Saturday, October 31, 2009

Trick or Trick!

That's Death and his granddaughter, in case you didn't recognize them.

Have a Happy Halloween everyone.


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


Friday, October 30, 2009

Hog Wild


I'm not sure that it was the best idea to hold the annual Lone Star Bike Rally (always in Galveston) on Halloween weekend, but what the hey? Bikers, bikers, everywhere. I'll try to get some pictures tomorrow when perhaps there may be bikers dressed up as something other than bikers. This is today:





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


P.S. What are Boudin Balls?


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Imagine That

KABUL, Afghanistan — Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of the Afghan president and a suspected player in the country’s booming illegal opium trade, gets regular payments from the Central Intelligence Agency, and has for much of the past eight years, according to current and former American officials.

The agency pays Mr. Karzai for a variety of services, including helping to recruit an Afghan paramilitary force that operates at the C.I.A.’s direction in and around the southern city of Kandahar, Mr. Karzai’s home.

[...]

The ties to Mr. Karzai have created deep divisions within the Obama administration. The critics say the ties complicate America’s increasingly tense relationship with President Hamid Karzai, who has struggled to build sustained popularity among Afghans and has long been portrayed by the Taliban as an American puppet. The C.I.A.’s practices also suggest that the United States is not doing everything in its power to stamp out the lucrative Afghan drug trade, a major source of revenue for the Taliban.

  NYT

I assumed it was fairly well-known that the CIA makes much of its money in the drug trade.


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


Trouble, With a Capital T - Part V

Taliban groups killed more than 100 people in Pakistan and Afghanistan Wednesday, striking a Peshawar women's market and a Kabul guesthouse used by United Nations personnel, just as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in the region.

Both attacks were extraordinary: Pakistan's was the country's deadliest in two years; Afghanistan's represented a shift by Taliban leaders toward targeting the U.N. because of its role in the country's election process.

  WSJ


The Tax Man Cometh to the Ultra Wealthy

IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman told the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants Monday that the agency has set up a unit specifically to deal with rich Americans who are hiding assets.

  Raw Story

Well, it’s about time.

"We will take a unified look at the entire web of business entities controlled by a high-wealth individual," Shulman said. "At least initially, we will be looking at individuals with tens of millions of dollars of assets or income."

Now let’s do something about corporate tax evasion.


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


Too Big to Fail?

Only in America. Great Britain apparently isn’t controlled by its bankers.

Lloyds, Royal Bank of Scotland and Northern Rock will be broken up and parts of their businesses sold off to create three new banks, it emerged last night.

Government sources said ministers were "determined" to see more competition in the market, following the £1.2 trillion bailout of the sector which resulted in the loss of three independent banks and several building societies.

  UK Independent

That’s the way you deal with that.


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


Monday, October 26, 2009

Nice Timing

If CBS intended to come out strong against a public option. 60 Minutes is running a story on Medicaire fraud.


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


Let Them Eat Cake

That didn't turn out so well the first time people heard it.

The American Bankers Association meeting in Chicago got off to a good start last night.



Bush With a Better Vocabulary

And now the New York Times is onboard. At least where the torture coverup is concerned. And that’s a big one.

The Obama administration has clung for so long to the Bush administration’s expansive claims of national security and executive power that it is in danger of turning President George W. Bush’s cover-up of abuses committed in the name of fighting terrorism into President Barack Obama’s cover-up.

[...]

In Britain earlier this month, a two-judge High Court panel rejected arguments made first by the Bush team and now by the Obama team and decided to make public seven redacted paragraphs in American intelligence documents relating to torture allegations by a former prisoner at Guantánamo Bay.

[...]

The Obama administration has expressed unhappiness with the ruling, and the British government plans to appeal.

[...]

In the United States, the Obama administration is in the process of appealing a sound federal appellate court ruling last April in a civil lawsuit by Mr. Mohamed and four others. [...]In that case, the Obama administration has repeated a disreputable Bush-era argument that the executive branch is entitled to have lawsuits shut down whenever it makes a blanket claim of national security.

[...]

In a similar vein, Mr. Obama did a flip-flop last May and decided to resist orders by two federal courts to release photographs of soldiers abusing prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq. Last week, just in time to avoid possible Supreme Court review of the matter, Congress created an exception to the Freedom of Information Act that gave Secretary of Defense Robert Gates authority to withhold the photos.

[...]

The Obama administration has aggressively pursued [...] immunity in numerous other cases beyond the ones involving Mr. Mohamed. We do not take seriously the government’s claim that it is trying to protect intelligence or avoid harm to national security.

[...]

The objective is to avoid official confirmation of wrongdoing that might be used in lawsuits against government officials and contractors, and might help create a public clamor for prosecuting those responsible. President Obama calls that a distracting exercise in “looking back.” What it really is is justice.

  NYT

The New York Times Editorial Page has long been one of the most reliable and vocal pro-Obama outlets in the nation. When they endorsed him for President, they praised his "strength of will, character and intellect, sober judgment and a cool, steady hand," attributes they said he possesses in "abundance," and predicted he would provide "sensible leadership, compassionate leadership, honest leadership and strong leadership." Throughout this year, their praise of him has been fulsome and their criticisms rare and restrained. Most recently, they made numerous arguments as to why he deserved the Nobel Peace Prize. I could go on, but I assume the pro-Obama bona fide of The New York Times Editorial Page are well established.

That's what makes this morning's scathing condemnation of Obama so notable.

[...]

There is simply no way that a person with even the most minimal levels of intellectual integrity could have objected to these actions during the Bush years yet defend them now that Obama is doing them, or even refrain from objecting just as loudly.

[...]

The fact that Obama has done good things in other areas or "is not as bad as Bush" in this realm doesn't negate that fact in any way.

[...]

In yet another largely pro-Obama outlet -- The Nation -- Julian Sanchez sounds the same theme in the context of the Obama administration's efforts to block any reforms to the Patriot Act and FISA.

[...]

Sanchez details how Obama blocked the very Patriot Act and FISA reforms he not only supported when he was a Senator, but also ones he promised he would undertake when attempting to placate supporters of his who were furious that he'd violated his campaign promise by supporting the Bush/Cheney warrantless eavesdropping and telecom immunity FISA revisions.

  Glenn Greenwald


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


Bush With a Better Vocabulary

Fool me once? Oh, many, many times.

The nomination of Islam Siddiqui, vice president for science and regulatory affairs at CropLife America, [a former pesticide lobbyist, to be the chief agricultural negotiator in the Office of the United States Trade Representative] struck an off-key note among environmentalists — and not just because they think pesticides and chemicals are unsafe for humans and detrimental to the environment. Perhaps more important was the sense of betrayal. After all, it was Michelle Obama herself who had demanded a pesticide-free garden for the first family at the White House, suggesting — environmentalists thought — that the Obama administration was sympathetic to their cause.

