WASHINGTON -- More than six years after the U.S. invaded to establish a stable central regime in Afghanistan, the Kabul government under President Hamid Karzai controls just 30 percent of the country, the top U.S. intelligence official said Wednesday.
National Intelligence Director Michael McConnell told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the resurgent Taliban controls 10 percent to 11 percent of the country and Karzai's government controls 30 percent to 31 percent. The majority of Afghanistan's population and territory remains under local tribal control, he said. [...] In 2007, insurgency-related violence killed more than 6,500 people, including 222 foreign troops. Last year was the deadliest yet since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.
Officials estimate that up to 40 percent of proceeds from Afghanistan's drug trade _ an amount worth tens of millions of dollars _ is used to fund the insurgency.
The booming poppy harvest in Afghanistan could soon become New England's heroin problem.
Ahh, the Bush policy of the 'free market' at work.[/snark]
Bush et al were so desperate to invade Iraq that after 6 1/2 years of war in Afghanistan they only manage to control 3 times more area than the Taliban does. And somehow heroin keeps entering our country regardless of the DHS and their 900,000 people on the 'Terrer Watch List.'
Just a quick question: What terrifies you more; The reality of your child being exposed to cheaper heroin or the fantasy of a 'ticking time bomb' somewhere in America?
US Defence Secretary Robert Gates plunged into one of the world’s hottest arms market Tuesday, saying rapidly expanding US-Indian defence ties were in both countries’ interests.
His arrival coincided with news that India successfully tested its first nuclear capable missile from a submerged platform, completing its goal of developing air, land and sea-based ballistic missiles. [...] “India is the world’s largest democracy. It is in our interest to develop this relationship, just as it is in India’s,” he told reporters in New Delhi after strolling the grounds of the tomb of 16th century Mughal emperor Humayun. [...] He also expressed hope for completion of a US-Indian civil nuclear technology agreement that has been held up by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s communist allies, but said that was not part of his talks here.
Gates flew in from Indonesia, where he also pledged strong US support for arms sales to the Indonesian military and its emergence as a power in southeast Asia. [...] India traditionally has relied on Russia as its primary military supplier but is now diversifying as the country modernises its military with an eye to China’s parallel drive to develop a military capable of projecting power in the region.
So Bushco & Gates want to sell arms to Indonesia, (the world's 4th most populous country, and had their first free elections in 2004), and to India, (a country with full nuclear capability and close communist ties.)
America sold arms to afghanistan to defeat the USSR, America sold arms to Iran to defeat Iraq, America sold arms to Iraq to defeat Iran.
It is a vibrant fixture of Lower Manhattan commerce. Tourists jostle for space at Canal Street’s stores and sidewalk kiosks, bargaining with vendors over sparkly watches, handbags and perfumes with fake designer labels that are sold at a fraction of the cost of the genuine item.
But over the past five weeks, like the goods that are not what they appear to be, undercover police officers and city agents fanned out and pretended to be real shoppers in an area the mayor called the “Counterfeit Triangle” — which roughly includes Canal, Walker, Baxter and Centre Streets. They picked up items that included a Prada handbag for $40; a Patek Philippe watch and a Rolex for $80, and two pairs of Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses for $18.
So who really cares if some tourist from Peoria or some working class schlub from Bensenhurst pays $18 dollars for D&G sunglasses? It's not like either one of them are going to pay $100s of dollars for the real thing. NOBODY who buys anything on Canal street is doing it to save money on the real thing. Meanwhile, people who make the knockoffs are employed, the people who sell the knockoffs are making money, and people who buy the crap will only have it for as long as the poor workmanship can manage to survive and they'll then have to go back to Canal street to buy something else. That's the way it works.
So, you have to wonder, who really benefited from having this done? And of course, the answer is "the greedy corporations." Knockoffs don't really hurt anybody but the corporation that's being copied. Anybody who really wants D&G glasses will buy D&G glasses. If the knockoff economy keeps a few glasses from being sold, so be it. To the huge corporations, it's not even a dent, it's a mite at best. Certainly, if I were a bag designer, and I saw my bag design on Canal Street being sold for a fraction of what I charge, I'd be annoyed. No doubt. But we're not talking about a small company that can't absorb a loss. We're talking about Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana and Tommy Hilfiger.
So, was it for show? A demonstration of the power of the State?
Is it the State bending to the will of the corporation?
Are more regular folks hurt by this act than corporations?
Who makes the decisions that benefit so few on the backs of so many?
The closing paragraph of C. Wright Mills' "The Power Elite" (1956) offers a clue:
The men of the higher circles are not representative men; their high position is not a result of moral virtue; their fabulous success is not firmly connected with meritorious ability. Those who sit in the seats of the high and the the mighty are selected and formed by the means of power, the sources of wealth, the mechanics of celebrity, which prevail in their society. They are not men selected and formed by a civil service that is linked with the word of knowledge and sensibility. The are not men shaped by nationally responsible parties that debate openly and clearly the issues this nation now so unintelligently confronts. They are not men held in responsible check by a plurality of voluntary associations which connect debating publics with the pinnacles of decision. Commanders of power unequaled in human history, they have succeeded within the American system of organized irresponsibility.
GOP To Telecoms: Give Us Cash For Advocating Wiretaps [title. Bill]
With the House Democrats' refusal to grant retroactive immunity to phone companies -- stalling the rewrite of the warrantless wiretapping program -- GOP leadership aides are grumbling that their party isn't getting more political money from the telecommunications industry.
Like most corporate interests with a heavy stake in Congressional action, the major phone companies significantly boosted their contributions to Democrats last year after the party surged back into the majority.
But giving by that sector is getting special attention from Republicans now that the debate over the surveillance program is front and center -- and focused on the phone companies' role in aiding the Bush administration after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. ...
House Republicans have sought to capitalize on the immunity issue by painting Democrats as more interested in enriching their trial lawyer supporters than protecting national security.
In a reflection of the sensitivity of the subject matter, and an apparent recognition that they would undermine their own messaging by appearing to be motivated by fundraising concerns, Republicans on and off Capitol Hill declined to comment on the record.
But several confirmed the griping in GOP leadership ranks over the phone companies' shifting donations.
But there may yet be hope:
Republicans are convinced that highlighting their counterterrorism policies will be a political winner in this presidential election year, and they have focused this week on Democratic opposition to their version of a new surveillance bill as a way to paint Democrats as soft on national security, according to GOP lawmakers and their aides.
Democrats respond that they are unfazed by the attacks, arguing that most Americans doubt the credibility of President Bush and Republicans when it comes to warning about security threats.
