Tee Heehee (Politics is a fun game)

Remember how I mentioned a while back that after the election things would get interesting?

Well, they just did.  To put this in context, you can check out my post here.  It’s a fairly typical response from people who wanted to see Obama fight a bit more in this latest round of political manuevering.  He didn’t, got a good deal (according to him…this remains to be seen…and is the big question) and now we move forward.

The loud and ever-present gnashing of teeth today serves a secondary purpose (and is the inspiration for the title).   The sentiment is expressed very well in this post.

3 G’s    2010-12-07 01:32:56 PM  

I can’t recall ever hearing one man accused of being both an iron-willed radical usurper who is forcefully cramming his socialist agenda down the throats of the American people, AND of being a spineless weakling who refuses to stand up for even his most politically moderate ideas and who readily capitulates to every whim of the GOP.

I guess that’s what happens these days when a guy tries to be a reasonable, moderate leader who is willing to compromise from time to time to get something done, rather than hold fast to policies that have virtually no chance of being approved by the Congress. In an effort to please the silent, moderate majority of the Country he riles up the extremely noisy minority, composed mainly of pundits and career policitians, on both sides of the isle

The more I see these bullshiat rants against the President, and the more I see him continue to be a reasonable, level-headed moderate leader, the more likely I am to vote for him again.

This sentiment (as bolded) is also expressed by Andrew Sullivan in his post-compromise analysis.

My view is that if this deal is a harbinger for the negotiation Obama will continue with the GOP for the next two years, he will come into his own.

The more his liberal base attacks him, the more the center will take a second look. And look how instantly the GOP’s position has shifted. They have suddenly gone from pure oppositionism to dealing with the dreaded commie Muslim alien, thereby proving he is not what they have made him out to be. The more often we get the GOP to make actual tangible decisions on policy alongside Obama, the less able they will be able to portray him as somehow alien to the country, and the more they will legitimize him. Their House victory means they can no longer sit out there, portraying the country as somehow taken over by radical, alien forces – which they can simply oppose with ever ascending levels of hysteria and rhetoric. And the more practical and detailed and concrete the compromises, the less oxygen blowhards like Palin and Limbaugh will have to breathe.

There is a very large divide in the U.S. electorate and it’s almost as big as the one between the rich and the poor.  It is the divide between those that care about the day-to-day b.s. of politics and those that don’t. 

Those that care passionately about the day-to-day political b.s. make up 100% of the media, as well they should (I’m included in that, as I use the actual defintion of the word), and maybe about 2-4% of the overall electorate (maybe 6-12M people, based on TV ratings).   Another 10-15% may care a little bit, or follow things generally.  The *vast* majority doesn’t really follow the news, never opines publicly, and just kind of soaks it all in, waits, and then makes their call.

Obama’s shift here, and one that makes the Republicans say they agree with him and pisses off Democrats, is the kind of thing that *actively* penetrates the consciousness of the apolitical.   If this decision on compromise (something the apolitical love and the political tend to dislike) penetrates the mind of the body politic, and sticks, it could actually help Obama quite a bit long term.

Most of the apolitical hardly know their own reps, much less the long-term effect of political decisions, so the long-term debt issues this compromise makes worse doesn’t really factor into the apolitical, almost subconsious, analysis.  Tthey’ll only care about the debt crisis when it hits them, by which time it will be too late.   The apolitical consciousness is generally a bit slower to grasp political realities than the political class.  And since the apolitical largely define the political landscape, well, now you see why democracy is both a horrible and the best [known] solution to an impossible puzzle.

Fun to watch though, that’s for sure.  We’ll see if the ony actual Socialist in Congress can scuttle the deal…

Aaand Obama just lost 2012 (<—-a bit of hyperbole, perhaps. see updates)

That was too sad to see.

So much promise, killed so quickly.

Let me preface this with this graph, with shows Obama’s “plunging” approval rate over the three months leading up to the election.

That one has been holding pretty steady for a while (despite numerous stories during that time period about it cratering.   It’s about to drop 5-10%.

Here’s why…

President Obama just announced a tentative deal with Republicans on extending the sweeping tax cuts signed by former President George W. Bush nearly a decade ago.

Aaah, yes, those tax cuts.  What did you say about them back in 2008? …..  Hrmmm [googling…googling]…  Damnit Barack.

Well, you make it really hard to call you out for doing exactly what you said you would do…

[9/7/08] WASHINGTON — Democrat Barack Obama says he would delay rescinding President Bush’s tax cuts on wealthy Americans if he becomes the next president and the economy is in a recession, suggesting such an increase would further hurt the economy.

“Even if we’re still in a recession, I’m going to go through with my tax cuts,” Obama said. “That’s my priority.”

What about increasing taxes on the wealthy?

“I think we’ve got to take a look and see where the economy is. I mean, the economy is weak right now,” Obama said on “This Week” on ABC. “The news with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, I think, along with the unemployment numbers, indicates that we’re fragile.”

Which, of course, brings us to the news of the day…and what will be the final straw for many, many, of your supporters.

