Revenge of the RINOs

Kool Aid Kaukus: (Back row) Allen West, Paul Ryan, Dan Webster, Joe Barton, Jeff Duncan.
(front row, l-r) Joe Walsh, Louie Gohmert, Michele Bachmann

As Republicans prepared for yet another show vote on abortion Tuesday, Speaker John Boehner and his leadership team are facing a rising tide of frustration from Republican moderates angry over the rightward tack the conference has taken under his leadership…

Those dissatisfied moderates hit Boehner with a one-two punch Monday.

First, the Columbus Dispatch reported that Rep. Steve LaTourette had abruptly decided to retire. That decision shocked many Republicans, in part because LaTourette – who like Boehner is a from Ohio – has had, at least until recently, an extremely close relationship with the Speaker.

At the same time, Syracuse Republican Rep. Hanna harshly criticized the GOP, arguing leadership has gone too far in deferring to the demands of conservatives…“I have to say that I’m frustrated by how much we — I mean the Republican Party — are willing to give deferential treatment to our extremes in this moment in history,” Hanna told the Post-Standard.

According to Republicans, moderate members of the House GOP conference feel that Boehner, who has struggled with an often raucous and openly defiant right wing, has forced them to go along with conservative demands but has provided them little in return…

The decision by Majority Leader Eric Cantor to schedule several votes on abortion, reaffirming that the nation’s motto is, in fact, “In God We Trust” and other social issues has angered moderates for more than a year…

Moderate dissatisfaction appears to have been far worse than had been thought – so much so, in his interview with the Post-Standard Hanna went so far as to say that “I would say that the friends I have in the Democratic Party I find … much more congenial — a little less anger.”

The Republican Party has proceeded from NeoCon dedication to imperial arrogance straight into the sort of God-babble that plays well in the rural Confederacy – but, the United States passed that boundary line in electoral politics back in the day when Democrats handed the racist vote over to the Republican Party and Nixon’s Southern Strategy.

The joining at the hip of chickenhawks and Cold Warriors with 18th Century libertarians and populists who only care about keeping down uppity women, Blacks, Hispanics and furriners – demeans any opportunity for a traditional American conservative to function in Congressional politics. No one is surprised to see a few more Republicans walk away from the Kool Aid Klubhouse.

Death sentences in Iran bank scandal

Let’s not drag this out in the media. Or elections.
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

An Iranian court has sentenced four people to death for a billion-dollar bank fraud that tainted the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad…

Iranians, hit by sanctions and soaring inflation, were shocked by the scale of the $2.6 billion bank loan embezzlement that was exposed last year and by allegations it was carried out by people close to the political elite or with their assent.

Of the 39 people tried for the fraud, the biggest in the country’s history, four were sentenced to hang…

Mail me a penny postcard when American courts, American politicians, grow the courage and integrity to prosecute high crime in the world of high finance. Federal attorneys like Preet Bahrara have an outstanding record of prosecuting up through the level of insider trading – and that’s where it ends. Thugs who legitimized mortgage fraud by the trade in derivatives deserve no less than life in prison.

The man described by Iranian media as the mastermind of the scheme, businessman Amir Mansoor Khosravi, is said to have forged letters of credit from Iran’s Bank Saderat to fund dozens of companies and buy a state-owned steel factory.

Mahmoud Reza Khavari, the former head of Iran’s biggest bank, state-owned Bank Melli, resigned over the affair and fled to Canada where records show he owns a $3m home, Iranian and Canadian news agencies reported…

Golly, I wonder if Canada’s honorable government is aware of this?

President Ahmadinejad has rejected claims that the investment company at the heart of the scandal has links to his closest aide, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, a powerful figure who has become the prime target for the president’s adversaries within the hardline ruling elite.

Ahmadinejad’s economy minister, Shamseddin Hosseini, survived an impeachment vote last year, where members of parliament accused him of lax banking supervision.

The ultimate arbiter of morality in Iran is the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. While he criticised financial corruption, he also made the point that the media should not “drag out the issue”. Perish the thought that a theocracy would dedicate real time to fighting crime in high places.