  Politico

Surprise, surprise.

And that organic garden turned out to be a false photo op anyway. The ground had been saturated with chemicals for so many years that the residue will take years to leach out. But, nice try, eh?

While Siddiqui was at CropLife, the company took part [in] closed-door negotiations with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Office of Management and Budget to find ways to permit pesticide testing in children. The firm also was instrumental in securing an exemption for American farmers from the 2006 worldwide ban of the highly controversial chemical methyl bromide, a pesticide that depletes the ozone layer.

[...]

[ Siddiqui, who ] was a registered lobbyist for CropLife from 2001 to 2003, contributed the maximum to Obama’s presidential campaign ($2,300), and held a major fundraiser for him in his McLean, Va., home.

And that's what counts.


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


Now Watch This Drive

I was going to title this one my usual: Bush with a Better Vocabulary. But I'm not sure that's good any more. He keeps outBushing Bush.

No, they haven’t faced off head to head on the links, but President Obama, in just nine months on the job, has tied George W. Bush in the number of rounds played while in office: 24. The thing is, it took Bush 34 months to reach that number.

  World

Let’s hope Bush keeps the record for vacation days.


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


The Quagmire Deepens

Sunday 106 people were killed by car bombs in downtown Baghdad. And yesterday...

Iraqi security forces blocked streets around the capital Monday and conducted intense searches at checkpoints as authorities investigated the massive security failure that allowed two truck bombs to strike what was supposed to be one of the city's safest areas and kill 155 people.

The country's worst attacks in more than two years on Sunday targeted the Justice Ministry and Baghdad Provincial Administration in the heart of the capital.

[...]

About 500 people were injured, authorities said.

  Yahoo

And we're supposed to be pulling back? I don't think that's gonna happen. Meanwhile, Afghanistan just gets worse, and Pakistan is exploding. FUBAR, Mr. Obama. You don't look like you're having nightmares. All the pictures coming out of the White House show happy shiny people.


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


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sibel Edmonds

While no mainstream media picked up the Edmonds story after American Conservative put her on its cover, Military.com's October 21 issue has also made her the cover story.

The article includes responses from accused participants in giving US secrets to Turkey, Douglas Feith and Richard Perle. They dismiss Sibel's claims by calling her a nut job.

Isn't it interesting that the only publications who have given this story any print are a Conservative magazine and a Military pub?


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


Anti-Dick Push Continues

Furthering the agenda to erase Dick Cheney:

On Fox News Sunday, Sentate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mi.) criticized former Vice President Dick Cheney for saying that President Barack Obama was "dithering" in his decision about whether to send more troops to Afghanistan.

Levin called Cheney's comments "out of bounds," and said that the former vice president had no remaining "credibility" with the American people.

  Politico


Meanwhile in Iraq

While Pakistan comes apart at the seams and threatens a third front...

Two suicide car bombs exploded in downtown Baghdad Sunday, killing at least 106 people and delivering a powerful blow to the heart of the fragile city's government in the worst attack of the year, officials said.

  Yahoo

The False Public Option

Fooling the public. Again.

Any public plan is likely to have a relatively narrow scope, as it would be offered only to people who don't have access to coverage through an employer.

The public option would effectively be just another insurance plan offered on the open market. It would likely be administered by a private insurance provider, charging premiums and copayments like any other policy. In an early estimate of the House bill, the Congressional Budget Office forecast that fewer than 12 million people would buy insurance through the government plan.

  WaPo

So there would be no economy of size for lower premiums or bargaining power for cheaper scrips.

Advocates of a “public option” claim that the “option” will look like Medicare. [...] But this statement is not true.

Medicare is larger than any private insurance company; the “option” in both bills will be small. The traditional Medicare program is a single program with uniform benefits; the “option” in both bills will be a balkanized program that may not be available in all parts of the country. Medicare is administered by public employees; the “options” in both bills will be administered by private-sector corporations, some or all of which will be insurance companies. The “option” in neither bill resembles Medicare.

[...]

As the preceding rather convoluted description of MACs and contracting administrators suggests, neither the HELP bill nor HR 3200 makes it easy for readers to grasp that corporations, not public employees, will create, and probably run, the “option” program. Neither bill comes right out and says, “The Secretary shall hire private-sector corporations to create and run as many health insurance companies as is necessary to make health insurance available for sale to the non-elderly in each health insurance market in America.” Nor is that fact being ballyhooed by the bills’ authors and proponents. But it’s an important feature for “option” supporters to understand because it undermines the claim “option” advocates make over and over that the “option” will look like Medicare.

  Physicians for a National Health Program

Set up to fail.


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


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Trouble, With a Capital T - Part IV

A suicide bomber at the gates of the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (an Air Force base) detonated his payload on Friday, killing 8 and wounding 17. Kamra is northwest of the capital, Islamabad, on the way to Peshawar, the capital of the North-West Frontier Province.

[…]

The Pakistani Taliban also set off a bomb in Peshawar, a major northern city.

  Juan Cole

Gunmen in Islamabad killed a brigadier general and a soldier of the Pakistani army on Thursday, underlining the way in which the army's Waziristan campaign has become a feud of sorts, with the militants targeting officers.

[…]

All schools and universities in most of Pakistan have been closed until at least Sunday, in response to the recent bombing at Islamic International University [on Tuesday which killed six and wounded 37].

  Juan Cole


So What?

October 23 turned out to be "Knock Back on Cheney Day."

[October 23] "Who cares?" [VP Joe] Biden said, when asked to comment on Cheney's claims that Obama was "dithering" on ordering more troops to Afghanistan, as he plows through an exhaustive review of US strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

  Raw Story

[October 23] "I have trouble listening to what he says sometimes, because of the blood that drips from his teeth while he's talking," [Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL)] quipped. "But my response is this: He's just angry because the president doesn't shoot old men in the face. But by the way, when he was done speaking, did he just then turn into a bat and fly away?"

  Raw Story

D’oh!


Don't Mess With Texas

Police officers in Dallas, TX have issued at least 39 citations to drivers in the last three years for the non-existent infraction of not speaking English.

[…]

All pending citations will be dismissed, fines will be returned, and the offices involved will be investigated for dereliction of duty.

  Raw Story



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


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Now That Goldman Sachs Has Repaid, It's Time to Get Tough

Responding to the growing furor over the paychecks of executives at companies that received billions of dollars in federal bailouts, the Obama administration will order the companies that received the most aid to deeply slash the compensation to their highest paid executives, an official involved in the decision said on Wednesday.

Under the plan, which will be announced in the next few days by the Treasury Department, the seven companies that received the most assistance will have to cut the cash payouts to their 25 best-paid executives by an average of about 90 percent from last year.

[...]

The companies are Citigroup, Bank of America, the American International Group, General Motors, Chrysler and the financing arms of the two automakers.