[Today] “The differences betwen the parties are real, and they are profound,” Obama said. But he said refusing to compromise would create stalemate, which he called “a chilling prospect for the American people.”

“We have arrived at a framework of a bipartisan agreement. For the next two years, every American family will keep their tax cuts.”

What he didn’t say and what many of his supporters head… “every American family will keep their tax cuts.  For some of you, this will amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars a year you can invest for high returns with low tax rates.  For the vast majority of you, you’ll barely notice as you work two more years to pay down the national debt that these tax cuts will create.”

There’s also a bunch of other tax cuts and unemployment extension going on.   Mostly the pittance that nobody noticed this year, and an extension of unemployment benefits that pretty everyone saw as essential.  That the Democrats couldn’t make it clear who was blocking them and have them pay the political price for it, well, that’s why they lost.

Then we heard the words that will echo forever in Barack’s mind as he wonder’s why all his support left him.

Obama stressed that he didn’t like two elements of the deal — the temporary extension of tax cuts for upper-income Americans, which he said would have cost $700 billion if stretched for the entire next decade, and making the estate tax exemption more generous for the same time period.

In two years, he said, “It will become apparent that we can’t afford these tax cuts any longer.”

Obama said he favored compromise over gridlock because the latter “would have raised taxes by $3,000 for a typical American family.”

Hey, buddy.  We can’t afford these tax cuts now!

You just read your own debt commission’s report didn’t you?   The  debt commission report that said we are going  to have to raise everyone’s retirement age and cut their benefits to pay for these tax cuts?  The ones that says we are just that close to a debt crisis?   Now you’ve just made it worse, and the “former” (compromise) has made it pretty much sure we won’t be able to deal with the debt until, again, the Republicans have the country over a barrel.

I mean, we have a $4,000,000,000,000, 10 year hole noted by the debt commission and we’re looking at extending tax cuts for 10 years at a cost of $4,000,000,000,000….and you go right ahead and do it, condemning us all to the eventual draconian cuts Republicans have been dreaming of for 30 years.

Horse trading spending for tax cuts is what got us into this mess.  Surely you knew that.

Oh well, Obama, if you had realized how big this fight was, you might have had a chance.  Your pragmatism, on display here and on the campaign when you called this scenario, just killed you.  The people who should be applauding this already hate you, they won’t come back, and they won’t applaud.   The ones you just screwed over were that solid 45%, who wanted you to fight for them, not the top 1%.   Now we get to work longer to pay for their tax cuts.  Awesome.  Thanks.

Now we will have the Obama’s Tax Cuts (a.k.a the Huge Giveaway to the Wealthy in a Time of War) and they just cost you 2012.

Too bad, you coulda been a contender (if you ever learned to fight).

UPDATE:  Aaah, here’s the Rub (i.e. that thing Obama didn’t understand).

Recognizing that the agreement could cause problems with some Democrats, who have urged him to stand firm against the Republicans, Obama insisted that it “would be a grave injustice to allow these” tax cuts to expire.

‘We cannot play politics,” Obama said.

I think this is why he’s having such a hard time.  He’s not playing politics, trying to convince himself and us he’s above them.  Everyone else is playing.  Guess what it means when one person is playing and the other isn’t?  The one playing wins.

You just got played, Barack.

UPDATE2:  Here’s why he got played…

“It’s not perfect, but this compromise is an essential step on the road to recovery,” Mr. Obama said. “It will stop middle-class taxes from going up. It will spur our private sector to create millions of new jobs, and add momentum that our economy badly needs.”

The package would cost about $900 billion over the next two years, to be financed entirely by adding to the national debt, at a time when both parties are professing a desire to begin addressing the nation’s long-term fiscal imbalances.

The thing he cites are all good, and they will help.  But it will still cost a lot of political points that Obama doesn’t have right now.  He could have played politics for a few more weeks, if not months, before it really started to do damage to the recovery.   And the new tax cuts could have been retroactive from whenever they finally gave in back to Jan 1 2011 (providing a nice little “whip” effect for the economy).

GENERAL CAVEAT (re: the title of this post):  If this tax cutting/spending ($900B), and the other steps taken so far ($700B), and the Fed “quantitative easing (printing money)” ($600B), and a more stable global economy ($??), and ending Iraq ($200B), all lead to substantial economic gains in the next two years*, Obama would normally be fine with a recovering/recovered economy.  Unfortunately, most of this won’t really get into the economy for a couple more years, so any recovery will most likely continue to be tepid until maybe early-mid 2012.

By that point both parties will run on having “saved” the economy and Obama won’t be able to run against “the Obama Tax Cuts”, will have lost a number of supporters to legitimate “compromises” (and the nuts to a bunch of other crap, that kenyanmuslimsocilist) , hence he loses.

If the economy tanks, and/or the world decides we actually aren’t serious about paying our debts (i.e. when the burden of our interest goes critical and nobody thinks we’ll be able to pay it all back) then he loses again, and we’re all really screwed as the tax cuts, passed temporarily with a tie-breaking vote by Dick “Deficits Don’t Matter” Cheney, become permanent.

