Today, the authors of the Bush administration’s torture policies, David Addington and John Yoo, are testifying before the House Judiciary Committee. Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) asked Yoo whether the president could bury a detainee alive, Yoo stonewalled and ultimately refused to answer the question. He also refused to say if there was any torture tactic the president was prohibited from using. Transcript via Muckracker:Think Progress » Yoo Won’t Answer Whether President Can Bury Detainees Alive
CONYERS: Could the President order a suspect buried alive? YOO: Uh, Mr. Chairman, I don’t think I’ve ever given advice that the President could order someone buried alive… CONYERS: I didn’t ask you if you ever gave him advice. I asked you thought the President could order a suspect buried alive. YOO: Well Chairman, my view right now is that I don’t think a President — no American President would ever have to order that or feel it necessary to order that. CONYERS: I think we understand the games that are being played.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Bush/McCain say soaring prices are due to a lack of supply, and there are those who agree.The Saudis, and others with more credibility, argue the price rise is contrived by bankers and speculators. Their mega-theft comes not only at the gas pump, but in food prices and other essentials.Whatever the case, remember that during the Enron con, there was no shortage of electric generating capacity. Enron's operatives laughed into their PCs as they selectively shut perfectly operable power stations and jacked up electric prices 700 percent and more. Enron, of course, later went bankrupt, wiping out countless thousands.Contrived or otherwise, today's soaring gas prices are a tangible bonanza for Bush/McCain. Offshore drilling would put billions in their cronies' pockets but would not lower gas prices a single cent. Nuke power could mean billions more in radioactive lucre for reactor builders who may never deliver a single electron of electricity.It's no accident that what Bush/McCain are not advocating is a massive shift to increased efficiency and renewable energy.Prior to the Enron disaster, green power advocates proposed that some 600 megawatts of renewables and efficiency be installed in California. They said this "floor" was needed to protect the state from precisely the kind of gouging Enron then did.But Southern California Edison's John Bryson helped kill the green power proposal. Bryson now likes to be photographed in front of photovoltaic arrays. But he used a deregulation package promising a "free market in energy" to help pay off failed reactors at San Onofre and Diablo Canyon. Then he stepped back while Enron cashed in.Today, despite years of grassroots advocacy, Bush has done everything in his power to squelch the conversion to a green-powered economy. Even as gas prices soar, there is no meaningful commitment to reviving mass transit, increasing fuel efficiency, or promoting renewable energy.Indeed, Bush/McCain's two-step obsession with fossil fuels and nuke power is perfectly suited to guarantee that the public's money does not go to renewables and efficiency. Those technologies could actually solve both the climate and the energy supply crisis. But they would strip the fossil/nuke cartels of their death grip on the global economy.Ironically, soaring fossil fuel prices make building reactors even more expensive. Using high gas prices to push nukes that only produce electricity (and radioactive waste) is a complete disconnect.Today's wind and solar technologies are far cheaper than atomic energy, not to mention quicker to build, safer, more reliable and ecologically sound. The one thing certain about reactor construction is that it will stretch out years longer than planned. Capital costs are certain to at least double or triple before the first reactor could ever come on line, taking atomic energy totally out of the price range of renewables.New drilling is also absurd. The offshore and other protected areas Bush/McCain would destroy have limited, expensive oil beneath them. The GOP "energy plan" is that of a desperate junkie, tearing apart the planet for a few last grains of white powder to snort up its nose. That there will then be no more does not seem to matter.The United States once had the world's greatest mass transit system, which was consciously destroyed by the auto and oil industries to sell more cars and gas.It once had a virtual monopoly on the renewable and efficiency technologies that can solve global warming and give us energy independence, with local communities taking control of their energy supply.Enron's hucksters staged that fake electricity crisis to gouge California while pushing back the transition to a green-powered economy.Now Enron II, the gas price crisis, is about gouging the whole nation. And about yet again postponing a community-owned, green-powered future.The Solartopian conversion to renewables and efficiency could put the Bush/McCain barons of fossil nuke out of business. The sooner the better.Bush and McCain Happily Presiding Over Massive Transfer of Wealth to Oil Companies | AlterNet
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
The Pentagon’s procurement and budgeting processes are rife with problems. For example, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has identified $295 billion in cost overruns on 72 major weapons systems, even as the Pentagon can’t balance its books or keep track of its vast inventory. These problems can lead to bizarre results, such as the fact that the Pentagon has hundreds of millions of dollars in spare parts now on order that are already marked for disposal. Despite huge cost overruns, major contractors have received $8 billion in performance bonuses that have been paid out regardless of the results of their work. These abuses of the public trust – and the public purse – are simply unacceptable.
