Archive for the ‘Political’ Category

Dick Cheney

December 2, 2010

Dick CheneyFormer US Vice President, Dick Cheney, is supposed to be charged in connections with bribery from his days as Halliburton‘s CEO.  A Nigerian anti-corruption campaign uncovered scandalous details surrounding the construction of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant.  Halliburton, Saipem and Technip are being investigated for illegally paying $180 million to Nigerian officials to win a $6 billion contract for the LNG plant.

Dick Cheney created KBR, Inc., a military contracting company.  Halliburton and KBR have split, so Halliburton is trying to use that to distance itself from the case against KBR…not going to work.  In 2009, KBR and Halliburton pleaded guilty to paying the bribes prior to 2007 in a US case, paying a $579 million fine to the US.

Every time I hear of Dick Cheney, I think of the movie, W. (pronounced “dub-ya”).  It is a great movie offering an interesting spin on the George W. Bush story.  Playing the role of Dick Cheney (great performance) is the great Richard Dreyfuss.  Not only is he quite amusing in the role, but he also bore a striking resemblance to Cheney.  Cheney is pictured above, and Dreyfuss is pictured below, playing the role of Cheney.  If you get the chance to watch W., take it.Richard Dreyfuss as Dick Cheney

Iran Being Kept in Check?

December 2, 2010

Iran NuclearSo Iran is set to go nuclear in a couple months…for energy purposes.  Through the Wikileaks document dump, evidence of Iran’s long term plans has come to light.  According to this source, certain documents indicate Iran can produce a missile capable of reaching the US by 2015, given outside assistance.  The documents also indicate Arab states have secretly encouraged the US to strike by force, though the US has chosen to communicate concerns with Iran through diplomatic channels.

F-35Nations possibly in Iran’s crosshairs are not without defense.  We entered a $60 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, including up to 85 F-15 fighter jets.  The Gulf is covered.  Israel is sitting tight, as well, with 20 F-35 Lightning II stealth bombers for $2.75 billion.  That is diplomacy.  At least Arab states will be armed to advance on Iran, themselves.  Iraq has also been armed to the tune of $13 billion, but that was bound to happen to ensure its own security.  Eventually, this is going to come back to bite us.  It happened when the US sold weapons to Iraq decades ago, and it happened when the US assisted Iran with the beginning of its nuclear program.  Iran goes nuclear, and the US seals deals for about $75 billion in a matter of months—nice chunk of change.

In case diplomacy fails, someone has undertaken other missions to slow down Iran’s nuclear development.  A very sophisticated worm, called “Stuxnet,” moved through computers until it arrived at computers within the nuclear facility.  “Shall we play a game?”  The worm did not take the facility offline; it merely slowed production to a crawl, as the worm produced inexplicable data inconsistencies through equipment malfunction for a period of months.  The software clearly targeted Iran nuclear facilities, leaving to question “whodunnit?”  It is believed a consortium of private interests from the west (a.k.a. here) carried it out, considering the many different angles the worm covered, such as apparent familiarity with the different hardware encountered in the facility.

Mossad BriefcaseOther methods include attempting to take out the scientists, themselves.  Assailants on motorcycles attached bombs to cars belonging to two scientists as they commuted to work separately.  One was killed, and the other was injured.  This resulted in Iran beefing up security for its nuclear staff.  Iran openly blamed western and Israeli forces of carrying out the attack.  Lately, a British newspaper (the Independent) ran a story indicating obvious involvement by the Mossad (Israel), MI6 (UK) and the CIA (US).  The CIA is fully capable of terrorism (Khaled al-Masri), and Israeli forces are certainly forces to be reckoned with, being no strangers to assassination.  My first thought is Ziva David from NCIS.  The Mossad’s tactics, combined with Britain’s admission of using “intelligence-led approaches,” and Arab states’ encouraging involvement of the US do make for interesting discussions.

North KoreaWith its nuclear facility fueled by Russia (and missiles supplied by North Korea using Russian technology), Iran has overcome tremendous obstacles in pursuing its nuclear goals.  This indicates halting the program will require drastic action.  Use of crippling cyber worms and the picking off of staff one-by-one or two-by-two will do nothing more than make Iran more determined to accomplish its goal, extending its hitlist in the process.