 

*most economic theory would generally agree that deficit public spending during a time of slow private growth/spending is a good idea.  However, in order for this to work you have to, at some point, get that revenue back.  Is kicking the can down the road two more years enough/too far?

I know of one sure way to find out (refresh this post in two years).

Wall Street Journal Obscures Republican Middle-Class Tax Votes

I had wondered why so many people vote with Republicans when it is directly against their interests.   The only rational conclusion is that many are unaware on what kind of policies it is they are supporting in doing so.  Normally it would be the job of the press to explain what is happening, who is doing what, and why.

This is where the system breaks down in 21st Century America.  

Last week the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that would have kept the Bush Tax Cuts in place for the first $250,000 earned by each and every American citizen.   Money earned above this amount would then be taxed at the pre-Bush levels (up by 3 to 3.9% on income over $250K).    This was already passed in the House and then went to the Senate for a vote.

This is how the WSJ characterized it.

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Senate on Saturday defeated two attempts by Democrats to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for the middle class permanently.

O.k.  That’s technically accurate.   What were the votes?

In rare weekend votes that likely had little effect on wider negotiations to reach a compromise about extending the tax cuts, the Senate voted 53-36 to reject an attempt to initiate debate in the chamber on a measure that would have extended lower tax rates for individuals who earn less than $200,000 and couples earning less than $250,000.

Note that vote and result.   53-36.  That seems like a huge majority, right?   Well, it was the 53 that lost to the 36.   The measure failed.  With 53 votes, a clear majority.    Note also the part I italicized.  This is the WSJ adding their spin (“Haha Democrats, it didn’t work.”)

You know how many votes the Bush Tax Cuts got when they originally passed?   50.   (BTW, and just to be clear, that was for the 2003 cuts, the ones done after we were already at war.  They are the ones that cut the capital-gains tax to a level where billionaires pay a lower rate than their secretaries).

So that was one vote.  How about the other?

Senate lawmakers then defeated a separate attempt by a vote of 53-37 to raise the threshold for middle-class tax cuts to $1 million and then extend that tax level permanently.

Republicans unanimously opposed both votes, and some Democratic lawmakers joined with them by voting against the majority.

So we had another vote fail, by a majority of 53 for and 37 against.    Both bills got more support than the original tax cut law.

And here we have the WSJ placing blame on the full Senate when it’s very clear, after you get waaaaay down into the article, who is BLOCKING TAX CUTS FOR 98% of the country.

Republicans unanimously opposed both votes, and some Democratic lawmakers joined with them by voting against the majority.

One would think, what with all the talk from Republicans about how they love the cut taxes, being fiscally responsible, and want to end the “uncertainty” in the market’, they would have just voted to get 98% of what they want.  But, no, instead they filibuster and hold out for that extra $700,000,000,000 giveaway to their donors, the wealthiest of Americans. 

BTW, this “uncertainty” talking point is the most empty piece of crap I’ve ever heard, and I keep hearing it.  It goes like this…

 His counterpart, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said that he didn’t think American people wanted to head into 2011 with continuing uncertainty about what their tax rates would be, implying that a deal would be reached by the end of the year.

Really?!  So you filibuster a vote on making tax cuts permanent becasue you want to end the “uncertainty” about tax rates?  You could have ended the uncertainty, didn’t, hell, you didn’t even allow a vote on ending the “uncertainty”, and now are claiming we need to end the “uncertainty”.   You are a lying, duplicitious douchebag, Mr. McConnell.   There’s no other way to call it.

The only reason they can continue to get away with what really is just naked political payback to campaign contributors is that one of their biggest campaign contributors (in kind and $) happens to own a TV network and a major national newspaper that run political cover for them.  The WSJ then makes it “clear” that when it is Republicans dragging their feet, voting against tax cuts, and extending the “uncertianty” of the market, it’s really the whole Senate’s fault (if not the fault of of the 3 or 4 Democrats that cross over the aisle).

It is absolutely essential for the Republicans to have a media arm like this.  When your two main talking points so obviously contradict each other…

Republicans argue tax cuts must be made permanent for everyone to avoid sapping spending while the economy is still weak. They also say Congress should have a plan to pay for the estimated $65 billion cost of extending jobless aid, in order to avoid adding to the country’s high and rising debts.

…you really do need someone acting as a message-man, making sure the base doesn’t realize the dupe.

UPDATE:  Here’s a more “fair and balanced” take on the events of last week.  Note how straightforward and simple it is to explain when you aren’t trying to obfuscate what happened.

Last week, the House of Representatives approved Obama’s proposal to extend the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts only for people earning up to $200,000 a year as individuals or $250,000 a year for families, with income above those levels increasing to levels from the 1990s.

In the Senate, Republicans on Saturday successfully blocked debate on the proposal, as well as a similar one that set the income threshold for higher tax rates at anything over $1 million.

Epic link dump

May come back to some of this later, had to get it off the desktop today.

Here goes….

Empirical evidence for my pet “fate of the universe” theory.  I think this is the only thing that makes any sense.