These are complex problems that will require multi-faceted solutions. A good place to start would be by slowing down the “revolving door” that allows high level Pentagon bureaucrats and military officers to go to work for major defense contractors....
These people swore to uphold and defend our Constitution and they have failed in their jobs. Everyone of them should be replaced with a strong constitutional patriot who will actually work to preserve the rule of law and fight against the powers who try to buck the system.Daily Kos: 2010 will be primary season
Who to primary? Well, I'd argue that we can narrow the target list by looking at those Democrats who sold out the Constitution last week.
Ackerman, Gary (NY-05)Altmire, Jason (PA-04)Arcuri, Mike (NY-24)Baca, Joe (CA-43)Baird, Brian (WA-03)Barrow, John (GA-12)Bean, Melissa (IL-08)Berkley, Shelley (NV-01)Berman, Howard (CA-28)Berry, Marion (AR-01)Bishop, Sanford (GA-02)Bishop, Timothy (NY-01)Boren, Dan (OK-02)Boswell, Leonard (IA-03)Boucher, Rick (VA-09)Boyd, Allen (FL-02)Boyda, Nancy (KS-02)Brown, Corrine (FL-03)Butterfield, G.K. (NC-01)Cardoza, Dennis (CA-18)Carney, Chris (PA-10)Castor, Kathy (FL-11)Cazayoux, Don (LA-06)Chandler, Ben (KY-06)Childers, Travis (MS-01)Cleaver, Emanuel (MO-05)Clyburn, James (SC-06)Cooper, Jim (TN-05)Costa, Jim (CA-20)Cramer, Bud (AL-05)Crowley, Joe (NY-07)Cuellar, Henry (TX-28)Davis, Artur (AL-07)Davis, Lincoln (TN-04)Dicks, Norman (WA-06) Donnelly, Joe (IN-02)Edwards, Chet (TX-17)Ellsworth, Brad (IN-08)Emanuel, Rahm (IL-05)Engel, Elliot (NY-17)Etheridge, Bob (NC-02)Giffords, Gabrielle (AZ-08)Gillibrand, Kirsten (NY-20)Gordon, Bart (TN-06)Green, AL (TX-09)Green, Gene (TX-29)Gutierrez, Luis (IL-04)Harman, Jane (CA-36)Hastings, Alcee (FL-23)Herseth Sandlin, S. (SD-AL)Higgins, Brian (NY-27)Hinojosa, Ruben (TX-15)Holden, Tim (PA-17)Hoyer, Steny (MD-05)Kanjorski, Paul (PA-11)Kildee, Dale (MI-05)Kind, Ron (WI-03)Klein, Ron (FL-22)Lampson, Nick (TX-22)Langevin, JIm (RI-02)Lipinski, Dan (IL-03)Lowey, Nita (NY-18)Mahoney, Tim (FL-16)Marshall, Jim (GA-08)Matheson, Jim (UT-02)McCarthy, Carolyn (NY-04)McIntyre, Mike (NC-07)McNerney, Jerry (CA-11)Meeks, Gregory (NY-06)Melancon, Charlie (LA-03) Mitchell, Harry (AZ-05)Moore, Dennis (KS-03)Murphy, Patrick (PA-08)Murtha, John (PA-12)Ortiz, Solomon (TX-27)Nancy Pelosi (CA-08)Perlmutter, Ed (CO-07)Peterson, Colin (MN-07)Pomeroy, Earl (ND-AL)Rahall, Nick (WV-03)Reyes, Silvestre (TX-16)Richardson, Laura (CA-37)Rodriguez, Ciro (TX-23)Ross, Mike (AR-04)Ruppesberger, Dutch (MD-02)Salazar, John (CO-03)Schiff, Adam (CA-29)Scott, David (GA-13)Sestak, Joe (PA-07)Sherman, Brad (CA-27)Shuler, Heath (NC-11)Sires, Albio (NJ-13)Skelton, Ike (MO-04)Smith, Adam (WA-09)Snyder, Vic (AR-02)Space, Zach (OH-18)Spratt, John (SC-05)Stupak, Bart (MI-01)Tanner, John (TN-08)Ellen Tauscher (CA-10)Taylor, Gene (MS-04)Thompson, Bennie (MS-02)Udall, Mark (CO-02)Wilson, Charles (OH-06)Yarmuth, John (KY-03
Americans Drove 1.4 Billion Fewer Highway Miles in April of 2008 than in April 2007 While Fuel Prices and Transit Ridership Are Both on the Rise
