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Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Lovenstein Institute - Scranton, PA

I just knew Bush was in the double digits!

WASHINGTON --In a published report, the Lovenstein Institute of Scranton, Pennsylvania has detailed findings of a four month study of the intelligence quotient of President George W. Bush. Since 1973, the Lovenstein Institute has published its research to the education community on each new president, which includes the famous "IQ" report among others.

According to statements in the report, there have been twelve presidents over the past 60 years, from F. D. Roosevelt to G. W. Bush who were all rated based on scholarly achievements, writings that they alone produced without aid of staff, their ability to speak with clarity, and several other psychological factors which were then scored in the Swanson/Crain system of intelligence ranking. The study determined the following IQs of each president as accurate to within five percentage points:

147Franklin D. Roosevelt (D)
132Harry Truman (D)
122Dwight D. Eisenhower (R)
174John F. Kennedy (D)
126Lyndon B. Johnson (D)
155Richard M. Nixon (R)
121Gerald R. Ford (R)
176James E. Carter (D)
105Ronald W. Reagan (R)
98George H. W. Bush (R)
182William J. Clinton (D)
91George W. Bush (R)

The six Republican presidents of the past 60 years had an average IQ of 115.5, with President Nixon having the highest IQ, at 155. President G. W. Bush was rated the lowest of all the Republicans with an IQ of 91.

The six Democrat presidents had IQs with an average of 156, with President Clinton having the highest IQ, at 182. President Lyndon B. Johnson was rated the lowest of all the Democrats with an IQ of 126.

No president other than Carter (D) has released his actual IQ, 176. Among comments made concerning the specific testing of President GW Bush, his low ratings were due to his apparent difficulty to command the English language in public statements, his limited use of vocabulary (6,500 words for Bush versus an average of 11,000 words for other presidents), his lack of scholarly achievements other than a basic MBA, and an absence of any body of work which could be studied on an intellectual basis.

The complete report documents the methods and procedures used to arrive at these ratings, including depth of sentence structure and voice stress confidence analysis. "All the Presidents prior to George W. Bush had a least one book under their belt, and most had written several white papers during their education or early careers.

Not so with President Bush," Dr. Lovenstein said. "He has no published works or writings, so in many ways that made it more difficult to arrive at an assessment. We had to rely more heavily on transcripts of his unscripted public speaking."

The Lovenstein Institute of Scranton Pennsylvania think tank includes high caliber historians, psychiatrists, sociologists, scientists in human behavior, and psychologists. Among their ranks are Dr. Werner R. Lovenstein, world-renowned sociologist, and Professor Patricia F. Dilliams, a world-respected psychiatrist. This study was commissioned on February 13, 2001, and released on July 9, 2001, to subscribing member universities and organizations within the education community.

Suck it up righties. And take your place in the corner with your dunce caps on.
The Lovenstein Institute - Scranton, PA

A 'surge' unit sees change, but questions its permanence - Yahoo! News

Baghdad - After almost 15 months of its longest, deadliest, and most unconventional deployment, the 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment of the US Army is packing up to leave Iraq.

When it goes home to Fort Stewart, Ga., this month, the unit will be among the last to return from the "surge," Washington's move to calm the sectarian bloodshed that had consumed Baghdad and much of Iraq.

In many regards, the plan worked. Violence dropped as about 30,000 extra US soldiers moved into combat outposts around Iraq starting in February 2007. Last month, the number of Iraqis killed was 515; last June, that figure was 3,000.

Still, while the 1/64 recognizes much progress during its tour, the majority of the more than dozen soldiers and officers interviewed question if their effort will have been worth it in the end. Many say their mission helped bring about only a lull in the sectarian killings and feel that neither the Iraqi government nor its forces are ready, capable, or even motivated to build on the successes of the surge.

"We have no control over what happens once we leave. No one is prepared to stay here 20 years of their lives to make sure this place stays good," says Spc. Mark Webster, a native of San Luis Obispo, Calif., stationed at the neighborhood garrison of Adel. These combat outposts (COPS) have been scattered throughout Baghdad since the start of the surge. "We have accomplished things; we kept it at a general lull," adds Specialist Webster.

Although the experience of the 1/64 applies to only one slice of Baghdad, many of the issues and challenges it has grappled with are similar to those confronting other units in Baghdad and in other restive provinces – Anbar, Diyala, and Nineveh – where most of the surge units were deployed.

Life on the front lines
Getting US soldiers into the dusty neighborhoods of Baghdad was a cornerstone of the surge.

At COP Adel, a battered shopping center now barricaded with giant walls and nicknamed "the mall," soldiers from the 1/64 recently milled around in front of their Humvees. Inside, others nibbled on hot meals trucked in from Camp Liberty, the battalion's headquarters within the sprawling US command complex next to Baghdad's airport. A few pump iron, some mop up, others surf the Internet.

"They tell us we are doing something for our country, but I do not see it," says one soldier, who did not want to have his name published. "It seems more like the real fight is in Afghanistan … instead they get us into this [area of operation], which is more like Mr. Rogers' neighborhood."

Adel, a once-prosperous middle-class area, is now almost all Sunni and poor. Shiites fled the sectarian violence of 2006 and their homes have been occupied by Sunnis displaced from neighboring Hurriya. That shift is just one example of the new sectarian segregation throughout Baghdad.

Many average Iraqis in Adel, as well as in the areas of Jamiaa, Iskan, Khadra, Washash, and parts of Mansour, where the 1/64 operated, give credit to the US for the turnaround in their western Baghdad neighborhoods. But they fear a return to the not-so-distant days of lawlessness should US troops leave soon. The 1/64 is being replaced with another unit.

On a recent house-to-house search in Adel by members of the 1/64, accompanying Iraqi soldiers seemed more interested in chatting and texting on their cellphones than the mission at hand.

"It's tiring. It has been five years. Now it's called knock-and-search instead of raids. A lot of the [Iraqi] soldiers do not want to do their jobs," grumbles Staff Sgt. Jose Benavides from Miami. "If the Americans leave, the sectarian violence will flare up."

In one stately Adel villa, Iman Marouf says she's "guarding" the house for its absent Shiite owners. No Shiites have dared return to the neighborhood since a bombing last month targeted some who had come back.

"Fear consumes people. Hearts are still filled with fear," says Mrs. Marouf, gesturing emotionally.

Her sister, Jinan Marouf, adds: "All this calm is temporary, trust me. If we get someone like Saddam Hussein back, Iraq will be itself again. We need someone with his control."

From the Adel outpost, the soldiers served as cop, community benefactor, and mentor to Iraq's fledgling security forces.

On a recent drive with Lt. Col. Edward Chesney, the 1/64's commander, through his area of operation, he recounted how the local Iraqi police unit was rebuilt from scratch in many of the mainly Sunni neighborhoods he oversees. It's now staffed with men, some ex-insurgents, mostly on the US payroll.

He spoke of how commercial thoroughfares are being slowly revitalized with US grants to shop owners and of the public-works projects initiated and paid for by the US military.

He described with enthusiasm how US funds are being spent on creating municipal outposts, known as public-works substations, in many of these once no-go neighborhoods to encourage the Shiite-led Baghdad municipal authorities to pitch in.

But when it comes to broader Iraqi reconciliation, he says, that's something you can't impose. "That's something they are going to have to work through," he says. "I think foundations have been laid in our areas, but if progress does not continue there is potential for things to unravel again."

The toll of multiple tours
At the 1/64's headquarters inside Camp Liberty, framed photos pay tribute to the 12 US soldiers and one Iraqi interpreter that the unit lost during its deployment in Iraq.

Among them is Maj. Sid Brookshire, from Willard, Mo., who died June 20, 2007, when his vehicle hit a roadside bomb. Five soldiers and one interpreter died March 10, 2008, when a suicide bomber attacked them. They had been conducting an "economic assessment" in a Mansour market in order to provide local shopkeepers with grant money.

The losses quickly took their toll on the men and women of the unit, many who had already served several tours.

"At first I was shocked, because we had not had a casualty in six months. People were talking already about going home," says the unit's public-affairs officer, 1st Lt. Tabitha Hernandez, from Wellsville, N.Y. "The worst part for me was seeing grown-up men cry."

She says the March attack was a "hard hit" for the platoon to which the dead officers and soldiers belonged and the battalion as a whole, which comprises a core force of about 830 plus an attachment of about 170.

Lieutenant Hernandez says nearly 40 percent of the battalion's members are in Iraq for a third time since the start of the war in 2003. "It's astronomical," she says.

