The following was a story lead from ABC news on Tuesday June 28, 2011…

Afghan police and international forces have killed all the gunmen who stormed a landmark hotel in Kabul today, in one of the most significant attacks in Afghanistan in the past few years.

As many as six suicide bombers and gunmen attacked the Intercontinental Hotel, where Afghan officials had gathered for a conference, according to police.

The story goes on further to say that the Taliban claimed credit for the attack that took at least a dozen civilian lives.

Now, if you have ever stayed in an Intercontinental in Europe or Asia you will know that these are nice, luxury hotels where important powerful people stay. They are well staffed and security is tight. So just how did these bombers penetrate the hotel security so easily?

The story also states that these attackers were killed in a four hour fire fight.  However, these attackers were SUICIDE bombers with guns and at least 4 set off their bombs and are currently being entertained by their 72 virgins in rivers of honey. The other bombers were finally killed with support of a NATO helicopter. So they were all sent to die by the Taliban to make a statement.

Remember, this happened while U.S. security forces are still present in Afghanistan.  You can only imagine what will happen when they leave and the Afghan police become in charge.

This is without a doubt a warning to President Obama, the Secretary of Defense (War really) and the Pentagon generals, that security is not so great in tony Kabul even today. Just wait to see what happens when we leave.

If you were a resident of Kabul, what would you think about your city’s security?

If you were a diplomat or a person of influence, how would you sleep tonight in the Kabul Intercontinental Hotel?

Will someone tell me again what the mission of  U.S. forces is in Afghanistan?

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A fish tale

June 28, 2011

In the 1980 movie, Airplane!, many of  the plane’s  passengers fall ill, because of food poisoning from the suspicious  fish dinner. When the pilots also become ill, the fate of the plane falls to a man who has to put aside his mental issues and fly the plane with his own hands. In spite of the dire plot, this film was a very successful comedy.

 Well, last week, I had my own at home version of Airplane!  and it was no comedy.

Also, it was not because the fish was “bad.” The fish was very good. It was fresh and simply prepared.

No, the trouble started when, with my second tasting, A small bone eluded my usually watchful eye and became stuck in my throat. After several unsuccessful attempts to dislodge it, I became concerned. The damn thing felt like a whale bone pressing against the inside of my throat.

Discarding my dinner, I went to the sink and started rinsing and gargling in an effort to remove the tormentor; several attempts and still no success.

I started to sweat and mildly panic as thoughts of going to the emergency room danced in my head.

By this time I was really beginning to become concerned and no amount of swallowing or gagging could move the monster of the sea, from its new home in my trachea.

More coughing,  gagging,  sweating and bigger panic set in. Five minutes passed. It seemed  like five hours. When I found myself short of breath, I thought, Was this how it was going to end?  A stupid way to die.

Finally, in an act of desperation, I reached down my throat with my finger as far as it could go. There, I felt the invader. I thought, Is that it or is that some part of my throat?

I decided, I was going to grab hold of this thing and either remove it or rip out a piece of  my throat.  Getting my finger around it, I pulled and gagged until the evil obstruction was removed.

Wrung out, and with a scratched up throat, I began to feel relief.

Later, I convalesced  with a bowl  of vanilla ice cream. I suspect this treatment will have to be repeated as necessary.

Ok, so now we hear that the President has ordered the withdrawal of 30,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Unfortunately, the withdrawal will drag out over the next 15 to 18 months.

Worse yet, even after these 30,000 brave men and women come home, there will still be 70,000 of their comrades in arms remaining in country for some unspecified time. We are told that they will be there until the Afghan government can provide for its own “security.”

Since that pipe dream will not happen until hell freezes over, this political gambit will involve us for a very long time in the pit that is Afghanistan. And no, the Taliban will not be removed. Afghanistan has been a dangerous volatile place suffused with a culture of corruption for thousands of years. It only took the Soviets nine years to realize this. We will be there for at least 15 years and after we leave, Afghanistan will be the same that it was before we arrived.   I thought we were smarter than the Russians.

President Obama needs to realize that in war the enemy rarely cooperates with your political timetable.  When will our politicians stop these wars of choice and stop using our military for this futile “nation building?”

On the domestic side the Federal government has finally  released a portion (30 million barrels) of its 750 million barrel strategic oil reserve. Predictably the price of oil fell in response.

Funny,  just two months ago, the President said that the American people should suck it up, that there was little the government could do in the short-term to bring down gas prices.

At the time, this space suggested a market driven strategy using the oil reserves  to take back the market from the speculators and stem the speculative rise in crude oil prices. See Oily Mess, April 26, 2011.

If I was half as cynical as I really am, I would say both these events might be related.

I would say they have nothing to do with the increased “security achieved in Afghanistan. Nor were they done to help the recession battered gas buying American people.  Rather, I would say that these actions are purely political and part of the Administration’s reelection plan.

But I am not half a cynical as I really am.

………………………….

Post Script…. On Friday, June 24, amid mounting speculation that the oil release was politically driven, Secretary of the Treasury, Tim Geithner felt the need to announce publicly that the releasing of the oil reserves was never intended to be a politically motivated scheme by the Administration.  Oh Tim, stop it!

smokey pizza

June 24, 2011

Although, I have enjoyed the smoking and eating of smoked meats for years, I never quite acquired a taste  for any manner of smoked cheese.  It always seemed to me to have too strong a …well,  smoky flavor. My view-point however changed the other day when Donna decided to shake up our pizza making routine with an old favorite of hers.