Ya lie to people just to be lying out of self-interest and sooner or later even the Democrats get it.
posted by Bill Arnett @ 1:17 PM Permalink
Why, when all the oil companies shut down working plants to maximize profit and engineer phony "shortages" to jack up the price of oil and gas? A brief sampling from the Google should suffice to clear up this lie. (I'm not going to link to each individual article, just use the Google to search for "refinery closures last ten years"):
Shell sees refinery closures, chemical asset sales ahead [title. Bill][…]
Journal Record, The (Oklahoma City), Feb 16, 1998 by Reed V. Landberg LONDON -- The Royal Dutch/Shell Group is planning to close petroleum refineries and make acquisitions and disposals of assets in its chemicals unit to revive flagging profit across the group. [break for new quote. Bill]
Port Stanvac Refinery Closure: Mobil To Mothball Plant [title. Bill][…]
The decision by oil giant Mobil to close its Port Stanvac refinery will mean the loss of 400 jobs in the short term, but what does the future hold for the massive complex ? Following yesterday's announcement of the closure, the State Government says it will now investigate avenues of using the site for other activities if the company does not plan to re-open it in the next few years.[break for new quote. Bill]
The Oil Industry, Gas Supply and Refinery Capacity:More Than Meets the Eye An investigative report presentedby Senator Ron Wyden June 14, 2001 “As observed over the last few years and as projected well into the future, the most criticalfactor[sic] facing the refining industry on the West Coast is the surplus refining capacity, and thesurplus[sic] gasoline production capacity. The same situation exists for the entire U.S. refiningindustry[sic]. Supply significantly exceeds demand year-round. This results in very poor refinerymargins[sic], and very poor refinery financial results. Significant events need to occur to assistin[sic] reducing supplies and/or increasing the demand for gasoline.”Internal Texaco document, March 7, 1996“A senior energy analyst at the recent API (American Petroleum Institute) conventionwarned[sic] that if the U.S. petroleum industry doesn’t reduce its refining capacity, it will neversee[sic] any substantial increase in refining margins…However, refining utilization has beenrising[sic], sustaining high levels of operations, thereby keeping prices low.[Break for new quote. Bill]
The Social and Environmental Costs of Oil Company Divestment from U.S. Refineries[title. Bill]
BACKING OUT OF THE USA
There are approximately 170 oil refineries currently operating in the United States, and the number is steadily dropping. A decade and a half ago, many of the large oil corporations -- including Chevron, Mobil, Shell, Unocal and BP -- began shifting their investment focus overseas. The companies cut back on investments in their U.S. refineries, with many ultimately selling them off to smaller independent companies. Some companies like Arco and Shell could not find a willing buyer for their refineries, and just shut down operations. Many of the smaller companies have followed suit in recent years, closing many of their refineries. U.S. refinery shutdowns in the last two years include: Barrett Refining in Thomas, Oklahoma; Crystal Refining in Carson City, Michigan; Cyril Petrochemical in Cyril, Oklahoma; Intermountain Refining in Fredonia, Arizona; Tosco Refining in Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania; and Total Petroleum in Arkansas City, Kansas.
Refinery closures have caused refining capacity in the United States to drop 20 percent from its peak in 1982, says Keith Peterson, director of Standard & Poor's global energy group in New York City.
Big oil companies are not fleeing the United States because the country has run out of oil. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that two-thirds of all the oil ever discovered in the United States is still underground. Companies are leaving because they can get rich quicker overseas.
Are you beginning to get the gist of this? Deliberate shutdown of working refineries is what is contributing to our higher oil prices, and for no reason other than to maximize profits.
And yet our jerk-off president, an oil man from an oil family, once again thinks that we, the people, are too stupid to connect the dots and discover the truth of the matter.
"bush pledg[ed] to continue speaking out about the issue until the American people…
posted by Bill Arnett @ 12:28 PM Permalink
… understand and, by implication, the lawmakers follow the will of their constituents." From the NYT quoting pResident bush regarding the telecom immunity bill he so fervently desires.
A person would think that the world's most well-known admitted liar, and worst president in American history, might stop to consider that the people have listened to him long enough over the last seven years to know that no good can come from giving criminals retroactive immunity for their unreported crimes.
Let him use his power to pardon any potential criminals and face the judgment of the American people and the world. bush, just like anyone else, must not be permitted to escape any consequences for his illegal actions.
At least he will never be able to leave the U.S. again without fear of being arrested for his war crimes and transported to the Hague for prosecution. Isn't that a pleasant thought?
Joe Lents hasn't made a payment on his $1.5 million mortgage since 2002.
That's when Washington Mutual Inc. first tried to foreclose on his home in Boca Raton, Florida. The Seattle-based lender failed to prove that it owned Lents's mortgage note and dropped attempts to take his house. Subsequent efforts to foreclose have stalled because no one has produced the paperwork.
"If you're going to take my house away from me, you better own the note,'' said Lents, 63, the former chief executive officer of a now-defunct voice recognition software company.
Photos of two women who attacked Baghdad pet markets show signs of Down syndrome, U.S. officials say.
February 3, 2008 [...] The photographs showed the lifeless faces of two dark-haired women with oblique eye fissures, a wide gap between the eyes and a flat nose bridge -- characteristics consistent with Down syndrome.
Gen. George Casey, the Army's chief of staff, said Tuesday he has no reason to doubt Barack Obama's recent account by an Army captain that a rifle platoon in Afghanistan didn't have enough soldiers or weapons.
During the Texas Democratic debate
Barack Obama [said] the war in Iraq, which he opposes, has pulled troops away from Afghanistan and left soldiers there without proper equipment. [...] "You know, I've heard from an Army captain who was the head of a rifle platoon — supposed to have 39 men in a rifle platoon," Obama said. "Ended up being sent to Afghanistan with 24 because 15 of those soldiers had been sent to Iraq,"
"And as a consequence, they didn't have enough ammunition, they didn't have enough Humvees. They were actually capturing Taliban weapons, because it was easier to get Taliban weapons than it was for them to get properly equipped by our current commander in chief.
Now Obama's point is so obviously true you just know the wrongwingers will swiftboat tiny details to make it seem as if the whole thing was made up.
And the AP article quoted above, which complained about Obama not giving the captain's name, is true to form by not even bothering to quote anyone:
"A platoon does not have to consist of 39, but can have between 16 to 40 soldiers, according to standard Army unit organization. It is also commanded by a lieutenant and not a captain."
ABC's Jake Tapper talked to Obama's source, and after noting the wrongwing sites and their swiftboating, wrote
[...] "I find that account pretty hard to imagine," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters.
"Despite the stress that we readily acknowledge on the force, one of the things that we do is make sure that all of our units and service members that are going into harm's way are properly trained, equipped and with the leadership to be successful," he said.
OK, the wrongwingers are relying on Swiftboat 101, attack a tiny detail and ignore the truth of the point: the war in Iraq has pulled troops away from Afghanistan and left soldiers there without proper equipment.
But the Pentagon attacked the truth of the point. And that's just hypocritical.
[...] Federal prosecutors in Rock Island have indicted four former supervisors from KBR, the giant defense firm that holds the contract, along with a decorated Army officer and five executives from KBR subcontractors based in the U.S. or the Middle East. [...] The Pentagon has outsourced crucial troop support jobs while slashing the number of government contract watchdogs. [...] Last week, the Army pledged to add 1,400 positions to its contracting command. [...] Former KBR procurement manager Stephen Seamans, who was wearing a wire strapped on by a Rock Island agent, wondered aloud whether to return $65,000 in kickbacks he got from his two companions, executives from the Saudi conglomerate Tamimi Global Co.
One of the men, Tamimi operations director Shabbir Khan, urged him to hide the money by concocting phony business records. [...] October 2002, five months before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Khan threw a birthday party for Seamans at a Tamimi "party house" near the Kuwait base known as Camp Arifjan. Khan "provided Seamans with a prostitute as a present," Rock Island prosecutors wrote in court papers. Driving Seamans back to his quarters, Khan offered kickbacks that would total $130,000. [...] In April 2003, as American troops poured into Iraq, Seamans gave Khan inside information that enabled Tamimi to secure a $2 million KBR subcontract to establish a mess hall at a Baghdad palace. Seamans submitted change orders that inflated that subcontract to $7.4 million. [...] By July 2005, Tamimi had secured some 30 KBR troop feeding subcontracts worth $793.5 million, records show. Khan continued to negotiate Iraq war subcontracts for Tamimi until shortly before he was arrested in Rock Island in March 2006. [...] "If you ever gave Tamimi a hard time, you'd get a call," former KBR subcontract manager Harry DeWolf told the Tribune.