Gore Vidal 1925 – 2102

Gore Vidal, the author, playwright, politician and commentator whose novels, essays, plays and opinions were stamped by his immodest wit and unconventional wisdom, has died in Los Angeles…

His works included hundreds of essays; the best-selling novels Lincoln and Myra Breckenridge; the groundbreaking The City and the Pillar, among the first novels about openly gay characters; and the Tony-nominated political drama The Best Man, revived on Broadway in 2012.

Tall and with a haughty baritone not unlike that of his conservative arch-enemy William F Buckley Jr, Vidal appeared cold and cynical on the surface. But he bore a melancholy regard for lost worlds, for the primacy of the written word, for “the ancient American sense that whatever is wrong with human society can be put right by human action”.

He was widely admired as an independent thinker in the tradition of Mark Twain and HL Mencken about literature, culture, politics and, as he liked to call it, “the birds and the bees”. He picked apart politicians, living and dead; mocked religion and prudery; opposed wars from Vietnam to Iraq; and insulted his peers like no other…

Vidal had an old-fashioned belief in honour but a modern will to live as he pleased. He wrote in the memoir Palimpsest that he had more than 1,000 “sexual encounters” – nothing special, he added, compared with the pursuits of such peers as John F Kennedy and Tennessee Williams.

Vidal was fond of drink and alleged that he had sampled every major drug once. He never married and for decades shared a scenic villa in Ravello, Italy, with companion Howard Austen.

America’s “entertainment” networks tried often to blacklist Vidal. They always failed. The world of theatre in New York City would never cooperate. Sophisticated publishers would not shut out someone who made them money and entertained the best minds in the world.

The broad sweep of Americans first knew him from a TV production of “Visit to a Small Planet” – later made into a mediocre movie. Though kept off the networks for his opposition to the VietNam War, public television usually found niches for his independent voice. One of the early reasons for Republicans to want PBS defunded.

He was a rhetorician. His condemnations of bigotry and imperial arrogance were always worth quoting. His defense of liberty and advocacy for democratic rights never relented. He will be missed.

NATO supply line back in business — “We are able to make money in bundles” says Taliban commander

As the United States trumpeted its success in persuading Pakistan to end its seven-month blockade of supplies for NATO troops in Afghanistan, another group privately cheered its good fortune: the Taliban.

One of the Afghan war’s great ironies is that both NATO and the Taliban rely on the convoys to fuel their operations — a recipe for seemingly endless conflict.

The insurgents have earned millions of dollars from Afghan security firms that illegally paid them not to attack trucks making the perilous journey from Pakistan to coalition bases throughout Afghanistan — a practice the U.S. has tried to crack down on but admits likely still occurs.

Militants often target the convoys in Pakistan as well, but there have been far fewer reports of trucking companies paying off the insurgents, possibly because the route there is less vulnerable to attack…

“Stopping these supplies caused us real trouble,” a Taliban commander who leads about 60 insurgents in eastern Ghazni province told The Associated Press in an interview. “Earnings dropped down pretty badly. Therefore the rebellion was not as strong as we had planned.”

A second Taliban commander who controls several dozen fighters in southern Kandahar province said the money from security companies was a key source of financing for the insurgency, which uses it to pay fighters and buy weapons, ammunition and other supplies.

“We are able to make money in bundles,” the commander told the AP by telephone. “Therefore, the NATO supply is very important for us.”

“We have had to wait these past seven months for the supply lines to reopen and our income to start again,” said the Taliban commander in Ghazni. “Now work is back to normal.”

Does that give you a clear idea of what an exercise in futility this war is?

Belarus sacks air defense chief over airborne teddy bears

Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko on Tuesday sacked his air defense chief and the head of the border guards for failing to stop a Swedish plane drop hundreds of teddy bears over the hardline state in a pro-democracy stunt.

The plane, chartered by a Swedish public relations firm, crossed into Belarussian air space from Lithuania on July 4 and dropped about 800 of the toy bears near the town of Ivenets.

Each bear carried a message calling for Belarus to show greater respect for individual human rights.

In a statement on Tuesday, the presidential press service said that Dmitry Pakhmelkin, the country’s air defense chief, and Igor Rachkovsky, the head of the border guards, had been dismissed “for not properly carrying out their duties in safeguarding Belarussian national security.”

Har. The only Air Force we have in my neck of the prairie that would pull a stunt like that is the Free Mexican Air Force. All they ever drop is bales of marijuana.