For Sgt. Mark Martin, a father of three from Chatsworth, Ga., on his third tour, the toll of the multiple and almost back-to-back deployments for many units is grueling. "We are so stretched that constantly, if we are not training back home, we are here."

And many within the battalion wonder just how long the war will – or should – go on.

Maj. Chris Budihas recalls how in 2004 – while he was serving in Najaf to the south – he had asked the commander of US troops in Iraq at the time, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, whether there would be an Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) 12 or 13, the US military's term for tours of duty in Iraq.

"He looked down, shifted the sand with his boots, and told me 'maybe'," says Major Budihas, who is finishing up his 17-month tour as part of OIF 6.

In 2007, Budihas, of Jacksonville, Fla., had already been in Iraq for three months working at division level in Baghdad but was seconded to the 1/64 after it lost Major Brookshire.

A 'surge' unit sees change, but questions its permanence - Yahoo! News

Think Progress » House Judiciary committee: Rove is not immune from testifying.

Let's see if they'll be more than the "stern letter writing" committee.  "inherent contempt authority" is the authority that allows congress to issue warrants for the arrest of persons held in contempt.  I hope they drag him in in hand cuffs crying and screaming.

Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee received a letter from Karl Rove’s attorney Robert Luskin, stating that his client refuses to testify before a House subcommittee, despite a congressional subpoena. He reiterated his offer to have Rove appear for an off-the-record interview, not under oath, about the prosecution of formerly Alabama governor Don Siegelman only. In a response to Luskin, Reps. John Conyers (D-MI) and Linda Sanchez (D-CA) reject the offer:

    We want to make clear that the Subcommittee will convene as scheduled and expects Mr. Rove to appear, and that a refusal to appear in violation of the subpoena could subject Mr. Rove to contempt proceedings, including statutory contempt under federal law and proceedings under the inherent contempt authority of the House of Representatives.

    Your letter states that Mr. Rove will not attend the hearing because he is “obligated” to disregard the subpoena as a result of the White House’s claim of immunity for former advisors. In fact, precisely the opposite is true. As a private party, Mr. Rove is “obligated” to comply with the subpoena issued to him and, at the very least, appear at the July 10 hearing.

Think Progress » House Judiciary committee: Rove is not immune from testifying.

Iraqis Want the U.S. Out; This is How it Should Happen | War on Iraq | AlterNet

Repugs just can't understand why millions of iraqi's are not grateful for our killing hundreds of thousands of them for oil.   Dana Rohrabacher is the most pathetic piece of shit in the republican house, next to issa and boner <sic> and mica and and and.  They're pathetic men who cry to get what they want.  I could smack them.

The Iraqis have reached a consensus: the U.S. should leave Iraq. Regardless of whether they are Kurds, Sunni, or Shi'a; regardless of political party, there is a general agreement that the United States should depart soon -- within the year, or at most, three years. Yet some Americans, especially conservatives, are shocked that the Iraqis would show such a lack of gratitude to the United States.

In the last two weeks, many Iraqi leaders have made the rounds in Washington. Two of them, one a Sunni and one a Shiite leader, testified before the House subcommittee of Foreign Affairs and Oversight chaired by Congressman Bill Delahunt (D-MA). It was remarkable to see the reaction on the face of one Republican member of the subcommittee when the Iraqis replied to congressional questions with a definitive call for withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. The two Iraqis were clear in their expressions of Iraqi sentiment towards the United States: we are considered occupiers, not liberators. One of them, to the astonishment of Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), declared that the removal of one man, Saddam Hussein, was not worth the loss of thousands of Iraqi lives since the inception of the occupation.

Another Iraqi leader among the visitors was Adnan Pachachi, the former Iraqi foreign minister, and former Iraqi Representative to the UN. Dr. Pachachi is one of the leading Sunnis and a leader of a new coalition, the Iraq Democratic Party. While his group advocates the removal of U.S. troops at a slightly slower rate than that proposed by the Shiite leaders, they still call for a rational and safe withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq within a few years.

The recent debates in Iraq and the United States about the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq are prompted by the current negotiations on the long-term presence of U.S. forces in Iraq. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the powerful Iraqi Shi'a leader, informed Prime Minister Maliki that he will oppose the long terms U.S. presence agreement as long as he is alive.

Tens of thousands of Iraqis are demonstrating frequently in Baghdad against the continued presence of the U.S. forces. Every Friday, in hundreds of Mosques, the sermons are calling for the end of occupation.

Many Iraqis do not trust U.S. claims that we will not have permanent bases and have no designs to colonize it for years to come. The Washington Post reported recently that Sami al-Askari, a member of the Iraqi parliament foreign relations committee and a close ally of the Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, declared that, "The Americans are making demands that would lead to the colonization of Iraq." Moreover, many Iraqis think we will use Iraqi soil as a launching pad to invade other countries -- especially Iran. The hue and cry among the Iraqis pushed al-Maliki to express concerns regarding a long-term presence for the United States.

It was reported by many outlets that the opening terms of U.S. negotiators was for 200 facilities that included 58 military bases. Moreover, the U.S. wanted complete sovereignty over the Iraqi skies and complete immunity for all U.S. soldiers and contractors for crimes committed against Iraqis. On top of that, the United States wanted the freedom to arrest any Iraqi without ever having to turn them over to the Iraqis.

Even though the opening position of the American delegation into the negotiations may have been to obtain maximum leverage from the Iraqis, it smells of arrogance worthy of an empire. How can such a position be compatible with our claims of liberating Iraq and putting Iraq on the road to democratic freedom? It is this arrogance of power that led this Administration to an unnecessary preemptive war. This arrogance was further illustrated by a recent statement by Republican presidential candidate John McCain. He has been touting that the American people care only about U.S. casualties and that if there are no such casualties, we can stay for fifty to a hundred years.

Instead of negotiating a long-term presence, the U.S. should be negotiating a withdrawal. Both large portions of Iraqis and U.S. citizens are widely supportive of a timetable for withdrawal. The following ten point plan would set the stage for a responsible withdrawal:

1. Announce that we respect the Iraqis as co-equal in their humanity and aspirations.

2. We will leave Iraq fully and completely within a maximum of two years with a schedule of withdrawal to be negotiated with Iraqis. During the remainder of the occupation all contractors will be subject to Iraqi laws.

3. We will leave no military bases in Iraq.

4. We will support the United Nations to provide security forces from Iraq-friendly countries to help the Iraqis, if needed.

5. Appropriate military equipment currently in Iraq will be transferred to the Iraqis.

6. We will have the right to compete for Iraqi oil in the open market. Iraqis will not be forced to hire U.S. companies to manage it.

7. We reserve the right to attack al-Qaeda training camps if they appear in Iraq. We will give Iraq notice before we attack them. If the Iraqis eliminate these camps on their own, there will be no need for our action.

8. We will have a reconstruction package that will include financial assistance but will emphasize technical support. We will help in re-settling refugees back into Iraq.

9. The U.S. will encourage non-government organizations from the United States and around the world to help in the reconstruction of Iraq.

10. We will increase the quota for Iraqis to study in the United States on condition that they must return to Iraq.

Let us prove to the Iraqis and the rest of the world that our main concern is to deter terrorism. While the current Administration does not have the moral fortitude to take these suggestions, the next president can and should adopt, at least, a similar outline of policies toward Iraq, if we ever want to repair our tarnished image around the world.

Iraqis Want the U.S. Out; This is How it Should Happen | War on Iraq | AlterNet

Cut oil prices up to 50% over night.

Can you call your representative and senators and tell them to support HR 6264? This is the bill i was telling you about that will reregulate the commodities industry so they can't speculate on anything but actual supply and demand. The bill that the experts said would drop the price of a barrel of oil by %25 to 50% over night. You'll probably have to wait till after the holiday. i'm getting no answers or machines. 1-800-828-0498

HR 6264 IH


2d Session

H. R. 6264

To prevent excessive speculation in over-the-counter derivatives markets for certain energy commodities by limiting participation in those markets to persons who are capable of producing, manufacturing, or taking physical delivery of the commodities.


June 12, 2008

Mr. LARSON of Connecticut (for himself, Mr. LOBIONDO, Mr. COURTNEY, Mr. KAGEN, Mr. WU, Mr. HILL, Mr. HINCHEY, and Mr. WELCH of Vermont) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Agriculture


(a) In General- Section 4 of the Commodity Exchange Act (7 U.S.C. 6) is amended by adding at the end the following:

`(e)(1)(A) It shall be unlawful for a person to enter into or execute a transaction which involves a specified energy commodity, and which is otherwise excluded under section 2(g) or exempted under section 2(h), unless the person--

`(i) meets the requirement of paragraph (2)(A) of this subsection; or

`(ii)(I) is purchasing the contract or agreement as an agent of a person who meets the requirement; and

`(II) discloses the identity of the person referred to in subclause (I) of this clause to the seller of the contract.

