Saturday, April 25, 2009

Heart thread - 04/25/2009 - updated

Clara and Olivia were flown to Fresno even earlier: on Thursday. This is wonderful news for their parents and the family. May God richly bless the wonderful staff at Lucille Packard at Stanford.

I had some computer issues but we are in business now. Katie said she had the best shower she has had since the twins were born. It is so nice for Katie and Jeremy to be home and their daughters just a small car ride away. Jeremy made sure that Katie came home to a clean house
and Oscar was very happy to see her. You have our continued gratitude for all your prayers.
God continues to bless our family.
Quote of the Day:
Reunited and it feels so good.
Peaches and Herb

I talked to my friend Kathy today. She is home and mending nicely, though it is going to take a while and she is not the type to take it as slowly as she ought. So continued prayers for healing and for her to behave and not do too much too early.

Mad Priest just suffered a crushing blow and we are surrounding him and Mrs MP with love and prayers.

We continue to hold Lisa, and Barbara, and Roseann, and Kirstin, and JohnieB, and Bosco's family, and many others in our prayers.

O heavenly Father, who hast filled the world with beauty: Open our eyes to behold thy gracious hand in all thy works; that, rejoicing in thy whole creation, we may learn to serve thee with gladness; for the sake of him through whom all things were made, thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Jane R and ToujoursDan informed us that Saturday was World Malaria Day.
Did you know that malaria is the single biggest killer of children under the age of five on the African continent?

Dan also gives a link where we can donate $10 to buy a net to protect a child from this disease. I just used part of my tax refund to buy some. [Jane suggests this might be in Canadian dollars.] Prayer and action together!
O God, we remember before you those who live with disease as a constant companion, those who minister to them, and those who labor for prevention and cures. Sustain them all in your mercy and empower us to do what we can on their behalf. Amen.

--the BB

A glance over the old shoulder

Cheney aide now lobbyist on energy
By Susan Milligan and Maud S. Beelman, Globe Staff and Globe Correspondent | April 25, 2004

WASHINGTON -- The executive director of Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force, whose closed-door meetings with industry executives enraged environmentalists and prompted a Supreme Court showdown this week, became an energy lobbyist just months after leaving the White House, records show.

Andrew Lundquist, a native Alaskan who worked on Capitol Hill for both his state's senators, shepherded the development of the administration's energy policy as executive director of the National Energy Policy Development Group, a Cabinet-level task force chosen by President Bush and headed by Cheney.

When the task force completed its work, Lundquist stayed on at the White House as Cheney's energy policy director, leading the vice president's effort to turn the task force's work into law.
Then, a day after leaving government service, he opened a consulting business. Nine months later, Lundquist was a registered lobbyist for companies that stood to benefit from the energy policy he helped craft, according to 2003 lobby disclosure records reviewed by the Globe.

Iran 'Will Be Dealt With,' Bush Says
Bid to Start at U.N., President Says
By Mike Allen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 22, 2004; Page A06


Bush, speaking at an Associated Press luncheon during a Newspaper Association of America convention, said he believes that the war with Iraq will eventually result in a safer Middle East. He said he has no intention of backing away, despite rising casualties among U.S. troops. He said the people of Iraq are "looking at America and saying, 'Are we going to cut and run again?'

"That's what they're thinking, as well -- and we're not going to cut and run if I'm in the Oval Office. We will do our job. I believe that people yearn to be free," he said. "I believe freedom in the heart of the Middle East is an historic opportunity to change the world."

Bush warned the editors that the United States "is a battlefield in the war on terror" and said he can understand public fears of a terrorist attack before the November election. "This is a hard country to defend," he said. "Our intelligence is good. It's just never perfect, is the problem. We are disrupting some cells here in America. We're chasing people down. But it is a -- we've got a big country."

On Tuesday evening, Bush told Republican congressional leaders during a meeting at the White House that it was all but certain that terrorists would attempt a major attack on the United States before the election, according to a congressional aide. The leaders were struck by Bush's definitiveness and gravity, the aide said.

Still, Bush told the editors, the administration is "making good progress in the defense of America."

Under the Influence

As a presidential candidate in 2000, then-Gov. George W. Bush promised that, if elected, he would use the full weight of the White House to pressure oil-producing countries to increase production if there was a gas-price crisis. He charged, "The president of the United States must jawbone OPEC members to lower the price" and promised that as president he would "convince them to open up the spigot to increase the supply." Yet, when Saudi Arabia led the fight within OPEC last month to cut production and raise prices, the president "refused to lean on the oil cartel" and refused to even "personally lobby OPEC leaders to change their minds." Now, with esteemed journalist Bob Woodward reporting that the Bush administration and top Saudi officials agreed to manipulate oil prices in conjunction with the 2004 election, President Bush's passivity towards Saudi Arabia is raising disturbing questions. Why won't the administration exert serious pressure on the regime both on oil and terrorism policy? Why does the president continue to refer to Saudi Arabia as "our friend" when the country has potential ties to the 9/11 terrorists? Why, as author Daniel Benjamin reported, did the administration weaken efforts to scrutinize potential Saudi money-laundering schemes before 9/11? A look at the president's "deep personal ties with Saudi officials" – and his financial connections to the Saudi royal family and powerful Saudi businessmen – may provide clues.

BUSH'S PERSONAL FINANCIAL TIES TO SAUDIS RUN DEEP: According to various sources, Bush has been awash in Saudi money for years. Journalist/author Craig Unger in his new book "House of Bush, House of Saud" traced millions "in investments and contracts that went from the Saudis over the past 20 years to companies in which the Bushes and their allies have had prominent positions - Harken Energy, Halliburton, and the Carlyle Group among them." According to the Boston Herald, that includes a $1 million gift from Prince Bandar to the Bush Presidential Library in Texas.