When subcontracts came up for renegotiation, DeWolf said, companies like Tamimi "would say, 'Fine, we're going to pull out all of our people and equipment.' They really had KBR and the government over the barrel."
February 21, 2008Hundreds of pages of recently unsealed court records detail how kickbacks shaped the war's largest troop support contract months before the first wave of U.S. soldiers plunged their boots into Iraqi sand.
Full disclosure: I rearranged a few of the paragraphs in the article to make a timeline. I recommend you read the whole article.
I'll wait ...
... hmm, hmm da, de da, da, dada, da duh, da, de dah ...
Former Halliburton subsidiary KBR Inc. said Tuesday fourth-quarter profit rose 65 percent, lifted by contributions from natural-gas projects, work in Iraq and a tax benefit related to a 2006 asset sale.
posted by The Vidiot @ 5:15 PM Permalink
Plenty pissed me off, but it was mostly work-related. Isn’t it sad that most of us spend a good portion of our lives doing things we hate so that we can then afford to do the things we enjoy? Shouldn't we have come up with a better way by now?
Bush refuses to negotiate peaceful solutions because his handlers know he isn't intellectually or psychologically capable of conducting negotiations against savvy and sane opponents. Instead, he does the only thing of which he is capable: He flexes his muscles, beats his chest like a modern-day Neanderthal and issues provocations and threats, like a schoolyard bully.
posted by Bill Arnett @ 1:13 PM Permalink
…at a campaign event John McCain had some guy, Bill Cuunningham, out on stage howling' maniacally about how "Barrack Hussein Obama" would be stripped of all semblance of dignity and exposed as just another "hack Chicago-style Daley politician" as the GOP exposes crooked land deals, misusing his position elsewhere to enrich himself, and more in a really offensive rant that had McCain running out on stage, seizing the microphone in embarrassment, and desperately trying to "disavow" those words spoken against Obama.
Hysterically funny that McCain would send out a surrogate to label Obama a hack politician. Isn't a hack politician one that has changed every position he supposedly ever believed in just to pander for votes by flip-flopping?
But alleging Obama is a thief, a scoundrel abusing his position to personally enrich himself, well, that's beyond the pale, and McCain's "…got a lot of 'splainin'" to do to try and disassociate himself from Cunningham's outrageous and thoroughly specious speech.
Is that why the GOP loves NASCAR, just so someone can drop the flag and yell, "Gentlemen, start your big mouths and let the slandering begin!"?
McCain's rally, McCain's speaker of choice, McCain the totally unprincipled jerk? Sounds right to me.
In the "no kidding department" CNN is polling people to ask if we are in a recession…
posted by Bill Arnett @ 12:30 PM Permalink
…when there are articles like this in the NYT ("All the News Republicans Tell Us to Print").
From the article:
Two worrisome trends for the economy — falling house prices and the rising cost of everything else — picked up speed in the latest data reported on Tuesday, putting policy makers in an increasingly tough position.[…]
“The Fed is now having to walk a very fine line,” said Jane Caron, chief economic strategist at Dwight Asset Management, an investment firm that specializes in bonds. “We have clearly seen an accelerating in inflation pressure in the last couple of months and the risk is that the markets are going to react negatively to aggressive easing going forward.”
Not surprisingly, a measure of consumer confidence fell to its lowest level in nearly five years. But the stock market was up slightly in late morning trading after falling modestly at the open. Treasuries moved slightly higher, indicating that bond investors were not overly fearful of inflation.
Maybe being on a fixed income makes me more sensitive to these things, but when people start making statements that the economy is worse than the after the dot.com bust, worse than after 9/11, record, no staggering numbers of home foreclosures, car repossessions, and the price of everything under the sun going up as one of the direct results of bush's Oil War Failure, I'd say it's, "…it's pr-r-r-e-t-t-y f*ckin' bad, Captain."
But I'm no economist, so I could be wrong, but when the best financial advice CNN's so-called economists can apparently give is, "…refinance your house now if you have good credit…," like it's the easiest thing in the world, it's a sure thing that these "professionals" are so out of touch with what's really happening out here in America that they are unaware that the average schmoe ain't gonna be "refinancing their homes" or "paying off their credit cards" or doing anything else but trying to conserve gas to get back and forth to the two or three jobs many families are required to work just to keep a roof over the head and food on the table and just hope that no one falls ill in the family.
Two years ago when I saw the sixty year-old houses in my neighborhood starting to sell for over $500,000.00 I knew this crash was coming and that it wouldn't be pretty. There's not a single house in this neighborhood worth half a mil or more and son-of-a-gun, wouldn't you know it? Suddenly NO HOUSES are selling at all here in the neighborhood and haven't been for the last two years.
What makes the wealthy think they are qualified to offer advice to the average American, whom all know how bad it is out here? Just how ignorant are these people, really?
posted by The Vidiot @ 7:50 AM Permalink
I didn't pay attention to the news. I didn't watch TV and I only checked my email so I could delete the junk (100+!). I ate jambalaya and crawfish and listened to jazz until I was blue in the face. I even got to see a real live second line! (A truly awesome way to deal with death)
And now I'm back. And I'm sure that before the day is over, something will piss me off enough to post.
I would like to thank the boys for doing such a fabulous job while I was gone, so much so I bet nobody noticed I wasn't posting. Way to make me irrelevant guys!
The pharmaceutical industry has been a frequent target in the current presidential campaign, but that hasn't stopped it from continuing to aggressively raise the prices of prescription drugs.
Pharmaceutical companies increased wholesale prices for the 50 top-selling branded drugs by an average of 7.82% in 2007, after increases of 6.73% and 6.22% in the previous two years, according to Delta Marketing Dynamics Inc., a health-care marketing research company. The most recent increase is almost double the overall U.S. economy's 4.1% annual inflation rate last year.
Some individual drugs had double-digit price increases over three years. GlaxoSmithKline PLC raised the price of antidepressant Wellbutrin XL by 44.5% from 2005 to 2007. Sanofi-Aventis SA raised the price of sleep drug Ambien 70.1%. Shire PLC increased the price of its attention-deficit disorder medication, Adderall XR, by 33.5%, while the price of cholesterol-fighting Lipitor -- the world's top-selling drug, which brought in roughly $13 billion last year for Pfizer Inc. -- rose 16%.
We need to allow Big Pharma regulate itself so they can earn a decent living.
GOP collective sigh, "Oh, well. At least it was with a woman."
posted by Bill Arnett @ 12:43 PM Permalink
Once again, in its finest tradition, a GOP candidate for the president has had his "family values" credentials tarnished after years of pomposity, posing, lecturing, and just generally bragging about what a nice, family man he was and that his qualifications, both private and public, undoubtedly warranted electing him to the highest office in the land.
I refer, of course, to John McCain, now forever precluded from preceding his name with the qualification of "saint." (Oh! Wait a minute! I haven't finished reading the article yet! Is there any mention of changing faiths, choir boys, and late night "summer camps" where the little chirrun' are taught how to gennu…genus…genyou…aw the hell with it, where they were taught to pray to the Republican God of War, gwb, and beg for salvation when he finally brings about the "End of Days?" I'll be write back.)
Whew! No young males THIS TIME.
