The Truth Shall Set You Free…It might piss you off first, but it will set you free.

Archive for June, 2010

Help for Hearing Impaired Senators – Afghanistan Timeline

Posted by politicalmonkey2010 on June 30, 2010

I can only imagine the frustration or perhaps you just reach a point where you learn to tune out Sen. John McCain and Lindsey Graham inability to understand what has been repeated countless time with regards to the time line in Afghanistan.

From the beginning…from Dec. 1, 2009 when Pres. Obama first delivered his speech, he has said that July 2011 is the BEGINNING of a withdrawal depending on conditions on the ground.  Since that point, he has said, it does not mean we are packing up and going home on July 1, 2011, and in a dozen other way he has continually, consistently restated it.

Were McCain and Graham not present at that speech or the countless other times this position has been re-iterated?  Do they not have staffers who are capable of perhaps breaking it down into smaller words and phrases for them?

Here is the except of Pres. Obama’s speech, which in case McCain or Graham’s aids are reading, give them a copy please, it is readily available from a variety of sites, it is not hidden or buried…

“The 30,000 additional troops that I am announcing tonight will deploy in the first part of 2010 — the fastest pace possible — so that they can target the insurgency and secure key population centers. They will increase our ability to train competent Afghan security forces and to partner with them so that more Afghans can get into the fight. And they will help create the conditions for the United States to transfer responsibility to the Afghans.

Because this is an international effort, I have asked that our commitment be joined by contributions from our allies. Some have already provided additional troops, and we are confident that there will be further contributions in the days and weeks ahead. Our friends have fought and bled and died alongside us in Afghanistan. Now, we must come together to end this war successfully. For what’s at stake is not simply a test of NATO’s credibility — what’s at stake is the security of our Allies and the common security of the world.

Taken together, these additional American and international troops will allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011. Just as we have done in Iraq, we will execute this transition responsibly, taking into account conditions on the ground. We will continue to advise and assist Afghanistan’s security forces to ensure that they can succeed over the long haul. But it will be clear to the Afghan government — and, more importantly, to the Afghan people — that they will ultimately be responsible for their own country.

And yet  we hear John McCain spinning this as a political decision.  It was purely a political decision,” McCain said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Not one based on facts on the ground, not one based on military strategy.”

McCain, ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, went further, saying that no military advisers proposed to Obama any strategy that included a timetable. But when host David Gregory noted that Obama’s military leaders have endorsed the strategy, McCain faulted them for not opposing the commander in chief.

“They didn’t do it, and they should have because they know better,” McCain said.

McCain said the president needs “to just come out and say this is conditions-based and conditions-based only.”  He went onto say when “you tell the enemy you’re leaving, they will wait.”   Is this the best you can come up with John?  If I give you two dimes and a nickle are you going to tell me it isn’t 25 cents because it isn’t a quarter?  It is condition based.  It has been said a dozen times, and yet you do not understand.  Which makes me feel much better than you were not the one elected into office, it is a bit frightening that this relatively simple concept is causing you so much consternation.  Evidently Sen. Lindsey Graham must be suffering from the same debilitating malady..

Gen. Petraeus has tried to explain it as well….“It is important to note the President’s reminder in recent days that July 2011 will mark the beginning of a process, not the date that the U.S. heads to the exits and turns out the lights” .

Shall we take up a collection for hearing aids?  Doesn’t that Senate health care package cover that?


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Creating Terrorists – Copyright USA Islamaphobia Immigration-phobia and Assorted Phobia

Posted by politicalmonkey2010 on June 30, 2010

Does this look like a time bomb to you?

This is a post that is very difficult for me to write, it pushes me outside my comfort level, because some of the ideas that I am going to have to present I find very distasteful, and do not agree with, but in order to make the case as it were, I am obligated to present an argument that makes me feel ashamed of what I am hoping is a small minority of Americans, but what I fear may be becoming main stream.  While this post may seem to ramble a bit, bear with me and I hope in the end you will see it all tied together..Having said all of that…

A few days ago, five young American Muslims were convicted of plotting terrorist attacks and sentenced to 10 years in jail Thursday in a case that highlights concerns about Westerners traveling to Pakistan to link up with al-Qaida and other extremist groups, this started me thinking, what happens, what is the trigger that would make an American citizen align with a terrorist group?