THE BCCI-BUSH-SAUDI-TERRORIST NEXUS: The Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), which was investigated by Congress in the 1980s, appears to be at the nexus of the Bush-Saudi connection. It's principal was Khalid bin Mahfouz, a man USA Today reported was among Saudi businessmen who, even after the U.S.S. Cole attack, "continued to transfer tens of millions of dollars to bank accounts linked to indicted terrorist Osama bin Laden." Under Mahfouz (who was later indicted for his actions at BCCI), the Wall Street Journal noted in 1991 that there was a "mosaic of BCCI connections surrounding Harken Energy" and "number of BCCI-connected people who had dealings with Harken — all since George W. Bush came on board." And according to U.S. officials who investigated the bank in the 1980s, "BCCI was the mother and father of terrorist financing operations." A secret French intelligence report "identifies dozens of companies and individuals who were involved with BCCI and were found to be dealing with bin Laden after the bank collapsed. Many went on to work in banks and charities identified by the United States and others as supporting al Qaeda."

WAS BCCI'S INDICTED PRINCIPAL A BUSH BUSINESS BACKER?: Author Kevin Phillips, a top Republican strategist under President Nixon, reported in his new book, "Bush made his first connection in the late 1970s with James Bath, a Texas businessmen who served as the North American representative for two rich Saudis (and Osama bin Laden relatives) - billionaire Salem bin Laden and banker and BCCI insider Khalid bin Mahfouz. Bath put $50,000 into Bush's 1979 Arbusto oil partnership, probably using bin Laden-bin Mahfouz funds." Also of interest: Former CIA Director James Woolsey testified to the Senate on 9/3/98 that Mafouz's sister was married to Osama bin Laden. And according to the conservative American Spectator, "Bush has given conflicting statements about Bath's investment in Arbusto, finally admitting to the Wall Street Journal that he was aware that Bath represented Saudi investors."

BUSH CAMPAIGN TIES TO THE SAUDIS: A 12/11/01 Boston Herald report found that "a powerful Washington, D.C., law firm with unusually close ties to the White House has earned hefty fees representing controversial Saudi billionaires as well as a Texas-based Islamic charity fingered last week as a terrorist front." The influential law firm of Akin, Gump, whose partners "include one of President Bush's closest Texas friends, James C. Langdon, and Bush fundraiser George R. Salem," has represented three wealthy Saudi businessmen – BCCI's Mahfouz, Mohammed Hussein Al-Amoudi and Salah Idris – "who have been scrutinized by U.S. authorities for possible involvement in financing Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network."

WHY THESE TIES ARE IMPORTANT: Charles Lewis, executive director of the Center for Public Integrity, told the Boston Herald "that these intricate personal and financial links have led to virtual silence in the administration on Saudi Arabia's failings in dealing with terrorists like bin Laden" and in oil policy. He said, "It's good old fashioned 'I'll scratch your back, you scratch mine.' You have former U.S. officials, former presidents, aides to the current president, a long line of people who are tight with the Saudis, people who are the pillars of American society and officialdom. So for that and other reasons no one wants to alienate the Saudis, and we are willing to basically ignore inconvenient truths that might otherwise cause our blood to boil. We basically look away. Folks don't like to stop the gravy train."

April 25, 2004
The Wrong Debate on Terrorism

The last month has seen a remarkable series of events that focused the public and news media on America's shortcomings in dealing with terrorism from radical Islamists. This catharsis, which is not yet over, is necessary for our national psyche. If we learn the right lessons, it may also prove to be an essential part of our future victory over those who now threaten us.
But how do we select the right lessons to learn? I tried to suggest some in my recent book, and many have attempted to do so in the 9/11 hearings, but such efforts have been largely eclipsed by partisan reaction.

One lesson is that even though we are the world's only remaining superpower — as we were before Sept. 11, 2001 — we are seriously threatened by an ideological war within Islam. It is a civil war in which a radical Islamist faction is striking out at the West and at moderate Muslims. Once we recognize that the struggle within Islam — not a "clash of civilizations" between East and West — is the phenomenon with which we must grapple, we can begin to develop a strategy and tactics for doing so. It is a battle not only of bombs and bullets, but chiefly of ideas. It is a war that we are losing, as more and more of the Islamic world develops antipathy toward the United States and some even develop a respect for the jihadist movement.

I do not pretend to know the formula for winning that ideological war. But I do know that we cannot win it without significant help from our Muslim friends, and that many of our recent actions (chiefly the invasion of Iraq) have made it far more difficult to obtain that cooperation and to achieve credibility.

What we have tried in the war of ideas has also fallen short. It is clear that United States government versions of MTV or CNN in Arabic will not put a dent in the popularity of the anti-American jihad. Nor will calls from Washington for democratization in the Arab world help if such calls originate from a leader who is trying to impose democracy on an Arab country at the point of an American bayonet. The Bush administration's much-vaunted Middle East democracy initiative, therefore, was dead on arrival.

We must also be careful, while advocating democracy in the region, that we do not undermine the existing regimes without having a game plan for what should follow them and how to get there. The lesson of President Jimmy Carter's abandonment of the shah of Iran in 1979 should be a warning. So, too, should we be chastened by the costs of eliminating the regime of Saddam Hussein, almost 25 years after the shah, also without a detailed plan for what would follow.

James Moore, Author of "Bush's War For Reelection: Iraq, The White House, And The People"

"It's always 'kill off the messenger' for these guys. It's never about the message."

We admire this book so much, there's a quote of praise from BuzzFlash on the back cover:
"James Moore masterfully details how Bush's war for reelection has real victims: the families of soldiers who have died in Iraq and American citizens who have dared to tell the truth. This exhaustively researched book exposes the dishonest underside of an administration that claims integrity as its calling card. Real young men and women are paying the price for Bush's follies with their lives, Moore reveals, while the man in the White House has used elitist connections to avoid ever risking anything."

Moore was co-author of the insightful, revealing book about Karl Rove, "Bush's Brain," and he writes occasionally for

A long-time Texan, Moore first tangled with the Bush Cartel when he dared to ask a question about Bush's National Guard duty when Bush first ran for governor in 1994. For that Moore earned the wrath of Karen Hughes. It was a sign of things to come: a pattern of bullying and intimidating any journalist who dares to question Bush's credibility.

