Sunday, January 31, 2010

AAN: The Latest Iteration of Freedom's Watch

The Red team is starting a new political fund raising arm for the 2010 elections. It's called the American Action Network (AAN). WSJ reported:

Republican leaders expected to be affiliated with the group include former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, former Bush adviser Karl Rove, Republican strategist Ed Gillespie, and Republican donor Fred Malek.

A House leadership aide told Washington Wire today that Rob Collins, a political operative and senior aide to House Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia, is leaving Capitol Hill to be the executive director of the 501(c)4.

It follows the National Council for a New America and Freedom's Watch. AAN will have both a 501(c)3 and 501(c)4 component. A 501(c)3 advocates on policy matters while a 501(c)4 is an election arm. How might corporate money boost or intersect with AAN?

The real battle between the Reds and Blues is over money. Votes are a necessary inconvenience.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

U.S. Beefs Up Persian Gulf Missile Defenses

The United States is adding Patriot missile batteries in the Persian Gulf to contain the Iranian threat. America already provided advanced missile defense systems to four Arab nations in Gulf region, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar.

America also provides missile defense for Israel. I thought President George W. Bush would contain the blowback after an Israeli strike on Iran. It's now Obama's shift. Is it in the budget?

"Overseas contingency operations"—are projected to increase by $46 billion over 2010-2011

$46 billion could buy and deliver many bunker busting bombs.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Clinton Takes Break from Haiti to Push Iranian Sanctions

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the head of America's emergency response to Haiti, was in London for a meeting on Afghanistan and Yemen. Instead Mrs. Clinton pushed sanctions on Iran. The AP reported:

Iran leaves the world no recourse but to apply penalties aimed at curbing a fast-track nuclear program, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday.

So the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran went from a dormant nuclear weapons effort to fast track? Did we skip a few steps in the acceleration game? Does Israel need cover for their nuclear strike, threatened for what seems like five years?

Regarding Haiti, did Mrs. Clinton get USAID back to the world's premier development agency in one week's time? Shortly after she shared her vision at the Peter G. Peterson Institute, the earthquake devastated an impoverished Haiti.

Let's hope the world responds as well to future disasters as it does to war.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sarkozy Warns Israel May Strike Iran

French President Nicholas Sarkozy warned of a possible Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, due to continued intransigence. Al-Hayat reported via Haaretz:

"Despite all our efforts, and a new engagement by the United States, and despite our ambitious proposals for cooperation, the Iranian authorities are blocked in a one-way street of proliferation and radicalism," Sarkozy said.

Iran ignored a 2009 deadline from the U.S., which offered a different reaction. The State Department, busy with Haiti, called Iran's response inadequate.

Sarkozy, like his American counterparts, sided with Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was busy denying his country would attack Hezbollah in Lebanon for the second time in four years. The language of war is exclusive, repetitive and incessant. It's a cycle worth breaking.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Corporate Freedom Flies!

The Helicopter Association International is fired up over today's Supreme Court ruling. Their website said:

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday, January 21 that corporations may spend freely to support or oppose candidates in federal elections, finally rendering a decision in a long-awaited case.

The Supreme Court Justices ruled that corporations may use money from their general treasuries to pay for campaign ads.

Corporations jettisoned their aim to provide good American jobs, now they can pollute the election airwaves with twisted campaign ads.

These corporations regularly settle with government attorneys for millions in fines, while admitting no guilt. CEO's testify before Congress that nothing is their fault, not even something they specifically ordered that later went bad. These corporations drive Caterpillar trucks through huge tax loopholes, provided by the same Congress.

Of course, not all corporations are bad, but the law doesn't discriminate. Corporations are free to further taint America's distorted election process.

The image above is from The Spider and the Fly. Here is a line from the nursery rhyme, where the trickster spider entices the fly:

"You foods will never wisdom get unless you dearly buy."
America's trickster Supreme Court greased the skids for corporate ad buys. Recall what an esteemed executive recently said about corporate leadership this past decade. GE CEO Jeff Immelt spoke of corporate meanness and greed, now free to buy campaign ads.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

FBI Needed but a Whim to Spy on Citizens

Senator Obama's support for telecom immunity covered phone company backsides. WaPo reported on how little regard telecoms and the FBI had for citizen's privacy rights:

FBI agents seeking telephone records demanded information from phone companies in a variety of "startling" and illicit methods, including e-mail and post-it notes, in an "egregious breakdown" of safeguards and oversight.