The Wiki has Leaked Again

November 30, 2010

Wikileaks LogoWikileaks has released its latest batch of files. However, these files are unlike those previously released. These files were gained from leaked internal communications regarding diplomatic relations with other countries. This means the files contain what leaders of Country A really think of Country B.  Some of these files are recent, but they are supposed to date all the way back to 1966, in some cases.  US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, has been running around frantic trying to sweet-talk countries whose integrity may be compromised.  Prior to the release, Wikileaks was hacked, resulting in users losing access to part of the Web site.  As a fail-safe, copies of the files were sent to several major newspapers, including the UK’s Guardian.  The New York Times was supposed to receive the files in advance, but Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, did not send the NYT copies…it had to request the files from the Guardian.

The files are out, and the collection (so far) is available for your viewing pleasure at this location.  The number of files available is, supposedly, to reach 251,287.  If the page does not appear, refresh the page until it does.

I have cruised some files to see how bad they are…how can anyone interested in conspiracy theories resist such a temptation?  And who does not want to know such priceless tidbits as the reason behind Iran’s denying the US women’s badminton team visitor visas in 2009?  By the by, Iran denied the visas because the US announced the arrival before Iran wanted them to.  Iran wanted to control the media coverage because officials did not want Iranians to show up, en masse, and display American flags and such in support of the American team…not very surprising.

Dubai Knowledge VillageAnother interesting bit is the University of Connecticut almost established a campus in Dubai in 2007.  However, plans were halted when it came about that United Arab Emirates (UAE) regulations would have prohibited entry into Dubai by citizens of Israel.  Though the University of Connecticut did not make it, the US does have representation in the Dubai Knowledge Village.

More communications from 2007 bring Israel into the mix.  Mainly, their interests in changing the regime presiding over Iran.  They planned to do this through their “Five Pillar System.”  One of these pillars is “Sanctioning.”  Israel said sanctioning was the most effective method, at the time, bringing three Iranian banks to their fiscal knees…sounds like a vaguely familiar strategy where banks are concerned.  The current President of Iran (both now and at the time of document creation) is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  He could have been voted out of office in 2009, but he won amidst claims of fixed votes.  Protests have continued, and some have ended violently thanks to the Basij, a volunteer Iranian militia.  One such case is that of Neda Agha-Soltan (NSFW, depending whether you watch the video or not).

Julian AssangeThere are supposed to be files revealing how US officials feel about other world officials, so I am going to wait until the entire collection is online before searching for those documents.  Apparently, the US says India is a “self-appointed frontrunner” for a UNSC seat…but India self-appoints itself as a lot of things, including being congruent to China on many levels (this occurred during Copenhagen Agreement talks).  US officials say they are currently looking into possible criminal charges for Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange.  However, the search for a basis on which to arrest him does not look hopeful.

Obama’s Bloody Lip

November 27, 2010

Barack Obama BasketballWhile playing basketball with friends at Fort McNair yesterday, President Barack Obama was (presumably) inadvertently elbowed in the mouth by Rey Decerega, an associate with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.  Back at the White House, hours later, medical staff gave Obama 12 stitches to close his lip.

President Obama has now joined the ranks of past presidents injured while in office.  Among them are George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan.  George W. Bush suffered scrapes to his chin, upper lip, nose, right hand and both knees when he lost control of his mountain bike in 2004.  This was one of many health issues for Bush.  Bill Clinton required knee surgery in 1997 after he fell while exiting a golfer’s home in Florida.  He tore more than half of the quadriceps tendon in his right knee.  Ronald Reagan suffered a punctured lung (via bullet) during an assassination attempt in 1981.  For a longer list of past presidential injuries, visit this page.

US President SealPresident Obama must be commended in a regard:  He was playing basketball at a base located in Washington D.C., but he did not seek medical attention until he arrived at the White House, hours later…at which time he was given stitches.  This either says Obama is a trooper or the White House hands out unnecessary stitches.  Whichever may be the case, an elbow to the mouth never tickles.  I am interpreting the incident as a good indication of Obama’s character.

I am not one for basketball, but I have played (and will continue to play) my share of racquetball.  On an unrelated note, Barack Obama has yet to make his way into a spellchecker, I see.