`(B) It shall be unlawful for a person, after the 60-day period that begins with the effective date of this subsection, to hold a contract or agreement of sale of a specified energy commodity for future delivery which is otherwise excluded under section 2(g) or exempted under section 2(h), unless the person--

`(i) meets the requirement of paragraph (2)(A) or (2)(B) of this subsection; or

`(ii) is holding the contract or agreement as an agent of a person who meets the requirement.

`(2)(A) A person meets the requirement of this subparagraph with respect to a commodity if--

`(i) the person has filed with the Commission an affidavit attesting that the person has the capacity to accept physical delivery of the commodity; and

`(ii) the Commission has certified that the person has the capacity.

`(B) A person meets the requirement of this subparagraph with respect to a commodity if--

`(i) the person has filed with the Commission an affidavit attesting that the person has the capacity to produce or manufacture the commodity; and

`(ii) the Commission has certified that the person has the capacity.

`(3) In this subsection, the term `specified energy commodity' means crude oil, heating oil, gasoline, or diesel fuel.'.

(b) Conforming Amendments-

(1) Section 2(g) of such Act (7 U.S.C. 2(g)) is amended by inserting `4(e),' before `5a'.

(2) Section 2(h)(2)(A) of such Act (7 U.S.C. 2(h)(2)(A)) is amended by striking `5b' and inserting `4(e), 5b'.

SunHerald.com - Sun Herald News #15357.1

Bush and the oil industry

Why is the Bush administration helping to write oil contracts for the oil industry? 

The company, Hunt Oil of Dallas, signed the deal with Kurdistan's semi-autonomous government last September. Its chief executive, Ray L. Hunt, a close political ally of President Bush, briefed an advisory board to Mr. Bush on his contacts with Kurdish officials before the deal was signed. In an e-mail message released by the Congressional committee, a State Department official in Washington, briefed by a colleague about the impending deal with the Kurdistan Regional Government, wrote: "Many thanks for the heads up; getting an American company to sign a deal with the K.R.G. will make big news back here. Please keep us posted." The release of the documents comes as the administration is defending help that United States officials provided in drawing up a separate set of no-bid contracts, still pending, between Iraq's Oil Ministry in Baghdad and five major Western oil companies to provide services at other Iraqi oil fields. In the no-bid contracts, the administration said it had provided what it called purely technical help writing the contracts. The United States played no role in choosing the companies, the administration has said.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

SunHerald.com - Sun Herald News #15337.1

You hear republicans talking about "tort reform" all of the time.  This is the reality of what it boils down to.  If you are a corporation, come to MS and you will be safe from any and all law suits against people you have wronged or committed crimes against.  We will cover your ass so come on down!  Everyone else in Mississippi?  Tough tits.  You can go suck eggs.  Even if you have been wronged you have no business going to court here. 

Even as Dick Scruggs and his son get their just desserts for outrageous behavior, here is something to be aware of.A letter by Alex Alston, one of Mississippi's best regarded attorneys. This is the other side of the coin from that condemned for the likes of Scruggs and Paul Minor.Note the outrageous hypocrisy of the Chamber of Commerce claiming MS is among the worst states in the nation for civil justice. Consider the actual record.http://www.clarionledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080629/OPINION/806290311/1046Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Jim Smith, speaking recently to various business groups, stated emphatically that the court strives to be fair and impartial to large corporations and insurance companies. That is commendable.But what about the victims of corporate fraud and negligence? Can this Supreme Court be fair to them? Apparently not.If you are a victim of personal injury, malpractice or corporate fraud, you have almost no chance of having a jury verdict in your favor affirmed by the state Supreme Court.In the past, the Supreme Court rarely overturned a jury verdict, especially if it was based on a dispute over a factual issue. That day is gone. During the past 4 1/2 years, according to my research, an astonishing 88 percent of all jury verdicts in favor of the wronged victims have been reversed by the state Supreme Court.But what about the jury trials won by defendants, in which the victim takes an appeal to correct an error? Here, again, the numbers are staggering.Over the same 4 1/2-year-period, a plaintiff's success rate in reversing a jury verdict for the defendant is an astonishing zero.The defendant corporation, hospital, or insurance company prevailed in 100 percent of these cases. It is difficult to imagine victims of negligence and fraud losing 100 percent of the time, but that is the way it is in the state Supreme Court in a plaintiff's appeal.The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and insurance companies should be ecstatic over this state of affairs. Think of the money it saves the insurance companies not to pay a claim, knowing they are safe with the state Supreme Court.But the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a lobbying arm of Big Business which pours millions into judicial campaigns, is still not satisfied. In a recent 37-page report, entitled Lawsuit Climate 2008, the Chamber ranks Mississippi as the 48th worst legal climate in the nation.Therefore, one can expect the Chamber and its powerful allies to pour millions more into the judicial campaigns of our Supreme Court justices coming up for election in November to close any chance of victory for a poor maimed victim who has successfully worked his way through the judicial system to the Supreme Court. It is only then that these powerful entities will have a complete victory over anyone bold enough to think he has a claim for negligence or fraud.How can it be that during the last 4 1/2 years powerful corporations, hospitals, and insurance companies have prevailed in the state Supreme Court in nearly every case? Can an injured plaintiff ever be right?Perhaps it is because we elect our Supreme Court justices. In the 2002 election, insurance companies, large corporations, and doctors poured millions of dollars into the campaign coffers of most of the justices. One of the new judges that year alone received over a million dollars from these sources.Can anyone truly doubt that judges will, either consciously or unconsciously, favor those who have contributed substantially to their campaigns.In the upcoming election, large corporations, which statistically are more likely to be named as defendants, will not forget those justices who ruled in their favor against an injured or defrauded plaintiff, and no doubt substantial contributions will flow to these faithful.* * * * *Our court must be more than a rubber stamp for the rich and powerful.Shouldn't we expect that and more?Jackson attorney Alex A. Alston Jr. has litigated hundreds of cases, primarily for defendant corporations, over the past 44 years, including scores of cases argued before the Mississippi Supreme Court, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and other circuits, and the U.S. Supreme Court. He has served as president of the Mississippi Bar and has taught and written extensively on issues of trial advocacy. He is the co-author of an upcoming book, Immune to Prosecution: The Long Road to Justice in Mississippi.
SunHerald.com - Sun Herald News #15337.1

Ignorant America: Just How Stupid Are We? | Democracy and Elections | AlterNet

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." -- Thomas JeffersonJust how stupid are we? Pretty stupid, it would seem, when we come across headlines like this: "Homer Simpson, Yes -- 1st Amendment 'Doh,' Survey Finds" (Associated Press 3/1/06). "About 1 in 4 Americans can name more than one of the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment (freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly and petition for redress of grievances.) But more than half of Americans can name at least two members of the fictional cartoon family, according to a survey. "The study by the new McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum found that 22 percent of Americans could name all five Simpson family members, compared with just 1 in 1,000 people who could name all five First Amendment freedoms."But what does it mean exactly to say that American voters are stupid? About this there is unfortunately no consensus. Like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, who confessed not knowing how to define pornography, we are apt simply to throw up our hands in frustration and say: We know it when we see it. But unless we attempt a definition of some sort, we risk incoherence, dooming our investigation of stupidity from the outset. Stupidity cannot mean, as Humpty Dumpty would have it, whatever we say it means.Five defining characteristics of stupidity, it seems to me, are readily apparent. First, is sheer ignorance: Ignorance of critical facts about important events in the news, and ignorance of how our government functions and who's in charge. Second, is negligence: The disinclination to seek reliable sources of information about important news events. Third, is wooden-headedness, as the historian Barbara Tuchman defined it: The inclination to believe what we want to believe regardless of the facts. Fourth, is shortsightedness: The support of public policies that are mutually contradictory, or contrary to the country's long-term interests. Fifth, and finally, is a broad category I call bone-headedness, for want of a better name: The susceptibility to meaningless phrases, stereotypes, irrational biases, and simplistic diagnoses and solutions that play on our hopes and fears.American IgnoranceTaking up the first of our definitions of stupidity, how ignorant are we? Ask the political scientists and you will be told that there is damning, hard evidence pointing incontrovertibly to the conclusion that millions are embarrassingly ill-informed and that they do not care that they are. There is enough evidence that one could almost conclude -- though admittedly this is a stretch -- that we are living in an Age of Ignorance.Surprised? My guess is most people would be. The general impression seems to be that we are living in an age in which people are particularly knowledgeable. Many students tell me that they are the most well-informed generation in history.Why are we so deluded? The error can be traced to our mistaking unprecedented access to information with the actual consumption of it. Our access is indeed phenomenal. George Washington had to wait two weeks to discover that he had been elected president of the United States. That's how long it took for the news to travel from New York, where the Electoral College votes were counted, to reach him at home in Mount Vernon, Virginia. Americans living in the interior regions had to wait even longer, some up to two months. Now we can watch developments as they occur halfway around the world in real time. It is little wonder then that students boast of their knowledge. Unlike their parents, who were forced to rely mainly on newspapers and the network news shows to find out what was happening in the world, they can flip on CNN and Fox or consult the Internet.But in fact only a small percentage of people take advantage of the great new resources at hand. In 2005, the Pew Research Center surveyed the news habits of some 3,000 Americans age 18 and older. The researchers found that 59% on a regular basis get at least some news from local TV, 47% from national TV news shows, and just 23% from the Internet.Anecdotal evidence suggested for years that Americans were not particularly well-informed. As foreign visitors long ago observed, Americans are vastly inferior in their knowledge of world geography compared with Europeans. (The old joke is that "War is God's way of teaching Americans geography.") But it was never clear until the postwar period how ignorant Americans are. For it was only then that social scientists began measuring in a systematic manner what Americans actually know. The results were devastating. 
Link to more of the article. 
Ignorant America: Just How Stupid Are We? | Democracy and Elections | AlterNet

