The Watering Hole, Saturday, March 21st, 2015: More of Teh Stupid

You may want to have a barf bag ready, or an alcoholic beverage, or a Xanax, or your favorite recreational drug. You’ll need to prepare yourself for the putrid pile of prevarications puked up by Son of Satan Saint Ronald of Amurka, Michael Reagan. Although I’m providing the link to his opinion piece, titled “The GOP’s Stupid Letter”, published in the Farmington, CT, Daily-Times, I’m putting the entire mess up here so that you can more readily count how many things are wrong with it. Michael obligingly makes that easier by ‘formatting’ his piece in ‘single-sentence-double-space mode:

There we go again, Republicans.

We keep shooting ourselves in the feet — and at the worst possible times.

Things were going pretty well for the GOP. 

President Obama was getting major grief from Republicans (and even some Democrats) for preparing to sign America on to a horrible nuclear arms deal with the Iranians. 

Hillary Clinton was ensnared in an email-deleting scandal of her own making that was so obviously unlawful and politically devious that even the liberal media were attacking her. 

So what did 47 Republican senators do? 

They attracted the full attention of the mainstream media by sending a letter to the Iranian ayatollahs reminding them that any agreement the president signs without approval of the Senate can be undone by the next president faster than you can spell Bibi Netanyahu. 

Nice job, Republicans. 

Yes, what you told the Iranians in the letter was right. Any B-plus middle-school civics student knows that the Senate gets to ratify or reject treaties made by the president.

But sending an open letter to Iran was dead wrong — and politically stupid.

It merely gave Democrats — and their media buddies — a chance to change the subject and accuse Republicans of irresponsibly trying to sabotage the president’s foreign policy.

What rookie Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and his co-signers did with their letter was nothing new.

Ted Kennedy did it in the late 1970s when he tried to get the Soviets to do something to embarrass Jimmy Carter so he could take the nomination from Carter in 1980.

In 1987 Democrat House Speaker Jim Wright stuck his congressional nose into the negotiations between the Reagan administration and the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.

More recently, who can forget Nancy Pelosi’s jaunt to Syria in 2007, when she and a gang of House Democrats made nice with Bashar al-Assad at the same time the Bush administration was trying to put pressure on Syria to work with it on Mideast peace talks?

Those 47 Republican senators didn’t need to send a public letter to Teheran to remind the Iranians how America’s separation of powers works.

What was wrong with Sen. Cotton and a few others writing an op-ed piece about the Senate’s treaty-ratifying powers for the Wall Street Journal?

I bet the Iranians would have gotten the message just as well.

Instead Republicans only brought attention — bad attention — on themselves for doing exactly what many of them had rightly criticized Pelosi for doing.

Republicans in the Senate should have shut up and let Obama negotiate and sign the treaty with Iran, bad as it is bound to be.

Then they could have pointed out to the Iranians and everyone else that the deal needed to be ratified by two-thirds of the U.S. Senate — and that 47 Republicans were strongly against it.

The letter was a blunder. Until the senators sent it, Iran was exclusively Obama’s problem.

All the media attention was on the president’s defense of his treaty and Netanyahu’s concerns about how dangerous and naive it was.

But now the Iran nuke deal is not just Obama’s issue. It’s the Republicans’ too.

And if anything goes wrong, which it probably will, you can bet that Republicans will — as usual — get most of the blame.”

After the column it says “Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan and a political consultant”, in case readers didn’t recognize the author.

I’ll just sit back and let you all rip this into teeny-tiny little shreds.

Next:

Just as delusional, but in a totally different vein: I ran across this piece authored by Bethany Blankley, a former aide to Senator Susan Collins, and currently “…a conservative political analyst and columnist who regularly appears on Fox News Radio.” Ms. Blankley contends that the majority of Congress (both houses) and President Obama are guilty of treason. She asserts that an omnibus bill passed in December and signed by the President “authorized the State Department to transfer $11.9 billion in cash payments to Iran by June 2015.” Ms. Blankley goes on to say that “[t]ransferring any form of aid/comfort to Iran, a sworn enemy of the United States, is a treasonous act.”

The first link within the article led me to this January article by Adam Kredo at The Washington Free Beacon. While still written with a right-wing slant, i.e., the title being “U.S. to Award Iran $11.9 Billion”, this piece finally provided the kernel of truth: these “cash payments” are actually releases, at intervals, of Iranian assets that were previously frozen as part of the sanctions against Iran. The State Department isn’t sending $11.9 billion in U.S.-taxpayers’ money to Iran, it’s letting Iran access some of its own money:

“When final negotiations between the United States and Iran failed in November, negotiators decided once more to extend the talks through June of this year. The terms of that extension granted Iran the 10 payments of $490 million, a State Department official said.