From the New York Times comes this tragic story of a good man possibly gone bad with all the sordid tales of, "Hey! I was just showin' the young, pretty, nubile, hard-bodied wo…no…lobbyist, showing a lobbyist, yeah, a lobbyist how you land on an aircraft carrier [Now known to be one of the qualifications of a GOP presidential candidate. Bill] and that's why everything had been pushed off my desk! Any damn fool will tell you that you can't possible land while simultaneously dodging the pencil sharpener and the "In and Out" boxes. Oh! And strike that remark about In and Out boxes, my wife might get that one, heh, heh. And the pencil sharpener comment, too.":
Early in Senator John McCain’s first run for the White House eight years ago, waves of anxiety swept through his small circle of advisers.
A female lobbyist had been turning up with him at fund-raisers, visiting his offices and accompanying him on a client’s corporate jet. Convinced the relationship had become romantic, some of his top advisers intervened to protect the candidate from himself — instructing staff members to block the woman’s access, privately warning her away and repeatedly confronting him, several people involved in the campaign said on the condition of anonymity.
When news organizations reported that Mr. McCain had written letters to government regulators on behalf of the lobbyist’s client, the former campaign associates said, some aides feared for a time that attention would fall on her involvement.
Mr. McCain, 71, and the lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, 40, both say they never had a romantic relationship. But to his advisers, even the appearance of a close bond with a lobbyist whose clients often had business before the Senate committee Mr. McCain led threatened the story of redemption and rectitude that defined his political identity.
It had been just a decade since an official favor for a friend with regulatory problems had nearly ended Mr. McCain’s political career by ensnaring him in the Keating Five scandal. In the years that followed, he reinvented himself as the scourge of special interests, a crusader for stricter ethics and campaign finance rules, a man of honor chastened by a brush with shame.
Although not sufficiently chastened, apparently, to correct the public's impressions that Republicans primarily seduce little boys and/or while engaging in self-destructive heterosexual urges, an image the GOP desperately wants after the election debacle of 2006.
My friend Bobby Dillingerford, an employee of the RNC who begged me not to identify him for fear of castration and other interrogation techniques the GOP is now famous for, requested and was granted anonymity for this article. Said he, "McCain's really blown it this time. Oh my god, a pretty lobbyist when he could have had any intern of his choice? One we could have silenced with scholarships, jobs for the parents, or even exiling them all from America? Lord knows it is helpful to the party that at least some GOP members are heterosexual. His fund raising should pick up now that his credentials are now fully established."
Said another longtime friend:
“He is essentially an honorable person,” said William P. Cheshire, a friend of Mr. McCain who as editorial page editor of The Arizona Republic defended him during the Keating Five scandal. “But he can be imprudent.”
Mr. Cheshire added, “That imprudence or recklessness may be part of why he was not more astute about the risks he was running with this shady operator,” Charles Keating, whose ties to Mr. McCain and four other lawmakers tainted their reputations in the savings and loan debacle.
He later added that, "At least he didn't have sex with old Charlie boy. Now that would have been hard to explain at the CPAC meeting this year!
McCain further stated: With his nomination this year all but certain, though, he is reminding voters again of his record of reform. His campaign has already begun comparing his credentials with those of Senator Barack Obama, a Democratic contender who has made lobbying and ethics rules a centerpiece of his own pitch to voters.
“I would very much like to think that I have never been a man whose favor can be bought,” Mr. McCain wrote about his Keating experience in his 2002 memoir, “Worth the Fighting For.” “From my earliest youth, I would have considered such a reputation to be the most shameful ignominy imaginable. Yet that is exactly how millions of Americans viewed me for a time, a time that I will forever consider one of the worst experiences of my life.”
A drive to expunge the stain on his reputation in time turned into a zeal to cleanse Washington as well. The episode taught him that “questions of honor are raised as much by appearances as by reality in politics,” he wrote, “and because they incite public distrust they need to be addressed no less directly than we would address evidence of expressly illegal corruption.”
Besides, as my friend Bobby, suddenly no longer in his office but at some "undisclosed location" being interrogated by Dick Cheney, said, quoting the NYT article:
Mr. McCain started his career like many other aspiring politicians, eagerly courting the wealthy and powerful. A Vietnam war hero and Senate liaison for the Navy, he arrived in Arizona in 1980 after his second marriage, to Cindy Hensley, the heiress to a beer fortune there. He quickly started looking for a Congressional district where he could run.
This obvioulsy enhances Mr McCain's chances of being elected president now that all the Republican qualifications have been met: He can fly a plane wearing a hugh codpiece, he speaks to eternal war, now comes allegations of an alleged illicit affair with the Keating Five and a really hot female lobbyist, and all after having been served notice by his staff [Staff, get it? Staff! I crack myself up, Bill], that his actions were so reckless, shameful, hypocritical, and asinine enough to practically guarantee him the presidency.
What a man. What a candidate. Yet another "family values" candidate (whose wife can bring the beer!) for which the all-white, evangelical, homophobic, anti-civil rights religious right voters can really get behind.
Shooting down satellites? Uh…sure…as long as the weather is right…
posted by Bill Arnett @ 11:54 AM Permalink
Our highly vaunted missile defense system, thirty years and trillions of dollars in development, you-know-the-one-on-which-we're-betting all-our-chips-that-this-missile-defense-system-will guarantee-our-future-safety, the one we're risking an all-new confrontation with the Russians and the Chinese over, Reagan's Star Wars missile defense wet-dream, the missile defense system our Benevolent Leader wants to use to protect freedom everywhere has encountered somewhat nefarious circumstances that will limit its usage and impact: IT WON'T WORK IN BAD WEATHER.
High seas in the north Pacific may force the Navy to wait another day before launching a heat-seeking missile on a mission to shoot down a wayward U.S. spy satellite, the Pentagon said Wednesday.
Weather conditions are one of many factors that U.S. military officers are taking into account as they decide whether to proceed with the mission Wednesday or to put it off, according to a senior military officer who briefed reporters at the Pentagon on condition that he not be identified.
The officer said the assumption had been that the mission would go forward Wednesday night, unless conditions are determined to be unfavorable. Earlier in the day, bad weather in the north Pacific was causing rough seas, which may be a problem for the USS Lake Erie, a cruiser armed with two SM-3 missiles.
"We don't anticipate the weather being good enough today," the officer said, adding that conditions could improve enough in the hours ahead to permit it to go forward. A final decision would be made by Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
Alluding to the high seas and strong winds, the officer added, "It has not been enough for us to say `no'" and put the launch mission off until Thursday. But it would take improved conditions to proceed.
So I guess that, besides one repeated failure after another, successful hits on reentering satellites only among the very best of circumstances (usually with a guiding beacon in the missile to be shot down), after decades of warnings that the system won't work, even 'though bush is willing to start yet another war by placing the systems in the Russian and Chinese spheres of influence against the will of those countries, we now know that Star Wars is a "fair weather defense system."
As long as the weather is perfect, the seas smooth and glassy, and a marker beacon in the satellite or missile we want to shoot down, well, everything might go just fine.
But during stormy weather, nuclear war, or with hundreds of missiles raining down upon us from the sky, well, the old-fashioned, highly technical term for it used to be, "We're screwed!"
Trust your government! Move along! Nothing to see here! Much less anything to shoot down.
Even as the Pentagon balked at buying MRAPs for U.S. troops, USA TODAY found that the military pushed to buy them for a different fighting force: the Iraqi army. [...]
So the Pentagon has known since at least 2000 about these vehicles, refused to buy them for US troops, and one version costs about as much as an 'up-armored' humvee. Tell me again how bush et al support the troops?
