Wednesday, October 31, 2007

First Strike As Policy

A majority of likely voters – 52% – would support a U.S. military strike to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon, and 53% believe it is likely that the U.S. will be involved in a military strike against Iran before the next presidential election, a new Zogby America telephone poll shows.

  Zogby

Could this be why Bush is president? And here I thought it was because of election shenanigans.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Fire Bug

You already know all about the California fires. And, hooo-eee, that little boy that was playing with matches is gonna have a an unenviable reputation, but what I want to know is who's the fire bug in the Senate building?


Scientific Ethics

Orphans keep getting the shaft in the name of science. Now we learn of a study conducted to determine the weight of nature vs. nurture on personality development. Identical twins were separated for adoption without the adopting parents being told there was a twin.

"When the families adopted these children, they were told that their child was already part of an ongoing child study. But of course, they neglected to tell them the key element of the study, which is that it was child development among twins raised in different homes," Bernstein says.

[...]

The study ended in 1980, and a year later, the state of New York began requiring adoption agencies to keep siblings together.

At that point, Bernstein says, Neubauer realized that public opinion would be so against the study that he decided not to publish it. The results of the study have been sealed until 2066 and given to an archive at Yale University.

  NPR

2066.

So that the “subjects” don’t find out they were part of the study, I suppose.

I wonder how the scientists get the consent of the agencies who give these kids up. Big dollars, I would have to assume. But where do the scientists get the big bucks? Who’s funding these studies? I've heard rumors about Yale and unsavory, secret experimentation on children in the past.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


And Speaking of Crime

A former top narcotics officer, credited with over 800 arrests in eight years, is now selling a DVD that shows marijuana users how to avoid arrest when traveling with a stash.

[...]

"I don't know how he justifies having played one side of the fence and putting people in jail, and now playing the other side and helping them avoid it," says Herschel Tebay, commander of the Tarrant County Organized Crime Narcotics Unit in Fort Worth. "I don't know how he lives with himself and looks in the mirror."

I imagine it’s looking at his bank account that makes looking in the mirror easier. The DVD is called Never Get Busted Again. From just a couple of tips revealed in the article, I don’t think you’d want to bet your life on following them all, but the background story for why he made this DVD is interesting in itself.


What Will It Take?

More of this:

The Northwest Regional Youth Center is where Missouri sends some of its most troubled — and troublesome — juvenile offenders. Street thugs from St. Louis mix with gang members from Kansas City and pint-sized, rural car thieves […]

[...]

"Our first and primary function is public safety. We have young people who've become a problem in our community and that needs to stop," [says Tim Decker who runs the Missouri Division of Youth Services.]

And believe, me, for many years there have been parts of St. Louis you don’t want to be in during the daylight, minding your own business, driving through. So you might guess that the Northwest Regional Youth Center is a locked-down kind of institution.

Prepare to be nicely surprised. Please read this.


What Will It Take?

More of this:
By all accounts, Colby Vokey is a model officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, at one point helping command an artillery unit in Kuwait during the Gulf War in 1991.

For the past four years, Vokey has served as chief of all the Corps' defense lawyers in the western United States — and he's played a key role in some of the military's most sensitive legal issues, including the murder investigation in Haditha, Iraq, and in the debate about detainees at the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay.

"Colby Vokey?" muses retired Col. Jane Siegel "Integrity almost seems like a word too small to describe him."

Says Lt. Col. Matthew Cord, "He's just one of the best."

So when Vokey announced recently that he wanted to leave the Corps, it said something troubling about the military system of justice that he's served for almost 20 years. Vokey charges that some commanders and officials in the Bush administration have abused the system of justice, and he's going to retire from the Corps May 1, 2008.

People who know him say that privately, Vokey has acknowledged he is "angry" and "bitter." Publicly, Vokey describes himself as "fed up."

[...]

When asked to identify exactly which officials in the military and the Bush administration he believes have abused the system of justice, Vokey avoids giving an answer. When pressed, Vokey went to his bookshelf, pulled out the Manual for Courts-Martial, and read from Article 88: "'Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the president, vice president, Congress'" and a list of other officials, he said, "'shall be punished as a court martial may direct.'"

"I need to be careful," Vokey said.

What does that tell you about who he might name if he didn’t “have to be careful”?

Given that he speaks out like that, Vokey said he was not completely surprised when an official at USMC headquarters called him recently to her office in Washington and fired him as chief of defense counsels in the western United States.

Officials at the Corps would not give NPR an interview despite repeated requests.

But when former Marine Corps lawyers heard about Vokey's firing, they were incensed. Siegel said Vokey's firing sent a chilling message that some officials don't want military lawyers to defend the Constitution too vigorously.

"I believe that Colby Vokey was pulled out of his position because he's doing too good a job," Siegel said. "I think that the people in Washington, D.C., don't like that."

After Siegel and other well-known lawyers wrote a blistering letter of protest about Vokey's firing and lobbied top commanders at Marine headquarters, officials backed down and reinstated him. But critics say the Corps is just doing damage control because officials know that Vokey is planning to leave on his own.

Kudos to Lt. Col. Colby Vokey.

Read the full article, or listen to the story on NPR.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Monday, October 29, 2007

Gonzo v.2

According to TPM, Chris Dodd is the first Democrat to claim he will vote against Mukasey for AG, because of Mukasey's assertion that the president can overrule Federal statute for national security reasons.

That should be a no-brainer, and there really shouldn't be any question in any Democrat's mind about voting against him. Add to that his hedging around the issue of waterboarding.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Sunday, October 28, 2007

Unbelievable

Nice going.

This summer the House Judiciary Committee [ed: chaired by John Conyers] launched an effort to collect tips from would-be whistleblowers in the Justice Department.

[...]

Although the panel said it would not accept anonymous tips, it assured those who came forward that their identity would be held in the "strictest confidence."

But in an email sent out today, the committee inadvertently sent the email addresses of all the would-be whistleblowers to everyone who had written in to the tipline. The committee email was sent to tipsters who had used the website form, including presumably whistleblowers themselves, and all of the recipients of the email were accidentally included in the "to:" field -- instead of concealing those addresses with a so-called blind carbon copy or "bcc:".

Only the email addresses were exposed; none of the names or other identifying information of the whistleblowers was revealed.

  TPM Muckraker

Still…not very confidence building, is it? (And, some people actually use their names in their email addresses.)

Compounding the mistake, the committee later sent out a second email attempting to recall the original email; it, too, included all recipients in the "to:" field, according to a recipient of the emails.

A committee spokesperson emailed the following statement in response to TPMmuckraker's questions:

”The Committee apologizes for any concern this error may have caused, and is making every effort to protect the confidentiality of those who chose to provide information on the tip line.”

[...]

[A]lso, much more troubling, a vice_president@whitehouse.gov carbon copied on the email, which is the public email address for Vice President Dick Cheney. In other words, an email containing the email addresses of all the whistleblowers who had written in to the committee tipline was sent to public email address of Vice President Cheney.

I think they just as well close down that shop. Would-be whistleblowers probably aren’t going to be coming forward now.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Treat

We're having some beautiful weather, and while I'm out enjoying it, I'll leave you something to entertain yourself with if you come by:

Les Paul and Mary Ford

How High the Moon

Hold That Tiger Rag


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Friday, October 26, 2007

'The ICE Age"

Immigration is now the number-one federally prosecuted crime - not drugs, weapons, white collar crime, or even terrorism.

  Texas Observer Blog

Priorites.


