Thursday, December 27, 2007

Putin – Time Person of the Year

Perhaps the greatest service that TIME magazine can provide America is mercifully to end its journalistic farce selecting "Person of the Year." It has now reached the same meaningless proceedings of newspaper editorial boards endorsing politicians. Always an agenda is in play, these news organizations have the hubris to impose personal opinions with same cogency as reporting the news. A case in point was the "Des Moines Register" endorsing Hillary Clinton in the Iowa caucuses... of the nine persons on its editorial board, eight were females... LADIES OF THE WORLD, UNITE.

TIME's pick of Vladimir Putin was an odd choice in that the Russian is certainly the man of the year in Russia, but not of the world; this is no matter what standard you apply. One can only speculate why TIME made the pick. Looking to publish TIME RUSSIA in Russia? Or, more likely, assuage neocon elements in the US who are trying to fan American antagonism toward Russia. Neocons are still outraged over Putin's kicking out their pals the "Oligarchs," who bought the country at bargain prices from the drunk Yeltsin.

Putin was characterized by TIME as the NEW RUSSIAN CZAR. Anyone who has any historical understanding of the political, social and economic power of the Russian czars understands that Vladimir's internal control does not approach that of even the weakest Czar, Nicolas II, before his downfall and slaughter by the Bolsheviks. The confounding thing in the article is that it scornfully underscores the interdependencies of the political and economic centers in Russia that sustain Putin 's power. It complains of the corrupt links between major Russian enterprises and the Kremlin. Well folks, that is capitalist greed. You may argue the degrees of difference between the corruption involved in GW Bush's passionate love affair big business and Putin's tight nexus with the business conglomerates that control Russia's oil, natural gas and mineral wealth.

Remember Putin has been effectively in power since 1999. He has a 70 per cent approval rate by the Russian people. In that time he has paid off a 200 billion national debt; has insured an economic growth at roughly 7 per cent per year; began major rebuilding of his armed forces[budget 70 billion]; and kept his country out of war. The Russian ruble has increased in value and stabilized on the world currency market. Putin has strengthened his political party... Contrast that to GW Bush's less than 30 per cent approval rate by the American people. Bush has created trillions of dollars of national debt; created two wars; after strategic warning, stood by as his country was attacked on 9/11; watched as US ground forces became stressed; he is losing the wars he started, unable to disengage. The US dollar continues to dive to the lowest historical level. GW Bush wrecked the Republican Party. Under these comparisons, Russian corruption appears more productive for its citizens than the US variety for Americans.

President Clinton's term overlapped Putin's rise to power only for a short time, but in that interval Clinton went out his way to encourage warm relations with Putin. Clinton did not have inept Condoleezza as his in-house Russian expert, nor neocons hell bent on converting Russia to their goofy brand of democracy Neocons forced the abrogation of the ABM treaty; stirred up trouble in Chechnya---then moved to the Ukraine-on to Byelorussia and the Baltic states. The Central European states of Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, all on the Russian border, were brought into NATO over Russian objections. VEEP Cheney and Bush on their international excursions hammered away at failures in Russian democracy. But the US invasion of Iraq was the US stroke that blew Putin's gasket. Saddam owed Russia a lot of money and promises of lucrative trade relations. All this was crushed by the US invasion, and the Russians determinedly pushed back on all fronts.

It developed close relations with Red China. Sold it military equipment and cooperated in joint military exercises. It held Iran's hand at UN as the US pushed for restrictive sanctions. Most recently, Russia provided Iran a nuclear power station in defiance of US policy; rolled out extensive military aid to Chavez's Venezuela that included small arms, fighter aircraft and submarines. It was not redux Cold War, but the Third World now has options other than the US and the European Union. Within the last few months Russia abrogated the intermediate range missile treaty in response to US plans to build missile bases in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Despite the bitterness in relations, Russia and the US still cooperate on fighting the international Jihad and control of nuclear materials.