In "Bush's War for Re-election," Moore begins and ends where one should, with American soldiers who died fighting in a war that didn't have to happen. Within the book he covers a wide swath of territory, including Bush's National Guard service, Judith Miller's reporting, and electronic voting. He weaves his insights about the dark underbelly of the Bush Cartel into a tight fabric of cloth, whose threads, when joined together, reveal the word "Betrayal."

Lawyers try to gag FBI worker over 9/11
By Andrew Buncombe in Washington
26 April 2004

The Bush administration will today seek to prevent a former FBI translator from providing evidence about 11 September intelligence failures to a group of relatives and survivors who have accused international banks and officials of aiding al-Qa'ida.

Sibel Edmonds was subpoenaed by a law firm representing more than 500 family members and survivors of the attacks to testify that she had seen information proving there was considerable evidence before September 2001 that al-Qa'ida was planning to strike the US with aircraft. The lawyers made their demand after reading comments Mrs Edmonds had made to The Independent.

But the US Justice Department is seeking to stop her from testifying, citing the rarely used "state secrets privilege". Today in a federal court in Washington, senior government lawyers will try to gag Mrs Edmonds, claiming that disclosure of her evidence "would cause serious damage to the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States".

Mrs Edmonds, 33, a Turkish-American who had top secret security clearance, claimed this month that while working in the FBI's Washington headquarters, she saw information proving senior officials knew of al-Qa'ida plans to attack the US with aircraft months before the strikes. She has provided sworn testimony to the independent panel appointed by President George Bush to investigate the circumstances surrounding 11 September.

Joint Appearance Stirs Speculation
Some Say Bush, Cheney Want One Story
By Dana Milbank
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 25, 2004; Page A05

Chairman Thomas H. Kean, asked at a news conference a few weeks ago about the White House's requirement that President Bush and Vice President Cheney appear together before his commission on the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, quipped: "Well, we recognize that Mr. Bush may help Mr. Cheney with some of the answers."

Kean's remark sparked laughter among the assembled reporters because it turned upside down the assumption of the question, and of much of official Washington: that the White House requested the joint appearance, scheduled for Thursday, so Cheney could coach Bush on his answers. While Bush has declined to explain the rationale for the joint meeting, Democrats charge that Cheney would be a "ventriloquist," and even a number of independent observers say it appears that the two men are trying to keep their stories straight.

Bush, asked twice at his recent news conference why he and Cheney required a joint appearance, declined to discuss the decision, saying, "It's a good chance for both of us to answer questions that the 9/11 commission is looking forward to asking us, and I'm looking forward to answering them."

No gusher for taxpayers from Iraq's oil revenue
Palm Beach Post Editorial
Sunday, April 25, 2004

During his April 13 news conference, President Bush led U.S. taxpayers to think that they might get relief from the cost of rebuilding Iraq. "One year after the liberation of Iraq," he said, "the revenues of the oil stream is pretty darn significant... It's their oil, and they'll use it to reconstruct the country."

His remark tracks the year-ago prediction from Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who told Congress just after the invasion, "We're dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon." Mr. Wolfowitz was naive, if not intentionally deceptive. President Bush's oddly upbeat comment ignores everything the administration learned in the past year about how wrong Mr. Wolfowitz was.

Onward, Christian Fascist Soldiers

The current (May) issue of Harper's magazine is dedicating to exposing the Christian Right's war on America. This issue is well worth the cover price, IMO. The articles aren't online, although eventually probably some of them will be. But you'll have to wait a while.

As a teaser, I keyboarded some paragraphs from one Harper's article, "Feeling the Hate With the National Religious Broadcasters" by Chris Hedges.
I can’t help but recall the words of my ethics professor at Harvard Divinity School, Dr. James Luther Adams, who told us that when we were his age, and he was then close to eighty, we would all be fighting the “Christian fascists.”

He gave us that warning twenty-five years ago, when Pat Robertson and other prominent evangelists began speaking of a new political religion that would direct its efforts at taking control of all major American institutions, including mainstream denominations and the government, so as to transform the United States into a global Christian empire. At the time, it was hard to take such fantastic rhetoric seriously. But fascism, Adams warned, would not return wearing swastikas and brown shirts. Its ideological inheritors would cloak themselves in the language of the Bible; they would come carrying crosses and chanting the Pledge of Allegiance.

Adams had watched American intellectuals and industrialists flirt with fascism in the 1930s. Mussolini’s “Corporatism,” which created an unchecked industrial and business aristocracy, had appealed to many at the time as an effective counterweight to the New Deal. In 1934, Fortune magazine lavished praise on the Italian dictator for his defanging of labor unions and his empowerment of industrialists at the expense of workers. Then as now, Adams said, too many liberals failed to understand the power and allure of evil, and when the radical Christians came, these people would undoubtedly play by the old, polite rules of democracy long after those in power had begun to dismantle the democratic state. Adams had watched German academics fall silent or conform. He knew how desperately people want to believe the comfortable lies told by totalitarian movements, how easily those lies lull moderation into passivity.

Adams told us to watch closely the Christian right’s persecution of homosexuals and lesbians. Hitler, he reminded us, promised to restore moral values not long after he took power in 1933, then imposed a ban on all homosexual and lesbian organizations and publications. Then came raids on the places where homosexuals gathered, culminating on May 6, 1933, with the ransacking of the Institute for Sexual Science in Berlin. Twelve thousand volumes from the institute’s library were tossed into a public bonfire. Homosexuals and lesbians, Adams said, would be the first “deviants” singled out by the Christian right. We would be the next.

10:07 am | link

At Least Monica Signed In AND Out
Jeff "Thundernads" Gannon has a lot of explaining to do, now that the Secret Service records have been released. Hoo boy, someone was getting serviced. Secretly. Check out Raw Story's original article to see the documents.

Secret Service records raise new questions about discredited conservative reporter
The documents, obtained by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) through a Freedom of Information Act request, reveal Guckert had remarkable access to the White House. Though he wrote under the name Jeff Gannon, the records show that he applied with his real name.

Guckert made more than 200 appearances at the White House during his two-year tenure with the fledging conservative websites GOPUSA and Talon News, attending 155 of 196 White House press briefings. He had little to no previous journalism experience, and previously worked as a male escort.