Herr Rumsfiend Charged in France

Add a French war crimes lawsuit against the Rummer to those in Germany, Argentina and Sweden. Soon he'll be forced to stay home.

October 26, 2007, Paris, France – Today, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) along with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), and the French League for Human Rights filed a complaint with the Paris Prosecutor before the “Court of First Instance” (Tribunal de Grande Instance) charging former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld with ordering and authorizing torture.

[...]

The criminal complaint states that because of the failure of authorities in the United States and Iraq to launch any independent investigation into the responsibility of Rumsfeld and other high-level U.S. officials for torture despite a documented paper trail and government memos implicating them in direct as well as command responsibility for torture – and because the U.S. has refused to join the International Criminal Court – it is the legal obligation of states such as France to take up the case.

In this case, charges are brought under the 1984 Convention against Torture, ratified by both the United States and France, which has been used in France in previous torture cases.

[...]

Rumsfeld’s presence on French territory gives French courts jurisdiction to prosecute him for having ordered and authorized torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and elsewhere.

In addition, having resigned from his position of U.S. Secretary of Defense a year ago, Rumsfeld can no longer try to claim immunity as a head of state or government official. Nor can he claim immunity as former state official, as international law does not recognize such immunity in the case of international crimes including the crime of torture.

[...]

Rumsfeld was in Paris for a talk sponsored by Foreign Policy magazine, and left through a door connecting to the U.S. embassy to avoid journalists and human rights attorneys outside.

  Center for Constitutional Rights

Chickenhawk.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


FEMA Does California

FEMA has truly learned the lessons of Katrina. Even its handling of the media has improved dramatically. For example, as the California wildfires raged Tuesday, Vice Adm. Harvey E. Johnson, the deputy administrator, had a 1 p.m. news briefing.

Reporters were given only 15 minutes' notice of the briefing, making it unlikely many could show up at FEMA's Southwest D.C. offices.

[...]

So the staff played reporters for what on TV looked just like the real thing.

  WaPo


Heckuva job, Harvey.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Still Dreaming

TPM quotes the Washington Post:

A U.S. military strike against Iran would have dire consequences in petroleum markets, say a variety of oil industry experts, many of whom think the prospect of pandemonium in those markets makes U.S. military action unlikely despite escalating economic sanctions imposed by the Bush administration.

The small amount of excess oil production capacity worldwide would provide an insufficient cushion if armed conflict disrupted supplies, oil experts say, and petroleum prices would skyrocket. Moreover, a wounded or angry Iran could easily retaliate against oil facilities from southern Iraq to the Strait of Hormuz.

I see we are still discussing the issues as if there were reasoning people at the helm in this country. There were a lot of reasonable arguments against invading Iraq, and none of them seemed to merit so much as a moment’s consideration in the minds of the architects of Armageddon.

It’s good to recognize the reasons that attacking Iran is a really bad idea, but to suggest that these reasons make the attack unlikely is to promenade the primrose path with Pollyanna.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

"Things That Sound Great in the Hot Second Before You Think About Them"

People are still watching Fox News?!?

If they are, they're learning that al Qaeda may have set the California fires! Fox claims to be citing a report from the Arizona Republic of five or six days ago.

Raw Story offers an MSNBC video of Keith Olbermann and Rachael Maddow exposing the propaganda.

Olbermann cited a report yesterday carried by Fox News which suggested that Al Qaeda may be the true culprit behind the rash of recent California wildfires. Basing their coverage on an article it said ran "five days ago" in the Arizona Republic, the Fox and Friends morning program discussed an FBI memo stating that an Al Qaeda detainee had brought up the possibility of such a plan.

Calling the the report "almost all wrong," the host took the network to task for grossly misreporting the age of the memo:

"The memo is from July 11, 2003. The Arizona Republic is a newspaper. Congratulations, Fox. But it has not been carrying the story...the guy who reported it doesn't even work there anymore."

And, speaking of the fires, Dick Cheney was busted on film (again at Raw Story) napping during an emergency cabinet meeting regarding the situation. Raw Story reports that he was also caught napping at a meeting on Iraq, and at the press briefing by President Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao. Narcoleptic or just bored?


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Gonzo v.2

Jonathan Turley explains (MSNBC video) why we don't want Michael Mukasey to be our next A.G.


2008

Don't expect things to change where it really matters.

Hillary Clinton told the Guardian that she would give up some of the extra-constitutional powers Bush has grabbed for himself, but declined to specify which ones, saying she would decide after a “review” – after she took power. There are several reasons why this is disquieting. 1) That statement indicates that she plans to keep one of those extra-constitutional powers: Bush’s claim that only the president gets to decide what powers the president exercises. 2) In the system of checks and balances we’re supposed to have, it is actually already her job as a United States senator to “review” the exercise of presidential power. 3) Just as candidates for office need to lay out their positions in order for the democratic process to have legitimacy – if all she said about Iraq was that she would have to “review” what her policy would be after the election, she could not claim a democratic mandate for that policy.

  W3IAI


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

And Speaking of Private Security Contractors in Iraq...

ABC News reports that Richard Griffin, the top diplomatic security official at Foggy Bottom, has agreed to resign after Amb. Patrick Kennedy's recommendations on overhauling State's relationship with its security contractors amounted to a tacit rebuke of his tenure.

[...]

When testifying to the House oversight committee earlier this month about contractor operations, Griffin copped an attitude. As Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) pressed him on why the State Department helped Blackwater evacuate a contractor who'd drunkenly killed an Iraqi vice president's bodyguard, Griffin all but told Waxman that he wouldn't answer questions about it.

  TPM Muckraker


Iraqi Sovereignty About to Be Tested

Again.

The private security industry is trying to make sense of the announcement today from Baghdad that the Iraqi government is revoking a CPA-era edict, known as Order 17, immunizing contractors from prosecution in Iraqi courts. Some believe that the State Department will succeed in an anticipated attempt to prevent Americans from appearing before an Iraqi judge, while warning that if a full revocation succeeds, American companies or individual contractors might simply up and leave Iraq rather than potentially face charges in an immature justice system.

  TPM Muckraker

As I've said before, I'd expect to see a fee increase before I saw a pullout of private security guards (who outnumber US soldiers in Iraq, by the way).


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Fun with Rudy

I’m apparently late to this fun.
Quote of the day, as seen in every other blog and now in this one, from Rudy Giuliani: “I took a city that was known for pornography and licked it to a large extent”.

He also assured a blind man that he has a 2nd Amendment right to bear and carry arms.

  W3IAI

Yes, and in Texas and a few other states, that blind man can go hunting.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Dealing with the Dick, Dancing with the Devil

A report out of Australia says that The Big Dick made some kind of deal to get accused terrorist and Gitmo detainee David Hicks to plead guilty so as to keep him out of the news until after Australia’s elections, as part of another deal with Australia’s prime minister John Howard.

Hicks will be released from an Australian prison on Dec. 29 as part of a plea agreement reached in March. The first detainee convicted by a Guantanamo military tribunal, Hicks was given a seven year jail sentence but a judge suspended all but nine months of that. Hicks was held at Guantanamo for five years before going to trial.

An unnamed military official told Harpers, "One of our staffers was present when Vice President Cheney interfered directly to get Hicks' plea bargain. He did it, apparently as part of a deal cut with Howard."

"I kept thinking: this is the sort of thing that used to go on behind the Iron Curtain, not in America," the official continued. "And then it struck me how much this entire process had disintegrated into a political charade."