Daily Kos: Poll cornucopia

it is not the numbers themselves that are striking but the movement in the numbers since the last poll.  yippee!


PPP (PDF). 6/26-29. Likely voters. MoE 3.6% (3/15-16 results)

McCain (R) 44 (50)
Obama (D) 46 (39)

Rasmussen. 6/26. Likely voters. MoE 4% (6/18 results)

McCain (R) 48 (47)
Obama (D) 41 (39)

The Pollster.com composite is tight: McCain 45.3, Obama 43.5.


PPP (PDF). 6/26-29. Likely voters. MoE 3% (5/28-29 results)

McCain (R) 45 (43)
Obama (D) 41 (40)
Barr (L) 5 (6)

Pollster.com composite: McCain 44, Obama 41.1.


Rasmussen. 6/26. Likely voters. MoE 4% (6/4 results)

McCain (R) 53 (51)
Obama (D) 43 (41)
Barr (L) 1 (-)

Pollster.com composite: McCain 50.4, Obama 43.9.


SurveyUSA. 6/20-22. Likely voters. MoE 4% (5/28-29 results)

McCain (R) 47 (42)
Obama (D) 49 (49)

Pollster.com: McCain 45.1, Obama 46.5.


SurveyUSA. 6/20-22. Likely voters. MoE 4.2% (5/28-29 results)

McCain (R) 46 (39)
Obama (D) 48 (48)

Pollster.com: McCain 42.7, Obama 46.1.


Rasmussen. 6/25. Likely voters. MoE 4.5% (6/2 results)

McCain (R) 48 (52)
Obama (D) 39 (39)

Pollster.com: McCain 46.7, Obama 38.


Rasmussen. 6/25. Likely voters. MoE 4.5% (4/15 results)

McCain (R) 49 (57)
Obama (D) 40 (37)

Pollster.com: McCain 48.1, Obama 38.

AL: M 51, O 36
MA: M 40, O 53
MS: McCain 50, Obama 44
NJ: M 33, O 48
Daily Kos: Poll cornucopia

Daily Kos: Obama Supporters Organize on FISA

Proving that you can both support a candidate and hold him or her accountable, a major effort by grassroots activists within the Obama campaign is asking for his support in opposing the bad FISA Amendments Act, and particularly, telco amnesty. A grassroots group of activists has been organizing on MyBo, Obama's official social networking portal, to protest the Senator's recent decision to back controversial legislation granting the President more spying powers. The effort hit a big milestone on Tuesday afternoon: It is now the largest self-organized group on Obama's website, topping networks that were launched over a year ago. The spying protest, "Senator Obama - Please Vote NO on Telecom Immunity – Get FISA Right," launched last week. (See Obama Network Organizes and Revolts Over Spying, The Nation.) Membership spiked to about 8,900 people on Tuesday, edging out a student group with roughly 8,600 members, and one organizer estimated that the growth rate reached a rapid four percent during the daytime. The group initially spread through the Obama network, since the site's platform instantly connects members through a dedicated email listserve. On Monday, for example, over 200 emails shot across the wire, reaching the roughly 2,300 members who opted to receive individual messages. The exchanges ranged from policy debates, like whether immunity was acceptable if the telephone companies acted in good faith, to organizing strategies, such as promoting the group on sharing sites like Digg. Then some activists open-sourced the project, creating a wiki-hub for additional actions -- from calling Obama's office to urging Keith Olbermann to promote the group -- and launched partner groups on other sites like Facebook.The group's effort has also hit the NYT.This effort shows two things: the always-expanding power of the Internet for organizing. We knew at the outset what a powerful tool the tubes were going to present, but the new iterations that people create on a daily basis is fantastic (and another reason for the Net Neutrality fight to be rejoined full force when we have our new president and Congress).It also shows that you can fully support Barack Obama and still disagree with him on issues. That being a supporter, particularly a netroots supporter, doesn't mean setting aside your own beliefs and principles. We're not supposed to just shut up when we disagree--if we do, we're setting a very bad precedent for our role in a potential Obama presidency. I keep going back to the Louis Brandeis quote: The most important political office is that of private citizen. -Louis D. BrandeisYou can support a candidate and fulfill your political office of a private citizen at the same time. A huge number of Barack Obama's supporters on his site are doing just that.
Daily Kos: Obama Supporters Organize on FISA

McCain's disability pension may renew questions about his fitness - Los Angeles Times

I thought you were only able to pick up a disability check if you were unable to work.  Or a percentage of it if your disability was minimal.  So what's this all about?  Just another rich kid who feels he's entitled to our welfare.  I just looked at his legislation and find he hasn't sponsored or co-sponsored one bill for the non-military disabled in at least 4 years. (i didn't search all the way back to the beginning of his career just back to the 108th congress.  shame shame.)
Oh here's one he voted for...who do you think this would benefit?
 5. [108th] S.392 : A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to permit retired members of the Armed Forces who have a service-connected disability to receive both military retired pay by reason of their years of military service and disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs for their disability.

Wonder who this would benefit?  he spent 23 years in service.

It doesn't seem to have passed.  It was referred back to committee..where all bills go to die.

Now the story.

The LA Times discloses that Sen. McCain is getting $58k per year in disability pay and not everyone is pleased.
    [McCain’s] staff responded with the classic “he was tortured for his country.” Yeah, we get it. The torture card. It’s to McCain what 9/11 was to Giuliani’s candidacy - the never-ending name-drop. Though what McCain’s staff actually said was downright, um, we’re being nice to Clinton now, so I won’t say Clintonian.

My retired Navy friend's comments on the article:
    Here’s the quote: “McCain campaign strategist Mark Salter said Monday night that McCain was technically disabled. ‘Tortured for his country — that is how he acquired his disability,’ Salter said.”
    Technically? What does that mean? Usually, it means that under the strict reading of the law, you’re covered, but in fact it’s kind of a nudge-nudge-wink-wink situation - that’s what “technically” means. It’s called parsing, which is something you do to “technically” claim something is true, when on its face it really isn’t. So is McCain “technically” disabled, and taking $58,000 a year tax free from the government, or is he actually disabled? I would imagine there are other solders who are actually disabled who could use the money. And if he is actually disabled, just how disabled is he?
So, if you’re disabled, I guess you’re only one of the venerated victims of Progressives and Liberals if you vote the right way.
McCain's disability pension may renew questions about his fitness - Los Angeles Times

Rising prices hammer seniors on fixed incomes - USATODAY.com

Rising prices hammer seniors on fixed incomes - USATODAY.com

Long before workers at the San Diego Food Bank began distributing cardboard food cartons from the back of a truck on a recent day, elderly men and women, many needing walkers and metal canes, formed a line in a church parking lot. The free food amounts to a lifeline for these seniors, who have seen inflation wring much of the value out of their fixed incomes. For these retirees, the prices of essentials -- notably, gas and food -- have galloped beyond reach. Perhaps most of all, they're straining under the weight of crushing medical costs. Nearly all Americans have felt the sting of inflation in recent months. But when you're retired and your sole means of support is a fixed amount that arrives each month -- from Social Security and, for the lucky ones, a pension -- the pain is especially severe.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Did Congress Authorize war with Iraq?

