Monday, November 23, 2009

Back to Africa--You all are too Crazy

Recovering from a retina operation, I dreamed Elizabeth Warren was kidnapped by Chinese pirates. So no more criticism of Rush Limbaugh about oxycontin abuse.

The whole Glenn Beck thing reminds me of the Ghost Dances of the Plains Indians in the late 19th century. Inspired by visions, the Indians believed the white men would leave and the great Bison herds would return. If Beck keeps dancing, I guess he believes all the rest of us will leave and the teabaggers will be the only ones left.

Some brilliant conservative now likens Obama to Idi Amin, who will legalize 30 million illegal aliens so he will remain president for life. How does Idi Amin factor into this?

The RNC is passing a purity test where candidates will have to pledge to uphold ten basic statements. Now Republicans are against deficits and for small government. Has never happened in my lifetime.

Teabaggers are training candidates to take control of local elections so they can control the budgets of local government. Small government means no government to these guys.

Little Joey Lieberman has threatened again to filibuster the public option. Democrats are thinking about throwing him out of the Knesset.

Both Senator Levin and David Obey are calling for a war tax to pay for any escalation in Afghanistan.

Glenn Beck is penning The Plan, which will be his 100-yr plan for America. It's mirrored after the Chinese Communist Party's recent 100-year plan. Maybe it will have better luck than Karl Rove's 40-year control of government by Republicans. Or the 1,000-year Reich by Adolf Hitler.

If Obama goes all-in in Afghanistan, that will leave 10,500 available troops for any other emergencies. You make the call.

Lou Dobbs is thinking of running for President in 2012. Tom Tancredo is being discussed as his running-mate.

I share Andrew Sullivan's annoyance with Republicans, who act as if they had nothing to do with the current massive deficits of the United States. Iraq and Medicare B were totally unfunded. George W would be thrown out as a Republican according to the new purity tests. $10trillion in deficits not counting Medicare and Social Security makes him the Babe Ruth of big spenders.

If you need to de-program yourself from the Bush days, watch Will Ferrell's "You're welcome , America" where he plays with W with uncanny accuracy. I thought I was watching a documentary.

David Frum and Andrew Bacevich debated the Freedom Agenda and what should be done with Afghanistan on one of those internet split-screen affairs. A very interesting 60 minute discussion. As a side note--which was peripheral to the main topic--Bacevich said the Freedom Agenda completely failed, while Frum said that Bush oversold it. Bacevich did say that at least the Bush Administration tried to come up with a basic strategy to counter jihadists. He claimed any Obama escalation will be left with the problem of lacking any strategic point. In future blogs, I will return to the Freedom Agenda and the recent backlash against the whole Long War thesis. You will see and hear fragments of this in the coming months as Washington pundits debate Afghanistan.

Ralph Peters was on his meds again when he wrote a column which lambasted the Pentagon for not really providing President Obama with real options and said that we can not adopt the strategy Joe Biden has argued--going after Al Qaeda on the border--because the Pakistan government aids and abets Al Qaeda and plays this as a game to secure our aid funds. Without Al Qaeda, Pakistan would not receive the amount of financial and military assistance they do.

President Obama did his bit today to focus on Science Education. Finally, a political leader who remembers one way we can get out of problems--invent and apply scientific solutions.

I feel sorry for aged Bill Graham for having to meet with Sarah Palin to discuss Iraq and Afghanistan. Palin also continued talking about the second return to Israel of the Jewish diaspora. That's why there is a need for expansion of the settlements so that the returning Jews will have a home at the time of the Rapture. I am sooo glad real Christian churches do not preach the Book of Revelations. It really belongs to Ingmar Bergman movies.

The new Strategic Arms Treaty will probably not be ready on time but will slip beyond the December date. So far, this has gotten little attention from the Beltway pundits because frankly no one is interested. What will be a major accomplishment will generate very little bounce for President Obama.

After the commotion at the Sarah Palin book signings, where her fans jeer her for quitting before everyone had their book signed, I'm not sure Palin has the discipline necessary to run for higher office. In all of many strange happenings, an anti-abortion group protested that she was soft on the issue--Oh, really?

God love David Brooks. he's talking up John Tune as a Republican star. Brooks still believes the party is rational and not the "degenerate Republican party" as Andrew Sullivan thinks.

Homeland Security has buried its report on rightwing terrorism. Conservatives have political correctness to thank for this.

"Going Rogue" has the Brits laughing. It means having unprotected anal sex. Speaking of which "Bruno" is now out on DVD.

