There is a drug war going on in Mexico near the U.S. border. The drug cartels are in that country are growing stronger and are terrorizing the population near the U.S. border. They are being funded the drug profits obtained in the U.S. It is a serious problem that is getting worse. The politicians in the U.S. are essentially silent on the issue:
Friday, February 29, 2008
There is a drug war going on in Mexico near the U.S. border. The drug cartels are in that country are growing stronger and are terrorizing the population near the U.S. border. They are being funded the drug profits obtained in the U.S. It is a serious problem that is getting worse. The politicians in the U.S. are essentially silent on the issue:
at 8:22 AM |
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Bush at his most delusional best. Read the entire transcript:
- I don't think we're headed to a recession, but no question we're in a slowdown.
- I don't know much about Medvedev either. And what will be interesting to see is who comes to the -- who represents Russia at the G8, for example. It will be interesting to see -- it will help, I think, give some insight as to how Russia intends to conduct foreign policy after Vladimir Putin's presidency. And I can't answer the question yet. I can say that it's in our interests to continue to have relations with Russia. For example, on proliferation matters...
- Here's what I learned -- here's what I learned: I learned that it's important to establish personal relations with leaders even though you may not agree with them -- certain leaders. I'm not going to have a personal relationship with Kim Jong-il, and our relationships are such that that's impossible.
But U.S.-Russian relations are important. It's important for stability. It's important for our relations in Europe. And therefore my advice is to establish a personal relationship with whoever is in charge of foreign policy in Russia. It's in our country's interest to do so.
Now, it makes it easier, by the way, when there's a trustworthy relationship, to be able to disagree and yet maintain common interests in other areas. And so we've had our disagreements. As you know, Putin is a straightforward, pretty tough character when it comes to his interests. Well, so am I. And we've had some head-butts, diplomatic head-butts. You might remember the trip to Slovakia. I think you were there at the famous press conference. But -- and yet, in spite of that, our differences of opinion, we still have got a cordial enough relationship to be able to deal with common threats and opportunities. And that's going to be important for the next President to maintain.
- What's lost by embracing a tyrant who puts his people in prison because of their political beliefs? What's lost is it will send the wrong message. It will send a discouraging message to those who wonder whether America will continue to work for the freedom of prisoners. It will give great status to those who have suppressed human rights and human dignity.
I'm not suggesting there's never a time to talk, but I'm suggesting now is not the time -- not to talk with Raul Castro. He's nothing more than an extension of what his brother did, which was to ruin an island, and imprison people because of their beliefs.
Q Thank you, sir. In China a former factory worker who says that human rights are more important than the Olympics is being tried for subversion. What message does it send that you're going to the Olympics, and do you think athletes there should be allowed to publicly express their dissent?
THE PRESIDENT: Olivier, I have made it very clear, I'm going to the Olympics because it's a sporting event, and I'm looking forward to seeing the athletic competition. But that will not preclude me from meeting with the Chinese President, expressing my deep concerns about a variety of issues -- just like I do every time I meet with the President.
And maybe I'm in a little different position. Others don't have a chance to visit with Hu Jintao, but I do. And every time I meet with him I talk about religious freedom and the importance of China's society recognizing that if you're allowed to worship freely, it will benefit the society as a whole; that the Chinese government should not fear the idea of people praying to a god as they see fit. A whole society, a healthy society, a confident society is one that recognizes the value of religious freedom.
I talk about Darfur and Iran and Burma. And so I am not the least bit shy of bringing up the concerns expressed by this factory worker, and I believe that I'll have an opportunity to do so with the President and, at the same time, enjoy a great sporting event. I'm a sports fan. I'm looking forward to the competition. And each Olympic society will make its own decision as to how to deal with the athletes.
I had these wives of these dissidents come and see me, and their stories are just unbelievably sad. And it just goes to show how repressive the Castro brothers have been, when you listen to the truth about what they say. And the idea of embracing a leader who's done this without any attempt on his part to release prisoners and free their society would be counterproductive and send the wrong signal.
Q No one is saying embrace him, they're just saying talk --THE PRESIDENT: Well, talking to him is embracing. Excuse me. Let me use another word -- you're right, "embrace" is like big hug, right? You're looking -- I do embrace people. Mike, one of these days, I'm just thinking about -- (laughter.) Right, okay, good, thank you for reminding me to use a different word.
at 9:59 PM |
A national disgrace:
For the first time in the nation’s history, more than one in 100 American adults is behind bars, according to a new report.
Nationwide, the prison population grew by 25,000 last year, bringing it to almost 1.6 million. Another 723,000 people are in local jails. The number of American adults is about 230 million, meaning that one in every 99.1 adults is behind bars.
Incarceration rates are even higher for some groups. One in 36 Hispanic adults is behind bars, based on Justice Department figures for 2006. One in 15 black adults is, too, as is one in nine black men between the ages of 20 and 34.
[...]In the past 20 years, according the Federal Bureau of Investigation, violent crime rates fell by 25 percent, to 464 for every 100,000 people in 2007 from 612.5 in 1987.
[...]Now, with fewer resources available, the report said, “prison costs are blowing a hole in state budgets.” On average, states spend almost 7 percent on their budgets on corrections, trailing only healthcare, education and transportation.
In 2007, according to the National Association of State Budgeting Officers, states spent $44 billion in tax dollars on corrections. That is up from $10.6 billion in 1987, a 127 increase once adjusted for inflation. With money from bonds and the federal government included, total state spending on corrections last year was $49 billion. By 2011, the report said, states are on track to spend an additional $25 billion.
It cost an average of $23,876 dollars to imprison someone in 2005, the most recent year for which data were available. But state spending varies widely, from $45,000 a year in Rhode Island to $13,000 in Louisiana.
at 3:41 PM |
Is it any wonder that we are in so much trouble diplomatically throughout the world when the President of the United States doesn't know the difference between embracing and talking to a regime. Just add this blunder to the long list of Bush verbal slip of the tongue.
at 11:23 AM |
Hillary Clinton has adopted a new tactic--blame the press for all her failures. It is reminiscent of the vast right-wing conspiracy arguments during hubbies Presidency. Her reference to the Saturday Night Live spoof during the debate was a new low for her floundering campaign:
We heard from the beginning that Bill Clinton was a great asset for Hillary. I never really believed that. It now turns out that he was only a liability. Remember that the former Rarely is it mentioned that Bill Clinton was instrumental in the Democrats losing control of Congress in 1994. He was also to blame for Gore not winning the White House in 2000:
It is hard to miss the irony: the man from Hope is now trying to figure out how to tamp it down. But that tells you pretty much everything you need to know about the spot in which Bill Clinton finds himself today, as his wife's presidential campaign fights for its life in Ohio and Texas. What is harder to figure out is how much of the blame for her predicament belongs to him. "I think he just did her such damage," says a friend and supporter, expressing a sentiment that many feel privately. "They'll never see it that way, because they can't. And he has no self-knowledge. This has magnified all his worst traits."
Everyone around Hillary Clinton always recognized that Bill would be a mixed blessing for her campaign. Back in the pre-Obamamania days, her supporters assumed that no one could draw crowds, bring in money or ignite the base like the only Democratic President since F.D.R. to win re-election. Bill was considered the sharpest political strategist of his generation. And as public approval for President George W. Bush sank lower and lower, the Clinton years, for all their drama, were looking better and better. Yet there was always the worry about whether Bill would be able to stay within the constrained, derivative role of the candidate's spouse. The biggest fear was that he would shine too bright, burn too hot, consign the candidate to his shadow.
[...]On the campaign trail, Bill's way of grabbing the spotlight has reminded voters of what they didn't like about the last Clinton presidency and what might be wrong with the next one. Lobbyist and former Texas Lieut. Governor Ben Barnes, long a prolific donor to the Clintons and other Democrats, says the former President is — as everyone knew he would be — his wife's most powerful weapon. The problem is, says Barnes, who now supports Obama, "that gun kicks as bad as it shoots."
In Iowa, Bill Clinton shaded his own nuanced record on the war, saying he "opposed Iraq from the beginning"; in New Hampshire, the criticism he got for that didn't stop him from blasting Obama's claim of steadfast opposition to the war as a "fairy tale." He twisted Obama's observation that Ronald Reagan had changed the country to make it appear that the Illinois Senator had praised Reagan's ideas. And Bill churlishly diminished Obama's sweeping and historic primary victory in heavily African-American South Carolina by pointing out that Jesse Jackson had also won the state. Liberal columnist Jonathan Chait wondered, "Were the conservatives right about Bill Clinton all along?"