Putin is by no means Ivan the Terrible or Czar Peter the Great--nor is he Stalin, "the Ghost who walks". The TIME article would make you believe this. Putin has his troubles which he solves "a la Rus”. He fights anarchy heavy handedly. There is plenty of corruption. His political opponents are weaklings in the country. Grand Chess Master Kasparov, who was an opponent in the last Russian election, ran with private funding from New Yorkers with his wife and children in the US. Kasparov even campaigned on US TV with the dated Refusenik neocon baloney. He was ridiculed in Russia for running his campaign in English.

Apart from cultural and historical differences between Putin and GW Bush, Putin is competent and GW Bush is not. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret

*Photograph: Painting A Break in the Journey by Eveniy Starostin (1939-1977)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Shrapnel’s Persons of the Year

TIME has its "Person of the Year." Last year's selection was shamefully absurd, i.e. a piece of foil on the front of the magazine that reflected the readers visage. Very corny stuff. That permitted the editorial staff to dodge issues and remain in a politically correct fetal position. My dog barked at the presentation on the cover, but TIME refused to publish my letter to the editor that asked how my canine's reaction should be interpreted--was there a deeper meaning to the bark?

Those of you who read SHRAPNEL should realize that this blog is not soothingly maternal, CHICKEN SOUP DOT COM. Like the blog's name; shrapnel makes you bleed when it strikes its target. Last year, based on their massive national impact, I made the illegal alien "Person of Year". I was astounded how these mostly Latino unskilled masses poured across the borders, in the main unmolested by federal, state, municipal authorities and promoted by religious leadership; how they marched in mass with Mexican flags and banners proclaiming their defiance of US laws smacked of revolutionary fervor. Politicians in both parties cringed as illegals proclaimed political power. Well, the borders are still open, but since last year Americans got fed up watching their country illegally invaded by those who refuse to blend into the melting pot and constitute aliens in our midst With the failure of Senators Kennedy's and Bomb Bomb McCain's efforts to grant them amnesty, the wind fell from their activist sails. Massive demonstrations were curtailed. Authorities have begun to hunt them down, deporting illegal aliens in increasingly larger numbers; moreover, after the Kennedy/McCain debacle you hear less of the crap that, WORK MAKES YOU FREE. The immigration problem is defused, but not solved by a long shot.

TexMex American Alberto Gonzales is certainly a 2007 nomination for a stupendous negative impact on the country. Under President's Bush's guidance, he promoted open borders, illegal electronic eavesdropping, torture and made a complete ass of himself testifying before congress trying to defend the political firing of several US attorneys. Finally resigning, he now has his own lawyer to defend him during investigations... And he was GW Bush's number one law enforcement officer, so you can imagine what other evils still lurk in the Administration; not only that--what about the other incompetent asses yet to surface? There are plenty more on every level; time for the country to cringe in anticipation.

VEEP Cheney's number one pistolero, Neocon Scooter Libby, was convicted of felonies for obstruction of justice and lying. The charges stemmed from outing a CIA operative in the Yellow Cake cause celebre. On the eve on his incarceration, generous GW Bush commuted his sentence. Most believe the commutation of Libby's jail time was a token of appreciation by the President for Libby's silence. You will never get the truth unless you water board the VEEP or the President or Karl Rove. Anyway, they tell me that is not torture.

My next candidate is a bundle, collectively tied together, they make the grade from small time sleazes to big time bums. My proposals are 9/11 Rudy and his federally indicted stooge Bernie Kerik. Rudy had GW Bush nominate Kerik for the cabinet post of Homeland Security. The nomination blew up as Kerik had to withdraw his name under suspicion of moral turpitude. As more details of Rudy's business associations with the now federally indicted Kerik developed, Rudy had to continue to explain his relations with Kerik. Rudy's miseries were compounded by his using NYC transportation and police protection to squire his amorata, Judy Nathan, around. An article in the September 2007 issue of VANITY FAIR, written by J. Bachrach, profiled Judy, now his wife, as cross between Leona Helmsley and Lucretia Borgia, so even Rudy's wife has problems. If she becomes first lady, promise she may provide more press titillation than Hillary and Bill.