Iraq War: What did Congress really authorize?Leaving aside the more-or-less interesting politics of why it's not likely to be part of the election debate this year, Dean argues that Bush actually violated the war resolution in the way he went to war in Iraq.(you like to read laws? cuz here it is. Dean summarizes but you are welcome to read the full text and comment on it. Fem)http://www.broadbandc-span.org/downloads/hjres114.pdfThe war resolution (Public Law 107-243, 10/16/02, Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002) included some specific conditions. It didn't just give Bush an open-ended choice to go to war at his own discretion. As Dean summarizes it:To avoid having to return to Congress for more debate on Iraq, Bush had pushed for and received authority to launch a war without further advance notice to Congress. Never before had Congress so trusted a president with this authority. But in granting this unprecedented authorization, Congress insisted that certain conditions be established as existing and that the president submit a formal determination, assuring the Congress that, in fact, these conditions were present. Specifically (and here I am summarizing technical wording; the actual language [is in section 3(b) (1) and (2) of PL 107-243]), Congress wanted a formal determination submitted to it either before using force or within forty-eight hours of having done so, stating that the president had found that (1) further diplomatic means alone would not resolve the "continuing threat" (meaning WMD) and (2) the military action was part of the overall response to terrorism, including dealing wtih those involved in "the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001." In short, Congress insisted that there be evidence of two points that were the centerpirce of Bush's argument for the war.We now know, of course, that there were no nuclear weapons program and no WMDs in Iraq. And that the claimed connections of Saddam to al-Qaeda were bogus, and the notion that Iraq was involved in the 9/11 attacks even more so. And,of course, UN weapons inspections were under way in Iraq in 2003, but they were halted by Bush's decision to go to war anyway.It may seem to be no more than an historical footnote at this point, though these things can come back to bite the unsuspecting in surprising ways.Dean takes a close look at the documentation Bush submitted to Congress to comply with their requirements for going to war. And he finds it badly deficient:Bush, in essence, gave Congress only one purported fact to meet the requirement of making a congressional determination. He cited the information offered by Secretary of State Colin Powell to the United Nations. [Powell has since publicly acknowledged that his presentation contained inaccurate information, which damaged his international reputation badly.] Bush merely reminded Congress that Powell's report "revealed a terrorist training area in northeastern Iraq with ties to Iraqi intelligence and activities of [al Qaeda] affiliates in Baghdad." Bush added that "public reports indicate that Iraq is currently harboring senior members of a terrorist network led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a close [al Qaeda] associate," and that in the past Iraq had "provided training in document forgery and explosives to [al Qaeda]." He offered no governmental confirmation of this "public report."... If there is a precedent for Bush's slick trick to involve America in a bloody commitment, where the Congress requires as a condition for action that the president make a determination, and the president in turn relies on a whereas clause (which he provided to Congress as suggested introductory language) and a dubious public report (which fails to address the substance of the conditions for war set by Congress), I am not aware of it and could not find anything even close.But the Bush administration has been precedent-setting in more ways than one.

t r u t h o u t | Iran Threatens to Shut Down Persian Gulf Oil Lanes if Attacked

Or how the oil industry can get $400 a barrel.

Beirut - The commander of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard said the government might shut down vital oil lanes through the Persian Gulf if the country were attacked by the United States or Israel, according to a newspaper report Saturday. Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari warned that if there were any confrontation over Iran's nuclear program, Tehran would try to damage Western economies by targeting oil. "Naturally every country under attack by an enemy uses all its capacity and opportunities to confront the enemy," Jafari said to the hard-line newspaper Jaam-e Jam, according to translations of his comments on the English-language website of the semiofficial Fars News Agency. "Iran will definitely act to impose control on the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz," through which 17 million barrels of oil passes each day. "After this action, the oil price will rise very considerably and this is among the factors deterring the enemies," he said.
t r u t h o u t | Iran Threatens to Shut Down Persian Gulf Oil Lanes if Attacked

As floodwaters recede in the Midwest, anger rises - Los Angeles Times

NEW HARTFORD, IOWA -- After the great floods of 1993 swamped this tiny town in eastern Iowa, Mike Luck begged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to help protect it from future disasters.Corps officials responded that this community of fewer than 700 residents probably would have to chip in more than $1 million to help build the federally engineered levee system it sought, the former mayor recalled.  Unable to raise the funds, New Hartford built an earthen berm, which breached recently when Beaver Creek flooded, part of the widespread flooding in six Midwestern states."There was no way we could get that kind of money pulled together for a levee," Luck said. "It took this town more than three years of bake sales and barbecues to raise enough money for new playground equipment."It felt like the government was telling us, 'You're not big enough or important enough for us to spend our money to save,' " Luck said.
complete story:
As floodwaters recede in the Midwest, anger rises - Los Angeles Times

Truthdig - Reports - The Illusion of Saving Nations From Themselves

The Bush government was elected in 2000 on a platform including vigorous opposition to the United States Army’s doing “nation-building.” Swedes, Danes, the European Union, and NGOs did nation-building. The U.S. Army was a fighting army.This was the principle on which the new U.S. volunteer Army was formed after Vietnam. It is the explanation why, after the fall of Baghdad in 2003, the Army looked on, bemused, while the people of Baghdad hesitantly, and then enthusiastically, tore down the phone and power wires, dug up the copper pipes, and destroyed the power generators of the city infrastructure, looting their own capital city of everything that had value and could be sold.U.S. commanders, asked to protect at least the National Archaeological Museum, and the arts museums and universities, politely replied to curators, professors and concerned citizens, “Sorry, Sir (or Ma’am), we don’t do that sort of thing.” We only protect ourselves and the Oil Ministry.What a difference a five-year-long military disaster can make! It now has cleared the way for another and opposite disaster. In the latest issue of the journal Foreign Affairs, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says that “it is absolutely clear that [the United States] will be involved in nation-building for years to come. Democratic state-building is now an urgent component of our national interest.”In the U.S. Army, “a new generation of military leaders [is being trained] for stabilization and counterinsurgency missions” for decades to come, part of “our long-term partnerships with Afghanistan and Iraq, our new relationships in Central Asia, and our long-standing partnerships in the Persian Gulf, providing a solid geostrategic foundation for the generational work ahead.”This means American efforts to place and/or maintain in power, by military means when necessary, pro-American governments that will cooperate in an area-wide American policy of suppressing fundamentalist Islamic movements, and combating Palestine liberation groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah, hostile to the United States as well as Israel, or committed to the idea of anti-Western jihad. That’s not the way the secretary of state phrased it; she talks about nation-building and creating democracy. But that is what she was saying.One might have thought that a decade of laying waste to Vietnam and Cambodia in order to accomplish “democratic state-building” would have taught the eminently practical lesson that the United States cannot democratic-state-build for anyone else. It is not even a total success in doing it at home.It is a rule in the life of modern nations that nationalism trumps all else. If the government in Saigon, or a government in Baghdad or Kabul, cannot, even with appropriate foreign material assistance, establish and maintain order within its own frontiers and by its own means, armed legions of foreign democracy-teachers, state-builders and winners of hearts and mind cannot do it for them.As the British soldier—and state-builder in Bosnia—Paddy Ashdown said recently, the time it takes for a liberation army to turn into an occupation army is very short. The transformation is already well-advanced, if not complete, in both Iraq and Afghanistan.In denial of that fact, the Bush administration has ordered reorganization and retraining of American military and political expeditionary forces so as to continue to build nations and democracy, by means of armed intervention and military occupation, for many more years in unlucky Middle Eastern and Central Asian countries (and who knows wherever else).It is an axiom of history that no government put in place by foreign troops, or needing to be maintained in place by them against internal opposition, can be considered a legitimate government.The Taliban in Afghanistan are not the Russian army, overrunning Afghanistan with tanks and helicopters, or an invading British colonial army. If they were, the problem would be simple. They are Afghans, members of the 40-million-strong Pathan (or Pushtoon) people, who make up the largest part of the Afghan population. If other Pathans, inside Afghanistan, who are not religious fundamentalists, and the Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks who make up the rest of the country’s population, do not wish to be ruled by Pathan religious reactionaries, they should not need 60,000 NATO and U.S. troops to defend them. If they will not defend themselves, there is nothing the foreigners can do to save them from their countrymen.The same is true of the Iraqis. The only foreign army that has invaded Iraq is the American Army. The Iraq government is resisting long-term American extraterritorial presence in the country, and Iraqis increasingly are pressing the United States to get out. They are finding that the Pentagon and the White House have actually been planning to stay indefinitely (for 100 years?). This automatically will sooner or later produce popular uprising against military occupation.Then what will an Obama or McCain administration do? It might order the troops to pull out. It will be accused of surrendering America to forces of evil.Or it might order the Army and Marines to do again what was done to Falluja. They could forget about democracy and nation-building.In the present (post-political-campaign) stage of American foreign policy thinking, and under mounting pressure from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee for military solutions in the region, all of this deserves more reflection than it is receiving.
Truthdig - Reports - The Illusion of Saving Nations From Themselves

CTV.ca | Scientists to test if cancer cure can work in humans

Let's see if we'll hear this on the corporate media, shall we?  All those big pharma dollars for erectile dysfunction and restless leg syndrome and gotta go gotta go gotta go right now! let's see if they let this get past the corporate filter.  i'd be interested to know.  this story should be front page news on every paper and news outlet in the world.