With the budget being busted and no one really talking about real tax hikes, maybe it's time for the issue of the VAT to be discussed. The VAT could be used to fund our social welfare programs without alot of political interference. Republicans should like it because it's a tax on the poorer among us. I happen to think we have to ween ourselves--me especially--away from the consumer mentality.

The great geniuses in our media have called Obama's Asia trip a dud and a failure. This has been disputed by the Dalai Lama and our own Ambassador in Beijing, who have reported significant agreements. Who knows?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Audacity of Help

Benito Beck is quite right--President Obama does want to transform the United States with his policies. Thomas Friedman of the New York Times laments that a political system such as ours with so much special interest money blocking up the works may actually thwart our ability to solve large global issues. Unlike Beck who seems to believe in a libertarian utopia devoted to Jesus Christ, Friedman is extolling the current Chinese system with its authoritarian capitalism. We' ve been here before, folks, when people get all weak in the knees about democracy. That's why I support Eric Holder's decision to try the 9/11 perpetrators in New York City. He matter-of-factly defended the strength of our constitutional system and our ability to deal with terrorists using our own laws.

John Wasik has written an eye-opening book about Obama's Economic Plan and the Remaking of America called The Audacity of Help. ( 2009, Bloomberg Press) Anyone watching the health care debate might sympathize with Tom Friedman's remarks since the financial forces aligned against making any reforms have been awesome. In his book Wasik outlines the basic assumptions of Obama's economic plan and analyzes what has been promised and what Congress has or has not delivered. His previous work The Cul-de-Sac Syndrome: Turning Around the Unsustainable American Dream gives you some idea where he comes from. He has a keen eye of what Obama was and is trying to do with the Stimulus Plan and notes the pitfalls in stimulating a bottom-up financial recovery but sees there are not alot of alternatives.The most rewarding sections of his book concern the making of a Green, Digital Economy and the initial seed money the Administration has allotted for the development of alternative fuels and technology.

For my money, the most important speech given by President Obama was his MIT address where he outlined the transformation he envisions for the American economy. I would rank it up there with JFK's Moon speech. But that may be the problem--Obama takes a long view of our problems which he should but the short term hurt of the recession may slow if not stall the long term objectives entirely. Like Bruce Bartlett in another entry of mine, Wasik also is keen on a single-payer solution to health care, something that is off the table now. But as Wasik notes, Obama has taken on some of the most divisive issues in our political economy and contrary to his critics of the Left have stepped on alot of toes of entrenched interests. To make it to the Green Deal, Obama has to show that his stimulus package does heal the economy and help the unemployed and has made an impact on starting the transition to a more Green economy.

In a way, the whole healthcare issue is not only essential to resolve but also to build momentum for the other initiatives outlined in the book. As Wasik points out President Obama has vowed to cut the national deficit in half by the end of his term in office. While plans have been started from the first days in office to tackle this issue, President Obama will have to use his ability to explain complex problems to address frontally and fully the nature of our national debt. This will lead him into the territory of the third-rail of American politics--entitlement reform.

Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare all need funding overhauls and no recent administration has even come close to addressing this urgent issue. In addition, there is no consensus solution. Not only will the tax code have to be reformed but also the Administration must develop new revenue sources to maintain these programs at the present level just as the Baby Boomers are about to swamp them. This is the Administration's Herculean task if the American dream is going to be revived at all.

The Audacity of Help is an excellent primer on the Obama Economic Plan as well as its emphasis on the needs of people in an economic system. The format of the book lends itself well to following the different aspects of the plan and what needs to be done. The Economic Plan is ambitious and unfortunately it appears to be necessary in all its aspects. For those who want the President to fail, it is a challenge to them to present an alternative view of how to maintain and sustain the American dream.

Sunday Meditations

It's a little bit sad that a major political event is simply the U.S. Senate voting to have a debate on the healthcare bill. Sadder still is that there were no Republicans who voted to have such a debate, speaking volumes about their commitment to the free exchange of ideas. Presumably the status quo is fine. But whatever your politics the status quo is unsustainable. With no change, Americans will soon spend 1 out of every 5 dollars they earn on medical care. In addition to the some 40+ million uninsured, we would gain another 22 million uninsured and add them to about 25 underinsured.

The U.S. Senate is looking more like the House of Lords with the median age about 63 and most members multi-millionaires looking down on the masses with disdain. The Senate hasn't looked so bad since the days when Southern Senators would filibuster civil rights legislation. But at least those guys could quote John Calhoun.