I have been having an on going  conversation with somebody who I respect a great deal, I’ll recap it from the time that all hell was breaking loose because people wanted to build a mosque near ground zero in NYC.   I saw no problem with somebody erecting a mosque there, after all it was not just Christian Americans who lost their lives, and we are a country that believes in freedom of religion, it is a cornerstone of our country.  He informed me that I was painfully unaware of a significant movement in the US that is very anti- Muslim.  Of course I had to step right into it and ask exactly what does that mean?  He went on to explain, one of the fastest growing religions in the world is Islam.  In the UK for example, Muslims were fast outnumbering Christians.  He gave me some statistics, and of course me being me I had to do my own research.  What I found was http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1570456/UK-population-could-soar-to-90m.html , I then found this article http://rickbutts.com/is-england-becoming-a-muslim-nation, of course this just started the “Easter egg hunt”, I found several opinion oriented articles which put forth this idea that in essence because the developed world has fewer children per couple, and Muslims tend to have far more, and that at some point,  in the UK and eventually the world Muslims will no longer be a minority, but rather a majority.  This mentality, this fear of not being the powerful majority also plays into the current immigration issue, be it from Mexico or Pakistan and any place in between.

I remember as a child, my mother would often remind me that I was not to judge somebody else until I had walked a mile in their shoes, regardless of the visuals that presents in a child’s mind, some how I innately understood that we all have different defining moments who make us who we are.   As an American living outside the US,  there are a few observations I would like to make.  First off, is communication, language.  I am always amazed at the number of people who speak English, and grateful, as my Arabic is nothing to be proud of.  Of course it is English spoken with an accent, that accents reminds me, that they know at least one more language than I do.   It is so common here, and in other parts of the world for children to immediately begin learning a second, third and even more languages at the beginning of their schooling, unlike the US, where to be quite frank sometimes I wonder if people are even speaking English.    So when I hear the rhetoric “You are in America speak English!”  it makes me shudder at the arrogance.  I recall being in Greece and overheard an American tourist, actually everybody heard her quite plainly as she was very loud.  She was upset that the staff did not speak adequate English.  I thought to myself, lady you should have stayed home, you are in Greece what language do you think is their first language?  One thing I have noticed on my travels is that if you make an effort, you are met with kindness and people will bend over backwards to help you.  It is surprising at the number of signs throughout the world that are posted in the native language of the country and in English.  Yet, in the US there is a group of people who are greatly offended if they see a sign in Spanish.

I also remember as a child, learning this concept of “tribe”, we all have attachments to our tribe, be it family, religion, ethnic class, the list goes on of all the tribes to which we identify.  It is that tribal pride that causes the swell in the throat when you hear your national anthem, when you watch your flag go by.  You defend your tribe. I was in fifth grade, and there was a girl who absolutely terrorized me on a daily basis.  When I got off the bus my one block walk home was filled with taunts and pushes.  Finally, one day I broke down and started crying, by the time I got home I was fairly pathetic.  My brother asked me what was wrong, and I explained the problem.  The next day, he left his school early, and he waited in the bushes.  Right on schedule I got off the bus and the taunting started, and much to my relief my brother popped out of the bushes, and explained in no uncertain terms that she was to leave me alone.  At that moment, I knew I learned the concept that there is safety in a tribe.

I also learned fairly young that one of the worst “punishments” in life was being ostracized.  To be shunned, is simply another form of bullying, and it is virtually invisible – you cannot show your physical bruises from somebody ignoring you.  Watch any group of children in a school yard, do you see him or her?  It is the child standing alone,  looking at the groups of children playing together.  Do you see the girl’s giggling and walking away from the timid young girl who approaches?  Do you see the boys taking their football game to a different spot in the school yard when the boy with the hand me down clothes comes over?    Obviously it is not limited to children. Ask a Jehovah’s Witness what happens when they leave the congregation, ask about dis-fellowship.   Catholics have their own brand of dis-fellowship, while rarely used, it is there, ex-communication.