  NYT

The cuts apply to the 25 highest paid executives at the seven companies that received the most assistance, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision has not been announced. Smaller companies and those that have repaid the bailout money, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., are not affected.

  Google

Do you think Goldman Sachs might have known this was coming?


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


United States of Goldman Sachs - Part II

A Goldman Sachs International adviser defended compensation in the finance industry as his company plans a near-record year for pay, saying the spending will help boost the economy.

“We have to tolerate the inequality as a way to achieve greater prosperity and opportunity for all,” Brian Griffiths, who was a special adviser to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, said yesterday at a panel discussion hosted by St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. The panel’s discussion topic was, “What is the price of morality in the marketplace?”

  Bloomberg

Did I miss something? Do the ultra-wealthy spend widely? I thought they bought a few high ticket items, including land and yachts, and socked away most of their money in offshore accounts. It must be their golf memberships that contribute to the economy in a big way.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc., based in New York, set aside $16.7 billion for compensation and benefits in the first nine months of 2009, up 46 percent from a year earlier and enough to pay each worker $527,192 for the period. The amount set aside this year is just shy of the all-time high $16.9 billion allocated in the first three quarters of 2007.

Wow. And I thought it had been a bad year for financial institutes.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

One Crook Who Got His Just Reward

Remember Bernie Kerik? The guy W. Bush nominated to head Homeland Security? He's going to jail where he belongs.

Wiki has some interesting biographical notes that I had not seen when the Kerik fiasco was unfolding.


Trouble With A Capital T - Part III

Two suicide attackers bombed an Islamic university in the Pakistani capital Tuesday, killing four people and wounding 18 as the army pressed ahead with a critical offensive on a Taliban stronghold near Afghanistan, authorities said.

[...]

"It seems that (militant) sympathizers or collaborators are doing this to divert attention from the military operation," university president Dr. Anwar Hussain Siddiqui told The Associated Press. "They are trying to create panic in the capital city."

  Yahoo

That could do it.

Frankly, I don’t think they’re doing it to divert attention from the military operation. They promised more trouble if the military operation went ahead. Obviously, Pakistan’s security apparatus has some holes.


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


Monday, October 19, 2009

Another Step in the Right Direction

The Obama administration will not seek to arrest medical marijuana users and suppliers as long as they conform to state laws, under new policy guidelines to be sent to federal prosecutors Monday.

  Raw Story

Does this imply that people who conformed to the laws before now were being arrested? Why yes, yes it does.

The new policy is a significant departure from the Bush administration, which insisted it would continue to enforce federal anti-pot laws regardless of state codes.

And I thought the Republicans were such big States’ rights advocates, opposed to Federal government interference.

The War on Drugs is the pernicious precursor to the War on Terror in so many ways, beginning with the relentless erosion of civil liberties; endless expansions of federal powers of detention, surveillance and militarized involvement in other countries; and a general pretext for remaining in an endless "war" posture. Anything that moves even a little bit towards abandoning the orthodoxies which sustain it should be applauded. And whatever else is true, being free of gun-wielding DEA agents is a real benefit for people with serious illnesses and those who provide them with medical treatments prescribed by their physicians.

  Glenn Greenwald

Not to mention, withdrawing money from the drug war will give us more for our Middle East invasion.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Trouble, With a Capital T - Part II

The U.S. occupation of Afghanistan has succeeded merely in pushing the Taliban and its sympathizers into neighboring Pakistan, and in order to clean up this mess, we’re moving in on Islamabad even as the elected government begins to lose credibility and authority in the eyes of its own people.

[...]

The Pakistani media is alight with reports of hi-tech U.S. arms being shipped to Pakistan and handed over to some highly dubious recipients, including tribal chieftains and quite possibly terrorist groups currently hitting targets in the country. The suspicion is that the huge influx of U.S. aid is designed to create a parallel internal security infrastructure, one controlled from Washington rather than Islamabad – and it will be hard to disabuse the Pakistanis of this notion, because that is precisely what is happening.

DynCorp, the U.S. mercenary organization, is allied with a local partner, Inter-Risk, run by a former Pakistani military officer, and they have been given the lucrative U.S. government contract to provide security services to the U.S. embassy there. A recent raid by the Pakistani police on Inter-Risk facilities turned up what the Washington Times reports as “sophisticated weaponry that appears more suited to Special Forces commandos, raising questions about its real role in a country facing a serious terrorist threat.”

[...]

The physical expansion of the U.S. embassy brings it nearly on a par with our giant Vatican-sized diplomatic compound in Iraq. One Pakistani news outlet reports that the U.S. is in the process of spending about $1 billion for the upgrading of their Islamabad presence, including an expenditure of $405 million for the reconstruction and refurbishment of the main embassy building; $111 million for a new complex for accommodating 330 personnel; and $197 million for constructing about 250 housing units on 18 acres of newly-acquired land.

[...]

Until now the U.S. has been walking a very fine line with the Pakistani government, launching unmanned drone attacks on alleged terrorist targets, taking out a very large chunk of “collateral damage” in the process. Relations between the U.S. and Pakistan, never that good to begin with, have recently been marked by escalating mutual suspicion, and the raid on DynCorp/Inter-Risk raises these tensions to a new level. Precluded from openly invading Pakistani territory, the U.S. is using every excuse to quietly arm a “private” army of security contractors, flooding the country with weapons and cash.

  Justin Raimondo

I wouldn’t have expected anything less.


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


Saturday, October 17, 2009

The United States of Goldman Sachs

Meet your real administration.

A Goldman Sachs executive has been named the first chief operating officer of the Securities and Exchange Commission's enforcement division.

The market watchdog agency said Friday that Adam Storch, vice president in Goldman Sachs' Business Intelligence Group, is assuming the new position of managing executive of the SEC division.

  NYT

In October of last year, a Goldman Sachs Vice President, Neel Kashkari, was named by former Goldman CEO and then-Treasury Secretary Hank Pauslon to oversee the$700 billion TARP bailout. In January of this year, Tim Geithner hired a former Goldman Sachs lobbyist, Mark Patterson, to be his top aide and Chief of Staff. In March, President Obama nominated Goldman Sachs executive Gary Gensler to head the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which regulates futures markets, even though (or "because") Gensler confessed to lax regulation during the Clinton administration over the very derivative instruments that caused the financial crisis. In April, Goldman hired as its top lobbyist Michael Paese, the top aide to Rep. Barney Frank on the House Financial Services Committee which Frank chairs.

[...]

[T]he top economics official at the State Department is Robert Hormats, who spent the prior 27 years at Goldman Sachs, including as the Vice Chairman of Goldman's international arm.

[...]

Gene Spreling -- currently a top Geithner adviser (and former top aide to Goldman CEO Robert Rubin when Rubin was Tresasury Secretary) -- was paid close to $1 million last year by Goldman Sachs for consulting work.

[...]