Perhaps more notable than the frequency of his attendance, however, is several distinct anomalies about his visits.

Guckert made more than three dozen excursions to the White House when there were no scheduled briefings. On many of these days, the Press Office held press gaggles aboard Air Force One—which raises questions about what Guckert was doing at the White House.

On at least fourteen occasions, Secret Service records show either the entry or exit time missing. Generally, the existing entry or exit times correlate with press conferences; on most of these days, the records show that Guckert checked in but was never processed out.

We were discussing how our troops were being sent out in inadequate numbers on unclear missions without sufficiently armored vehicles.

Why the Filibusters will Go Forward
by Hunter
Mon Apr 25th, 2005 at 20:24:08 PDT

There are twitters today about a possible compromise between Reid and Frist on the seven nominations. I don't think it's going to happen, but the process of negotiation is necessary theater for both sides. Here's why I think we're headed for the showdown: first, because Frist and the rest of the GOP have wedged themselves between a rock and a hard place. Second, because Sen Harry Reid and associates have set the framework for the coming battle perfectly.
As posted earlier today, the latest WaPo poll shows this issue as being an absolute disaster for the GOP, on par with the Schiavo fiasco. While Frist and the rest of the GOP shine Dobson's shoes, they probably weren't counting that in addition to a 80% disapproval on this issue among Democrats, and 70% among independent voters, Republicans are split evenly at 48/46. That's not just bad, that's baby-eating bad. (And by that, I mean Dick Cheney could eat a human baby on live TV, and you'd see Republican numbers not much worse than that.)
Those numbers are very surprising, because it shows that despite my own frequent cynicism, voters are paying attention to the issue, and know something of the issues involved -- and because of that, we see the predictable GOP split between the conservative base and the religious right.
Because the public does know what's going on, you now see the frantic talking point shift from the Nuclear Option to the Constitutional Option. Straight from the bowels of the usual GOP strategists, the Constitutional Option is indecipherably vague, and presented in such a manner as to practically require stapling an American Flag to your forehead while saying it. This is how the GOP has approached national politics for the last few elections: no matter what your agenda is, (1) give it an impossibly abstract name, and (2) hide the actual issue behind that name -- bringing us things like the I Love Baby Eagles Initiative, or the Free America Freedom Liberty Freedom Act to Preserve Freedom. And it's utterly effective, except when the American public already knows about the issue in question. That's why the GOP Social Security initiatives are bombing -- no matter what they call it, the general public is already keenly aware of what Social Security is and what it does for them.

Right-wing jihad
Cynthia Tucker - Universal Press Syndicate

04.25.05 - It would be comforting -- but naive -- to dismiss House Majority Leader Tom DeLay as a harmless, charmless churl who appeals only to a tiny, ineffectual group inhabiting the far religious right. In fact, the DeLay wing of the Republican Party is on the rise, and its antediluvian agenda represents a serious threat to American democracy.

That's no exaggeration.

If the DeLay wing gets its way, the entire nation will live according to the rigid rules of a handful of self-righteous folks who distrust modernity. They would dictate the way we worship, live, work, have sex and even die.

I thought the NSA wasn't supposed to be doing domestic surveillance?
But silly me! I was just wrong:

The National Security Agency, which eavesdrops on electronic communications around the world, receives thousands of requests each year from U.S. government officials seeking the names of Americans who show up in intercepted calls or e-mails — and complies in the vast majority of cases without challenging the basis for the requests, current and former intelligence officials said.
(via AP)

Look, let's be reasonable here.

I'm 100% certain that there are no, repeat no, "overzealous volunteers" in the Partei apparatus cross-checking voting rolls, MeetUp listings, list traffic, and the blogosphere and cross-correlating those names to emails and telephone conversations. Or cross-correlating those results to airline reservations. Let alone those new RFID chips on passports.

I mean, that would imply that the Republicans had completely politicized the national intelligence apparatus, and in a democracy that just can't happen.

And besides, as John Bolton, who commmissioned a few of these intercepts himself, remarked: "It's important to find out who is saying what to whom."

And there are safeguards! Let's listen to the NSA, since they're the experts:

An official familiar with the NSA's role defended its procedures, saying the agency is committed to protecting Americans' privacy and that it does not reveal names unless doing so is necessary "to understand the foreign intelligence information [contained in an intercept] or to assess its significance."

There. See? All they want to do is assess the significance, and these guys are the none other than the master assessors, the wizards, the No Shit Sherlocks of The Assessment Universe.

So what's the big deal, here? Those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear!

And please refer all comments using the phrase "tinfoil hat" to The Department of No! They Would Never Do That!

And plus, we all speak and write in English, so its easier for them.
link to this post - by Lambert

Re-Re-Re-Re-Justifying the Iraq War:
Yesterday was one of those mind-boggling, stomach-churning, oh-shit-he's-really-our-leader days. In what was billed as a speech on "Comprehensive Immigration Reform," Bush spent half his time re-re-re-re-justifying the invasion of Iraq. Here he is, our goddamned President, having an acid flashback to 2002, talking about why we're at war: "[H]ere's the danger of having an enemy with a safe haven in Iraq, Iraq has got wealth. Iraq has -- had weapons of mass destruction and has the knowledge as to how to produce weapons of mass destruction. And the confluence of a terrorist network with weapons of mass destruction is the biggest threat the United States of America faces. They have said it's just a matter of time."

Who the fuck is the "they" there? Intelligence analysts? His cabinet? Or are "they" the terrorists themselves? 'Cause, like, that'd mean that a bunch of sexually repressed crazed religious fundamentalists are setting our foreign policy and dictating massive spending and loss of life on the part of the United States and...oh, fuck, the irony just made the Rude Pundit's nuts retreat into his body cavity in fear.