The Bush "Just Us" Department found no problems with these methods. Orders to spy came from the top down. They did what they wanted from 2002 to 2006.

Will citizens be informed if their information was scoured? Will the paltry rationale be shared? That's the least a democratic government could do. Instead the Obama administration provided retroactive immunity. Now Change Means "No Change from Bush"

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Busy State Department Spanks Iran

The U.S. State Department is busy coordinating aid for Haitian victims of last week's earthquake. A State Department spokesman commented on Iran's response to a UN plan. YNET reported:

Iran has formally rejected key parts of a deal to send abroad for processing most of its material that could be used to make nuclear arms. U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Iran's response was inadequate.

"I am not sure that they have delivered a formal response but it is clearly an inadequate response," he told reporters. "I am not sure that whatever they have done, perhaps today, is any different than what they have done previously."

Iran's failure to meet an effective US deadline of December 31 to accept the plan devised in October by then-IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei has prompted six world powers to start considering possible tougher sanctions against Tehran.

The U.S. military is busy fighting two wars, while making "slow & steady progress" in Haiti. How might Iranian developments impact American military support for Haiti?

No Exit Polls in Massachusetts Senate Race

No news organizations are conducting exit polls in today's Massachusetts special election. That makes it easier for any high tech election tampering to go undetected. Exit polls could be compared to actual results and discrepancies explored.

Who will win the Senate seat? It may come down to programming. The question is which kind, voter or Diebold? Diebold sold its Premier Election Systems division to Elections Systems & Software for a song. Will it sound the right note for Brown or Coakley?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Haiti's Government Decimated

WaPo reported:

Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, Préval's right-hand man, said in an interview. "But we are overwhelmed. We just can't step back and have a vision for this country. Soon, we hope, the operations will be matched with a strategy for the future."

Bellerive, who has been in office less than two months, acknowledged that "we are not only ourselves victims of the disaster, but also do not have the capacity to do this on our own."

Up to 3 million Haitians struggle in unsanitary conditions for water, food, shelter, and basic medical care. It looks like no one else has both the capacity and mission. NGO's have the mission but not capacity. The U.S. military has capability, but not the mission.

A look at Haitian President Preval provides clues for his country's future vision. He privatized government services, which drew criticism for benefiting Haiti's elite. His government is widely viewed as corrupt. Haitians are torn between wanting their government to step up and lead vs. hoping aid goes through other organizations so corrupt officials won't pilfer it.

The widespread view is the Preval government has abandoned the people.

"We're living here with God alone," said student Dalromy Guerrier, 19, "Is there anyone coming to help?"

Dalromy, there are lots of anyone's. The march of private charities and NGO's is "slow and steady progress" in the eyes of President Obama. That's extremely disheartening to millions of suffering Haitians.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Privates Will Save Haiti?

NGO's (private charities) have the mission, but not the capacity. The U.S. military has capability, but not mission.

Haiti is a test for America's new methods for supplying development aid, working with private organizations. Tuesday's 7.0 earthquake took most of the impoverished country back to the Stone Age. The world saw Katrina like conditions:

Lack of water, food, shelter and basic sanitation for survivors
No electricity or communications
Destroyed/inoperable hospitals
Few open hospitals overwhelmed, limited fuel for emergency generators
Inoperable port
Overwhelmed airport

People opened their pocketbooks to aid Haitians, contributing tens of millions to charities. Many donations will take 30 to 60 days to work through cell phone billing cycles to reach the charity, much less the Haitian people.

Despite the outpouring of financial support, day 3 ended without distribution of food and water to millions of traumatized Haitians. Trucks didn't roll from the 1,500 international aid workers in country. People perish after 3 days with on water in 90 degree heat. The etched faces of live reporters reflected the dire situation.

Day 4 found Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visiting the airport. Her plane delivered water and MRE's, meals ready to eat. Twenty four U.S. military helicopters dropped food and water around Port-au-Prince, selecting empty zones for their drop. Can twenty four military helicopters supply three million people with food and water? For how many days?