The Republicans sounded as lame as I've heard them in years. For reasons I have not determined, the new Republican tactic is to utter a series of lies, not the Goebbels' One Big Lie, get caught out on them and then set off on another set of lies, hoping something will strike. This has been apparent since the 2008 Convention, which saw the Republicans revert to their old 1920s economic selves. The madness we hear on Glenn Beck is really just a continuation of the underside of the Republican presidential campaign, particularly on the side of part-time Governor Sarah Palin.

The arguments against the Health Reform Bill apparently run the gamut from giving license to Republican mistresses to have abortions to busting the federal budget to ending life on Planet Earth as we know it. So from abortions to death panels to getting the government between you and your doctor, presuming you can still afford a doctor, there are all sorts of reasons for doing nothing. Even the Catholic Bishops have weighed in saying the Health Reform Bill is the "worst we have ever seen". Which raises the question," what others have they seen." The Catholic Bishops are feeling their oats now after defeating the gay marriage law in Maine.

The problem here is that the United States really does need a sober-minded, mature second party and the mantras coming from the Republican Party as it tries to chase its dwindling base do not lend themselves to solutions to real world problems. Let's say the Republican Party manages to surf white resentment back into control of the Congress. Then, what? Other than voting for increases in defense spending and supporting war and torture, what solutions can they give for an economy that needs a radical transformation from consumerism to a more self-sustaining, energy efficient one? They already voted against the largest middle-class tax cut in history so what's next more deregulation and tax benefits for corporations. That's worked out just fine and dandy.

Well, we'll cut the deficit by cutting down to size the social welfare state in the middle of a Depression. The claim they will starve the beast just doesn't hold anymore. US Government existing obligations are on the order of $70trillion, including Social Security and Medicare. There are not enough cuts to make to the Government budget to be able to even dent the debt in the outyears. Cut social security and Medicare for their core base? The fact of the matter is that the GOP is in a deep conceptual hole. It must be ready to re-think everything it believes about the public good, a concept that seems to have disappeared in its mind, and it must start thinking about new forms of government revenues to be taken seriously again.

It is inconceivable to me that the GOP can adopt any form of economic populism. They balked at a windfall tax on the Wall Street bonuses when there was public outrage. To become populist, they would have to go full-tilt at their corporate backers--something they won't do.

I would suggest they start reading Bruce Bartlett's The New American Economy: the Failure of Reaganomics and a New Way Forward. Bartlett was on the ground floor of supply-side economics and walks the reader through the time it met its limits and its collapse at the end of the Bush Administration. His basic audience is Republican and he hopes Republicans become constructive once again and offer solutions that would not inhibit economic growth. If they don't, he says the Democrats will and that might thwart future economic growth.

President Obama always says that he inherited a debt of about $1.5 trillion from George W. I wish he would come clean on reality. Here's Bartlett:By the end of 2008, the federal government has assets of $2 trillion and liabilities of $12.2 trillion, for a net debt of $10.2 trillion. In another table of the Treasury Department's "Financial Report of the United States Government" it lists the unfunded future cost of retirement programs. At the end of 2008, Social Security was in the hole $17.2 trillion and Medicare would need $31.8 trillion to cover the expected costs over and above revenues. So, Uncle Sam had an addition debt of $49 trillion on top of the national debt-let's just call it $59 trillion. As Bartlett says, Social Security is fixable with slight rises in the Social Security tax but Medicare has to be reformed within the context of the entire health care system.

Are these problems unsolvable? No. But they can't solved when the Republican Party acts like we should be Brezhnev's Soviet Union with enormous military power while the economy is collapsing and it embraces a view toward science that mimics Lysenkoism.

In the meantime, get ready for a giant food fight after Thanksgiving. And kudos to Hapless Harry Reid, who finally became a leader for a day.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

President Sarah Palin?

Forget that the United States is still the second-largest economy outside of the European Union. Forget the United States is the world's supreme military power, spending 45.2% of the entire planet's defense dollars. Forget the role the United States plays around the world. And Forget we are involved in two wars. None of these things factor into the consideration of Sarah Palin as presidential timber. At this moment, as I have written frequently, she touches every hot button issue for the Republican base and the whole idea of competence has simply been abandoned by the Right.