Bloomberg documented that "[s]ome of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s closest aides, none of whom faced Senate confirmation, earned millions of dollars a year working for Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Citigroup Inc. and other Wall Street firms." Also: "Geithner’s predecessor, Henry Paulson, brought on a coterie of non-confirmed advisers from Goldman Sachs at the end of his term."

[...]

As Michael Moore has been pointing out, Goldman was the number one source of funding for the Obama 2008 presidential campaign. The bailout of AIG -- which resulted in massive federal government monies to Goldman -- was engineered at a meeting between Paulson, Geithner and Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein. Last year, Goldman paid top Obama economics adviser Larry Summers $135,000 for a one-day visit to Goldman.

[...]

Geithner's contacts with Blankfein alone outnumber his contacts with Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.

  Glenn Greenwald

Goldman said it earned $3.19 billion between July and September, nearly the most it has ever made in three months, a record it set earlier this year.

  WaPo


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


Score One Against Torture

Recall the torture case of Binyam Mohammed which resulted in a threat from the Bush Administration to withhold intelligence from the British if they released documents describing that torture.

Until yesterday, all of that caused the British High Court to continue to conceal those paragraphs based on the insistence from the British Foreign Minister that the Obama administration was re-iterating the same threats made by the Bush administration. Yesterday, in a 38-page decision , the Court reversed itself, and ruled that these paragraphs detailing Mohamed's torture should be publicly disclosed. It did so by making clear that, in essence, it simply did not believe that the U.S. would meaningfully reduce intelligence sharing; understood the Obama statements to be made at the request of British officials as a meaning of justifying ongoing concealment; interpreted the Obama administration to say only that disclosure "could" lead to reductions in intelligence-sharing, not that it "would"; and, most of all, that there are vital public interests that outweigh the minimal risk that the U.S. would withhold evidence of a terrorist plot from Britain as punishment for disclosure.

[...]

As a result, the British High Court -- pending the results of one final appeal -- will release to the world those seven paragraphs, detailing what the CIA itself told British intelligence agents was done to Binyam Mohamed.

[...]

All of this highlights two vital points: (1) the extent to which the Obama administration has been willing to go to cover up evidence of the Bush administration's torture regime; when I interviewed Mohamed's lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, in April, he made clear that these threats were part of a joint cover-up between the U.S. and Britain; and (2) the way in which American citizens are forced to rely on the institutions in foreign countries -- British courts and Spanish prosecutors -- to learn about what our own government has done.

  Glenn Greenwald

The 25 lines edited out of the court papers contained details of how Mr Mohamed's genitals were sliced with a scalpel and other torture methods so extreme that waterboarding, the controversial technique of simulated drowning, "is very far down the list of things they did," the official said.

  UK Telegraph


I Said Trouble, With a Capital T

According to Dawn News, a private TV channel, more than 30,000 troops have entered South Waziristan and are being supported by aerial strikes. Four soldiers were killed and 12 injured in initial clashes, while nine militants were killed.

[...]

A civilian exodus of the area is ongoing, and more than 200,000 are believed to have fled their homes since August.

[...]

The operation in the harsh, mountainous terrain is expected to take several months to complete. Rifaat Hussain, a security analyst at the Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad, says the Army can expect to encounter up to 30,000 militiamen and up to 1,000 suicide bombers.

He notes that the Army’s task will be challenging. “The Army faces three major disadvantages: This is the Mehsud stronghold and their home turf, the Taliban can expect the assistance of the local public, and they have a short supply line from across the border from the Afghan Taliban,” Dr. Hussain says.

The Pakistan Army entered South Waziristan in February 2005. But after early gains, it negotiated a peace deal with militants that quickly fell apart. A second operation in February 2008 was humiliatingly called off after troops were surrounded in Ladha Fort in the town of Makeen.

  Christian Science Monitor

The risk seems even worse when you consider the past week. And the fact that Pakistan has a nuclear arsenal that needs to be protected.

A week of terrorist strikes across Pakistan, capped by a stunning assault on army headquarters, show the Taliban have rebounded and appear determined to shake the nation's resolve as the military plans for an offensive against the group's stronghold on the Afghan border.

The 22-hour attack on Pakistan's "Pentagon" in the city of Rawalpindi, which ended with 20 dead Sunday, was the third terrorist attack in a week to shake this nuclear-armed nation. It demonstrated the militants' renewed strength since their leader was killed by a U.S. missile strike in August and military operations against their bases.

[...]

Security at army headquarters did not prevent a team of 10 gunmen in fatigues from launching a frontal assault on the very core of the country's most powerful institution Saturday morning, setting off a gunbattle and hostage drama that ended a day later after a commando raid.

[...]

The weekend strike was a stunning finale to a week of attacks that highlighted the militants' ability to strike a range of targets in different cities, seemingly at will.

On Monday, a suicide bomber dressed as a paramilitary police officer blew himself up inside a heavily guarded U.N. aid agency in the heart of the capital, Islamabad. On Friday, a suspected militant detonated an explosives-laden car in the middle of a busy market in the northwestern city of Peshawar, killing 53 people.

[...]

A police intelligence report from July obtained by The Associated Press on Saturday warned that members of the Taliban along with the Punjab-based Jaish-e-Mohammed were planning to attack army headquarters after disguising themselves as soldiers.

  NPR

Good intelligence. Too bad the security wasn’t as good.

Army headquarters, Islamabad - the nation's capitol, Peshawar - a regional capitol city - I think these guys are serious.

And what happens when security at the nuclear arsenal fails to prevent an assault?

"They are well-organized, and if the army takes action, they are able to hit back," former intelligence chief Jawed Ashraf Qazi said.

[...]

Qazi estimated 6,000 battle-hardened Uzbek fighters are waiting in the mountains, along with thousand of local fighters from the Mehsud tribe of warriors with years of experience fighting the U.S. and Pakistan.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Mission Accomplished

The federal budget deficit has surged to an all-time high of $1.42 trillion as the recession caused tax revenues to plunge while the government was spending massive amounts to stabilize the financial system and jump-start the economy.

The imbalance for the budget year ended Sept. 30, more than tripled last year's record.

  Yahoo

There should be some righteous indignation coming from the right. Bush gets a pass, I'm sure.


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


Further Confirmation

[October 15] The administration of US president Barack Obama is to announce the deployment of an additional 40,000 troops to Afghanistan, according to the Afghan ambassador to Washington, as the US steps up its efforts to contain the growing Taliban insurgency.

[...]

The White House declined to comment on the claims while the National Security Council reiterated that no decision had yet been made

  Financial Times

Apparently Obama has already told the Brits. I wonder when he’s going to tell us. It will be calculated to coincide with something. Or avoid something else.


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


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Speaking of WIIIAI

So, Italian forces in Afghanistan were bragging about how peaceful their area was. Turned out, they were paying bribes to the Taliban to prevent attacks. [...] Then they left and handed off to the French, without telling them about the bribes. So they thought they were taking over a nice pacific region, and the ambush that killed ten of their soldiers (oh, and the mutilations) came as a bit of a surprise.