VIA Talking Points Memo we learn that a US court shut down a whole website with a permanent injunction. Here's Wired's article about it:
Wikileaks, the whistleblower site that recently leaked documents related to prisons in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, was taken offline last week by its U.S. host after posting documents that implicate a Cayman Islands bank in money laundering and tax evasion activities.
In a pretty extraordinary ex-parte move, the Julius Baer Bank and Trust got Dynadot, the U.S. hosting company for Wikileaks, to agree not only to take down the Wikileaks site but also to "lock the wikileaks.org domain name to prevent transfer of the domain name to a different domain registrar." A judge in the U.S. District Court for Northern California signed off on the stipulation between the two parties last week without giving Wikileaks a chance to address the issue in court.
Why would a US judge, (Jeffrey Steven White) rule for a Swiss company operating in the Caymans and order a US ISP to scrub their Domain Name Server(s) of the existence of this website?
And the judge, (Jeffrey Steven White), didn't rule that only the offending documents should be removed, he didn't say it was TRO while he resolved the litigation, he told the ISP to scrub their entire DNS as if the site had never existed.
Yeah Judge, good luck with that. Maybe next you can rule that the pee be taken out of a swimming pool.
But the scariest part is that Judge Jeffrey Steven White ordered the site to maintain records of anyone who had ever accessed the site.
Despite David Brooks, responsible media still "wowed" by Obama
posted by Bill Arnett @ 1:42 PM Permalink
See this from the WaPo in contrast to Brook's nonsense about Obama crashing and burning, titled"Obama Wave Stuns Clinton's Black Supporters"
You can see the confusion on some of their faces, hear the concern in their voices. How in the world do we deal with this?
Hillary Clinton's black supporters -- especially the most prominent ones -- hadn't expected their candidate to be in a dogfight right now. They thought Barack Obama was an election cycle or two away from being serious presidential timber. They thought Bill Clinton's presidency and the close relationships the Clintons had forged with African Americans would translate into goo-gobs of votes in '08. They were wrong.
Remember all the commentator chatter last summer: Is Barack Obama black enough?
Well, he's black enough now.
Obama has swamped Clinton among black voters in each of the 20 contests that had exit polls and large enough samples of African Americans to be meaningful. Just to put that kind of shutout in perspective, black voters represent the only demographic group that the New York senator has not carried at least once during the Democratic primary campaign. Obama now has such a lock on the loyalties of African Americans -- 84 percent of the black vote in Alabama, 87 percent in Georgia, 84 percent in Maryland, and on and on -- that the black vote is no longer contestable.
I guess the WaPo has better thems, thoses, and other sources than David Brooks.
The most idiotic, inane, and biased column of the day…
posted by Bill Arnett @ 12:10 PM Permalink
…comes as usual from David Brooks, a NYT opinion writer and substitute human being so full of himself that his columns are like random paragraphs of garbage thrown into the trash bin that is his column by the cleaning staff at night.
His dribble today is about his perceived "loss" of the "Obama Magic" where, as usual, he cites not a single source or a smidgen of proof for his ignorant raving. He uses really authoritative words that actually exist to say why in his Republican-shill opinion Obama is losing his mojo. Exciting words in boring sentences such as these brilliant observations:
[…]But then psychotherapists began to realize patients across the country were complaining of the same distress. They were experiencing the first hints of what’s bound to be a national phenomenon: Obama Comedown Syndrome.[…]
The afflicted had already been through the phases of Obama-mania[…]
These patients had experienced intense surges of hope-amine,[…]
But they found that as the weeks went on, they needed more and purer hope-injections just to preserve the rush. They wound up craving more hope than even the Hope Pope could provide,[…]
Up until now The Chosen One’s speeches had seemed to them less like stretches of words and more like soul sensations that transcended time and space. But those in the grips of Obama Comedown Syndrome began to wonder if His stuff actually made sense.[…]
Patients in the grip of O.C.S. rarely express doubts at first,[…] They see her campaign morosely traipsing[…] They see that her entire political strategy consists of waiting for primary states as boring as she is.[…]
They feel for her. They feel guilty because the entire commentariat now treats her like Richard Nixon. Are liberal elites rationalizing[…] As the syndrome progresses, they begin to ask questions […]
I'm sorry, but gag me with a spoon. I can't continue his endless unsupported, facetious and absolutely asinine rant in which he again shows his lack of credibility by using endless, made-up, imaginary little friends, such as , "they, tha afflicted, patients, thems, and thoses, and liberal elites that makes David Brooks a totally fictional opinion writer, unable to name or even make up names for sources and quotations to support his usual unsupported opinions.
Is this guy a star graduate of the Armstrong Williams School of Bush Propagandistic Writing or what? And hey, if this is all NYT opinion writers do, make up totally fictitious $hit to amuse themselves while pretending to be s-o-o-o much smarter and informed than you and me, even when it's total bull$hit a third grade teacher might forgive due to her students young age, I think Brooks is just a little old to be writing fairy tales, making up bogus mental syndromes, and purporting to speak for those "disaffected" liberal elite whom he clearly is unable to represent because of his personal bias, obviously having been a Republican shill virtually forever.
But hey, he has column inches to fill with whatever tripe falls within the boundaries of the NYT writing and opinion staff guidelines, and that has to be tough to do when you possess both the writing abilities and the personality of a brick.
Maybe instead of crowing like roosters they should have protected Brewsters…
posted by Bill Arnett @ 1:27 PM Permalink
The manner and means by which certain arrogant officials in the bush maladministration exposed Valerie Plame and utterly destroyed her career, as well as blowing up her non-official cover company of Brewster Jennings & Associates through that exposure, is by now the stuff of legend and lore. Very few remember that the Brewster's set-up, which took years to create, provided Plame the cover to study Iranian nuclear proliferation specifically, an ability lost when she was exposed by White House criminals.
As the GOP icon, Ronnie Raygun would have said, "Well, Mommy, there they go again." And not very well or effectively at that.
See this article from the LA Times titled, "CIA's ambitious post-9/11 spy plan crumbles" to further explore the terrible damage done to our spying abilities and the millions wasted trying to replace those capabilities:
The CIA set up a network of front companies in Europe and elsewhere after the Sept. 11 attacks as part of a constellation of "black stations" for a new generation of spies, according to current and former agency officials.
But after spending hundreds of millions of dollars setting up as many as 12 of the companies, the agency shut down all but two after concluding they were ill-conceived and poorly positioned for gathering intelligence on the CIA's principal targets: terrorist groups and unconventional weapons proliferation networks.
The closures were a blow to two of the CIA's most pressing priorities after the 2001 terrorist attacks: expanding its overseas presence and changing the way it deploys spies.[…]
But the plan became the source of significant dispute within the agency and was plagued with problems, officials said. The bogus companies were located far from Muslim enclaves in Europe and other targets. Their size raised concerns that one mistake would blow the cover of many agents. And because business travelers don't ordinarily come into contact with Al Qaeda or other high-priority adversaries, officials said, the cover didn't work.
Summing up what many considered the fatal flaw of the program, one former high-ranking CIA official said, "They were built on the theory of the 'Field of Dreams': Build them and the targets will come."[…]
The vast majority of the CIA's spies traditionally have operated under what is known as official cover, meaning they pose as U.S. diplomats or employees of another government agency.
The approach has advantages, including diplomatic immunity, which means that an operative under official cover might get kicked out of a country if he or she is caught spying, but won't be imprisoned or executed.[…]
One of the CIA's commercial cover platforms was exposed in 2003 when undercover officer Valerie Plame was exposed in a newspaper by columnist Robert Novak. Public records quickly led to the unraveling of the company that served as her cover during overseas trips, a fictitious CIA firm called Brewster Jennings & Associates.