It was worse than that.  No worse.  Keep going.  It’s still getting worse.   I’ll have to post my original “blog” post on this (it was posted before that term existed, yea old-school is me).  One guy, out of nine, made a decision that set the course of a nation…straight down.

It was the U.S. or Isreal.  Or someone else.  Most likely those two.  BTW, does this counter as “cyber-terrorism”?  Either way, it’s a pretty innovative way to slow down a country’s march to the Atomic Age.   Anyone interesting in espionage, hacking, or what the NSA really does  should check it out.

Hey look, the Fed acted in a way that saved the economy from totally crashing and burning, and made a pretty penny doing it (which went straight to the Treasury).  How. Horrid. Of. Them. 

Budget Simulator.  Here’s what I did to balance the budget.  Seriously.  It wasn’t that hard (it you aren’t silly enough to think that tax cuts pay for things).

Pretty much everybody wants to Ratify the START Treaty.  Some folks (42 of em)  just want to give away $700,000,000,000 first.

Buy Gold! Invest in China!  Same difference, now.

The Reality of an Empty Stomach is a great teacher, ya spoiled brats.

It was the U.S. or Israel.  Or someone else.  Most likely those two.  BTW, does this count as “terrorism”? Either way, it’s a pretty innovative way to slow down a country’s march to the Atomic Age.   Anyone interesting in blowing up cars, killing, what Mossad/CIA really does  should check it out.

Wonderful translation of the Fed’s response to the election.   Essentially saying that since inflation is nearly non-existent, unemployment is still high, and the new Congress isn’t going to do anything useful, here’s $600,000,000,000 to try and create the environment where large amounts of hiring will happen (jobs, jobs, jobs).  That has made much of the world unhappy.    UPDATE: Here’s the Catfood Commission’s answer.  In a nutshell?  Cut taxes on the wealthy and raise the retirement age on the workers.

More calls to support START.

Super-3d-brain imaging.  This is pretty awesome.  Should get better.  I liked the part how each human brain has more connections and sub-networks than the internets itself. 

The New Bi-Partisanship.  On full display this last week, for shure.

The Middle Class Tax Hike/Cut No One Heard about.  (Difficulty: It was part of the stimulus, which “failed” according to the folks for whom tax cuts never, and can’t by definition, “fail”.)

Q: Why are Republicans are pushing so hard for extra tax cuts for billionaires?

A: It’s how they fund their campaigns.  It’s pay-back time.

Actual Headline: Republicans block child nutrition bill

Actual story.

WASHINGTON – House Republicans have temporarily blocked legislation to feed school meals to thousands more hungry children. Republicans used a procedural maneuver Wednesday to try to amend the $4.5 billion bill, which would give more needy children the opportunity to eat free lunches at school and make those lunches healthier. First lady Michelle Obama has lobbied for the bill as part of her “Let’s Move” campaign to combat childhood obesity.

Well, this will surely stick it to that First Lady, oh yeah.  Good jorb, guys, way to put her back in her place.

Oh, what’s that?  What else..

The House failed to pass an extension unemployment insurance benefits for another three months Thursday afternoon. The vote was 258 to 154, short of the two-thirds needed for passage.

Republicans have sought to block the extension of benefits before, arguing that the spending should be offset by savings elsewhere.

Aaah, gotcha.

Savings elsewhere, that makes sense, got to keep a tight belt, and where are you getting those saving and why are you blocking all of this stuff?

On Tuesday, President Obama said a bunch of high-minded things about a new era of bipartisan cooperation between Republicans and Democrats. On Wednesday, all 42 Republican senators signed a letter declaring that they would block Congress from any action at all until tax cuts for the wealthy have been safely extended.

Aaah, I see, you’re blocking this so you can cut the taxes on the wealthiest 1% of the country by $700,000,000,000 which would save the country -$700,000,000,000 and thus pay for everything else and create, like, millions and billions of jobs thus ending the need to help pay for poor kids lunches and unemployment benefits (because that’s what the wealthy people will do with their extra money, spend it by hiring lots of people, regardless of demand, ensuring their wealth for generations.).

Funny, one little negative sign and some sarcasm and now it almost looks like it makes a lick a sense.

I finally get bizarro logic and voodoo economics.  Can’t believe it took me this long.

Just a story about cutting off funding for food for children to pay for tax cuts for the richest and I…finally…get…

****BLEEEEAAAARGH*******

Sorry, just puked.  That doesn’t happen very often when I’m typing.  I should rest now.

UPDATE:  Whew, I feel better now.  I think it was something I ate.  Yup.  Definitely something I ate.

Senate Republicans have made a name for themselves by finding ways to block Democratic legislation. Even when Democrats controlled a big enough majority to muster the 60 votes needed to overcome filibusters, the Republican leader, Mitch McConnell often found creative ways to slow down the legislative process, delaying the inevitable as long as possible.

But with a little bit of luck, Mr. McConnell this week may yet pull off his greatest blocking effort yet – by stopping a major food safety bill that has already been approved.

The Senate adopted the food safety measure on Tuesday by a vote of 73 to 25 with 15 Republicans joining in support. (The bill would strengthen the Food and Drug Administration, and is intended to help prevent unsafe foods from reaching grocery stores and restaurants.)