  Raw Story


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Religious Rights

Get rid of opposing intellectuals.
Okay, I know I've been talking a lot about David Horowitz and Islamofascism Awareness Week (IAW) today. But there are so many serious and weighty questions in life, so much tragedy and heartbreak that you really have to grab on to the comedy with both hands when it comes along. And watching IAW really is like watching a real live version of Spinal Tap or Waiting for Guffman unfold before you.

  TPM

Okay, and sometimes I get a little too serious about life, but I’m going to rank this IAW crap with the serious and weighty, because, as TPM points out later in a quote from a reader reporting on the events of IAW in his area…

You'll be happy to know the local public radio affiliate here in Providence, WRNI, has gotten into the festivities. They ran a story on the morning drive local news segment this morning about Islamofascism Awareness Week and the effort to challenge "leftist professors" attacking Bush. The University of Rhode Island is apparently involved, but there was no indication of what they are actually doing to advance the cause of getting David Horowitz' name out there....er...I mean to advance the cause of IAW. They did quote a college Republican who said the week would allow them to target "tenured leftist professors teaching anti-American curriculum". How they are doing that--beyond finding gullible media people desperate to bow before the altar of "objectivity" and "balance" by reading Horowitz' press releases on air--remains uncertain.

  TPM

This isn’t the first we’ve seen since the invasion of Iraq of organized attacks on liberal professors. And, frankly, I find that to be a very disturbing thing.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

We Do Not Torture

More than 100,000 pages of newly released government documents demonstrate how US military interrogators "abused, tortured or killed" scores of prisoners rounded up since Sept. 11, 2001, including some who were not even expected of having terrorist ties, according to a just-published book.

[...]

President Bush gave "marching orders" to Gen. Michael Dunlavey, who asked the Pentagon to approve harsher interrogation methods at Guantanamo, the general claims in documents reported in the book.

The ACLU also found that an Army investigator reported Rumsfeld was "personally involved" in overseeing the interrogation of a Guantanamo prisoner Mohammed al Qahtani. The prisoner was forced to parade naked in front of female interrogators wearing women's underwear on his head and was led around on a leash while being forced to perform dog tricks.

  Raw Story

Herr Rumsfiend’s favorite memory from the war.

That wasn't torture; some people would pay big bucks for the opportunity, eh Bill-O?


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Twit Romney on the Slime Trail

In a slip of the tongue, Republican Mitt Romney accused Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama of urging terrorists to congregate in Iraq.

In the midst of criticizing Obama and other Democrats on foreign and economic policy Tuesday, the GOP presidential hopeful said:

‘"Actually, just look at what Osam — Barack Obama — said just yesterday. Barack Obama, calling on radicals, jihadists of all different types, to come together in Iraq. That is the battlefield. ... It's almost as if the Democratic contenders for president are living in fantasyland. Their idea for jihad is to retreat, and their idea for the economy is to also retreat. And in my view, both efforts are wrongheaded."

  Fox

”Slip of the tongue” my ass. He did it on purpose, and quite obviously (whether he intended to be obvious or not). He started out to correctly say Osama.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Culling the Herd

About 30 million low-income American households who will need help paying heating bills this winter from a U.S. government program will be left in the cold because of a lack of funding for the program.

The poor, already digging deep to pay for expensive gasoline, also will face much higher heating fuel costs, especially if oil prices stay near record levels.

[...]

The government's Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, known as LIHEAP, only has enough funding to cover 16 percent of the 38 million poor households eligible for the program.

  Reuters

Federal research shows that while both rich and poor families increase their expenditures on home fuel during the winter, poor families offset this cost through decreasing food purchases, with an average 10 percent decrease in caloric intake. Parents know that children can freeze to death more quickly than they starve to death, and so most decrease food purchases first to pay for heat. Many inevitably sacrifice on both fronts, living with food scarcity while heating their homes with cooking stoves and space heaters, both of which dramatically increase the risk of fires, burns, and carbon monoxide poisoning.

  Peak Oil

President Bush plans to ask Congress next month for up to $50 billion in additional funding for the war in Iraq, a White House official said yesterday, a move that appears to reflect increasing administration confidence that it can fend off congressional calls for a rapid drawdown of U.S. forces.

  WaPo

And since we can privatize military operations, hiring mercenaries from the poor of third world countries, there isn't as much call any more to keep breeding our own.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Traitors

If you've been vocal about opposing the war in Iraq, or if you've been reading or hearing any of the war-hawk rhetoric, you are no stranger to the accusations that opponents are at best unpatriotic, and at worst, traitors.

I'll tell you who the traitors are, and I don't know why they aren't brought to trial. They're companies like Dyncorp, which we are hearing has sucked up $1.2 billion military (tax) dollars that are unaccounted for. And companies like KBR/Halliburton who've bilked the military for further billions. Did you know that Blackwater is getting about $900 per day per man in Iraq? (Did you know they have 180,000 men engaged - more than the 170,000 US soldiers deployed?) And while we're at it, Dyncorp and Halliburton are directly linked to the Bush family and Dick Cheney.

How is it not an act of treason to be cheating and bilking the US military as it fights a war?


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway. And you can get away with it if you're connected.


Monday, October 22, 2007

The Magician's Bag of Tricks

Paul Krugman is amazed that conservative pundits like Tucker Carlson "know for a fact" that rich people vote Democratic when the opposite is true.

It's not that they know something that's not true. They know the truth. It's a favored GOP tactic - loudly proclaim that your opponent is doing what you're doing if it could be perceived as a negative thing by the public.

I was just noticing this tactic again yesterday when I was reading something else, and one day maybe I'll search back through my earlier posts to find all the instances that I have chronicled. Because it is just incredibly amazing to me that they do this without hesitation and without shame, and apparently they get away with it.


Sunday, October 21, 2007

2008

Stephen Colbert for President? Not My Job (audio).

And he's still claiming innocence about that WH Correspondents' Dinner speech.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Values Voters Straw Poll Results

Josh Marshall provided these results for the Values Voters Summit straw poll:

1. Mitt Romney ... 27.62 %
2. Mike Huckabee ... 27.10 %
3. Ron Paul ... 14.98%
4. Fred Thompson ... 9.77 %
5. Sam Brownback ... 5.14 %
6. Duncan Hunter ... 2.42 %
7. Tom Tancredo ... 2.30 %
8. Rudy Giuliani ... 1.85 %
9. John McCain ... 1.40 %

Looks like Twit's deck-stacking worked!

Otherwise, it would have been Huckabee all the way. And a big slice for Ron Paul, who apparently has been having some of the highest polling figures at every showing. Wouldn't know it from the major media coverage.

Of course, as Steve Benen says, he did tell them what they wanted to hear.


Who Are You Going to Believe?

Me or your lying eyes?
"Not actually linked to regional events."

That's the quote Bush's top science adviser made yesterday, saying there's no conclusive evidence that limiting the earth's temperature increase of two degrees Celsius would actually do anything.

His remarks run counter to that of most scientists and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change -- which won the Nobel Peace Prize last week.

Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy John H. Marburger III said Thursday the target of limiting planetary heating to two degrees Celsius or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit "is going to be a very difficult one to achieve and is not actually linked to regional events that affect people's lives."

  Raw Story

Two words: butterfly effect. Wise men throughout the ages have understood that everything is connected. But, the weather?? A “planetary” event doesn’t affect people’s lives?

While admitting that humans are producing too much carbon dioxide, he added, "you could have emerging disasters long before you get to two degrees... "

And with him and his administrative leaders at the helm, emerging disasters are well underway, so I have to agree with him on that one. Hey, why worry about global warming? We’re going to be nuked out of existence long before that does us in.