You can see the effect she has on other potential nominees. Mitt Romney gratuitously attacked Obama today over his delay on the Afghanistan decision invoking his own experience as someone who can turn things around. The real focus here was the Sarah Palin media extravaganza and her eclipsing the potential Republican field. Only Mitt Romney will have the financial resources to challenge her for the nomination.

I am operating on several assumptions. I do not believe conservatives can generate any new ideas, which will lend credibility to the Republican Party before 2012. There will be no period of renewal, which is badly needed as the conservative brain trust is exhausted. As we head into the 2010 elections, the base of the Republican Party is no longer conservative but radical right. There are no mature adults left to reign in the tea party foolishness and the party can not control this. Look at the local response to Senator Lindsey Graham when he tried to take on his constituents in South Carolina. They denounced him and later when he suggested a bipartisan approach to the climate change bill the South Carolina Republican Party censured him. The so-called Republican leadership are simply sitting ducks for the extreme right. One only has to see Senator DeMint's challenge to Mitch McConnell for leadership in the Senate.

The Republican obstructionism to President Obama's initiatives is meant to erode and discredit his own presidency but also to lay the ground work for the proposition that government can literally do nothing--except wage wars. Even the alleged escalation in Afghanistan will trigger increased criticism from Republicans of Obama not doing enough.

The extreme political rhetoric that likens President Obama to Adolf Hitler, Mao and Stalin only creates an atmosphere of tolerance for the emergence of the Radical Right as the dominant force in the Republican Party. So the craziest idea will be tolerated and the notion that Sarah Palin can be President will become perfectly acceptable even to conservative pundits in the Beltway.

Palin's endorsement of the Conservative Party nominee in upstate New York over the party's nomination is in line with where the base is now. Note that her endorsement triggered me-to endorsements from presidential wannabes. Right now, Sarah Palin is the queen of the teabaggers and the darling of the religious right. Her only real competition is Mike Huckabee.

Almost all criticisms of her will be discounted as accusations by the Left. In case, one hasn't noticed the Left is basically all secular American society and all the corporate media with the exception of Fox. The fact that the Left is anti-war in Afghanistan and for a single payer option for health care reform is irrelevant. Republicans really, really believe President Obama is a leftist, despite the hysterical laughter at this by the real Left.

But she quit her post as Governor? This only proves she is a citizen politician. She doesn't have extensive policy background in anything. No, problem elites got us into this mess and an average citizen has better sense. She is studiously ignorant of American history and politics. We need a fresh perspective. She lacks the skills to manage a government as large as our federal government. That's why we must cut it down to size. Anything you can throw at her will be tossed aside as irrelevant to the issue at hand.

The Republicans believe they lost the last election because Barack Obama was a fresh face, young and charismatic while John McCain was a dead fish. It was only Sarah Palin--they believe--that ignited the base and made it a closer election than it would have been. Conservatives honestly beieve if she had been allowed to heightene her attacks on Obama's ties to Bill Ayres and Rev. Wright than America would have seen the light. All the polling actually said this hurt the Republican ticket. But we are in the realm of myth and myths have enduring power.

She also comes at a time when the religious right dominates the Republican party but has lost its religious credibility. She is a proud creationist--boldly stated ignorance is now a sign of moxie. Here she's in good company--only 36% of Americans believe in evolution. She is an end-timer so government policies really don't matter because Christ is coming. She is a member of a Dominionist Christian church that espouses the desire to infiltrate and control Government. I have raised this pernicious doctrine with many conservative friends and they simply see no reason for alarm. Her religious views mirror Iran's Ahmadinejad. She is an absolutist against abortion. While Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum could give her a run on her religious beliefs, they simply do not light up the true believers like Sarah.

On national security, she will seal the deal with the neoconservatives, who are an opportunistic bunch. While not considered first-rate, they will believe they can manipulate her to their purposes. They also like having their hooks into someone already rather than shop around. After all her biggest booster to John McCain was Bill Kristol. So we can expect the Bill Kristol-Liz Cheney group to come around to her when it is time.

On the economy, Sarah Palin is basically agnostic. She simply doesn't care and will allow corporations to do whatever they want. Since she backs the tea parties, it is no stretch to see that all the corporations behind the Tea Party Express and the Tea Party Patriots will line up behind her. Mike Huckabee has shown dangerous signs of populism, which makes him suspect to the corporate wing of the party. Sarah Palin already has the support of the oil and gas industry so you can expect to hear her retain her "Drill, Baby, Drill" mantra in 2012.

The NRA already love her and will support her because of her known devotion to hunting and belief in the absolute nature of the Second Amendment.