But because of an arcane parliamentary mistake, the bill must be sent to the House of Representatives, which must approve it and return it to the Senate to be approved one more time. Only then, can the measure be sent to President Obama.

A spokesman for Mr. McConnell said that Mr. Reid would likely have no trouble getting the measure approved again once the tax cut debate is settled and Congress has approved a spending measure to keep the government functioning. Until then, however, Republicans will block the bill along with everything else Mr. Reid is hoping to accomplish.

So they have to waste a week to get it done, instead of a few minutes.

At least that will give me time to get over this imaginary food poisoning I have, and plus, my body will be stronger for the next time it happens, which now will be sooner, rather than later.

There is a silver lining here, while the Republicans are holding up feeding kids to pad trust funds, they are also holding up inspecting that food to pay back the “anonymous” billionaires that funded so many of their campaigns, thus ensuring that the tainted food will never get to the children.

It’s dabolical genius, in a way.

U.S. Citizen #237 Joins Bastion of Free Speech China in Banning Wikileaks

This comes with a very big 😦  (that’s “sad face” in English).

SHANE MCLEOD: Wikileaks says its founder Julian Assange is going to stay in hiding because he may be at risk of being assassinated.

A spokeswoman for the website says the Australian citizen will maintain a low profile amidst calls by some for his arrest and prosecution for releasing sensitive diplomatic cables.

The self-styled whistleblower is starting to suffer setbacks on another front.

It has been kicked off its servers in the United States run by web-host Amazon.Com.

Amazon hasn’t made any comment – but the decision has been applauded by the US Senator Joe Lieberman — who heads the Homeland Security Committee.

[fullish story…this thing is obviously still developing.]

First up let me say that US Senator Joe Lieberman is a jackass.   I think we can all, across whatever aisle you may choose to erect betwixt us, can agree that Joe Lieberman is a jackass and should be gone, just gone, from public life (I mean he should retire, not, you know be retired).

And speaking of veiled threats of assassination…what’s up with those?  The usual “don’t retreat, reload” retard is at it again and along with Mike “Wannabee” Huckabee is trying to go for the toughest of the toughy tough competition.  Assassination?  Really?  For revealing that, for the most part, the people who work for the U.S. are doing their jobs?  For communicating across secret channels their honest assessments of important events and people around the world?

Look it turns out it was a mistake to allow folks like PRIVATE [bolded, italicized, and capped for emphasis] Manning to have access to all the communique’s from everyone around the world, in the hopes that that he or some other low-level, super-genius (you know, like in freakin’ Transformers) would solve the terrorist puzzle, but it turned out he was more likely to think people should hear this shit, man.

Literally, that was his thinking.

Manning came to the attention of the FBI and Army investigators after he contacted former hacker Adrian Lamo late last month over instant messenger and e-mail. Lamo had just been the subject of a Wired.com article. Very quickly in his exchange with the ex-hacker, Manning claimed to be the Wikileaks video leaker.

“If you had unprecedented access to classified networks 14 hours a day 7 days a week for 8+ months, what would you do?” Manning asked.

But come out they did, and once the genie is out of the bottle in a free society, it gets to wander around and wreak havoc for a bit before being assimilated into the culture at large.

That’s how freedom works.  That’s the down- (for some, up) side to it.

Any way….(and I’ll get to my point here in a minute, you’ll have to bear with me hear, composing this led to a curious tangent…)

Any way…I read the homepage for the wikileaks cablegate page (currently you can’t, since Corporate Citizen #237 Amazon.com exercised his/her/its “free speech rights” and denied Wikileaks theirs) and it says…let me find it here (BTW, I downloaded the whole site zipped on a torrent.  I don’t just preach fucking censorship, I practice it.  For reals yo…cue longest parenthetical aside ever so far on RPN, where the P stands for PIRATE, duh….[feel free to TL;DR this, I’m just C&P’ing to make a point…]

