be least of their worries.

But televised testimony offered some entertainment value. Much has been made of fascination over January-December dynamic of papa Murdoch and his beautiful, combative Asian wife. She hauled off on a pie thrower attempting some slapstick at Murdoch’s expense; that was the slap heard round the world. But even more comic relief could be found in son James’ virtual lampoon of lying executive caught with his pants down. He stammered, he denied, he offered overused and extremely lame qualifiers like “I’m not a lawyer, but…” and he even offered to “look into” stuff he was shocked, shocked to discover from his interrogators. Nothing’s worse than that last one. Lawmakers had to turn to taciturn but slightly more forthcoming Rupert to clarify.

Given weak-tea impression left by their performance, I’d hire a better public relations firm that the one which so famously prepped them for this mild grilling. Even those specialists were subject of questions; just about everyone is interested how this publicity sow’s ear will stitch into a silk purse.

The hearing was a surprising TV favorite in this country. Partly, that’s due to the case’s possible cross-pollination of Murdoch’s hideously sensational Fox News and its broiling lineup of neoconservative hacks. But there’s something else at work here. American media often is as seedy and ethics-challenged as they come. But bust-out criminality from the Fifth Estate – that’s rare if not entirely new.

This scandal has slow-drip consistency of revelations to keep interest bubbling along. As soon as its floor seems reached, some new development will deepen its seaminess. Now top cops in Britain – as well as chief of the Wall Street Journal and U.S. Stock Exchange – are resigning as they figure in corruption and complicity.

At some point, tabloidization of the news – a prcess that began 30 years ago in the Reagan ’80s – had to hit its rock-bottom. Early in the 20th century, big-time American journalism began cleaning up its image (to a degree) after trying and sentencing on its front pages the man accused of kidnapping the Lindbergh baby. Are we there again?

- July 20, 2011

We’re crazy for drugs.

There are a few problems with psychotherapeutic drugs. Pharmaceutical companies pressure doctors to prescribe their products. A recent study shows 18 out of 20 shrinks who wrote the American Psychiatric Association’s most recent clinical guidelines for treating depression, bipolar disorders, and schizophrenia had financial ties to drug companies. These companies also dole out grants for studies favorable to drugs that may not even work. New drugs, like Abilify and Wellbutrin, often aren’t as effective as older drugs they’ve replaced. Many times, the drugs tend to traquilize and numb patients rather than treat them, and are easy shuffle to avoid effective treatment by expensive psychiatrists who prescribe them.

This thoughful story is in al Jazeera, of all places. With as many miracle-drug ads on TV, I doubt we’ll be seeing many specials about this real soon.

- July 15, 2011

Yeah. We’ve moldered. That’s why we’re jobless…

Interesting little point in Fed discussions whether to kick off a new round of “stimulus” from their end – namely, buying up more Treasury bonds.

In the minutes of the meeting, “several” policy makers said that reallocating workers into new industries and workers losing skills after long bouts of unemployment may have “temporarily reduced the economy’s level of potential output.”

Maybe it’s just me – but does that almost sound almost like wishful thinking to you? Let me translate: “We’re not that concerned with high unemployment, since it at least keeps down inflation. So we’ll chalk up these doldrums to workers fashioning stone tools and losing their way around keyboards. Get used to it.” We’re utterly unemployable after two and a half years, so American industries are correct sending jobs overseas, where they can pay workers tin foil for 16 hours a day in deadly conditions. If our economic priests purposefully had designed means of wrecking the country, they couldn’t do a better job. Is that the idea?

Corporate America is fat with profits. Great job, Mr. Bernanke. You and the rest of the assholes can kick off the rest of the day.

- July 13, 2011

Mother of God! Is this the end of the Page 3 Bird?

Tabloidization of media began almost 30 years ago, in the Reagan ’80s. First there was television’s approach to media “low-browed” by tawdry shows like “Current Affair” and “Hard Copy”. Print media was sure to follow – and did.

Back in that day, I was so paranoid and conspiracy-minded I was sure this was a plot by wealthy owners to cheapen our taste for news, to soften us up to believe any nonsense we heard, saw or read. Tabloid coverage of anything tends to be colored strongly by however the scandal sheet sees picture.

Today, it’s impossible for any story to appear anywhere without a touch of gossip thrown in. And when a news item actually is tailor-made for tasteless tabloid treatment – like sex-assault charges against the former head of the International Monetary Fund – it goes full-out National Enquirer. Some coverage, like New York’s Daily News, was so salatious it was surprise a trailer-park Elvis and the sphinx on Mars weren’t somehow involved.

Now… the very cornerstone of the seamy empire is in danger of toppling: Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. is being hammered by scandal in England. It’s already eliminated the News of the World, a British rag dating back to the 1840s. NotW began this whole conflagration by hacking email accounts of politicians and celebrities, and, unforgivably, a murdered teenage girl. Now Murdoch’s company, mother of Fox News, may face bribery charges in the U.S.

With the company weighing whether to sell off all its UK newspapers, News Corp. stockholders have hammered back – at Murdoch. An investor group is holding him reponsible for the mess. We watch… and wait.

- July 11, 2011

We can consider one bluff called…

Republicans haven’t the oomph they thought they had, since it’s obvious their retreating from the ballfield after fanning at this round of hard ball.

President Barack Obama says he and Congress “need to” agree on a budget deal in 10 days in order to meet an Aug. 2 deadline to increase the nation’s debt ceiling and avoid a potentially calamitous government default… The meeting came a day after House Speaker John Boehner abandoned efforts to bargain for a $4 trillion, 10-year debt trimming agreement. Boehner said a smaller deal that would reduce the deficit by about $2.4 trillion over the next decade was more realistic.

Doesn’t look like Democrats are done, though. Maybe it’s their turn to hurl some fast pitches. Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen said over the weekend $1.1 trillion in cuts is more like it, with budget balanced by closing corporate tax loopholes and letting Bush-era tax cuts for super-wealthy Americans finally die. That’s “tax increase” according to Republican revisionism and has been anathema even though polls show the country is all for it.

Someone got the call to stop playing chicken with our shaky economic reality.

- July 11, 2011

There was no end of history, only the end of caring about it. This is the Age of Dispassion.

Job creation was near-stagnant for the second month in a row, Labor Department data showed, leaving 14.1 million Americans still jobless two years after the 2008-2009 recession ended. [AFP]

I hear news that June’s jobless rate was higher than expected hit Washington and Wall Street pretty hard. Down here on Main Street, it’s a different story. For us, it’s another day not at the office. There never was a 2008-2009 recession to end. For those earning less than six figures a year, what began in 2008 was depression lite. It’s not as bad as the 1930s, but with unemployment constantly hovering just below, at or above 10 percent, there’s no indication anything has “ended”.

That “recession ended two years ago” prattle refers to big-earners and Wall Street. They’re flush, to be sure. They were rescued and coddled. For the rest of us, there are only disgust and stunted fury. Spiritually, this collapse contrasts with the Great Depression the way our present wars do with past ones: These new models churn along endlessly, with little apparent notice from those who’ve engineered them. The FED and the Treasury Department chatter on about “recovery” that’s never begun, not for us. For those atop the pyramid, there was little to recover from. No one at that level missed a bonus. Not one of them lost their future, or fell a level in economic class.