Under other circumstances – say if you were an Olympic God – this administration would be laughable.


More Dick Trails?

Allegations that a Syrian envoy admitted during a United Nations meeting Oct. 17 that an Israeli air strike hit a nuclear facility in September are inaccurate and have raised the ire of some in the US intelligence community, who see the Vice President’s hand as allegedly being behind the disinformation.

[...]

Recent news articles [...] continue to make allegations and suggest that a nuclear weapons facility was hit -- something that the Syrian government has denied, the Israeli government has not officially confirmed and US intelligence does not show.

[...]

What concerns intelligence officials is what appears to be manipulation of the press and strategic leaks to the public of false information, undercutting professional intelligence analysis, similar to what occurred before the Iraq war in an apparent effort to bolster support for engaging Iran.

  Raw Story

And just to be clear how important the disinformation is (as though you don’t already know from the experience with pre-Iraq invasion disinformation)…

An article today quotes former Administration hawk and onetime Bush United Nations Ambassador John Bolton, who links Syria's alleged action with Iran.

Even with all the nationalist screeching and administration railroading, up until the moment the official pronouncement of the Iraq invasion occurred, I had remained optimistic that reality and somebody with good sense would avert such an action. I have no such delusions this time. We will be attacking Iran.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


The Beginning?

The Democratic chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee is prepared to play hardball with President Bush over funding the war in Iraq.

Rep. David Obey (D-WI), who has pledged to sideline the latest Pentagon funding request until next year in addition to proposing a tax hike to finance the war, says he's not letting anything -- even Democratic leaders like Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- get in his way.

  Raw Story

Is there a rebellion against Nancy Pelosi underway? (See previous post.) Are we beginning to see some Congress people wake up and do their jobs? Is it too late?


SCHIP

During a debate on children's health care Thursday, Rep. Pete Stark accused Republicans of sending troops to Iraq to "get their heads blown off for the president's amusement."

[...]

"You don't have money to fund the war or children," Stark accused Republicans. "But you're going to spend it to blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the president's amusement."

[...]

Condemnations rolled in from Republican politicians, right-leaning bloggers had a field day, and a White House spokesman declined to "dignify those remarks" with a response.

  SF Gate

Conducting such a dignified war as it is. And, by the way, wasn’t that, in fact, a response?

Stark's comment came as the House failed Thursday to override President Bush's veto of legislation to expand the popular State Children's Health Insurance Program.

And Nancy Pelosi said his comments on the war were inappropriate and distracting. Heaven forbid the war should distract us from anything.

After numerous Republicans called on him to apologize, Stark said it was they who should be apologizing, for failing to provide the votes to override Bush's veto.

Go Big Pete.

This is something that the whole country seems to be able to get passionate about. It's the only issue I have yet seen anyone here on Galveston Island making a public statement about by gathering together and holding signs on street corners.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Values Voter Summit

That’s right, you’re not a “values” voter. Only they have values.

“I am pro-family on every level, from personal to political,” [Mitt Romney] told the summiteers. (Take that, Rudy.) He reeled off anti-abortion pledges — not just the requisite anti-Roe Supreme Court nominees, but promises to “oppose abortion in military clinics, oppose funding abortion in international aid programs and I will work to ban embryonic cloning.” He was almost as impassioned as he was during his Senate race against Ted Kennedy when he talked about the “dear, close family relative who was very close to me” who died from an illegal abortion and his firm conviction that “we will not force our beliefs on others on that matter. And you will not see me wavering on that.”

  NYT

I’m not getting it. He’s against abortion, and somehow he uses the fact that a close relative (family relative – in case you were wondering exactly what type of relative) died from an illegal abortion to support that position? I thought that was an argument for legalizing abortion. Is it just that he’s against abortion in those two situations: military clinics and international aid programs?

The activists and evangelical voters appeared to tolerate Fred Thompson's speech this morning, offering polite applause for his pledges to oppose abortion and gay marriage. And then Thompson offered this promise: that in the first hour as president, he would "go into the Oval Office, close the door and pray for the wisdom to do the right thing."

The crowd leapt to their feet, applauding and yelling their approval to a smiling Thompson, who -- it seems -- had finally pushed the right button.

  WaPo

Scary.

"I would go into the Oval Office, and close the door, and pray for the wisdom to know what was right."

  Raw Story

Thus, fulfilling Jesus’ command to not be like the hypocrites who pray publicly - but rather to go into a closed room to pray, and yet letting you know what he’s going to be doing in there. Hypocrite Lite.

John McCain was there, with no hope of pleasing this group of folks with his support of stem cell research and after having in the past called the late Rev. Jerry Falwell and their beloved Pat Robertson, “agents of intolerance.” But I myself have faith, and I’m sure John will say something Christiany to pimp himself to the Religious Right on his way to losing the party nomination.

Senator John McCain choked up when talking about a North Vietnamese prison guard who loosened his bonds and later drew a cross on the ground in front of him on Christmas Day.

[...]

“And then, shortly after, with his sandal, he rubbed out the cross and walked away,” he said, choking up with emotion at this point. “He’s the one person I have always wanted to have the opportunity to be with again.”

  The Caucus

Bingo.

And apparently Rudy “9/11” Giuliani was proud to be there along with the rest, even though he’s been married about three times and supports gay rights and abortion. This is a man who was afraid to participate in the Black Voters debate. There’s a major point in there somewhere.

And finally, a couple of notes of dischord in presentation by the summit planners:

Arizona Sen. John McCain came on to “The Marine’s Hymn.” McCain was in the Navy, not the Marines. Different song.

Next was Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback. Selected for him was Wilbert Harrison’s “Kansas City,” which - after his speech about family values - allowed Brownback to leave the stage to this lyric: “They got some crazy little women there and I’m going to get me one.”

  Statesman

D’oh!

The “Values Voters” are supposed to announce the winner of their straw poll today. And Twit Romney, with a snowball’s chance in Hell – even behind Giuliani – for getting the support of the Evangelicals, is trying to stack the deck.

"Everyone has a flaw. I guess it's going to be what's considered the least liability," said Victoria Cobb, who runs the Family Foundation in Virginia.

  WaPo

Isn’t it always. Isn’t it always.


No Telecom Amnesty Redux

Hmmmm. Maybe the mystery of Jay Rockefeller’s capitulation in the telecom immunity issue has been solved….

Interestingly, approval of the measure coincides with a massive increase in donations from the country's top telecom companies to Intelligence Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), as noted by Wired's Ryan Singel.

More details about the bill and where it stands, or sits as the case may be, are in this Raw Story article.


Friday, October 19, 2007

No Telecom Amnesty

Chris Dodd, Democratic Presidential candidate has put a hold on the FISA bill that would provide amnesty for telecom companies who gave up private info to the government.

The Military Commissions Act. Warrantless wiretapping. Shredding of Habeas Corpus. Torture. Extraordinary Rendition. Secret Prisons.

No more.

I have decided to place a "hold" on the latest FISA bill that would have included amnesty for telecommunications companies that enabled the President's assault on the Constitution by illegally providing personal information on their customers without judicial authorization.

I said that I would do everything I could to stop this bill from passing, and I have.

It's about delivering results -- and as I've said before, the FIRST thing I will do after being sworn into office is restore the Constitution. But we shouldn't have to wait until then to prevent the further erosion of our country's most treasured document. That's why I am stopping this bill today.

  

Click this link to see what a “hold” means. Click this link to offer words of support for Senator Dodd.