After having his WMD Tourette's moment, Bush put it out there about who's really runnin' the White House: "I based a lot of my foreign policy decisions on some things that I think are true. One, I believe there's an Almighty, and secondly, I believe one of the great gifts of the Almighty is the desire in everybody's soul, regardless of what you look like or where you live, to be free." Ergo, Jeeezus sez free the peoples so the peoples must be freed and Bush, with the big ol' earthly army, he's gots to do the freein' that Jeeezus (under the guise of his code name, "The Almighty") wants him to be doin'. C'mon, motherfuckers, does the man have to get the Rascals to spell it out for you? "Ask me my opinion, my opinion will be/ Nat'ral situation for a man to be free."
--the Rude Pundit, of course

Lay claims "witch hunt" brought Enron down
Reuters - 3 hours ago
By Matt Daily. HOUSTON, April 25 (Reuters) - Enron Corp. was a victim of a "witch hunt" that unfairly criticized the giant energy company's business and drove it toward bankruptcy, former Chairman and Chief ...
Lay Proclaims Innocence, Blames Fastow Texas Lawyer (subscription)
Lay Declares His Innocence at Enron Trial ABC News

Big win for Oil Companies -- Bush suspends enviro. regs.
by Joe in DC - 4/25/2006 11:44:00 AM
Bonanzas for the oil industry all around. They get outrageous profits and, thanks to their President, a big break on environmental controls:
President Bush on Tuesday ordered a temporary suspension of environmental rules for gasoline, making it easier for refiners to meet demand and possibly dampen prices at the pump.
And you want to bet removing those environmental rules means even more profit? What a racket.
Bush administration lied about reason for firing CIA agent last Friday, wasn't because she leaked about CIA prisons
by John in DC - 4/25/2006 12:10:00 AM
UPDATE: I finally corrected the link, sorry about that.

The Bush administration said explicitly last Friday that a CIA agent was fired for leaking classified information, assumed to be regarding the existence of secret CIA prisons in former Soviet gulags in Eastern Europe.

Today we find out they were just kidding.

She didn't leak any classified information.

She didn't say anything about the secret prisons.

Oh, she's still fired, we just don't know why. Then why was she fired? And why did the Bush administration tell the world that she was a leaker when she wasn't?

They fired this woman ten days before she was due to retire. Then they lied about why. Sounds to me like this was one more bit of retribution by George Bush against a woman whose expert analysis of the facts didn't toe the Bush pro-war line.

Someone on the Hill needs to launch a major investigation of this case because it's beginning to look like this impeccable public servant just got screwed.

Class Warfare: 18 Families financed Estate Tax Repeal Campaign
by molly bloom
Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 06:51:21 PM PDT
Public Citizen has released a report (warning pdf file) detailing how "18 families worth a total of $185.5 billion have financed and coordinated a 10-year effort to repeal the estate tax, a move that would collectively net them a windfall of $71.6 billion."
• molly bloom's diary :: ::

I note that the Anne Cox Chambers daughter of the 1920 Democratic Presidential nominee, James Cox and owner of the Atlanta Journal Constitution is part of this cabal along with the Waltons (WalMart), the owners of the Seattle Times, the Nordstroms (owners of the department store), Ernest and Joseph Gallo (E & J Gallo Winery), the owners of Campbell Soup Co., The Mars family (candy) and Kock Industries to name a few of the miscreants.
I really can't add much to this, so I am just going to choose some select quotes from Public Citizen's press release:
The report profiles the families and their businesses, which include the families behind Wal-Mart, Gallo wine, Campbell's soup, and Mars Inc., maker of M&Ms. Collectively, the list includes the first- and third-largest privately held companies in the United States, the richest family in Alabama and the world's largest retailer...
In a massive public relations campaign, the families have also misled the country by giving the mistaken impression that the estate tax affects most Americans. In particular, they have used small businesses and family farms as poster children for repeal, saying that the estate tax destroys both of these groups. But just more than one-fourth of one percent of all estates will owe any estate taxes in 2006. And the American Farm Bureau, a member of the anti-estate tax coalition, was unable when asked by The New York Times to cite a single example of a family being forced to sell its farm because of estate tax liability.

Ask Al
by BarbinMD
Tue Apr 24, 2007 at 11:32:41 AM PDT

Everyone agrees. Alberto Gonzales' appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week was an unmitigated disaster. Everyone, that is, except George Bush, who made the extraordinary claim that:

The Attorney General went up and gave a very candid assessment, and answered every question he could possibly answer, honestly answer, in a way that increased my confidence in his ability to do the job.

Now, given that the Attorney General used some variation of the phrase, "I don't recall," more than 60 times during his testimony, reporters were understandably confused:

This is what oversight is about
by mcjoan
Tue Apr 24, 2007 at 01:49:20 PM PDT

Today's House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing on the death of Pat Tillman and the capture and rescue of Jessica Lynch provides a critical backdrop to the ongoing discussion of how the Iraq war has been conducted and how in the hell we get out of it. It's critical to exposing just how incompetent and at the same time opportunistic BushCo has been in the conduct of the war and how they treat the individual troops they so love to screech about "supporting."

UPDATED: RNC's Smartech took over Ohio Election Servers on Nov 3, 2004"
by whenwego
Tue Apr 24, 2007 at 11:39:55 AM PDT
"Netcraft Shows Smartech Running Ohio Election Servers" from Slashdot - April 24, 2007
Posted by kdawson on Tuesday April 24, @02:02PM 
from the something-rotten-in-the-state-of-Ohio dept.

goombah99 writes "Netcraft is showing that an event happened in the Ohio 2004 election that is difficult to explain. The Secretary of State's website, which handles election reporting, normally is directed to an Ohio-based IP address hosted by the Ohio Supercomputer Center. On Nov. 3 2004, Netcraft shows the website pointing out of state to a server owned by Smartech Corp. According to the American Registry on Internet Numbers, Smartech's block of IP addresses – encompasses the entire range of addresses owned by the Republican National Committee. Smartech hosted the recently notorious domain used from the White House in apparent violation of the Presidential Records Act, from which thousands of White House emails vanished. Can anyone suggest a good explanations for this seemingly dubious election-eve transfer?"