What does all of this have to do with my title?  What if you were an immigrant, legal or otherwise, or  you are born and bred in the USA, but some where in your family history not too far back is is a culture that is not Christian?  Your parents “talk funny”,  your mom dresses differently, dinner at your house is not McDonald’s.   You are a foreigner in a new land.  You are the man working the night shift in the gas station, you are the woman working in the kitchen of the country club, you are the quiet student who speaks with a funny accent, you are the family that moves from town to town following the harvest.  You are the guy who never quite fits in, and later went on to live as a hermit, you became famous as the Unabomber.  You are the young man who excels at math, and the pretty blond girl who is in your study group has invited to her home to study.  Her parents are polite, but aloof, you feel their eyes on you.  You are the smart, pretty girl who happens to wear a  scarf to cover your hair, you are the girl who will never be asked to a Home Coming Dance. You are the man or woman in the office who always works on Christmas and Easter, as you do not celebrate them, you are also the person that never gets invited out after work for “drinks”.  You know you do not belong.

Whether we intentionally do it or not, we are very good at ostracizing, at shunning, at ignoring those who are different than us.  We are afraid of that which we do not understand.  We are afraid to admit our ignorance, we are afraid to engage in dialogue.  It makes us uncomfortable.  Some where along the line we have this idea that if you aren’t like me, you are a threat.

9/11 was a defining moment for the world, for the US in particular.  We were attacked, no doubt about it.  We were not attacked by Islam.  We were attacked by extremists who also have managed to distort and twist what Islam is or is not.  We were afraid, and that fear, fear based in ignorance  in Mesa Arizona, four days after 9/11,  manifested its ugliness when Balbir Singh Sodhi,  a turbaned, bearded Sikh was gunned down  because he was mistaken for an Arab.

I was lucky, I was raised in a household where I was encouraged to ask why.  I was encouraged to bring home that school mate who nobody else seemed to care about.  More than encouraged, I was duty bound.  Of all the things my mother taught me with regards to religion, the one that I have always carried with me, isn’t a “Catholic” ritual, but a passage from the bible…Matthew 25:35

34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 ‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38 ‘And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 ‘When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

This family philosophy resulted in our holiday table being filled with people from all walks and cultures of life.  It left me with an appreciation of what each culture contributes to the betterment of the world, and that we are not all that different.  Strip away the trappings and look at the soul, look into the eyes of the person who believes differently than you do, who looks differently than you do, engage with them, I promise you will come away a better person.

The anti-immigration movement, the Islamaphobic propaganda, and all the other phobias we coddle and nurse because of fear and ignorance will certainly destroy our country.  We were a country built on immigrants.  Do we forget what those words on the Statue of Liberty?

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

I venture to say with the exception of the Native Americans we are all immigrants, alot of us came from roots where English was not spoken, perhaps where Christianity was not the religion that was practiced.  This fear of keeping things “pure”, keeping the tribe in tact is not limited to white Anglo Saxons.  We have the scar of the KKK in this country, which is still alive and well.  The Jewish community is suffering from inter-faith marriages, the menorah is side by side with the Christmas tree.  Catholics are marrying Protestants, blacks are marrying whites…and any other combination you care to throw out there is happening right now… look on the internet the sites aimed at single people:  Find Jewish Singles, Find Moslem Singles, Find Black Single, Find Catholic Singles, Find your ethnic group, find your “tribe” ..all in an effort to keep it pure, however subtle it may be, there is obviously a fear out there that the “tribes” are being lost to assimilation.   They fear assimilation, the very thing that made the USA so successful is the very thing that is under attack.  The attack is wrapped up in package that says we are your moral compass, we are the Conservatives of America, loudly proclaiming that they are God fearing patriotic Christians, which must mean therefore the rest of us are not.  They are not my moral compass.  They are as dangerous as any other terrorist group on the planet, and their intolerance is breeding terrorism.
Sooner or later we all have to learn, accept that the ultimate “tribe” is humanity, and we all belong to it.

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Immigration…What if Theories…

Posted by politicalmonkey2010 on June 27, 2010

Just food for the mill….

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Can God Survive Religion?

Posted by politicalmonkey2010 on June 26, 2010

Can God survive religion?

When I was a child, I drove my mother to distraction to put it mildly, by continually questioning..but why mom?  I can see her face and hear her voice so clearly right this moment saying….”monkey, you think too much.”   A few decades later and not much has changed, except I no longer have my mother to drive crazy, but I am still asking why.