Need a boxcar or perhaps a whole train to present the next persons of the year – they are the odious neocons. Neocon Alpha dog Wolfowitz departed the Pentagon under fire for his leading role in the invasion and occupation of Iraq – someone kept putting tacks on his chair and slapping KICK ME SIGNS on his back. Bush then threw him a plum as the head of the World Bank, which he proceeded to screw up by letting his love life dictate his job performance; he was forced to resign. Clueless Condoleeza recently gave him a job at the State Department ; they are making book on how long he lasts. Neocons and GW Bush wear the albatross of the Iraq war around their necks – they tell us the US is winning – the surge is working. Well, not true. Police chief of Basra, on the departure of the British from the city, reported 48 women were killed for violating Shariya law in the last three months. The police chief himself has had 20 assassination attempts on his life in the last six months. He complained that the British indiscriminately armed Shiite militias... Hmm, is this not what General "Save Us Petraeus" is doing in Iraq with the Sunnis? Neocons love wars other Americans fight – sadly, like cock roaches, they seem to survive in both parties against mounting disgust – Neocon Senators Joe Lieberman and Bomb, Bomb McCain have publicly joined forces to elect Bomb, Bomb president. If the policy drama were not so deadly, it would be classified as political burlesque. Lieberman was asked as an Independent Democrat why he supported a Republican presidential candidate. Lieberman pitifully responded that no Democrat asked him. After Joe's pathetic run with Gore for president, who can blame them?

In each of the above candidates, GW Bush's towering incompetence is evident – his finger prints are there. So based on impact, albeit all negative,GWB caused the most havoc and influenced the world the most. Man of Year or Chump of the Year – either works, depending on your interpretation of honor.

There are still a couple weeks left in 2007. That is plenty of time for GW Bush to involve us in more wars. Hold your breath. Meanwhile, Merry Christmas! It is still a great country, just badly needing a ruthless leadership purge in both parties. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Bush in his Temple of Doom – Iran NIE

GW Bush's administration is crashing. It is not the final days of the Third Reich. No one is crunching cyanide capsules in their molars, burning bodies in the Rose Garden and shooting their dogs. So far no Russian Mongol troops running around Washington, DC raping and looting wrist watches, but certainly you can hear the cracking of the Bush political edifice as it prepares to tumble down.

Based on the President's recent performances at White House press conference when he took questions on the findings of the Iran National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) and afterwards, when he publicly provided the wrong telephone number for his new mortgage hotline,. you have to wonder whether he is buckling under the strain of his office. A "Chicago Tribune" reporter at the press conference even asked him, based on his body language, whether he was distressed. The president apparently was so upset by the question that he ended the press conference in a huff with a "What, me worry?" type reply – he left the briefing, "taking his marbles home."

The Iran NIE was a watershed document. Up to this point, when GW Bush made policy the US Intelligence Community disgustingly produced the Intelligence to support it. There was one major exception - the "Yellow Cake" fiasco, when the Intelligence community finally refused to back Bush's contention that Saddam was seeking and buying uranium ore from Niger to build the BOMB. In this case, Bush openly reverted cynically to using British Intelligence to make his case for war with Iraq in his state of the union address. This concocted ploy blew up in his face, ending with Scooter Libby's crushing felony conviction for obstructing justice.

Bush figured that if bureaucratic intimidation, the corrupt intelligence mythology combined with propaganda worked for the invasion of Iraq, so why not pull another variation to bomb Iran. Congress, dominated by the Israeli Lobby that promotes bombing Iran, passed a Senate resolution condemning the Iranian guards as a terrorist organization. It was sponsored by Republican Senator Kyl and Lieberman, the Israeli Nuncio to the US Senate. Presidential candidate New York Senator Clinton voted for it, as pro Israeli NYC required her to do. Previously, US Navy deployed major carrier strike forces to the Persian Gulf area. Neocons were pushing for an attack at State, Defense and NSC. At the State Department the neocons were forming under Clueless Condeleezza to work to push the attack policy into interagency process – former neocon pistoleros were assembled there in a group. Wolfowitz, who was a stupendous failure in his past jobs at Defense and the World Bank, recently joined the team. Robert Joseph, who was in the middle of Yellow Cake disinformation, and Woolsey, former CIA Director, who fronted for the Neocons on TV during the run up to the Iraq war also joined. I call the the trio, THE THREE BLIND MICE.