In the week before the disaster Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talked about returning U.S.A.I.D. to its proper place as the "world's premier development agency." She highlighted the shift to working with private organizations. Her husband, President Bill Clinton happens to run one, the Clinton Global Initiative. Bill is also the UN Special Envoy to Haiti. Reuters reported in July 2009:

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton said on Wednesday a lack of cooperation between Haitian politicians, aid groups and business leaders was hurting efforts to help the impoverished Caribbean nation.

"If it is a question of money that's my problem, but if it is not about money, that's something Haitians need to resolve among themselves," he said. "That's a little surprising to me."

President Obama referred to Haitian NGO's in his earliest remarks after the quake. A scorched earth can provide the impetus for cooperation.

President Clinton did his part to raise money for the Haitian crisis. He could be seen or heard on the airwaves, telling people to send money. Yet, this wasn't new. Clinton held an investors conference on Haiti last fall. It focused on agribusiness, alternative energy, textiles and tourism. The Miami Herald reported:

An unprecedented trade mission to Haiti later this week will produce significant investments and desperately needed jobs for the country, former President Bill Clinton announced Tuesday at the Americas Conference.

Clinton used an appearance at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables to give what he called his "progress report" on Haiti since U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon asked him to devote a year to helping a storm-ravaged Haiti rebuild and attract investments.

But he also used his visit to reiterate his support for temporary protected status, which will allow undocumented Haitians to temporarily stay and work in the United States. Clinton also said that his wife, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, shares his opinion.

"Not a week goes by that I don't push for this," Bill Clinton said.

The earthquake gave a final push for Haitian temporary protected status. It happened before some Haitians got food or water.

Clinton's 2009 Progress Report on Haiti included a call for "non-governmental organizations to better coordinate their activities." This was before an earthquake flattened much of the country.

It didn't take much research to unearth concerns. President Obama called for "slow and steady progress on the ground" in a situation with "fear, anxiety and a sense of desperation"?

America's "less than preeminent" U.S.A.I.D. will work with non-cooperating Haitian NGO's to save devastated Haitians. I hope Haitians can wait for the privates to ride to the rescue. To top off the Katrina similarity, President George W. Bush joined President Clinton in asking for private sector donations.

Note: While the U.S. military has more capability, it is stretched by wars in two theaters and constrained by contracting out key functions to private contractors, including food, water and shelter for soldiers. How has this practice impacted our ability to respond to mass natural disasters like Haiti?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Suffering Haitians and God

While Haitians face misery and horror in the aftermath of a 7.0 magnitude earthquake, American leaders invoked the face of God. Rev. Pat Robertson wielded the God club with his remarks:

Something happened a long time ago in Haiti and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French, Napoleon III and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, “We will serve you if you get us free from the prince.” True story. And so the devil said, “OK, it’s a deal.” They kicked the French out, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other, desperately poor.

Pat suggested God punished Haitians with an earthquake for a centuries old ago pact with the devil. The Haitian earthquake came days after Pat revealed his annual prophesy, stating America is under the wrath of God. Robertson made no mention of Haiti in his predictions.

Meanwhile President Obama asked God to bless the people of Haiti, amidst their horrific suffering. Obama mentioned working with Haitian NGO's (nongovernmental organizations). It brought to mind President George W. Bush suggesting people in Bay St. Louis go to their Salvation Army, just down the street. Locals replied, "It's gone."

George W. offered no further advice. He may have been stunned God destroyed a Salvation Army. Did the same happen in Haiti? What kind of NGO capacity remains in a dirt poor country, where citizens make yellow dirt cookies to give the sensation of food, knowing it has no nutrition value.

In the midst of their suffering, Haitians hear rebukes and tantalizing promises of aid. In this size disaster, it can't come soon enough. There is only one group with the ability to move aid, establish supply lines, and set up hospitals in a short period of time. That's the U.S. military. However, aid it not its mission.

Where there's capacity, there's no mission. Where there's mission, the capacity is woefully short. Before the quake, Haiti suffered from tremendous scarcity. It geometrically increased yesterday. I imagine God is with each and every person in their confusion and suffering. He wouldn't be anywhere else.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Publicizing the Long War with a Short Memory

America's asymmetrical war against al Qaeda continues. The latest skirmish between the giant and the flea centered around Yemen. Consider this news report from December 18, 2009:

The United States provided firepower, intelligence and other support to the government of Yemen as it carried out raids this week to strike at suspected hide-outs of Al Qaeda within its borders, according to officials familiar with the operations.