I grew up Catholic, and I am still Catholic, and very content with my religion with all of its imperfections.  I remember all those catechism classes and driving the nuns crazy with the why question.  I remember when I was 9 years old, dropping in unannounced to my local priest, and having what I perceived as a very candid Q & A session on the this whole concept of communion.  That was the same summer when my mother was in the backyard, watering her flowers, and the doorbell rang, it was Jehovah’s Witnesses, and I invited them in.  When mom came in an hour later, she found two very nicely dressed ladies and myself at her kitchen table with the Watchtower spread out in front of us.  Those ladies continued to visit me for years.

Then there was my best friend Karen, who was an fundamental evangelical, I had no idea what that meant, but her mother insisted that she go to church every Friday night, and if we wanted to spend the night at each other’s house that meant I was going to church with her.   So I did…the first time I saw the neon blue sign buzzing “Jesus Saves” I thought Karen had the wrong place, this wasn’t a church, it was a bank.  But I followed her right into the building where everybody called each other brother and sister, and I would sit, clutching cartoon pamphlets that assured me if I did not accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior the flames of hell were going to be lapping at my butt cheeks.    I also learned that if you accepted Jesus Christ that you would have some type of epileptic fit, roll on the ground, speak a strange language and be healed.  I wasn’t quite sure exactly what one was being healed from, perhaps the fits?  I never had that experience, nor have I had the experience of being abducted by a UFO, I keep hoping for both.

Then there was my friend Barbie, she was a Mormon.  Her sister, Sissie was married in THE temple.  I didn’t know what temple it was, but it certainly seemed important to Barbie that I was aware of this fact.  I was always fascinated when I spent the night at Barbie’s because these people had the most toilet paper I have ever seen in one place outside of a grocery store.  But that was nothing compared to the rest of the basement, where we would sneak down and play grocery store because it was in fact just like a grocery store.    Barbie always told me not to worry that even tho I wasn’t a Mormon she would always take care of me, I took great comfort in that fact, but I still wasn’t exactly clear on why she would be taking care of me….  Barbie also used to like to eat french toast with peanut butter and and syrup.  I loved her anyway.

Then there was my piano/organ teacher, her husband was the Minister of the Methodist church.  She was a large woman, very large, and her house always smelled of freshly baked goods.  I loved going over there, although I hated the lessons.  I was more interested in her, what it was like to be married to a “priest”, because Catholic priests couldn’t get married and how could he put on all those robes and stuff, just like a Catholic priest and be married?  She invited me to come to several Sunday sermons, I think that was just to get me to shut up.

Sunday mornings were a treat for me if I didn’t go to mass because I would turn on the TV and Kathryn Khulman and her show “I Believe in Miracles” came on…I’m not sure if it was her animated manners, her red hair, or her long dresses,  or the organ music..but she held me mesmerized.  I ran across this on You Tube

With high school came rebellion, and also my first exposure to non-Christian religions.  I took a class in world religions, where I had a wonderful teacher who took us to Jewish synagogues, Buddhist Ashrams, Muslim Mosques, Hindu temples and Wicca ceremonies.   College years were filled with the need to explore the new, and yet hold to the past.  Explore I did, with a summer spent living in an Ashram, learning to quiet myself, and look within.

It was not until I was 24 that I went thru the Catholic rite of  “Confirmation”, something most teens do, but I was too busy exploring, and I wanted to be sure.  Even after Confirmation, my need to explore other religions did not stop. Visits to Native American sweatlodges,  meeting with Bahai’s..the lists go on and on.  The idea that I kept coming away with after each of my forays was this – any religion worth its salt, will have the same core beliefs.  For example, not killing is a Universal Truth, all great religions have this  concept.   And perhaps more importantly, all great religions have this at their core belief, all is one.  As Christians when we say the “Our Father”, it is not “Our Catholic Father, Our Protestant Father, Our White Father, it is Our Father, by definition it cannot exclude anybody.  We are all one. I have also come away understanding that every religion has extremists, and when I hear people say God is on our side – that is a warning flag.  The real question is are you on God’s side?

