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100 Below - The Key

Jackson groaned to himself.

The Big Boss had come from the penthouse to the cage where Jackson and three others worked.

“I’ve come for the key to 721.”

Jackson’s skin crawled. There were looks.

He retrieved the tarnished brass key, signed the paperwork, and gave it to the Big Boss.

The Big Boss was going to hand the key to someone. That person would hand it off to someone else. Hand by hand it would go. Eventually the key would get to the right person.

When the right person had it, then all hell would break loose.

Another like you

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader isn’t as hip and with it as you might think. (A shocker! He knows…) Well, thanks to a free SXSW playlist he downloaded from iTunes (see - he’s trying to be hip) he has not been exposed to the work of Hayes Carll.

For your listening pleasure, here is your Maximum Leader’s favorite song of the moment “Another Like You”:

And if you like’d “Another Like You” here is a second Hayes Carll work, “She Left Me for Jesus”:

Your Maximum Leader will have to buy some Hayes Carll music.

Carry on.

Elizabeth Taylor - RIP

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader sees that Elizabeth Taylor has passed.

What really can one say about Elizabeth Taylor?

She was a MOVIE STAR. In many ways she was the MOVIE STAR of her generation. She was more beautiful, more talented, more shocking, more shameless, more, more, more, more than any other star.

Your Maximum Leader should thank Elizabeth Taylor for engendering a love of Shakespeare in his eldest daughter. One day, a few years ago, your Maximum Leader was watching his copy of “The Taming of the Shrew” with Taylor and Burton. As the film got started, Villainette #1, then 10 years old, sat down next to her dad and asked what he was watching. After a very short explaination of the basic elements of the story, Villainette #1 asked if she could watch the film. Sure was the response. She loved it. She “got” it too. From that day on she’s liked her Shakespeare. In many ways your Maximum Leader owes that to Elizabeth Taylor. (FYI… Villainette #1 also likes Cleopatra. A film which your Maximum Leader also likes a great deal.)

Requiescat in pace, Elizabeth.

Carry on.

Rehashing thoughts on Libya

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader knows that his readers (such as there remain) are a thoughtful and well-read bunch. So he doesn’t plan on rehashing lots of things you’ve probably read from other sources, but he does plan on touching on a few items.

To begin, your Maximum Leader has to thank loyal minion Huck Foley for pointing out an old post that does seem to be becoming more and more true with each passing day. (See: This pithily titled post.) Now that the President has decided to intervene in the Libyan civil war, and has decided to do so without Congress having a say in the action, he does seem to be really annoying his base. Indeed, he seems to be continually disappointing his base in so many ways… If one were particularly uncharitable to the President, one could almost say that he is becoming more similar to his immediate predecessor.

So, can anyone remember a military action for which our military leaders were more frank about how unprepared we are for conducting the operation? Did Defense Secty Gates say that it is going to take a few days to figure out what the plan is? Did your Maximum Leader imagine that comment? Aren’t the various service chiefs all giving sometimes conflicting answers to reporters who are asking about our mission goals? This doesn’t seem to bode very well for everything going smoothly.

Your Maximum Leader still can’t figure out what exactly the aims of the powers involved in enforcing the Libyan no-fly zone are? (Frankly he’s not entirely sure the total number of powers involved in the operation.) We don’t seem to be looking to kill or depose Colonel Ghadaffy. We don’t seem to be providing air support for the rebels. We seem to be freezing in place the situation on the ground. Is that a viable goal? It doesn’t seem to be, unless the next stage of the plan is to start providing arms and training to the rebels in the west of Libya and prepare them for taking their country by themselves (a situation that will no occur on its own).

As your Maximum Leader has said before, he’s normally all for a vigorous US foreign policy. He understands that force can often be a component of that foreign policy. But he’ll admit he is a little gun-shy now. He thought Iraq was a justified experiment in regime change that could reap great benefits. With the benefit of hind-sight, your Maximum Leader sees that we screwed the pooch on executing our goals in Iraq. In retrospect, your Maximum Leader would have wanted a lot more thought and contingency planning before invading Iraq. (Frankly, your Maximum Leader assumed that the good people in the Pentagon and State Department had done a lot more thinking and planning for the Iraqi operation. Again, in retrospect, that planning was very thin and often based on flimsy and wrongheaded assumptions.) In the Libya operation it will be hard to screw the pooch in the execution of our goals if no one knows what the goals are in the first place. Other than blowing things up there doesn’t seem to be much of a goal.

So what of President Obama in all this?