- July 8, 2011

Nobody gets to mandate their own mandate…

Democrats learned that the hard way in the mid-’70s, when they misread voter disgust with American politics post-Watergate as formidable swing to the Left. Overspending and taxing based on such wishful thinking led to the Reagan Revolution in 1980, and Republicans really have never looked back.

Until now… The GOP seems to be applying perilously its own rosy-glasses to reality.

Mom and Pop America knows of that 35 percent corporate tax, General Electric pays a whopping seven percent, and that some companies actually get a rebate instead of a bill. They know millionaires and billionaires got their tax cut extended on backs of the middle class. And they’re pissed Democrats have done nothing about it; last fall, they let them know at polls.

Republicans seem hell-bent on interpreting that voter outrage as across-the-board endorsement of their mighty efforts to protect nesteggs of the egregiously rich and stave off evil taxmen who’d drive jobs from our shores. So… corporations pay lowest taxes they have in half a century – and still cut their domestic workforces. Nearly 80 percent of voters in four key swing states favor raising taxes on those with incomes over $1,000,000 a year, and they want corporations to pony up.

This battle over debt limit is just a Republican bargaining chip in their real campaign to maintain tax loopholes for the rich. But it ends up making Republicans look repellantly radical and fanatical. Their loyalty to the rich and fat-cat corporations is becoming obvious even to the most blinkered Tea Partier.

Symbolic nonsense is best left to Democrats, who introduced a resolution this week seeking fairness in taxes and loopholes. It’s non-binding, of course.

- July 7, 2011

And furthermore!…

It’s amazing how quickly they turn. Howard Kurtz babbled on CNN that media had turned the Casey Anthony case into a national soap opera. On the other hand, jurors sitting in court every day see the picture in whole spectrum, not just a quick sketch in black and white. Most cable news seemed to side with prosecution arguments until this afternoon’s verdict came in, now they’ve flipped with prevailing wind. Strike a blow for heroism, American information industry.

I don’t agree with Kurtz. I think many times, jurors get lost in minutiae of scientific or legalistic gobbledygook, or they shut much of it out. They see the picture in such overfed form they go with instinct - ‘do I feel she’s guilty of murder one?’. If not, they don’t consider lesser murder charges. Casey Anthony didn’t plan death of her daughter, therefore, she’s not responsible for her death. Although I don’t think she planned it, or there’s no proof of that charge, at least, I think Casey Anthony killed her daughter by negligent homicide.

Consider alternatives:

  • Someone else did it – OK, if that’s true, would a mother who’s child is missing and presumed abducted not go to the police, lie about her daughter’s whereabouts to her parents, dance away her evenings in clubs, and get a tattoo reading ‘life is sweet’? No fucking way.
  • The little girl died in a swimming accident – So, of course her mother wrapped her like a mummy in duct tape, put her in trash bags and flung her on the side of the road. Then she failed to notify police, lied about her daughter’s whereabouts to her parents, danced away her evenings in clubs, and got a tattoo reading ‘life is sweet’. Yeah. That makes sense.

The prosecution overshot when it accused Casey Anthony of premeditated murder, even though I think it’s possible it was just that. The little girl was drugged and/or bound, then left in the back of Casey Anthony’s car while she partied hardy. Babysitter money went to club stake, instead. Drinks are expensive. This beautiful little girl died alone and scared in the trunk. And when she was found, she was thrown away like garbage.

Sure… set the bitch free.

- July 5, 2011

She can hook up with O.J. and Robert Blake to hunt for real killers.

Watching this Great American Moment from summer, 2011, I’m shocked stupid. I couldn’t see how the prosecution proved murder-one. But acquitting Casey Anthony of her daughter’s death? Unbelievabilly!

For the last two days of courtroom antics, the defense flailed at every explanation and hogwash in the book to create reasonable doubt – even implicating Casey Anthony’s father as actual culprit – and looked desperate to me. But the jury, I guess, felt necessary inkling of uncertainty was achieved. This doesn’t necessarily prove anything about our justice system other than what an attorney once told me: In court, both defense and prosecution try to stack the panel with dumb, impressionable people, feeble-minded and depending on 85 percent emotion, 15 percent intellect to snapshoot reality.

Even 15-minute glitterati are baffled.

- July 5, 2011

Since Florida isn’t bothered by cameras in courtrooms, we have benefit – if it can be called that – of fulltime coverage of closing defense arguments in the Casey Anthony case. Boy, am I glad this one is wrapping up, as is I’m sure every courthouse security guard where the trial is held. Spectators trying to crowd in for limited seating at this blue-ribbon, jerkwater-celebrity trial have justified every spit-spattered, dismissive insult by snooty Europeans and our own cultured marmosets.

For sleazy color commentary during every break, Fox surprisingly has been beaten out by HLN, CNN’s tawdry little sister and home of fussin’, fumin’ Nancy Grace. The former prosecutor and master of holier-than-thou estrogen rants, isn’t anchoring and that’s the only fluke in this circus.

Grasping at straws, it seems her defense is trying to suggest reasonable doubt by incriminating her father George, who’s been accused of lying, child molestation, adultery and everything else short bootlegging gator hide. …Why not murder?

I doubt any jury would buy this line. If I was her attorneys, I’d have moved heaven and earth to put her on the stand and take a wild gamble she’d hold up under cross. The jury needs to see her talk, walk, breath. They need to see at least the presentation of a real woman, instead of the monstrous cypher they’ll take with them into the deliberation room. My call: Negligent homicide. No pin for Casey.

- July 3, 2011

So… couldn’t buy her off. We’ll see if a fabulously wealthy, very powerful and extremely well-connected rape suspect can scare off his accuser. That’s my call, anyway…

Former chief of the International Monetary Fund cooling his heels in an expensive New York apartment while awaiting trial for sexually assaulting a hotel maid has been released on his own recognizance. The Manhattan district attorney’s office agreed to restricted freedom for Dominique Strauss-Kahn after it claimed links between the 32-year-old housekeeper and crimes such as drug dealing and money laundering.

Prosecutors believe she also lied about being raped in Guinea when she applied for U.S. asylum. That could damage her credibility in the case against Strauss-Kahn, even though no proof was offered about this alleged false accusation. Her attorney says she’d come forward voluntarily to discuss inaccurate information regarding her asylum application.

Meanwhile, we get anonymous demonization of the immigrant woman, expected in cooperative media when such a high-profile, officially protected joe like Strauss-Kahn is charged with anything:

Investigators believe his accuser lied about some of her activities in the hours around the alleged attack and about her own background, according to a law enforcement official who spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.

There is as yet no elaboration of that “linked to crimes” wording, and no indication she’s been convicted of anything. I can be “linked” to discovering Antarctica if I fake a Wikipedia entry, but that doesn’t mean I actually stumbled upon the big South Pole ice cube.