But....did Ron Wyden already insert a "poison pill" into the bill, effectively stopping it anyway? And if so, does that make Chris Dodd's hold a mere presidential campaign ploy?


Update 10/20/07: Russ Feingold co-wrote that amendment.


Gonzo v.2

Our replacement Attorney General - Michael Mukasey:

According to Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, "Mukasey defended many of President Bush's most controversial post-9/11 policies. He said the President has the right to indefinitely detain American citizens without charge. He refused to recommend the closing of the military prison at Guantanamo. And Mukasey said he does not believe prisoners at Guantanamo should be allowed the right of habeas corpus."

During his second day of confirmation hearings, Judge Michael Mukasey contended "the White House had constitutional authority to act beyond the limits of laws enacted by Congress, especially when it came to national defense," reported the New York Times.

He suggested that both the administration’s program of eavesdropping without warrants and its use of “enhanced” interrogation techniques for terrorism suspects, including waterboarding, might be acceptable under the Constitution even if they went beyond what the law technically allowed. Mr. Mukasey said the president’s authority as commander in chief might allow him to supersede laws written by Congress.

  ACS Blog

Most alarmingly, Judge Mukasey refused to say that the humane treatment provisions of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions apply to every prisoner in U.S. custody – including in the custody of the C.I.A.

[...]

In addition, despite repeated questioning, Judge Mukasey declined to acknowledge that waterboarding is a form of torture prohibited by law. Although he was asked by Senators Durbin, Leahy, and Whitehouse to elaborate on his views on waterboarding, Judge Mukasey only said, "If waterboarding is torture, then waterboarding is not constitutional."

  Human Rights First


You were expecting something else?


Nuclear Fallout

Different reports give numbers from three to six officers as being relieved of their command, and some 65 airmen decertified from handling nuclear weapons following that accidental B-52 flight from North Dakota to Louisiana armed with nuclear warheads.


Perspective

It was a hellish day at work, and best forgotten. But recently, I talked with one of the ladies there who hadn't heard from her son in Iraq for a while and was getting worried (she's since heard - he's coming back from his second tour next month). I told her the truth: I simply don't know how in the world a parent of a soldier in the Middle East (or in any war, really) continues to function each day. I guess I'll be finding out. My own son has just informed me that he is going to be taking his physical exam on Monday and will be leaving for training the day before Thanksgiving if he passes it. Kind of puts into perspective the notice I just got from the IRS informing me they've reconsidered, and I owe them $2,400 more.


Oil, That Is

Oil prices held near $90 a barrel Friday, a barrier crossed for the first time in after-hours trading in New York on speculative buying.

Investors are being drawn to energy futures as a hedge against the weakening U.S. dollar. That, plus worries over tensions between Turkey and Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq, has lifted crude oil prices to new records for five straight days

  CBC

It’s unlikely all our warhawk redneck friends who thought they’d be getting cheap gasoline out of the Iraq invasion are blaming themselves for supporting that diabolical disaster, but perhaps they’ve learned a lesson.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Coming Or Going?

September 14:

Last night, President Bush announced that because the “troop surge is working,” he would be pulling out roughly 23,700 troops by mid-July 2008 and returning the U.S. force in Iraq to pre-surge levels.

  Think Progress

September 18:

The Pentagon is preparing to alert eight National Guard units that they should be ready to go to Iraq or Afghanistan beginning late next summer, The Associated Press learned Wednesday

[...]

All together, the Guard announcement would involve about 20,000 soldiers.

  AP News

It’s hard for me to keep track, but something tells me that, indeed, the “surge” is not working.


2008

More fun with fools.
Mitt Romney [called] upon the United States to withdraw from a United Nations council that the United States isn't a part of to begin with.

[…]

"We should withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council."

There's one problem: The United States already boycotts the Human Rights Council, and has not sought a seat on it. This caused an aide to clarify the remarks by saying what Romney really meant is that the U.S. should stop any possible financial support for the council.

  TPM

Yeah. Sure. "We should withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council,” seems pretty clear to me.

Romney also said he would support an alternative to the United Nations, an all-new "coalition of the free nations of the world and bring those nations together so that we can act together."

"We should develop some of our own — if you will — forums and alliances or groups that have the ability to actually watch out for the world and do what's right […]”

That’s really quite funny in at least a couple of ways: in comparison to the Coalition of the Willing we put together for the Iraq invasion, and to a schoolyard crybaby who goes off to start his own club when the collective doesn’t want to accept his dominion. Twit should take his act on tour. His boys already know how to drive a bus.

In fact, I believe it was largely due to the Abu Ghraib horror that the U.S. in effect took its toys and went home. Speculation was that it was a pretty sure bet the U.S. would not win a seat on the Council, and so refused to take part.

The United Nations General Assembly established the Human Rights Council on 15 March 2006. by a vote which was opposed only by United States, Marshall Islands and Palau (bound to the United States through Compacts of Free Association), and Israel. The United States explained its vote was due to there being not enough safeguards to keep human rights abusing nations off the council.

  Wikipedia

Very funny.

So anyway, I guess Twit's group of countries who would "watch out for the world" would be the U.S., the Marshall Islands and Palau.

Too funny for words.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Welcome Home to Pakistan, Benazir

Two bombs exploded Thursday night near a truck carrying former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto on her triumphant return to Pakistan after eight years in exile, killing at least 108 people and wounding 150, an official said. Party workers and police said Bhutto was unhurt.

[...]

Asked about such threats on Wednesday in Dubai, Bhutto said Islam forbids suicide bombings and attacks on her. "Muslims know if they attack a woman they will burn in hell," she said.

  Yahoo

Welcome to the 21st century Benazir.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Beans to You

With a poll finding that "59 percent of voters reject amnesty for phone companies that may have violated the law by selling customers' private information to the government," Jonathan Turley writes that "If the Democrats allow this immunity bill to go through, it will be the final proof that civil liberties ranks somewhere below soybean subsidies in their priorities."

  Cursor October 17 (with embedded links)

Despite an intense lobbying effort from such privacy groups, the Senate sealed an expected deal this week with President Bush to grant major telecommunications companies -- including Verizon, Comcast and AT&T -- immunity from prosecution for their role in the President's warrantless eavesdropping program if they can "demonstrate to a court that they acted pursuant to a legal directive in helping the government with surveillance in the United States."

  Raw Story

Keith Olbermann comments: Answer your phone with %$# Bush.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


What's Going On In Maine?

And where is the Religious Right?

Pupils at a city middle school will be able to get birth control pills and patches at their student health center after the local school board approved the proposal Wednesday evening.

The plan, offered by city health officials, makes King Middle School the first middle school in Maine to make a full range of contraception available to students in grades 6 through 8, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

  WaPo

And you can add your own comments.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Are You Safer With All That Airport Security?

Oh, much.

Security screeners at two of the nation's busiest airports failed to find fake bombs hidden on undercover agents posing as passengers in more than 60% of tests last year, according to a classified report obtained by USA TODAY.

  USA Today


2008

Republican Sam Brownback will drop out of the 2008 presidential campaign on Friday, people close to the Kansas senator said Thursday.

Trouble raising money was a main reason for his decision, said one person close to Brownback, who requested anonymity because the candidate had not yet announced his plans.

  Politico

That’s a pretty important reaon, to be sure. Maybe he should go for a name change, if he wants to run again in the future. Whitefront. Or maybe Redneck.