Well… Your Maximum Leader’s low opinion of the President’s competency in most matters has diminished further. He doesn’t seem to particularly engaged in what is going on. By this your Maximum Leader is definately not being critical of the President being in South and Central America while military operations have started. Any President can monitor military operations from anywhere in the world. The problem is more that the President doesn’t appear to be in charge of his administration. The military option in Libya seems to be the brainchild of Hilary Clinton. She appears to have a bigger set of balls than the President does. (NB: Didn’t we all sort of know that already.) Sadly the Secretary of Defense didn’t seem to be the last person to speak to the President before the President declared that he was for the US enforcing the no-fly zone.

This all seems to be one more case of President Obama not having what it takes to lead. He didn’t lead when he held strong majorities in both Houses of Congress for the first two years of his administration. He let Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi do the leading and driving of the agenda. He helped a little bit at the end for Healthcare. But that is it. Now he doesn’t seem to be leading in foreign policy. It is almost like he is just out there “doing the job” of President of the United States, but not really “being” the President of the United States.

Your Maximum Leader wonders if Mr. Obama is overwhelmed by the scope of his job. So overwhelmed that he can’t focus on any part of it effectively.

At any rate… President Obama does seem to be iliciting strong feelings of distain from his political opponents as well as his friends.

Carry on.

More on Libya

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader needs to see if he has this right… We (that is to say the United States and some of our allies) have militarially intervened in Libya on behalf of a disorganized collection of “rebels” in a way that neither negates the ability of the government of Libya to attack the rebels nor has a stated goal of regime change. Other than making sure that no one has control of the air in Libya (except the US and our allies that is) there is no other military plan in place. We aren’t supplying the rebels in any way. And as best your Maximum Leader can tell… Unless there are large formations of infantry and armor near air force related command and control sites we aren’t going to attack the infantry and armor.

This is gonna turn out real well.

Honestly.

Real well.

Look, your Maximum Leader has for as long as he can remember been in favor of a vigorous foreign policy for the US. There can be a military component to that foreign policy. But Libya is going to be a misadventure - at best. Your Maximum Leader can’t figure out why we are intervening, except for the fact that Col. Quadaffy is a bad bad man.

We don’t plan on intervening if a similar uprising occurs in Saudi Arabia do we? How about Jordan? Are we planning on doing anything about the ongoing protests and uprising in Bahrain? (Oh… No reason to do anything in Bahrain. The Saudi army is on the job.)

If President Obama thinks that this type of intervention in Libya is going to make Republicans think more of him he is wrong. Frankly your Maximum Leader can’t see how it will make Democrats too happy with him either.

Your Maximum Leader can’t figure out what is going on with American foreign policy right now.

Even though he can’t figure out what we’re thinking we’re doing he does know one thing. The President is going to be doing a lot of apologizing to some other nation soon enough.

Carry on.

No to the Libyan No-Fly Zone

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader sees many of his fellow travelers clamoring for the Obama Administration to get involved with a “no-fly” zone in Libya. While it isn’t often that it can be said, your Maximum Leader is grateful that the Obama Administration is not acting with any speed on any sort of policy towards the rebellion in Libya. There is no role for the US to play in that situation right now except to say that we wish the forces of “freedom and democracy” the best and hope that the people of Libya will one day get to live in a better nation than they are living in today (and for the past 41 years).

Let’s be honest about a few things here…

1 - We don’t know anything about the rebels fighting against Quadaffy. They could be worse than Khadaffi. We don’t know.

2 - The time for a “no-fly” zone was weeks ago when the rebels held lots of territory and seemed to have the initiative. As your Maximum Leader understands it, “The Colonel’s” forces have been slowly regaining all the territory they lost. It looks to be a slow and inexorable march to the Egyptian border.

3 - The US cannot afford, in monetary terms or in manpower terms, another substantial commitment of forces in another major theatre of war.

Your Maximum Leader will direct you to Andrew McCarthy’s good piece against the “no-fly” zone in NRO right now. It is good.

Carry on.

Thoughts on Japan

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader, like so many others around the world, has been thinking about Japan quite a bit since the 9.0 earthquake that occured last week. The images of the tsunami were gripping. Your Maximum Leader remembers looking repeatedly at the images of the black wave rolling across the Japanese countryside and trying to get his mind around what he was seeing. It was both exactly like and nothing like what he thought the tsunami would be like. He realized that the images were real, but in a way they seemed so… calm. It was nothing like a hollywood production would have it. In his mind he thought he’d see sparking electric lines, explosions, people running in front of the wave… He thought that it would be something like a Michael Bay movie.