Monday, 25 January 2010, 08:14
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 ASTANA 000072
SIPDIS
STATE FOR SCA/CEN, EEB
EO 12958 DECL: 01/25/2030
TAGS PGOV, PINR, EPET, EINV, KCOR, RS, CH, KZ
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN:  MONEY AND POWER
REF: ASTANA 0061
Classified By: Ambassador Richard E. Hoagland: 1.4 (b), (d)
¶1. (S) SUMMARY: During a private dinner, KazMunaiGaz First Vice President Maksat Idenov named, in his view, the four most powerful gate-keepers around President Nursultan Nazarbayev: Chief of Administration and General Services of the President’s Office Sarybai Kalmurzayev, the President’s Chief of Staff Aslan Musin, State Secretary-Foreign Minister Kanat Saudabayev, and the tandem of Prime Minister Karim Masimov and Nazarbayev’s billionaire son-in-law Timur Kulibayev. According to Idenov, in Kazakhstan, market economy means capitalism, which means big money, XXXXXXXXXXXX. The following details are a single snapshot of one version of current reality. The significant point is that Nazarbayev is standing with Idenov, not Kulibayev, to maintain international standards to develop the massive Kashagan and Karachaganak hydrocarbon projects. END SUMMARY.
¶2. (S) On January 21, KazMunaiGaz First Vice President Maksat Idenov and the Ambassador had a one-on-one dinner in a nearly empty restaurant (times are still hard!) at the Radisson hotel in Astana. When the Ambassador arrived, Idenov was barking into his cell phone, “Mark, Mark, stop the excuses! Mark, listen to me! Mark, shut up right now and do as I say! Bring the letter to my office at 10:00 pm, and we will go together to take it to (Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources, MEMR) Mynbayev at his house.” On ending the call, Idenov explained he was talking to British Gas (BG) Country Director for Kazakhstan Mark Rawlings who had missed the deadline to deliver a letter about arbitration on the Karachaganak super-giant oil-field project (reftel). Still clearly steamed, Idenov XXXXXXXXXXXX “I tell him, ‘Mark, stop being an idiot! Stop tempting fate! XXXXXXXXXXXX Idenov asked, “Do you know how much he (Rawlings) makes? $72,000 a month! A month!! Plus benefits! Plus bonuses! Lives in Switzerland but supposedly works in London. Comes here once a month to check in. Nice life, huh?”
¶3. (S) Idenov calmed down and said, “Let’s look at the menus.” Then he immediately started typing on his PDA and turned the screen toward the Ambassador, saying, “Let’s look at the ‘four courses.’” On the screen were four names: Kalmurzayev, Musin, Saudabayev, and Masimov-Kulibayev.” Idenov said, “The Big Four around Number One.” (NOTE: Sarybai Kalmurzayev, currently the head of Administration and General Services in the Presidential Administration, was, among other jobs, a former head of the Financial Police and, before that, in the 1990s, in charge of privatization. Aslan Musin is the current Chief of Staff for Nazarbayev. Kanat Saudabayev, a personal friend of Nazarbayev for nearly 40 years, is Minister of State and Foreign Minister. Karim Masimov is Prime Minister, and Timur Kulibayev is currently the favored presidential son-in-law, on the Forbes 500 list of billionaires (as is his wife separately), and the ultimate controller of 90% of the economy of Kazakhstan. END NOTE.) In response to a question, Idenov said that Masimov has a degree of freedom, but never acts without permission from “the hyphen” (Kulibayev). Then Idenov stood up abruptly and carried his PDA to a ledge about 20 feet from the table and asked the Ambassador to turn off his cell phone.
¶4. (S) Idenov said he wanted to explain why he has been less visible for at least the last half year. Starting last spring, all the “Big Four” (on the menu) began blocking him from seeing President Nazarbayev. In October, KMG President
ASTANA 00000072 002 OF 003
Kairgeldy Kabyldin told Idenov, “Kulibayev doesn’t want to work with you any more.” Idenov said he replied, “Fine,” immediately returned to his office, wrote his letter of resignation, and packed up his personal files and photos of his family.” He said Mynbayev immediately called and asked, “My dear friend, what are you doing?!” Idenov said he was fed up and was going to the Middle East to work -- “I want out of here!” PM Masimov called and said, “Nazarbayev wants to know how you’re doing. He’d really like to see you when you have time.” Idenov, who said he’d been trying to see the President for months but had been blocked by the “Big Four,” went to see the President and told him, “Kabyldin says Kulibayev doesn’t want to work with me any more.” Idenov said the President told him to calm down: “It’s probably just evil gossip. I’ll have Karim (Masimov) talk to Timur (Kulibayev). Then Idenov went to Masimov and told him, “OK, I’ll stay, but how do I deal with this?” Masimov said he’d talk to both Kabyldin and Kulibayev.
¶5. (S) Soon, intermediaries arranged an Idenov-Kulibayev meeting. Idenov said they both pretended to ignore the core problem -- Kulibayev’s, he alleged, avarice for large bribes.  Idenov averred he told Kulibayev, “Please watch your image and reputation. You have a real opportunity to improve your own image and the image of the nation.” Idenov said Kulibayev was “like a Buddha with a Paris manicure,” and both understood life would continue. Idenov said he believes he has, so far, the president’s protection. “But the games continue,” he said. Idenov alleged that both XXXXXXXXXXXX-- and Kulibayev is salivating to profit from them -- but, so far, Idenov stands in the way. “So long as Nazarbayev says he wants Kashagan and Karachaganak developed according to international standards, that’s what I’ll do.”
¶6. (SBU) (NOTE: Fugitive former CEO of BTA bank, Mukhtar Ablyazov, accused of embezzling over $1 billion, recently leaked “documentary evidence” to the international media that China’s state companies have bribed Kulibayev over $100 million in recent months for oil deals. END NOTE.)
¶7. (S) The Ambassador asked if the corruption and infighting are worse now than before. Idenov paused, thought, and then replied, “No, not really. It’s business as usual.” Idenov brushed off a question if the current maneuverings are part of a succession struggle. “Of course not. It’s too early for that. As it’s always been, it’s about big money. Capitalism -- you call it market economy -- means huge money.  Listen, almost everyone at the top is confused. They’re confused by their Soviet mentality. They’re confused by the corrupt excesses of capitalism. ‘If Goldman Sachs executives can make $50 million a year and then run America’s economy in Washington, what’s so different about what we do?’ they ask.”
OTHER TIDBITS
¶8. (S) MODEST WEALTH. Idenov alleged that MEMR’s Mynbayev is among the richest in Kazakhstan but “flies under the radar” because he is a relatively modest and very hard-working technocrat. His great wealth derives, in part, from his former ownership of KazKommerzBank -- “But he never flaunts it.”
¶9. (S) VULTURES. Idenov alleged that GazProm and China National Petroleum Company “continue to circle like vultures,” hoping that the Kashagan and Karachaganak consortia will implode, and then they can pick up the pieces.  “Won’t happen on my watch!” Idenov vowed.
¶10. (C) HOW TO ORDER LAMB. Idenov insisted the Ambassador order a bottle of wine for their dinner but then never touched his first glass. Instead, he gulped three cans of Coca-Cola while inhaling his food. When both he and the Ambassador ordered lamb chops, Idenov advised, “Well done,
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never rare -- this is Astana, not London!”
¶11. (S) COMMENT: Idenov is effusive, even theatrical, by nature. When he trusts, he spills his heart. Of course, there’s no doubt he also spins his own narrative, as we all do. And so, this dinner is simply a snapshot -- but, we would judge, a relatively accurate glimpse of one version of current reality. The significant point is that Nazarbayev is standing with Idenov, not Kulibayev, to maintain international standards to develop the massive Kashagan and Karachaganak hydrocarbon projects. END COMMENT. HOAGLAND