Fox asked [Ron] Paul about a study showing he is the candidate with the most support from members of the US military, even though he is calling for immediate withdrawal from Iraq. "We take the traditional position that you should only go to war under a declaration and win and get out," Paul explained. "It's protecting the troops ... and the fact that we get the money from the military more than all the other Republicans put together is a pretty darn good endorsement."

  Raw Story

Maybe Fox has the wrong approach to the question. Maybe Paul is the candidate with the most support from members of the US military, because he is calling for immediate withdrawal.

The defense industry this year abandoned its decade-long commitment to the Republican Party, funneling the lion share of its contributions to Democratic presidential candidates, especially to Hillary Clinton who far out-paced all her competitors.

  Huffington Post

That should alert you to two things: Hillary is considered by the defense industry to be the likely next president, and they are expecting she will act favorably toward them. And at least the latter expectation is a safe bet.

At a breakfast with political reporters, [Mark Penn, the pollster and senior strategist of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign] said his internal polling shows Clinton would win over some 24 percent of Republican women in the 2008 general election because of the “emotional” appeal of electing the country’s first woman president.

  Atlanta Journal

Sure, because women can only vote on an emotional basis. That comes from Hillary’s own campaign strategist. He doesn’t think she’s got a good enough platform to win over Republican women, but the emotion thing scores points.

Mitt Romney wants you to look at him and think: strong leader, successful businessman, good father, faithful husband.

He does not want you to look at him and think: Mormon.

  Politico

Why?

Gallup polls found 37 percent of churchgoing Protestants saying they would not vote for a qualified Mormon candidate for president. Churchgoing Protestants did not show similar opposition to voting for either a Catholic or a Jewish presidential candidate.

[...]

Also, a recent Newsweek poll found that 28 percent of Americans would not vote for a Mormon for president.

I have a very sinking feeling that if Romney were Protestant, they wouldn’t object to voting for him.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

About Turkey

You probably know that there is some stink about a resolution to condemn the WWI era genocide of Armenians because of our need not to offend Turkey. What's every bit as interesting a dilemma for us, however, isn't likely to cause much if any internal conflict: Turkey may be preparing to attack the Kurds in Northern Iraq, and we don't want them to.

We could attack Iraq without any provocation from that country, but Turkey, currently enduring Kurdish raids into its territory, is being warned against taking any serious retaliatory action.

President Bush said the U.S. was making clear to Turkey that it should not stage a major army operation in the Iraqi north, much of which has escaped the sustained violence and political discord common in the rest of Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

  Yahoo

Some nerve. Turkey should refrain from causing any unrest in a country we've mucked up beyond repair because, frankly, we aren't equipped to handle any more. The fact that Turkey actually has some reason to cross the border is beside the point. How handy for the Kurds that we have Iraq FUBAR and intend to keep Turkey on a leash.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Tuna, Texas

This may be as political as I get today.

Vera Carp, Vice-President of the Tuna, Texas, Smut Snatchers.

Enjoy.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

What We Need Is a New Language

There’s a website where you can submit new words to the English language (but don’t expect to have them in the next Webster’s). It’s called Addictionary.org. A few of my personal favorites from a quick perusal:

bozone: The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating.

beelzebug: Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.

cashtrate: To buy a house, rendering the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.

hairdon’t: A dated or unattractive hairstyle.

reintarnation: reincarnated as a hillbilly

There’s a section by themes on politics wherein we have been named “critizens” (A legally recognized subject or national of a state or commonwealth who thinks and responds critically, sometimes vehemently, to the statements or actions of elected representatives and government officials. See also "blogger."), the war profiteers are “paytriots,” members of the lower house of congress are “reprehensatives,” and what the neocons had for the invasion of Iraq was a “stragedy” (A strategy that results in tragic consequences upon implementation.).

I have a feeling Bob has a few entries he could make….


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


The True State of the Union

Frank Rich sums up the state of the Union and our position in Iraq, particularly as it relies upon mercernary support.

Last week Paul Rieckhoff, an Iraq war combat veteran who directs Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, sketched for me the apocalypse to come. Should Baghdad implode, our contractors, not having to answer to the military chain of command, can simply “drop their guns and go home.” Vulnerable American troops could be deserted by those “who deliver their bullets and beans.”

This is a very good and frightening point. But well before they drop their guns and go home, they will have upped the cost of hiring them to bleed all the profit out of the situation first.

Our moral trajectory over the Bush years could not be better dramatized than it was by a reunion of an elite group of two dozen World War II veterans in Washington this month. They were participants in a top-secret operation to interrogate some 4,000 Nazi prisoners of war. Until now, they have kept silent, but America’s recent record prompted them to talk to The Washington Post.

“We got more information out of a German general with a game of chess or Ping-Pong than they do today, with their torture,” said Henry Kolm, 90, an M.I.T. physicist whose interrogation of Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s deputy, took place over a chessboard. George Frenkel, 87, recalled that he “never laid hands on anyone” in his many interrogations, adding, “I’m proud to say I never compromised my humanity.”

Our humanity has been compromised by those who use Gestapo tactics in our war. The longer we stand idly by while they do so, the more we resemble those “good Germans” who professed ignorance of their own Gestapo. It’s up to us to wake up our somnambulant Congress to challenge administration policy every day. Let the war’s last supporters filibuster all night if they want to. There is nothing left to lose except whatever remains of our country’s good name.

And actually, that’s pretty much the same as nothing left to lose, which may be as good an excuse as any to keep on ignoring what we have become as a nation. Rich presents good sentiments in his article, but I don’t think Congress is somnambulant. I think Congress is fully awake and complicit.

And as for us, the citizens, we were foreseen by one of the founders of our country:

Is this the kind of protection we receive in return for the rights we give up? … Our rulers will become corrupt, our people careless. … [We] shall be going down hill. It will not then be necessary to resort every moment to the people for support. They will be forgotten, therefore, and their rights disregarded. They will forget themselves but in the sole faculty of making money and will never think of uniting to effect a due respect for their rights. The shackles, therefore, ... will remain on us long, will be made heavier and heavier, till our rights shall revive or expire in a convulsion. -- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia – 1784

Another wise philosopher once noted:

When you discover you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount. -- Dakota proverb

And as long as I’m quoting wisdom:

He who joyfully marches in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would suffice. -- Albert Einstein



....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Saturday, October 13, 2007

This Is Your President On Drugs

My favorite blog offers this quote from the Simpleton-in-Chief.

“I believe that a world that welcomes US products and goods and services is beneficial for American farmers and manufacturers. In other words, if there’s more customers for what we produce here in America, the better off the producers will be. It’s also good for consumers that we have open markets. In other words, the more options the consumer has, the less inflationary our society can be. And I think it’s good when consumers are able to have a variety of choices. And so I – it’s going to be very important for me to continue to explain the positive side of trade. In other words, people are getting work.”


Friday, October 12, 2007

Blackwater

It seems that it's not only the Iraqi witnesses who say the Blackwater guards were not provoked into firing upon civilians. U.S. soldiers investigate and can turn up no evidence that Iraqis were doing anything but trying to get out of the way. The report calls it a "criminal event."

Of course, it could be that there is no love lost between the Blackwater guards and soldiers, considering stories like this one claiming that guards had some soldiers on the ground at gunpoint.


If the Terr'ists Don't Scare You, Maybe Aliens Will

Somehow I missed this from December of 2005 - an interview by Tucker Carlson with ex-Canadian Defense Minister Paul Hellyer.