The Americans found out about the bribes through intercepted telephone conversations and formally protested to Italy. Two months before the ambush. So the US didn’t warn the French either.

  WIIIAI

Well, they were French.

Two Western military officials in Kabul confirmed that intelligence briefings after the ambush said that the French troops had believed they were moving through a benign area — one which the Italian military had been keen to show off to the media as a successful example of a “hearts and minds” operation.

  UK Times

Yes, money can indeed buy hearts and minds. In fact, I believe that idea has been bandied around lately for another ally’s approach. Actually, a British general thinks a good idea would be to offer cash for arms. Is that rich or what? I wonder if it would be like blood donations – you can only cash in one AK-47 per week - to limit the number of times an Afghan can go find a gun - or take one from an ambushed soldier - and get paid for it.

But he’s not the only one thinking about the Italian Solution:

[October 12] A Time magazine national security correspondent says it may be time for the US to send the Taliban a new message: Make money, not war.

[...]

Mark Thompson told CNN's John Roberts that some 70 percent of Taliban fighters are "economic Taliban" who are fighting US forces for the $10-a-day paycheck. They may be willing to lay down their arms in exchange for $20 a day -- a relative bargain compared to the cost of fighting the insurgent group.

  Raw Story

Where had he heard that before?

[March 10 : VP Joe] Biden said the same tactics used in Anbar province in Iraq, where radical Sunni Muslims were co-opted by American financial support, could work in Afghanistan as part of President Barack Obama’s strategy for winning the war raging since 2001.

[...]

"Roughly 70 percent are involved because of the money.”

  Bloomberg

Oh, so it’s not the Italian Solution.

October 11: The Obama administration is considering outbidding the Taliban to persuade Afghan villagers to lay down arms as it struggles to find a new approach to a war that is fast losing public and congressional support.

  UK Times

Of course, it isn’t completely without risks.

Afghans are known for changing sides back and forth during their long years of war — there is an old saying that “you can rent an Afghan but never buy one.”

  UK Times

In October 2007 two Italian agents were kidnapped in western Afghanistan; one was killed in a rescue by British special forces. It was later alleged in the Italian press that they had been kidnapped while making payments to the Taleban.

  UK Times

FUBAR.


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


Escalating Afghanistan - Part II

The U.S. military in eastern Afghanistan recently changed its media embed rules to ban pictures of troops killed in the war.

“Media will not be allowed to photograph or record video of U.S. personnel killed in action,” says a ground rules document issued Sept. 15 by Regional Command East at Bagram Air Field.

[...]

The change occurred after the wide distribution of a photograph of a dying U.S. Marine. On Sept. 4, the Associated Press released a photo of a mortally wounded Marine in Afghanistan.

  E&P

And soon there will be many more possible.

In my recent post titled Escalating Afghanistan, I quoted Glenn Greenwald as saying “Obama deserves some credit for at least refusing to capitulate immediately to the military's demands without taking time to consider alternative options. “ My response was “I don’t think that’s deserving of credit without knowing that he is actually debating the decision and not simply postponing it. “ It appears I may have been awfully close to the truth (which, of course, does not mean he did not consider alternatives).

As The Daily Telegraph reported last week, a total of 1,000 more British soldiers will go to Helmand province.

[...]

President Barack Obama's administration is understood to have told the British government that it could announce, as early as next week, the substantial increase to its 65,000 troops already serving [in Afghanistan].

[...]

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs dismissed the claims, after President Obama met with his war council for the fifth time to map out a new strategy in Afghanistan.

"I would not put any weight behind the fact that a decision has been made, when the President has yet to make a decision," he told reporters in Washington.

[...]

Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, the Chief of the Defence Staff, said: "I don't want to put words in the mouths of the Americans but I am fairly confident of the way it is going to come out."

  UK Telegraph

Yeah, me too.

Gibbs will insist when the announcement is made that it hadn’t been decided until just that moment.


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


Sir Jock Stirrup? That should qualify for WIIAI's nom du jour.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Obama's War

That's what Frontline is calling it. This video is 25 minutes. Please find time to watch it.


Escalating Afghanistan

[Democratic Senator Diane] Feinstein joined with GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia to apply public pressure on Obama to escalate further the war in Afghanistan, announcing on ABC News that "she didn't see how President Barack Obama could turn down [Gen. McChrystal's] request for 40,000 additional troops in Afghanistan." Obama deserves some credit for at least refusing to capitulate immediately to the military's demands without taking time to consider alternative options.

  Glenn Greenwald

I rarely disagree with Glenn, but I don’t think that’s deserving of credit without knowing that he is actually debating the decision and not simply postponing it. Glenn goes on to give me more reason to believe he’s only postponing it:

The Washington Post today reported that as part of Obama's March order for 21,000 more troops to Afghanistan, "the White House has also authorized -- and the Pentagon is deploying -- at least 13,000 troops beyond that number."

Implementing the McChrystal plan will perpetuate the longstanding fundamentals of US national security policy: maintaining a global military presence, configuring US forces for global power projection, and employing those forces to intervene on a global basis.

[...]

As the fighting drags on from one year to the next, the engagement of US forces in armed nation-building projects in distant lands will become the new normalcy. Americans of all ages will come to accept war as a perpetual condition, as young Americans already do. That “keeping Americans safe’’ obliges the United States to seek, maintain, and exploit unambiguous military supremacy will become utterly uncontroversial.

  Boston.com

It's not only perpetual war that is the result, but also the endless civil liberties erosions and expansions of government power -- detention, surveillance and secrecy -- that inevitably accompany it.

   Glenn Greenwald

Indeed.


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


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Liz Cheney Smokes Crack

She offered the following proposal: "I think what [Obama] ought to do, frankly, is send the mother of a fallen American soldier to accept the prize on behalf of the US military. Frankly, to send the message to remind the Nobel committee that each one of them sleeps soundly at night because the US armed forces, because the US military is the greatest peacekeeping force in the world today."

  Raw Story

Peacekeeping by invading and destroying foreign territory I suppose.

Apparently she didn't get the message that the Nobel Prize committee was sending to her: they sleep soundly at night because her father is no longer calling the shots.


Let Us Pray

Former chief economist for the International Monetary Fund Simon Johnson was interviewed by Bill Moyers. (Video here.)

In May, Johnson penned an article for The Atlantic in which he compared the US's financial system to that of a corrupt third-world country, and said that, if the IMF had given the US the same advice it gives developing countries, it would have told Washington to break up the banks.

[...]

”Elite business interests—financiers, in the case of the U.S.—played a central role in creating the crisis, making ever-larger gambles, with the implicit backing of the government, until the inevitable collapse. More alarming, they are now using their influence to prevent precisely the sorts of reforms that are needed, and fast, to pull the economy out of its nosedive. The government seems helpless, or unwilling, to act against them.