Now we have been making pizzas  at home for more than 20 years; sometimes on the bbq grill, sometimes in the oven. Lately,  she has perfected a magical crust using some good flour, salt, yeast, water and honey.

Then instead of doing the traditional, Margarita or pepperoni product, she shook it up a little. Well a lot.

On top of the rolled out dough, was a thin layer of roasted garlic paste, followed by some smoked mozzarella cheese, sliced portabellos,  apple smoked bacon and fresh garden spinach. The result is a sublime marriage of deliciousness.

When it is baked in a very hot stone oven and enjoyed with a glass of beautiful Chanti, you are transported to the Tuscan countryside.

sounds delicious?

June 22, 2011

According to an analysis by scientists from Oxford University and Amsterdam University, we should be eating laboratory products rather than farm raised food.

In a study , the researchers  found  that growing “meat” in the lab rather than on the farm will generate less greenhouse gas emissions associated with conventional livestock production.

The researchers “believe that their work suggests artificial meat could help to feed the growing world population while reducing the impact on the environment.”  I love that phrasing,… (they) believe that their work suggests.

What a load of baloney.

They go on to provide a lot of statistics and percentages why they believe the work suggests.

Oh brother, I wish I would have had a job where I could say to my boss that I believe that my work suggests that it is wonderful and I need a raise.

The fact of the matter is these researchers have no idea what it takes to feed the world’s billions. The farmers of the world do. Farmers were the first environmentalists, and they will always be, as they depend on the land to live. 

These researchers are more interested in getting their names published in some obscure science fiction journal of greenhouse gas opinions than actually solving the world’s food production issues. Food production and consumption are steeped in human tradition and part of the fabric of social culture. Test tubes are not.

Besides, which would you rather eat?  This…

Or, this…

Nobel Peace Prize Criteria “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses,” according to Alfred Nobel’s will.

On November 27 1895, Alfred Nobel signed his last will and testament, giving the largest share of his fortune to a series of prizes, including the Nobel Peace Prize.

In November 2009, President Obama was awarded the Peace Prize amid a media controversy that charged that the award was undeserved; presented to an untested President only nine months in office.

It has now been a year and a half since Mr. Obama accepted the peace award.  Meanwhile, The U. S. still has troops on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq. U. S. pilots,  under NATO command are bombing Libya. We have covert military operations in Yemen. The Israelis and the Palestinians are as far apart as ever…and the “Arab Spring” has produced more American hate than ever before.

Today, 23 year old Marine Cpl. Justin McCloud returns to Cedar Springs, Missouri from his 3rd tour in Afghanistan to be reunited with his young wife, Amber and their nine month old son. Tragically Cpl. McCloud  returns this time without his legs and one of his arms.

There have been over 13,000 marines and soldiers killed or wounded in Afghanistan, more that half that number have become casualties since Mr. Obama took office.

The President will “soon” announce a gradual withdrawal of troops. Too late however for Cpl. McCloud as the number of war dead and maimed continue to climb daily.

Mr. Obama, I think you should give back that peace award. Do you really think you have earned it?

Maps

June 20, 2011

Did this ever happen to you?  You are riding along in your car, minding your own business and something in the car stops working. Or perhaps, the car starts making a “funny noise.”

Recently, I was on a trip, and I needed to refer to my navigation system. I turned on the GPS and nothing happened.  Well, maybe it was sunspots, so I tried again. Again nothing.

Now I thought to myself, I sort of know this road, but I sure would like that GPS lady to be here to direct me, even if she can be annoying at times. I rode a few miles further, trying to look for familiar landmarks and not finding any. I imagined myself as a latter-day Christopher Columbus feeling my way though the unknown, fearing I may fall off the edge of the world. At least, I did not have a leaky boat and a mutinous crew to deal with.

Ah, there is a gas station up ahead. I will stop and get a coffee and find out where I am. Perhaps they will have a map.

Some young people may not know what a road map is having only existed since satellite positioning was  invented and because they no longer teach geography in schools.  

Maps are pieces of paper or little books that depict places on earth so you can find your way. Big oil companies  like Exxon used to give them away for FREE.  They also, charged 29 cents a gallon, pumped the gas for you, cleaned your windshield and checked the battery, radiator and tires. I am not making this up!

The thing about these maps is once you unfolded them, to see where on earth you were, it was nearly impossible to refold them into their original position.

Anyway, when I stopped and paid $3.92 a gallon for gas and $1,29 plus tax for coffee, I was not in the mood to pay $10.95 for a map by Rand McNally. I will just stay “lost,” or at least not know exactly where I am every second. If Columbus could do it so could I. Besides, this  need to know where you are in life all the time could become an unhealthy obsession.

Well, I eventually made it to my destination, awash in an aura of self-satisfaction,  liberated from the dependency of Lady GPS.

Epilogue:

After my trip when  I returned home, I took the car to the dealer. Somewhat indignant , I advised him that the vehicle’s  navigation system refused to work.

Well, when he turned the GPS on,  the  #%!&%@ thing worked!