Nowhere did it get worse than in South Carolina. A Clinton campaign official says Bill "hijacked the candidacy in South Carolina. It was appalling to watch it." In the week before the primary, his attacks on Obama put the former President in the news more times than any of the Republican candidates, according to a study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism; during a debate in Myrtle Beach, Obama complained, "I can't tell who I'm running against sometimes."
at 7:24 AM |
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Someone might want to ask to Mr.Foreign Policy, John McCain, about his plans for Afghanistan. Obviously the surge didn't benefit that country. The likely Republican nominee is fond of ridiculing Obama on his "naive" views on foreign policy. Well then, tell us how you can fight a two front war with the limited number of troops that we have fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan:
A resurgent Taliban is back in charge over parts of Afghanistan, the nation's chief intelligence official said Wednesday in an assessment that differed from the one made last month by Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
More than six years after the United States invaded Afghanistan, the Taliban has regained control of about 10 percent of the country, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Just a few weeks ago, Gates touted NATO military success in Afghanistan in 2007 and said the Taliban controlled no land.
"The Taliban occupy no territory in Afghanistan on a continuing basis," Gates said during a Pentagon briefing in January.
Despite his less-optimistic assessment on that score, McConnell said the Taliban has suffered "significant degradation" in its leadership and is unable to successfully face off against U.S. and NATO forces.
He attributed an uptick in violence to the Taliban resorting to the terrorist tactics used by al Qaeda in Iraq -- suicide attacks and roadside bombings.
at 9:20 PM |
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Hillary did nothing tonight's Democratic Presidential debate to change her fate. She will lose. And tonight we can see why she won't be the nominee of her party. Ms.Clinton came across as petty and paranoid. Tim Russert asked the NY Senator some really tough questions, as he's done in previous debates. Read the entire transcript here:
MR. WILLIAMS: On the topic of accurate information, and to that end, one of the things that has happened over the past 36 hours -- a photo went out the website The Drudge Report, showing Senator Obama in the native garb of a nation he was visiting, as you have done in a host country on a trip overseas.
Matt Drudge on his website said it came from a source inside the Clinton campaign. Can you say unequivocally here tonight it did not?
SEN. CLINTON: Well, so far as I know, it did not. And I certainly know nothing about it and have made clear that that's not the kind of behavior that I condone or expect from the people working in my campaign. But we have no evidence where it came from.
So I think that it's clear what I would do if it were someone in my campaign, as I have in the past: asking people to leave my campaign if they do things that I disagree with.
MR. WILLIAMS: Senator Obama, your response.
SEN. OBAMA: Well, first of all, I take Senator Clinton at her word that she knew nothing about the photo. So I think that's something that we can set aside.
Here's Hillary's conspiracy theory. The press is out to get me:
MR. WILLIAMS: Well, a 16-minute discussion on health care is certainly a start. (Laughter.) I'd like to change up --
SEN. CLINTON: Well, there's hardly anything be more important? I think it would be good to talk about health care and how we're we going get to universal health care.
MR. WILLIAMS: I -- well, here's another important topic, and that's NAFTA, especially where we're sitting here tonight. And this is a tough one depending on who you ask. The Houston Chronicle has called it a big win for Texas, but Ohio Democratic Senator Brown, your colleague in the Senate, has called it a job-killing trade agreement. Senator Clinton, you've campaigned in south Texas. You've campaigned here in Ohio. Who's right?
SEN. CLINTON: Well, can I just point out that in the last several debates, I seem to get the first question all the time. And I don't mind. I -- you know, I'll be happy to field them, but I do find it curious, and if anybody saw "Saturday Night Live," you know, maybe we should ask Barack if he's comfortable and needs another pillow. (Laughter, boos.) I just find it kind of curious that I keep getting the first question on all of these issues. But I'm happy to answer it.
You know, I have been a critic of NAFTA from the very beginning. I didn't have a public position on it, because I was part of the administration, but when I started running for the Senate, I have been a critic. I've said it was flawed. I said that it worked in some parts of our country, and I've seen the results in Texas. I was in Laredo in the last couple of days. It's the largest inland port in America now. So clearly, some parts of our country have been benefited.
Tim Russert Unleashes on her:
MR. RUSSERT: Senator Clinton, an issue of accountability and credibility. You have loaned your campaign $5 million. You and your husband file a joint return. You refuse to release that joint return, even though former President Clinton has had significant overseas business dealings.
Your chief supporter here in Ohio, Governor Strickland, made releasing his opponent's tax return one of the primary issues of the campaign, saying repeatedly, "Accountability, transparency." If he's not releasing, his campaign said, his tax return, what is he hiding? We should question what's going on.
Why won't you release your tax return, so the voters of Ohio, Texas, Vermont, Rhode Island know exactly where you and your husband got your money, who might be in part bankrolling your campaign?
SEN. CLINTON: Well, the American people who support me are bankrolling my campaign. That's -- that's obvious. You can look and see the hundreds of thousands of contributions that I've gotten. And ever since I lent my campaign money, people have responded just so generously. I'm thrilled at so many people getting involved. And we're raising, on average, about a million dollars a day on the Internet. And if anybody's out there, wants to contribute, to be part of this campaign, just go to HillaryClinton.com, because that's who's funding my campaign.
And I will release my tax returns. I have consistently said that. And I will --
MR. RUSSERT: Why not now?
SEN. CLINTON: Well, I will do it as others have done it: upon becoming the nominee, or even earlier, Tim, because I have been as open as I can be.
You have -- the public has 20 years of records for me, and I have very extensive filings with the Senate where --
Record of non-accomplishment and lame excuses:
MR. RUSSERT: Senator Clinton, on the issue of jobs, I watched you the other day with your economic blueprint in Wisconsin saying, this is my plan; hold me accountable. And I've had a chance to read it very carefully. It does say that you pledge to create 5 million new jobs over 10 years.
And I was reminded of your campaign in 2000 in Buffalo, my hometown, just three hours down Route 90, where you pledged 200,000 new jobs for upstate New York. There's been a net loss of 30,000 jobs. And when you were asked about your pledge, your commitment, you told The Buffalo News, "I might have been a little exuberant." Tonight will you say that the pledge of 5 million jobs might be a little exuberant?
SEN. CLINTON: No, Tim, because what happened in 2000 is that I thought Al Gore was going to be president. And when I made the pledge I was counting on having a Democratic White House, a Democratic president who shared my values about what we needed to do to make the economy work for everyone and to create shared prosperity.
at 11:43 PM |
This report from CNN looks into whether the Clinton attack machine was behind circulating that picture of Obama in traditional African clothing. They describe other recent Hillary smear attempts directed at her opponent during the campaign. This latest attempt at character assassination is like all the other ones by Billary. And they've all failed, just as this one will fail. The question is whether Hillary will bring down the party in hateful spite. She might be thinking--if I don't win then I'll make sure Obama loses to McCain so I can run in 2012:
at 10:34 AM |
The beat goes on, with no end in sight. And it doesn't look like Washington or the current Presidential candidates have much to offer:
The number of homes facing foreclosure jumped 57 percent in January compared to a year ago, with lenders increasingly forced to take possession of homes they couldn’t unload at auctions, a mortgage research firm said Monday.
Nationwide, some 233,001 homes received at least one notice from lenders last month related to overdue payments, compared with 148,425 a year earlier, according to Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac Inc. Nearly half of the total involved first-time default notices.
The worsening situation came despite ongoing efforts by lenders to help borrowers manage their payments by modifying loan terms, working out long-term repayment plans and other actions.
“You have more people going into default and a higher percentage of the properties going back to the banks,” said Rick Sharga, RealtyTrac’s vice president of marketing.
The U.S. foreclosure rate last month was one filing for every 534 homes.
at 8:17 AM |
There should be an investigation into these serious allegations but from an independent source. You can't trust this White House or the Pentagon to carry out any truthful look into whether they cost hundreds of lives of troops in Iraq:
The Marine Corps has asked the Pentagon's inspector general to examine allegations that a nearly two-year delay in the fielding of blast-resistant vehicles led to hundreds of combat casualties in Iraq.
The system for rapidly shipping needed gear to troops on the front lines has been examined by auditors before and continues to improve, Col. David Lapan, a Marine Corps spokesman, said Monday night. Due to the seriousness of the allegations, however, "the Marine Corps has taken the additional step" of requesting the IG investigation, Lapan said in an e-mailed statement.