American researchers will soon start a human trial to determine whether a treatment that can eradicate cancer in mice will do the same in people.The treatment will transfuse specific white blood cells, called granulocytes, into patients with advanced forms of cancer. The granulocytes will come from healthy young people with immune systems that produce cells that have high levels of anti-cancer activity.In the animal studies, white blood cells from cancer-resistant mice cured all lab mice who had malignant tumours. The cells have also been able to kill cervical, prostate and breast cancer tumour cells in Petri dish tests."All the mice we treated were 100 per cent cured," lead researcher Dr. Zheng Cui told CTV News. "So that was very surprising for us."Cui, an associate professor of pathology at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina, will announce the study Saturday at the Understanding Aging conference in Los Angeles.Granulocytes account for about 60 per cent of all white blood cells in the human body. The scientists already know, via a small study of human volunteers, that granulocytes from people under the age of 50 are most effective at killing cancer cells.The study will begin with 22 cancer patients for whom conventional treatment has been unsuccessful. The researchers say that they will know within three months if the treatment will work in humans.Cancer researchers worldwide will be watching the tests closely."Certainly in the mouse, being able to do these things is quite remarkable and very exciting," said Dr. Ronan Foley of the Juravinski Cancer Centre in Hamilton, Ont. "Oftentimes when it is translated into the human situation it doesn't work as well. But that doesn't mean it isn't going to work."
CTV.ca | Scientists to test if cancer cure can work in humans

On the faith-based initiative, Obama’s way isn’t Bush’s way - The Carpetbagger Report

The notion of the government contracting with religious ministries to provide social services is not, on its face, scandalous or unconstitutional. Groups like Catholic Charities and Lutheran Social Services have partnered with public officials for decades, almost always without incident. There have always been safeguards in place to protect church-state separation, the integrity of the ministry, and the rights of those who receive the benefits.

The safeguards were just common sense, and helped make these partnerships legal. Independent religious agencies, not churches themselves, handled the public funds. Tax dollars supported only secular programs, and no religious discrimination with public funds was permitted.

So what happened? George W. Bush decided he wanted to re-write the rules. His White House identified those safeguards and renamed them “barriers.” To protect the First Amendment and the interests of taxpayers, the president said, was to stand in the way of churches helping families in need. The safeguards, Bush insisted, had to be eliminated.

I was working at Americans United for Separation of Church and State when Bush was pushing this, and I worked specifically on this project. So, when I saw this AP feed this morning, I nearly fell out of my chair.

Reaching out to evangelical voters, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is announcing plans that would expand President Bush’s program steering federal social service dollars to religious groups and — in a move sure to cause controversy — support their ability to hire and fire based on faith.

Thankfully, this AP feed was wrong, it’s being corrected, and Barack Obama has not completely lost his mind.

I obtained a copy of the speech Obama is going to deliver today, and he specifically outlines a faith-based agenda that in no way resembles Bush’s approach. In fact, it’s largely the opposite.

“Now, make no mistake, as someone who used to teach constitutional law, I believe deeply in the separation of church and state, but I don’t believe this partnership will endanger that idea – so long as we follow a few basic principles. First, if you get a federal grant, you can’t use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help and you can’t discriminate against them – or against the people you hire – on the basis of their religion. Second, federal dollars that go directly to churches, temples, and mosques can only be used on secular programs. And we’ll also ensure that taxpayer dollars only go to those programs that actually work.”

Whew. The AP article had it backwards. Obama has identified the pre-Bush safeguards and strengthens them, not abandons them.

By all appearances, Obama’s vision is consistent with what Bush’s plan would have been, if Bush cared about constitutional law, the interests of taxpayers, the rights of families in need, and the integrity of religious institutions. From Obama’s speech:

“You see, while these groups are often made up of folks who’ve come together around a common faith, they’re usually working to help people of all faiths or of no faith at all. And they’re particularly well-placed to offer help. As I’ve said many times, I believe that change comes not from the top-down, but from the bottom-up, and few are closer to the people than our churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques.

“That’s why Washington needs to draw on them. The fact is, the challenges we face today – from saving our planet to ending poverty – are simply too big for government to solve alone. We need all hands on deck.

“I’m not saying that faith-based groups are an alternative to government or secular nonprofits. And I’m not saying that they’re somehow better at lifting people up. What I’m saying is that we all have to work together – Christian and Jew, Hindu and Muslim; believer and non-believer alike – to meet the challenges of the 21st century.”

There’s simply nothing wrong with this. If Obama honors church-state separation and keeps the safeguards in place, as he clearly intends to do, there’s no reason the government can’t partner with ministries willing to provide a secular social service.

On the faith-based initiative, Obama’s way isn’t Bush’s way - The Carpetbagger Report

The Modus Operandi of the Bush Crime Cabal

The onetime undercover agent, who has been barred by the CIA from using his real name, filed a motion in federal court late Friday asking the government to declassify legal documents describing what he says was a deliberate suppression of findings on Iran that were contrary to agency views at the time.The former operative alleged in a 2004 lawsuit that the CIA fired him after he repeatedly clashed with senior managers over his attempts to file reports that challenged the conventional wisdom about weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. Key details of his claim have not been made public because they describe events the CIA deems secret.
The consensus view on Iran's nuclear program shifted dramatically last December with the release of a landmark intelligence report that concluded that Iran halted work on nuclear weapons design in 2003. The publication of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran undermined the CIA's rationale for censoring the former officer's lawsuit, said his attorney, Roy Krieger."On five occasions he was ordered to either falsify his reporting on WMD in the Near East, or not to file his reports at all," Krieger said in an interview.In court documents and in statements by his attorney, the former officer contends that his 22-year CIA career collapsed after he questioned CIA doctrine about the nuclear programs of Iraq and Iran. As a native of the Middle East and a fluent speaker of both Farsi and Arabic, he had been assigned undercover work in the Persian Gulf region, where he successfully recruited an informant with access to sensitive information about Iran's nuclear program, Krieger said.The informant provided secret evidence that Tehran had halted its research into designing and building a nuclear weapon. Yet, when the operative sought to file reports on the findings, his attempts were "thwarted by CIA employees," according to court papers. Later he was told to "remove himself from any further handling" of the informant, the documents say.In the months after the conflict, the operative became the target of two internal investigations, one of them alleging an improper sexual relationship with a female informant, and the other alleging financial improprieties. Krieger said his client cooperated with investigators in both cases and the allegations of wrongdoing were never substantiated. Krieger contends in court documents that the investigations were a "pretext to discredit."Krieger maintains that his client is being further punished by the agency's decision prohibiting him from fully regaining his identity. "He is not even allowed to attend court hearings about his own case," Krieger said.CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano declined to comment on the specifics of the case but flatly rejected the allegation that the agency had suppressed reports. "It would be wrong to suggest that agency managers direct their officers to falsify the intelligence they collect or to suppress it for political reasons," he said. "That's not our policy. That's not what we're about."
Ex-Agent Says CIA Ignored Iran Facts - washingtonpost.com