Why, with this huge cut in demand and a 200,000 barrel increase from the Saudis last month and a promise of a 300,00 barrel increase next month, aren't prices going down? Anyone with half an atom of a brain can figure out that if we increase the supply and decrease the demand, in the real regulated commodities markets, prices would be going down. This is not a supply or a demand problem.Americans Drove 1.4 Billion Fewer Highway Miles in April of 2008 than in April 2007 While Fuel Prices and Transit Ridership Are Both on the Rise
Americans Drove 1.4 Billion Fewer Highway Miles in April of 2008 than in April 2007. Americans are driving less for the sixth month in a row. The Secretary said that Americans drove 1.4 billion fewer highway miles in April 2008 than at the same time a year earlier and 400 million miles less than in March of this year. This marks a decline of nearly 20 billion miles traveled this year, and nearly 30 billion miles traveled since November. The Secretary said as Americans drive less, the federal Highway Trust Fund receives less revenue from gasoline and diesel sales – 18.4 cents per gallon and 24.4 cents per gallon, respectively.
To review the FHWA’s “Traffic Volume Trends” reports, including that of April 2008, visit http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ohim/tvtw/tvtpage.htm.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Opening America's coastal waters to oil drilling, as John McCain urged in an address Tuesday, is unlikely to provide Americans with more oil for at least seven to 10 years. That's the estimate from the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry trade group. Major environmental groups think the increased supply would be at least that distant before arrival, and say it mostly would benefit Big Oil. "It would take a decade to bring new leases into production, and then they would only line the coffers of the oil industry," said Carl Pope, the Sierra Club's executive director. Deron Lovaas, senior energy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council, noted that even if billions of barrels of oil are available offshore, the U.S. still will control only a fraction of the world's supply, so energy independence isn't within reach. "We are just not blessed in this country with enough resources for this to make a big difference," Lovaas said.McClatchy Washington Bureau | 06/17/2008 | McCain's call for offshore oil drilling won't bring relief soon
McCain, speaking Tuesday in Houston, disagreed."We have enormous energy reserves of our own," he said, "and we are gaining the means to use these resources in cleaner, more responsible ways." McCain argues that increased offshore drilling would help lessen dependence on foreign oil. It estimated that the Outer Continental Shelf could hold 115.4 billion barrels. However, it also estimated that recoverable reserves off U.S. coasts in areas now banned from production probably hold only about 19 billion barrels. "The world consumes about 86 million barrels a day. The U.S. share of that is about 20.6 million barrels, 60 percent of them from foreign sources. One thousand million barrels equals 1 billion, so if there are 19 billion barrels in the areas McCain would open to drilling, that's enough to provide about 920 days, or about 2.5 years, of current U.S. consumption. Even if states let drilling proceed, it would take years before new oil would flow. If companies found significant amounts of oil, some question whether this country has enough refining capacity to handle the new supply.
TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - Tired of petrol prices rising daily at the pump? A Japanese company has invented an electric-powered, and environmentally friendly, car that it says runs solely on water.Genepax unveiled the car in the western city of Osaka on Thursday, saying that a liter (2.1 pints) of any kind of water -- rain, river or sea -- was all you needed to get the engine going for about an hour at a speed of 80 km (50 miles)."The car will continue to run as long as you have a bottle of water to top up from time to time," Genepax CEO Kiyoshi Hirasawa told local broadcaster TV Tokyo."It does not require you to build up an infrastructure to recharge your batteries, which is usually the case for most electric cars," he added.Once the water is poured into the tank at the back of the car, the a generator breaks it down and uses it to create electrical power, TV Tokyo said.Whether the car makes it into showrooms remains to be seen. Genepax said it had just applied for a patent and is hoping to collaborate with Japanese auto manufacturers in the future.Most big automakers, meanwhile, are working on fuel-cell cars that run on hydrogen and emit -- not consume -- water.Petrol pricey? Japanese invent car that runs on water | Lifestyle | Reuters
The Bush administration wants to rewrite the official evidence against Guantanamo Bay detainees, allowing it to shore up its cases before they come under scrutiny by civilian judges for the first time. The government has stood behind the evidence for years. Military review boards relied on it to justify holding hundreds of prisoners indefinitely without charge. Justice Department attorneys said it was thoroughly and fairly reviewed. Now that federal judges are about to review the evidence, however, the government says it needs to make changes.t r u t h o u t | US Asks to Rewrite Detainee Evidence
Attorneys for the detainees criticized the idea, saying the government is basically asking for a last-minute do-over.
"It's sort of an admission that the original returns were defective," said attorney David Remes, who represents many detainees and attended Wednesday's meeting. "It's also an admission that the government thinks it needs to beef up the evidence."
Of course, Republicans will use this 1% uncertainty rating as saying there is still a question as to whether global warming is occurring or not. Those people don't understand what scientific proof is. 1% uncertainty is the same as saying that there virtually no doubt about it. I've haven't seen a 99% certainty in any science since 1+1=2 was stated a proved theory. Still it is only a theory and it continues to be tested and the more it is tested and stands up to scrutiny, the closer and closer it gets to that 100% certainty. There is no such thing as 100% certainty in science. As with calculus you can only approach certainty to an nth degree.t r u t h o u t | Scientist to Congress: Oil Execs Commit High Crimes
James Hansen, one of the world's leading climate scientists, will today call for the chief executives of large fossil fuel companies to be put on trial for high crimes against humanity and nature, accusing them of actively spreading doubt about global warming in the same way that tobacco companies blurred the links between smoking and cancer. Hansen will use the symbolically charged 20th anniversary of his groundbreaking speech to the US Congress - in which he was among the first to sound the alarm over the reality of global warming - to argue that radical steps need to be taken immediately if the "perfect storm" of irreversible climate change is not to become inevitable. Speaking before Congress again, he will accuse the chief executive officers of companies such as ExxonMobil and Peabody Energy of being fully aware of the disinformation about climate change they are spreading. In an interview with the Guardian he said: "When you are in that kind of position, as the CEO of one the primary players who have been putting out misinformation even via organisations that affect what gets into school textbooks, then I think that's a crime."
A non-binding resolution to demand that President Bush impose "stringent inspection requirements" on trade with Iran - language that leaves the door open for a military blockade - will likely come to the House floor this week, according to sources close to Congressional leadership. The legislation, H.Con.Res.362, which is paralleled by a similar Senate bill, has gained bipartisan support rapidly, with more co-sponsors signing on by the day. Once it hits the floor, it's bound to "pass like a hot knife through butter," a staffer in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office told Chelsea Mozen of the nonprofit Just Foreign Policy.t r u t h o u t | Congressional Resolution Demands Bush Act on Iran
"It sets the stage for a very dangerous escalation," he said. The most strongly worded section of the legislation is article three, which states: "Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That Congress - (3) demands that the President initiate an international effort to immediately and dramatically increase the economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on Iran to verifiably suspend its nuclear enrichment activities by, inter alia [among other things], prohibiting the export to Iran of all refined petroleum products; imposing stringent inspection requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains, and cargo entering or departing Iran; and prohibiting the international movement of all Iranian officials not involved in negotiating the suspension of Iran's nuclear program."