TSA Policy Change…Not

November 22, 2010

President Barack ObamaLast I posted, airlines were losing friends…fast.  President Barack Obama is urging the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to place significant consideration on developing “less intrusive” inspection methods.  He then likened the TSA to his counterterrorism team in that both groups must consider whether the respective chosen courses of action are necessary or not.

According to ABC News, the TSA announced it is testing full-body scanners capable of showing nothing more than a stick figure, though no sample image is available.  It is odd that dumbing down an image is considered a technological advancement, but there you TSA Admn John Pistolehave it.  As a side note—ABC News ran a story indicating the scanner images are not very detailed prior to my previous TSA post, so I do not place a lot of weight on ABC News stories regarding the TSA.  The TSA also attempted to reassure the public the screenings will be “minimally invasive,” but the organization gave no indication of enacting an actual policy change.  Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, even expressed how she would not want to go through airport security.  Fox News also acknowledged implications made by Transportation Security Administrator, John Pistole:

Pistole appeared to shrug off statements by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton that the agency would look for ways to alter screening techniques that some passengers say are invasions of privacy.

Rep. Ron PaulEnter:  Ron Paul and his proposed American Traveler Dignity Act.  He stepped in front of the House of Representatives and gave an excellent speech, in which he suggested members from various branches of government go through the scanner and the pat-down, which he referred to as “groping.”  Paul also made reference to the money trail and possible health risk associated with the full-body scanners.  It is nice to see Ron Paul get back in touch with his Libertarian roots.  Though he always runs on the Republican ticket, this introduction of legislation does not fit the ideology of conservatism (Republican).  Why?  Because the bill will be effectively extending the power of the federal government to regulate air travel.  Paul has voted against similar extensions of power in the past.

Correction to Palin Post

November 16, 2010

Sarah Palin WinkOkay…in this past post, I pointed out how her giving cookies to students, extending her own power, was a Democratic thing for her to do.  I was thinking about it after posting, and I have determined that, while it is a valid parallel, there is an underlying principle voiding it.  Palin gave the cookies to students in a private school.  We can safely assume the private institution is not cheap.

Meanwhile, the invalid point of her spiel was how the lower-class public school students were facing legislation restricting classroom sweets.  The article Palin referred to had been corrected, but let’s assume she was correct…

The public school students might have had to go without cookies, so Palin took cookies to the upper-class private institution.  Giving to the rich while the poor get poorer…that is Republican.

Obama is Doing it Now

November 16, 2010

First, Palin was reaching out to the kids.  Now, President Barack Obama is speaking to the children…through his new book.  Supposedly completed prior to his election, “Of Thee I Sing” is a 31-page tribute to 13 historical Americans including scientists, baseball greats and painters.

Cover illustration for "of Thee I Sing."The book is supposed to emphasize characteristics uniting all Americans, which is a good message.  No cookies, though…not even an entertaining video.  The children’s book seems to leave politics out, which is great.  What I find odd about the book is its subtitle, “A Letter to My Daughters.”  When the book was published, that bit should have been scrapped for something making the book demographic less exclusive.  The cover art for the book shows his daughters and their dog.

Obama will not be making money from the book, as the article linked to above claims:

Proceeds of the book will be donated to a scholarship fund for the children of soldiers who have been killed or disabled in service.

 

Damn it, Palin

November 15, 2010

Okay, so I have already stopped watching TLC because they paid Sarah Palin for, of all things, her nature show.  Now, Palin’s words have spread to the children like a plague with buy-offs in the form of cookies.  She was trying to prove a point, I guess.  She took the cookies in response to an article, which had been corrected, in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review referring to the Pennsylvania State Board of Education limiting the amount of sweets allowed in public schools’ classrooms—this issue did not concern the private Plumstead Christian School.  But it was the perfect asinine detail for Palin to sensationalize and pander.  Again—it was false.

She used what she thought was a great opportunity to make a point regarding limited government.  While it is important to make sure the government does not get too powerful, these are kids we are talking about.  They do not need to hear Sarah Palin speak until they are old enough to leave.  Also, you do not prove the importance of limited government by handing out cookies…that is the most Democratic thing (as far as she is concerned) she has ever done.  [EDIT: That is, Democratic in that Palin extended her authority to assume parents would permit her distributing cookies.] Every kid loves a cookie.  However, I am sure Michelle Obama and Mike Huckabee do not approve her “sweet” approach.

