Fred Thompson vs. Jesus

James Dobson, founder and chairman of Focus on the Family, took another swipe at presidential hopeful Fred Thompson today:

“Isn’t Thompson the candidate who is opposed to a Constitutional amendment to protect marriage, believes there should be 50 different definitions of marriage in the U.S., favors McCain-Feingold, won’t talk at all about what he believes, and can’t speak his way out of a paper bag on the campaign trail?” Dobson wrote.

“He has no passion, no zeal, and no apparent ‘want to.’ And yet he is apparently the Great Hope that burns in the breasts of many conservative Christians? Well, not for me, my brothers. Not for me!”

Earlier this year, Dobson said of Thompson, “I don’t think he’s a Christian.”

A Defense Secretary Who Doesn’t Know if What He’s Doing is a Good Idea

David Brooks, in a new op-ed for the New York Times, practically wets himself in his passion for that “godsend,” Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. The Secretary certainly gave Brooks some interesting quotes.

“I don’t think you invade Iraq to bring liberty. You do it to eliminate an unstable regime and because sanctions are breaking down and you get liberty as a byproduct,” he continued. I asked him whether invading Iraq was a good idea, knowing what we know now. He looked at me for a bit and said, “I don’t know.”

I asked him if it was a good idea to encourage elections in the Palestinian territories. He didn’t directly address the question, but he noted: “Too often elections are equated with democracy and freedom.”

Freedom of Speech – Part 2

I am adding more video having to do with ‘freedom of speech’ and recent events in our nation that I was reminded of this afternoon while listening to the radio on my drive home. It is video of Rev. Lennox Yearwood and his arrest in the hallway just prior to entry into the General Petraeus hearing. He was assaulted by the police resulting in a broken leg (multiple places), hospitalization, and arrest.
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Crude Oil

CNNMoney.com has some good news for those interested in controlling the supply of oil:

The attack took place in the section of the pipeline connecting the oil-rich city of Kirkuk to the Baiji, home to Iraq’s largest oil refinery. Iraq usually pumps Kirkuk crude oil to the refinery, 250 kilometers north of Baghdad, which takes what it needs before it pumps the rest to Ceyhan.

The official said the pipeline blast was “catastrophic” as it caused huge quantities of crude oil to spill into the Tigris River.

It isn’t known yet how long it will take the Iraqi authorities to repair the damaged pipeline.

[Photo courtesy of MASSIVE DEFEAT. Used by permission.]

Blackwater Well-Positioned to Stymie Official Inquiries, Regulation

Blackwater

via: TPMmuckraker
by Spencer Ackerman

Blackwater doesn’t just operate in a legal black hole in Iraq. The private-security firm has grown expert in protecting itself from oversight and regulation in Washington as well.

Over at POGO, Nick Schwellenbach connects Blackwater to House oversight committee chairman Henry Waxman’s investigation of Howard Krongard, the State Department inspector general whom Waxman alleges stifled numerous corruption probes in Iraq and Afghanistan. One of those probes involved an alleged Blackwater scheme to funnel weapons into Iraq, and, Schwellenbach notes, it wouldn’t be so difficult for Blackwater to know how to get around an IG probe. Its parent company, the Prince Group, recently hired the Pentagon’s ex-IG, Joseph Schmitz.

Indeed, all throughout Blackwater are ways to get around government oversight: Cofer Black, the company’s vice chairman, used to work at the CIA with A.B. “Buzzy” Krongard, formerly CIA’s executive director. And, yes, you read that last name correctly: Krongard of CIA is the brother of the current State Department IG. Think Schmitz or Black knew which numbers to call in the event of a State inquiry into the company?
(Continue reading his article… it gets worse…)

How do we as Americans put a stop to this??

(Photo used with permission – by octal)

Checkbook Imperialism: The Blackwater Fiasco

via Truthdig
By Robert Scheer

Please, please, I tell myself, leave Orwell out of it. Find some other, fresher way to explain why “Operation Iraqi Freedom” is dependent upon killer mercenaries. Or why the “democratically elected government” of “liberated” Iraq does not explicitly have the legal power to expel Blackwater USA from its land or hold any of the 50,000 private contractor troops that the U.S. government has brought to Iraq accountable for their deadly actions.

Were there even the faintest trace of Iraqi independence rising from the ashes of this failed American imperialist venture, Blackwater would have to fold its tents and go, if only in the interest of keeping up appearances. After all, the Iraqi Interior Ministry claimed that the Blackwater thugs guarding a U.S. State Department convoy through the streets of Baghdad fired “randomly at citizens” in a crowded square on Sunday, killing 11 people and wounding 13 others. So the Iraqi government has ordered Blackwater to leave the country after what a government spokesman called a “flagrant assault … on Iraqi citizens.”
(Continue reading the article…)

I always appreciate anything Robert Scheer writes about, but this was excellent.