The resolution makes no mention of the National Intelligence Estimate report released in December 2007, which found that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons development program in 2003. The language regarding inspection requirements and restrictions of movement have led critics of the bill to suggest that, if implemented, this type of international sanction would amount to an embargo and would have to be put into place at gunpoint. Such action would be illegal under international law, unless approved by the UN. UN approval is not mentioned in the bill. Moreover, the resolution would unquestionably send a hostile message to Iran. "The Iranians would certainly view this as an act of war. "All of this would confirm the Gulf Arabs' perceptions that the US is playing an increasingly destabilizing role in the region." The bill was promoted by the highly influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)). "[H.Con.Res.362] was the top agenda point of the 7,000 AIPAC members who descended on Capitol Hill two weeks ago," People describing it as a blockade [are] totally inaccurate. This bill is about increasing sanctions on Iran (as if Israel should be telling us what to do when our own intelligence agencies said Iran doesn't have a nuclear weapons program.) and banning the sale of refined petroleum products to the country," AIPAC spokesperson Josh Block told Truthout. AIPAC put out a memo detailing its support for the intentions of the legislation.
AIPAC memo: continues at link below
Sen. Barack Obama's historic victory in the Democratic primaries, celebrated in America and across much of the world as a symbol of racial progress and cultural unity, has also sparked an increase in racist and white supremacist activity, mainly on the Internet, according to leaders of hate groups and the organizations that track them.
Neo-Nazi, skinhead and segregationist groups have reported gains in numbers of visitors to their Web sites and in membership since the senator from Illinois secured the Democratic nomination June 3. His success has aroused a community of racists, experts said, concerned by the possibility of the country's first black president.
"I haven't seen this much anger in a long, long time," said Billy Roper, a 36-year-old who runs a group called White Revolution in Russellville, Ark. "Nothing has awakened normally complacent white Americans more than the prospect of America having an overtly nonwhite president."
Such groups have historically inflated their influence for self-promotion and as an intimidation technique, and they refused to provide exact membership numbers or open their meetings to a reporter. Leaders acknowledged that their numbers remain very small -- "the flat-globe society still has more people than us," Roper said. But experts said their claims reveal more than hyperbole this time.
I'm looking forward to seeing justice served on this President and his war cabinet.Law School to Plan Bush War Primes Prosecution : Information Clearing House - ICH
Press Release: Massachusetts School Of Law17/06/08 "ICH"
A conference to plan the prosecution of President Bush and other high administration officials for war crimes will be held September 13-14 at the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover ."This is not intended to be a mere discussion of violations of law that have occurred," said convener Lawrence Velvel, dean and cofounder of the school. "It is, rather, intended to be a planning conference at which plans will be laid and necessary organizational structures set up, to pursue the guilty as long as necessary and, if need be, to the ends of the Earth.""We must try to hold Bush administration leaders accountable in courts of justice," Velvel said. "And we must insist on appropriate punishments, including, if guilt is found, the hangings visited upon top German and Japanese war-criminals in the 1940s."Velvel said past practice has been to allow U.S. officials responsible for war crimes in Viet Nam and elsewhere to enjoy immunity from prosecution upon leaving office. "President Johnson retired to his Texas ranch and his Defense Secretary Robert McNamara was named to head the World Bank; Richard Nixon retired to San Clemente and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was allowed to grow richer and richer," Velvel said.He noted in the years since the prosecution and punishment of German and Japanese leaders after World War Two those nation's leaders changed their countries' aggressor cultures. One cannot discount contributory cause and effect here, he said."For Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and John Yoo to spend years in jail or go to the gallows for their crimes would be a powerful lesson to future American leaders," Velvel said.The conference will take up such issues as the nature of domestic and international crimes committed; which high-level Bush officials, including Federal judges and Members of Congress, are chargeable with war crimes; which foreign and domestic tribunals can be used to prosecute them; and the setting up of an umbrella coordinating committee with representatives of legal groups concerned about the war crimes such as the Center for Constitutional Rights, ACLU, National Lawyers Guild, among others.The Massachusetts School of Law at Andover was established in 1988 to provide an affordable, quality legal education to minorities, immigrants and students from low-income households that might otherwise be denied the opportunity to obtain a legal education and practice law. Its founder, Dean Velvel, has been honored by the National Law Journal and cited in various publications for his contributions to the reform of legal education.Further information Jeff Demers at firstname.lastname@example.org 978) 681-0800; or Sherwood Ross, media consultant to MSL, at email@example.com