Republicans believe they have to run someone who is charismatic and can generate enthusiasm at the base. If allowed to shape her own image, Sarah Palin will tout her Eskimo husband and bring out her gaggle of children again. That she has a dysfunctional family doesn't matter because this is the modern American family unit where 30% of children drop out of high school and it's not uncommon for a son who was a juvenile deliquent be given the choice of joining the military. Republicans are sexist enough that they will be very reticient to attack Sarah Palin, while she will enjoy the attack.

When you look at the primary calender, you see Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. For Republicans it is winner take all. So Palin looks good in two out of the first three and Mitt Romney moved to New Hampshire and is betting the Granite state is his firewall. But palin by going libertarian there could just sink his candidacy. Romney would have to be able to hold out until Michigan and even that state's political terrain has changed to the right.

Sarah Palin has the luxury of having the support of Fox News, Rupert Murdoch, Rush Limbaugh and the conservative radioheads. Rush tipped his mitt by calling her book the most profound policy book he has ever read. Despite the more jaundiced appraisal of her abilities by established pundits like Charles Krauthammer and Peggy Noonan, her Jerry Springer-type appeal will help create an illusion of popularity. She is the most natural fit for Republicans to our media culture and the perfect vehicle for the Radical Right to gain social acceptance.

Trashing the McCain campaign staff only seems to be dangerous but it tips one off to how Palin will position herself. Steve Schmidt vowed the McCain campiagn was his last. Mark Salter is probably off writing a book with McCain. Nicole Wallace only has a few national campaigns left. So there is little downside to settling scores. But the M.O. is just like when Palin took on the Republican establishment in Alaska and catapulted to fame and McCain's attention. She is the establishment slayer and she hopes to do it again on a national scale.

Could she win the Presidency? With the general deterioration in our political culture, yes. Instead of using social issues as the wedge in close campaigns like Karl Rove was a master in doing, these wedge issues will be central to her campaign. She will play the fear card with a smiling face. She will resort to the old Republican tactic of wrapping oneself in the flag and will campaign at first on America as a Christian nation and then morph into a Judeo-Christian nation for a general election. And, of course, she is all for cutting taxes and putting more power back to the states.

People like myself who think Obama's nuclear deal with Russia is a good thing or closing Gitmo improves our standing in the world are out of luck. The Republicans are still stuck and will be on the Bush-Cheney years as the beginning of time and all diplomatic agreements are useless and America can still act unilaterally in the world. Republicans will run in 2010 as if there was no Depression and that the private sector will create enough jobs if left unfettered by regulation to restore the economy. And they are hoping to stop healthcare reform to show how weak President Obama is. By 2012, the Republicans will be running against a "socialist Jimmy Carter", a weak and vacillating President--someone I call deliberate and rational. If unemployment lingers around 8% and President Obama hasn't taken steps to reduce the deficit, then Palin campaign will be very viable.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Back from Africa before Going Back

Mea culpa. Missed the New Jersey vote. Forgot the state usually voted in a governor of a party opposite that of the President. Gay marriage vote in Maine was a disappointment. Yet, 47% bodes well for the future. Underestimated the strength of the local Catholic Church and the effect of sermons on Sunday urging a yes vote. The Democrats picked up two seats in the by-election with upstate New York going Democrat for the first time since 1871. Despite closing vote margin, it's still Democratic.

New Gingrich plans a Contract with America, Part II, to nationalize the 2010 elections. Karl Rove warns Obama not to nationalize the 2010 elections as a referendum on the Addministration. Seems like the Republicans are already going down that road. Why not Democrats?

Eric Holder's announcement to try the 9-11 masterminds in New York City provoked the usual outcry from conservatives, worrying the accused might get off on a technicality. Could that technicality be torture, I wonder. Presidential aspirant Sarah Palin tweeted"Hang 'em High!" It's a little late for that. I happen to agree with the Administration's decision. It's nice to see the rule of law being asserted again after a two term hiatus. The New York federal attorneys have a 99% conviction rate on terrorism cases. I think it's worth the gamble.

While abroad the gruesome Fort Hood incident happened. The perpetrator has been indicted for over a dozen counts of homicide and is facing a death penalty. If the incident had been terrorism as conservatives maintain, he would be charged either before a military commission or be given over the federal authorities. Critics of the Administration conveniently neglected to mention that President Obama ordered an investigation into the killings once it happened and then today again ordered a further investigation. The mysterious Yemeni imam mentioned in the case turns out to be a native born American, who has the dubious distinction of being the Rush Limbaugh of jihadist internet. With the breakup of the 9/11 anniversary plot by the FBI, we may have crossed the corner into homegrown Islamic terrorists--joining our growing group of white supremacist and Christian terrorists.