Ron Paul

I must say that Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul is sounding to me like the most sensible person in the whole lot of candidates from both parties. Not that he'll ever get on the ballot. In fact, that very characteristic would probably preclude him from getting on. You can listen to this evening's News Hour interview with Paul here (mp3), or hunt for it on the News Hour web page - I don't know how long they'll have it there. Couldn't locate a transcript.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Thanks...But No Thanks

Al Giordano at Narco News turns down a Project Censored award.


The Nobel Prize

Doris Lessing is unimpressed with her new Nobel Prize. When reporters came to her home and told her she’d won, she said she “couldn’t care less,” and that the prize "doesn't mean anything artistically."

Asked repeatedly if she was excited about the award, she held court from her doorstep and noted she had been in the running for the Nobel for decades.

"I can't say I'm overwhelmed with surprise," Lessing said. "I'm 88 years old and they can't give the Nobel to someone who's dead, so I think they were probably thinking they'd probably better give it to me now before I've popped off."

[...]

"I've won all the prizes in Europe, every bloody one, so I'm delighted to win them all, the whole lot, OK?" Lessing said, making her way through the crowd. "It's a royal flush."

[...]

Although she is widely celebrated for "The Golden Notebook" and other works, she has received little attention in recent years and has been criticized as strident and eccentric.

  Yahoo

But feted. And $1.5 million richer."

"I'm already thinking about all the people who are going to send me begging letters — I can see them lining up now," she said.

Well, I’m sure she’s right about that.

Lessing brightened when a reporter asked whether the Nobel would generate interest in her work.

"I'm very pleased if I get some new readers," she said. "Yes, that's very nice, I hadn't thought of that.”

Not one to look on the bright side, and all.

Her next book will be about her parents and the effects of war."

The second part of what she said would be a "passionately anti-war" book would chronicle the full effect of the conflict on her parents' lives.

"I don't know how it will do. I just sent it to my agent, who said the last 200 pages are unbearably painful," she said. "Good! Let it be unbearably painful so people know what wars can really be like."

Indeed.

And if your local PBS station has been running Ken Burns’ “The War” and you haven’t been watching, do. And read this Newsweek article about it as well. I think you’ll find it interesting.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Not Even a Practical Question

If the war in Iraq is so noble, why aren't you and your sister serving our country there?

Jenna Bush: I understand that point, but there are many ways to serve our country, and I think my skills are better suited for teaching and representing the U.S. in Latin America through unicef. I respect the men and women of our country who are over there fighting. It is an unbelievably selfless thing to do. But if people really thought about it, they would know it's not even a practical question.

  Huffington Post

I’ve really thought about it. Somebody please tell me why it’s not even a practical question. Is it because it would be such a huge loss to UNICEF? Latin America? The teaching profession?

Or is it not the question that's impractical, but the asking of it? After all, she's not going to be giving a satisfactory answer.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


P.S. A commenter on that post gave Jenna-dissers a lashing, claiming they were too stupid to see that having her in Iraq would bring danger to anyone around her. That was the excuse the royal family used, too. I don't want to hear it. It's a damned poor excuse. Roosevelt didn't use it.


House Bill to Make War Profiteering Illegal

The House overwhelmingly passed a measure Tuesday that would prohibit “war profiteering” by contractors.

  CQ.com

Oh, really? What’s the catch

[C]ontractors can only be convicted if they are proven to have had an intent to defraud.

Well, that’s a fairly worthless piece of legislation, then, isn’t it?

Three bold reps actually voted against it.

Thomas M. Davis III of Virginia, the ranking Republican on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, whose district includes many defense companies, said the legislation took “political potshots at contractors.” Moreover, he said, it might have “unintended consequences,” including criminalizing mere overpricing.

”Mere” overpricing. Like the company that was charging $99 per bag of laundry for the soldiers who were prohibited from doing their own? (If you haven’t seen “Iraq for Sale”, check it out.)


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


The Missing Billions

Amy Goodman and Democracy Now! try their best to "follow the money."

Just weeks after the invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration began airlifting planeloads of cash to Baghdad for use by U.S. occupation officials. $12 billion in US currency was shipped in just over a year. But where did the money go? To date, at least $9 billion cannot be accounted for.

Last month, Democracy Now! interviewed the investigative journalist team of Donald Barlett and James Steele. They published a shocking expose in Vanity Fair tracking how the money went from the Federal Reserve to Iraq.

So Amy Goodman asked Alan Greenspan if he was aware of the missing money at the time and if so, did he investigate. And he answered.

ALAN GREENSPAN: Well, let me say that what we were involved in was essentially endeavoring to create a viable currency for the central bank of Iraq. And what we did do was -- I think very successfully -- create what is a viable financial system, even under the circumstances that currently exist. [...]The issue which you are referring to had nothing to do with the Federal Reserve in any of our relationships with the central bank.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, they are talking about, in one day, for example, the East Rutherford operation center of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 100 Orchard Street in East Rutherford, a tractor-trailer truck pulling up, and though accustomed to receiving and shipping large quantities of cash, the vault had never before processed a single order of this magnitude: $2.4 billion in $100 bills. But ultimately, again, $9 billion of $12 billion gone missing in Iraq.

ALAN GREENSPAN: I am not familiar with any such evidence. And it was certainly not brought to my attention. I, frankly, find it very unlikely that those orders of magnitude were involved in any of the numbers that we were dealing with. [...] There’s been, I’ve seen, several reports fairly recently in which that sort of mistake was being made. But what I can tell you is that no such numbers of any order of magnitude of the type you are discussing came to the attention of the Federal Reserve.

Journalist Naomi Klein finds that claim highly dubious.

I would just add that it’s quite surprising, actually, that Mr. Greenspan is unaware of this scandal around Iraq's missing billions, because Paul Bremer had to testify before Congress and was asked directly about those missing billions. It’s been the subject of very high-level investigations. There is a huge paper trail around it. So this is hardly a secret [...]

And, Don Barlett and Jim Steele, two of the nation's top investigative journalists for Vanity Fair, agree.

DONALD BARLETT: One of the problems is that Mr. Greenspan speaks in a language that is unknown to most of us. He's done this for years in a kind of economic doublespeak which goes unchallenged. But in this particular case, Mr. Greenspan is flat wrong. Jim had obtained a lot of this information, which came from Mr. Greenspan's Federal Reserve Bank .

[...]

JAMES STEELE: One of the most significant things that's part of this whole process, the fact that they don't know where this came from, where these numbers came from, all of these came, numbers from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which is a -- if not a branch, it's certainly part of the Federal Reserve system, which Chairman Greenspan headed for so long. And the Federal Reserve Bank of New York provided these to various US government agencies, various congressional committees. There are literally thousands of pages of documents that led to the statistics that we used in our article [...] So the Federal Reserve system certainly was intimately involved in processing this cash from the very beginning.

Once it got to Iraq, which is the point we made in our story, that's where everything vanished, where there was absolutely no oversight, where there was no follow-up, where -- and the idea that this went into creating a viable system over there is almost comical, because when you look at some of the records in Iraq, you see that much of this money went to the Ministry of Finance, which in turn turned this over to various Iraqi banks. But exactly where it went from there, nobody to this day knows.

To the tune of about 9 billion dollars out of 12. Comical? Ludicrous! Outrageous!

Oh well. It’s only money.

So, did Alan Greenspan really not know? Is the Brooklyn Bridge still for sale?

But wait. That’s not all.