The officials said that the American support was approved by President Obama and came at the request of the Yemeni government.

American officials said this past summer that they were seeing the first evidence that dozens of fighters with Al Qaeda, and a small handful of the terrorist group’s leaders, were moving to Somalia and Yemen from Pakistan.

The American contributions were intended to help Yemen to prevent Al Qaeda from mounting attacks against American and other foreign targets inside its borders.

The Saudi military (in coordination with the U.S.) launched a strike on December 20. Another Yemeni/U.S. air strike occurred on December 24.

The underwear bomber struck December 25.

A December 30 story noted:

The US is gearing up to attack al Qaeda targets in Yemen, possibly in retaliation to the failed attempt to bomb a US plane on Christmas Day, believed to have been masterminded by extremists operating in that country.

The U.S. attacked al Qaeda targets in Yemen twice prior to the underwear bomber. The media seems to have short term memory problems.

As for Americans who already gave up their privacy in the War on Terror, we're now expected to show our privates to board a plane. How does this make the least bit of sense?

Update: A British screening crew printed out full body images of a Bollywood celebrity. He signed them for "the girls."

Sunday, January 10, 2010

U.S. Sanction Threat on Israeli Settlements

U.S. Envoy George Mitchell mentioned the "s" word, sanctions, in regard to Israel's continued settlement expansion. At stake are billions in U.S. backed loan guarantees.

The threat did not go over well in Israel. Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman, currently visiting the Jewish State, would have none of it. Reuters reported:

Speaking to reporters in Jerusalem, visiting U.S. Senators Joe Lieberman and John McCain rejected Mitchell's remarks.

"Any attempt to pressure Israel, to force Israel, to the negotiating table by denying Israel support will not pass the Congress of the United States," said Lieberman, an independent.

Republican Senator McCain, who lost the 2008 presidential election to Obama, added: "We disagree, obviously, with that comment and I am sure that you will see the administration in the future say that is certainly not the administration's policy."

My research showed a ten year hollow effort on restraining settlements. Reuters mentioned President George H.W. Bush's imposing sanctions in 1991 on this issue. Ignoring expansion is a multi-decade, multi-party phenomena.

As for the latest McCain world tour, did he return to the Qadhafi Ranch in Libya? John tweeted from the Libyan strongman's ranch last August. A week later the Pan Am Lockerbie bomber was released from jail. John visited, crap happened. What might happen with Israel in the next seven days?

Update: Israel announced building 1,600 settlement homes while Vice President Joe Biden visited the Jewish state. It makes wonderful political theater. Proud Israel shows its independent side, while America imitates an abused spouse. Israel realizes it acted rashly and called to apologize.

Only, this too could be an act in a well choreographed play. This dis' sets up Israel to pummel Iran and for America to contain any blowback. There is no space between America and Israel, other than the space between their lines on the page. Read 'em and weep.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Freedom to Buy Human Skull Touched by Bush

Christie's Auction House will sell a human skull that belonged to Yale's Skull & Bones Society. Both Presidents Bush belonged to the secret society. The seller's name remains confidential.

Where can I buy a real human skull? The answer is Christie's, price projected at $10,000 to $20,000. That both Bush President's handled the skull could impact the price. The new owner can ponder how many other skulls George H.W. and his progeny sent to an early grave.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Terror Attacks Come in Three's?

The spate of terror attacks in America have Congressional Representatives unnerved. Consider the list of recent incidents:

1. Army Major shoots dozens at Fort Hood, killing 13.

2. Nigerian al Qaeda operative ignites explosive device on Detroit bound airplane, device sputters. Homeland Security failed to detect a known terrorist paying cash for a flight.

3. Black clad man enters Las Vegas Federal Building armed and firing. Two died and a witness heard 40 shots.

The AP reported a Senator's reaction to event #3:

U.S. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., told reporters it appeared the gunman acted alone and the shooting was not a terrorist act.
The Army Major acted alone. He clearly wished to invoke terror. Anyone firing a shotgun in a federal building is trying to send a message via terror. John Ensign doesn't want any in his home territory, especially any of the far right variety.

Dance, John, dance. Ensign called for Clinton to resign after having an affair with a staffer, yet he stays in office after committing the same offense.

I want a Republican word parser. They dice and chop anything.