In a Jan. 22 internal report, Franz Gayl, a civilian Marine Corps official, accused the service of "gross mismanagement" that delayed deliveries of the mine-resistant, ambush-protected trucks.
at 7:53 AM |
Monday, February 25, 2008
Noted columnist, Jonathan Alter, has called for Hillary Clinton to end her campaign in order to avoid embarrassment. She can't win, he argues. By pulling out now she can salvage her career and make a run in 2012 if Obama loses in November:
at 3:33 PM |
Are you willing to pay $9 to fill up your gas tank? According to this author/investor (who talks to the "Money Honey" on WSJ Report) oil prices are going to skyrocket in the not too distant future. Time to wake up to the threat of oil and food prices doubling and tripling. The author does offer some solutions:
at 10:07 AM |
Sunday, February 24, 2008
This 60 Minutes story is bone chilling. Karl Rove and the White House succeeded in convicting an innocent former Democratic Governor, Don Siegelman. Why? Because he was running for reelection. The allegations of injustice committed against an innocent man are not alleged by Democrats but Republicans directly involved in the case. This could be the worst case of abuse of power by an administration that has specialized in it. This kind of behavior is found in dictatorships (Read the entire transcript):
Is Don Siegelman in prison because he’s a criminal or because he belonged to the wrong political party in Alabama? Siegelman is the former governor of Alabama, and he was the most successful Democrat in that Republican state. But while he was governor, the U.S. Justice Department launched multiple investigations that went on year after year until, finally, a jury convicted Siegelman of bribery.
Now, many Democrats and Republicans have become suspicious of the Justice Department’s motivations. As correspondent Scott Pelley reports, 52 former state attorneys-general have asked Congress to investigate whether the prosecution of Siegelman was pursued not because of a crime but because of politics.
at 7:57 PM |
Ralph Nader announced he was running for President on Meet The Press. This is bad news for Barack Obama in the general election if it is a close election. I supported Ralph Nader during his first run for President. This time around there is no compelling argument for his run. He will not further the cause of those of us who believe we need an alternative to the duopoly that runs this country:
Read the entire transcript here:
MR. RUSSERT: Will you run for president as an independent in 2008?
MR. NADER: Let me put it in context, to make it a little more palatable to people who have closed minds. Twenty-four percent of the American people are satisfied with the state of the country, according to Gallup. That's about the lowest ranking ever. Sixty-one percent think both major parties are failing. And, according to Frank Luntz's poll, a Republican, 80 percent would consider voting for a independent this year. Now, you take that framework of people feeling locked out, shut, shut out, marginalized, disrespected and you go from Iraq to Palestine/Israel, from Enron to Wall Street, from Katrina to the bungling of the Bush administration, to the complicity of the Democrats in not stopping him on the war, stopping him on the tax cuts, getting a decent energy bill through, and you have to ask yourself, as a citizen, should we elaborate the issues that the two are not talking about? And the--all, all the candidates--McCain, Obama and Clinton--are against single payer health insurance, full Medicare for all. I'm for it, as well as millions of Americans and 59 percent of physicians in a forthcoming poll this April. People don't like Pentagon waste, a bloated military budget, all the reports in the press and in the GAO reports. A wasteful defense is a weak defense. It takes away taxpayer money that can go to the necessities of the American people. That's off the table to Obama and Clinton and McCain.
The issue of labor law reform, repealing the notorious Taft-Hartley Act that keeps workers who are now more defenseless than ever against corporate globalization from organizing to defend their interests. Cracking down on corporate crime. The media--the mainstream media repeatedly indicating how trillions of dollars have been drained and fleeced and looted from millions of workers and investors who don't have many rights these days, and pensioners. You know, when you see the paralysis of the government, when you see Washington, D.C., be corporate-occupied territory, every department agency controlled by overwhelming presence of corporate lobbyists, corporate executives in high government positions, turning the government against its own people, you--one feels an obligation, Tim, to try to open the doorways, to try to get better ballot access, to respect dissent in America in the terms of third parties and, and independent candidates; to recognize historically that great issues have come in our history against slavery and women rights to vote and worker and farmer progressives, through little parties that never ran--won any national election. Dissent is the mother of ascent. And in that context, I have decided to run for president.
MR. RUSSERT: As you know, Ralph Nader, they'll be Democrats all across the country who are going to find this very disturbing news, and they'll point again to 2000. This was the vote count. Al Gore winning the popular vote, but you've got 2.7 percent, nearly three million votes, in 2000. Then Florida, Florida, Florida. As you remember, George Bush won Florida by 537 votes. You've got 97,488. Democrat after Democrat says to this day, Ralph Nader, if your name had not been on that ballot, Al Gore would've carried Florida. Exit polls show he would've carried Nader voters 2-to-1. Gore would've been president and not George Bush. You, Ralph Nader are responsible for what has happened the last seven years.
MR. NADER: Not, not George Bush? Not the Democrats in Congress? Not the voters who voted for George Bush? But there were Democrats in Florida, 250,000 of them. You know, I wish we'd have Al Gore on this program someday Tim and ask him, "Why did you not become president in 2000?" And I think what he's going to tell you is he thought he did win Florida, but it was taken from him before, during and after the election from Tallahassee. Katherine Bush--you know the secretary of the state...
MR. RUSSERT: Katherine Harris.
MR. NADER: Harris, rather, and Jeb Bush, all the way to that terribly politicized Supreme Court decision. But the, the political bigotry that's involved here is that we shouldn't enter the electoral arena? We, all of us who, who, who think that the country needs an infusion of freedom, democracy, choice, dissent should just sit on the sidelines and watch the two parties own all the voters and turn the government over to big business? What's really important here is, if you want to look at it analytically, is there--Mr. Gore would, would tell you if he won Tennessee, anything else being equal, he would've been president. It's his home state. If he won Arkansas, everything else being equal, he would've been president. The mayor of Miami sabotaged the Democrats because of a grudge, didn't bring thousands of votes out. Quarter of a million Democrats voted for Bush in Florida. There is all kinds of thievery in Florida.
So why do they blame the Greens? Why do they blame the people all over the country who are trying to have a progressive platform, not just the environment. What was their crime? Why, why, why isn't there tolerance for candidates' rights the way there is a building tolerance over the last 50 years for voter rights? Because without voter rights, candidate rights don't mean much. And without candidate rights--more voices and choices--voter rights don't mean much. I--I'm amazed at the liberal intelligencia here. They are analytic and they deal with all kinds of variables, but when it comes to 2000 election, it's just one variable.
And I might add that Solon Simmons and other scholars--he teaches at George Mason--have shown that by pushing Gore to take more progressive stands, he got more votes than the votes he allegedly--were withdrawn from for the Green party. Twenty-five percent of my vote, according to a Democratic pollster, exit poll, would've gone to Bush. Thirty-nine percent would've gone to Gore and the rest would've stayed home. Every major--every third party in Florida got more votes than the 537 vote gap. So let's get over it and try to have a diverse multiple choice, multiple party democracy the way they have in Western Europe and Canada. This bit of, of spoiler is really very astonishing. These are the two parties who've spoiled our electoral system, money, they can't even count the votes, they steal--the Republicans steal the votes, and the Democrats knock third party candidates off the ballot. That's their specialty these days.
at 12:54 PM |
It was a bad week for the likely Republican nominee. Ironically, it had lots to do with McCain's shady lobbyist friends and associates. This despite the Senator's fake image of being above Washington corruption. Some joke, huh?
at 9:13 AM |
Saturday, February 23, 2008
The nanny was caught on video abusing infant twins and the police refuses to press charges. Every parent should be horrified that this kind of treatment by babysitters of children could go on and the criminal justice system fails to punish such shocking behavior:
at 12:46 PM |
It was one of the reasons for invading Iraq: Cheney, Bush friends and supporters stood to profit greatly from the war. When all the evidence finally comes out the American people will demand that those two are hung from the gallows. Unfortunately, it's too late to impeach Bush and Cheney. Thanks to the Chicago Tribune for this important story:
Hundreds 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.
The graft continued well beyond the 2004 congressional hearings that first called attention to it. And the massive fraud endangered the health of American soldiers even as it lined contractors' pockets, records show.
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. Those defendants, along with two other KBR employees who have pleaded guilty in Virginia, account for a third of the 36 people indicted to date on Iraq war-contract crimes, Justice Department records show.
On Wednesday, a federal judge in Rock Island sentenced the Army official, Chief Warrant Officer Peleti "Pete" Peleti Jr., to 28 months in prison for taking bribes. One Middle Eastern subcontractor treated him to a trip to the 2006 Super Bowl, a defense investigator said.
The worst part of all this, the massive corruption endangered the lives of our troops:
In one case, a freight-shipping subcontractor confessed to giving $25,000 in illegal gratuities to five unnamed KBR employees "to build relationships to get additional business," according to the man's December 2007 statement to a federal judge in the Rock Island court. Separately, Peleti named five military colleagues who allegedly accepted bribes. Prosecutors also have identified three senior KBR executives who allegedly approved inflated bids. None of those 13 people has been charged.
A common thread runs through these cases and other KBR scandals in Iraq, from allegations the firm failed to protect employees sexually assaulted by co-workers to findings that it charged $45 per can of soda: The Pentagon has outsourced crucial troop support jobs while slashing the number of government contract watchdogs.
at 9:48 AM |
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Hillary failed miserably tonight to put Obama on the defensive. Ms.Clinton was left to embarrassed smiling while her opponent repeatedly made his powerful case. Read the entire transcript here:
OBAMA: The problem we have is that Washington has become a place where good ideas go to die. They go to die because the lobbyists...