Monday, June 23, 2008
Drilling off the coast of California, Florida and elsewhere would increase domestic oil production by 7 percent by 2030, according to the Energy Information Administration. But “because oil prices are determined on the international market…any impact on average wellhead prices is expected to be insignificant.” There is no short-term benefit to drilling, says the EIA, because it would take at least five years for oil production to begin. (Source: Center for American Progress.)On the other hand, in a single step tomorrow --- closing the Enron Loophole --- Congress and George Bush could create an overnight drop in oil prices of between 25 and 50 percent. This is according to testimony before a Senate Committee two weeks ago by Michael Greenberger, the former director of Trading & Markets for the Commodities Future Trading Commission (CFTC), the government board that oversees commodities markets."Yes," Greenberger testified, "overnight [closing the Enron Loophole] will bring down the price of crude oil to get at least a 25 percent drop in the cost of oil and a corresponding drop in the cost of gasoline. Some people estimate 50 percent."Greenberger's testimony was brought to light by an investigation into the Enron Loophole by Keith Olbermann on MSNBC's "Countdown" last week. (A transcript of Olbermann's report follows.)The BRAD BLOG : Closing Enron Loophole Would Drop Oil Prices 25% - 50% Overnight
Here's the transcript of the video of the report on the June 18 edition of "Countdown":
John McCain said he would take public financing for the Republican primaries. Then he used the promise of that public financing to help secure a loan for his campaign. Then, after he wrapped up the Republican nomination, he abruptly decided he did not want to be bound by the limits on campaign fundraising and spending that accompany public financing, so he announced that he had changed his mind.But Federal Election Commission chairman David Mason sent McCain a letter saying that he cannot unilaterally opt out of the public financing system without FEC approval -- a letter the McCain campaign ignored. If McCain cannot opt out of the system unilaterally, he has broken the law by raising and spending funds in excess of legal limits, and continues to do so each day. Even if McCain isn't breaking the law, he has already broken his word and "reversed himself" on the question of whether he would take public funding for the primaries.Media Matters - "Media Matters"; by Jamison Foser
Finally, if McCain is found to have violated the law, as The Washington Post noted, "Knowingly violating the spending limit is a criminal offense that could put McCain at risk of stiff fines and up to five years in prison."
WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court has rejected the military's designation of a Guantanamo detainee as an enemy combatant in the first such decision of its kind.A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned as "invalid" a military tribunal's conclusion that prisoner Huzaifa Parhat is an enemy combatant.The court directed the Pentagon to either release or transfer Parhat or to hold a new tribunal hearing "consistent with the court’s opinion."The decision is the first time a court has overruled a finding by the so-called status review tribunals, the Pentagon's panel of military officers that determine whether a captive at Guantanamo meets the definition of "enemy combatant."McClatchy Washington Bureau | 06/23/2008 | In a first, court says military erred in a Guantanamo case
Obama Announces Plan to Fully Close the Enron Loophole, Crack Down on Excessive Energy SpeculationSenator Barack Obama today announced his plan to crack down on excessive energy speculation and fully close the "Enron Loophole" to ease the impact skyrocketing gas prices. The Enron Loophole was created by McCain campaign co-chair Phil Gramm at the behest of Enron—just one example of the special interest politics that put the interests of Big Oil and speculators ahead of the interests of working people. And the American people have seen the results: record corporate profits while Americans pay record prices at the pump.Barack Obama | Change We Can Believe In |
"Commodity indexes" and "commodities future" markets (being regulated) were originally set up with low margin requirements (the portion an investor must pay in cash. the rest being borrowed for by the broker. The lower the margin, the greater the trend to speculate.) to give a kind of insurance protection to producers, for example allowing farmers to hedge against crop losses such as are occurring now in Iowa, but they were tightly regulated. They were intended to function as a way to provide capital to stay in business and finance production. Now "financial institutions" have entered these markets (deregulation), taking advantage of margin rates of 5% to 10% (usually only guaranteed for commodities becasue they are things we need to survive as an economy. Now in the financial institutions being bet on like any stock. deregulation #2) and they are using them to place speculative bets on the direction of prices which they themselves are manipulating. Key to this was Phil Gramm’s role in deregulating oversight of these markets by the Federal Reserve