This is obviously pointing out that most of our intelligence agencies have no idea what they're doing, that by sitting by and doing nothing when Plame was exposed they also created the distinct possibility that she or any other Brewster Jenning's employees could have been imprisoned or executed, and that they currently lack to ability to replace such valuable assets such as those that had already been in place and operating well.
bush has no compunctions about using our military for his private ends, hiring contractors who will do things official agencies won't or can't do, that he will violate any law of his choosing, and that he will allow criminals in the White House subject our spies to imprisonment or death just to get revenge against those who would speak truth to the American people.
Saudi Arabia's rulers threatened to make it easier for terrorists to attack London unless corruption investigations into their arms deals were halted, according to court documents revealed yesterday.
Previously secret files describe how investigators were told they faced "another 7/7" and the loss of "British lives on British streets" if they pressed on with their inquiries and the Saudis carried out their threat to cut off intelligence.
Prince Bandar, the head of the Saudi national security council, and son of the crown prince, was alleged in court to be the man behind the threats to hold back information about suicide bombers and terrorists. He faces accusations that he himself took more than £1bn in secret payments from the arms company BAE.
He was accused in yesterday's high court hearings of flying to London in December 2006 and uttering threats which made the prime minister, Tony Blair, force an end to the Serious Fraud Office investigation into bribery allegations involving Bandar and his family.
The threats halted the fraud inquiry, but triggered an international outcry, with allegations that Britain had broken international anti-bribery treaties. [...] The campaigners argued yesterday that when BAE failed at its first attempt to stop the case, it changed tactics. Having argued it should not be investigated in order to promote arms sales, it then recruited ministers and their Saudi associates to make the case that "national security" demanded the case be covered up.
Ahh, Bush's favorite 'ally' in the War On Terrer, Saudia Arabia, the country that 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers came from, (BTW, zero came from Iraq or Iran), the country that provided the $$ for 9/11, the country that Osama Bin Laden came from, just happens to have received 1,000,000,000 Pounds, (about 1.6 billion dollars at the time), in a bribe from BAE. And then Saudia Arabia threatened Britain with more terrorist attacks if Britain prosecuted the bribes. So Britain's PM at the time, Tony Blair, (AKA Bush's lapdog), stopped the investigations.
Personally, I don't think it was the threat so much as Blair being one of the bribed. A billion dollars can buy a lot of politicians. Speaking of which:
THE Bush administration approved BAE's $US4.1 billion ($4.8 billion) takeover of Armor Holdings, ending speculation that the transaction could come under scrutiny in the wake of bribery allegations at the British defence company.
Armor, which makes armour for Humvees, said in regulatory filings that its takeover by BAE was approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS), the secretive inter-agency panel that vets deals on national security grounds, after a standard 30-day review.
In electing not to subject the deal to a further 45-day investigation, the Bush administration has sent a strong signal that it maintains a strong and trusting relationship with BAE, one of the largest US defence contractors. [...] The company is trusted by the Pentagon, people familiar with the group say, because its US assets are held by a separate US subsidiary that is overseen by an all-American board, including former congressman Lee Hamilton.
Gee, would that be the Lee Hamilton of the 9/11 Commission?
1.6+ billion dollars buys a lot. 4.1 BILLION DOLLARS buys even more.
*Correction: "just happens to have spent 1,000,000,000 Pounds, (about 1.6 billion dollars at the time), on bribing British politicians" was changed to "1,000,000,000 Pounds, (about 1.6 billion dollars at the time), in a bribe from BAE."
"Nobody wants to sit there and say, 'Well there's no easy solution,' They want to send out a check to everybody to stimulate the economy. I suppose it won't hurt the economy but it's in many senses like giving a drink to an alcoholic." -- Michael Bloomberg
posted by Bill Arnett @ 1:48 PM Permalink
…recommends that Republicans commit themselves to spending more money than ever on improving our educational system while noting in a previous paragraph that our system has been steadily declining for the last thirty years.
What happened thirty years ago? Reaganomics and the trickle down system, four years of bush 1 that it took eight years of Bill Clinton dragging rethugs kicking and screaming all the way into the largest surpluses ever, and then bush 2, whose incompetence at EVERYTHING is now legendary, and that has put us so far in debt that he does nothing but make cuts in children's programs and education for our children. Gotta get that Iraqi Oil, y'know? Heh, heh.
Good call, Mr Brooks, but you either can't be serious or you have ignored the fact that we are where we are because of the GOP, the party of fiscal responsibility. The rest of the article is equally propagandistic.
posted by The Vidiot @ 1:35 PM Permalink
This is the DUMBEST, most RETARDED thing I've ever seen.
Who among as has ever gotten sick from any of that?? I mean really. Fecal matter is everywhere. It's on your toothbrush. Even if you don't keep your toothbrush in the bathroom, it gets fecal matter on it. I swear to god, we're becoming a society of goddamn pansy asses. Meanwhile, back in D.C., we have a government that is hell-bent on turning us into slaves and THIS is what gets covered in the media? No wonder they're going broke.
What do you reckon finally clued them in? The subprime market crash? Banks and Wall Street having to borrow billions and billions from the Chinese? That real wages have fallen for every year bush has been in office? That there are more poor, infirm, and elderly going to bed hungary or having to choose between direly needed medication or the can of cat food they will have for dinner? Or, from the article synopsis: New reports showed rising prices of imported goods, struggling manufacturing and an erosion in consumer confidence? That the stock markets are doing crap? The cost of oil rising again? The crashing and rapid devaluing of American currency? Gas and groceries going through the roof? Runaway inflation of 18%?
Or is it that pResident bush can't wring a penny more out of our economy, or borrow enough from our bankers and financiers, the Communist Party of China, to throw into the black hole (it's actually a black lake of $hit large enough to be seen from outer space) on earth we call the bush Iraq fiasco?
The crown will plainly show The prisoner who now stands before you Was caught red-handed showing feelings Showing feelings of an almost human nature; This will not do. Call the schoolmaster!
I always said he'd come to no good In the end your honor. If they'd let me have my way I could Have flayed him into shape. But my hands were tied, The bleeding hearts and artists Let him get away with murder. Let me hammer him today?
Crazy, Toys in the attic I am crazy, Truly gone fishing. They must have taken my marbles away. Crazy, toys in the attic he is crazy.
You little shit you're in it now, I hope they throw away the key. You should have talked to me more often Than you did, but no! You had to go Your own way, have you broken any Homes up lately? Just five minutes, Worm your honor, Him and Me, alone.
Baaaaaaaaaabe! Come to mother baby, let me hold you In my arms. M'lud I never wanted him to Get in any trouble. Why'd he ever have to leave me? Worm, your honor, let me take him home.
Crazy, Over the rainbow, I am crazy, Bars in the window. There must have been a door there in the wall When I came in. Crazy, over the rainbow, he is crazy.
The evidence before the court is Incontrivertable, there's no need for The jury to retire. In all my years of judging I have never heard before Of someone more deserving Of the full penaltie of law. The way you made them suffer, Your exquisite wife and mother, Fills me with the urge to defecate!
"Hey Judge! Shit on him!"
Since, my friend, you have revealed your Deepest fear, I sentence you to be exposed before Your peers. Tear down the wall!
[...] In the interview with the Law in Action programme on BBC Radio 4, [Justice Scalia] said it was "extraordinary" to assume that the ban on "cruel and unusual punishment" - the US Constitution's Eighth Amendment - also applied to "so-called" torture.