At the same time Seymour Hersh, who broke the My Lai Massacre story and the Abu Gharb torture scandal, was writing furiously in the NEW YORKER and broadcasting at the top of his lungs on TV appearances that the Pentagon is preparing to bomb Iraq. This was partially fueled by the Pentagon as it blamed nearly every Iraq disaster on Iranian direction and weapons. US projection of massive naval forces to the Gulf also supported Hersh's reporting...

The Iran NIE derailed the march to a third GW Bush war, at least temporarily. It indicated that the Iranians stopped their nuclear weapons program in 2003. You can imagine the White House pressure to avoid this conclusion. It took over two years to produce the estimate. For a period the White House tried to stop the publication of the unclassified version of the NIE, but reversed its position figuring the information would leak and cause it even more problems.

What made the Intelligence Community finally publish an NIE based on evidence ? I do not know for certain, but here is my speculation: (1) the key CIA staffer responsible for pulling the Iran estimate together was the same person who earlier was on the State Department's Intelligence and Research (INR) staff, was the only member of the Intelligence Community to drive a dissent footnote into the flawed Iraq estimate used by Bush to justify his invasion of Iraq. (2) the three military service intelligence organizations realized much to their dismay the terrible cost of playing follow the leader instead of following the evidence to develop an estimate. Cost was to their integrity as well the damage to military strategic planning; (3 the intelligence data that led to the conclusion that the Iranians were not pursuing nuclear weapons was conclusive. Consequence of failing to accept it would be worse than to face the White House wrath; (4) Military leadership at the Pentagon, i.e. CENTCOM and OJCS, are now naval officers who see the damage of what rolling over to corrupt political leadership by pandering Air Force and Army brass has brought to the US military services; (5) the Neocon disinformation unit at the Pentagon has been disbanded.

Contrary to attacks on the intelligence that led to the NIE conclusions, the findings were based on solid, multi source confirmation to include national technical means. Three Republican senators already have called for an investigation of the NIE. The Neocons are apoplectic – Neocon Podhoretz, 9/11 Rudy's national security advisor, said there was a conspiracy in the development of the estimate. The neocon mouthpiece publication, THE WEEKLY STANDARD, is trying to prove the old discredited NIE on IRAQ was more credible than the new NIE on Iran. They may have to call on a Talmudic scholar to perform this mental wizardry. Even the pro Israeli Harvard blowhard Alan Dershowitz condemns the estimate, so you know the NIE is on the mark. Maybe all this criticism with its unity of effort stems from the fact that Israel has announced it remains convinced Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons--so what? In the main, their intelligence now stinks. Where are the three POWs taken by the Arabs and Hezbollah? Why did the Israelis push for elections that their enemy Hamas wo? Misguided recent bombing of Lebanon and its invasion was a disaster for Israel, all of which was based on which their flawed intelligence.

The Israeli tail is apparently trying to wag the American dog. The neocons certainly pulled this off for the invasion of Iraq, so what is new? Since the THREE BLIND MICE are again in business, can we expect super swindler Ahmed Chalabi to return? Will CURVE BALL, the corrupt source for every occasion, be the the basis for a Team B to challenge the new Iran estimate? After the foolish bombing of Lebanon, bet if you asked even an Israeli man on the street whether he trusted American intelligence or Israeli intelligence more, the truthful answer by the majority would be AMERICAN – we tried that Israeli/neocon specious intelligence on Iraq invasion – REMEMBER THE CAKE WALK?