Commission. Soros argues that these regulations must be reinstated in order to protect the economy which is in danger of being driven into severe recession. Varying margin requirements and minimum reserve requirements (the least amount of cash to cover these bets) are tools that ought to be used more actively to prevent asset bubbles from inflating. This is one of the main lessons to be learned from the recent financial crisis. Michael Greenberger, who served as Director of the Division of Trading and Markets of the Commodities Futures Trading Markets (CFTM) said in his oral testimony before the committee that John McCain’s chief economics adviser, Phil Gramm had pulled a fast one on Senators before the 2000 Christmas recess. As Greenberger explained to the Committee this was deliberate trickery. The Gramm rider was added to the massive bill in the small hours of the morning. In the short term we had the Enron blow-out. Now eight years later the repercussions of Gramm’s treachery are still felt with the collapse of the housing bubble financed by sub-prime mortgages that were repackaged and marketed by unregulated hedge funds, and out-of control food and gas prices.Daily Kos: State of the Nation
An article by James Ridgeway in the Village Voice, Phil Gramm’s Enron Favor describes what happened: In June 2000, Gramm—then chairman of the Senate Finance Committee—co-sponsored the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, a measure aimed at deregulating certain kinds of futures trading, but not energy futures. That bill never made it to the floor, and thus quietly died. Six months later, on December 15, Gramm curiously turned up as co-sponsor of a bill with the same name, the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which did deregulate energy futures and which, without undergoing the usual committee hearings and preliminary votes, was immediately attached as a rider to an 11,000-page appropriations bill. The bill passed and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton six days later.The first beneficiary of the deregulation was Enron. Gramm’s wife Wendy was the Senators co-partner in this process of deregulation which began eight year before, as Ridgeway explains in his article: In an apparent response to a 1992 plea from Enron, Dr. Wendy Gramm, (Phil Gramm's wife!) then chair of the federal Commodity Futures Trading Commission, moved to exempt the company's energy-swap operation from government oversight. By then, the Houston-based Enron was a major contributor to Senator Gramm's campaign. A Salon article by Joe Conason, has a good profile of how until recently, Mr. Clean’s chief economic adviser was a paid lobbyist for United Banks of Switzerland (which is in major financial difficulties). A few days after she got the ball rolling on the exemption, Wendy Gramm resigned from the commission. Enron soon appointed her to its board of directors, where she served on the audit committee, which oversees the inner financial workings of the corporation. For this, the company paid her between $915,000 and $1.85 million in stocks and dividends, as much as $50,000 in annual salary, and $176,000 in attendance fees, according to a report by Public Citizen, a group that has relentlessly tracked Enron, which in turn has called the report unfair. Greenberger appeared on two NPR radio shows where he discussed the need to re-regulate these markets. On April 12, he appeared on NPR’s Fresh Air where he discussed how the Gramm deregulation created the housing bubble; and on the June 10 he joined two other panelists on the Diane Rehm show where he specifically discusses the oil crisis and explains how the market could be controlled through a series of regulations, including a 50% margin imposed on speculators. He explained how the Gramm-sponsored "reforms" distorted the commodities markets. When controls which had been set up during the New Deal were lifted, this set the stage for further deregulation. When these controls were removed speculators ran rampant and prices sky-rocketed. He explained that U.S. oil prices are based upon the price of Texas intermediate crude oil. Because of the deregulatory climate established in December 2000, control of 30% of Texas-crude-oil market has been out-sourced to British and Dubai regulators. This was done by a letter of intent written by staff members of the CFTC and can be revoked at any time by Congress, which of course is his recommendation.
The June 3, Senate Committee Hearings were called by Sen. Carl Levin (Dem. Mich.) and that Levin attached an amendment to the recently passed massive farm bill that John McCain opposed and Pres. Bush threatens to veto. Greenberger said that Levin’s proposal would not work because it would force the government to prove that manipulation was taking place in order to use regulatory authority, and their authority would only be effective domestically, allowing off-shore markets market manipulation to continue. This would leave the government with the constant burden of proof to prove manipulation was occurring, and put the onus for intervention on the CFTC. Greenberger is holding out for repeal of the Gramm rider which would reinstitute controls as they were before Dec. 2000.An article on the financial blog by Vinnie Catalino discusses the Levin proposal gives a summary of Greenberger’s testimony.Sen. McCain has yet to detach Phil Gramm from his campaign. No doubt pressure will mount on him to do so. But McCain will not be able to distance himself from his own 100% support to a deregulated market economy.