)

…this will not be silenced, just saying.)

Any way…I read the homepage for the wikileaks cablegate page and it says said…

This document release reveals the contradictions between the US’s public persona and what it says behind closed doors – and shows that if citizens in a democracy want their governments to reflect their wishes, they should ask to see what’s going on behind the scenes.

Every American schoolchild is taught that George Washington – the country’s first President – could not tell a lie. If the administrations of his successors lived up to the same principle, today’s document flood would be a mere embarrassment. Instead, the US Government has been warning governments — even the most corrupt — around the world about the coming leaks and is bracing itself for the exposures.

Which I find a bit high-handed.  I don’t think you would find more than one or two countries in the world that don’t engage in any diplomacy at all.  That’s what “state diplomacy” is, at a certain point.   Lying to one’s friends and being honest with one’s superiors.     I do think this thing is awful embarassing, but worthy of assassination?  Come now, let’s be civil and just talk badly about people behind their backs (which is the other side of what diplomacy is, although some times, rarely, you talk up another).

Seriously though, I don’t deserve to be hunted down like Al Qeada now, do I, Mrs. Palin?   I’m doing something kind of like that skinny, white-haired Australian dude, and can go a bit further, if necessary.    But hunted down like terrorists?  Really? With drones and shit?  During weddings and everything?  That’s a bit much, Sarah, even for you.

I think SecDef Robert Gates got it much closer to the truth

But at a Pentagon briefing on Tuesday, Mr. Gates, who plans to retire next year, responded to a question about Wikileaks’ disclosure of 250,000 diplomatic cables by meandering down a different path.

Here is some of what he said:

“Let me just offer some perspective as somebody who’s been at this a long time. Every other government in the world knows the United States government leaks like a sieve, and it has for a long time. And I dragged this up the other day when I was looking at some of these prospective releases. And this is a quote from John Adams: ‘How can a government go on, publishing all of their negotiations with foreign nations, I know not. To me, it appears as dangerous and pernicious as it is novel.’

BTW, I can’t not hear that in Paul Giamotti’s voice, which makes it even funnier.

“Now, I’ve heard the impact of these releases on our foreign policy described as a meltdown, as a game-changer, and so on. I think those descriptions are fairly significantly overwrought. The fact is, governments deal with the United States because it’s in their interest, not because they like us, not because they trust us, and not because they believe we can keep secrets. Many governments — some governments — deal with us because they fear us, some because they respect us, most because they need us. We are still essentially, as has been said before, the indispensable nation.

“So other nations will continue to deal with us. They will continue to work with us. We will continue to share sensitive information with one another.

“Is this embarrassing? Yes. Is it awkward? Yes. Consequences for U.S. foreign policy? I think fairly modest.’’

And that, my friends, is pragmatism.   I’m glad to see some more of it.  This willy nilly running around banning this and assassinating that is foolish.

As someone who’s read more than a few of these cables can attest, most are about dealing with the real world as it is, not as some would wish it to be.

That, in and of itself, might be a game-changer for the U.S.’s perception of both itself and our many friends, allies and enemies.

So I’m helping keeping the cables up, as much as need be.   Making 251,287 blogs is the work of a good script and an afternoon.  Making 100,000 copies of each might take a day or two.  Censorship is foolish, silly, and Un-American.  It’s cheap, and tricky, like the Chinese (yea, I said it..they do it).

