Thursday, March 12, 2009

Mexican Drug Lord on Forbes Rich List

This is one of the sickest and most immoral decisions any media outlet has made in my memory. How do you add a murderer and seller of drugs that kills thousands of Americans each year on a list that includes some of the most successful people. This wealth is not earned. It is blood money. And it shouldn't be recognized by Forbes. It is insane. For that matter, why don't you include Bernard Madoff at 50 billion? How about Putin in Russia? Shouldn't you include the wealth he has acquired by being a dictator. Where do you draw the line? Forbes is sending a message that it doesn't matter how you obtain wealth. It's all good:

Mexico's most wanted man Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, blamed for housands of deaths in a drug war, has made it onto the Forbes Magazine list of the world's richest people with an estimated $1 billion fortune. Guzman, who is just 5 feet tall (1.55 metres), escaped from prison in 2001 to set off a wave of killings across Mexico in an attempt to dominate the country's highly lucrative drug trade into the United States.

"He is not available for interviews," Luisa Kroll, senior editor of Forbes, said on Wednesday. "But his financial situation is doing quite well." Forbes placed Guzman at 701 on its list, tied with dozens of others worldwide with riches of some $1 billion. Guzman, 51, who officials believe changes his cell phone every day to avoid being tracked, is often compared to the late Colombian kingpin Pablo Escobar, whom
Forbes has said amassed a fortune of $3 billion before he was killed by police
in 1993.

The Mexican smuggler is "basically one of the biggest providers of
cocaine to the United States," Kroll said. The magazine based its tally of his
fortune on estimates from drug-trade analysts and U.S. government data.
Guzman's prison escape and ability to elude capture for eight years are an
embarrassment to the Mexican government.
He has outwitted four major government drives to find him between 2002 and 2007. His escapades are the stuff of legend in the areas he controls and in popular "narcocorrido" songs that glorify drug traffickers. Mexico's attorney general, Eduardo Medina Mora, told Reuters last week that defeating Guzman's cartel of traffickers from the Pacific state of Sinaloa was a priority in President Felipe Calderon's army-backed drug fight. Some 7,000 people have been killed in drug violence across Mexico since the start of last year as rival gangs fight each other and Mexican security forces. Guzman's enforcers from the Sinaloa cartel are among
the most vicious hitmen. Forbes said Mexican and Colombian traffickers laundered between $18 billion and $39 billion in proceeds from wholesale drugs shipments to the United States in 2008.

In the process of acquiring that wealth the Mexican kingpin has created a chaotic condition in his home country that has led to chaos at the border. Now Obama might need to send troops to protect our country.
President Obama weighed in Wednesday on the escalating drug war on the U.S.-Mexico border, saying that he was looking at possibly deploying National Guard troops to contain the violence but ruled out any immediate military move.

"We're going to examine whether and if National Guard deployments would make sense and under what circumstances they would make sense," Obama said during an interview with journalists for regional papers, including a McClatchy reporter.

"I don't have a particular tipping point in mind," he said. "I think it's unacceptable if you've got drug gangs crossing our borders and killing U.S. citizens."

Already this year there have been 1,000 people killed in Mexico along the border, following 2008's death toll of 5,800, according to federal officials who credit Mexican President Felipe Calderon for a crackdown on drug cartels.

But the spillover on the border -- for example, to El Paso from neighboring Ciudad Juarez -- has created a political reaction.

In a recent visit to El Paso, Texas Gov. Rick Perry called for 1,000 troops to protect the border.

Obama was cautious, however. "We've got a very big border with Mexico," he said. "I'm not interested in militarizing the border."

The president praised Calderon, "who I believe is really working hard and taking some extraordinary risks under extraordinary pressure to deal with the drug cartels and the corresponding violence that's erupted along the borders."

Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., chair of a key subcommittee on border security, will hold a hearing Thursday on Mexican border violence.

"Last week Mexico sent an additional 3,200 soldiers to the border," Sanchez said in a prepared opening statement for the hearing, "increasing the total number of Mexican soldiers combating drug cartels to more than 45,000."

Sanchez chairs the House Committee on Homeland Security's subcommittee on border, maritime and global counterterrorism.

"It should be noted that over 200 U.S. citizens have been killed in this drug war, either because they were involved in the cartels or were innocent bystanders," she said. "With those concerns in mind, it is essential that the Department of Homeland Security, along with other relevant departments, continue to pursue a contingency plan to address 'spillover' violence along our border."

At a hearing this week, Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, who visited Mexico last month as part of a congressional delegation tour, praised the so-called Merida Initiative -- a drug cartel fighting agreement between the U.S. and Mexico that provides Mexico with $1.4 billion to control drug trafficking.

Chris Matthews Takes on Ari Fleischer

Chris Matthews really went after former Bush press secretary, Ari Flesicher yesterday. Here is the blow by blow. Excerpt below:

MATTHEWS: What brings you back? Is this the return from Elba? Is this the 100 days of Napoleon`s return from Crawford? What is going on with this network of former Bushies -- current Bushies, I should say -- singing the old song?

FLEISCHER: Well, Chris, I`m here because you invited me to be here.