Still, the District Attorney’s office admits forensic evidence supports the maid’s claim; earlier, it was reported Strauss-Kahn’s DNA was found on her. And her attorney says she stands by her account that Strauss-Kahn sexually assaulted her, emerging naked from a bathroom and chasing her down before forcing a sex act on her.

Charges against Strauss-Kahn will remain in place while investigation of the case continues. Friday’s court action means he will be free to travel in this country, but while New York authorities continue to hold his passport, he can’t flee abroad. That may be key in coming days.

We’re being softened up to see this guy turned loose for good. When we shake the box, all this leverage against the victim – and I suspect she is one – is mere innuendo and whisper-campaign. Some folks are high enough in the dogpile to earn suspension of shame and class from our information industry and justice dispensers.

- July 1, 2011

Maybe a 365, 24/7 telethon would do the trick…

When I moved to California in 1978, the state was panicked over implications of Prop 13 – which limited golden ambitions of Sacramento by capping what could be reaped from property taxes - and was reeling from a pretty disastrous decade that began with revolutionary infantility and was ending with Jonestown and the Milk-Moscone killings in San Francisco.

I’m beginning to get that rainy-day feeling, again, with signing yesterday of a strange, brutal budget approved with no new taxes and dependent on Nostradamus forecast of pre-meltdown revenue riches. As laid out in LAist:

...We’ll have to start selling our wares on eBay to make up the difference as Amazon has cutties with its California-based affiliates in reaction to the internet sales tax being instituted immediately as part of the new state budget.

Students at UC and Cal State schools can expect a 10 percent tuition hike on top of 8-10% increases already set to take place this fall. According to the LA Times, “a decade of increases has more than tripled tuition to about $11,000 a year at UC and $4,884 at Cal State.”

A quarter of California state parks will be effectively shut down for the first time ever as a result of this ridiculous budget. The 70 state parks and beaches slated to close - some as soon as Friday but most next spring - were selected based on popularity, ecological diversity, and potential for revenue, according to NBCLA.

Well, in battle of arch ideologies, both sides get some bragging rights. Republicans can boast they stymied new taxes – except that Internet apostasy – although crippling state’s higher education has dark forebodings. And Democrats can say they sucked in the gut and made some hard choices.

However, if we don’t get the extra $4 billion in added revenue some call a prediction way too rosy, we’ll see even deeper cuts, fewer services, poorer schools and closest parkland in Nevada.

California, here I came…

- June 30, 2011

Wish I’d bought that New York Life stock…

Notice how there are no more big Tea Party theatricals about “Obamacare”, anymore. We still hear the term from time to time, but now it’s just Republican political dart aimed at the President. No big deal. That’s because big money to print those placards and bus stooges to rallies has dried up: Turns out lily-livered Democrats on the Hill gave big insurers everything they wanted. Funny how that works out, huh? Last year’s “health reform” mandated that Americans buy private insurance – or face penalties. We gotta buy the shit. As soon as it was publicly pegged as part of the plan, insurers’ stock boomed, to absolutely no one’s surprise. The “mandate” has been volleyed around lower federal courts awhile, but today, according to CNN:

A federal appeals court in Cincinnati has ruled in favor of the Obama administration, saying a key provision in the sweeping health care reform bill passed last year was constitutional… The “individual mandate” requiring nearly all Americans purchase health insurance by 2014 or face financial penalties was challenged in federal courts by individuals and groups. The three-judge panel ruled the requirement was constitutional.

If recent decisions are any indication – and we can bet our asses they are – out present Supreme Court will fall all over themselves giving this a thumbs-up. What’s good for The Hartford is good for the country, even if the countrymen get antlered.

Only fly in this oinment: A poll earlier this month found Americans opposed such mandate 54 to 44 percent. I’m betting that opposition is much more substantial.

- June 29, 2011

Sending ‘mini-Tet’ message…

Since no Americans were among the dead in a suicide-bomb attack on a Kabul hotel last night, the story has dropped below the fold in most newspapers. But such a bold assault in Afghanistan’s capital, only a week after President Obama announced end of his own Hindu Kush “surge”, is bound to raise temperature in our gasosphere.

Only two Americans were in the hotel and only one Westerner was killed – a Spanish pilot. But at least four bombers, perhaps as many as five, left 20 dead in aftermath of the attack, claimed by the Taliban. If ever there was doubt about any quick Western withdrawal from the “graveyard of empires”, it’s now. This terror operation was ended by NATO forces – amazingly – and calls to mind assault on sites around Mumbai, India in late 2008. Hotels also were major targets on terrorists’ lists, and rather high American and Western body counts made it a big story.

This one may not resonate with anyone but our empire-builders, always quick to point out tenacity of our eternal foes. Flip-side of their point: Since they’re not about to roll over, maybe there are better, not-so-militant approaches to dealing with these barely understood enemies. One thing about the Taliban: Afghanistan is their country, too, being native-born and all.

It isn’t ours, no matter how unilateral our conceit…

- June 29, 2011

An empire dead on its feats…

 Wonder how long this will stretch out – now that politicians at every level are frightened no longer to publicly disown our endless, pointless wars.

Neoconservative project to station American ground forces throughout South Asia and the Middle East is now obvious burden we can afford no more. Here in Los Angeles, our Mulholland-era infrastructure is crumbling; the past couple of years, property owners throughout the city have lived in fear of the next water-main break, bringing floods and expensive damage. Last week, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joined the conference of fellow American civic leaders approving appeal for quick end to wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, to bring repair money home.

The resolution says $126 billion is being spent each year on the wars. It says that money should be spent at home to create jobs, rebuild infrastructure, develop sustainable energy and provide for other needs.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told the group Friday that it is mind-boggling to him that the money is being spent to build bridges in Kandahar and Baghdad and not in Baltimore and Kansas City.

The U.S. House of Representative refused to approve our ongoing Libyan war – let’s call it what it is. The operation, which we were told would last “days not weeks”, is now beginning its fourth month wreaking havoc on yet another quagmire-state.

“War weary” doesn’t begin to describe the American public at this juncture. All these conflicts, which have benefited America not at all, slowly are becoming targets of homefront fury, not exhaustion. We have to do the most courageous thing any country can do: We must admit that all this killing and dying, all squandering of treasury and resources, were for nothing. And we must do one thing American public officials find almost impossible to do: Say ‘no’ to Israel and its powerful domestic lobby. As the only country to benefit from powerful American forces splitting its enemies – at no cost of its own- only debt in this enterprise should be explanation to Americans, Iraqi and Afghans why this was done… Why 9/11 was hijacked as excuse to occupy and ravage the Mideast. We suspect we know the answer, but I for one would like to hear it from the mouths of these cockroaches.

- June 27, 2011

Crime and banishment…

Lindsay Lohan beat the rap and won’t go to jail, since a judge screwed up dates of her drug tests. And Whitey Bulger, exiled mob boss of Boston, on the run for years yet not so far way, finally gets busted because law enforcement brings “The View” into the act. Bulger was model for Jack Nicholson’s character in the latter-day gangland classic, “The Departed”, and was by all accounts a serial killer in godfather’s clothing. Smart enough to infiltrate Beantown’s FBI and use the agency itself to take out all his rivals in crime, he evidently liked to kill – over and above “business”.