More on this one as it goes forward.  There’s going to be months of this, and since 2 of 5 of The Fox News Party’s presidential candidates are already playing tough ‘guy’ on this issue, expect to hear quite a bit more about it.

And if Assange can follow through with the 5 GBs of Bank of America emails he’s alleged to have sitting around on a jump drive somewhere, and they prove to be a’spicy meat-a-ball, he’ll go so quick from Public Enemy #1 to Hero of the Day #4452 it’ll make your head spin so fast it’ll jump clean off and head into orbit.

Should be fun to watch.

The Future is getting closer

That future where horrible mangled people are rebuilt, fast, and strong than before?  Closer.

Scientists removed stem cells from the legs of three-month-old healthy mice and injected them into the legs of mice that had temporary leg muscle injuries, induced by barium chloride injections, the study said.

The technique repaired the injuries within days and made the treated muscle double in size.

That future where we can fight off the invading Predators using their own fantastical technology?   And spot them with a contact-lens-based HUD?  Closer.

Ultimately, Di Falco says, Metaflex could have applications such as manipulating light from an LED built into a contact lens for augmented reality, so that computer-generated images are projected onto the wearer’s retina. And of course, there’s invisibility. “If you have something flexible, you could embed it into a fabric. Then you could think of tuning the properties of each individual layer to change the response of the fabric, giving something similar to camouflage. So, yes—there’s some grounds for [an invisibility cloak]. Not tomorrow. But that’s what I’ll be working on,” says Di Falco.

That future where people realize that if the best thing religion offers is a way to smooth over the differences between religions, maybe it’s the real problem?   Closer.

[Former Prime Minister and Catholic Convert Tony] Blair repeatedly returned to his defence that religious men and women did good deeds in their millions all around the world every day. But it was also a position that could get him in trouble. Blair outlined the work that religious groups in Northern Ireland put in on bridging the “religious divide” in order to work for peace. [Soon-to-be-dead Cancerous-Atheistic Curmudgeon Christopher] Hitchens did not allow that one to slip by. “I never miss an opportunity to congratulate someone on being humorous, even if unintentionally,” he said. Then he delivered the punchline. “Where does the ‘religious divide’ come from?” he asked to another round of laughter from the crowd.

The day when we conquer aging and premature death (which gave rise to the problem outlined in previous paragraph)?   Closer.

As humans , low levels of telomerase are associated with progressive erosion of telomeres, which may then contribute to tissue degeneration and in the elderly. By creating mice with a telomerase switch, the researchers were able to generate prematurely aged mice. The switch allowed the scientists to find out whether reactivating telomerase in the animals would restore telomeres and mitigate the signs and symptoms of aging. The work showed a dramatic reversal of many aspects of aging, including reversal of and .

That day when we finally start to make real progress moving away from fossil fuels?  Really closer.

Driven on battery power alone, the Volt has a fuel economy equivalent to 93 m.p.g., the E.P.A. determined, using a formula that converts kilowatt-hours of electricity to gallons of gas. The Volt’s gas engine was rated at 37 m.p.g.

The 93 and 37 m.p.g. figures appear most prominently on the window label, while the 60 m.p.g. figure is in much smaller type toward the bottom. The Nissan Leaf, a pure electric car, was rated this week as getting the equivalent of 99 m.p.g.

The day when assholes will use divisive politics to try and bring down every step of progress made by human beings?  So close I can taste it.

Last time you ranted about the Volt, you got confused about the “range,” and said on the air that the car could be driven no more than 40 miles at a time, period. At least you stayed away from that issue this time, but you continue to attack it as the car only a tree hugging, Obama-supporting Government Motors customer would want. As radio loudmouths like you would note, none of those potential customers were to be found after November 2.

Back to us for a moment, our credibility, Mr. Limbaugh, comes from actually driving and testing the car, and understanding its advanced technology. It comes from driving and testing virtually every new car sold, and from doing this once a year with all the all-new or significantly improved models all at the same time. We test, make judgments and write about things we understand.
….
If you can stop shilling for your favorite political party long enough to go for a drive, you might really enjoy the Chevy Volt. I’m sure GM would be happy to lend you one for the weekend. Just remember: driving and Oxycontin don’t mix.

The day when *every* man, woman, and (especially) child is diagnosed as having a mental disorder?  Closer.

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 10 (HealthDay News) — The number of U.S. children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) jumped nearly 22 percent in a recent four-year period, meaning nearly one in every 10 kids is now diagnosed with the disorder, U.S. health officials report.

About 5.4 million children have ADHD in the United States, according to their parents, and 2.7 million take medication for the condition, the CDC survey of 4- to 17-year-olds found.

The day when an actual test is developed to identify what exactly this “disorder* is or when it has been cured?  No where nearer than it was last year       (and now there’s a few more billion reasons, per quarter, not to find one [2,700,000 kids * $300/mo * 3 mo = $2,430,000,000/quarter]).   Why even try to cure (or scientifically define) something you are getting paid $10 Billion a Year to treat?   Again, I can’t think of a reason, and it would seem, neither can they.