[...]

Rahm Emanuel, the president's chief of staff, is known for saying 'Never let a good crisis go to waste.' The crisis for the big banks is substantially over. And it was completely wasted. The administration refused to break the power of the big banks when they had the opportunity earlier this year. And the regulatory reforms they are now pursuing ... will turn out to be essentially meaningless."

Johnson said that the bank bailout would not fix the long-term instability of the financial sector, and "when [the crisis] comes back, it will come back with a vengeance, and it will be I think even more devastating."

   Raw Story

That would be bad.


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


Weasels at Work

"The Obama administration believes giving the imminent grant of authority over the release of such pictures [detainee abuse] to the defense secretary would short-circuit a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union under the Freedom of Information Act," reported the Associated Press on Saturday.

It was with this new strategy in mind that the administration asked Supreme Court justices to stay their decision on the photos' release, allowing Congress time to vote on dictating the authority solely to the secretary of defense.

  Raw Story

Why would that make a difference? Wouldn’t the lawsuit apply to the DOD? Or is the DOD not named in the lawsuit, and that means the whole thing is simply passed around like a hot potato while the ACLU adds the DOD to it?

The president additionally said the photos were not particularly sensational when compared to photos of prisoner abuse that sparked the Abu Ghraib scandal.

Yes, and at the time, I wondered if that were true why he was so intent on hiding them. I understand now that the real issue is that the photos do not come from Abu Ghraib and would reveal the fact that the government was lying when it said the “abuse” of prisoners was not widespread nor backed by military/government policy, but only the aberrant acts of a few disturbed soldiers who have been duly punished.

UPDATE: A little clarification, I think.

On January 21, Obama signed an executive order instructing all federal agencies and departments to "adopt a presumption in favor" of Freedom of Information Act requests and promised to make the federal government more transparent.

[...]

The US District Court for the Southern District of New York ordered the release of the photos in a June 2005 ruling that was affirmed by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in September 2008. The Obama administration indicated earlier this year it would abide by a court order and release at least 44 of the photographs in question, but President Obama backtracked, saying he conferred with high-ranking military officials who advised him that releasing the images would stoke anti-American sentiment and would endanger the lives of US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

As Truthout previously reported, the Obama administration petitioned the US Supreme Court to hear the case at the same time the president privately told Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut) and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) he would work with Congress to help get a measure passed aimed at blocking the photographs from being released.

[...]

Conferees on the Senate and House Appropriations Committees released a Homeland Security spending bill summary, which includes a provision that would allow President Obama to authorize "the Secretary of Defense to bar the release of detainee photos," essentially exempting the images from Freedom of Information Act requests.

[...]

"Congress should not give the government the authority to hide evidence of its own misconduct, and if it does grant that authority, the Secretary of Defense should not invoke it," said Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU's National Security Project.

  TruthOut

Like that would happen.

And let me say it again – this business of attaching amendments to bills that have little or nothing to do with the bill has got to stop. In this case, the provision to keep the photos secret is attached to a Department of Homeland spending bill. Other attachments to that appropriations bill (which will apparently be voted on next week) include a provision to keep Gitmo detainees from being sent to the US, a provision to have the Secretary of Agriculture work with the DHS in research on livestock diseases, a provision for dealing with spouses of immigrants who die during the adjudication of their VISA permissions, and a provision for three year VISA extensions for religious workers, rural-serving doctors, and investor programs. I wonder if those religious workers include Muslims.


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


Promises, Promises

I can tell you what the president is going to tell his [gay] audience tomorrow: How much he supports them. How much he agrees with them. And how he wishes he was President so he could help them out. But here's the thing about being president. There isn't a lot you can do without either Congress, Oprah or Goldman Sachs behind you. But there is one thing the president can do with the stroke of a pen: He can let gays serve openly in the military. It's called an executive order.

  Bill Maher at Huffington Post

President Barack Obama wowed a crowd of gay rights activists Saturday night with an impassioned defense of equality for gays and lesbians, but he offered no new commitments to assuage concerns that he has given a low priority to issues critical to the gay and lesbian community.

[...]

"We should not be punishing patriotic Americans who have stepped forward to serve this country. We should be celebrating their willingness," Obama said. "I’m working with the Pentagon and its leadership and members of the House and Senate on ending this policy…I will end don’t ask don’t tell. That’s my commitment to you" he said to a raucous ovation.

[...]

But while emphatically renewing his pledge to end the military’s ban on openly gay soldiers and sailors, Obama gave no timetable for making the change, and no promise to put an immediate stop to discharges based on sexual orientation.

  Politico

"I will end 'don't ask, don't tell,'" the President said. "That's my commitment to you."

  TPM

Well, dude, at the rate things are going, you only have three years, so you’d better step it up. (And that’s if you don’t get killed or impeached.)


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


It's Sunday

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair used a speech at Georgetown University to warn of the threat against the West that is growing at alarming rate. No, he wasn’t talking about terrorism, the recession, or even Swine Flu. He was talking about atheists and the menace they present to the world. Not since leaders tackled the dangers of witches in our midst has a politician sounded such an alarm. This politician happens to be the leading contender for the first “president of Europe.”

Blair sounded the alarm for all God-fearing citizens to be on the look out for atheists who he seems to portray as an equal threat as terrorists. He warned that “[w]e face an aggressive secular attack from without. We face the threat of extremism from within.” He called on religious people to unite against atheists who offer “no hope” and threaten the demise of the West.

  Jonathan Turley

The [Obama] Administration has joined the UN Human Rights Council and has agreed to create a “new” standard balancing speech and respect for religion. These new standards are merely thinly disguised blasphemy laws that are spreading throughout the world, including the West.

[...]

The new resolution [...] stresses “the exercise of the right to freedom of expression carries with it special duties and responsibilities . . .” which include taking action against anything meeting the description of “negative racial and religious stereotyping.”

[...]

It further shows the Administration’s willingness to trade principles for political gains.

  Jonathan Turley

And because it was so good the first time around…

In an effort to rid the Good Book of "liberal bias," [the folks at Conservapedia have] set up the Conservative Bible Project, which aims to rewrite the Bible from a modern, conservative perspective.

[...]

"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." [...] is one of the group's targets for deletion in a truly "conservative" Bible. The "forgive them father" quote "is a favorite of liberals but should not appear in a conservative Bible," Conservapedia states.

[...]

And evidently many of Jesus' other teachings -- from the "turn the other cheek" lesson, to his disdain for profiteering -- will also no longer be acceptable in the conservative Bible.

  Raw Story

One Nation Under God

Click the picture and then roll over the characters for an explanation.

If you must have the original version, it's here.


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


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Ba-Dum-Bum Ching!