But the reality was much worse. He’s glad he hasn’t seen the images with sound. He imagines the sound of the wave would be terrible.

Your Maximum Leader wishes there was something he could do directly to help the people of Japan (or just one Japanese person) beyond just sending aid money… But there really isn’t…

Of course, your Maximum Leader has been following the goings-on at the Daiichi nuclear plant. Your Maximum Leader has long been a proponent of nuclear power. In light of this crisis, he remains a proponent of nuclear power. He became enraged when he read a tweet that appeared in his timeline that read something to the effect of “Nuclear power is billed as reliable, safe and green. It is none of these.” That pushed some of your Maximum Leader’s buttons. He’s challenge just about anyone to find any technology (of any sort) that is safe and reliable during a 9.0 level earthquake and its immediate after effects. That Toyota Prius might be safe, reliable and green - until it falls into a crevasse opened by an earthquake and is then tossed into a house by a resultant tsunami. (And don’t get your Maximum Leader started on the long-term disposal problems associated with the batteries that power hybrid cars… That is another subject all together.)

Your Maximum Leader, and any sensible person, realizes that there is risk involved with nuclear power. The Japanese (and the French) have more experience than anyone in mitigating that risk. Indeed, the fact that the Daiichi plant has not exploded in Chernobyl fashion should be a testament to the risk mitigation success that has already been occuring. Radioactive steam being released into the atmosphere is a bad thing by any accounting, but a massive radioactive explosion with an exposed plant core is a much worse situation. Again, your Maximum Leader challenges anyone to find anything made by man that will stand up - unscathed - from a 9.0 earthquake.

(NB: What do you think San Francisco or Oakland or San Jose would look like after a 9.0 earthquake? Just askin…)

Your Maximum Leader thinks it is also important to note, what has hardly been noted in the news reporting, that the Daiichi plant was scheduled to be shut down later this year as it is 40 years old and at the end of its useful life. People who are clamoring to stop construction of new reactors seem to be thinking that plant design hasn’t advanced in 40 years. The new plants are going to be safer and more efficent than the old. This is not to say that they are completely without risk, they are not; but they are better than they were in the past.

Your Maximum Leader hopes for rapid containment of the problems at Daiichi. He hopes that the men (and women) who are fighting the fires in Daiichi will survive this ordeal. He remembers the stories of the firefighters at Chernobyl (a much worse disaster) who volunteered to fight the fires and stop the disaster knowing full well they would surely die as a result. (Your Maximum Leader also knows that some at Chernobyl were ordered to death to fight the fires, their story is no less poignant.)

Your Maximum Leader prays for the people of Japan.

Carry on.

Ashen

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is a bad man. He’s been very lax in his practice of religion. He started to feel a little disappointed in himself in this matter last night. He determined that since Lent is upon us, he should try to rectify that situation. So, that is what he’ll try to do over Lent.

He is also going to try and blog a little more. Your Maximum Leader believes that if he tries to blog regularly it might help him keep his sanity in good order…

Carry on.

Ave Skippy.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader apologizes (again) for the dearth of material here. He seems to be more and more caught up in life away from blogging and finds he’s not making the effort to blog he feels he both ought to make and should make for himself.

Anyhoo…

What might spur your Maximum Leader to get to the keyboard? Skippy. That is what - or who as the case may be.

Today is a special day for Skippy. It is his birthday. Your Maximum Leader is terrible in remembering birthdays. He forgets his own half the time. But last year your Maximum Leader must have written himself a reminder to make note of Skippy’s special day. If your Maximum Leader had the resources he’d throw a party (which he’d call “Sinfest”) in Skippy’s honour today. It would be fabulous. And while Charlie Sheen wouldn’t be invited, if Skippy wanted “the Goddesses” to be there they would be.

Skippy writes a great blog. Your Maximum Leader often finds himself reading something Skippy has written on politics and decided to himself that there is no point in even mentally composing a post for himself as what Skippy has written is more insightful and entertaining that he could write. Often your Maximum Leader doesn’t agree with Skippy, but on many political issues there is more agreement than disagreement. This is true of US politics mostly as your Maximum Leader gets most of his Canadian political updates from Skippy.

Your Maximum Leader had the good fortune, now going on 4 years ago, to have met Skippy in person. He was as engaging and fun in person as he is on his blog. Your Maximum Leader is saddened that he doesn’t have more cause to go to Toronto so that he could meet with Skippy from time to time.

If you haven’t recently, and if you are not prudish, you should check out Skippy’s blog.

Your Maximum Leader doffs his bejeweled mylan cap in Skippy’s general direction.

Carry on.

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