Now I find myself, a Catholic American, in Egypt – a land of Coptic Christians and Muslims.  It seems that before 9/11, we had all heard about Muslims, but really didn’t know what they were.  But since 9/11 Islam has become front and center.  I cannot let this opportunity go to waste.  I have access to wonderful people who have demonstrated time and time again their patience with me and my asking questions.  Their willingness to engage in open and constructive dialogue.  I am going to take this opportunity to invite you to ask your questions, express your ideas, the only thing I ask is that a civil tongue be held.  We cannot afford to operate in ignorance or fear, at the risk of being dramatic, there is too much at stake.  No questions are off limits, no subject taboo.   In no way should this be thought of as a “conversion” process, to be quite candid – I do not care what religion you are, everybody is entitled to experience God in the way that they see fit.  If you do not like Islam that is ok, but at least get the facts, not a distortion based on fear.  No spin, get the facts.  I know you are out there, lurking, I see it in the stats, if you don’t want your comment to appear in public, that is ok, just say don’t publish my name, email etc..and I won’t.

When Pres.  Obama was in Cairo I remember he quoted from the Koran “be conscious of God and speak always the truth”.  It is in that spirit I wish to open dialogue.

Posted in religion | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Sarah Palin – Purse Strings and Polls

Posted by politicalmonkey2010 on June 26, 2010

Time to "shore up that account"

It seems that once again, Sarah has crossed that line in ethics…. Supporters of Sarah Palin have 90 days to return nearly $400,000 in donations raised by her legal defense trust after an investigator ruled the fund ran afoul of state ethics laws. The defense fund – established in April 2009 when Palin was governor of Alaska – was deemed unlawful because organizers used the word “official” to describe the fund on its website and appointed a public employee with ties to Palin to serve as its trustee. “The Trust, and its website soliciting donations, if the funds were to be accepted by Governor Palin, would violate the Ethics Act by using the Governor’s official position for personal gain,” Tim Petumenos, the Anchorage attorney hired to investigate the matter, concluded Thursday in his report.

“Governor Palin has reached a point where she decided to agree to resolve this matter with the investigator rather than spend time and money fighting an ethics complaint about a fund that was created to reimburse her for the money she has spent fighting bogus ethics complaints drawn up by insiders and outsiders violating and abusing Alaska law,” Stapleton said in a post on Sarah’s face bookpage.

Uh huh, right.  See Sarah words, and a working knowledge of how to string them together to convey an accurate and truthful idea are important.

She still hasn’t learned that when you put a spin on things, somebody, some where is going to look at it when your past is littered with other “spins”…speaking of spins let’s talk about the polls..

Want this endorsement?

According to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey, 52 percent of adults would respond in a negative manner if they knew Palin endorsed a candidate they were considering voting for.

Specifically, 15 percent of those surveyed said they would “have some reservations” about a candidate whom Palin backed while 37 percent responded they would be “very uncomfortable” if the Alaska governor had lent her support. Only 25 percent said they would react positively toward a candidate carrying Palin’s stamp of approval. The survey, conducted on June 17-21, interviewed 1000 adults and carries a sampling error of plus or minus three percent.

Gee really?  How come nobody ever calls me to poll me?

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NY to Sue BP Over Poor Performance

Posted by politicalmonkey2010 on June 24, 2010

Free Market at Work, Why the Surprise?

New York state’s pension fund plans to sue BP Plc to recover losses from the drop in the company’s stock price following the worst oil spill in U.S. history, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said on Wednesday….

“BP misled investors about its safety procedures and its ability to respond to events like the ongoing oil spill and we’re going to hold it accountable,” said the Democratic comptroller, who will stand for election in November in the race for New York comptroller.

Mmmmm….BUT if this rig had not exploded, and nothing else changed, those dividend checks kept right on rolling in, the stock price remained steady or went up then BP would have still been beloved?  Here’s the cold hard facts, BP is in business.  Business has risks, as an investor you are given a prospectus defining all kinds of risks – in short the job of a good prospectus is to discourage you from investing.   The fact is that rig did explode.  BP has engaged in some extremely poor business practices without a doubt.  Those poor practices have resulted in a decline of the stock value…and rightly so.   The higher the risk, the higher the return.  It isn’t a new concept.  It is called the free market.   The real question each and every one of us, whether we are an institutional investor or a private individual is that you take the time to know what companies you are investing in.  If you are an average investor you probably own shares in a mutual fund, look at the mutual fund closely, exactly what are they investing in?  Call your broker, ask them to explain it, call the mutual fund company.  It is your money.