Cheney, who is leading the U.S. to defeat in Iraq, is on the attack against Democrats
by Joe Sudbay (DC) · 4/24/2007 05:25:00 PM ET

Dick Cheney was apoplectic today. No wonder. He truly was the mastermind behind Iraq. And, Iraq is a complete disaster. He and his President got the U.S. in to an unwinnable war that is making us look weak around the world. Yet, the man who is help leading us to defeat in Iraq is accusing the Democrats of having a "defeatist strategy." Seriously, if the Bush team put as much energy in to attacking our enemies in Iraq as they do in to attacking Democrats, we might actually make some progress in their war.

Cheney was clearly firing shots at Harry Reid today. But, we know he's not a very good shot. When asked about Cheney's tirade, Reid was dismissive:
Reid shrugged off Cheney's remarks but with his own dig at the vice president.

"I'm not going to get into a name calling match with the administration's chief attack dog," he said.

Reid's spokesperson, Jim Manley, responded with a statement. What Cheney said was really unworthy of the Majority Leader's time:
Vice President Cheney should be the last person to lecture anyone on how leaders should make decisions.

Leaders should make decisions based on facts and reality, two words that seem to be foreign to the Vice President.

This is the same guy who said Iraq has weapons of mass destruction and that we would be greeted as liberators. And it's the same guy who continues to assert that Saddam Hussein had links to al Qaeda long after our own intelligence agency conclusively refuted this notion. To suggest he lacks credibility would be an understatement.

The Vice President's and others' attacks on those who disagree with their failed policies are signs of desperation. They are lashing out because they know the days are numbered for their failed strategy and that the American people and a bipartisan majority are determined to force this Administration to change course in Iraq.

Nico at Think Progress thoroughly slices and dices Cheney's misleading rant.

[Plus ça change....]

Bush and Cheney politicized every aspect of the Iraq war, which is why their attack on Democrats has no merit
by Joe Sudbay (DC) · 4/24/2007 10:13:00 PM ET

When Bush says the Democrats are playing politics on Iraq, it's because that's exactly what he's doing. There's a pattern here. Whenever Bush makes an outlandish accusation like that, he's really talking about his own actions.

by drational
Wed Apr 25, 2007 at 06:54:22 AM PDT
We have recently been privy to the embarrassing Senate Judiciary Committee appearances of the Attorney General and his deputy, Kyle Sampson. Considering their testimony in the US Attorney firing scandal, reasonable people might conclude that there is no one running the DOJ. Whereas Gonzales had the “magic pen” and signed off on the firings, he really seemed clueless on why 8 respected US Attorneys were fired.
Kyle Sampson testified that there was a reason for the firing, but he could not elaborate on exactly what were the criteria by which decisions to fire were made, nor did he shed any light on who called the shots. He was just the “aggregator”.
So who called the shots?

Laura Bush wants you to know that when it comes to Iraq, no one is suffering more than the First Couple. No one.
by Joe Sudbay (DC) · 4/25/2007 08:23:00 AM ET

Listen, you Americans, Laura Bush wants you to know the President is suffering over Iraq. In fact, Laura told Anne Curry on the Today Show, that the American people need to know that "no one suffers more than their President and I do." No one? She's as delusional as her husband. Of course, her husband is the person who caused the suffering -- and is the one person who can end it.

I would wager that there are 3,300 families in America that are suffering more than George Bush. And, there are tens of thousands of injured soldiers who are literally suffering.

OHSA's mission under Bush and GOP - protect business
by Chris in Paris · 4/25/2007 04:37:00 AM ET

Forget about workplace safety and think more about business profits. It's a familiar story with Bush and the GOP Congress who choose business over individuals at every possible opportunity.
Since George W. Bush became president, OSHA has issued the fewest significant standards in its history, public health experts say. It has imposed only one major safety rule. The only significant health standard it issued was ordered by a federal court.
The agency has killed dozens of existing and proposed regulations and delayed adopting others. For example, OSHA has repeatedly identified silica dust, which can cause lung cancer, and construction site noise as health hazards that warrant new safeguards for nearly three million workers, but it has yet to require them.
“The people at OSHA have no interest in running a regulatory agency,” said Dr. David Michaels, an occupational health expert at George Washington University who has written extensively about workplace safety. “If they ever knew how to issue regulations, they’ve forgotten. The concern about protecting workers has gone out the window.”
House Committee Authorizes Subpoena for Goodling
By Paul Kiel - April 25, 2007, 11:22 AM
The House Judiciary Committee, by a vote of 32-6, just authorized a subpoena for Monica Goodling's testimony and an offer of immunity.
As former U.S. Attorney for New Mexico David Iglesias pointed out yesterday, Goodling should prove to be a very valuable witness to investigators. Since Goodling acted as the liaison to the White House at the Justice Department, communications from Karl Rove or other White House officials are likely to have gone through her. As Iglesias put it, she has "the keys to the kingdom."

I owe, I owe, so off to work I go!

After pretending for the past four months that I was retired, I am taking a temp job consulting in New Orleans for a brief while. This means flying out midday this Sunday. Yes, I have had and occasionally still need to have a secular career. Grimbling. That is, number crunching. I have worked about twenty years in accounting and that, not the church, has been my primary source of income. Not a CPA or MBA or even an accounting degree (my education being in languages, religion, and history). But I went from a temp to an accounting clerk and on up the ladder to accounting manager in a biotech firm.

Limbaugh Calls for Denver Riots
by Granny Doc
Fri Apr 25, 2008 at 05:59:08 AM PDT
When will this evil man be yanked from the public airways?
Talk show host Rush Limbaugh is sparking controversy again after he made comments calling for riots in Denver during the Democratic National Convention this summer.
He said the riots would ensure a Democrat is not elected as president, and his listeners have a responsibility to make sure it happens.
"Riots in Denver, the Democrat Convention would see to it that we don't elect Democrats," Limbaugh said during Wednesday's radio broadcast. He then went on to say that's the best thing that could happen to the country.
Consumer confidence hits 26 year low
by Chris in Paris · 4/25/2008 01:48:00 PM ET · Link

Each day I wonder how things could possibly get worse, but they do. The complete mismanagement by Bush and the GOP is all catching up with the US. Why would anyone think that a third Bush term (with McCain) would be a good idea?
"More consumers reported that their personal financial situation had worsened than any time since 1982 due to high fuel and food prices as well as shrinking income gains and widespread reports of declines in home values," The Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers said in a statement.
The report showed its reading on one-year inflation expectations climbed to 4.8 percent -- the highest since a similar reading in October 1990 -- from 4.3 percent in March.