DONALD BARLETT: [B]ack through the 1990s, there was a mutual fund, so to speak, in the Bahamas called Evergreen Security, which was selling its certificates around the world, especially in the US. [...] Evergreen Security had been run for the most part by Patrick Thomson, a resident of the Bahamas, for a long time. And it was nothing more than a Ponzi scheme, and in the end more than $200 million disappeared. Well, it was to Mr. Thomson that this very mysterious Thomas Howell in La Jolla, California, turned to create a company for him called NorthStar. And a few years later, lo and behold, NorthStar is retained by the Pentagon to make sure the money in Iraq, the $12 billion, and billions more, does not go missing, which, of course, it did go missing.

JAMES STEELE: When we looked into the background of NorthStar, come to find out this is not your normal accounting or auditing operation. It operates out of a private house in a suburb of San Diego. All attempts to interview the individual, Thomas Howell, who apparently heads NorthStar, failed. He would talk to us a couple times, but said that his hands were tied. The Pentagon would have to give him approval to talk, and they did not.

[...]

But what does it say to us about the way, in part, we run this war over there, that the Pentagon and the Coalition Provisional Authority turned to a company, whose ostensible -- one of its functions running out of that address is home remodeling, to supervise what's going to happen to billions of dollars being airlifted from this country to Iraq? It may be almost a metaphor for the way we run that whole operation over there.

Let me guess, Patrick Thomson and Thomas Howell have “connections” to the Bush Administration?

JUAN GONZALEZ: And were you ever able to trace the way or the connection between these individuals at NorthStar and the contracting agencies in the government that gave them this contract?

DONALD BARLETT: No. The only thing is that it is crystal clear, and Paul Bremer insisted, that this was a Pentagon arrangement and that he had no say over this whatsoever and that NorthStar was basically a creature of the Pentagon, in terms of supposedly tracking this money. And again, you're talking about a company set up by a person involved in a $200 million stock scam. It just raises all kinds of questions, you know, as to why the Pentagon would utilize such a resource.

Doesn’t it just?

AMY GOODMAN: So you have an accounting firm created by a mysterious La Jolla man by an equally mysterious Bahaman resident who specializes in setting up offshore entities used to launder money, concealing assets, avoiding taxes, a man who presided over a securities firm from which $200 million was disappeared. [...] How has the press followed up on this expose?

DONALD BARLETT: This is interesting. I mean, NorthStar, the company's identity was hanging out there. It's been hanging out there for a long time. But basically no one has looked at it. And it goes beyond the news media. It also goes to the heart of congressional investigating committees, of government -- nobody's interested. And that really raises red flags in our mind as to why you wouldn't be curious about a company assigned the task of making sure billions don't disappear, and they disappear.

As the law might ask, what could a reasonable person conclude?

You can read Vanity Fair's Billions Over Baghdad here.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Baghdad's Showcase Embassy

Documents obtained by the Oversight Committee depict widespread defects in fire detection systems, fire service mains, fire sprinklers, fire-proof construction materials, and electrical wiring throughout the [Baghdad] Embassy complex. Other documents implicate the Managing Partner of First Kuwaiti, the prime contractor, in an illegal kickback scheme to obtain subcontracts under the Army’s multi-billion logistical support contract.

  House Oversight

The massive U.S. embassy building under construction in Baghdad appears to be sinking faster than the Titanic. But at least the Titanic had a maiden voyage; that may not be the case for the over-budget, shoddily built, behind schedule embassy located deep in Baghdad's Green Zone. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack now says he doesn't have a clue when the mother ship of U.S. diplomacy in Iraq will be ready for actual occupancy

  Wired

It’s only a half-billion-dollar enterprise. I say dump it and start over.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Another Bite Out of Palestine

The Israeli army has ordered the seizure of Palestinian land surrounding four West Bank villages apparently in order to hugely expand settlements around Jerusalem, it emerged yesterday.

  UK Guardian

It’s a little hard to say we’re fighting to protect Israel and at the same time to spread peace and freedom in the Middle East when Israel keeps sucking up Palestine. But we manage.

The land seized forms a corridor from East Jerusalem to Jericho and is intended to be used for a road that would be for Palestinians only. Analysts said the road would run on one side of the Israeli security barrier, while the existing Jerusalem-Jericho road would be reserved for Israelis.

A spokeswoman for the Israeli army said it was necessary to build a road to link Bethlehem and the Judea region with Jericho and the Jordan valley area in order to "improve the quality of life" for Palestinians.

That’s rich. It doesn’t do much to improve the quality of life for the Palestinians whose land has just been confiscated. But of course, the road can’t be built on land that already belongs to Israel.

Adam Keller of the Israeli peace group, Gush Shalom, said the confiscation of land belonging to the villages of Abu Dis, Arab al-Sawahra, Nebi Musa and Talhin Alhamar would "rob many villagers of their sole livelihood" but would also "facilitate the big annexation plan known as E-1, which is aimed at linking the settlement of Ma'aleh Adummim with Jerusalem and cutting the West Bank in two."

[...]

Jeff Halper, an Israeli geographer who specialises in Israel's development of the West Bank, said it appeared that there was a rush to carry out as much work as possible before the US-sponsored meeting between Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, and Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, in Annapolis, Maryland, in November.

"They want to push everything as far as possible before the November meeting because that will be seen as the starting point for everything," he said. "Anything done before that meeting will be set in stone. In general this has to be seen as part of a timeline in which Israel wants to get all its development of the West Bank finished before Bush leaves office."

Just in case.

But really, I don’t think they need to worry. Nobody after Bush is going to change our policy with regards to Israel.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Go Home You Stupid Garden Gnomes

Nancy Pelosi doesn’t want any more “Buddhas” on her lawn.

"I had, for five months, [anti-war] people sitting outside my home, going into my garden in San Francisco, angering neighbors, hanging their clothes from trees, building all kinds of things -- Buddhas? I don't know what they were -- couches, sofas, chairs, permanent living facilities on my front sidewalk."

[...]

"We have to make responsible decisions in the Congress that are not driven by the dissatisfaction of anybody who wants the war to end tomorrow," Pelosi told the gathering at the Sofitel, arranged by the Christian Science Monitor. Though crediting activists for their "passion," Pelosi called it "a waste of time" for them to target Democrats. "They are advocates," she said. "We are leaders."

  WaPo

I guess that puts us in our place, eh?

Pelosi admitted no mistakes and claimed no regrets as she reflected on her first session in the speaker's chair. "I'm very proud of the work of this Congress," she declared. Evidently so: She repeated how "proud" she was nine times. Passing the recommendations of the 9/11 commission made her "very proud," while energy legislation made her "very, very proud," and new ethics rules made her "especially proud."

"What do you see as your greatest mistake?" asked one reporter.

Pelosi smiled. "Why don't you tell me?" she proposed. She smiled again, then laughed. " 'Cause I think we're doing just great."

  WaPo

Okay, everybody. Back to Nancy’s house. She obviously isn’t getting it.


Rudy 'The Slime' Giuliani

I think we've seen this tactic before: Take a quote of a quote and attribute it to the speaker. Rudy has apparently been saying that Hillary spoke out against the free market system, implying she's communistic, when in fact, the quote he attributes to her was taken from an interview she gave in 1996 in which she was quoting someone else's complaint about the free market system. And apparently, nobody's calling him on it.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Secret Surveillance

With 'Much still unknown about surveillance efforts,' Bruce Fein details his objections to FISA legislation introduced by House Democrats, including that it "does nothing with regard to trying to restrain the president's unfettered exercise of authority to gather foreign intelligence." Plus: 'Bush pushes for telecom immunity.'

You can read the reference articles from embedded links in the original posting of this quote at Cursor for October 11.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.