Someone had the brilliant idea to bring women into the dragnet, since Bulger was joined at the hip to his younger gal pal; a few ads on daytime TV and in hair salons, and he’s nailed along with her. Don’t mess with the sisterhood, killer. Anyway, he’s a legend in New England tough-guy circles, and at 80 won’t do much time. Shoulda stayed in Europe.

That arrest was in Santa Monica, of all places. Just up the street here in L.A., Sheriff Lee Baca is breathing easier because Lohan won’t be making paparazzi hash of his hoosegow. Win some, lose some.

- June 23, 2011

But Syria, now, folks…

Seriously: We must hand it to ourselves, as American people, that we’re required to jump through the most arcane hoops of illogic trying to make sense of our foreign policy – and most of the time we submissively do so. That’s athleticism at its most counterintuitive.

One theme that’s been getting a lot of play in the past couple of months is “Iran is helping Syria crack down on its protestors”. This has been bandied about by everyone from Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to U.S. Sec. of State Hillary Clinton. Of course… these are the last two people Iran would want to see on the bank if it was drowning and going down a third time. If they could, they’d pin the Titanic sinking on the Persian giant. While it’s possible Iran might be trying to prop up the Assad regime to preserve its only regional ally, it’s tough to buy into the idea that Israel’s existential enemy is, yet again, at the bottom of all Mideast perfidy.

But CNN bought into it again last night, devoting most of its prime-time “360″ to nailing Iran on the wall. Here’s the progression: Syria is classed top thug, even surpassing Libya, as obstacle on road to pro-democracy “Mideast Spring”. Since Syria isn’t really a player in the Mideast anymore, not with an American corps in what was Iraq, right at its backdoor, genuine demonization shifts robotically to Israel’s existential enemy, Iran. There is afoot in this country a powerful, well-connected movement pressing the U.S. to “engage” Iran with missiles, troops – even nuclear weapons, if need be – to dissuade it from a nuclear program existence of which there is not one speck of evidence.

This hogwash is first-cousin to that spurious meme ’round Israel’s killing of almost a dozen unarmed protestors earlier this month. Remember? After reporting Israel shot “at” protestors or that several “fighters” were killed, American media finally dumped blame on Syria. It “staged” these protests so marchers could be killed and bring more bad press to poor, li’l suffering alpha-victim, Israel.

We were dizzy to point of vomiting after that hoop-jump…

- June 21, 2011

After a decade of pointless war – ‘normalcy’, anyone?

There’s no such word in the language, nor was there in 1920 when Warren G. Harding coined it as slogan of his successful presidential run. But everyone in the country knew what normalcy meant, and historians have spent the last 90 years decrying that reversion to isolationism. For a country that had lost hundreds of thousands of men in just over a year’s participation in World War I, and another 600,000 Americans dead of the flu, it’s perhaps understandable they thought a little diplomatic selfishness was a sound idea. All they wanted was peace and quiet, not more freedom crusades or sanctimonious tilts at every windmill tyrant on the horizon.

Since anti-war candidate Ron Paul won the Iowa straw poll over the weekend, mainstream media has been aghast at possibility this country won’t ever again bring militant hell to any nation we damn well please. Talking heads and asses on TV – and throughout the vast squawk of our information industry – have been hammering the term “isolationist” when referring to Paul, as if our policy choices are invading the world or turning international shut-in.

Justin Raimondo has his usually fine appraisal of the Paul phenomenon. For something completely different, and more media-standard, there’s analysis by Marc Thiessen, who amusingly tries to talk himself out of any idea the nation is turning against our imperialist imperative. Why… the suggestion is just too scary, too repellent for him even to consider!

There is almost certainly a “recession effect” at work here—and indeed Pew found that support for international engagement is down with respondents of all political stripes. If you’re one of the 14 million Americans who can’t find a job, or the quarter of American homeowners whose mortgage is higher than the value of your home, it’s not surprising you want the government to focus more on domestic problems.

No shit, Sherlock. Speaking of repulsion, he mentions every other GOP candidate except Paul. Denial… perhaps. Every time the media is absolutely uniform in its stance on an issue – evil Russia, our necessary wars, evil Julian Assange, how much we jack-off to Sarah Palin fantasy, and, of course, evil isolationism - we know we’re being fed purest bullshit.

- June 20, 2011

Lone Star governor. Drone star candidate.

Gotta love Republicans for trying to make abortion an issue. They’d make Grape-Nuts an issue if they could get away with it. The GOP needs to talk about something – anything - instead of detailing how they’d handle the economy, since their magic elixir is radical implementation of:

  • Tax cuts for the super-wealthy. Capital’s benefits – and shit – flows down, not up. That’s trickle, stupid. The wealthy won’t create new jobs with their tax savings, and burden to funding depleted revenue will fall even more heavily on the rest of us – but the rich want it done, so that’s that.
  • Deregulation. They call it anything but deregulation – like ‘downsizing big government’ – but it’s still the same bitch that almost brought down our economic house in 2008.
  • Elimination of social safety nets. Medicare is first to go, at least the first in GOP gunsights. Then Social Security, food stamps… you name it. If it doesn’t benefit rich people, it’s GONE.

Gov. Rick Perry in L.A. Sunday

Now, Republicans can’t tell us that and win office. So they campaign on some bullshit ‘issue’ like abortion, and once in, they cut loose with the far-right dragon stuff. Wisconsin is an example. Nobody told voters the new governor and legislators intended to do away with public-employee unions (then all unions, if that’s successful), but once in office, that’s what happened.

Today, very scary Texas Gov. Rick Perry was here in L.A., speaking to a crowd of about 5,000, mostly Hispanic (!), telling them Roe v. Wade’s days are numbered. Perry is all but out of the closet as presidential candidate, and this anti-abortion stuff was red meat for what’s really a pretty conservative voting bloc. We’ll see.

- June 19, 2011

He wasn’t a crook, he just smelled like one…

A lot, too much, has been made of President Obama’s admiration of Ronald Reagan – that chief executive’s ability to guide rather than lead, to cast his own goals as will of the people in loose format, and leave design for efficient execution to brainiacs with whom he’d surrounded himself. Reagan left us legacy of ever-decreasing taxes for our super-rich, an unfair set-up in which I pay greater proportion of my pauper’s income than do they of their Croesean bounty. Strangely, this issue has taken on moral tone in the past few years; to suggest equalizing this public revenue con job is practically abomination in the eyes of the Lord.

But this year, I think Obama’s presentation is more Nixonian. …Not that he’s imbued with the disgraced president’s ruthless amorality, but his durability. From Checkers speech, to failure in 1960′s presidential election and then California governership, to rebirth and triumph in ’68, Richard Milhouse Nixon was ever-present shooting-gallery mallard - forever taking direct hits and bouncing right back up with just a fleck or two of paint missing.

For all their overplayed glee, Republicans are in much the same boat as Democrats in 1972. The party’s radical wing is fragmenting a once-solid voting bloc into bristling factions. Tea Party fanaticism just doesn’t mesh with Main Street moderation – and resultant weakness puts the White House well out of GOP reach, barring further economic erosion. Nixon was seen as vulnerable, too, by every Democrat navel-gazing at his or her own priorities. McGovern never really had a chance that year. That was the sick joke of Watergate: The crime was superfluous folly to support an already sure thing.