Monday, June 30, 2008

Willful ignorance confounds some Obama skeptics - The Carpetbagger Report

The widespread confusion about Barack Obama’s religion, background, and patriotism continues to vex me. The WaPo has a front-page item on the subject today that didn’t make me feel any better. The piece focused on a small town in Ohio called Findlay. On his corner of College Street, Jim Peterman stares at the four American flags planted in his front lawn and rubs his forehead. Peterman, 74, is a retired worker at Cooper Tire, a father of two, an Air Force veteran and a self-described patriot. He took one trip to Washington in 1989 — best vacation of his life — and bought a statue of the Washington Monument that he still displays in a glass case in his living room. He believes a smart vote is an American’s greatest responsibility. Which is why his confusion about Barack Obama continues to eat at him. On the television in his living room, Peterman has watched enough news and campaign advertisements to hear the truth: Sen. Barack Obama, born in Hawaii, is a Christian family man with a track record of public service. But on the Internet, in his grocery store, at his neighbor’s house, at his son’s auto shop, Peterman has also absorbed another version of the Democratic candidate’s background, one that is entirely false: Barack Obama, born in Africa, is a possibly gay Muslim racist who refuses to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. “It’s like you’re hearing about two different men with nothing in common,” Peterman said. “It makes it impossible to figure out what’s true, or what you can believe.”Peterman sounds sincere, and inclined to vote Democratic, but conflicted. A friend told him that Obama refuses to wear an American-flag pin. Another friend told him that Obama is a radical Muslim. Peterman’s friends, in other words, are lying to him, but he doesn’t realize it.“I’ll admit that I probably don’t follow all of the election news like maybe I should,” Peterman said. “I haven’t read his books or studied up more than a little bit. But it’s hard to ignore what you hear when everybody you know is saying it. These are good people, smart people, so can they really all be wrong?”Leroy Pollard, who lives in Peterman’s neighborhood, added, “I understand [Obama’s] from Africa, and that the first thing he’s going to do if he gets into office is bring his family over here, illegally. He’s got that racist [pastor] who practically raised him, and then there’s the Muslim thing. He’s just not presidential material, if you ask me.”I have no idea what anyone can do about this.A friend of mine emailed me recently, mentioning that he and I have a mutual acquaintance who believes all of the same nonsense about Obama (and then some). When he tried to set our friend straight, it was pointless. Any and all evidence was simply rejected out of hand.He asked what to do. I’m at a bit of a loss. Someone who hears a lie, is given evidence that proves it’s a lie, but chooses to believe the lie anyway is being willfully ignorant.But what happens when voters in a swing state reject the better candidate precisely on the basis of those lies? In the Post piece, Peterman has seen the ad with Obama talking about the country he loves, explaining where he was born and how he was raised. In the ad, Obama is actually wearing a flag pin. And yet, Peterman isn’t sure. He wants to do the right thing, but doesn’t know what to think. He hasn’t “studied up,” and there’s no way to know if he will or not before November.Obama created a “Fight the Smears” website, but for the willfully ignorant, it’s just another outlet with inconvenient facts to be ignored.Maybe it really will come down to going to each of these folks’ homes individually. For the past month, two students from the University of Findlay have spent their Tuesday nights walking from door to door in the city to tell voters about Obama. Erik Cramer and Sarah Everly target Democrats and swing voters exclusively, but they’ve still experienced mixed results. Sometimes, at a front door, they mention their purpose only to have a dozen rumors thrown back at them and the door slammed. “People tell us that we’re in the wrong town,” Everly said. Soon, on a Tuesday night, they’ll walk down College Street — past the American flags, past the LeMasters, past the Pollards — and knock on Jim Peterman’s front door. They will ask for two minutes of his time, and Peterman will give it to them. He will listen to their story, weighing facts against fiction. For a few minutes, he might even believe them. Then he’ll close his door and go inside, back to his life. Back to his grocery store, back to his son’s auto shop, back to the gossip on College Street. Back to the rumors again.To be sure, it sounds discouraging. The good news is, it’s certainly possible that Findlay, Ohio, is not a typical competitive town in a battleground state — but rather a very conservative community where Obama would struggle if he were blond with blue eyes. Though the article didn’t mention it, in 2000, Bush enjoyed 69% support in Findlay, and in 2004, that number went up to 71%.Is Findlay common or unusual? Here’s hoping it’s the latter.
Willful ignorance confounds some Obama skeptics - The Carpetbagger Report

Think Progress » Louisiana Governor Jindal Unaware Katrina Caused ‘Major’ Oil Spills In His Own State

The perfect VP choice for McCain. 
While serving in Congress in August 2006, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) slammed the Bush administration for its response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Jindal said the state suffered “trauma” from the “widespread incompetence of the federal, state and local government response.”But yesterday on Fox News, it was Jindal who was displaying Katrina incompetence. Making a push for expanded offshore oil drilling, Jindal repeated the myth that Hurricanes Katrina and Rita caused “no major” oil spills in the state. Jindal called it a “great unwritten success story”:
Q: Real fast, Governor, the price of oil went up five bucks a barrel today. You’ve been drilling off the coast of Louisiana for a number of years. Any oil spills to worry about?
JINDAL: You know, that’s one of the great unwritten success stories, after Katrina and Rita, these awful storms, no major spills.
Watch it:
Jindal is clueless about the reality in his own state. As noted in the Wonk Room, the Hurricanes caused offshore oil spills so large that they could be seen from space (check out a picture here.) The Minerals Management Service reported that 113 oil platforms were “totally destroyed” — a total of 124 offshore spills.In fact, oil seeped onshore into southeast Louisiana, which saw 44 onshore and offshore oil spills. The EPA called the spills “worse than the worst-case scenario.” Even oil industry representatives admitted: “nature can always topple you.”It’s hard to see how this is a “great unwritten success story.”
Think Progress » Louisiana Governor Jindal Unaware Katrina Caused ‘Major’ Oil Spills In His Own State

Think Progress » NYT: Diversion of resources to Iraq contributed to al Qaeda resurgence in Pakistan.

In a front page story this morning, the New York Times reports on the story of how Al Qaeda “gained a new haven” in Pakistan’s tribal areas across the border from Afghanistan. According to the Times, “it is also a story of how the White House shifted its sights, beginning in 2002, from counterterrorism efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan to preparations for the war in Iraq“:

Current and former military and intelligence officials said that the war in Iraq consistently diverted resources and high-level attention from the tribal areas. When American military and intelligence officials requested additional Predator drones to survey the tribal areas, they were told no drones were available because they had been sent to Iraq.


One reason for this, according to two former intelligence officials directly involved in the Qaeda hunt, was that by 2006 the Iraq war had drained away most of the C.I.A. officers with field experience in the Islamic world. “You had a very finite number” of experienced officers, said one former senior intelligence official. “Those people all went to Iraq. We were all hurting because of Iraq.”

Think Progress » NYT: Diversion of resources to Iraq contributed to al Qaeda resurgence in Pakistan.

Think Progress » After Denying ‘Involvement’ In Iraq’s No-Bid Oil Contracts, U.S. Revealed To Be ‘Integral’ To Deals

Nearly two weeks ago, the New York Times’ Andrew Kramer reported that four Western oil companies — Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total, and BP — were in the final stages of “talks with Iraq’s Oil Ministry for no-bid contracts to service Iraq’s largest fields.” The Times wrote at the time that it was “not clear what role the United States played in awarding the contracts,” but noted that “there are still American advisers to Iraq’s Oil Ministry.”Last week, after Senate Democrats wrote a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice requesting that she try to block the oil deals, White House Press Secretary Dana Perino claimed the U.S. had no involvement in the deals:

“Iraq is a sovereign country, and it can make decisions based on how it feels that it wants to move forward in its development of its oil resources,” said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino.

“And if that means that our companies here in the United States can compete and win business, then that’s for them and the Iraqis to decide,” Perino added. “But I don’t think the federal government of the United States needs to get involved.”

State Department spokesman Tom Casey was more more explicit in his comments, saying that “the United States has had no involvement” in the deals, and thus couldn’t be expected to “block the Iraqi government from contracting in the way it sees fit.”

But, according to a follow-up Times article published today, the State Department actually “played an integral part” in the deals:

A group of American advisers led by a small State Department team played an integral part in drawing up contracts between the Iraqi government and five major Western oil companies to develop some of the largest fields in Iraq, American officials say. […]

In their role as advisers to the Iraqi Oil Ministry, American government lawyers and private-sector consultants provided template contracts and detailed suggestions on drafting the contracts, advisers and a senior State Department official said.

Frederick D. Barton, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told the Times that “citing issues like sovereignty, when we have our hands right in the middle of it” undermines the U.S.’s credibility.