"Certainly from our standpoint, this gives us a sense of momentum — when the United States has accolades tossed its way, rather than shoes." -- Assistant Secretary of State PJ Crowley.

  Political Ticker


Friday, October 09, 2009

That's What I'm Talkin' About

30 Senate Democrats today signed a letter to Majority Leader Reid ($), urging him to include a "robust, Medicare-like public option" in the bill he brings to the floor of the Senate.

  HCNOW!


Iran Reacts

An aide to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave this statement: "We hope that this gives him the incentive to walk in the path of bringing justice to the world order. We are not upset and we hope that by receiving this prize he will start taking practical steps to remove injustice in the world."

  BBC

Me, too. Of course, one man's justice...


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


Speech

Obama in the Rose Garden today on his Nobel Prize...

Let me be clear: I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations.

[...]

And I know that throughout history, the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it's also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes. And that is why I will accept this award as a call to action -- a call for all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st century.

[...]

We cannot tolerate a world in which nuclear weapons spread to more nations and in which the terror of a nuclear holocaust endangers more people. And that's why we've begun to take concrete steps to pursue a world without nuclear weapons, because all nations have the right to pursue peaceful nuclear power, but all nations have the responsibility to demonstrate their peaceful intentions.

  White House

Oh, the irony!

We cannot accept the growing threat posed by climate change, which could forever damage the world that we pass on to our children -- sowing conflict and famine; destroying coastlines and emptying cities. And that's why all nations must now accept their share of responsibility for transforming the way that we use energy.

We can't allow the differences between peoples to define the way that we see one another, and that's why we must pursue a new beginning among people of different faiths and races and religions; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect.

And we must all do our part to resolve those conflicts that have caused so much pain and hardship over so many years, and that effort must include an unwavering commitment that finally realizes that the rights of all Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace and security in nations of their own.

Pretty words laden with hypocrisy. Time to back up the words.

And even as we strive to seek a world in which conflicts are resolved peacefully and prosperity is widely shared, we have to confront the world as we know it today.

[...]

Some of the work confronting us will not be completed during my presidency. Some, like the elimination of nuclear weapons, may not be completed in my lifetime.

Ah, the loophole.

But I know these challenges can be met so long as it's recognized that they will not be met by one person or one nation alone.

[...]

And that's why this award must be shared with everyone who strives for justice and dignity [...]That has always been the cause of America. That's why the world has always looked to America. And that's why I believe America will continue to lead.

Confused a little?


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


The Axis of Anti-Americanism

The Taliban, Hamas and the GOP are all officially coming out against Obama's Peace Prize.


And a Nobel Prize Recipient to Boot

President Barack Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday in a stunning decision designed to encourage his initiatives to reduce nuclear arms, ease tensions with the Muslim world and stress diplomacy and cooperation rather than unilateralism.

  Yahoo

I just hope it doesn’t further distract him from what he needs to be concentrating on. Will he have to make another round of television late-night appearances?

The Nobel committee praised Obama's creation of "a new climate in international politics" and said he had returned multilateral diplomacy and institutions like the U.N. to the center of the world stage.

"You have to remember that the world has been in a pretty dangerous phase," Jagland said. "And anybody who can contribute to getting the world out of this situation deserves a Nobel Peace Prize."

Hey, am I not contributing to that? Do they have an Anti-Nobel Prize for W?

[J]ust a day after Obama hosted the Israeli and Palestinian leaders in New York, Israeli officials boasted that they had fended off U.S. pressure to halt settlement construction. Moderate Palestinians said they felt undermined by Obama's failure to back up his demand for a freeze.

Sore losers.


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


Thursday, October 08, 2009

Bush With a Better Vocabulary

The American Propsect's Adam Serwer notes that, yesterday, Sen. Joe Lieberman successfully inserted into the Homeland Security appropriations bill an amendment -- supported by the Obama White House -- to provide an exemption from the Freedom of Information Act's mandates by authorizing the Defense Secretary to suppress long-concealed photographs of detainee abuse. Two courts had ruled -- unanimously -- that the American people have the right to see these photographs under FOIA, a 40-year-old law championed by the Democrats in the LBJ era and long considered a crowning jewel in their legislative achievements. But this Lieberman amendment, which is now likely to pass, undermines all of that and -- as EBay founder Pierre Omidyar put it today -- its central purpose is to "legalize suppression" of evidence of American war crimes.

What made those detainee photographs so important from the start is that they depict brutal abuse well outside of the Abu Ghraib facility and thus reveal to Americans -- and the world -- that America's torture was not, as they've been constantly told, limited to rogue sadists at Abu Ghraib and the waterboarding of three bad guys. [...]But a Democrat-led Congress, at the urging of a Democratic President, is now taking extraordinary steps -- including a new law which has no purpose other than to suppress evidence of America's war crimes -- to ensure that this evidence never sees the light of day.

  Glenn Greenwald


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


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Too Good to Wait for Sunday

In an effort to rid the Good Book of "liberal bias," [the folks at Conservapedia have] set up the Conservative Bible Project, which aims to rewrite the Bible from a modern, conservative perspective.

[...]

"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." [...] is one of the group's targets for deletion in a truly "conservative" Bible. The "forgive them father" quote "is a favorite of liberals but should not appear in a conservative Bible," Conservapedia states.

[...]

And evidently many of Jesus' other teachings -- from the "turn the other cheek" lesson, to his disdain for profiteering -- will also no longer be acceptable in the conservative Bible.

  Raw Story

Supply your own comments.


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


Once Again I'm Late to the Party

I'm sorry I missed this one. It would have been more fun a year ago.


Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Dollar Down

The dollar's future as the world's top currency was thrown into doubt on Tuesday as a report said Arab states had launched secret moves with China and Russia to stop using the greenback for oil trading.

Arab states have launched steps with China, Russia, Japan and France to stop using the dollar for oil trades, British daily The Independent reported on Tuesday, but the report was denied by Kuwait and Qatar and reportedly by other nations.

  Raw Story

What to believe? It's always a threat.


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


No Surprise Here, Either

If it wasn't obvious that the Bush administration was determined to bring this country to its knees, however, this might surprise you.

Federal regulators in the Bush administration blocked attempts by state governments to prevent predatory lending practices that resulted in the financial crisis now stalking the American economy, a new study from the University of North Carolina says.

In 2004, the Office of the Currency Comptroller, an obscure regulatory agency tasked with ensuring the fiscal soundness of America's banks, invoked an 1863 law to give itself the power to override state laws against predatory lending. The OCC told states they could not enforce predatory-lending laws, and all banks would be subject only to less-strict federal laws.

[…]

Last year, seven months before the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the ensuing government banking bailout, then-New York Governor Eliot Spitzer wrote a Washington Post column in which he described how the Bush administration blocked states' efforts to prevent a crisis in the mortgage industry.

  Raw Story

And we saw what happened to Sptizer.