This is the 39th anniversary of the break-in; seems like yesterday, and I may just tear up. A couple of decades ago, I was in a three-part episode of NBC’s long-gone “Midnight Caller” with burglar/conspirator G. Gordon Liddy. It’s always been disappointment we didn’t have any scenes together. He was always the most interesting among that colorful rabble of “plumbers” lurking in the White House basement. Commited to point of obsession, dependably sinister, the ex-spook was ridiculous sport or fearsome outrage, depending on your politics or time of day. And he turned himself into a pretty good actor. …Post-prison.

- Watergate Day, 2011

John Edwards sex tape? Not exactly Pamela Anderson-style attraction, but it’s figuring in his criminal trial. Anthony Weiner is a goner – with Democrats whispering his Bonergate-spurred resignation is imminent. So… maybe all this will blow over in 16 months - by election time? Democrats only can hope.

It’s not as if the GOP doesn’t have baggage of its own, though. And it’s dead weight: Tea Party factions pushing ideas too radical for the balance of America’s electorate. So… frontrunners for next year’s Republican nomination are avoiding Iowa – so far right it makes the John Birch Society look like the Grateful Dead. Writing off what used to be key – and early voting – primary state is new strategy for guys like Mitt Romney and John Huntsman. But they’ve looked at the flak Newt Gingrich has been taking for his flip-flops, and realize they can’t talk out of both sides of their mouth for long. Either they make anti-abortion, anti-labor Tea Partiers happy – and lose general elections – or they court the voter masses and risk wrath of “devout” electorates such as Iowa’s. It’s really no choice…

This may be the most cagey move any GOP candidate has made since Nixon’s “Checkers speech”.

- June 16, 2011

Dig up Hervé Jean-Pierre Villechaize and you’ve got yourself a “Fantasy Island” dream cast.

Despite looking like a collection of C-list party crashers, GOP’s raft of presidential candidates played it cool. Last night’s second Republican debate didn’t embarrass anyone, which means it was no fun at all in my household. Newt Gingrich proved he’s king of dissemblers, piling on so much bullshit to explain his many flip-flops, we forget which back he stabbed this time around. Rep. Michelle Bachmann, jumping her own gun and debating before even announcing her candidacy, came off amazingly level-headed and… sane. That’s fresh for the woman who once tentatively linked President Obama to H1N1 flu outbreak.

Debate: Gov. Tim Pawlenty hitchhiking home?

All candidates dogpiled Obama, in fact. Instead of each other, as is customary in primary campaigns, the President was target du jour. That’s natural, since GOP hopefuls seem strangely convinced Obama is so darn vulnerable. No one else does. For all the lambasting over continued sluggish economy and balky job creation, no one on the dais outlined specific plans to create jobs and jumpstart the economy. According to these Republicans, the way to proceed is cut taxes for the rich, shit-can our social programs and get the government off corporate backs. That last one is this year’s euphemism for “deregulate”. No one brings up that term now, since so much of the 2008 meltdown stemmed from deregulation of banks and investment “instruments” like derivatives.

Far from being jobs, jobs, jobs, Republicans are more than happy to help American industry ship more jobs, jobs, jobs overseas, overseas, overseas. In fact, Mitt Romney, studly action figure of the GOP, co-founded equity firm Bain Capital, and made a mint buying companies, firing workers, selling off assets and making a bundle in short term for unemployment and soured dreams in the long haul.

But what’s really killing Republicans is chugging Kool-Aid of Rep. Paul Ryan and his plan to privatize Medicare – essentially kill it. This is one of a number of initiatives pushed by the “tea party” wing of the party under control of mega-moneymen like the Koch brothers. Retirees do two things: They check their stool for blood, and they vote. And even brushing elbows with ideas to end Medicare or Social Security is “Taps” for any party’s chance at success. Bewildering…

- Flag Day, 2011

Eighty-sixed from IRAQ? Most Americans outside the Beltway wouldn’t want to be within half a world (we are) of the pesthole. And even our elected officials prefer those boots on Mesopotamian ground be sons and daughters of others. But getting asked to leave by that ragged nation’s government? You gotta be a Congressman or silly fool to pull that off.

Leave that to Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican and silly fool. First he asks the Iraqis for reparations, since they’re now so fat and sassy; Rohrabacher thinks it would be fair if the Iraqis ponied up to help defray costs of bombing the nation to smithereens. Then he adds insult to injury by slinging on the wall his Iraqi hosts - telling them their attack on a Leftist Iranian group nesting in the country would be investigated and those responsible punished. Even the U.S. considers the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization, or MEK, a terrorist organization.

But if the Hell’s Angels declared gang war on Iran, Washington insiders would fall all over themselves praising heavily embroidered Levi vests and Harleys.

- 6/13/2011

That the North Atlantic Treaty Organization denied it’s pinned a target on Moammar Qaddafi pretty much assured that every smart bomb and drone missile east of the Atlas Mountains contains telemetry encode on the Libyan dictator’s sorry ass. Now that a NATO official has called him a “legitimate target”, I suppose that will be operational status until the story changes yet again.

But since our President promised us our part in air strikes against Libya would be measured in “days not weeks”, and that was March, I imagine Qaddafi is pretty relaxed about now: If our targeting is as good as our strategic projection, he’ll live to 110.

It’s no mystery why NATO would deny such a thing, even though world leaders and our own armchair Mongols have been pushing for Qaddafi’s elimination by any means necessary. Assassination, like war, is merely diplomacy by other means? Do we really want that institutionalized internationally? If our own elected officials end up whacked, are they merely collateral in a new Stone Age?

We’ve been through this before – with Cuba’s Fidel Castro as his regime began in the early ’60s – albeit a little more QT. Documents released in the ’70s showed our Central Intelligence Agency toyed with plans to poison Castro’s omnipresent cigars. In our phony-baloney “war on terror”, I guess we can afford to be more up-front – still allowing plausible deniability, of course. If a rocket should blast Qaddafi into the arms of heavenly virgins, we can always claim it was wet work of the Finns.

One thing we know from our earlier brushes with such crap: This never ends well.

- 6/10/2011

Keith Olbermann, as I’ve noted before, always seems a mixed blessing. A liberal’s liberal, he defines the kind of arch, sniffy standards inhumanly impossible for anyone to live up to – even if that anyone makes Olbermann’s $10 million annual salary. There’s a difference between actually wanting to do the right thing socially and politically – and mouthing standard Lefty boilerplate, proposing unworkable remedies to problems one can afford to float above. For instance, being “pro-immigration” isn’t difficult for someone at Olbermann’s affluent station; only real-life connections he has to the issue are his domestic staff and overworked Joses on his yard crew. For someone working class in this country, it’s much stickier proposition seeing more and more competition stream in for fewer and fewer jobs, and watching that cheap-labor force depress wages across the board. It’s easy to believe there isn’t one split second in Olbermann’s existence when that reality ever has occurred to him. You can say whatever you want about liberals, but despite all their hot air, true empathy isn’t their strong suit.