They go to die because lobbyists and special interests have a strangle-hold on the agenda in Washington. They go to die in Washington because too many politicians are interested in scoring political points rather than bridging differences in order to get things done.
And so the central premise of this campaign is that we can bring this country together, that we can push against the special interests that have come to dominate the agenda in Washington, that we can be straight with the American people about how we're going to solve these problems and enlist them in taking back their government.
[...] BROWN: Senator Obama, just to follow up, you had said in a previous CNN debate that you would meet with the leaders of Cuban, Iran, North Korea, among others, so presumably you would be willing to meet with the new leader of Cuba.
OBAMA: That's correct. Now, keep in mind that the starting point for our policy in Cuba should be the liberty of the Cuban people. And I think we recognize that that liberty has not existed throughout the Castro regime. And we now have an opportunity to potentially change the relationship between the United States and Cuba after over half a century.
I would meet without preconditions, although Senator Clinton is right that there has to be preparation. It is very important for us to make sure that there was an agenda, and on that agenda was human rights, releasing of political prisoners, opening up the press. And that preparation might take some time.
But I do think that it's important for the United States not just to talk to its friends, but also to talk to its enemies. In fact, that's where diplomacy makes the biggest difference.
OBAMA: One other thing that I've said, as a show of good faith that we're interested in pursuing potentially a new relationship, what I've called for is a loosening of the restrictions on remittances from family members to the people of Cuba, as well as travel restrictions for family members who want to visit their family members in Cuba.
And I think that initiating that change in policy as a start and then suggesting that an agenda get set up is something that could be useful, but I would not normalize relations until we started seeing some of the progress that Senator Clinton was talking about.
BROWN: But that's different from your position back in 2003. You called U.S. policy toward Cuba a miserable failure, and you supported normalizing relations.
BROWN: So you've backtracked now...
OBAMA: I support the eventual normalization. And it's absolutely true that I think our policy has been a failure. I mean, the fact is, is that during my entire lifetime, and Senator Clinton's entire lifetime, you essentially have seen a Cuba that has been isolated, but has not made progress when it comes to the issues of political rights and personal freedoms that are so important to the people of Cuba.
So I think that we have to shift policy. I think our goal has to be ultimately normalization. But that's going to happen in steps. And the first step, as I said, is changing our rules with respect to remittances and with respect to travel.
And then I think it is important for us to have the direct contact, not just in Cuba, but I think this principle applies generally. I recall what John F. Kennedy once said, that we should never negotiate out of fear, but we should never fear to negotiate. And this moment, this opportunity when Fidel Castro has finally stepped down, I think, is one that we should try to take advantage of.
BROWN: Senator Clinton, do you want a quick response?
CLINTON: Well, I agree, absolutely, that we should be willing to have diplomatic negotiations and processes with anyone. I've been a strong advocate of opening up such a diplomatic process with Iran, for a number of years.
Because I think we should look for ways that we can possibly move countries that are adversarial to us, you know, toward the world community. It's in our interests. It's in the interests of the people in countries that, frankly, are oppressed, like Cuba, like Iran.
But there has been this difference between us over when and whether the president should offer a meeting, without preconditions, with those with whom we do not have diplomatic relations. And it should be part of a process, but I don't think it should be offered in the beginning. Because I think that undermines the capacity for us to actually take the measure of somebody like Raul Castro or Ahmadinejad and others.
CLINTON: And, as President Kennedy said, he wouldn't be afraid to negotiate, but he would expect there to be a lot of preparatory work done, to find out exactly what we would get out of it.
And therefore, I do think we should be eliminating the policy of the Bush administration, which has been very narrowly defined, and frankly against our interests, because we have failed to reach out to countries, we have alienated our friends, and we have emboldened our enemies.
So I would get back to very vigorous diplomacy, and I would use bipartisan diplomacy. I would ask emissaries from both political parties to represent me and our country, because I want to send a very clear message to the rest of the world that the era of unilateralism, preemption and arrogance of the Bush administration is over and we're going to...
BROWN: Very briefly and then we're going to move on.
OBAMA: I think, as I said before, preparation is actually absolutely critical in any meeting. And I think it is absolutely true that either of us would step back from some of the Bush unilateralism that's caused so much damage.
But I do think it is important precisely because the Bush administration has done so much damage to American foreign relations that the president take a more active role in diplomacy than might have been true 20 or 30 years ago.
Because the problem is, if we think that meeting with the president is a privilege that has to be earned, I think that reinforces the sense that we stand above the rest of the world at this point in time. And I think that it's important for us in undoing the damage that has been done over the last seven years, for the president to be willing to take that extra step.
OBAMA: That is the kind of step that I would like to take as president of the United States.
at 9:58 PM |
While all the talk is about the female lobbyist, there is another McCain scandal that might deserve just as much coverage. In both cases it points to a politician who misrepresents himself as being above typical Washington corrupt behavior:
The government's top campaign finance regulator says John McCain can't drop out of the primary election's public financing system until he answers questions about a loan he obtained to kickstart his once faltering presidential campaign.
Federal Election Commission Chairman David Mason, in a letter to McCain this week, said the all-but-certain Republican nominee needs to assure the commission that he did not use the promise of public money to help secure a $4 million line of credit he obtained in November.
McCain's lawyer, Trevor Potter, said Wednesday evening that McCain has withdrawn from the system and that the FEC can't stop him. Potter said the campaign did not encumber the public funds in any way.
McCain, a longtime advocate of stricter limits on money in politics, was one of the few leading presidential candidates to seek FEC certification for public money during the primaries. The FEC determined that he was entitled to at least $5.8 million. But McCain did not obtain the money, and he notified the FEC earlier this month that he would bypass the system, freeing him from its spending limits.
But just as McCain was beginning to turn his attention to a likely Democratic opponent, Mason, a Republican appointee to the commission, essentially said, "Not so fast."
By accepting the public money, McCain would be limited to spending about $54 million for the primaries, a ceiling his campaign is near. That would significantly hinder his ability to finance his campaign between now and the Republican National Convention in September.
at 9:48 AM |
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Hillary was blown away again last night when it was supposed to be her state. It is 10 straight victories (if he wins Washington it would be 11) for Obama. The only way the Clinton gang can win is by destroying the Illinois Senator, since the strategy to woo superdelegates might not work. They are desperate:
After 10 consecutive defeats — including a heartbreaker in tailor-made Wisconsin on Tuesday — Hillary Rodham Clinton can't win the nomination unless Obama makes a major mistake or her allies reveal something damaging about the Illinois senator's background. Don't count her out quite yet, but Wisconsin revealed deep and destructive fractures in the Clinton coalition.
It's panic-button time.
That explains why Clinton's aides accused Obama of plagiarism for delivering a speech that included words that had first been uttered by Deval Patrick, the Massachusetts governor and a friend of Obama. The charge bordered on the hypocritical — Clinton herself has borrowed Obama's lines — and by itself was unlikely to have an impact on the race.
[...]But her rival has won the most states, earned the most pledged delegates and has all the momentum. Clinton needs to win Ohio and Texas on March 4 — then Pennsylvania in April — to narrow Obama's lead among pledged delegates. Only then could she argue with a straight face that a majority of the nearly 800 free-roaming "superdelegates" should back her over Obama.
[...]In a sign of desperation, the Clinton camp floated the idea of poaching delegates that Obama earned via elections. While allowable under Democratic National Committee rules, the tactic would likely divide Democrats along racial lines and set the party back decades.
It would be the ultimate act of selfishness and foolishness. Even Clinton must realize there is little she can do to win the nomination. She can only help Obama lose it.
And all that the Clinton campaign can do is make unimportant charges and lie:
Hillary Clinton flatly denied that her campaign was attacking Barack Obama for using the words of another politician, telling reporters on Tuesday that her campaign had not made the charge. The Chicago Tribune reported her remarks from an interview with KITV in Honolulu on Tuesday:
[...]Clinton's claim is demonstrably false. Her campaign has aggressively and openly pushed the plagiarism attack, including a national conference call by senior campaign aides on Monday. Her aides also circulated a YouTube clip comparing footage of Obama and Gov. Deval Patrick.
Initially, Clinton operatives apparently did attempt to conceal their involvement. The first New York Times article about the clip reported[...]
at 8:58 AM |
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Here are speech transcripts after the primary results on Tuesday, including Wisconsin, for Hillary Clinton (partial), John McCain, and Barack Obama.
I will fight every moment of every day in this campaign to make sure Americans are not deceived by an eloquent but empty call for change that promises no more than a holiday from history and a return to the false promises and failed policies of a tired philosophy that trusts in government more than people. Our purpose is to keep this blessed country free, safe, prosperous and proud. And the changes we offer to the institutions and policies of government will reflect and rely upon the strength, industry, aspirations and decency of the people we serve.
We live in a world of change, some of which holds great promise for us and all mankind and some of which poses great peril. Today, political change in Pakistan is occurring that might affect our relationship with a nuclear armed nation that is indispensable to our success in combating al Qaeda in Afghanistan and elsewhere. An old enemy of American interests and ideals is leaving the world stage, and we can glimpse the hope that freedom might someday come to the people of Cuba. A self-important bully in Venezuela threatens to cut off oil shipments to our country at a time of sky-rocketing gas prices. Each event poses a challenge and an opportunity. Will the next President have the experience, the judgment experience informs, and the strength of purpose to respond to each of these developments in ways that strengthen our security and advance the global progress of our ideals? Or will we risk the confused leadership of an inexperienced candidate who once suggested invading our ally, Pakistan, and sitting down without pre-conditions or clear purpose with enemies who support terrorists and are intent on destabilizing the world by acquiring nuclear weapons?
I will restore our leadership and moral authority in the world without delays, without on-the-job training, from day one.
One of us has a plan to provide health care for every single American, no one left out. And I believe -- I believe health care is a right, not a privilege. And I will not rest until every American is covered. That is my solemn promise to you.
My opponent leaves out at least 15 million Americans. The question is: Who would we leave out? Would we leave out the mother I met who grabbed my arm and said the insurance company wouldn't pay for the treatment that her son needed? Will we leave that family out?
And who will pay for those we leave out? I don't want to leave anyone out. I am not running to put Band-Aids on our problems; I'm running to solve our problems.
One of us has a plan to actually address the growing foreclosure crisis, which is so terrible here in Ohio. I've called for a freeze on subprime foreclosures and interest rates to ensure that millions of families across the country won't be receiving that grim letter from the bank.
I proposed $30 billion in assistance to help families avoid foreclosures and to help communities rebound from this housing crisis, because no one should foreclose on the American dream. And we're going to stop it. (END AUDIO FEED)
Obama at Houston:
Because understand this, Houston: As wonderful as this gathering is, as exciting as these enormous crowds and this enormous energy may be, what we're trying to do here is not easy, and it will not happen overnight.
It is going to take more than big rallies. It's going to require more than rousing speeches. It will also require more than policy papers and positions and Web sites. It is going to require something more, because the problem that we face in America today is not the lack of good ideas. It's that Washington has become a place where good ideas go to die...
... because lobbyists crush them with their money and their influence, because politicians spend too much time trying to score political points and not enough time trying to bridge their differences so we can get something done.
The problem is that we haven't had leaders who can inspire the American people to rally behind a common purpose and a higher purpose. And this is what we need to change today. This is what's hard, and we know this.
We know how difficult it will be, but I also know why we're here tonight. We're here because we still believe that change is possible.
We're here because we know that we've never needed it more than we do right now.
We're here because there are workers in Youngstown, Ohio, who've watched job after job after job disappear because of bad trade deals like NAFTA, who've worked in factories -- who've worked in factories for 20 years, and then one day they come in and literally see the equipment unbolted from the floor and sent to China.
They need us to end those tax breaks that go to companies that ship jobs overseas...
... and give them to companies that invest in jobs right here in the United States of America, that pay well, provide a pension, provide health care. That's the change they need.
[...]I'm not running because I think it's somehow owed to me. I'm running because of what Dr. King called the fierce urgency of now, the fierce urgency of now.
Because there's such a thing, Houston, as being too late, and that hour is almost upon us. We are at a defining moment in our history. Our nation is at war. Our planet is in peril. The dream that so many generations fought for feels like it's slowly slipping away.
You see it in your own lives and in your own neighborhoods. The stories I told you are not unique. Everywhere I go, I hear the same stories. People are working harder for less; they've never paid more for college, never paid more for gas at the pump.
Our health care system leaves 47 million people without health insurance. And those who have it are seeing their co-payments and deductibles and premiums going up year after year after year after year.
Despite the slogans, our children, millions of them, are being left behind, unable to compete in an international economy. In such circumstances, Houston, we cannot afford to wait. We cannot wait to fix our schools. We cannot wait to fix our health care system. We cannot wait to put an end to global warming. We cannot wait to bring good jobs with good benefits back to the United States. We cannot wait to end this war in Iraq. We cannot wait.
at 10:39 PM |
Obama has been projected to win Wisconsin, and with Hawaii it will be 10 straight victories. And this was supposed to be a Hillary Clinton State. And given the recent surge in Texas it means the NY Senator is in big trouble.
CNN reported that voters overwhelmingly gave their support to Obama on the electability issue. Hillary constantly talked about her experience. But what does it matter if you can't get elected. Right this moment Ms.Clinton is using the same rhetoric while giving a speech in Ohio. It seems everytime she loses she's in the next state holding a rally. All the talk about Obama's plagiarism and not wanting to debate more often are not enough for to win even a primary, much less a nomination. The snowball just keeps getting bigger:
[...]in early exit polls tonight, Obama held Clinton to a virtual tie among Wisconsin Democratic primary voters who said they have a union member in their household — 50 percent for Clinton to 49 percent for Obama — and actually edged her among women, 51 percent to 49 percent.
Clinton held a narrow advantage over Obama among Catholic poll respondents — who made up 43 percent of voters interviewed — 51 percent to 48 percent. She also held narrow leads among voters with only a high school education, people 60 or older and those making between $15,000-$30,000 a year.
But Obama kept those margins close and took easy wins among his traditional base of supporters.
Among voters 49 years old and younger he had a significant 64-39 percent advantage over Clinton. College-educated voters, who made up 72 percent of those polled, favored him 59 percent to 39 percent.
Obama had a slight edge among voters who called themselves Democrats — 50 percent to 49 percent — but overwhelmingly topped Clinton among the 27 percent of respondents who called themselves independents, taking 63 percent of their votes to Clinton's 36 percent.
Exit polls showed 43 percent of Democratic voters in Wisconsin said the economy was the most important issue in deciding their vote — followed by the war in Iraq at 29 percent and health care at 25 percent. Fifty-five percent of those who cited the economy voted for Obama, compared to 43 percent for Clinton.
And 70 percent said U.S. trade with other countries causes the loss of American jobs, while only 17 percent said it creates jobs, and 9 percent said it has no effect. Those who felt trade loses jobs also favored Obama, 54-43 percent.
at 9:24 PM |
Monday, February 18, 2008
Once again we see a woman being unjustly accused of a crime by a barbarous Saudi Arabia justice system. Is it any wonder that Bin Laden comes from here and that al Qaeda continues to receive funding from this country. So why is this country referred to as an "ally." Look no further than the Bush family ties to the Saudi rulers. Apparently oil is thicker than human rights:
at 5:48 PM |
It is clear that the Clintonistas are trying to steal the nomination. They cannot win by playing fair, therefore Billary will do what they do best--cheat:
Hillary Clinton, who has built her case for the presidency on her superior "ready on Day One" management skills, burned through almost $130 million of campaign money, had to kick in $5 million from her own murky family funds, and is now pressing her chief financial backers to find creative ways to raise more money.
Some of those financial schemes appear to skirt the law -- as some backers consider putting money into "independent" entities that can spend unlimited sums but aren't supposed to coordinate with the campaign -- while other ideas are more traditional, like appealing to wealthy donors involved with the pro-Israel AIPAC lobby.
[...]However, other Democrats fear that the Clintons are putting their personal ambitions ahead of what's good for the Party and the country, that they are ready to dirty up Sen. Obama with attack ads and dismiss his millions of supporters as -- what one key Clinton backer called -- "a cult of personality."
If the Clintons overturn the majority will, the Democratic convention in Denver could bring to mind the infamous Chicago convention in 1968 when the Democratic establishment imposed its favored candidate, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, on a rebellious rank-and-file, contributing to the election of Republican Richard Nixon.
[...]In a conference call to reporters last week, Sen. Clinton's communications director, Howard Wolfson, made clear that the campaign was prepared to rely on her superior support among the 796 "superdelegates" -- party insiders and government officials -- to overcome Obama's lead among delegates chosen through primaries and caucuses.
[...]Senior strategist Mark Penn also indicated that the Clinton campaign would press the issue of seating pro-Clinton delegates from Florida and Michigan, where she won unauthorized primaries conducted after the national party barred the states from holding contests before Feb. 5 and after other major candidates agreed not to compete.
[...]The Wall Street Journal reported on Feb. 13 that some of Sen. Clinton's top fund-raisers, who have "maxed out" at the individual limit of $2,300 and have tapped out their personal network of donors, are consulting with lawyers about how they can create "independent" groups that can spend unlimited money in support of her campaign.
[...]campaign finance director Jonathan Mantz met with donors from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in a Washington hotel lobby when the AIPAC supporters were in town for other business, the Wall Street Journal reported on Feb. 14.
AIPAC wields its legendary influence in Washington, in large part, because of its ability to pour money into cash-strapped political campaigns.
[...] Sen. Clinton's money scramble also has raised eyebrows about the sources of the Clinton family income. The New York Times' Feb. 15 lead editorial urged Clinton and Sen. John McCain to join Sen. Obama in releasing tax returns that provide details not included in annual congressional disclosure forms.
"The need for greater transparency regarding the income and overall financial dealings of candidates and their spouses was underscored by Mrs. Clinton's recent decision to make a $5 million loan to her campaign," the Times wrote. "The campaign said the money came from her share of the Clintons' joint resources, and that calls attention to the lack of information about their family finances.
[...]The larger campaign question, however, may be whether the Clintons will set any limits on their hunger to return to the White House -- and whether Democrats will view that single-minded determination as a plus or a minus.
at 9:23 AM |
Sunday, February 17, 2008
It is a perfect example of what's wrong with government and why no matter which Democrat is elected nothing will be done about the easy access to guns:
The deadly shooting at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill., is just the latest example of a growing problem on school campuses across the country. The issue of gun control is certain to be salient in the minds of voters in DeKalb and, for example, Blacksburg, Va., where shots killed 33 people at Virginia Tech University last April.
But so far, the Democratic presidential hopefuls have offered no solutions or preventive measures to combat this problem. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., offered his sympathies, but specified no new ideas to enforce gun control in his home state of Illinois. "I've said before, and continue to believe, that we need to do a more effective job of enforcing our gun laws," he said, speaking in Milwaukee, Wis., on Friday.
Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., offered similarly vague statements. "We just have to figure out how we are going to get smart about protecting our kids," she said.
Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Organization, a grassroots effort to prevent gun violence, says we need leadership from both Clinton and Obama on this issue.
But the candidates are quick to remember what happened to Al Gore in 2000. Gore lost West Virginia, in large part, because of negative ads paid for by the NRA. "I think a lot of candidates and politicians are afraid of getting the gun lobby upset," said Helmke. "They fear that talking about guns, it's gonna lose them elections."
Just as with the Virginia Tech shooter, the individual responsible for the massacre in Illinois was mentally unfit to own a gun. Why can't our government even agree that a background check should be done to determine if someone is mentally unstable to purchase a gun? Therefore, mass shootings will continue to go on almost on a weekly basis while the politicians remain silent. Our government is owned by lobbies like the NRA, not the American people. This is why we need an alternative to the two-party sellout.
at 9:24 PM |
Leave it to Michael Moore to show government, and the Clintons, at their hypocritical worst. Hillary Clinton went from "Hillarycare" to a darling of the healthcare industry. This video is a must see for those who wonder why 40 million Americans are without health insurance while costs keep rising:
at 1:57 PM |
Are we slowly losing our freedoms? Under the guise of fighting terrorism the government, with the help of the private sector, has been violating our rights on a unprecedented level. It seems as if no one is looking out for us. We've allowed a President to tear up the Constitution, and Congress to turn acquiesce because they don't want to lose the next election. Are you just going to sit by and let your freedoms disappear. NOT I:
A technical glitch gave the F.B.I. access to the e-mail messages from an entire computer network — perhaps hundreds of accounts or more — instead of simply the lone e-mail address that was approved by a secret intelligence court as part of a national security investigation, according to an internal report of the 2006 episode.
F.B.I. officials blamed an “apparent miscommunication” with the unnamed Internet provider, which mistakenly turned over all the e-mail from a small e-mail domain for which it served as host. The records were ultimately destroyed, officials said.
Bureau officials noticed a “surge” in the e-mail activity they were monitoring and realized that the provider had mistakenly set its filtering equipment to trap far more data than a judge had actually authorized.
The episode is an unusual example of what has become a regular if little-noticed occurrence, as American officials have expanded their technological tools: government officials, or the private companies they rely on for surveillance operations, sometimes foul up their instructions about what they can and cannot collect.
The problem has received no discussion as part of the fierce debate in Congress about whether to expand the government’s wiretapping authorities and give legal immunity to private telecommunications companies that have helped in those operations.
But an intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because surveillance operations are classified, said: “It’s inevitable that these things will happen. It’s not weekly, but it’s common.”
A report in 2006 by the Justice Department inspector general found more than 100 violations of federal wiretap law in the two prior years by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, many of them considered technical and inadvertent.
[...]In the warrantless wiretapping program approved by President Bush after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, technical errors led officials at the National Security Agency on some occasions to monitor communications entirely within the United States — in apparent violation of the program’s protocols — because communications problems made it difficult to tell initially whether the targets were in the country or not.
Past violations by the government have also included continuing a wiretap for days or weeks beyond what was authorized by a court, or seeking records beyond what were authorized. The 2006 case appears to be a particularly egregious example of what intelligence officials refer to as “overproduction” — in which a telecommunications provider gives the government more data than it was ordered to provide.
at 8:26 AM |
Saturday, February 16, 2008
It is the greatest indictment of the Iraq war. The safety of our troops was minimized fighting in a war that should never have been started because of the stinginess and incompetence of the Pentagon. The main culprit was Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, who thought the war could be fought on the cheap. He sacrificed the lives of brave young Americans for some foolish bureaucratic notion of how to fight a war:
Hundreds of U.S. Marines have been killed or injured by roadside bombs in Iraq because Marine Corps bureaucrats refused an urgent request in 2005 from battlefield commanders for blast-resistant vehicles, an internal military study concludes.
The study, written by a civilian Marine Corps official and obtained by The Associated Press, accuses the service of "gross mismanagement" that delayed deliveries of the mine-resistant, ambush-protected trucks for more than two years.
Cost was a driving factor in the decision to turn down the request for the so-called MRAPs, according to the study. Stateside authorities saw the hulking vehicles, which can cost as much as a $1 million each, as a financial threat to programs aimed at developing lighter vehicles that were years from being fielded.
[...]The vehicles weigh as much as 40 tons and have been effective at protecting American forces from improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the weapon of choice for Iraqi insurgents. Only four U.S. troops have been killed by such bombs while riding in MRAPs; three of those deaths occurred in older versions of the vehicles.
[...]Among the findings in the Jan. 22 study:
• Budget and procurement managers failed to recognize the damage being done by IEDs in late 2004 and early 2005 and were convinced the best solution was adding more armor to the less-sturdy Humvees the Marines were using. Humvees, even those with extra layers of steel, proved incapable of blunting the increasingly powerful explosives planted by insurgents.
• An urgent February 2005 request for MRAPs got lost in bureaucracy. It was signed by then-Brig. Gen. Dennis Hejlik, who asked for 1,169 of the vehicles. The Marines could not continue to take "serious and grave casualties" caused by IEDs when a solution was commercially available, wrote Hejlik, who was a commander in western Iraq from June 2004 to February 2005.
Gayl cites documents showing Hejlik's request was shuttled to a civilian logistics official at the Marine Corps Combat Development Command in suburban Washington who had little experience with military vehicles. As a result, there was more concern over how the MRAP would upset the Marine Corps' supply and maintenance chains than there was in getting the troops a truck that would keep them alive, the study contends.
at 10:17 AM |
Friday, February 15, 2008
The rebate is nothing but an election year buying of votes. It also serves to give the impression that government is doing something when in fact it's doing the wrong thing:
Mayor Bloomberg wants to hold an intervention for his boozing Uncle Sam.
In an unusually sharp attack on Washington Thursday, Bloomberg compared the federal government's plan to hand out $600 tax rebate checks to "giving a drink to an alcoholic."
"They want to send out a check to everybody to stimulate the economy," Bloomberg said. "I suppose it won't hurt the economy, but it's in many senses like giving a drink to an alcoholic.
"The government's been doing exactly that. It's been spending money it doesn't have."
And it ain't just Bloomberg who has his doubts about how effective the rebate will be in dealing with a long term threat to the economy:
There's a lot of skepticism in the country about how effective the $168 billion fiscal stimulus package will be, but economists who've crunched the numbers say it will give the economy a much-needed boost in the middle of the year.
"It could make the difference between a short and a long recession," said Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody's Economy.com.
But it won't solve the economy's fundamental problems, he said. That will require policymakers making a serious effort to solve the housing and credit crises.
It is at best a short term boost:
Even as President Bush signed a $168 billion stimulus bill Wednesday, kicking off the process of sending billions of dollars in rebates to American taxpayers, economists predicted the move will provide only a short-term boost for the struggling economy.
[...]The payout, placing some $100 billion mostly in the hands of middle- and lower-income taxpayers, should modestly boost the nation's economy in the second half of the year, economists agree. But it may soften the blow of any recession rather than eliminating it, making it shallower than it might be without the injection of new spending.
[...]The president sought this relief as a shot in the arm for an economy which he maintains is going through a "rough patch." The White House, while acknowledging that growth is slowing, does not concede that a recession is coming, though the Bush administration is projecting near-record federal budget deficits this year and next, with the new rebates adding to that deficit.
[...]The minimum payments will be $300 for an individual and $600 for a couple filing a joint tax return. Based on the amount of taxes that people pay, rebates will be as much as $600 for individuals and $1,200 for couples. In addition, checks will include $300 for each child in a family eligible for tax credits.
A sliding income scale is designed to send the most money to lower- and middle-income taxpayers, with the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reporting that a couple with two children with an income of $35,000 a year will see a tax rebate of $1,800 – the maximum for a couple with money added for the children.
And because that money will be delivered to people most likely to spend it, rather than save or invest it, economists agree that it should have the intended effect of pumping billions of dollars into an ailing economy.
[...]"At the same time, I don't know much long-term effect this will have," said Sohn, who is among those who believe a recession already is under way. "I think this recession will turn out to be longer than people realize… I think there will be a recession, and I think it will go beyond 2008."
He added, "The problems we are facing – a housing shortage and credit crunch – they are not simply going to go away because of these stimulus rebates."
Kent Hughes, an economist at the Woodrow Wilson Institute in Washington, pegs the impact of the new spending at a boost of one-half percentage point in the GDP. "I think there is a modest positive impact" on the economy, Hughes said.
But "this whole package would have worked better if it were part of a long-term package," he said, suggesting that a new commitment to rebuilding the nation's infrastructure or an Apollo moon program for energy independence would offer longer-range hope for the economy.
at 6:16 AM |
The danger of Chinese made imports has been forgotten about lately. Then we hear about a lollipop with a piece of a razor blade, that a child could've put in their mouths, brings us back to reality. Just another serious issue that nothing is being done about. And if the media doesn't discuss it the politicians, including presidential candidates, don't discuss it. It will take a serious incident to occur before our worthless government to take action:
The importer of a Valentine's Day lollipop said it was voluntarily recalling the treats after metal fragments were found in at least two lollipops sold at central Florida stores.
Sherwood Brands of Maryland, which imports the candy from China, said it was recalling all of its Pokemon Valentine Cards and Pops, which have been pulled from the shelves of thousands of stores across the country.
Roughly 20 lollipops were seized at Kathleen Elementary School in Lakeland. X-rays determined that only one piece definitely had metal — what appeared to be a staple — baked inside, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said.
On Wednesday, a woman in nearby Mulberry told authorities she found a lollipop with a piece of metal in it in a bag of the same product. The metal appeared to be part of a razor blade, authorities said.
The sheriff's office issued a safety advisory and the Dollar General chain removed the product from its more than 8,000 stores nationwide. The Food and Drug Administration is investigating.
Judd said the two tainted lollipops were purchased from different Dollar General stores near Lakeland. He said the lollipops did not appear to have been tampered with and it appeared the metal was baked into the candy in China, where it was produced.
at 5:56 AM |
Thursday, February 14, 2008
This is typical of the crooked Clinton gang. Thanks to Raw Story for the article:
When Hillary Clinton left New Hampshire in January as the big winner, a doctor and building owner says she forgot to leave something on her way out of the state: a rent check. After finally getting paid the money he was owed, the doctor says he'll donate the proceeds to the campaign of her rival, Senator Barack Obama.
“Thirty days went by, with no replies to phone calls, e-mails, no replies at all. Suddenly a newspaper article comes out. It was the worst publicity they could get. Three days go by and I get a check,” said Terry Bennett of Rochester, NH says in a Wednesday article by Karen Dandurant in Seacoast Online, the website of the Portsmouth Herald.
Bennett went to an area newspaper with his story after the Clinton campaign was late in paying him a $500 rent check. He had rented the space to Clinton's team for 5 days before the Jan. 8 primary, and it was used as a headquarters and dormitory.
Bennett also said that the Clinton campaign left the space "trashed."
[...]Bennett was eventually sent the rent check via express mail, but another landlord in Iowa where Clinton placed third in the Jan. 3 caucus told the paper that he had not yet received a $7,600 payment for space he had rented out to the campaign.
Here's the version from the newspaper involved:
Rochester physician Terry Bennett said he rented a city building to people who worked for Sen. Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign — and skipped town without paying the bill.
Making matters worse, Bennett said, the 3,000-square-foot building at 236 Union St. was left trashed. Campaign signs were left lying all over the place, he said.
[...]Calls and e-mails from the Herald to Kathleen Strand, Clinton's New Hampshire spokeswoman, were not immediately returned. E-mails and attempts to reach Walsh by phone, as well as calls to a woman who picked up the keys from Whitney, were not returned.
The Herald also made a call to Clinton's national campaign headquarters in Arlington, Va. A woman reached in the press office said she would try to get someone who could respond, but there was no response.
Neither Bennett nor Whitney knew how many people actually stayed in the building. The rent charged was $100 a day, for a total of $500.
Whitney, with the firm of Keller Williams Coastal Realty, confirmed the building was not left in good condition.
"We had to pick up after them," he said.
Whitney said he has been trying to collect rent for four weeks.
"I sent about 20 e-mails," said Whitney. "I hear the Clinton campaign is out of money. Maybe the woman got laid off. I called, but they will not return any of my calls."
This week, national news reports said Hillary Clinton loaned her campaign $5 million of her personal fortune. Bennett said he finds it hard to believe she can't afford $500.
When the group did not give him a check for the amount up front, as per the agreement, Whitney said, he gave them the benefit of the doubt.
"But they packed up and left," he said.
at 10:53 AM |
The superdelegates will support the frontrunner:
If the Intermission sounds like a nightmare scenario for Democrats, that's because it is. "This is something the Democrats would want to avoid pretty significantly," says election scholar Rhodes Cook. "The longer this goes on, the more bitterness, the more party turmoil, the more infighting there is." Superdelegates can't stomach the thought of hurting the party's chances next November; they are, after all, the faithfullest of the party faithful. But barring huge Obama landslides in Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania, they're probably going to have to break the tie and pick the nominee at some point--and for the party, sooner is better than later. (See above.) Which is why, for the first time since Jan. 4--the morning after his Iowa upset--Obama now looks like the odds-on favorite to win the Democratic nomination.
Here's how I see it. Last night, Obama didn't just crush Clinton in Virginia (64-35), Maryland (60-37) and Washington, D.C. (75-24). He made a convincing argument for his strength against McCain in the general election. First off, he took three primaries and even captured the white vote in Virginia, rebutting two key Clinton charges--that he wins only when competing in activist-friendly caucuses or inside his comfort zone (blacks and young voters as opposed to southern whites). What's more, the Illinois senator trounced Clinton 69-30 among the 22 percent of Democratic primary voters who said they were independents, and widened the gap--72-23--among the seven percent who self-identified as Republicans. All told, Obama's vote total last night exceeded all Republicans combined by more than 100,000. As Jonathan Martin writes, "Obama has a real chance to break the GOP's 44-year hold on Virginia this fall."
[...]"If Obama comes out having only lost one state between Super Tuesday and March 11, it would be tough to argue that he hasn't clearly established an edge," says Cook. "That pause would be the first opportunity for all of these players who are pressuring for a decision to weigh in, and that might be enough to tip it." In other words, it may be that the Democratic party spends this first "Intermission" making sure the second one never happens.
She is now slipping among her core group. This is the beginning of the end:
Hillary Rodham Clinton's crushing losses in Maryland and Virginia highlight an erosion in what had been solid advantages among women, whites and older and working-class voters. While this week's results can be explained by those states' relatively large numbers of blacks and well-educated residents - who tend to be Barack Obama supporters - her presidential campaign could be doomed if the trends continue.
Clinton is holding onto some of her supporters who are largely defined by race and often by level of education, such as low-income white workers and older white women, exit polls of voters show. She's been losing other blocs, again stamped by personal characteristics, such as blacks, men and young people both black and white, and better-educated whites.
The latest defeats have slowed the one-time favorite's political momentum at a bad time. With Obama winning eight straight contests and easily outdistancing her in money raising, she must now endure three weeks until primaries in Texas and Ohio that she hopes will resurrect her campaign.
[...]Before Tuesday's voting, the two were even among white males this year. Obama defeated her among that group by 18 percentage points in Virginia - his first win with white men in a Southern state - and they divided white men about equally in Maryland. Obama has done especially well with men who are college educated.
Tuesday's voting highlighted the ground Clinton has lost with groups that have been strongholds of her support.