Think Progress » After Denying ‘Involvement’ In Iraq’s No-Bid Oil Contracts, U.S. Revealed To Be ‘Integral’ To Deals

McClatchy Washington Bureau | 06/28/2008 | Crisis grows in Iraq over U.S. raid that killed Maliki relative

I'd watch it if i were Maliki.  This sounds like a warning shot over his bow.  We're pushing him hard to get that "status of forces" agreement into law that will allow us to stay in Iraq forever.  If it doesn't get passed, Maliki's leadership roll is about as useless as, well, as useless as it actually is since he's nothing more than a thug put in office by our government to give us what we want out of Iraq. (just exactly like Saddam was when he was our thug and we propped up his government in 72 and again in  79)  His Baathist party privatized Iraq's oil fields in 1972 and were immediately put on the U.S. terrorists state list.  Now he's dead for his efforts.  Watch it Maliki!

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Senior Iraqi government officials said Saturday that a U.S. Special Forces counterterrorism unit conducted the raid that reportedly killed a relative of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, touching off a high-stakes diplomatic crisis between the United States and Iraq.U.S. military officials in Baghdad had no comment for the second day in a row, an unusual position for a command that typically releases information on combat operations within 24 hours.
McClatchy Washington Bureau | 06/28/2008 | Crisis grows in Iraq over U.S. raid that killed Maliki relative

Daily Kos: Now That's Some Leadership!

The Wall Street Journal is reporting the White House continues to fight tooth and nail to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency's from publishing a report of greenhouse gases mandated by the Supreme Court. Their motive? According to the Journal, to prevent even the possibility of the EPA establishing and enforcing any kind of restriction on greenhouse gas emissions (Subscription only):
The draft document, which has been viewed by The Wall Street Journal, outlines how the government, under the Clean Air Act, could regulate greenhouse-gas emissions ... The OMB instead wants the document to show that the Clean Air Act is flawed and that greenhouse-gas regulations should be developed under new legislation, several people close to the matter said.
The EPA document gained national attention last week when it was revealed that WH personnel refused to open the email containing it. It reportedly lays out a road map for how the EPA could regulate dangerous greenhouse gases as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act. Why might the Bush Administration be reluctant to hear about greenhouse gas regulations? Well, like any good rapacious neocon with their microbrains buried in the sand, they despise the Clean Air Act. Their concern, at least according to this Journal article, is that by allowing this to go forward, it might threaten Bush's legacy as a ... well I guess as a full blown, toxic, industrial sociopathic tycoon hell bent on unleashing climate destruction on a global scale. The Wapo fills us in on another ugly angle:
The Defense Department, the nation's biggest polluter, is resisting orders from the Environmental Protection Agency to clean up Fort Meade and two other military bases where the EPA says dumped chemicals pose "imminent and substantial" dangers to public health and the environment. The Pentagon has also declined to sign agreements required by law that cover 12 other military sites ... The contracts would spell out a remediation plan, set schedules, and allow the EPA to oversee the work and assess penalties if milestones are missed.
Aha! Makes even more sense now, eh gentle readers? Now, normally this would be a good thing, because it could mean big fat no-bid clean up contracts, with zero government oversight, for a wholly owned subsidiary of Neoconia, Inc. But that jig works best when it's in a freefire zone on the other side of the world, cloaked by expedient Executive Privilege, far away from prying eyes, and it's mostly up when Bush leaves town anyway. And in the aftermath, as the imperial corruption unravels on a scale that may well leave the nation's head spinning in disbelief, senior contract fat-cats foolish enough to remain in the US and bid might find their asses sharing a cozy prison cell with WWWCrook.Com Bernie Ebbers. So the enthusiasm has, shall we say, dulled.Meanwhile, ice at the North Pole might all but disappear this summer; the western US and Canada are in the middle of a decade of drought; radiocarbon isotope ratios and paleoclimate proxies confirm the unique anthropogenic origin of today's rising CO2 levels; gas is rocketing to five freak'n dollars a gallon and heating bills will follow suit in a few months; we're pissing a trillion dollars into the Arabian sand to maintain the status quo and help prop up terrorist friendly regimes across the entire region thanks to George Bush and John McCain. But Exxon and Halliburton are making out like bandits, so you know, it's not like they see any need to worry about fossil fuel dependency.Besides, what's really important for the Republican fringe: they don't want to let anything happen that might make the next President's job easier in dealing with the vast shitty mess they're created, because it might help him look good to the rest of the nation, heaven forbid, maybe even better than Shrub. Yeah, that's some leadership, huh?
Daily Kos: Now That's Some Leadership!

congress to Bush. Do whatever you want.. We've got your back.

There are a "gang of eight" republicans and democrats whom the president lets in on his top secret imperialist dreams to rule the world and who advise him and twist arms in the congress to get him what he wants.  they are
Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
John Boehner, Republican House Leader
Harry Reid, Democratic Senate Leader
Mitch McConnell, Republican Senate Leader
Silvestre Reyes, Chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
Peter Hoekstra, Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
John D. Rockefeller, IV, Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
Kit Bond Ranking Member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
When the war crimes tribunals start, these 8 should stand trial with this murderous president and his whole cabinet.
These people are traitors to our country because they are working with the president to infiltrate Iran and overthrow it's government which will obligate us in wars for as far as the eye can see.  McCain's irresponsible remark of being in Iraq for "maybe 100 years", would be the most prescient thing he's said yet.  But it wouldn't just be Iran.  It would be Russia and Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan where our oil companies have already written the plans for the "pan asian pipeline" (look it up if you don't already know about it.  It is central to our foreign policy.) 
Secretary of Defense Gates told the Democrats that if the U.S. made a preemptive strike against Iran, "We'll create generations of jihadists, and our grandchildren will be battling our enemies here in America." Now, what Democrat, in 2007 or 2008, has spoken as if he heard that warning from the Secretary of Defense?
In late 2007, after winning an election whose central issue was a more prudent and rational policy in the Middle East (in 2006), congressional Democrats, obedient to the wishes of a Presidential Finding, signed away $400 million for secret operations against Iran. A more craven act of submission would be hard to imagine; and they did this in the glow of victory, in direct contradiction of their mandate. What were they signing for? Sabotage, assassination, covert support for political clients and "destabilization" generally are predictable parts of such a design; but the Democrats, in the months between their capitulation and Hersh's article, made no mention of dissatisfactions at having been cut off from oversight. The truth seems to be that in this area, as in so many others, only the Office of the Vice President oversees the Office of the President.

What a Free and independent Iraq looks like.

Infuriated by the recent fatal shootings of four people by U.S. soldiers, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has decided to appoint a judge to hear evidence in the cases, a close aide said Sunday. "There must be a hearing of some sort by an Iraqi judge," said Haider Abadi, a lawmaker with Maliki's Islamic Dawa Party and member of the prime minister's inner circle. The appointment of a judge to hear evidence against U.S. soldiers would represent a significant encroachment on the rules laid down during the U.S. occupation, which provide foreigners working in the country, both military and civilian contractors, immunity from the Iraqi judicial process. Abadi acknowledged that the judge would have no authority to convict or sentence Americans, but he said a forum is needed to provide Iraqis a sense of justice.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Why we love/hate them!


·  If Laura, Kate and Sarah go out for lunch, they will
call each other Laura, Kate and  Sarah.
·  If Mike, Dave and John go out, they will
affectionately refer to each other as Fat Boy, Godzilla and

·  When the bill arrives, Mike, Dave and John will each
throw in $20, even though it's only for $32.50.  None
of them will have anything smaller and none will actually
admit they want change back.
·  When the girls get their bill, out come the pocket

·  A man will pay $2 for a $1 item he needs.
·  A woman will pay $1 for a $2 item that she
 doesn't need but it's on sale.

·  A man has six items in his bathroom:  toothbrush and
toothpaste, shaving cream, razor, a bar of soap, and a
 towel .
·  The average number of items in the typical woman's
bathroom is 337.  A man would not be able to identify more
than 20 of these  items.

·  A woman has the last word in  any argument.
·  Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a
new argument.

·  A woman worries about the future until she gets a
·  A man never worries about the future until he gets a

·  A successful man is one who makes more money than his
wife can spend.
·  A successful woman is one who can find such a man.

·  A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he
·  A man marries a woman expecting that she won't
change, but she does.

·  A woman will dress up to go shopping, water the
plants, empty the trash, answer the phone, read a  book,
and get the mail.
·  A man will dress up for weddings and  funerals.

·  Men wake up as good-looking as they went to bed.
·  Women somehow deteriorate during the night.

·  Ah, children.  A woman knows all about her children.
 She knows about  dentist appointments and romances, best
friends, favorite foods, secret fears and hopes and dreams.
·  A man is vaguely aware of some short people living in
the house.