MATTHEWS: Oh, yes. OK. I appreciate that. But isn`t there a lot of you out there -- I called them the "band of Bushies" -- who are out there trying to remind us of how good he really was?

FLEISCHER: Well, there, of course, is a number of people who believe in George Bush, believe in his policies and believe he helped contribute to a stronger, better America, where we haven`t been hit since September 11. But what happens after you leave office, Chris -- and you know this very well -- is there are a lot of cable shows and a lot of people are still interested in your opinions. And I`m always pleased if I can go on and talk -- mostly, it`s talking contemporaneously about what`s happening with President Obama and just my take on events. And along the way, there are inevitable comparisons or insights you can deliver about what I saw when I was there working for President Bush. I`m proud to say what I think.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s talk about the change in parties which occurred last year in November. You`re as aware of politics as anybody around. You speak about it. You think about it. You write about it. It seems to me there were two reasons why Barack Obama was elected president. First of all, he won the primaries because he was totally against the war in Iraq. He won the general because the economy sucked.

Now, to put it bluntly, what`s wrong about that? Doesn`t the war still stand as a mistake, as an unpopular war? Doesn`t the economy that you left the country when your party left the country in our hands terrible and worthy of a change of parties? What`s really changed since November?


FLEISCHER: I don`t think a lot has changed in terms of what you just described. And I would agree with your overall political assessment. It was in part because of Iraq and in large part because of the economy that Barack Obama won.

Having said that, I also think Barack Obama should say thank you every day that he inherited a world without Saddam Hussein in it. Imagine how much worse the Middle East would be if Saddam and his sons were still in charge of that country and how much worse human rights would be in that region of the world.

So it`s not as simple as just saying that one factor contributed to an election. That`s absolutely true in the politics of it. But now that he`s governing it`s a lot more complicated, isn`t it. Take today...


MATTHEWS: ... the war in Iraq?

FLEISCHER: Hold on a second, Chris. Take today.

MATTHEWS: ... Ahmadinejad, who doesn`t have a buffer in the region...

FLEISCHER: Chris, today he issued his first signing statement...


FLEISCHER: ... where he put the exact same things that George Bush did in signing statements...


FLEISCHER: ... that you and others criticized George Bush for. My point is that governing is a lot more complicated than mere politics. And I can point that out when I have the ability to compare what happened under George Bush`s watch to Barack Obama`s watch. It`s a lot of nuance and a lot of context.

MATTHEWS: Well, we had the national debt grow from $5.7 when you guys came in to $10.9 when you left. And many Republicans who now speak very loudly on this subject say the reason is that that man we`re looking at right now, your boss for those years, President George W. Bush, never vetoed a single spending bill. He opened the door, the flood gates, to huge spending.

FLEISCHER: Well, actually, the spending on domestic...

MATTHEWS: Isn`t this true?

FLEISCHER: Chris, the spending on domestic discretionary and non- homeland security went up by 1.3 percent a year. What happened was entitlement spending, because of prescription drugs for seniors, and then defense military homeland security went way up, then you had the recession of 2001, which we inherited. That`s all that contributed to it.

Critics will point to the tax cuts. I remind people that the tax cuts led to a record-breaking 55 months of economic growth and job creation. We`ve never in this country had 55 straight months of job creation. We had that under President Bush before the bank failures of September.

MATTHEWS: Are you proud of the economic record of George W. Bush?

FLEISCHER: You know, I think he came in with a recession, he left with a recession...

MATTHEWS: No, really. Are you proud of it? Is it something to brag about?

FLEISCHER: Chris, it`s not a simple one-word answer. I`m not proud of the way...

MATTHEWS: Yes, well, the way we judge success is what you left behind. The way we judge success in life is if you have a campfire as a Boy Scout and you say -- you`re told, Leave it better than when you found it. Did you leave the economy better than you found it?

FLEISCHER: Look, I think when people look back on the Bush years...

MATTHEWS: Isn`t that a fair standard?

FLEISCHER: ... the one thing people are going to remember the most is that he kept us safe. We have not been attacked against since September 11. The second is, as I said, Barack Obama should be thankful that he`s inherited a world without Saddam Hussein in it. The third part...

MATTHEWS: Yes, but we were attacked on your watch. If you start getting into who was attacked when, we suffered the worst domestic calamity in history on your watch. If you get into this whose watch was good, you guys blew it.

FLEISCHER: Chris, I...

MATTHEWS: I don`t know if you can do it that way.

FLEISCHER: Chris, how dare you?

MATTHEWS: But how can you say...


FLEISCHER: Chris, if we get attacked again -- if we get attacked again, are you going to say we got attacked on Barack Obama`s watch? We got attacked by terrorists.

MATTHEWS: No, no. I`m using the word the way...

FLEISCHER: That`s who`s to blame for it, Chris.

MATTHEWS: ... you`re using it. You`re saying...

FLEISCHER: And I think what you just did is shameful.

MATTHEWS: No, no. I think...

FLEISCHER: I just said that we can all be proud...

MATTHEWS: It`s not shameful to say...


FLEISCHER: You were bragging about the fact that we weren`t hit after 9/11.