GW Bush's juvenile performance at the White House press conference indicated the new NIE did not make an impact personally on his policy toward Iran. It was clear our president prefers faith-based intelligence or that provided by the neocons and Israeli intelligence. Mr. President, what about intelligence from the Watusi tribe?

Bush's regime is doomed. It is collapsing under massive debt, failing military campaigns, corruption, open borders, out-sourcing jobs and obstruction of justice. As this unfolds, chances for desperate screwball actions are enhanced. I put bombing Iran in this category. Madmen always have a deranged excuse for killing... Murdering Rabin by an Israeli assassin is justified by religious fanatics for the greater good of Israel. Jihadists defend killing innocent people by believing Allah will reward the innocent in heaven and compensate them for any errors made by the holy Jihad on earth. Or how about bombing evil, evil Iran? It is righteous, because that is what the Bible teaches us– on to Armageddon and the Rapture. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Republican Presidential Charge Into the Abyss

Uncertainty over the qualifications of the Republican candidates for President was removed by the CNN YOUTUBE debates last week. They are all unqualified as much as CNN is to sponsor such debates. Apparently there were over 5000 candidate questions submitted by the public---CNN chose two on gays and one on the bible and none on Iran, Palestine/Israel or threat by Jihadists---the declared winner by the pundits after the dust settled was Reverend Governor "SLIM FAST" Hukabee.

From my view point Reverend Hukabee would be the hands down choice if the voters were looking for charm, a channel to God Almighty or a testimony to a weight loss; but that is the last type of leadership needed in our times of troubles..Now if the Rev Huckabee could channel to Allah that would be worth considering, but he would have to prove it first.. He would have to have bin Laden struck by a lightning bolt to get my vote. Or even with his current bible thumping, if he could organize God Almighty to strike bin Laden down, I might reconsider my repulsion of mixing religion with politics.. On the present course, electing holy rollers as US presidents, it is just a matter of time before we end up like Jihadists when religion becomes government.

Despite the fact GW Bush's name was only mentioned twice during the the two-hour debate, most of his agenda was warmly embraced by all the candidates except Ron Paul... The Republican Party left Ron Paul years ago and it ain't going to return .Paul makes more sense than any of the candidates in both parties, but like Pat Buchanan he is shunned by party king makers, because they cannot control him--and ironically that is what makes the two attractive to savvy voters; realistically, old line state party organizations are necessary to get out the vote and Paul does not have them.

Boy Scout Romney came off flaccid. He defended himself well against against Rudy's junk yard dog attack on illegal immigrants working at his Massachusetts Governors mansion, but he permitted Bomb Bomb McCain rip his face by not outright rejecting water boarding as torture. Rudy is ethnic guy from the tough streets of NYC with family connections to thugs.. McCain, to survive five brutal years as a POW, had to adopt to Darwinian survival of the fittest, so his and Rudy's world outlook is similar, albeit forged from different circumstances--both instinctively prefer to attack rather than to think. Unlike President Reagan, there is no Marquis of Queensbury sense in either of them. We have have had nearly 8 years with two unfinished wars promoted by "Bring Em On" GW Bush; the US is in greater danger now than ever before by using force indiscriminately. The US is already feeling the painful consequences economically and politically.

Uncertain what single-issue legal immigration candidates Tancredo and Hunter have to do with being a president, but they keep the illegal immigration issue front and center much to the chagrin of big business, agro conglomerates, and Bomb Bomb McCain. In the main, their presence in the debate formation just sucks up questions to which they respond repeatedly with the same answers. Another bit player in the Republican entourage is Fred Thompson. Previously a character actor, he turned to be a mediocre senator, finally developing into a steady TV and film supporting actor. His most recent gig was to head the Scooter Libby Defense Fund which is enough to make anyone decent gag and flee from him. His manner is laconic and boring; his looks, without stage make up, appears to be that of a blood hound; with make up, that of a basset hound--he is not Abe Lincoln by a long shot, despite his sad looks. He really needs a new script writer

