Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The FBI and terrorism

Things are seldom as they "seem". One of my least favorite Senators from one of my least favorite states, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, is currently on the FBI's case as it were, because the agency failed to follow up tips about the Tsarnaev brothers -- and about Tamerlan (the older) brother's trip to Russia last year.

The Web-based news and opinion source Talking Points Memo (TPM) has an interview with a "former FBI executive", who claims that the FBI did all it could, legally, given the level of the information provided by Russian intelligence and the negative results of its preliminary investigation.

That may very well be true, but there is more to it than that. First of all, while I'm sure that Lindsey Graham has patriotic interests at heart, he is also a relentless foe of the Obama administration and all of its agency appointments. For example, he was a leading opponent of Att. Gen. Holder's botched "Fast and Furious" gun-running would-be sting, as well as a point-man on the Republican brouhaha over the Benghazi attack; he has also been a dependable critic of Obamacare, etc. However, he is in somewhat of a bind, since he obviously wants to discredit the Obama part of the FBI without discrediting the FBI itself, which has always been a Republican sacred cow. So, the latest from Graham is that, yes the FBI did all it could within the laws regulating its activities: but that just shows that the laws reining in the Bureau probably need to be changed. He said: “It’s people like this [the Tsarnaev brothers] that you don’t want to let out of your sight, and this was a mistake. I don’t know if our laws were inefficient or if the FBI failed, but we’re at war with radical Islamists and we need to up our game.” In other words, unleash the FBI (from pantywaist liberal restrictions). And, just to reinforce that he's the same old Lindsey Graham, he added: “I think anyone who is on the terrorist watch list shouldn’t lose their Second Amendment right." Yes, there are just some things that are more important than protecting Americans from terrorism, and owning an AK47-type assault weapon with a large capacity clip is surely one of them Graham and his South Carolina constituency.

Of course, it's not just Lindsey Graham: the U.S. oil industry has had a long history with countries in the Caucasus region of Asia. From the Stalinist era until the breakup of the former Soviet Union, America used this historicall anti-Soviet region in an attempt to block the USSR's access to Caspian Sea oil. Although we did nothing to help millions of Chechens who were brutally dispersed by the Soviets, we were -- at least secretly -- happy to see their terrorist acts against Moscow. In the case of the Afghanis we were more open, sending arms and money to the groups that later became AlQaeda, and the Taliban, and leaders that included Osama bin Laden. More recently, however, Chechen (and other) terrorists have threatened Caspian Sea pipelines developed by Russian and American oil companies; thus, some of our sympathies have changed.

So the attitude of the FBI and of the political leadership is surely ambivalent. Relations between the U.S. and Russia are not particularly good at this point, so a "tip" about terrorists from ex-KGB honcho Putin is taken with a liberal grain of salt; yet, practically, we can't allow Chechen hatred of Russia and its perceived "western allies" to spread Chechen terrorism to the U.S. or even more importantly, to endanger Caspian Sea pipelines partially bankrolled by U.S. oil interests.

There are a lot of political currents roiling under the surface of the "War on Terror" and the use of the CIA and the FBI as its instruments.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Mark Sanford:The man who doesn't get it

After showing up at his ex-wife Jenny's house while she was away -- violating his divorce settlement -- Sanford was charged by her with trespassing. Here's what he had to say:

"I did indeed watch the second half of the Super Bowl at the beach house with our 14-year-old son because as a father I didn't think he should watch it alone."

I can understand: having to watch any part of the Super Bowl alone is one of the worst things that can happen to a 14-year-old -- perhaps even worse than his dad misappropriating South Carolina funds to leave the state under false pretenses and cheat on the boy's mother, then being forced to resign his governorship in (temporary) disgrace.

The guy still thinks that his ex adores him. After all, even though he is now engaged to his "soul mate Maria", Jenny undoubtedly still wants to cook and clean for him the way any loyal Carolina wife would -- he even asked her to manage his campaign. I seem to recall that she declined the honor.

Ah yes, another star in the family-valued firmament of the Republican South.

They just can't seem to get their massage across.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Why the Party for The Rich (formerly GOP) hates Elizabeth Warren

Here is Warren incredulous at how so-called bank regulators protect the banks and disdain the public:

(Thanks Mike for forwarding this to me.)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Mark Sanford redux

My very first blog, June 29, 2009 was a satire on Governor Mark Sanford's visit to his Argentinian mistress, disguised as a trip along the "Appalachian Trial". I was my only intentional attempt at humor, and depended to some extent on his gauzy descriptions of his affair and some e-mails of his that were somehow released. Today, Gail Collins revisits some of that Affair to Remember in her Times column -- in honor of Sanford's redemption as the Republican candidate for his former congressional seat. Collins, as a humorist, is the real thing.

Anyway, just for old times sake, and because it is short and I'm lazy, here's my first blog:

Latest on Sanford e-mails from Pontifax news

New details have come out about "l'Affaire Sanford": the relationship between Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina and his Argentinian paramour, now identified as Maria Belen Chapur. Recently pirated e-mails from both parties seem to tie Sanford's indiscretions with those of another Governor, Eliot Spitzer of New York.

It seems that both men were seeking forbidden positions during sex-play. Spitzer's predilections have already been the source of explicit speculation, but up to now Gov. Sanford's have been a total mystery. However, fairly clear descriptions are contained in the following excerpts.

(FROM SANFORD) Dearest Maria, you know by now what I like and what my good wife can't or won't give me: certain, shall we say "positions", that I dare not mention but dare to hope for.

(FROM BELEN CHAPUR) Oh Mark my dear, how could I withhold from you what you secretly wanted all these years. The sanctity of love makes all holy, even those positions which you dared not name. At our last tryst I completely opened myself to you and poured what you so wanted over your trembling body: "Single payer healthcare", "Higher income-tax brackets", "World government" and, and ... oh so much more. You needed it; I needed it.

(FROM SANFORD): Oh, the erotic beauty of you holding, yourself, those magnificent positions that have been held, also, by others - but hey, that would be going across the aisle. 

[Of course, "Pontifax News" does not exist: it is an inside joke.]

Monday, April 1, 2013

More lights changing: CA

It is good to see the PTR (Party for The Rich, formerly GOP) being marginalized as people wake up. Check out today's column by Paul Krugman on how "kooky California" has turned the corner and embarked on a people-centered revitalization. It's also a good corrective to David Stockman's Op Ed in the Sunday NY Times. The modern PTR (ugh) is too much for Stockman, but his cynicism about what government can do to save us from rampant capitalism -- of the "free-market" as well as cronyist type -- is unimaginative and as dogmatic as ever. He laments the phasing out of the Glass-Steagull Act, yet he counts Bill Clinton as a hero, even though Clinton presided over its demise.