In today’s Hollywood Reporter, we finally get his side of his firing by MSNBC, which ended his years-long run as host of “Countdown”, at one time the wellspring of liberal television’s single oasis in the wasteland. We learn the firing was coming for some time (he was suspended last fall, after it became known he’d contributed to Democratic candidates without clearing that with his bosses), and that he hasn’t spoken to one-time protege Rachel Maddow since he was canned for fear of corroding her standing with network brass (big of him).

It’s fitting, perhaps, that MSNBC’s mantle as top progressive goes to Maddow. Her show has become its evening hallmark, and her fairness and journalistic standards offset network bumbles, like hiring of buffoon Ed Schultz and tiresome, fanatical hypocrite Lawrence O’Donnell.

Olbermann now is moving on to Al Gore’s network. To tell the truth, I didn’t know the ex-vice president, Internet visionary and carbon footprint Jeremiah had one. In my earlier post, I said Olbermann was refreshing alternative to neocon airwave domination in the Bush years. That still goes. But his sanctimonious drivel gets tedious and repellent left on its own. He’s a good example of why we need a new Left, one that isn’t beholden to failed ideology, one that actually supports practical programs that benefit everyone – even white gentiles – and one not dominated by urban rich fucks who wouldn’t know real America if it took a deserved chunk out of their candy asses.

- 6/8/2011

I’m one betting against Rep. Anthony Weiner making it to the weekend as a Congressman, since “Wieniegate”, well, has gotten out of hand.

He should’ve just copped to the stunt a week ago, admitted it was a stupid thing to do, and the whole fiasco would be gone. But what’s keeping it flying is the fact he lied. Now that it’s hot, more and more women are coming forward, telling tales of Weiner’s crotch popping up in their tweets and texts. This guy is on his way to having the most famous dick since John C. Holmes.

His own party is disowning him, with former Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling for an ethics probe and Senate Majority leader Harry Reid going flaccid on him, too:

What advice would Reid give Weiner if he asked for it? “Call somebody else,” Reid responded, then walked away.

Not exactly what we call a ringing endorsement.

- 6/7/2011

InfraGard, a public-private FBI scheme to somehow keep us safe or safer, has been hacked by shadowy “Lulz Security”. These merry pranksters published a list of about 180 addresses and passwords from the program’s files; this supposedly was in response to Pentagon’s announcement last week that hacking could constitute an act of war.

InfraGard itself is described as:

…A partnership between the FBI and the private sector “dedicated to sharing information and intelligence to prevent hostile acts against the United States.” Its members include businesses, academic institutions, state and local law enforcement agencies, and others. “InfraGard and the FBI have developed a relationship of trust and credibility in the exchange of information concerning various terrorism, intelligence, criminal, and security matters,” the website says. “InfraGard members gain access to information that enables them to protect their assets and in turn give information to government that facilitates its responsibilities to prevent and address terrorism and other crimes,” it says.

That part about members accessing information “to protect their assets and in turn give information to government that facilitates its responsibilities” gives one pause, since it’s so damn open-ended. What kind of information are we talking about? Could it be the FBI provides information to InfraGard so its security-minded members can… hack bank accounts? Personal records? Turn over business rivals’ data to the feds? What?

Lefty perennial AlterNet put its gimlet eye on the organization three years ago, as it ballooned from 1,700 members in 2001 to almost in 25,000 by 2008. It’s a damn good bet its membership is bigger now:

“There is evidence that InfraGard may be closer to a corporate TIPS program, turning private-sector corporations — some of which may be in a position to observe the activities of millions of individual customers — into surrogate eyes and ears for the FBI,” the ACLU warned in its August 2004 report The Surveillance-Industrial Complex: How the American Government Is Conscripting Businesses and Individuals in the Construction of a Surveillance Society.

Supposedly, this organization operates something like junior G-men gone XTZ:

One business executive, who showed me his InfraGard card, told me they have permission to “shoot to kill” in the event of martial law.

Somehow, all this was necessary to help protect us after 9/11. Martial law… hmm. I feel safer already… yet… not

- 6/6/2011

Too big to jail?

It’s unclear whether the probe will result in criminal charges against Goldman Sachs, but the country’s fifth-largest bank has been subpoena’d by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, investigating Goldman’s activities on the eve of the 2008 financial meltdown. You remember Black September, right? The big-boy banks have rebounded with interest from the freefall. But the rest of us? …Not so lucky.

Goldman was probably the most egregious seller of junk securities backed by worthless mortgages on overpriced homes. Even though most evidence indicates the bank knew its stuff was toxic, it told investors they were A-1, choice, prime. In an infuriating interview around the time, Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein joked Wall Street and investment banks were “doing the Lord’s work”. Those mighty labors resulted in the crisis that wiped out savings accounts, pensions and sent borrowers around the country packing from homes on which outstanding loans were higher than their worth.

…A ‘Lord’ turned upside down.

- 6/2/2011

Say it: ‘BONERGATE’

Now shake it off. Let some air burble through your cheeks while swiveling your head back and forth fast as a jackhammer piston. There! Let it all out.

Rep. Anthony Weiner’s Twitter account sent a mash note and photo of an enorged crotch garbed in underwear to a Seattle college student. This story has the Beltway all a’twitter. Weiner says the account was hacked, and that he and the coed, Gennette Cordova, were victims of a political prank. Now Weiner says he’s had enough of this nonsense and he’s not going to answer any more questions about it.

Weiner is a liberal’s liberal on Capitol Hill and the story was broken by arch-conservative blogger Andrew Breibart. The one fly in the ointment is why married 40-something Weiner and 21-year-old Cordova were exchanging Tweets; she jokingly referred to him as “my boyfriend”. She said it was joking, anyway.

Not sure this bears watching, but we will, anyway.

- 5/31/2011

Registered pouncers?

I’m beginning to think foreign financial bigwigs should be forced to notify New York City police of their intention to visit, and then register with the department when they arrive.

For the second time in two weeks, a Big Apple hotel maid has been molested by a wildly affluent older man who’s a major player in the world of major money, and who can buy and sell me with all the ease Joan Rivers trades in one haggard face for a tighter one.

Mahmoud Abdel-Salam Omar, 74, the former head of the Bank of Alexandria and now chairman of a leading Middle Eastern salt company, is accused of locking the 44-year-old maid inside his $900-a-night room at The Pierre on Sunday. Channeling his inner Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Omar called for room service requesting tissues and answered the door in his pajamas, police sources said. [Gossip On This]

The Strauss-Kahn reference is to former president of the International Monetary Fund, who’s accused of forcing himself on a hotel maid earlier this month. That alleged stunt has caused him an indeterminate stopover in New York to face sexual assault charges and cost Strauss-Kahn his globally prominent job. His defense has switched from denying it happened to calling whatever did occur “consensual” – meaning something happened. Reports now have blood evidence of force at the scene, not good news for Strauss-Kahn’s defense or reputation as anything more than vicious predator.

One aspect of the new case that’s odd: Omar evidently asked the maid for her telephone number after groping and “grinding” against her. If true, he has as much brainless gall as money in the bank.