9/11 Rudy appears to get in more trouble daily as more of his rutting conduct as NYC mayor comes to light--his latest reported frolic is his use of city funds to visit his love nest and squire his amorata around the city and to her parent's Pennsylvania home. Unbelievably, his federally indicted stooge Bernie Kerik has tried to defend him. "Sex in The City" the NYC tabloids are headlining.. 9/11 Rudy has lots of sins for his evangelical Republican base to forgive. My sense is that Rudy's goose is cooked as a presidential candidate.. Democrats should have a raucous field day with "Rutting Rudy" as will the Republicans have with" Wild Bill Clinton's" salacious public dalliances. If Rudy and Bill, via his wife, finally run for president, our nation will have their choice of sleaze balls.

Bomb Bomb McCain told us three times in two hours on the stage that he visited our troops in Iraq this Thanksgiving.. At least he spared us his usual "I Love America" super patriotism.. I have yet to understand how five years as POW signing an anti American statement provided by his captors qualifies him for anything other than a long rest and gratitude for his service as a non lethal hero.. US President? Give me a break! The Vietnamese have a sculpture of him outside Hanoi by the Lake of Tranquility surrendering, with his arms in air. During the debate he told Ron Paul that ending the Iraq war is equivalent to supporting Hitler. Paul rebutted this baloney forcefully. Bomb Bomb has been pathetically brainwashed by the neocons. For a neocon, every enemy is Hitler or an Islamo Fascist--if you negotiate with a neocon's enemy you are a Neville Chamberlain. Poor thing's remained locked in WWII anti fascist rhetoric, still apparently dented by the brutal holocaust events. McCain sadly has bought into this sick drivel and as such, his qualifications, even as a senator, are questionable. His sycophant neocon advocacy to bomb Iran is even more demented in face of the latest National Intelligence Estimate that indicates Iran stopped pursuit of nuclear weapons in 2003. McCain seems wound up tight... His next suit may be a straight jacket.

US Iraq war is a colonial war for oil resources in a post colonial period. European imperial powers learned that their conquests cost more than benefits accrued through sustained occupation. Their colonies were dumped mainly after WW!!. when they realized, losing money, that their imperialism became inverted. Last colonial war fought by the US was the Spanish American War.. US learned quickly it could not crush Cuban independence and got out. More years later the US departed the Philippines with the help of volcano ash suddenly covering Clark Air Force Base and outrageous lease demands for naval facilities at Subic Bay by the Filipinos. Puerto Rican remains a US possession from the war as a self governing commonwealth under the US territorial clause. The US is prepared to grant independence or statehood to the island,.but the majority of the Puerto Ricans want neither--in the last few years the Puerto Ricans demanded and closed the US Vieques/ Roosevelt Roads Naval complex - Puerto Rico provided some very brave servicemen for the US military over the years--five congressional medal winners, but this in no way can justify the continued, annual 17 billion dollar plus expenditure from the US treasury. No federal income tax is paid by Puerto Ricans living on the island. Another case of inverted imperialism when the conquered benefits more than the conquerer... As far as the ongoing US colonization of Iraq, Iraq expenditures by the US have already exceeded its value as an oil producing US colony. Except for the Kurds, do not expect the Sunnis and Shiites to accept the US yoke without continuing a costly long term insurgency.

Thirty seven US troops were killed in November as opposed to 38 killed in October. You have to figure statistically five times more were wounded with a little less than 50 per cent of those losing body parts, permanently impaired. The Iraq central government is still ineffective with little prospects for success. US oilmen and Israeli operatives are crawling all over Kurdistan to exploit it, while the Turks are shooting up parts of the country... Whether the surge is working now is academic nonsense, a moot point, but let GW Bush speciously define it as victory. With this definition, use it as an excuse to redeploy the troops elsewhere. GW Bush owes the American people bin Laden's head. If he does not collect it, the president with his "me-too" Republican Party is a fraud and electorally doomed--Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret