Monday, June 30, 2008

Obama Speech Transcript on Patriotism (6-30-08)

Barack Obama gave this speech from Independence, Missouri. Read the complete transcript:

We do so in part because we're in the midst of war. More than 1.5 million of our finest young men and women have now fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. Over 60,000 have been wounded. Over 4,600 have been laid to rest. The costs of war have been great, and the debate surrounding our mission in Iraq has been fierce.

It's natural in light of such sacrifice by so many to think more deeply about the commitments that bind us together as a nation and that bind us to each other, as well.

We reflect on these questions also because we are in the midst of a presidential election, perhaps the most consequential in generations, a contest that will determine the course of this nation for years, perhaps decades, to come.

Not only is it a debate about big issues -- health care, jobs, energy, education, retirement security -- but it's also a debate about values.

How do we keep ourselves safe and secure while preserving our liberties? How do we restore trust in a government that seems increasingly removed from its people and dominated by special interests?

How do we ensure that, in an increasingly global economy, the winners maintain allegiance to the less fortunate? And how do we resolve our differences at a time of increasing diversity?

Finally, it's worth considering the meaning of patriotism, because the question of who is or is not a patriot all too often poisons our political debates in ways that divide us rather than bring us together.

I've come to know this from my own experience on the campaign trail. Throughout my life, I've always taken my deep and abiding love for this country as a given. It was how I was raised; it is what propelled me into public service; it is why I am running for president.

And yet, at certain times over the last 16 months, I've found for the first time my patriotism challenged, at times as a result of my own carelessness, more often as a result of the desire by some to score political points and raise fears and doubts about who I am and what I stand for.

So let me say this at the outset of my remarks: I will never question the patriotism of others in this campaign.

[...]Thomas Jefferson was accused by the Federalists of selling out to the French; the Anti-Federalists were just as convinced that John Adams was in cahoots with the British, intent on restoring monarchal rule.

Likewise, even our wisest presidents have sought sometimes to justify questionable practices on the basis of patriotism: Adams' Alien and Sedition Act, Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus, Roosevelt's internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

All were defended at the time as expressions of patriotism, and those who disagreed with their policies were sometimes labeled as unpatriotic. In other words, the use of patriotism as a political sword or a political shield is as old as the republic.

[...]Still, what's striking about today's patriotism debate is the degree to which it remains rooted in the culture wars of the 1960s, in the arguments that go back 40 years or more.

Some of you remember this. In the early years of the civil rights movement and the opposition to the Vietnam War, defenders of the status quo often accused anybody who questioned the wisdom of government policies of being unpatriotic.

Meanwhile, some of those in the so-called counter-culture of the '60s reacted not merely by criticizing particular government policies, but by attacking the symbols, and in extreme cases the very idea of America itself, by burning flags; by blaming America for all that was wrong with the world; and, perhaps most tragically, by failing to honor those veterans coming home from Vietnam, something that remains a national shame to this day.

Iraq Opens 6 Oil Fields for International Bidding

Is there any doubt now that the reason the oil man Bush took us to war in Iraq was about the oil?

The Iraqi government says it's opened six oil fields to international bidding as the nation tries to boost production.

Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani says 35 oil companies qualified for bidding, including several majors from the West, such as Shell, BP, ExxonMobil and Total.

He says the oil fields are: Rumeila, Zubair, Qurna West, Maysan, Kirkuk and Bay Hassan.

All the fields are already producing oil, but al-Shahristani said Monday the new contracts would raise Iraq's production by 1.5 million barrels per day.

The deadline for the bids is the end of March 2009, and preliminary contracts will be signed next June.

Remember the Greenspan controversy?
AMERICA’s elder statesman of finance, Alan Greenspan, has shaken the White House by declaring that the prime motive for the war in Iraq was oil.

In his long-awaited memoir, to be published tomorrow, Greenspan, a Republican whose 18-year tenure as head of the US Federal Reserve was widely admired, will also deliver a stinging critique of President George W Bush’s economic policies.

However, it is his view on the motive for the 2003 Iraq invasion that is likely to provoke the most controversy. “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil,” he says.

This article appeared in the Washington Post:
Five years after the United States invaded Iraq, plenty of people believe that the war was waged chiefly to secure U.S. petroleum supplies and to make Iraq safe -- and lucrative -- for the U.S. oil industry.

We may not know the real motivations behind the Iraq war for years, but it remains difficult to distill oil from all the possibilities. That's because our society and economy have been nursed on cheap oil, and the idea that oil security is a right as well as a necessity has become part of our foreign policy DNA, handed down from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Jimmy Carter to George H.W. Bush. And the war and its untidy aftermath have, in fact, swelled the coffers of the world's biggest oil companies.

Oil Near $143 on Israel-Iran Tensions

Here's another reason why Israel, or the U.S., should not be attacking Iran. It was the Iraq War that lead to the skyrocketing of oil prices. Any military action on the oil-rich Iranians would be cataclysmic.

Oil rose more than $3 a barrel on Monday to a new record above $143, propelled by heightened market fears of conflict between Israel and Iran over Tehran's nuclear program.

A fall in the U.S. dollar to three-week lows versus the euro helped boost the market.

U.S. light crude was up $2.55 at $142.76 a barrel by 7:12 a.m. EDT, after a record high of $143.67 a barrel.

[...] Iran's Revolutionary Guards have said Iran would impose controls on shipping in the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz if it were attacked.

The Strait of Hormuz, a narrow waterway separating Iran from the Arabian Peninsula, accounts for roughly 40 percent of the world's traded oil flows.

Iran's foreign minister said on Sunday he did not believe Israel was in a position to attack his country over its nuclear program.

I think those oil traders see the writing on the wall.
The Bush administration has launched a "significant escalation" of covert operations in Iran, sending U.S. commandos to spy on the country's nuclear facilities and undermine the Islamic republic's government, journalist Seymour Hersh said Sunday.

White House, CIA and State Department officials declined comment on Hersh's report, which appears in this week's issue of The New Yorker.

Hersh told CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" that Congress has authorized up to $400 million to fund the secret campaign, which involves U.S. special operations troops and Iranian dissidents.

President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have rejected findings from U.S. intelligence agencies that Iran has halted a clandestine effort to build a nuclear bomb and "do not want to leave Iran in place with a nuclear program," Hersh said.

"They believe that their mission is to make sure that before they get out of office next year, either Iran is attacked or it stops its weapons program," Hersh said.

The new article, "Preparing the Battlefield," is the latest in a series of articles accusing the Bush administration of preparing for war with Iran.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Lieberman: U.S. May Be Attacked In 2009

This is wishful thinking on the part of the neocon leader from Connecticut.

In describing the reasons he believes the Republicans' presumptive nominee for president would be better prepared than the Democrats' to lead the nation next January, Sen. Joe Lieberman said that history shows the United States would likely face a terrorist attack in 2009.

"Our enemies will test the new president early," Lieberman, I-Conn., told Face The Nation host Bob Schieffer. "Remember that the truck bombing of the World Trade Center happened in the first year of the Clinton administration. 9/11 happened in the first year of the Bush administration."

Lieberman nonetheless distanced himself from remarks by McCain chief strategist Charlie Black, who came under criticism for suggesting in an interview that McCain's election chances would be improved if a terrorist attack occurred before November.

"Sometimes even the best of them say things that are not what they intended to say," Lieberman said. "Certainly the implications there I know were not what Charlie intended. And he apologized for it. Senator McCain said he didn't agree. And, of course, I feel the same way.

"But here's the point. We're in a war against Islamist extremists who attacked us on 9/11. They've been trying to attack us in many, many ways since then."

A former Democratic nominee for vice president, Lieberman endorsed McCain for president because, he says, the Democratic Party he joined in the early 1960s is not reflected by the party's current leadership.

He also said that he feels McCain is better prepared to be commander in chief than Barack Obama. "[McCain] knows the world," Lieberman said. "He's been tested. He's ready to protect the security of the American people."

Lieberman also assailed Obama and fellow Senators who called for a timetable of withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and opposed the "surge" of additional U.S. forces pushed forth by President Bush.

"It's now working," Lieberman told Schieffer. "If we had done what Senator Obama asked us to do for the last couple of years, today Iran and al Qaeda would be in control of Iraq. It would be a terrible defeat for us and our allies in the Middle East and throughout the world. Instead, we've got a country that's defending itself, that's growing economically, where there's been genuine political reconciliation, and where Iran and al Qaeda are on the run. And that's the way it ought to be."

However, McCain's readiness was disputed by retired General Wesley Clark, who is backing Obama for president, despite McCain's storied military experience in Vietnam. "Well, I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president," he said.

"I think Joe has it exactly backwards here," Clark told Schieffer. "I think being president is about having good judgment. It's about the ability to communicate. And what Barack Obama brings is incredible communication skills, proven judgment. You look at his meteoric rise in politics and you see a guy who deals with people well, who understands issues, who brings people together, and who has good judgment in moving forward.

Meet The Press Transcript: Schwarzenegger Grilled

Tom Brokaw has taken over for Tim Russert. And during this program he proved he could be just as tough a questioner. Read the entire transcript.

MR. BROKAW: I can continue the tough questions.


MR. BROKAW: When you ran for governor in 2003, you ran as a fiscal conservative who would change the system. You would bring businesslike techniques. Now you're facing a $15 million deficit here in California. Unemployment is running at about 6.8 percent. You've got the worst housing crisis since the Great Depression. If you were the CEO of a public company, the board would probably say, "It's time to go."

GOV. SCHWARZENEGGER: Are you always that positive? I can't believe it. Well, first of all, let just say that we are very happy that since I've come into office that we've changed a lot of things and improved California and got California back on its feet, and started paying off some of the debt and started to rebuild California for the first time in four decades, and fixed worker's compensation, and all kinds of great things happened. And the most important thing is that I was able to bring Democrats and Republicans together. Now, that doesn't mean that when you are doing a good job that the economy doesn't go down eventually. What goes up must come down, and I think that we see that nationwide. We see other states are struggling, the country is struggling, people are struggling, and I think we see it now all over the world. And I think the key thing for it is to again, bring everyone together and just start right away with an economic stimulus package, which of course is done on a national level, but also each state has the responsibility to do that.

MR. BROKAW: But when you came in, Governor, you said that spending was out of control here, and your rate of increase in spending is about the same as your predecessor, Governor Gray Davis. It's running about, what, 34 percent since you took office upward.

GOV. SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, Tom, as you know, you've been around long enough to know that the numbers are misleading, because we've paid off a lot of debt, and that is counted in the spending. So I'm very proud that we paid off a lot of the debt, and that we got the economy going again, and that we also got the state jump-started in rebuilding again, the roads, the levees, the schools, expanding our universities, building more career educational facilities. And we're now in the middle of negotiating, also, water infrastructure so that we can secure the water and provide reliable, safe, good water for the people of California, not two or three years from now, but 40, 50 years from now. So I think there's all kinds of great things happening. The key thing is to continue moving on and moving forward. If it is infrastructure, if it is health care reform, education reform, and all the things that we set out to do, and we're going to continue on. Like I said, the most important thing is that both of the parties work together to accomplish all of those things, because with just one party you could never do it.

MR. BROKAW: It appears that the people, however, have some real questions about your leadership. Your approval rating has gone from, what, 60 percent in December down to about 40 percent recently. It's tough to govern under those circumstances.

GOV. SCHWARZENEGGER: Not at all. I'm having a great time as governor of California, and it is a very challenging job and I've always known that when I get into that it would be a challenging job, but it's the most exciting job and it also is a job that gives me the satisfaction to serve the people of California, because I think that California has given me everything that I have. If it is my body building career, my acting career, the money that I've made, everything, my family, everything is because of California. So this is a way of giving something back. And I don't shy away from the challenges, never did. I'm very, you know, persistent in continuing moving forward. So, you know, it's, it's all about leadership and bringing people together and solving those problems. That's the key thing. And California is the greatest place in the world, and we're going to keep it that way.

Say What!? How is this not doublespeak?
MR. BROKAW: You have a lot of propositions on the ballot again this fall. One of them would mean a constitutional ban on gay marriages. Do you support that?

GOV. SCHWARZENEGGER: No, not at all. As a matter of fact, I think the Supreme Court made a decision there. It was apparently unconstitutional to stop anyone from getting married. It's like 1948, the interracial marriage, when the Supreme Court of California has, you know, decided it was unconstitutional and then later on the Supreme Court of the United States followed, I think 10 or 12 years later. So I think it is, it's good that California lead--is leading in this way. I personally believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman. But at the same time I think that my, you know, belief, I don't want to force on anyone else, so I think we should stay with the decision of the Supreme Court and move forward. There are so many other more important issues that we have to address in California. So I think to spend any time on this initiative I think is a waste of time.

Congress Debates While Housing Crisis Gets Worse

This article is from the NY Times:

When Congress started fashioning a sweeping rescue package for struggling homeowners earlier this year, 2.6 million loans were in trouble. But the problem has grown considerably in just six months and is continuing to worsen.

More than three million borrowers are in distress, and analysts are forecasting a couple of million more will fall behind on their payments in the coming year as home prices fall further and the economy weakens.

Those stark numbers not only illustrate the challenges for the lawmakers trying to provide some relief to their constituents but also hint at what the next administration will be facing after the election. While the proposed program would help some homeowners, analysts say it would touch only a small fraction of those in trouble — the Congressional Budget Office estimates it would be used by 400,000 borrowers — and would do little to bolster the housing market.

“It’s not enough, even in the best of circumstances,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s The number of people who will be helped “is going to be overwhelmed by the three million that are headed toward default.”

Last week, the Senate voted overwhelmingly to advance the bill, and the House passed a version last month. Because of procedural delays in ironing out differences between the two houses, the Senate is not expected to pass the bill until after the Fourth of July recess.

The bill would let lenders and borrowers refinance troubled mortgages into more affordable 30-year fixed-rate loans that are backed by the government. Democratic leaders say Congress could send something to the president next month.

The White House, which initially threatened to veto the measure, has indicated that it is open to supporting the bill if certain provisions are removed.

“The Congress needs to come together and pass responsible housing legislation to help more Americans keep their homes,” President Bush said on Thursday.

Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts and a central force behind the legislation, said on Friday that recent reports about falling home prices have rallied support for the plan. But he acknowledged that the plan may not do enough to help homeowners or the housing market. Mr. Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said that even after a bill like this, “you may need more.”

Other proposals that have been floated in Washington include expanding the current plan to make it mandatory instead of voluntary for certain home loans; having the government buy loans outright from lenders; and providing some way and some incentives to let homeowners become renters in their own homes.

[...]The biggest impediment to helping homeowners is the weak economy. In addition to falling home prices and risky loans, homeowners are now confronting a tough job market. The unemployment rate has risen to 5.5 percent, up from 4.9 percent in January.

U.S. Army History Slams Post-Invasion Iraq Plan-Report

More truth getting out:

A new Army history of the Iraq conflict faults the invasion's top U.S. commander for his sudden decision to overhaul the Baghdad-based military command, The New York Times said in its Sunday edition.

The 696-page report, set for release on Monday, focuses on the 18 months after U.S. President George W. Bush announced in May 2003 that major combat operations in Iraq were over, the Times said.

"On Point II: Transitions to the New Campaign" concludes that Gen. Tommy R. Franks' decision, opposed by the Army's vice chief of staff, led to a short-staffed headquarters led by a newly promoted three-star general.

"The move was sudden and caught most of the senior commanders in Iraq unaware," the military historians concluded, according to the Times report.

The unclassified study, based on 200 interviews conducted by military historians, also says the new headquarters "was not configured for the types of responsibilities it received."

Gen. Franks, speaking through an aide, told the Times he had discussed the Iraq invasion in his book and that he had not yet seen the study.

Meanwhile, the killing continues in Iraq:
A truck bomb detonated by remote control north of Baghdad killed six policemen and a member of a local group of Sunni volunteers who have turned against the insurgents, police said.

The truck was parked along the side of a road in Duluiyah, some 45 miles north of Baghdad, and exploded as police entered the vehicle to search it, said police Col. Mohammed Khalid.

In other violence, gunmen killed the head of Basra's intelligence department Saturday night in a drive-by shooting in eastern Baghdad, local police said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Bill Clinton says Barack Obama must 'Kiss my ass' for his Support

What makes that scum, Bill Clinton, think that Barack Obama needs him to win in November. Didn't he just cause his wife lose her chance at winning? Now he's guaranteed that Obama won't pick Hillary as his running mate:

Mr Obama is expected to speak to Mr Clinton for the first time since he won the nomination in the next few days, but campaign insiders say that the former president's future campaign role is a "sticking point" in peace talks with Mrs Clinton's aides.

The Telegraph has learned that the former president's rage is still so great that even loyal allies are shocked by his patronising attitude to Mr Obama, and believe that he risks damaging his own reputation by his intransigence.

A senior Democrat who worked for Mr Clinton has revealed that he recently told friends Mr Obama could "kiss my ass" in return for his support.

[...]"He's saying he's not going to reach out, that Obama has to come to him. One person told me that Bill said Obama would have to quote kiss my ass close quote, if he wants his support.

"You can't talk like that about Obama - he's the nominee of your party, not some house boy you can order around.

"Hillary's just getting on with it and so should Bill."

Another Democrat said that despite polls showing Mr Obama with a healthy lead over Republican John McCain, Mr Clinton doesn't think he can win.

You want to know why Obama is going to win, Bill? Read this article from the NY Times on how loyal the Democratic nominee's followers are.
Emily Nordling has never met a Muslim, at least not to her knowledge. But this spring, Ms. Nordling, a 19-year-old student from Fort Thomas, Ky., gave herself a new middle name on, mimicking her boyfriend and shocking her father.

“Emily Hussein Nordling,” her entry now reads.

With her decision, she joined a growing band of supporters of Senator Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, who are expressing solidarity with him by informally adopting his middle name.

The result is a group of unlikely-sounding Husseins: Jewish and Catholic, Hispanic and Asian and Italian-American, from Jaime Hussein Alvarez of Washington, D.C., to Kelly Hussein Crowley of Norman, Okla., to Sarah Beth Hussein Frumkin of Chicago.

NRA Sues to Overturn San Francisco Gun Ban

The high court has granted the NRA a gift. The powerful gun lobby was almost unchallenged in Washington. Now they seek to steamroll the entire country. And America will pay the price in uncontrolled gun violence.

The National Rifle Association sued the city of San Francisco on Friday to overturn its ban on handguns in public housing, a day after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a handgun ban in the nation’s capital.

The legal action follows a similar lawsuit against the city of Chicago over its handgun ban, filed within hours of Thursday’s high court ruling.

In San Francisco, the NRA was joined by the Washington state-based Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and a gun owner who lives in the city’s Valencia Gardens housing project.

The gun owner, who is gay, says he keeps the weapon to defend himself from “sexual orientation hate crimes.” He was not identified in the complaint because he said he fears retaliation.

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said that the Supreme Court ruling didn’t address gun bans on government property and that he is “confident that our local gun control measures are on sound legal footing and will survive legal challenges.”

[...]A state appeals court has overturned a broader citywide gun ban that voters approved in 2005.

The Chicago lawsuit challenges the city’s 1982 ordinance making it illegal to possess or sell handguns there.

And tragically Obama will be no help:
In recent weeks, he toughened his stance on Iran and backed an expansion of the government's wiretapping powers. On Wednesday, he said states should be allowed to execute child rapists. When the Supreme Court the next day struck down the District of Columbia's ban on handguns, he did not complain...

..."I've been struck by the speed and decisiveness of his move to the center," said Will Marshall, president of the centrist Progressive Policy Institute...

...And Obama endorsed a compromise wiretapping bill despite stiff opposition from liberal activists., the liberal online activist group, asked its members to flood Obama's campaign office with phone calls and e-mails urging him to support a filibuster of the bill.

The changes carry some risk that Obama will diminish the image he has sought to build as a new type of leader who will change how Washington conducts business. McCain and other Republicans have used his recent policy statements to argue that Obama is a traditional politician, unwilling to take clear stands on tough issues and abandoning his principles when he finds it advantageous.

Zimbabwe's Mugabe may be Sworn in on Sunday: Govt Sources

And who is going to stop him? Only military force will remove this monster? This is a test for the world. Failure means catastrophe for everyone. Dictators everywhere are watching.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe is expected to be sworn in on Sunday after a landslide victory in a one-candidate election boycotted by the opposition, government sources said on Saturday.

The sources told Reuters official tallies from two-thirds of polling stations showed Mugabe, 84, defeating opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai by a huge margin in a widely condemned poll.

Tsvangirai's name remained on ballot papers after electoral authorities refused to accept his decision to withdraw a week ago on the grounds of violence against his supporters. He has taken refuge in the Dutch embassy since then.

Election authorities said on Saturday evening that counting was complete and they hoped to finish verification and collation shortly, clearing the way to announce the result.

"The tallies are indicating that despite the wishes of our detractors and the propaganda of our enemies, the voter turnout was very big and that we are going to see a landslide victory," said one of the government sources, who declined to be identified.

"If the official results are released today as we are all hoping, the indications are the inauguration will be tomorrow," he added.

A Sunday inauguration would be timed to enable Mugabe to attend an African Union summit in Egypt on Monday after extending his 28-year rule of Zimbabwe, a once-prosperous country crippled by poverty and hyper-inflation.

President George W. Bush dismissed the vote as a sham and said Washington would enforce new sanctions on what he called an illegitimate government.

Arctic Could See First Ice-Free Summer This Year

Do you still doubt global warming?

The distinct possibility that the North Pole could be free of sea ice -- for the first time in recorded history -- may become a cold reality this summer.

The Arctic's thick, resilient multiyear sea ice (frozen sea surface), which usually accumulates and lasts through the annual melting season, has started to give way to thinner, vulnerable first-year ice.

And if you do, you can bet what's going in California has something to do with it.
Many of the rustic inns, restaurants and art galleries that dot the rugged Central Coast are nearly deserted this weekend at the height of the tourist season as a huge wildfire threatens Big Sur.

The blaze had charred nearly 42 square miles as of Friday in the Los Padres National Forest and destroyed 16 homes in the Big Sur area, one week after it was started by a lightning storm that also ignited more than 1,000 wildfires from the Central Coast to the Oregon state line.

[...]Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger asked President Bush on Friday for a federal emergency declaration to free up more resources, saying most of the major fires were less than 20% contained. Some 11,000 firefighters from 41 states were battling the blazes.

Scientist Is Paid Millions by U.S. in Anthrax Suit

I've argued from the beginning that the FBI had the wrong man. Hatfill fit the profile. As a result, the FBI made the facts fit the theory. It is very simple: al Qaeda was behind the attack as part of a second wave of terror following 9-11. Is it any wonder that the Federal government failed to prevent the September 11th attacks in the first place?

The Justice Department announced Friday that it would pay $4.6 million to settle a lawsuit filed by Steven J. Hatfill, a former Army biodefense researcher intensively investigated as a “person of interest” in the deadly anthrax letters of 2001.

The settlement, consisting of $2.825 million in cash and an annuity paying Dr. Hatfill $150,000 a year for 20 years, brings to an end a five-year legal battle that had recently threatened a reporter with large fines for declining to name sources she said she did not recall.

Dr. Hatfill, who worked at the Army’s laboratory at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md., in the late 1990s, was the subject of a flood of news media coverage beginning in mid-2002, after television cameras showed Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in biohazard suits searching his apartment near the Army base. He was later named a “person of interest” in the case by then Attorney General John Ashcroft, speaking on national television.

I argued in October of 2006:
No one remembers Steven Hatfill. He was falsely accused of being the anthrax attacks in 2001. Now he is suing. Mr. Hatfill wants to know who is the source of allegations made by the NY Times against himself. A judge in Virginia has determined that the Times does not have the right to help destroy someone's reputation in the pursuit of a story.
- Here's another Previous article on this topic:

Credit Card Borrowing Limits Reduced for Tens of Thousands of Consumers

We've been drowning in debt for years. Now we've reached the end of the road. How do we pay our bills now?

Just as Americans grow more reliant on credit cards to help pay monthly bills, they're being hit with a one-two punch: Card companies are reducing borrowing limits for tens of thousands of consumers, which then can lead to lower credit scores.

Those facing this predicament might not even know it until they apply for a loan or another credit card, and then get denied because their credit score has dropped.

This is an unintended consequence of the financial world's widespread ratcheting down of risk. Banks and other card lenders are trying to better protect themselves from more massive losses like those they've seen from subprime mortgages.

As a result, they are looking for ways to reduce their exposure to cardholders more likely to default. That's why they are lowering credit limits, which means they are reducing the maximum amount of credit extended to an individual, along with boosting card interest rates and allowing fewer balance transfers.

"This is what they have to do at this time," said John Hall, a spokesman for the American Bankers Association, a Washington-based trade group.

Such moves come as consumers are increasingly using their credit cards as a source of liquidity, especially since it's becoming harder to tap their home equity as much to pay for everything from renovations to vacations to trips to the mall. As the housing and mortgage markets have collapsed, lenders have also reduced the limits on what are known as home equity lines of credit, or HELOCs.

And the news only gets worse.
Consumer confidence fell more than expected in June, hitting another 28-year low as surging prices and mounting job losses contributed to a bleak outlook, according to a survey released on Friday.

The Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers said five-year inflation expectations remained steady at the peak of 3.4 percent reached in May, which was the highest in 13 years.

[...]"Moreover, gas prices have risen to an all-time peak, food prices posted the largest increases in decades, home prices have fallen faster than any time since the Great Depression, and there has been widespread distress associated with foreclosures," the report added.

Also weighing on consumers, data earlier this month showed U.S. employers shed jobs for a fifth straight month in May and the unemployment rate jumped to 5.5 percent, its highest in more than 3-1/2 years.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Earmarks Persist in Spending Bills for 2009

From the NY Times:

Despite a pledge by Congressional leaders to reduce pork-barrel projects, new information shows that both the number and amount of earmarks have increased in several spending bills now making their way through Congress.

The amount of the earmarks in the House version of the labor, health and human services appropriations bill for the 2009 fiscal year, for example, has jumped to $618.8 million from $277.9 million compared with the bill in 2008, according to Citizens Against Government Waste, a nonpartisan watchdog group in Washington.

In the Interior Department spending bill, earmarks increased to $134.9 million from $111 million from last year. Those amounts might change when the Appropriations Committee approves those bills. A spokeswoman from the committee said the number and amount of earmarks would be kept at 2008 levels.

A few years ago, the Department of Homeland Security bill had no earmarks; the new House bill has more than 100. In all, lawmakers requested 3,796 earmarks worth about $2.7 billion in seven spending bills.

The debate over earmarks has heated up in recent years after they figured into several Congressional scandals.

President Bush has threatened to veto spending bills if the number and cost of earmarks were not cut in half. Mr. Bush said that earmarks were wasteful and that the projects they financed typically lacked transparency and oversight.

The number of earmarks did decline last year after lawmakers, under the leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, mandated that members publicly disclose their financing requests.

“But these increases we are seeing clearly sets back any steps toward reform,” said Leslie Paige, a spokeswoman for Citizens Against Government Waste. “We’re back to where we were before.”

Supporters of the practice say Congress has the right to appropriate financing to organizations and programs that agencies might otherwise overlook. But Representative Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona and a longtime critic of earmarks, said the budget process had become a spoils system.

“It’s become a way for lawmakers to award the lobbyists and others who give to their campaigns,” Mr. Flake said.

House Democrats lead the way in earmark requests worth billions of dollars in the seven bills for which information is available, according to a review of the data by The New York Times.

Transcript: Karl Rove Calls Obama "Arrogant" on O'Reilly Factor

Rove made comment on FOXnews' "O'Reilly Factor." Read the entire transcript.

All right. Newsweek, as we've discussed here, has become a far-left publication. But they did hire you as a columnist, one of two conservatives, as opposed to nine liberal columnists. That sounds fair and balanced to me. But you don't believe this poll, do you, that Obama is up 15 on McCain?

KARL ROVE, FORMER BUSH ADVISER: No, I don't. That's what we call an outlier or an outwriter. If you look at it, the other polls show anything from 1 to 6 or 7 points. My suspicion is he's up 3 or 4 or 5 points today.

O'REILLY: OK, why would Newsweek put out a bogus poll?

ROVE: Well, look, Newsweek's poll, and I say this with great respect for Newsweek, having been hired as a columnist for this year and next, but that poll has habitually been the outlier. That is to say in previous elections, it's been the poll that has been — tended to be more generous to Democrats and less generous to Republicans.

O'REILLY: Do you feel uneasy about writing for that publication now that it is a committed far-left publication? As I said...

ROVE: Well...

O'REILLY: ...two conservatives, you and George Will? Nine, at least, liberals.

ROVE: Well, I like having an opportunity to voice an opinion and give some analysis. And I know I'm among people who don't necessarily think like I do, and I welcome the opportunity to try and educate them straight.

O'REILLY: Very diplomatic, Mr. Rove. ABC News has a report on its Web site that you were at a country club and said Obama is an arrogant guy. Is that true?

ROVE: Well, I wasn't at a country club. I was at the National Republican — the Capitol Hill Club, which is a Republican club on Capitol Hill. Look, I'm not going to get into what I said in an off the record event. But I will say, yes, I do think Barack Obama is arrogant. And I think we saw examples of that last week, at least three or four examples of it.

We saw it when he, you know, earlier on, he made a big thing about he wanted to strengthen the public financing system. He said absolutely he would take taxpayer dollars in the general election if the Republican agreed to take taxpayer dollars and abide by the $85 million limit — spending limit.

And then, you know, that was when he didn't think he could raise money. Now that he knows that he can raise money, he's decided the rules shouldn't apply, and he reversed course on Thursday and said...

Transcript: McCain Las Vegas Speech on Energy

Read the complete transcript:

Political campaigns have a way of settling on a few great questions, with little regard for the expectations of pundits, and even less concern for the carefully crafted strategies of the candidates themselves. These questions are rarely easy. Politicians usually avoid them for just that reason. And so it is good when events intrude on the familiar routine of stale soundbites, staged rallies, and over-managed messages, and turn to the concerns of the people themselves. In this election, the price and security of energy in America is one of those great questions.

It is an urgent question because the rising price of oil has brought hardship to our country, and threatens to bring much more. Gasoline at well over four dollars a gallon is bad enough all by itself, but it also affects the price of everything else. The cost of living is rising. The value of paychecks is falling. Many of our citizens can’t keep up, and we need to think first of them. As a country, we find ourselves caught between the rock of slower growth and the hard place of inflation. All of this, in large part, because the price of oil is too high, the supply of oil is too uncertain, and we depend on oil too much.

Energy security is a vital question because it concerns America’s most fundamental interests, and above all the safety of our citizens from the violence of the world. All the tact of diplomacy cannot conceal a blunt reality. When we buy foreign oil, we are enriching some of our worst enemies. And in the Middle East, Venezuela, and elsewhere, these regimes know how to use the power of that wealth.

In the case of Iran, despite our own sanctions, they use it to pursue nuclear weapons. They use it to threaten Israel and other democracies. Elsewhere, oil wealth allows undemocratic governments to control their own people — to crush dissent and to subjugate women. They use it to finance terrorists around the world and criminal syndicates in our own hemisphere. These are some of the most stagnant and oppressive societies on Earth, held back by oil-rich elites who would not last long if their own people had a choice in the matter. From these elites, we get the oil that fuels our productive economy. From us, they get the money that preserves their unjust power. Moreover, by relying upon oil from the Middle East, we not only provide wealth to the sponsors of terror — we provide high-value targets to the terrorists themselves. Across the world are pipelines, refineries, transit routes, and terminals for the oil we r ely on. And Al Qaeda terrorists know where they are.

Even if these other interests were not in the balance, America would still need to follow the straightest path to energy security, because of a threat literally gathering around the Earth itself. Back when Americans first learned to associate the word “energy” with “crisis,” we didn’t fully understand how fossil fuel emissions retain heat within the atmosphere. We didn’t know that over time these greenhouse gasses could warm the planet. We didn’t know they could melt glaciers and ice sheets, or raise the waters and alter the balance that sustains life. Good stewardship, prudence, and simple common sense demand that we act to meet this challenge, act quickly, and act together.

Energy security requires unity because it is not just one issue among many — another box on the candidate questionnaire. Our country’s need for a safe, clean, and affordable supply of energy is not just one more competitor for attention in Washington, one more special interest in an overcrowded field. The great issue of energy security is the sum total of so many problems that confront our nation. And it demands of us that we shake off old ways, negotiate new hazards, and make hard choices long deferred.

This is a matter that has confounded nearly twenty Congresses and seven presidents. Yet even now our energy debates carry the echoes of ten, twenty, or even thirty years ago. We hear the same calls for new energy taxes, instead of new energy production. We are offered the same agenda of inaction — that long recitation of things we cannot do, energy we cannot produce, refineries we cannot build, plants we cannot approve, coal we cannot use, technologies we cannot master. The timid litany of limitations goes on and on. And it says more about the culture of Washington than it does about the character of America.

Obama FOXNews Interview Transcript (6-26-08)

Obama appeared on FOX's "Your World with Neil Cavuto." Read the entire transcript:

GLICK: Two developments today that I want to get your reaction on. First of all, the Supreme Court decision today, as you know, that struck down the D.C. handgun ban, what's your reaction to that?

OBAMA: Well, you know, I have said consistently that I believe the Second Amendment is an individual right. And that was the essential decision that the Supreme Court came down on. And it also recognized that, even though we have an individual right to bear arms, that — that right can be limited by sensible, reasonable gun laws.

The D.C. law, according to the Supreme Court, went too far. And now the key is going to be, I think, for us to come together and say, people do have an individual right, and there's nothing wrong with common sense gun laws, background checks, keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, those who are mentally ill, and creating what I think is the common sense belief among people that we can both uphold our traditions with respect to firearms and prevent the senseless killings that we see on the streets of so many American cities.

GLICK: President Bush came out earlier this morning talking about, in essence, lifting the sanctions against North Korea. If you were president, you were in that situation, would you deal with it the same way?

OBAMA: Well, I have not yet had a chance to review the declarations that were made by North Korea. And I think it's important for Congress to review it before Congress lifts these sanctions.

But, assuming that North Korea has fully disclosed its plutonium operations, its enriched uranium operations, as well as some of the issues surrounding proliferation that I think are so important, and it follows through on the additional steps that are already outlined in the agreement, then I think it's a positive development.

And it indicates what can be accomplished when we have direct diplomacy even with our adversaries, that the well-structured — as in the words of Ronald Reagan, we have got to trust, but verify.

But this issue of nuclear nonproliferation is so critical. We let it slip away for too long. Now is the time for us to get back together with other countries around the world and make sure that we do not have the kind of proliferation that could fall into the hands of terrorists.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Hewitt: U.S. will get ‘Blown up by the Islamists under Obama.’

The Republicans have lost their minds. They have nothing to say or offer other than fear. If memory serves me right, it was under a Republican administration that the U.S. was attacked on 9-11.

On his radio show yesterday, conservative talker Hugh Hewitt announced that he was “living for” the Sept. 13 football game between USC and Ohio State, adding that he predicts that it will be the last game played before the United States “gets blown up by the Islamists under Obama.”:

Oil Prices Hit New Record; Some Predict $7-Per-Gallon Gas

This is a full-fledged crisis. We need to wake up. If something isn't done soon we could have either a depression or hyper-inflation on our hands. The markets have to be stabilized. There is panic going on which is causing skyrocketing oil prices. All this talk about offshore drilling is irrelevant and stupid. We don't a new energy policy. We need leadership. That idiot in the White House is obviously not providing it. He is the problem in the first place. Skyrocketing oil prices began with the Iraq War. Mr.Obama or McCain need to start providing leadership here. If they can do it.

Oil prices surged into record territory today, boosted by a report predicting that gas prices will hit $7 a gallon in the United States within two years.

Further compounding the rise in prices were statements by OPEC's president that a barrel of oil could soon be trading for more than $150 and reports that Libya is weighing cutting its oil production.

Investors also grew wary that the Federal Reserve will not raise interest rates until late this year, leaving little hope that the dollar with strengthen. Oil is traded in dollars and part of the run-up in oil prices has been attributed to the weak dollar.

Oil closed at $139.64 a barrel, a spike of more than $5 over yesterday's close. The intra-day trading high was $140.00.

As oil prices soared, stocks tumbled. The Dow Jones industrial average lost some 300 points by the late afternoon after fresh signs of trouble emerged in the financial, automotive and high-tech industries.

Senator Dodd Transcript on FISA Spy Bill: 'Enough'

This speech should've been made by Barack Obama. I guess the fact that Dodd is not running for President anymore explains the strong words. Read the entire transcript of Dodd's statement.

Mr. President: I rise—once again—to voice my strong opposition to the misguided FISA legislation before us today. I have strong reservations about the so-called improvements made to Title I. But more than that, this legislation includes provisions which would grant retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that apparently have violated the privacy and the trust of millions of Americans by participating in the president’s warrantless wiretapping program. If we pass this legislation, the Senate will ratify a domestic spying regime that has already concentrated far too much unaccountable power in the president’s hands and will place the telecommunications companies above the law.

I am here today to implore my colleagues to vote against cloture in the morning.

And let me make clear, at the outset of this debate, that this is not about domestic surveillance itself. We all recognize the importance of domestic surveillance – in an age of unprecedented threats. This is about illegal, unwarranted, unchecked domestic surveillance.

And that difference—the difference between surveillance that is lawful, warranted and that which is not—is everything.

Mr. President, I had hoped I would not have to return to this floor again under these circumstances – hoped that in these negotiations we would have been able to turn aside retroactive immunity on the grounds that it is bad policy and sets a terrible precedent.

As all of my colleagues know, I have long fought against retroactive immunity, because I believe, quite simply, it is an abandonment of the rule of law. I’ve fought this with everything I had in me—and I haven’t waged this fight alone.

In December, I opposed retroactive immunity on the Senate floor. I spent ten hours on this floor then. In January and February, I came to the floor time and time again to discuss the dangers of granting retroactive immunity. Along with my colleague and friend Russ Feingold, who has shown remarkable leadership on this issue, I offered an amendment that would have stripped retroactive immunity from the Senate bill. Unfortunately, our amendment failed and to my extreme disappointment, the Senate adopted the underlying bill.

Since passage of the Senate bill, there has been extensive negotiations on how to move forward. Today, we are being asked to pass the so-called compromise that was reached by some of our colleagues and approved by the House of Representatives.

I am here today to say that I will not and cannot support this legislation. It goes against everything I have stood for – everything this body ought to stand for.

Bush Wants To Spy On You From The Sky

From Newsweek by way of The Huffington Post:

A Bush administration program to expand domestic use of Pentagon spy satellites has aroused new concerns in Congress about possible civil-liberties abuses.

On Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment denying money for the new domestic intelligence operation—cryptically named the "National Applications Office"—until the Homeland Security secretary certifies that any programs undertaken by the center will "comply with all existing laws, including all applicable privacy and civil liberties standards."

Rep. Jane Harman, a California Democrat who chairs the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on intelligence, told Newsweek that majorities in both the House and Senate intend to block all funding for the domestic intelligence center at least until August, when the Government Accountability Office, an investigative agency that works for Congress, completes a report examining civil-liberties and privacy issues related to the domestic use of picture-taking spy satellites.

Harman, who was the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee when Republicans controlled Congress earlier in Bush's tenure, said she still felt burned by the president's secret expansion of domestic electronic spying after 9/11. At the time, she and other intel committee leaders were assured that the increased intelligence activity was legal, only to learn later that the basis for the new surveillance was a set of opinions by administration lawyers that are now widely considered to be legally questionable.

Because of the administration's poor handling of the electronic spying program (mainly conducted by the super-secret National Security Agency, which operates a worldwide web of electronic eavesdropping systems), Harman says she and other members of Congress will be more cautious about accepting civil-liberties assurances from administration officials. "We have to make sure this is not a back door for spying on Americans," Harman told Newsweek.

Harman said that she had discussed the administration's plans for expanding domestic use of picture-taking spy satellites—which are supposedly capable of taking very high-resolution photographs of buildings, vehicles and people—with Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. According to Harman, he promised strict procedures to protect the rights of Americans, including obtaining court authorization for law enforcement-related surveillance operations where appropriate. Despite Chertoff's assurances, however, Harman said that Congress probably would not fully approve the program until the administration is more explicit about how it would operate.

Study: Teachers not Being Taught Math Properly

Is it any wonder why we are increasingly becoming a poorly educated nation.
For kids to do better in math, their teachers might have to go back to school.

Elementary-school teachers are poorly prepared by education schools to teach math, finds a study being released Thursday by the National Council on Teacher Quality.

Math relies heavily on cumulative knowledge, making the early years critical.

The study by the nonpartisan research and advocacy group comes a few months after a federal panel reported that U.S. students have widespread difficulty with fractions, a problem that arises in elementary school and prevents kids from mastering more complicated topics like algebra later on.

The report looked at 77 elementary education programs around the country, or roughly 5 percent of the institutions that offer undergraduate elementary teacher certification.

It found the programs, within colleges and universities, spend too little time on elementary math topics.

Report Projects Energy, Fossil Fuel use to Grow

Whatever happened to global warming. Aren't we going backwards? We need reduce oil consumption, in the U.S. especially, not increasing our reliance on this substance.

World energy demand will grow 50 percent over the next two decades, oil prices could rise to $186 a barrel and coal will remain the biggest source of electricity despite its effect on global warming, government experts predict.

The Energy Information Administration's long-range forecast to 2030 said the world is not close to abandoning fossil fuels. They will continue to be at the core of energy production in transportation and electricity generation, according to the report released Wednesday.

It said the steepest increases in energy use will come in China and other developing economies, including some in the Middle East and Africa, where energy demand is expected to be 85 percent greater in 2030 than it is today.

We need alternative solutions.
To save money and support neighboring farms, Scott Dubbelde began mixing gasoline and cheaper, ethanol-based fuel in his cars years ago, driving first to the gasoline pump, and then to the ethanol pump.

It has worked so well that Dubbelde, who manages a local grain elevator, mixes fuels for all three of his family cars, though only one was designed to handle ethanol-heavy blends.

Japanese Shares Slip for 6th Day

Just in case you had forgotten that the financial crisis in the United States is also worldwide.

Japanese stocks edged down Thursday, extending losses for a sixth day as investors traded with caution following the Federal Reserve's mixed assessment of the U.S. economy.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index slipped 7.6 points, or 0.05 percent, to 13,822.32.

"Sentiment was sluggish as the Fed's statement on the state of the U.S. economy was ambiguous," said Kazuki Miyazawa, market analyst at Daiwa Securities SMBC Co. Ltd.

On Wednesday, the U.S. central bank said after a two-day meeting it was keeping its benchmark federal funds rate at 2 percent in a widely expected move.

The Fed also issued a mixed assessment of the world's largest economy. It said there were a few positive economic signs, including "some firming in household spending," but argued rising energy prices were likely to limit growth.

U.S. to Take North Korea Off Terror List

Does this mean North Korea is no longer a "axis of evil" country? The double standard here is breathtaking. The Bushies want to go to war with Iran but want negotiate with a regime that is even worse threat to us. Could someone ask McCain how he explains the hypocrisy.

North Korea submitted a long-delayed declaration of its nuclear program on Thursday, as the Bush administration said it would remove the country it once described as part of the “axis of evil” from the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism.

“This can be a moment of opportunity for North Korea,” said President Bush, announcing the declaration at the White House. “If it continues to make the right choices it can repair its relationship with the international community.”

Mr. Bush said in the principal of “action for action”, the United States would lift some restrictions on commercial dealings with North Korea and within 45 days end its designation of North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism.

US Forces Face Spike in Deadly Violence in Iraq

Bad news for McCain, but more importantly our troops.

Roadside bombs killed four U.S. soldiers in northern Iraq, the military said Wednesday, in a spike of violence that pushed to at least 10 the number of Americans who have died here this week.

In the latest attack, one soldier was killed by an explosively formed penetrator, or EFP, about 9 a.m. Wednesday in the predominantly Shiite eastern half of Baghdad, the military said. The armor piercing bombs are believed to come from Iran and have been used by Shiite extremists to kill hundreds of American forces.

The U.S. military said three other U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter were killed late Tuesday by a roadside bomb in the northern Ninevah province, where al-Qaida in Iraq and other Sunni extremist groups remain active.

The four U.S. fatalities brought the monthly death toll for American troops in Iraq to at least 26 — well below figures of last year but an increase over the 19 who died in May, the lowest monthly tally of the war.

In all, at least 4,110 U.S. military service members have died in the Iraq war since it began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

World Condemnation of Zimbabwe Grows

Yeah? And so what. What is being done other than lots of talk and meaningless condemnation. The UN and/or Western Powers might make a deal with Mugabe to leave the country and be given a comfortable life in exile. This monster has slaughtered hundreds if not thousands of his own people and gotten away with it. He should be brought before a world court on human rights violations charges. Instead the entire world just fiddles its' collective fingers.

President Robert Mugabe faced deeper international isolation Wednesday, with African states demanding that a discredited runoff election be postponed and anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela rebuking the Zimbabwe leader for the first time.

Tougher sanctions, sporting bans and economic boycotts could be next — and world support may build for opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who called Wednesday for talks on power sharing.

Regional heads of state from southern Africa met in Swaziland and said Friday's runoff should be postponed until conditions permitted a free and fair vote.

President Bush said the runoff election appears to be a "sham," joining the international condemnation of Mugabe's actions.

At least 300 Zimbabwean opposition supporters, meanwhile, were seeking refuge at the South African Embassy in Zimbabwe. Ronnie Mamoepa, a spokesman for the South African Foreign Ministry, said the ambassador was talking with the group and that the situation was under control.

In London, Mandela made a carefully worded but pointed attack on Mugabe, saying there has been a "tragic failure of leadership in our neighboring Zimbabwe."

The speech, at a fundraiser that included Prime Minister Gordon Brown and former President Bill Clinton, was the first time the former South African president has spoken publicly about the political crisis in Zimbabwe. His words are devastating for Mugabe and will weaken his claim to be a champion of African interests.

Although out of office for nearly a decade, Mandela remains a commanding and respected figure. He uses his influence sparingly, and it is particularly rare for him to publicly differ with South Africa's current president, Thabo Mbeki. South Africans and other Africans have been increasingly questioning Mbeki's leadership on Zimbabwe, so Mandela's brief but sharp comments will have particular resonance.

For Mugabe, they are a rebuke from a leader he sees as a fellow freedom fighter, and will be hard to dismiss or ridicule — so often Mugabe's response to criticism.

Tsvangirai made the call for peacekeepers in a commentary published Wednesday in British newspaper The Guardian. Asked about it at a news conference later in Harare, Tsvangirai said: "What do you do when you don't have guns and the people are being brutalized out there?"

Seizing Laptops and Cameras Without Cause

Pretty scary. We are losing our freedoms before our very eyes. America could be seeing its final days as a great nation. Everything around us is crumbling and we just behave like nothing is happening.

Returning from a brief vacation to Germany in February, Bill Hogan was selected for additional screening by customs officials at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C. Agents searched Hogan's luggage and then popped an unexpected question: Was he carrying any digital media cards or drives in his pockets? "Then they told me that they were impounding my laptop," says Hogan, a freelance investigative reporter whose recent stories have ranged from the origins of the Iraq war to the impact of money in presidential politics.

Shaken by the encounter, Hogan says he left the airport and examined his bags, finding that the agents had also removed and inspected the memory card from his digital camera. "It was fortunate that I didn't use that machine for work or I would have had to call up all my sources and tell them that the government had just seized their information," he said. When customs offered to return the machine nearly two weeks later, Hogan told them to ship it to his lawyer.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

GAO Audit: $6 Billion in Aide To Pakistan Being Wasted or Stolen

Add that to the hundreds of billions already wasted on fighting "terrorists" in Iraq. Does anyone know how much of that sorely needed tax dollars are being pocketed by corrupt businessmen and politicians? You can bet most of it.

The United States has given Pakistan nearly $6 billion to pursue terrorists since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States but with little to no proof that the money has been used for that purpose, an independent audit has found.

The assessment by the Government Accountability Office, released Tuesday, angered members of Congress who say they are concerned that Pakistan - the closest in the war on terrorism - is milking the U.S. government.

GAO found, for example, that the U.S. recently gave Pakistan more than $200 million for air defense radars without bothering to investigate whether the money was needed specifically to go after terrorists. Another example included $45 million for road and bunker construction without evidence they were ever built.

"The U.S. government is being asked to reimburse Pakistan for non-incremental air defense radar maintenance when al Qaeda is not even known to have an air force," said Rep. Howard Berman, a Democrat and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. "The purpose of these funds is to support the fight against extremists, not to boost Pakistan's conventional warfare capability."

Supreme Court Rejects Death Penalty for Child Rape

The court has gotten it wrong, again. What is the appropriate punishment for someone who rapes a child? Is it also cruel and unusual if the rapist were sentenced to life in prison? Although this case is not unprecedented, it is an example of political correctness passed off as constitutional protection.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down a law that allows the execution of people convicted of a raping a child.

In a 5-4 vote, the court said the Louisiana law allowing the death penalty to be imposed in such cases violates the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

''The death penalty is not a proportional punishment for the rape of a child,'' Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in his majority opinion. His four liberal colleagues joined him, while the four more conservative justices dissented.

There has not been an execution in the United States for a crime that did not also involve the death of the victim in 44 years.

Patrick Kennedy, 43, was sentenced to death for the rape of his 8-year-old stepdaughter in Louisiana. He is one of two people in the United States, both in Louisiana, who have been condemned to death for a rape that was not also accompanied by a killing.

The Supreme Court banned executions for rape in 1977 in a case in which the victim was an adult woman.

First Obama Attack Book in the Works

It better have something new because it won't sell otherwise:

The same publisher that distributed the 2004 best-seller that took aim at John Kerry’s Vietnam service is planning a summer release of what’s scheduled to be the first critical book on Barack Obama.

Conservative journalist David Freddoso’s “The Case Against Barack Obama” will offer “a comprehensive, factual look at Obama,” according to Regnery Publishing president and publisher Marjory Ross.

But the book’s subtitle makes clear its perspective: “The Unlikely Rise and Unexamined Agenda of the Media’s Favorite Candidate.”

[...]But unlike the Kerry book, which was co-authored by a fellow Swift Boat veteran and focused exclusively on the Massachusetts senator’s actions in Vietnam and immediately after, “The Case Against Barack Obama” aspires to be a full-length political biography.

Freddoso has taken a leave from his job with National Review Online — where he has written posts with titles such as “Obama’s Problem with the Truth” — to write the book, which is scheduled to be published on Aug. 4. A former writer for Human Events, Freddoso learned shoe-leather reporting at the knee of syndicated conservative columnist Robert D. Novak, for whom he worked as a political reporter on the “Evans-Novak Political Report.”

Freddoso’s book is being promoted by the well-connected conservative public relations firm Creative Response Concepts. The firm, headed by former GOP operative Greg Mueller, also handled publicity for “Unfit for Command” and media relations for the 527 group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which in 2004 ran widely covered television advertisements featuring veterans who had served in Vietnam with Kerry, criticizing his conduct and character and claiming he had exaggerated his war record.

Obama Kept Harvard Law Review Balanced

From Politico:

Barack Obama's election in 1990 as the first black president of the Harvard Law Review gave him his first moment of national fame, a powerful intellectual credential and a sweet book deal. It was also his first electoral victory, won in part by convincing the conservative minority of law students that he would treat them fairly.

[...]The eight dense volumes produced during his time in charge there — 2,083 pages in all — show the Review to have been a decidedly liberal institution, albeit one in transition as its focus on race and gender was contested by liberals and conservatives alike. Under his tenure, the Review published calls to expand the powers of women, African-Americans and the elderly to sue for discrimination.

But Obama, who this March referred to "identity politics" as "an enormous distraction," was not so easily pinned down. He published a searing attack on affirmative action, written by a former Reagan administration official. And when, in an unusual move, he selected a young woman from a non-Ivy League law school to fill one of the Review’s most prestigious slots, she produced an essay focused as much on individual responsibilities as on liberties, criticizing both conservative judges and feminist scholars.

Children Caught In Brutal Kenyan Crossfire

If nothing is being done to stop the atrocities in Zimbabwe they certainly won't be helped in Kenya.

These children are among hundreds in western Kenya who have been terrorized, many twice over, first by a militia in their villages and then by the army sent to fight it. The militia forced children as young as 10 to become soldiers. In a widespread crackdown, the army then rounded up the children and thousands of adults and tortured them, human rights groups say.

[...]In March, the Kenyan government sent its army to crack down on the Sabaot Land Defense Force militia, which is named after the Sabaot region. But instead of hunting down militia fighters where they hide in the forests of Mount Elgon, the army swept up thousands of men and boys from the surrounding villages.

Since then, so many reports of murder and torture have emerged that Kenya's state-run human rights commission is calling for the prosecution of the defense minister and top army and police officials. There are also calls for the United States and Britain to suspend millions of dollars in aid and training to the Kenyan army.


"The city's murder rate is up nearly 8 percent this year - with surges in rapes and robberies as well, police statistics show."

read more | digg story

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Attacks in East Afghanistan up 40 percent, US says

While violence is declining in Iraq it is on the rise in Afghanistan. In fact, attacks on Americans are higher in Afghanistan than in Iraq despite there being far fewer of our troops in the former. The Taliban are taking advantage of our being held down in Iraq, and the chaos in Pakistan, to step up their attacks.

Insurgent attacks in eastern Afghanistan rose by 40 percent in the first five months of this year over the same period a year ago, the U.S. commander of NATO forces in the region said on Tuesday. While insisting NATO was making progress in establishing stability, Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser said he was "nowhere near" being able to state those efforts had achieved irreversible momentum.

We can't win there if the people in Afghanistan don't support us:
Frustrated by ongoing violence and uneven development, Afghans have grown sharply more critical of U.S. efforts in their country — and in the beleaguered southwest, support for the Taliban, ousted from power six years ago, is on the rise.

Overall, 42 percent of Afghans rate U.S. efforts in Afghanistan positively, down steeply from 68 percent in 2005, and 57 percent last year. For the first time, this national ABC News/BBC/ARD survey finds that more than half of Afghans disapprove of U.S. efforts.

Is it any wonder given NATOs inability to help the miserably poor people of Afghanistan.
Aid agencies said that up to $10 billion (6.5 billion euros), or 40 percent, of promised aid to Afghanistan has not been delivered by the West. Germany and the EU, however, questioned the organizations' calculations.

Aid agencies said that up to $10 billion (6.5 billion euros), or 40 percent, of promised aid to Afghanistan has not been delivered by the West, and what does arrive bypasses the Afghan government.

Western countries have failed to carry through on their pledges of aid to Afghanistan, according to a report by the Agency Coordinating Body For Afghan Relief (ACBAR). The umbrella group of non-governmental organizations which work in Afghanistan said the international community had pledged $25 billion to Afghanistan since 2001, when the extremist Taliban government was toppled, but that up to $10 billion had not reached the country.

The US government -- the biggest international donor to Afghanistan -- "has one of the biggest shortfalls," providing only half of the $10.4 billion dollars of pledged money until 2008, the report said.

- Related Link:
NBC: U.S. Commanders In Afghanistan ‘Complained To Us’ That They Lack Resources Because Of Iraq

CBS: Israel Prodding U.S. To Attack Iran

The Israelis apparently need help in destroying Iran's nuclear weapons sites. Only the U.S. can guarantee success. It is clear that McCain is not going to be the next President therefore the Israelis want to attack now. Although Bush is a lapdog of the neocons he knows an attack on Iran would lead to his impeachment. And Congress will not give the President the authority to bomb Iran:

Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen leaves Tuesday night on an overseas trip that will take him to Israel, reports CBS News national security correspondent David Martin. The trip has been scheduled for some time but U.S. officials say it comes just as the Israelis are mounting a full court press to get the Bush administration to strike Iran's nuclear complex.

CBS consultant Michael Oren says Israel doesn't want to wait for a new administration.

"The Israelis have been assured by the Bush administration that the Bush administration will not allow Iran to nuclearize," Oren said. "Israelis are uncertain about what would be the policies of the next administration vis-à-vis Iran."

Israel's message is simple: If you don't, we will. Israel held a dress rehearsal for a strike earlier this month, but military analysts say Israel can not do it alone.

Two Polls Have Obama Beating McCain by 15 Points

We are going to see a Democratic landslide in November. Obama is ahead of McCain even among white voters.

Democrat Barack Obama has opened a 15-point lead in the presidential race, and most of the political trends -- voter enthusiasm, views of President George W. Bush, the Republicans, the economy and the direction of the country -- point to even greater trouble for rival John McCain.

[...]``The Obama voters are much more energized and motivated to come out to vote than the McCain voters; McCain is still struggling to win over some of his core groups,'' she says. ``The good news for Obama is also that he seems to be doing better on the issue that is uppermost in voters' minds, and that is the economy.''

[...]Voters give Obama a 3-to-2 advantage on handling the economy and prefer his health-care and tax plans. They also say they believe he is the candidate who cares most about average Americans and is most likely to change Washington and build respect for the U.S. abroad.

[...]Obama is unifying the traditional Democratic base after the divisive Democratic nomination battle with New York Senator Hillary Clinton. Women, who were Clinton's most loyal backers, now favor Obama by a 54-to-29 percent margin and Democrats give him more than 80 percent support. Obama also has a slight lead over McCain among male voters. White voters, who in the past have tended to favor Republicans, are split between the two candidates in the four-way race.

"The latest NEWSWEEK Poll shows the Democrat with a 15-point lead over McCain."
Overall, voters see Obama as the preferred agent of "change" by a margin of 51 percent to 27 percent. Younger voters, in particular, are more likely to see Obama that way: those 18 to 39 favor the Illinois senator by 66 percent to 27 percent. The two candidates are statistically tied among older voters.

Obama's current lead also reflects the large party-identification advantage the Democrats now enjoy—55 percent of all voters call themselves Democrats or say they lean toward the party while just 36 percent call themselves Republicans or lean that way. Even as McCain seeks to gain voters by distancing himself from the unpopular Bush and emphasizing his maverick image, he is suffering from the GOP's poor reputation among many voters.

Might the The Clintons Help or Hurt the Obama Campaign

Can Barack Obama trust the Clintons to campaign for him without trying to sabotage his chances of winning the White House. They certainly tried during the primaries. Then there is the fact that the track record for Bill and Hillary in getting other people elected is quite dismal. If Slick Willie couldn't help his own wife how could he be expected to help Obama. The former President is a reckless campaigner who is more interested in promoting himself than another candidate. Let's no forget it was Bill and Hillary who cost the Democrats control of Congress. They are directly to blame for the diaster which is George W. Bush. Al Gore lost in 2000 because he was running away from Bill Clinton's presidency:

Former President Clinton on Tuesday offered to help Barack Obama win the White House, although what work he'll do for his wife's former rival remained uncertain.

The Obama campaign is still smarting over some of Bill Clinton's criticism in the primary race, while the last Democratic president remains a popular political draw. But before the two can work together, they have to speak.

Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton have taken steps to join efforts in the last three weeks — she met with him privately, endorsed his campaign and will campaign with him Friday. But the former Democratic president and the man running to be the next one haven't talked since the campaign ended.

There are rumors that the Clinton marriage is on the rocks:
Bill Clinton will not be attending the rally with his wife and Obama Friday in the symbolic town of Unity, N.H. McKenna said the former president is in Europe this week to celebrate Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday, give speeches and work for the William J. Clinton Foundation.

Hillary Clinton spokesman Mo Elleithee issued a statement after her husband's that didn't mention him. "Senator Clinton is very pleased with how quickly the party is coming together after the primaries, and she will continue to do everything she can to unite Democrats behind Senator Obama as our nominee," Elleithee said.

Consumer Confidence at Lowest Point in 16 Years

Is there any doubt that we are in a full fledged recession?

An industry group says U.S. consumer confidence fell unexpectedly sharply in June, sinking to the fifth-lowest level ever.

The report Tuesday also said the group’s reading of consumers’ expectations hit an all-time low.

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index fell to 50.4 this month, down from 58.1 in May. The reading is far lower than economists expected; the consensus estimate of economists surveyed by Thomson/IFR was 56.5.

A major factor in the economic crises has to be the bursting of the housing bubble.
U.S. home prices posted record declines in April, extending a painful losing streak for U.S. home prices.

The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city Home Price Index fell to a record low of 15.3% on a year-over-year basis, and was down 1.4% from March. The 10-city index was down 16.3% year-over-year and 1.6% for the month.

The 20-city index is based on data going back 19 years, while the 10-city index is 21 years old.

Rove: Obama is Snide Country Club Guy

The pot calling the kettle black.

ABC News' Christianne Klein reports that at a breakfast with Republican insiders at the Capitol Hill Club this morning, former White House senior aide Karl Rove referred to Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, as "coolly arrogant."

"Even if you never met him, you know this guy," Rove said, per Christianne Klein. "He's the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by."

American Envoy Is Linked to China Arms Deal Cover-Up

It makes you wonder how much the White House knows about this. It is reminiscent of the Reagan administration's selling guns to the Iraninans. It is also an example of the mess increasingly going on in Afghanistan:

An American ambassador helped cover up the illegal Chinese origins of ammunition that a Pentagon contractor bought to supply Afghan security forces, according to testimony gathered by Congressional investigators.

A military attaché has told the investigators that the United States ambassador to Albania endorsed a plan by the Albanian defense minister to hide several boxes of Chinese ammunition from a visiting reporter. The ammunition was being repackaged to disguise its origins and shipped from Albania to Afghanistan by a Miami Beach arms-dealing company.

The ambassador, John L. Withers II, met with the defense minister, Fatmir Mediu, hours before a reporter for The New York Times was to visit the American contractor’s operations in Tirana, the Albanian capital, according to the testimony. The company, under an Army contract, bought the ammunition to supply Afghan security forces although American law prohibits trading in Chinese arms.

McCain Top Advisor Black Apologizes for Saying Terror Attack would be Beneficial

How is this comment not as bad as anything uttered by Rev.Wright. And why hasn't McCain fired Black for this remark. Sounds to me like wishful thinking from a campaign that doesn't have a chance of winning.

John McCain distanced himself Monday from a top adviser who said another terrorist attack on U.S. soil this election year would benefit the Republican presidential candidate. Barack Obama's campaign called the comment a "complete disgrace."

Charlie Black, an adviser already in the spotlight for his past lobbying work, is quoted in the upcoming July 7 edition of Fortune magazine as saying such an attack "certainly would be a big advantage to him." Black said Monday he regretted the comment.

Black is also quoted as saying the "unfortunate event" of the assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto earlier this year "helped us."

Questioned about Black's comments during a news conference, McCain said, "I cannot imagine why he would say it; it's not true. I've worked tirelessly since 9/11 to prevent anther attack on the United States of America. My record is very clear."

[...]Black, interviewed by reporters as he stood outside McCain's fundraiser, said: "I deeply regret the comments. They were inappropriate. I recognize that John McCain has devoted his entire adult life to protecting his country and placing its security before every other consideration."

James Dobson: Obama has a "Fruitcake" Interpretation of the Constitution

This comment will have a backlash. A reporter somewhere should ask McCain whether he condones Dobson's words:

Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family -- who has stayed unusually quiet in this election cycle likely due to his loathing of presumptive GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. -- will tomorrow attack Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, on Tuesday for a speech the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee delivered in 2006 to the liberal Christian group Call to Renewal.

The AP was given an advance copy of Dobson's 18-minute radio segment, which has already been taped, and will air Tuesday.

In it, Dobson hammers Obama's views of religion, and says the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee is trying to govern by the "lowest common denominator of morality," and calls Obama's views "a fruitcake interpretation of the Constitution."

But then again, Dobson doesn't like McCain either:
McCain also has not met with Dobson. A McCain campaign staffer offered Dobson a meeting with McCain recently in Denver, Minnery said. Dobson declined because he prefers that candidates visit the Focus on the Family campus to learn more about the organization, Minnery said.

Dobson has not backed off his statement that he could not in good conscience vote for McCain because of concerns over the Arizona senator's conservative credentials. Dobson has said he will vote in November but has suggested he might not vote for president.

Don Imus Makes Another Racist Remark

He shouldn't have been hired again to do radio. What amazes me is that there was so little opposition to getting a network job again. And why hasn't he been fired already:

Don Imus this morning, on his nationally syndicated WABC-AM morning talk show on Citadel Broadcasting Corporation, made some questionable comments when discussing suspended NFL defensive back Adam "Pacman" Jones.

"Here's a guy suspended all of 2007 following shooting at a Vegas nightclub," said sportscaster Warner Wolf. "He's been arrested six times since being drafted by Tennessee in 2005."

"What color is he?" asked Imus.

"He's African-American," said Wolf.

"Well, there you go," said Imus. "Now we know."

- Listen to the audio of the remark by Imus

Monday, June 23, 2008

McCain Offers $300 Million Prize for New Auto Battery

This is actually a good idea. The solution to the energy crisis could very well mean innovation. Necessity is the mother of all invention, after all:

John McCain hopes to solve the country's energy crisis with cold hard cash.

The presumed Republican nominee is proposing a $300 million government prize to whoever can develop an automobile battery that far surpasses existing technology. The bounty would equate to $1 for every man, woman and child in the country, "a small price to pay for helping to break the back of our oil dependency," McCain said in remarks prepared for delivery Monday at Fresno State University in California.

McCain said such a device should deliver power at 30 percent of current costs and have "the size, capacity, cost and power to leapfrog the commercially available plug-in hybrids or electric cars."

The Arizona senator is also proposing stiffer fines for automakers who skirt existing fuel-efficiency standards, as well as incentives to increase use of domestic and foreign alcohol-based fuels such as ethanol.

Oil Prices Don't Fall Despite Saudi Pledge to Raise Output

The problem is beyond Saudi Arabia's control:

Oil prices fluctuated Monday as traders shrugged off a pledge by Saudi Arabia to increase its production and the dollar gained strength in Europe.

Saudi Arabia said Sunday it would produce more crude oil this year if the market needs it. The kingdom announced a 300,000 barrel per day production increase in May and said before the start of the meeting in Jeddah that it would add another 200,000 barrels per day in July, raising total daily output to 9.7 million barrels.

The announcement had already been factored into oil prices, analysts said.

"The meeting was mildly positive but it wouldn't really deliver anything that would give a heavy correction in oil," said Mark Pervan, a senior commodity strategist at the ANZ Bank in Melbourne, Australia. "They pledged production increases that the market thought was base case."

Light, sweet crude for August delivery traded down 73 cents to $134.63 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange by afternoon in Europe, falling with the price of gold as the dollar gained strength.

Gold lost about 2 percent of its value and the euro, which fetched $1.5529 early, quickly slipped to $1.5474. The pound also fell, from $1.9652 to $1.9598

Instability in the world markets drive up oil prices. But the greatest factor has been the disastrous conflict in Iraq. And let's not forget the threats coming out of Venezuela that has markets wondering. A threat of a war between Israel and Iran also the oil traders wondering. That also drives up prices.
Saudi Arabia's pledge fell far short of U.S. hopes for a specific increase. The United States and other nations argue that oil production has not kept up with increasing demand, especially from China, India and the Middle East. But Saudi Arabia and other OPEC countries say there is no shortage of oil and instead blame financial speculation and the falling U.S. dollar.

Analysts said the meeting helped provide some clarity as to the size of spare OPEC capacity available. Saudi Arabia said it is willing to invest to boost its spare oil production capacity above the current 12.5 million barrels per day planned for the end of 2009 -- if the market requires it.

"I think where the market may be a little more comforted, which could see prices drift lower in the medium term, is more clarity and scope on OPEC capacity," Pervan said.

Total worldwide crude production is about 85 million barrels per day, but analysts say supplies remain tight amid disruptions to production from Nigeria, Africa's largest producer.

"The oil summit really has not done much to temper oil pricing," said Victor Shum, an energy analyst with Purvin & Gertz in Singapore. "It was a modest output increase and hardly really compensates for the disruption out of Nigeria."

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Citigroup Reportedly to Cut Thousands of Jobs

It is only the latest indication that there is something seriously wrong with the economy:

Citigroup is preparing fire thousands from its worldwide investment-banking division, The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

The Journal, citing people familiar with the matter, said the layoffs are part of a plan to cut about 10 percent of the staff of the 65,000-member investment-banking group.

Messages left with Citigroup spokesmen on Sunday were not immediately returned. The Journal said the fired employees could be notified as early as Monday.

The New York-basked global bank, along with much of Wall Street, is in the throes of recovering from bad investments on mortgages and leveraged loans that cut billions of dollars from its portfolio.

It was not immediately clear if the reported job cuts would be in addition to cuts announced by Citigroup in April. After reporting a $5.1 billion first-quarter loss, the bank said then it was reducing its staff by 9,000, in addition to the 4,200 job cuts the bank announced late last year.

As of the end of last year, Citigroup had about 147,000 full-time employees.

In May, Citigroup unveiled a three-year plan that included getting rid of more businesses, mortgages, real-estate operations and jobs.

The bank called for shedding between $400 billion and $500 billion of its $2.2 trillion in assets and growing revenue by 9 percent over the next few years as it tries to rebound from the huge losses tied to deterioration in the credit markets.

And Citigroup isn't the only bank being hit by the current recession. And you notice how no one is arguing whether we are in one anymore:
Increasing struggles by consumers and businesses to make payments on a variety of loans, not just mortgages, are setting off a new wave of trouble in the financial sector that is battering even institutions that had steered clear of the subprime-home-loan debacle.

Late payments on home-equity loans are at a record high, according to fresh data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The delinquency rates on loans for cars, small businesses and construction are spiking to levels not seen in a decade or more.

Unlike last year, when soaring mortgage defaults sparked a crisis of confidence in the financial system, the root of these problems is the downturn in the broader economy. Simply put, consumers and businesses are strapped for cash with job losses growing and retail sales falling, economists said.

Meet The Press Transcript: Offshore Drilling is a "Gift" to Oil Companies

Senator Joe Biden exposed the scam which is offshore oil drilling. Read entire transcript:

SEN. BIDEN: We're not trying to get Saudi to drill more, we're trying to get them to pump more of what they're drilling. They're not pumping what they could, number one. This is a gift, a gift to the oil companies by John McCain. They have now leased 41 million acres of offshore leases. They're only pumping in 10.2 million of those acres. Seventy-nine percent of all the offshore oil available off the coast of Florida, into the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Coast, the Pacific Coast, lies within those acres that they now have. Why are they not pumping? Why are they not doing this? Why are they not pursuing what's estimated to be a total of 70--54 billion barrels of oil at their disposal right now if they pump? Why are these greedy fellows deciding they want to go beyond that? It's because they want to get it in before George Bush leaves the presidency. It's because they're not pumping the oil to keep the price up. They are not even drilling. So here you have 30 million leased acres they have right now that possesses 79 percent of all the offshore, and they're not drilling. And John says they need more? And it would take 10 years for it to come online.

[...]MR. WILLIAMS: You mentioned energy independence, where does that conversation come in?

SEN. GRAHAM: Well, what you do is you have a supply-demand problem. The more domestic supply, the better we are off as a nation. But to get away from fossil fuels in general is a goal of Senator McCain. One thing you do on the power side is add nuclear power. We cannot address climate change without replacing oil and coal-fired plants with nuclear power. But when it comes to domestic supply, we're talking about 50 miles off the coast of South Carolina with the consent of the legislature where the state gets half the revenue. I think in an environmentally sound way we can extract deep sea exploration oil and gas off our coast that will allow us to be more energy independent. John is for that. I am for that. And I believe the state of South Carolina will be for that.

SEN. BIDEN: We already can do that. Let's get the facts. You're entitled to your own opinion, not your own facts. Forty million acres leased offshore, number one. Number two, the first well to be dug from the time they lease, if Lindsey gives them access to more area, it'll take 10 years from the time the lease is let to the time oil comes out of the bottom of the sea in the new leases.