Rice prices in Chicago rose above US$25 per 100 pounds for the first time on speculation more countries may introduce export curbs, reducing supplies needed to combat shortages and cool inflation.- Jae Hur, Bloomberg
The Thai government triggered the recent run on rice by limiting it's export to stock pile it's reserves at home, amid concerns of global shortages and rising prices that can lead to civil unrest. Japan and other countries are following suit.

John McCain's Miserable Record on Hurricane Katrina
 By Jonathan Stein
 Mother Jones
Friday 25 April 2008
John McCain's Time for Action tour arrived in New Orleans Thursday, where McCain toured the hurricane-damaged 9th Ward and criticized both the Bush Administration and Congress for its handling of the disaster. Lamenting the pace of recovery, McCain said, "I want to assure you it will never happen again in this country. You have my commitment and my promise."
But McCain's record on Hurricane Katrina suggests that he was part of the problem, not the solution. McCain was on Face the Nation on August 28, 2005, as Katrina gathered in the Gulf Coast. He said nothing about it. One day later, when Katrina made landfall in Louisiana, McCain was on a tarmac at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, greeting President Bush with a cake in celebration of McCain's 69th birthday. Three days later, with the levees already breached and New Orleans filling with water, McCain's office released a three-sentence statement urging Americans to support the victims of the hurricane.

I am prompted to add here one of my favorite prayers from the 1979 BCP:

For those who Influence Public Opinion

Almighty God, you proclaim your truth in every age by many voices: Direct, in our time, we pray, those who speak where many listen and write what many read; that they may do their part in making the heart of this people wise, its mind sound, and its will righteous; to the honor of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

--the BB

Truckin' down the Trug

I have finally completed one chapter and begun another in the current section, a travelogue. One of the future claimants to the throne has come of age and is getting acquainted not only with his future territory but with the entire valley and his neighbors and relatives. He's not a bad sort, though I can tell you now that he will not emerge victorious in the end.

Y'all know that I enjoy jigsaw puzzles and crosswords, right? Creating a fantasy world and storylines is a lot like that. Even though I am the one setting up the puzzle, I also have to do lots of hard pondering to solve it. I have a nexus of relationships that make this lad a reasonable claimant to the throne. But why are his other relatives either not in line or not interested? I spent a lot of time today trying to untangle that one. What relationships and circumstances nudge him to put himself forth and nudge others away from doing likewise? It's mostly a matter of genealogy, geography, marriage, and accident.

I do become fond of even minor characters. There is not much clue in my conscious mind when I introduce them as to whether they will have much larger roles later or stay in bit parts. I enjoy it when they surprise me.

So, the journey continues through the rich agricultural valley of the Trug River (hence the headline). That would have nothing to do with my growing up in the San Joaquin Valley, would it? (I envision this one as naturally much greener, with adequate rainfall - part France, part Ireland, part Mississippi valley.) I don't think we get to the rocky islands of the south until volume five or six. Patience, my little ferrets.

Oh, and this is all flashback. When he tries to claim the throne my readers should know who he is.

I don't think there is any narrative left in me tonight, so time to quit for the day.
--the BB

Friday, April 24, 2009

I like what watertiger had to say today

For the past six years, you and I have been screaming into the wind about the war crimes this administration has committed in the name of "freedoms". When I heard Chris Cillizza argue on Olbermann last night that holding people accountable for their crimes wouldn't be "productive," that we need to "move forward," I nearly had an aneurysm.

You want to move forward? You want to clear the air? Then bring these fuckers to justice. Try them for war crimes. THAT'S how you move forward.

And then throw the fucking banksters who've robbed us blind in jail. And no, not Club Fed. Attica.


Remember, asking that criminals be held accountable to the law is not vengeance; it's the application of the law. No more. No less.

--the BB

Friday flower blogging

24 April 2009

WHEN lilacs last in the door-yard bloom’d,
And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night,
I mourn’d—and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.

O ever-returning spring! trinity sure to me you bring;
Lilac blooming perennial, and drooping star in the west,
And thought of him I love.

--Walt Whitman, first stanza

Sunset this evening, viewed from next to the lilac bush

This may well not become a regular feature but, at the distance of a year, I realize I had tired of prince blogging. It still accounts for at least a fourth of the page views on this blog as people pursue photos they have found on Google images.

--the BB

Thursday, April 23, 2009

April 24 - Armenian Martyrs' Day

I don't know what will come of this but I will take it as hopeful news. I pray that it is.
ISTANBUL — Turkey and Armenia have agreed to a framework for improving their strained relations, the two countries said in a statement this week, apparently in the first breakthrough in diplomacy in more than a decade.

Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993 to support its ally, Azerbaijan, which was fighting Armenian-backed separatists in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. But relations have long been tense: Turkey does not recognize the mass killings of more than a million Ottoman Armenians in 1915 as genocide, something Armenia has long campaigned for.

The agreement, which was issued by Turkey’s Foreign Ministry in a short statement late Wednesday, came on the eve of the Armenians’ annual commemoration of the genocide. It provided no details on how the two countries would move forward, stating simply that they “had achieved tangible progress and mutual understanding” and that “a road map has been identified.”

--New York Times

My personal roots, growing up among genocide survivors and their descendants, is well known at this blog.

Yertak parov
--the BB

News of the great-grandnieces

From the blog:
Big News!

The girls and family will be heading back to Fresno Community Hospital either Friday or Saturday. They have made steady progress and now it is time to reunite the family in their home town. We are so grateful to the staff of the Nicu for everything they have done for our girls. We have made so many friends, who we will never forget. Our friends and family have been so great. The prayers and support have made all the difference. Please continue to pray for them. This is not the end but a new beginning.