No-bake CookiesA bit about cookies:  My all-time favorite cookie (girl scout cookies excluded) is the classic peanut butter no-bake cookie.  I have not tried the linked recipe, but it looks right.  My favorite recipe so far is the one I learned in the 7th grade—the most useful thing I probably took from that year.

Peanut Blossoms

However, peanut blossoms come in at a very close second to the no-bakes.  These cookies are another classic type.  I remember them from Christmas every year throughout my childhood.  My grandmother still makes the best peanut blossoms I have tasted.  Of course, we always called them “Mexican hats.”  It was not until last year I found they were called “peanut blossoms.”

Thank You, Missouri

September 27, 2010

Missouri County MapI stumbled across an article on Kait8.com today regarding Missouri’s new legislature…makes me happy.  The new law restores assurance (for residents of the “show me” state, anyway) that a burglar will not be able to sue a homeowner if the social leech gets hurt while trying to rip off the honest person’s belongings.  It is now legal in Missouri to use deadly force against someone trying to steal your car…and the best part?  The burglar cannot sue you for getting hurt if he, say, falls through a skylight (Liar Liar reference).  This is great because homeowners must, no longer, hesitate to react because of possible civil suits if the burglar lives—I assume this also applies to the family of the burglar if he/she is, uh, stopped.  If someone breaks into a house or tries to steal something, that person is a threat…end of story.  Good job, MO.

The law has already been tested…today, actually, in Kennett, Missouri.  Short story shorter, a 17-year-old broke into the wrong house, which he did not leave.  Homeowner received no charges.

Ah, Arkansas Politics

September 21, 2010

Governor-Politicshopeful, Jim Keet, had some unanticipated assistance with his campaign.  The newscast names the rapper-hopeful as “Courtney Ray, or ‘X2C.'”  Already, common ground has been established.  X2C says he did his research, and Keet is his candidate.  The newscast also summarizes the rapper’s repertoire as consisting mainly of songs about “partying and women”—gee, what an unusual rap characteristic.  The “film-maker” was not named in the newscast, but the YouTube video shows a “Quality Video Services” logo after the vid.

Anyway, the song is a semi-catchy result of a couple people messing around for the sake of doing it…it just happens to be for their candidate of choice.  Interestingly enough, the first person to denounce the unemployed rapper (another one of those strange characteristics) happened to be the same race as the rapper when she commented, “You are black and you don’t even know what’s going on, and you want to do a song about it?”  I am not saying it is a great song with complex melodies and snappy chord progressions [watch it here], but it is no worse than some of the other political propaganda out there (a lot more to-the-point, as well)…and it was not sanctioned by Keet’s campaign.

Diddy--Vote or DieThe white guy to comment next said, “If that’s that kid doing on it on his own, without the funding from Jim Keet, I don’t see anything wrong with it.”  Not only is there nothing wrong with it, it is a terrific use of media in politics—especially considering there was no monetary gain.  This brings me to Benjamin Gray’s point, when he said, “I just think this kid is out there to get a check.”  As a side note, his wife made the disparaging comment mentioned earlier—the editor just split the reactions and threw a couple positive comments between the two.  BUT…he has a valid concern.  After all, “X2C” is a self-proclaimed “starving rapper.”  There is a clue.

As far as I am concerned, Courtney Ray is simply making due with his current circumstances…whatever those are, exactly.  The political ad turned out to be a great publicity tool, especially with the news coverage and YouTube hits.  However, under normal circumstances, this maneuver would require a follow-up publicity stunt to truly be effective.  And that is disregarding the overused “parties and women” theme.  The political angle would be a good strategy, but P. Diddy already did-y did it…in 2004, under the “vote or die” guise.  The bottom line is that I would rather watch X2C’s campaign video than sit through the long version of the “ballsy” Axe commercial.

Various StereotypesTo whomever is reading this on behalf of Professor Reeder:  this is the “example of stereotyping in the media” assignment.