Hillary ought to listen to some advice, other than the sycophants whom surround her. This comes from "professionals":
1. It's The Economy, Stupid: Clinton began the race with a clear advantage over Obama among voters who cited the economy as the most pressing issue facing the country. That edge narrowed and then disappeared altogether as the contest stretched on. Fred Yang, a Democratic pollster, suggested that Clinton should revive a message similar to her husband's "It's the economy, stupid" mantra that defined the 1992 presidential race. "She should issue an economic 'white paper'," said Yang.
[...]2. Make News: In the wake of Super Tuesday, the Clinton campaign appears to have fallen into a "play it safe" mode that no longer fits the sort of campaign she must run to beat Obama. "She needs to start making news, by having interesting things to say,"[...]
[...]3. Internet Cash = Loyal Supporters: Many within the broad orbit of the Clinton campaign don't think enough has been made of the fact that more than $12 million has been raised online since Super Tuesday. The money story has been almost unremittingly bad for Clinton in the past week -- Obama raised $32 million in January alone, Clinton was forced to loan her campaign $5 million before the Feb. 5 votes. But this storyline, according to party strategists, is one that has potential to show that there are a good many people in the country who believe strongly in Clinton and are willing to show it by giving small-dollar contributions to her cause.
[...]4. Over-perform in Wisconsin: The Badger State primary is set for Feb. 19 and represents the last, best chance for Clinton to win (or at least lose by less than expected) before March 4. While there is a considerable progressive base in Wisconsin -- in Madison in particular -- there are a lot of blue collar, lower middle class white voters who could be responsive to a Clinton message heavy on the economy. Losing by a large margin in Wisconsin -- coupled with an expected big Obama win in his home state of Hawaii -- could be the beginning of the end for Clinton.
at 9:49 AM |
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
This is bad news for McCain. As with both parties, the true believers will always be betrayed by the whoring politician who will say and do whatever gets them elected. This is why we need to turn away from the duopoly:
The same conservative Christian activist who called a meeting last fall to discuss backing a third-party candidate to counter a possible Rudy Giuliani candidacy is revisiting the idea as Sen. John McCain closes in on the Republican presidential nomination.
[...]Several Christian conservative leaders dismiss renewed talk of a third-party strategy, but any significant loss of conservative Christian voters could spell trouble for McCain in a close general election.
"Some of these folks might be trying to send a signal to McCain," said Mark Rozell, a political scientist at George Mason University. "There are also some people in that movement who believe McCain is hopeless. And they're not bluffing."
McCain already faces danger if conservative Christians are not energized about his candidacy, and the prospect of a third-party candidate siphoning off even a half-percentage point of McCain support could be a difference-maker, Rozell said.
[...]Fischer said that for large numbers of social conservatives to entertain backing McCain, he would need to reverse himself on several positions, including his support for relaxing restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research. Fischer said if McCain prevails short of doing that, he and many other conservatives "will not work as hard as we could" to elect him.
He then raised the possibility of Christian conservatives lining up behind the Constitution Party, citing its conservative moral stances and ability to get on state ballots, a steeper challenge for an entirely new party.
The Constitution Party, which calls itself "completely pro-life, pro-gun, pro-American sovereignty and independence," has secured spots on about 16 state ballots and hopes to exceed 40, national field director Gary Odom said. The party has nominated founder Howard Phillips as its presidential candidate in the past and will select its candidate in April.
at 10:59 PM |
Obama now has the outright lead:
Sen. Barack Obama took the lead in the race for Democratic delegates for the first time Tuesday, moving ahead of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.
[...]Obama won at least 65 delegates in Tuesday's primaries, with 70 still to be awarded. Clinton won at least 33.
Obama won 52 of Washington state's 78 delegates, according to caucus results released by the state party Tuesday night. Clinton won 26.
In the overall race for the nomination, Obama had 1,223, including separately chosen party and elected officials known as superdelegates. Clinton had 1,198.
It will take 2,025 delegates to secure the Democratic nomination.
He is cutting into her base. She has no more excuses:
Hillary Rodham Clinton has set up Texas and Ohio as her firewall, but the results from Democratic presidential rival Barack Obama's most recent victories give her plenty of reason to worry whether it will hold up.
Obama won sweeping victories in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia on Tuesday, cutting into her lead among her most reliable base voters and adding to a glut of bad news for Clinton. Combine the shake-up of her senior campaign staff, the candidate's $5 million loan to keep her campaign afloat, her eight straight losses in the past week and there's not much that makes Clinton look like a winning candidate. That's counting the prospect of more losses next week in Obama's native Hawaii and in Wisconsin, next door to the Illinois senator's adopted state.
[...]her strategy is reminiscent of another New Yorker who once was a front-runner for the 2008 presidential nomination. Republican Rudy Giuliani also argued he could survive a month of losses and then come back in Florida, but by the time that vote came all the momentum had shifted away from him.
Clinton has been confident about her chances in Texas and Ohio next month because they fit her pattern of victory — they are primary states where she has the support of leading elected officials. Many of the voters in those states are from her base — older or lower income or white or Hispanic or, of course, women.
But exit surveys conducted for The Associated Press and the television networks during Obama's overwhelming victories Tuesday showed she can't rely on those groups any more.
Clinton's campaign can't explain Obama's win as a black thing, since most of the voters in the two states are white. The two split the white vote in Virginia evenly, while Clinton won with that group in Maryland by 10 percentage points. Before Tuesday, Clinton had clearly defeated Obama among whites in all but three states with Democratic primaries, and had a 14 percentage point advantage with white voters in those prior contests combined.
She can't object to the process being a caucus instead of a more representative primary. All three contests were primaries, and he won all three by more than 20 percentage points.
He's even winning older voters. That's really bad news for Billary:
Older voters had been solidly in Hillary Clinton's camp in nearly every primary contest to date.And she is a sore loser:
But according to exit polls out of both Virginia and Maryland, the New York senator lost those voters to Barack Obama in Tuesday’s primaries.
Among voters over 60, Obama beat Clinton by 8 points in Virginia and 4 points in Maryland.
For the second election night in a row, Hillary Clinton failed to acknowledge or congratulate Barack Obama after he won the day in dominating fashion.
On Tuesday in El Paso, hours after Virginia had been called for Obama, she stuck to her “Texas campaign kickoff” message and did not stray from an energetic, Lone Star-themed stump speech. She did mention Obama by name, only to chide his health care plan.
On Saturday night in Richmond, Virginia, Clinton spoke to a crowd of thousands at the state’s annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner, but she ignored Obama’s quartet of blowout primary and caucus wins that day as well (Obama also won the Maine caucuses the next day).
The courtesy of conceding a primary or caucus loss — and then congratulating your opponent — is by no means required. But it has become standard practice during campaign season.
at 9:25 AM |
If you didn't hear Obama's spectacular speech last night, you missed something really special. At least you can read the transcript:
This is the new American majority. This is what change looks like when it happens from the bottom up. And in this election, your voices will be heard.
Because at a time when so many people are struggling to keep up with soaring costs in a sluggish economy, we know that the status quo in Washington just won't do. Not this time. Not this year. We can't keep playing the same Washington game with the same Washington players and expect a different result – because it's a game that ordinary Americans are losing.
It's a game where lobbyists write check after check and Exxon turns record profits, while you pay the price at the pump, and our planet is put at risk. That's what happens when lobbyists set the agenda, and that's why they won't drown out your voices anymore when I am President of the United States of America
It's a game where trade deals like NAFTA ship jobs overseas and force parents to compete with their teenagers to work for minimum wage at Wal-Mart. That's what happens when the American worker doesn't have a voice at the negotiating table, when leaders change their positions on trade with the politics of the moment, and that's why we need a President who will listen to Main Street – not just Wall Street; a President who will stand with workers not just when it's easy, but when it's hard.
It's a game where Democrats and Republicans fail to come together year after year after year, while another mother goes without health care for her sick child. That's why we have to put an end to the division and distraction in Washington, so that we can unite this nation around a common purpose, a higher purpose.
at 8:32 AM |
Monday, February 11, 2008
This from Mr.Campaign Reform. The "maverick" is just turning out to be a another establishment politician:
John McCain will turn down government matching funds for his primary campaign, a move that frees the Arizona senator and campaign finance reform advocate from spending caps.
In a letter to the Federal Elections Commission Monday, the presumptive Republican nominee wrote he will "make no requests for matching payments, and will not accept matching-fund payments, including the initial amounts and other amounts certified by the Federal Election Commission in connection with previous submissions."
McCain had asked to participate in the system, in a last ditch effort to keep his cash-poor campaign alive. In December, the FEC said he was eligible for $5.8 million. But had he accepted that money, McCain would have only been allowed to spend about $54 million total on his primary campaign, according to the Associated Press.
at 11:28 PM |