FLEISCHER: ... proud that we haven`t been attacked since September 11.

MATTHEWS: You`re bragging about the fact we weren`t hit...

FLEISCHER: That`s exactly right.

MATTHEWS: How can you brag about...

FLEISCHER: That`s what people are going to remember about President Bush`s administration.

FLEISCHER: Well, they don`t remember that because his popularity went down to about one of the lowest in American history. He`s down near the bottom of American presidents because people believe that he didn`t do a good job as president. Let`s go back to your standard. I`m not saying...


FLEISCHER: ... people who look at substance. You`re in the former category.

MATTHEWS: Ari -- Ari, you can`t set up a standard and then not live by it. If the standard is, We didn`t get hit...

FLEISCHER: Who is talking?


FLEISCHER: Who`s talking?

MATTHEWS: If you set up a standard...

FLEISCHER: Set up a standard and not live by it, Chris Matthews?


FLEISCHER: You know, Chris, I don`t recall you saying that James Carville, Paul Begala, those people, shouldn`t be on the air defending their boss, but here you are questioning why people like me would be out there saying things about my boss.

MATTHEWS: Well, because...

FLEISCHER: It`s not a slam-dunk, Chris. There are two sides to every issue.

MATTHEWS: OK. Good. Fair enough. Fair enough.

FLEISCHER: And I get to present that side.

MATTHEWS: OK, give me the argument that you can make again on a couple of fronts. The Iraq war -- back when we got into the war, you admitted that the evidence presented by the president wasn`t fair, that the argument that we were facing a nuclear threat, about the yellowcake from Africa and the purchase of it supposedly from -- by Saddam Hussein, you said wasn`t true. Your words were, That information turned out to be incorrect. You questioned the president`s case for the war, I didn`t.

Are you happy to defend the way Katrina was handled after you left the administration? Are you generally happy with the economic record of the Bush administration? These are broad questions. I think I`m being fair.

FLEISCHER: And my point...

MATTHEWS: And by the way, nobody was tougher...

FLEISCHER: My point to you...

MATTHEWS: Nobody on television was tougher...

FLEISCHER: ... back, Chris, is that we have not been...

MATTHEWS: ... on President -- nobody was tougher on President Clinton than I was, and you know it. So don`t accuse me...


FLEISCHER: No, I think a lot of people were tougher than you. You were tough on President Clinton, on his ethics and his morality.

MATTHEWS: Don`t say I haven`t been tough.

FLEISCHER: Chris, you were tough on...

MATTHEWS: Don`t say I haven`t been tough.

FLEISCHER: You were tough on his ethics and morality. How couldn`t you be?


FLEISCHER: But as for President Bush, yes, I am proud of the fact we have not been attacked since September 11, and a lot of people deserve credit for it...


FLEISCHER: ... President Bush included. And despite the fact that we were wrong about whether Saddam had WMD because Saddam lied about it and everybody, included Bill Clinton, believed he had WMD, I believe we are all better off and Barack Obama is better off because Saddam Hussein is no longer in this world or in this Middle East creating more trouble.

MATTHEWS: OK. Suppose...

FLEISCHER: And he should be thankful for that.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you this question as a partisan question. Suppose you knew that a Democratic president had...

FLEISCHER: What else do you ask?

MATTHEWS: ... had gotten a presidential memo, a daily presidential briefing that said, al Qaeda to attack within the United States, and three or four weeks later, they did and killed 3,000 of us. Would you hold that against the incumbent Democratic president, if you knew he was warned directly of an attack coming and then it came with nothing stopping it? Would you say that he was shameful, might be a word you`d use?

FLEISCHER: Chris, first of all, wasn`t warned directly. It was one of those vague warnings about al Qaeda wants to attack in the United States.

MATTHEWS: Inside the United States.

FLEISCHER: Well, is that a surprise to...

MATTHEWS: It was delivered to the president in person...


MATTHEWS: ... in a daily intelligence briefing. And what did he do with that intelligence?

FLEISCHER: Chris, and this is the real world. This is what`s mind- numbingly frustrating about...

MATTHEWS: See, I`m just asking you how you...


MATTHEWS: ... would use it politically.

FLEISCHER: Chris, do you ever not interrupt your guests, or is that all you`d like to do? Now, here`s the answer to your question, if you would let me answer it. One of the frustrating parts that the presidency - - and Barack Obama is going to find this -- is that intelligence reports are mind-numbingly frustrating. You get a report saying al Qaeda is determined to attack in the United States. Well, that`s not a surprise. Of course they are. It doesn`t say where. It doesn`t say when. It doesn`t say how.

So if you get a report like that, what do you do? Do you shut down shipping to the United States? Do you shut down air traffic in the United States? How long do you do these things? Do you shut down immigration to the United States? If you don`t know the hows, the whens and the wheres, you`re very limited in what practical steps you can take.

So if Barack Obama were to receive something like that, I would not do what you did. I would not be critical of the incumbent president. I would say this is part of the reality of how hard it is to govern in a world of terrorism and that I wish President Obama tremendous success in stopping terrorists who come here. I wouldn`t put the blame on his shoulders. I put the blame on the shoulders of the terrorists who tried to attack us.