If we take our money and invest it in socially responsible companies, take an ideological stand with money, we send a message to big business, clean up your act.  The problem is, we all want to get these wonderful rapid returns and oil has been the darling the past 24 months.  If we learned nothing else from the past 18 months from the housing and mortgage industry to the stock market,   didn’t we learn that there is no such thing as a sure bet?   All you need is that one in a million catastrophe.

We had it.

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Musing about Civility and Decorum

Posted by politicalmonkey2010 on June 23, 2010

Emily what must you be thinking of us in 2010?

I feel the need to immediately enter the following disclaimer:  I can be a sarcastic, caustic, acerbic bitch, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know better.

Ok, now that is out of the way and onto the post.

As I surf the net listening to the chatter in cyberspace a few things occur to me.  Never before have we been able to interact with such a wide, massive scale of people at any place on the globe in a split second.  Never before have elected officials been so “close” to their constituents (no that does not necessarily  mean they are listening), but literally within seconds you can send off your opinion via email to your Congressman, Representative, even the President of the USA by simply clicking on the send button.   If you are not good at composing a letter don’t worry, you can do it in 140 characters or less with Twitter!  No need to worry about grammar, punctuation, capitalization..feel free to abbreviate.

With the internet the world has become a much smaller place, boundaries have fallen down, things that were once some what out of reach are fully accessible, and with that comes a price.   Some how in this age of instant access we have lost manners, civility and decorum.  It is an epidemic.

Of course there is the McChrystal interview – what happened to that idea of an officer and a gentleman?  Where is that archetype?  Have we completely destroyed it?  It is perfectly acceptable to spread vitriol – and yes I am guilty of it as well, but I would like to think at least I back up my vitriol with facts.  The vitriol that disturbs me the most is the chatter that I see on the internet.  Where it is perfectly acceptable to “tweet” out comments to the President of the United States (we have even reduced that office to POTUS in cyberspace) that are nothing short of vulgar and ignorant.  I often wonder if I met this anonymous “tweeter” at a social function, I would probably not associate them with such abusive attacks.  It seems that once we get behind the keyboard and have a degree of anonymity we lose all semblance of respectability.

Just food for thought..and sorry Emily, I fail you daily, but I really do know better….

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Lighter Side of Life: Cheese Commercials

Posted by politicalmonkey2010 on June 23, 2010

I feel the need for comic relief in the middle of what seems to be one bleak news week.  Yes I am one of those people who love commercials, I watch Superbowl for the commercials.  When I first saw these Commercials in Egypt, I laughed until tears ran down my face (not sure what that says about me, but ehhh, whatever)  You don’t need to speak Arabic to appreciate them, the key phrase at the end of each commercial is “Don’t say no to the Panda” (Panda Cheese)

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Moratorium on Off Shore Drilling Struck Down By A Judge Who Owns Shares in TransOcean

Posted by politicalmonkey2010 on June 22, 2010

Adjudication of Oil Investments?

Judge Who Struck Down Moratorium Has Owned Transocean Stock

— By Kate Sheppard

| Tue Jun. 22, 2010 11:51 AM PDT

A federal judge in New Orleans on Tuesday sided with the oil industry, striking down the temporary moratorium on new offshore exploration and deepwater drilling the Obama administration imposed last month. That judge, it turns out, has in recent years had interests in Transocean—the world’s largest offshore drilling company and the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig—as well as other energy companies engaged in offshore oil extraction.

According to the most recently available financial disclosure form for District Court Judge Martin Feldman, he had holdings of up to $15,000 in Transocean in 2008. He has also recently owned stock in offshore drilling or oilfield service providers Halliburton, Prospect Energy, Hercules Offshore, Parker Drilling Co., and ATP Oil & Gas. Feldman was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1983.