 - 5/31/2011

Time to trade up for a newer model, Newt?

Marking yourself as a sanctimonious hypocrite is like getting an ugly tattoo: It’s mishap difficult if not impossible to erase when it becomes a liability. And two-faced moral superiority always is liability for a politician.

When Newt Gingrich was Republican honcho of the U.S. House, he pursued Bill Clinton with almost religious fervor after the then-president falsely denied his affair with Monica Lewinsky. Then came news that Gingrich himself had an affair around that time, revealed when his wife served him divorce papers while she was hospitalized with cancer… Pure class, Mr. Gingrich.

Currently, Gingrich’s presidential campaign has been marred by chronic flip-flops on major issues and a resilient story about his $500,000, interest-free credit account at mega-jeweler, Tiffany’s. It’s unclear how much debt is involved here; first reports said the full half-mill had been hit, and the Gingrich camp is mum… To absolutely no one’s surprise.

Now we have word that while Ms. Gingrich was chief clerk of the House Agriculture Committee, it was lobbied heavily over mining policy by… Tiffany’s. What? You thought it was going to be Van Cleef & Arpel? This makes somewhat murky that “interest-free” component of the credit account, how much debt was rung up, how much was repaid and how… That sort of stuff.

Tiffany’s standard credit card application, Kessler noted, states that customers pay 21 per cent interest on unpaid bills. If Newt and Calista Gingrich paid no interest on a $250,000  balance, it would amount to an interest-free loan of $50,000.

If anyone can overcome this with his head held high, it’s a monolith like Gingrich. You want balls of steel? This month he told the Christian Broadcasting Network he had his affair way back when because he loves America. That’s right: ‘I boned the new broad because I’m a fuckin’ patriot!’

Now that Callista’s become a lead balloon, let’s see how long the marriage lasts…

- 5/26/2011

All this and jealous fascination, too!

Nowadays, when we’re too attentive to foibles of connected folk – those broadly alibi’d by compliant media – we leave ourselves open to that chronic counter-accusation of our age: Envy. I keep coming back to the sex assault case of Dominique Strauss-Kahn because he’s rich, powerful and unapproachable – so I envy him. It’s assumed this charge will drill into our subconscious and make us insecure, filling us with self-doubt and contempt. We’ll drop our measly suspicions and bad mouth, slinking away humbled and better acquainted, if not satisfied, with our pitiable station. And for frosting on the cake, envy implies despicable assholes are fascinating - alluring in a way all would emulate had we income to afford limos and expensive tailoring, only the best wine and hookers.

OK. Go ahead and accuse. Now let’s gleefully pore over the bastard’s woe.

Since there are reports the victim’s family has been approached by Strauss-Kahn’s camp with bribe offers, and especially because his defense front evidently has abandoned “he didn’t do it” for amended explanation that this suspected rape was consensual sex, we can be sure evidence is quite substantial against the disgraced former head of the International Monetary fund. There’s been talk his DNA has been retrieved from the hotel maid who’s accused him of sexually assaulting her at New York’s Sofitel Hotel 10 days ago.

But I suspect there’s another piece of evidence that seals the deal: video footage. Original accounts of the attack had Strauss-Kahn bounding naked out of a bathroom and chasing the maid down a hallway before yanking her into a room for forced blowjob. Could it be authorities have his paunchy ass on security camera? If “Chocolate Rain” can go viral, this will go pandemic.

I sure as shit don’t envy the spot Strauss-Kahn’s in right now.

- 5/25/2011

Psychology Today has given the vaudeville hook to an article on its website asserting black women are less attractive than women of other races. But in cyberspace, nothing really dies. It migrates. And fallout continues. Its author, Dr. Satoshi Kanazawa, may be removed from posts he holds in the UK – a society even more politically correct than our own. Here’s an excerpt:

“It is very interesting to note that, even though black women are objectively less physically attractive than other women, black women (and men) subjectively consider themselves to be far more physically attractive than others…

It is even more “very interesting” to note how abysmally stupid is posting such nonsense. It’s mind-boggling this appeared on the website of an American magazine in the Third Millennium. How the fuck did this piece of shit ever get past an editorial desk? We discover “evidence” for Kanazawa’s proposal are personal opinions of respondents in some study called “Add Health”. Wow… there’s some scientific method for your ass!

Turns out, this guy has spent much of his career “proving” Asians have higher-than-average intelligence; he may have something there, since they comprise the most affluent ethnic group in the U.S. But this “study” is based on personal preferences of researchers. We can assume, given the racial playing field of today, that not many of them are African-American.

Jeepers. I guess I’ll have to give up my obsessions with Thandie Newton and Sade. Something about beautiful black women with British accents drives me CRAZY! But… it’s all mirage, apparently.

The only occasions I’ve leafed through Psychology Today were in scattered waiting rooms of doctor’s offices and tire shops. It’s a scientific journal the way Weekly Reader is an incisive news publication. But sheer density of boneheadedness here staggers. What possibly could have prompted this rag to run such a stick of social dynamite with zero credibility in the first place?

- 5/23/2011

A longstanding aim of neoconservatives is to push this country into military confrontation with Iran. This began years ago, even before invasion of Iraq in 2003, and continues today. Most of the bluster can be summed up in a 2006 piece by American Enterprise Institute’s Reuel Marc Gerecht:

Would you rather have the mullahs get a nuclear weapon or would you rather have the United States try to militarily stop them from acquiring the bomb through preventive air strikes?

Surprising to many of our best and brightest, most Americans above room temperature have brains and realize no “preventive air strike” would entail anything less than full-out war against the Persian state, so we’ve been against either development. “Bomb Iran or Iran has The Bomb” argument is arrayed in much the same arch option as empire or isolation in foreign policy: Either we favor neverending war and invasion, or we’re hicks who want the U.S. walled off from the rest of the world. But even cornpone America sees a wide gulf of choices between those two extremes.

Problem for the war crowd is the fact Iran really isn’t our enemy. It may well be Israel’s “existential foe” – but that’s Israel’s concern, not our’s. Enemies of our friends aren’t necessarily our enemies. Nevertheless, we should be ready for intensified campaign to take on the mullahs, surely coninciding with 10th anniversary of 9/11. Iran will be magically linked to that tragedy, as was Iraq before 2003, and proof will be filmy stuff like a lawsuit against Tehran filed recently in New York, alleging just such connection. Even the New York Times clucks its mighty tongue:

The question of an Iranian connection to 9/11 was raised by the national 9/11 commission and has long been debated.

…And not a shred of evidence ever found.

Here we go again.

- 5/20/2011

Truth, fact, valid information is spun so relentlessly these days, it’s difficult to know what to believe. In fact, I’m at the point that if I hear sky is above us and ground below, I’ll wait for confirmation by an independently convened panel of experts – then get a second opinion from my barber.

But we know something like solid fact emerges when most of tawdry postmodern reality agrees on given narrative. Somewhere in there is a vein of truth that can’t be denied by any hysterical camp – political, commercial or academic.

