November 29, 2007
I Read The News Today
Some days my newspaper reads like someone in the newsroom wanted to see what it would happen if someone blended Ripley's Believe it Or Not with The Daily Show. No, seriously. Some days the actual, straight-face, fair and balanced news copy leaves me slack-jawed.
Today was one of those days.
Now listen, I'm not making any of this up. I will even provide links to the full versions of these news snippets.
Real Story #1
Head of Rove Inquiry in Hot Seat Himself
The Wall Street Journal -- White House Special Counsel used Geeks on Call to delete files on his office computer. The head of the federal agency investigating Karl Rove's White House political operation is facing allegations that he improperly deleted computer files during another probe, using a private computer-help company, Geeks on Call....Scott Bloch runs the Office of Special Counsel, an agency charged with protecting government whistleblowers and enforcing a ban on federal employees engaging in partisan political activity. Mr. Bloch's agency is looking into whether Mr. Rove and other White House officials used government agencies to help re-elect Republicans in 2006. (Full Story)
So, why aren't FBI agents, right this very moment, kicking in this clown's office door? Did someone make obstruction of justice legal since I last checked? And why aren't key members of the House and Senate Judiciary committees calling for immediate hearings and using same-day courier services to sending out subpoenas?
What's it take to get a criminal probe going these days? Earlier this year we learned the White House had "accidently" erased upwards of 5 million internal emails, coincidentally just after Democrats took over key oversight committees and began asking to see them.
What a coincidence. Do you think a jury of normal people would find that a convincing defense? I'd sure like to see some prosecutor try to find out. And if the jury does find it a believable defense then I guess the next time one us is notified we are being audited by the IRS the smartest thing to say is something like, "Gee, I'd love to help you government guys, but I accidently shredded all those receipts."
Then there's the former senior administration Interior Dept. official recently caught just willy nilly taking threatened species off the endangered list because she figured, apparently, "who needs them anyway." (Story here)
But the special counsel story was the week's biggest jaw dropper. The very guy who was supposed to be investigating wrong-doing within the Bush administration himself involved in precisely the kind of wrong-doing he was supposed to be getting to the bottom of. Even John Grisham would consider such a plot twist a twist too far.
Makes me wonder, did some DNA researcher splice John Gotti's DNA with Charles Keating DNA to create a small army of shameless feloniously inclined clones that ended up populating the inner workings of the Bush administration?
Sure, I know it's a farfetched notion. But at this point it's all I've got.
Story No. #2
Sen. Lott's brother-in-law indicted on bribery charges
Sen. Trent Lott's brother-in-law, Richard "Dickie" Scruggs, a high profile trial lawyer best known for suing big tobacco and insurance companies, has been indicted on bribery charges...Scruggs, has been accused of trying to bribe a Mississippi judge... he also acted as Lott's lawyer...Scruggs is perhaps the most powerful attorney in Mississippi, but is well known in Washington for his involvement in tobacco and asbestos litigation over the years.A 13-page indictment accuses Scruggs, his son and law partner Zach Scruggs and three other lawyers of conspiring to bribe state Circuit Court Judge Henry Lackey with more than $40,000 in cash. (Full Story)
As you may know, Trent Lott announced just the other day that he is retiring from the Senate. Of course his office claims this little family affair had nothing to do with his decision to retire before the end of his current term. But...oh come on, let's play "but" for moment -- what if Trent Lott were a senior Democrat in the Senate and the Senate was still in the hands of Republicans? Can you imagine the self-righteous chest thumping, moralistic pontification-izing, the holier than thou-ing, the calling for investigating Lott's connections and business deals between him and his tobacco-company, insurance company-suing brother-in-law? (Think "Webster Hubbell.")
There was also a story rumbling around the fringe media early this week about Lott's alleged involvement with a male gay escort. Both sides have denied it, and I hope it's not true. All these hypocritical closeted Republicans are starting to give normal gays a bad name.
Trent Lott's Likely Replacement Featured In "Borat"
Sen. Trent Lott's resignation announcement Monday may have woken many on Capitol Hill out of their tryptophan stupors, but speculation over his replacement is not surprising anyone. The focus is on Mississippi Rep. Chip Pickering and Roger Wicker as the most likely candidates to replace Lott. (Full Story)
Well, I could wax insane here if I allowed myself. But instead I invite you to join me in looniland by reading the FULL POST and then watching the associated full video.
The first question you might ask yourself half way through the video is, "Why are all these people off their medication?" The second question might be why any governor would even consider appointing someone to the US Senate who so enthusiastically associates himself with such mentally and intellectually challenged people?