Obama’s six-month moratorium put the brakes on the approval of new permits for deepwater drilling and suspended work at 33 exploratory wells in the Gulf. A group of oil and gas companies, with the support of the state of Louisiana, asked the court to throw out the moratorium so they can continue drilling. Feldman heard two hours of arguments Monday on whether grant an injunction to lift the moratorium before rendering his decision today. Describing the moratorium as “arbitrary and capricous,” Feldman wrote in his opinion: “If some drilling equipment parts are flawed, is it rational to say all are? Are all airplanes a danger because one was? All oil tankers like Exxon Valdez? All trains? All mines? That sort of thinking seems heavy-handed, and rather overbearing.”

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the Obama administration would immediately appeal Feldman’s ruling.

The plaintiffs in the suit included Hornbeck Offshore Services, Bollinger Shipyard Companies, Bee Mar Deepwater Vessels Companies and Chouest Shore Side, Vessel, and Shipyard Companies. The Sierra Club, the Florida Wildlife Federation, and several other environmental groups filed briefs in support of the administration.

While not party to the lawsuit, Transocean has been highly critical of the moratorium. Speaking at an industry conference in London on Tuesday, CEO Steven Newman called the moratorium “arbitrary.”

Feldman’s most recent finanical disclosures are not yet available online, so it remains unclear whether he still has holdings in Transocean and a host of other firms with a stake in the verdict he rendered on Tuesday. If he does, that raises the question of whether he should have barred from hearing the case because of his financial interests. But in Louisiana it’s hard to find hard to find a judge without ties to the industry. In the Gulf region, 37 of 64 federal judges have some ties to the oil sector.

Source: http://motherjones.com/blue-marble/2010/06/judge-moratorium-case-stock-transocean


Here’s a list of Feldman’s income in 2008 (amounts listed unless under $1,000):

BlackRock ($12000- $36000)
Ocean Energy ($1000 – $2500)
NGP Capital Resources ($1000 – $2500)
Quicksilver Resources ($5000 – $15000)
Hercules Offshore ($6000 – $17500)
Provident Energy
Peabody Energy
PenGrowth Energy
Atlas Energy Resources
Parker Drilling
TXCO Resources
EV Energy Partners
Rowan Companies
BPZ Resources
El Paso Corp
Chesapeake Energy
ATP Oil & Gas

(Source http://www.judicialwatch.org/jfd/Feldman_Martin_L_C/2008.pdf)   http://thinkprogress.org/2010/06/22/judge-moratorium-energy-portfolio/

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McChrystal – What Were You Thinking? or A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss

Posted by politicalmonkey2010 on June 22, 2010

You know you screwed the pooch when John McCain (R-Arizona), Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut), and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) issued the following statement regarding General McChrystal’s comments in Rolling Stone:

“We have the highest respect for General McChrystal and honor his brave service and sacrifice to our nation.  General McChrystal’s comments, as reported in Rolling Stone, are inappropriate and inconsistent with the traditional relationship between Commander-in-Chief and the military.  The decision concerning General McChrystal’s future is a decision to be made by the President of the United States.”

It is beyond me how this man, a General, a well disciplined career military man could have not understood the ramifications of his Rolling Stone magazine interview where he manages to insult and degrade everybody.  Everybody is entitled to their own opinions, but as a General, as a leader one expects a certain amount of decorum.  This was not a BBQ in  your backyard, this was a long term series of interviews, which you knew would be published.  Are you incapable of controlling your impulses General? Are you incapable of controlling your staff?  Do you deserve to be called General?  Is this  your idea of leadership?   If one of your own troops had given a similar interview and shown a complete lack of respect for you, his leader, how would you respond?  In your distinguished career you have never heard of the rules of military conduct?  Are you trying to create a new standard of what is acceptable behavior from an officer?   In some countries General this would be grounds for execution.  I have to wonder if you did this all on purpose, but for what purpose?   You were allowed a pass one your comments in London, how many times should a senior office get a pass?  Is your ego so big that you have lose sight of the mission?  I come from a military family, I don’t care what you think or say on your own time, that is your business.  But when you grant an interview and show nothing but contempt and disrespect for the chain of command, I say you need to find a new job.  When your biggest endorser is Hamid Karzai – who invented the concept of corruption in  government  – it’s time for somebody who is a true soldier, a true military man to take over.

I think the unemployment rate should go up by one general.

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