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


No Surprise Here

According to excerpts from an internal IAEA report, published online by the Institute for Science and International Security, allegations that Iran is in fact developing nuclear weapons are based almost entirely on U.S. intelligence given to the agency in 2002-03.

[…]

"The draft report says the agency 'assesses that Iran has sufficient information to be able to design and produce a workable implosion nuclear device,'" added [Gareth] Porter [IPS News]. "But other passages indicate the authors regard such knowledge only as a possibility, based on suspicions rather than concrete evidence."

  Raw Story




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


Bush With a Better Vocabulary

It started out sounding good.

In an executive order signed Monday, Obama required all agencies to do what he wants companies operating power plants, running refineries and making automobiles to do: reduce heat-trapping gases.

Each federal agency will have to set the first targets for reducing climate-altering pollution from its buildings, fleets and workers' commutes.

The agencies will have 90 days to tell the White House how they plan to measure and reduce greenhouse gases from buildings and vehicles by 2020.

[...]

The Senate bill would require refineries, factories and power plants to reduce greenhouse gases by 20 percent by 2020 and roughly 80 percent by mid-century.

  TPM

Apparently just to be able to say that the US is working toward pollution reduction when 180 nations meet in Copenhagen in December for a global warming treaty meeting.

Twenty percent by 2020? At that rate we may not have to concern ourselves with 80% by mid-century. We’ll all have choked to death by then. At the very least, the Republicans will be back in charge, and we'll ditch the idea altogether.


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


Monday, October 05, 2009

Let's Review

General McChrystal. Publicly pushing for more troops in Afghanistan.

Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who commands the 100,000 U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan, warned bluntly last week in a London speech that a strategy for defeating the Taliban that is narrower than the one he is advocating would be ineffective and "short-sighted." The comments effectively rejected a policy option that senior White House officials, including Vice President Biden, are considering nearly eight years after the U.S. invasion.

[...]

National security adviser James L. Jones suggested Sunday that the public campaign being conducted by the U.S. commander in Afghanistan on behalf of his war strategy is complicating the internal White House review underway, saying that "it is better for military advice to come up through the chain of command."

  WaPo

Where else has McChrystal appeared on our radar?

Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal personally apologized to the family of Cpl. Pat Tillman, the fallen Army Ranger killed in Afghanistan by friendly fire in 2004, for writing a memorandum for his chain of command that seemed to suggest a cover-up of the circumstances in Tillman’s death. “If I had it to do it all over again,” he said, he would allow an investigation to go forward establishing the cause of Tillman’s death before informing his chain of command of questions about whether or not Tillman was killed by enemy fire.

  Washington Independent

When NFL player-turned-Army Ranger Pat Tillman died at the hands of US troops in a case of "friendly fire," the spin machine at the Pentagon went into overdrive. Rumsfeld and company couldn't have their most high-profile soldier dying in such an inelegant fashion, especially with the release of those pesky photos from Abu Ghraib hitting the airwaves. So an obscene lie was told to Tillman's family, his friends and the American public.

[...]

[The] man who greased the chain of command that orchestrated this great deception is [...] Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

  The Nation


United Nations

Or as they say, New World Order.

Former US Ambassador Peter Galbraith, who was fired from his role as second ranking official at the UN Mission to Afghanistan last week, says he was ordered by mission chief Kai Eide to cover up the extent of the voter fraud by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

[...]

Though ample evidence of widespread fraud has since come to light, the UN mission, which was charged by the Security Council to ensure the fairness of the elections, has been reluctant to press for more than cursory recounts and some from the mission have indicated a preference to not have a run-off between Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah, a virtual certainty if the fraudulent votes were discounted.

  Atniwar.com


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


Bomb Bomb Iran

Who is threatening nuclear holocaust in the Middle East? It isn’t the Iranian mullahs, that’s for sure.

[...]

At this very moment Israel has a great deal of its nuclear arsenal – containing at least 200 atom bombs– aimed straight at Tehran.

[...]

It is the US that has occupied nations on Iran’s borders, in Iraq and Afghanistan, while you have to go back a thousand years to pin down the last time the Iranians (then the Persians) crossed their borders and invaded another country. It was the US that backed Saddam Hussein when he invaded Iran, in a war in which hundreds of thousands were slaughtered. So who is the real aggressor here?

[...]

The Russians and the Chinese are not going to go along with the "get Iran" lynch mob now lining up behind French President Sarkozy and the vehemently anti-Iranian Germans. More importantly, the Iraqis aren’t going to go along with it, either - and good luck enforcing a blockade when goods can pass freely between Iraq and Iran. It can’t be done.

Our president knows this, and is by no means eager for a conflict with Iran: this is what has the Israelis furious with him, and it has the Lobby in a tizzy.

[...]

The battle for public opinion is going to be decisive in the coming months. [...] You can bet your bottom dollar we’ll be treated to more surprises – sudden "revelations" of "secret intelligence" that will somehow find its way into the spotlight.

  Justin Raimondo

Again, if you have not already done so, read Juan Cole's piece: Top Things You Think You Know About Iran That Are Not True


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


Presidentin' IS Hard


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


Sunday, October 04, 2009

It's Sunday


Bush With a Better Vocabulary

Despite promises during the campaign that he would review certain of the most intrusive portions of the PATRIOT Act, President Barack Obama’s Justice Department today is calling for Congress to extend all three expiring provisions.

[...]

Among those provisions the administration is seeking to extend is the infamous Section 215: the provision which allows law enforcement access to library and bookstore records, without probable cause, for “national security” reasons.

[...]

Another of the provisions the administration wants extended is the so-called “lone wolf” provision, which amends the FISA definition of “agent of a foreign power” to include people the government can’t establish as having any link to a foreign government or terrorist organization.

Finally they would extend the “roving wiretap” provision in Section 206, which allows the government to wiretap a person and all devices they come into contact with, rather than having to get a warrant to wiretap a given phone or device.

  Antiwar.com


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


Meanwhile in Afghanistan

US forces suffered one of their bloodiest days in eight years of war in Afghanistan with eight soldiers killed when their remote outposts were overrun by hundreds of Taliban militants, officials said on Sunday.

[...]

"Coalition forces effectively repelled the attack and inflicted heavy enemy casualties while eight ISAF and two ANSF (Afghan National Security Force) service members were killed," it said.

[...]

A Taliban spokesman claimed that 30 foreign and Afghan troops were killed and that they captured the police chief of Kamdesh district as well as 30 Afghan National Army soldiers.

[...]

NATO is battling to quell a deadly insurgency that is spreading across Afghanistan, nearly eight years after the hardline Islamist Taliban were ousted from power.

[...]

Security has worsened in the previously calm north and west and insurgent attacks increased before the August 20 presidential election.

Like in the south and the east, fighting between militants and international forces has now become a daily occurrence.

  Raw Story

So, yeah, this is a great time to attack Iran, as the war hawks are screaming.


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