While away, I missed Orly Taitz protest against Fox News. The video showed a hefty crowd of about 15 --give or take a few bystanders. The U.S. Attorney has been ordered to collect the $20,000 fine levied against Taitz. She suffered another blow when he case was turned down because the judge feared she had induced witnesses to commit perjury. An Indiana birther case was rejected and the judge went further than even I in asserting that being born on American soil you were native-born. The judge basically went so far as to dismiss the case, even if President Obama had no American parents. Pretty heavy stuff. In her television statements, Ms. Taitz reverted to the white supremacist version of the Constitution, claiming that the "original" intent of native-born was that someone must have two American parents. Not true. the Constitution left the definition up to Congress. Simply put --one of your parents had to be an American above the age of 14 and it didn't matter where you were born. Also, your parents can not sign away your citizenship as Ms. Taitz claims when Barack Obama's mother married an Indonesian. Do you believe an employee of USAID would give up her son's--let alone her own American citizenship in a country undergoing a civil war? The birthers are now suing each other over who are the most authentic.

The teabaggers are doing the same. The Tea Party Express and the Tea Party Patriots are warring against it other. I guess the are competing for the different corporate money behind each group. I got my mailing from Freedomworks, which boasted their Washington rally drew 750,000--which every reliable source has disputed. 50-75,000 if we're generous. Dick Armey in his fund-raising plea claims to be building a mass movement. How about 12 million strong for Obama's organization--that's a goal to aim at.

My 2009 Hero of Democracy award goes to David Plouffe for creating the first 21st century campaign and introducing the whole array of the digital revolution to electoral politics. His book Audacity to Win documents the whole saga of the historic Obama campaign. My question is whether such a campiagn can be waged when Obama is a sitting President. I tend to doubt it. It may well be a one off. I am convinced that Republicans have yet learned how Obama beat them in 2008. In no Republican accounts does the name Plouffe occur. It's all about Axelrod and the Chicago machine. They might want to read the book and learn something. Plouffe also restored the badly damaged reputation of campaign managers, who have been perceived as slightly lower than pond scum.

Meanwhile, John McCain's campaign manager Steven Schmidt is getting slaughtered by the rumors surrounding Sarah Palin's memoirs. Schmidt made several strategic errors in the race but he alone could not make up for McCain's inherent weakness on the economy. But that's not why he is taking heat. Sarah Palin claims he and the campaign stiffed her with the legal bills for her vetting, made her (at the point of a gun?) buy her expensive wardrobe, wanted her to go on a diet and cursed in front of her daughter. Any of this true? Who cares? It's great fodder for the tabloids.

Levi Johnston, the putative father of Bristol's baby, will appear full frontal in Playgirl, posing with a hockey stick. It seems conservatives are now getting the hang of American culture. Carrie Parjean, former Miss something and defender of family values and self-proclaimed friend of Sarah Palin, had to cave in her lawsuit against the beauty pageant organizers because it seems not only did she pose nude but she made --several--sex tapes for her then boyfriend complete with sex toys. While she claimed she did this when a teenager, her boyfriend claims she was 20. Instead of heading this off at the pass when the pageant lawyers asked her to withdraw the suit, she had to watch with her mother in the audience as the tape was shown at the trial. At this rate, she could become a full blown member of the Family, joining John Ensign and Tom Coburn.

When I decide what we should do in Afghanistan, I'll let you know. After reading every possible option, I'm convinced that Obama was right with "None of the above." Most troubling have been the investigative pieces done by the Nation and others about the level of corruption in the Afghan government and how we are paying off the Taliban not to attack our supply lines. On this Obama can't win for losing. But he is at least asking for the "off ramps".

While Obama is in Asia, I will be returning to Africa where the Chinese look like they are colonizing the place. This is going to become a social problem that will ignite local reaction like the days when Idi Amin reigned terror down on the Asian shopkeepers.

Mercenary Simon Mann was released from prison in Equatorial Guinea. On release he let loose on Mark Thatcher and Eli Kalil, the Lebanonese financier of the invasion plans. One curious question: "Why did President Obama ask for his release?" What other gems are left to be discovered from the Bush years? Stay tuned.