"To begin with the constitution... is referring to punishment for crime. And, for example, incarcerating someone indefinitely would certainly be cruel and unusual punishment for a crime."
Justice Scalia argued that courts could take stronger measures when a witness refused to answer questions.
"I suppose it's the same thing about so-called torture. Is it really so easy to determine that smacking someone in the face to determine where he has hidden the bomb that is about to blow up Los Angeles is prohibited in the constitution?" he asked.
"It would be absurd to say you couldn't do that. And once you acknowledge that, we're into a different game.
"How close does the threat have to be? And how severe can the infliction of pain be?"
Jeebus, I'm so sick of these morons and their fantasies about Jack Bauer. It is "extraordinary" for a justus of the US Supreme Court to try to justus-ify torture. We've signed treaties, we've passed laws, and regardless of what scaliawag sez, waterboarding is water torture.
"To begin with the constitution... is referring to punishment for crime." Actually the 8th amendment says: Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
INAL, but I don't see anything in the 8th that says only punishment for the guilty falls within its guidelines. It seems to me to also incorporate people just charged with a crime, (that 'excessive bail' terminology is the key.)
Besides the fact that when the CIA tortured suspects there was no ticking bomb! And they didn't torture them to find out about the future but about their past. And guess what Khalid Sheikh Mohammed confessed to after they water tortured him:
* The February 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City * A failed "shoe bomber" operation * The October 2002 attack in Kuwait * The nightclub bombing in Bali, Indonesia * A plan for a "second wave" of attacks on major U.S. landmarks to be set in the spring or summer of 2002 after the 9/11 attacks, which includes more hijackings of commercial airlines and having them flown into various buildings in the U.S. including the Library Tower in Los Angeles , the Sears Tower in Chicago, the Plaza Bank building in Seattle and the Empire State Building in New York * Plots to attack oil tankers and U.S. naval ships in the Straits of Hormuz, the Straits of Gibraltar and in Singapore * A plan to blow up the Panama Canal * Plans to assassinate Jimmy Carter * A plot to blow up suspension bridges in New York City * A plan to destroy the Sears Tower in Chicago with burning fuel trucks * Plans to "destroy" Heathrow Airport, Canary Wharf and Big Ben in London * A planned attack on "many" nightclubs in Thailand * A plot targeting the New York Stock Exchange and other U.S. financial targets * A plan to destroy buildings in Eilat, Israel * Plans to destroy U.S. embassies in Indonesia, Australia and Japan in 2002. * Plots to destroy Israeli embassies in India, Azerbaijan, the Philippines and Australia * Surveying and financing an attack on an Israeli El-Al flight from Bangkok * Sending several "mujahideen" into Israel to survey "strategic targets" with the intention of attacking them * The November 2002 suicide bombing of a hotel in Mombasa, Kenya * The failed attempt to shoot down an Israeli passenger jet leaving Mombasa airport in Kenya * Plans to attack U.S. targets in South Korea * Providing financial support for a plan to attack U.S., British and Jewish targets in Turkey * Surveillance of U.S. nuclear power plants in order to attack them * A plot to attack NATO's headquarters in Europe * Planning and surveillance in a 1995 plan (the "Bojinka Operation") to bomb 12 American passenger jets * The planned assassination attempt against then-U.S. President Bill Clinton during a mid-1990s trip to the Philippines. * "Shared responsibility" for a plot to kill Pope John Paul II * Plans to assassinate Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf * An attempt to attack a U.S. oil company in Sumatra, Indonesia, "owned by the Jewish former [U.S.] Secretary of State Henry Kissinger" * The beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl
BTW, he also shot Lincoln and both Kennedys. Confessions obtained thru torture are not trustworthy. It is impossible that KSM was involved in all those events.
"incarcerating someone indefinitely would certainly be cruel and unusual punishment for a crime" How interesting. The Gitmo detainees are incarcerated indefinitely. Without charges, without trials, except for these 6 detainees they're 'prosecuting' ... just in time for the election.
"courts could take stronger measures when a witness refused to answer questions" Uhh no! Not if it would incriminate them, and I tend to think telling where you planted a bomb would be self-incriminating.
"how severe can the infliction of pain be?" Pain = torture. That's simple enough. There can be no infliction of pain.
One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men -- his crop of potential soldiers. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.
Even though predatory lending was becoming a national problem, the Bush administration looked the other way and did nothing to protect American homeowners. In fact, the government chose instead to align itself with the banks that were victimizing consumers.
Predatory lending was widely understood to present a looming national crisis. […] Several state legislatures, including New York's, enacted laws aimed at curbing such practices.[…]
What did the Bush administration do in response? Did it reverse course and decide to take action to halt this burgeoning scourge? As Americans are now painfully aware, with hundreds of thousands of homeowners facing foreclosure and our markets reeling, the answer is a resounding no.
Not only did the Bush administration do nothing to protect consumers, it embarked on an aggressive and unprecedented campaign to prevent states from protecting their residents from the very problems to which the federal government was turning a blind eye.[…]
Let me explain: The administration accomplished this feat through an obscure federal agency called the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). The OCC has been in existence since the Civil War. Its mission is to ensure the fiscal soundness of national banks. […] But a few years ago, for the first time in its history, the OCC was used as a tool against consumers.
In 2003, during the height of the predatory lending crisis, the OCC invoked a clause from the 1863 National Bank Act to issue formal opinions preempting all state predatory lending laws, thereby rendering them inoperative. The OCC also promulgated new rules that prevented states from enforcing any of their own consumer protection laws against national banks.[…]
When history tells the story of the subprime lending crisis and recounts its devastating effects on the lives of so many innocent homeowners, the Bush administration will not be judged favorably. The tale is still unfolding, but when the dust settles, it will be judged as a willing accomplice to the lenders who went to any lengths in their quest for profits. So willing, in fact, that it used the power of the federal government in an unprecedented assault on state legislatures, as well as on state attorneys general and anyone else on the side of consumers.
This recital of the facts are very rich in detail, too lengthy to restate in full here, so please use the link to read the entire article.
The rethugs have seen this coming since 2003 and actively fought against protections for American credit consumers. Those rascals are just a hoot when claiming to be fiscally responsible, aren't they?
U.S. Officials Say Broken Satellite Will Be Shot Down
Hah! How the hell do they plan to do that when their missile defense system has rarely worked, then only under the most favorable conditions, and still doesn't take into account the power reactors in the satellite?
posted by Bill Arnett @ 1:10 PM Permalink …I hope everyone listens to bush rant and rave about his desire for unrestricted surveillance and retroactive immunity for himself and telecom companies that were beginning to tap everyone's communications before 9/11, when it was clearly illegal to do so. (See: Think Progress posting)
He already runs third grade diplomacy and sounds more like a spoiled petulant child everyday.
If he is running a "clean" eavesdropping operation he has always had all the laws he ever needed to conduct such surveillance through the FISA court, which already allows unrestricted access to foreign calls between person not within the U.S. But it seems to be his ability to have an unrestricted ability to surveil Americans without a warrant and help from Big Telecom to aid in that effort.
Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.
posted by Bill Arnett @ 12:37 PM Permalink …our government MAY be reentering the 21st century. Today's headline omes from the NYT:
Waterboarding Not Legal Now, Justice Dept. Lawyer Says
But, of course there is the usual hedging, parsing, and covering of posteriors.
Steven G. Bradbury, the acting head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, seemed set to shake up one of the fiercest debates in Washington today by offering a clear and concise statement about the controversial interrogation technique known as waterboarding, which simulates drowning.