Mr. Ham Goes to WashingtonDaily Kos: Mr. Ham Goes to Washington
That would be Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum in Petersburg, KY. He's also the proud speaker at a prayer breakfast sponsored last Wednesday by the Pentagon Chaplain's Office. PZ points out the alarming implications: Pharyngula -- Just let that sink in. There are people at the Pentagon who are in charge of planning where your sons and daughter and nephews and nieces and other beloved family members and friends will be sent to put their lives at risk. ... There are people there who control nuclear weapons.It's not merely that Ham is a fundamentalist, he's a complete fraud or a dangerous crack pot, take your pick. Ham makes his living as a Young Earth Creationist by fostering and exploiting the worst kind of willful, pseudo scientific ignorance. YEC hucksters are shams through and through who literally preach the complete dismissal of biology, geology, physics, astronomy and virtually every other field of hard science.This is not someone we want to lionize or have any influence over people who make life and death decisions based on -- one would hope anyway -- facts, reasonable inferences, and sound analysis. Especially at a time when our military and intel agencies are trying to recover some measure of credibility after being hung out to dry by the Bush gang for ignoring facts, reasonable inferences, and sound analysis in favor of blindly ignorant and we now know fatally flawed neocon ideology. I'm not sure which is more disturbing, that the Chaplain's Office was unaware of Ham's reputation or just doesn't give a damn about their own.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
These people are monsters. If you've never read the outline for the "Project for a New American Century", you really must. Even the vice president is part of this cabal. It spells out 7.5 years of Bush's foreign policy. World and resource control through wars and dominance. You must read this if you want to have any understanding of recent American foreign policy, over what you already know; namely, that the Bush administration likes wars, likes dead Arabs and Persians and Oil. He and his oil cabinet are oil sucking parasites. I wish they'd hurry up and choke on it. Bill Kristol is the worst of the worst of these neo cons and for years the president jumped to his whip. Let's see if that is still true and if Bush wants to go down as the least intelligent and most blood thirsty of all of our presidents. I hope he is dragged kicking and screaming in front of a war crimes tribunal along with his whole criminal cabinet. Vincent Bugliosi, the prosecutor who put Charles Manson behind bars, has written a new book about the prosecution of George Bush for first degree murder. He said it's an air tight case and he's going after Bush and he won't stop till he's behind bars. I hope he gets his man. He's prosecuted 21 murder cases and won every one of them. Go get em Vincent.Crooks and Liars » Kristol says Bush might bomb Iran if he thinks Obama will win
Kristol says Bush might bomb Iran if he thinks Obama will win
By: John Amato on Sunday, June 22nd,
If there was a website for warmongering porn, Kristol would be the webmaster. He’s fantasizing about this a great deal I’m sure. He must spend hours upon hours with sweaty palms and tired fingers surfing the net for hot—new–nekkid—bomb Iran porn. Is it free, Bill?video_wmv Download | Play video_mov Download | Play (h/t Heather) Kristol. I think honestly, if the president felt John McCain were going to be the next president he would think it more appropriate to let the next president make that decision than do it on his way out. I do wonder with Sen. Obama, if president Bush thinks Sen, Obama win does he somehow think that, does he worry that Obama won’t follow through on the policy… WALLACE: So, you’re suggesting that he might in fact, if Obama’s going to win the election, either before or after the election—launch a military strike? Kristol: I don’t know. I think he would worry about it. On the other hand, you can’t, it’s hard to make foreign policy based on guesses about election results…As usual he’s ridiculous. Obama will be strong on National security and the fact that these discredited conservative punkits still get to voice an opinion is frustrating all by itself. We should ask William the Bloody where that WarPorn chat room is… A bunch of warmongers have been speculating on Bush’s plans to attack Iran for quite sometime.Think Progress:The claim that Obama’s potential election could force Bush’s hand also isn’t new. Earlier this month, far-right pseudo scholar Daniel Pipes told National Review Online that “President Bush will do something” if the Democratic nominee won. “Should it be Mr. McCain that wins, he’ll punt,” said Pipes.Both Kristol and Pipes apparently agree with President Bush’s claim in March that McCain’s “not going to change” his foreign policy.