On behalf of the entire family I want to say thanks to all of you who have helped love and pray these girls toward health from their way-too-early entrance into the world. Returning to Fresno is a huge step.

--the BB

Hard to keep track?

With so many daily revelations, it's difficult to keep track of the sequence of events related to our history of torture. Perhaps the work of DanK Is Back will assist you: a high level summary time line of events found here.

Have you noticed that just since yesterday it is becoming evident that the purpose of torture was not to gain leads to potential attacks (boy, have they lied their asses off on that one) but to justify, after the fact, the decision to attack Iraq? After the fictitious WMDs and yellow cake justifications fizzled, there was nothing left but extorting confessions of links between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. We know there weren't any, and even W has admitted that, finally, but at the time....

Remember, these techniques were used by the Chinese during the Korean War to extract false "confessions" for their show trials. That is about all torture is good for.

Shameful. Inexcusable. And evidently related not to security but to political ends.

--the BB

A response to the "Gathering Storm"

h/t to David at Of Course I Could Be On Vacation

--the BB

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Oh, Donny boy, the Hague, the Hague is calling....

The report showed that Mr. Rumsfeld’s authorization was cited by a United States military special-operations lawyer in Afghanistan as “an analogy and basis for use of these techniques,” and that, in February 2003, a special-operations unit in Iraq obtained a copy of the policy from Afghanistan “that included aggressive techniques, changed the letterhead, and adopted the policy verbatim.”

Months later, the report said, the interrogation officer in charge at Abu Ghraib obtained a copy of that policy “and submitted it, virtually unchanged, through her chain of command.” This ultimately led to authorization by Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez of the use of stress positions, “sleep management” and military dogs to exploit detainees’ fears, the report said.

“The paper trail on abuse leads to top civilian leaders, and our report connects the dots,” Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said on Tuesday in a conference call with reporters. “This report, in great detail, shows a paper trail going from that authorization” by Mr. Rumsfeld “to Guantánamo to Afghanistan and to Iraq,” Mr. Levin said.
--NT Times

h/t to Susie Madrak at Crooks and Liars

--the BB

4275 - updated

Latest Coalition Fatalities

04/22/09 MNF:
MND-B Soldier combat death
A Multi-National Division–Baghdad Soldier died April 22 from combat related injuries while conducting a patrol in eastern Baghdad. The Soldier’s name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

Cpl. William C. Comstock, 21, of Van Buren, Arkansas

Cpl. Comstock died April 22 as a result of a non-hostile incident in Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 2nd Supply Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 25, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

DoD Identifies Marine Casualty

Lance Cpl. Ray A. Spencer II, 20, of Ridgecrest, Calif., died April 16 as a result of a non-hostile incident in Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.

Torture for political purposes (ginning up an illegal war) - updated with link

McClatchy reports that one of the reasons torture was pursued was to obtain "proof" that al-Qaeda had links to Iraq. Which it didn't. Intelligence officials did not believe there were such ties. But Cheney and Rumsfeld insisted there were and wanted justification to attack Iraq.
WASHINGTON — The Bush administration applied relentless pressure on interrogators to use harsh methods on detainees in part to find evidence of cooperation between al Qaida and the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's regime, according to a former senior U.S. intelligence official and a former Army psychiatrist.

Such information would've provided a foundation for one of former President George W. Bush's main arguments for invading Iraq in 2003. In fact, no evidence has ever been found of operational ties between Osama bin Laden's terrorist network and Saddam's regime.

The use of abusive interrogation — widely considered torture — as part of Bush's quest for a rationale to invade Iraq came to light as the Senate issued a major report tracing the origin of the abuses and President Barack Obama opened the door to prosecuting former U.S. officials for approving them.


"Cheney's and Rumsfeld's people were told repeatedly, by CIA . . . and by others, that there wasn't any reliable intelligence that pointed to operational ties between bin Laden and Saddam, and that no such ties were likely because the two were fundamentally enemies, not allies."

Senior administration officials, however, "blew that off and kept insisting that we'd overlooked something, that the interrogators weren't pushing hard enough, that there had to be something more we could do to get that information," he said.
I believe Hunter's comments (you may read them here) sum it up well.

They ordered torture; they approved the specific methods to be used, including "waterboarding", a long-recognized method of torture; they did it in an attempt to extract politically expedient information from prisoners; they did it in spite of knowing that the prisoners would almost certainly not be able to provide any such information.

I cannot come up with any rationale for why this would not be, unambiguously, a war crime.
I can't either.

While I am on the subject of torture tonight, I would like to direct your attention to an article by someone who graduated from the SERE program. (It is not a gross-out post, just very informative, in case you are nervous about my links on torture.)

Meanwhile, let us also not forget the role of Condiliar Rice in the whole torture operation. From the Washington Post:
Rice gave a key early green light, when, as President George W. Bush's national security adviser, she met on July 17, 2002, with the CIA's then-director, George J. Tenet, and "advised that the CIA could proceed with its proposed interrogation of Abu Zubaida," subject to approval by the Justice Department, according to the timeline. Abu Zubaida, the nom de guerre of Saudi-born Palestinian Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein, was captured in Pakistan in March 2002. He was the first high-value detainee in CIA custody, and the agency believed the al-Qaeda associate was "withholding imminent threat information," according to the timeline.

Rice and four other administration officials were first briefed in May 2002 on "alternative interrogation methods, including waterboarding," the timeline shows. Waterboarding is a technique that simulates drowning.

A year later, in July 2003, the CIA briefed Rice, Vice President Richard B. Cheney, Attorney General Ashcroft, White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales and National Security Council legal adviser John B. Bellinger III on the use of waterboarding and other methods, it states. They "reaffirmed that the CIA program was lawful and reflected administration policy."
AP reports this (in Salon):
Last fall, Rice acknowledged to the Senate Armed Services Committee only that she had attended meetings where the CIA interrogation request was discussed. She said she did not recall details. Rice omitted her direct role in approving the program in her written statement to the committee.
Well, anyone could easily have forgotten her central role in this, right?

h/t to davidkc for the Rice information

--the BB