‘’There has been no determination by the Justice Department that the use of waterboarding, under any circumstances, would be lawful under current law,'’ he says in prepared remarks for a House hearing today that were obtained in advance by The Associated Press.
The administration’s current interrogation rules are “narrower than before” waterboarding was used five years ago by the C.I.A., he said.[…]
Last night, the Senate voted, 51 to 45, to ban waterboarding and prohibit the use of physical force during interrogations.
Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, one of the leading Democratic voices against waterboarding, declared that “change is in the air.” But President Bush has vowed to veto the measure, while reserving a right to authorize use of the tactic in the future.
Torture is torture is torture, any way you slice and dice it, it should be illegal now and at any time in the future, mostly because anyone will say anything when put in terrible pain.
Remember Kalid Sheikh Mohammad's coerced confession that he personally killed Daniel Pearl (when it is certain he did not), planned the WTC terror attack, planned the USS Cole bombing, the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby[ OK, maybe not this one], and that Zacarias Massaoui had nothing to do with the WTC attack. He did, I think, confess to every major terror attack that has taken placed for the last fifty or sixty years.
How can this man be tried for crimes confessed to under torture? If bush vetoes this as promised he should be tried as a war criminal the instant he is voted out of office.
posted by The Vidiot @ 11:27 AM Permalink
The Bush administration has this tactic down to a fine art. The first I heard of it was with them not publishing the M3 number anymore (M3 is the measurement for money that is printed. It's a way to ascertain the inflation rate, which, through reconstructing the M3 number, we find that inflation is running at about 18%. I guess they didn't want anybody to easily know how much money they were printing.)
And they've done it again with some other economic indicators. Read all about it here.
Alas, as the economic conditions worsen, the administration decided to shut down this “necessary” website, citing “budgetary constraints.”
A new bill proposed at the legislature would allow for police to withhold misconduct reports from the public. Supporters of the bill believe that police misconduct should be kept secret from the public so to not discredit police testimony. Others say that a forthright police unit is essential to the community.
posted by The Vidiot @ 10:13 AM Permalink
Last night's Daily Show had an excellent comparison of the primary news coverage. On the dem side, even though Obama blew out Clinton in the primaries this week, like getting 60% of the vote, and he's won the last 9 primaries or something like that, the media portrayal of their race is "they're neck and neck." Now, on the rep side, McCain and Huckabee having been swapping wins. Yes, McCain is ahead in delegates for the moment, but Huckabee keeps pulling states, but the media portrays their race as "Huckabee will need a miracle."
Of course, Ron Paul wasn't even mentioned. A caller to an NPR program with Tom Rosenstiel of the Project for Excellence in Journalism asked about the media's coverage of Ron Paul. Here was his response:
It raises obviously one of the fundamental questions: is press coverage a self-fulfilling prophecy? Can a candidate who doesn’t get press coverage win votes, or do you need the exposure, the oxygen of attention? Last week, the week before Super Tuesday, the coverage that ended Feb. 3, Ron Paul was a significant or primary figure in zero percent of the stories that we analyzed, 600 stories across 48 different news outlets.
Andrew is correct in suggesting that the press has discounted the chances of Ron Paul having any success. The fundraising success that he’s having is one of the traditional metrics that journalists use to test viability. If someone is raising money, usually that translates into some attention.
For a variety of reasons, some of them are obvious and some of them are mysterious, Ron Paul gets less coverage than he does raise money, and he gets less coverage than he gets votes. We can go on and on about this. There is no doubt, it’s an objective fact, that the press has decided Ron Paul is not a viable candidate.
MSM. The more you're aware, the less useful they are.
posted by The Vidiot @ 4:56 PM Permalink
If by 'not permanent' she means 'can be closed down when we're no longer interested in staying or we've used up all of the available resources that we were there to steal in the first place,' then Parino's parsing is correct.
Amid a bitter dispute over US bases in Iraq, the White House signaled Wednesday it does not view any US military installations overseas -- except perhaps Guantanamo Bay, Cuba -- as permanent.
[...] After 18 months of research, RAND submitted a report in the summer of 2005 called “Rebuilding Iraq.” RAND researchers provided an unclassified version of the report along with a secret one, hoping that its publication would contribute to the public debate on how to prepare for future conflicts. [...] The study chided President Bush — and by implication Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who served as national security adviser when the war was planned — as having failed to resolve differences among rival agencies. [...] The Defense Department led by Donald H. Rumsfeld was given the lead in overseeing the postwar period in Iraq despite its “lack of capacity for civilian reconstruction planning and execution.”
The State Department led by Colin L. Powell produced a voluminous study on the future of Iraq that identified important issues but was of “uneven quality” and “did not constitute an actionable plan.”
Gen. Tommy R. Franks, whose Central Command oversaw the military operation in Iraq, had a “fundamental misunderstanding” of what the military needed to do to secure postwar Iraq, the study said.
The regulations that govern the Army’s relations with the Arroyo Center, the division of RAND that does research for the Army, stipulate that Army officials are to review reports in a timely fashion to ensure that classified information is not released. But the rules also note that the officials are not to “censor” analysis or prevent the dissemination of material critical of the Army. [...] The research was formally sponsored by Lt. Gen. James Lovelace, who was then the chief operations officer for the Army and now oversees Army forces in the Middle East, and Lt. Gen. David Melcher, who had responsibility for the Army’s development and works now on budget issues. [...] General Lovelace provided a statement through a spokesman at his headquarters in Kuwait.
“The RAND study simply did not deliver a product that could have assisted the Army in paving a clear way ahead; it lacked the perspective needed for future planning by the U.S. Army,” he said.
A Pentagon official who is familiar with the episode offered a different interpretation: Army officials were concerned that the report would strain relations with a powerful defense secretary and become caught up in the political debate over the war. “The Army leaders who were involved did not want to take the chance of increasing the friction with Secretary Rumsfeld,” said the official, who asked not to be identified because he did not want to alienate senior military officials.
I leave it to you to draw your own conclusions as to why the unclassified report was hidden for 3 years.
1.(sometimes capital letters 'V' and 'S' with no space) a style of writing or saying something using emotion and/or logic and snark, esp. in order to elucidate the obvious while pretending to be objective.
2. anything written by The Vidiot, The Sailor, Mr. Vidiot and anyone else they allow to post on the blog “vidiotspeak”
[Origin: loosely based on new + speak, coined by George Orwell in his novel, 1984 (1949)]
And for godsakes, stay away from FOX, MSNBC, CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC.
It's ALL CRAP!!!
Watch the BBC news or ITN news instead.
"POSSE COMITATUS ACT" (18 USC 1385)
A Reconstruction Era criminal law proscribing use of Army (later, Air Force) to "execute the laws" except where expressly authorized by Constitution or Congress. Limit on use of military for civilian law enforcement also applies to Navy by regulation. Dec '81 additional laws were enacted (codified 10 USC 371-78) clarifying permissible military assistance to civilian law enforcement agencies--including the Coast Guard--especially in combating drug smuggling into the United States. Posse Comitatus clarifications emphasize supportive and technical assistance (e.g., use of facilities, vessels, aircraft, intelligence, tech aid, surveillance, etc.) while generally prohibiting direct participation of DoD personnel in law enforcement (e.g., search, seizure, and arrests). For example, Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachments (LEDETS) serve aboard Navy vessels and perform the actual boardings of interdicted suspect drug smuggling vessels and, if needed, arrest their crews). Positive results have been realized especially from Navy ship/aircraft involvement.