(Side question: Does it ever occur to these nerd-dancing, awful-singing, hand-waving, gibberish-babbling lunatics that any god capable of creating wonders like Yellowstone, the aurora borealis and cute little panda bears, might consider prayer meetings like the one featured in that video just a tad beneath His/Her standards? Just wondering. Also, taking one look at that crowd, does anyone want to bet against the proposition that if someone got on the PA during that shindig and announced a "Blue Light Special" on aisle 5, the place wouldn't clear out in five minutes? There, see what I mean about going insane with this kind of crap. Seven years of trying to "understand" and display "tolerance" towards such obvious nonsense has clearly damaged my inner frigging child.)
Sudan Convicts Brit Over "Muhammad" Bear
British teacher Gillian Gibbons has been convicted of inciting religious hatred for letting her pupils name a teddy bear Muhammad and sentenced to 15 days in prison and deportation from Sudan, one of her defense lawyers said Thursday. "The judge found Gillian Gibbons guilty and sentenced her to 15 days jail and deportation," said Ali Mohammed Hajab, a member of her defense team. Gibbons, 54, was arrested Sunday after complaints to the Education Ministry that she had insulted Prophet Muhammad, the most revered figure in Islam, by applying his name to a toy animal. (Full Story)
Islam may or may not be a peaceful religion, but it is most certainly a nutty one. Cartoons of Mohammed damn near started a war between Muslim nations and those rowdy Dutch cartoonists. And now this, a teacher getting threatened with 50 lashes and sentenced to jail for naming a Teddy bear Mohammed.
I'm sorry but that's just pathologically fruitcake. You can make all the arguments you want about "cultural differences," or "religious sensitivities" but come on... let's cut the crap and bottom line this kind of stuff: IT'S CRAZY -- and anyone who tries to defend such nonsense are crazy-enablers. (And my wife's Teddy bears, Jesus, Buddha, Ghandi and Allah-Bear agree.)
Arab cash rides to Citibank's rescue
Capital-starved Citigroup, the world's largest bank, has gone cap in hand to the Abu Dhabi's government investment arm, which has snapped up five percent of the bank for five billion euros.
Above and beyond a price that values the banking giant at only 100 billion, the amount its market value has lost this year, Citigroup is paying a premium for its shot in the arm, as it is selling mandatory convertible securities to Abu Dhabi, with a fixed coupon of 11 percent, well above the average US junk bond yield of nine point four percent.
Abu Dhabi becomes Citigroup's biggest shareholder, and the purchase is just the latest international asset snapped up by an oil-rich Arab state, where cash is currently sloshing around looking for a home with the near-record oil price. (Full Story)
Where do I begin? Let's start with that interest rate... the 11% CitiBank has to pay the Arabs. How'd you like to get a rate like that on your CD's! It's a measure of just how risky the investment is. You could say that by getting itself dunked in the subprime loan cesspool CitiBank turned itself into a subprime borrower. You could say that, and if you did you'd be 100% right.
(I do have to pause to observe that it's only further proof that karma does exist -- CitiBank, which stuck poor borrowers with high-interest home loans, is now on the receiving end of the same kind of screwing. Sweet.)
But it says more than just that. The very fact that the government of Abu Dhabi -- awash in petrodollars -- felt it had to do something to save CitiBank is a measure of just how tenuous things have become with our often touted "globalized economy."
It was supposed to be a super-liner, steaming endlessly around the globe, embarking and disembarking goods, services and capital worldwide. Instead it's become an over-crowded, tippy canoe, where half the passengers are worried that the other half are about to lurch and send them all into the drink together. Abu Dubia's investment in CitiBank was hardly a show of confidence, but a bid to keep CitiBank's troubles from rocking the boat.
A 'surge' for Afghanistan?
The Christian Science Monitor --The top general of the Marine Corps is pushing hard to deploy marines to Afghanistan as he looks to draw down his forces in Iraq, but his proposal, which is under discussion at the Pentagon this week, faces deep resistance from other military leaders...Commandant Gen. James Conway's plan, if approved, would deploy a large contingent of marines to Afghanistan, perhaps as early as next year. The reinforcements would be used to fight the Taliban, which US officials concede is now defending its territory more effectively against allied and Afghan forces. (Full Story)
Another surge? I thought we won the war in Afghanistan. Would George & Co. please explain why we need a surge in Afghanistan too now? I'd love to hear their explanation. Didn't Papa Bush tell sonny to finish one job before he starts another? Guess not. No, President Attention-Deficit lost interest in finishing the job in Afghanistan and now, six years and billions of our dollars later we have to re-win that war.
It's sorta as if Franklin Roosevelt had stepped in a few months after D-Day and moved half our troops to the Pacific just before the Battle of the Bulge.
It all makes one wax nostalgic for the days when such bad leaders not only got booted out of office but strung up as well. I am an opponent of the death penalty, but I do admit, nothing would make me happier than to see the people responsible for the deadly messes in Iraq and Afghanistan doing the macarama at end of a rope.
So there. Now pass the Prozac.