This week, it’s President Obama’s declaration of a new policy – The Obama Doctrine – toward the Mideast. It will support drives toward democracy of ongoing “Arab Spring”, it will again snarl defiance at our endless terrorist foes, it will do this, it will do that. Syria will be handled roughly; we’ve already slapped it with sanctions over bloody treatment of its own emergent democrats. And we can expect even harsher smack talk, since Syria is blamed for Israel’s own massacre of unarmed marchers over the weekend. We’re left to jump through flaming hoops of illogic to grasp that conclusion.

But something else is going on, and it’s inescapable even to our lap-doggie media and divergent social/political sectors: We’re becoming more and more irrelevant to the region, if not the world.

When Obama made his Cairo speech two years ago, young Islam actually took him seriously. When he said we’d support democracy gestating throughout the Mideast, evidently, impassioned agitators took him at his word. Since beginning of the year, every Arab capital has seen upheaval in its streets. Some governments have toppled, as in Tunisia and Egypt; all are afraid their days are numbered. These vitrified tyrannies will be missed by the U.S. and our brave li’l ally in the Levant, because even when they bristled publicly against us, they could be counted upon to play according to our rules. We paid Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt billions of dollars a year to pretend it didn’t hate Israel. Now he’s gone. We’re even worried about what will emerge if Libya becomes a Jeffersonian democracy (don’t hold your breath). One thing that seems to unite all these freedom fronts is their absolute hatred of Israel and our lop-sided support of it.

Ghaith al-Omari, a former Palestinian negotiator, said “expectations for this speech in the Arab world are so low. Arabs are skeptical about this speech,” he said in a telephone interview. “They do not have their hopes up. More importantly, the U.S. has not figured highly in the Arab revolts.” [Bloomberg]

For powers that be, that’s the most frightening aspect of what’s happening in the Muslim world right now. The Arab Spring didn’t emerge from Capitol Hill, the White House, a neoconservative think tank, or liberal interventionists’ magic cauldron. It doesn’t reflect our relentlessly Zionist foreign policy or desires of editorial writers in most of this country’s prominent newspapers. It started when one street vendor in Tunis decided he’d had his fill of bullshit and burned himself in protest. Now jeopardized are all our corrupt, oppressive pals in the region, all our well-laid plans from Camp David to the laughable peace “roadmap” leading nowhere.

We’ve become superfluous. We can gas on and fulminate, we can threaten and cajole. But changes that are happening now, the ones that threaten all Mideastern prison states – including Israel – are born in the streets. Not in remote halls of power by the high, mighty and fiendishly brutal.

In sexual matters, the French consider themselves open-minded and liberal and dismiss Americans in particular — and Anglo-Saxons in general — as puritanical and uptight. It follows, therefore, that a French politician’s sexual peccadilloes, extramarital affairs and indiscretions are nobody’s business but his own.

…Well, jeepers, in this case such “indiscretion” also seems to concern a traumatized hotel employee, whom the “great seducer” – as he prattles himself across the pond – pursued naked down a hallway, pulled into a bathroom and forced oral sex upon after his rape attempt failed. There’s one thing about being a man of the world, there’s quite another about being an ugly criminal. …Even suspected of being one. It’s remarkable Strauss-Kahn and his prominent, media-figure wife are portrayed as victims here, and barely a note of sympathy has been aired for the victim. As a British paper noted:

Pictures of the great man in cuffs are indicative of ‘a brutality, a violence, of an incredible cruelty,’ declared Elisabeth Guigou, a former French justice minister. ‘I’m happy that we don’t have the same judiciary system.’

Me too. The American system is infinitely more fair. In France, it’s unimaginable that an immigrant hotel maid of no status could lodge an assault complaint against an ultra-alpha male and be taken seriously. It’s inconceivable that the French police would pull that man off a plane moments before it departed or pack him off to a dingy jail cell like a common criminal. [Globe and Mail]

This is a given: I wouldn’t be a damn bit surprised if there are in Ms. Guigou’s quotable history scalding comments about how unfairly we treat rape victims in this country, as well. We’ll see how this shakes out. But one thing we must remember is that we’re not seeing France outraged, per se. All the sacre bleu is coming from the French elites and media – as different animals from French people as our own negligent information industry and betters are from us.

Another thing: Despite Strauss-Kahn’s considerable wealth, you can be damn sure we won’t see the kind of broiling Lefty revenge fest which we witnessed a few years ago, in the Duke University lacrosse team rape case. You remember that one. Despite lynch-mob ferocity at those “privileged” suspects, prosecution crumbled when the state attorney general determined no crime had been committed.

Ahh! …That puny detail!

- 5/18/2011

MEDIUM SHOT (Day)

Int. ARNOLD and MARIA sit at breakfast table. After daintily sipping coffee, Arnold sets down his cup.

ARNOLD
Maria, dere iss something I haff to tell you dot keeps slipping my mind…

MARIA glares at him over her cup.

ARNOLD (Cont.)
…You remember Johnny Doe – dot mysterious kid who shows up at Thanksgiving?…

ARNOLD grins sheepishly and points his thumb at himself.

MEDIUM SHOT (DAY)

Exterior: Front of Schwarzenegger mansion in Beverly Hills. ARNOLD flies out door, hits driveway in a heap. A couple of suitcases follow him; he dodges them.

MARIA (Offscreen)
And Arnold: You VON’T ‘be bek’.

It’s been a sad week for big-boy bad boys. Arnold admits to fathering a child years ago with a woman who’s been working in his home, alongside wife Maria Shriver! But nothing can touch very serious charges against the head of the International Monetary Fund, who’s cooling his heels on New York’s Rikers Island, accused of sexually assaulting his hotel maid.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn was once thought shoo-in for next President of France, since current chief executive Nicholas Sarkozy is as popular as le clap. At least it helps to have the nation’s media watchdog warn the press to restrain coverage out of respect for the asshole. This isn’t first time this “great seducer” has been accused of pouncing women; he evidently glories in his reputation as Lothario, regardless such criminal finesse.

Aside from obvious question of why a Socialist party poobah (and, of course, a very wealthy one) is head of such a key global financial agency, I’m wondering if this guy’s “Michael Jackson’d” his way out of previous scrapes via his very deep pockets. His hotel room cost $3,000 a night; I suppose in that kind of luxury it’s easy to believe you can have whatever you want, including sex acts brutally taken, and exult as visionary savior of the proletariat at the same time.

Also, despite the fact his arrest french-fried (so to speak) everyone’s nerves over what it’ll mean to the world economy, Strauss-Kahn has been IMF chief since September 2007 – a full year before the global meltdown. He didn’t do shit to stop that. Let somebody else have a crack at the job.

Here’s my call: New York authorities never would’ve moved against so big a stuffed shirt if they lacked solid proof against him. There’s been talk of DNA, and if initial reports are true that he pursued his victim down a hallway, there may be security-camera footage, as well. It’s all unclear. But nobody jugs up a bigshot like this guy in a hellhole like Rikers unless they’ve got him by the ass.

And after he’s served his time bustin’ rocks in the hot sun, I want this abused woman to sue the international dickhead for everything he’s worth.

We’ll be watching these cases, fer sure….

- 5/17/2011

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