Freedom of Speech?

Yesterday there was an incident at a John Kerry event at the University of Florida where a 21 year old man asked Senator Kerry questions (uncomfortable questions) at the end of his speech, during the questions and answers, that resulted in the young man being accosted by the police, dragged to the back of the room, taken down to the floor, handcuffed and tasered before being removed from the building.

We discussed this yesterday here. The tapes of the incident were all over the internet yesterday and hit the TV news as well.

Opinions I heard expressed throughout the evening on the TV news channels ranged from ‘well, he was being rude’, to ‘he was only there to disrupt Kerry’s speech’, to ‘well what did he expect, its been rumored that he pushed his way through the line and took over the mic’ (which didn’t happen), to describing him as being “cheeky”, a practical joker, and an “internet star”.
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Guns for Money…

Story on MSNBC Business Section this morning

War means a Windfall for CEOs

Highlight of the article:
CEOs at top defense contractors have reaped annual pay gains of 200% to 688% in the years since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

  • The chief executives at the seven defense contractors whose bosses made the most pocketed nearly a half-billion dollars from 2002 through last year.
  • The CEOs made an average of $12.4 million a year, easily more than the average corporate chief.
  • Since the start of the war, CEOs at defense contractors such have made, on average, more in four days than what a top general makes in a whole year, or $187,390
  • General Dynamics CEO Nicholas Chabraja tops the list of defense-contractor chiefs who have made the most money during the 2002-2006 defense buildup. Between 2002 and 2006, he pocketed $97.9 million, or an average of $19.6 million a year.Sales at General Dynamics increased 76% from 2002 to 2006, with significant help from Department of Defense spending. Overall sales increased to $24.1 billion from $13.6 billion, and at least a third of that increase came from higher Department of Defense spending.

Read on, but get your barf bag in place, just recommendin…

Al-Maliki Says End Blackwater Contract

Iraqi Prime Minister, Nori Al Maliki, wants Blackwater out of Iraq. That’s all well and good, however, the reality of economic interests, and necessity need to be considered. I found the numbers in the article to be seemingly low. The estimates for overall private security in Iraq is a force of 25,000. About 1,000 are Blackwater employees. A congressional report estimated 200 private security guards have died. However, at the very end of the article:

Al Quds Al Arabi wrote: “A lot of analysts believe that the Iraqi government cannot stop issuing licenses to these companies as they provide security to diplomatic delegations, and a lot of Iraqi officials.”

Al Khaleej, based in the United Arab Emirates, accused those behind the incidents of being members of the Israeli secret service, Mossad.

The money talks, and so do the political connections. Lets see how this turns out.

Good Morning from Europe – I Hate My Computer Edition

Vierwaldstättersee

(Switzerland – Viewaldstättersee as seen from “Rütli”)

I intended this post to contain some more topics, but putting this up cost me three tries and rewriting the whole thing twice, so more on what’s up in Europe at a later date.

A while ago I headed a post “Greed”, and discussed the underlying reasons for the devastating fires that ravaged Greece this summer. Well, will you believe this? Karamanlis is reelected for three days now.

We experience “honour killings” in Europe quite frequently. A while ago in Germany a young mother, Hatun Sürücü, was shot in the streets by her own brother, because she chose a western lifestyle. Quite opposed to the judgement in the case in the UK, the family stuck together. Thus by German courts, the two older brothers were acquitted, their complicity couldn’t be proved, and the youngest, who actually fired the shots, was sentenced to nine years and three months as a minor.

Germany has another big problem. What to do about airplanes that might (eventually, one day, if, maybe, could be that, really just hypothetically) be highjacked by terrorists. Defense minister Jung wants to shoot the plane down. The constitutional court has already been heard about it and deemed such a measure unconstitutional (AZ: 1 BvR 357/05 – Urteil vom 15. Februar 2006 ). Never mind the constitution.

Taking ‘Matters’ Into Our Own Hands

My impression is that most political blogs are one of two types. They are either what I would term a “sole proprietorship,” that is, a blog basically created and operated by one individual, or they are a “corporate entity,” that is, a blog set up by an organization with a clearly-defined message and objective.

TPZoo does not seem to fit neatly into either of these two camps. The origins of this blog were unusual. The founders — people from across the globe, most of whom have never met each other in person — became acquainted while commenting at the site Think Progress. It is no surprise then that the Zookeepers are a diverse lot, with varied and strong opinions on many subjects. More binds us together than separates us, but occasionally there are disagreements over some fairly fundamental issues.

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