“With respect to sanctions relief, the United States will enable the repatriation of $4.9 billion of Iranian revenue held abroad during the extension,” the official said.

The first two payments were made in December, followed by Wednesday’s payment. The next release is scheduled for Feb. 11, with two more scheduled for March. The rest of the frozen cash assets will be given back to Iran on April 15, May 6, May 27, and June 22, respectively.”

The same author, Adam Kredo, also penned this March 20th article of interest, which says in part:

“Congressional leaders have begun pressuring their colleagues to cut off all U.S. funding for the ongoing talks with Iran over its contested nuclear program as the Obama administration rushes to hash out the details of a deal in the coming months, according to multiple sources and a letter that will be sent next week to appropriators in the House of Representatives.

With the deadline approaching, congressional Republicans have been exasperated by the Obama administration’s efforts to prevent them from having any oversight over the deal.

Reps. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.) and Lee Zeldin (R., N.Y.) are now petitioning their colleagues on the House Appropriations Committee to prohibit all taxpayer funding for the talks, the Washington Free Beacon has learned.

This would purge all U.S. funds available to Obama administration officials for travel abroad, hotel stays, and any other activities related to the P5+1 talks with Iran.”

So, I guess that Republicans feel that, if they couldn’t derail the Iranian nuclear negotiations by inviting Iran’s worst enemy to speak before a joint session of Congress, and if they couldn’t derail the talks by pulling an end-around on the President and the P5 + 1 negotiators, well, they can just defund the logistical side of the talks. Jeez, there is simply no end to their despicable efforts to thwart anything and everything that President Obama is trying to do.

Interesting note: on the first site that carried the Blankley article, there were no links within it at all. So I tried a search for information on this alleged $11.9 billion in “cash payments”, but the only links I found were mostly obscure right-wing websites, which just repeated the same article. I say “mostly obscure” because I found that “The Unofficial Megyn Kelly” website also featured the article. Take a look – warning, it may temporarily blind you – at this Newsmax-like mess of a website. Who on earth designed this tasteless crap? But also take a look at the mash-up of what I would consider to be real RWNJ story links, including – in the “You might also enjoy” section, one titled “What a Bargain! Only $80,000 for Mooch’s Rental Cars in Japan” Disgustingly, “Mooch” refers to First Lady Michelle Obama. After recent death threats to our Ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, does it not occur to these “people” that a special armored vehicle to protect the First Lady and the Ambassador is obviously necessary and actually costs money? On the sidebar, another link to this story is titled “NO JOKE: Michelle O’s Rental Car Fleet For Her Jaunt To Shrine Of Rice God Is Costing…WHAT?” Un-fucking-believable.

Going back to the $11.9 Billion story, I noticed something odd: none of the more popular right-wing websites, i.e., Breitbart or Redstate, came up when I googled the story. Not Fox News, either. I’m guessing that none of them want to broadcast the idea that their darling Republicans who ‘voted for’ the releasing of Iranian assets – oh, sorry, the ‘authorization for the State Department to transfer money to Iran’ – were committing what they call “treason” right along with President Obama. No, they’re not gonna touch THAT one.

Finally, I just HAVE to post this one last excerpt from Bethany Blankley’s ‘opinion’ piece, simply because it’s so jaw-droppingly insane:

“Under President Barack Hussein Obama, many believe the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the White House, multiple layers of government, and is largely directing American domestic and foreign policy. (A powerful and growing Islamic influence also extends throughout the Republican Party.)”

This is our Daily Open Thread – go on, have at it!

The Watering Hole, Monday, October 6, 2014: No Nukes for You!

As usual, I found the topic for today’s thread while researching something else: in this case, looking for info on the time frame when Bush wouldn’t let the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) finish its inspection for WMDs in Iraq, just prior to our heedless and headstrong invasion. I never finished that research, as I was distracted by more timely news.

The first IAEA link that came up was, surprisingly, from a Chinese news site, from which I learned that the IAEA is sending a team to Iran shortly for talks on Iran’s progress in meeting certain deadlines regarding its nuclear program. In addition, the National Journal says “The IAEA has sought information on the “potential military dimensions” of the Iranian nuclear program, in particular information about Iran’s extensive research and development of a nuclear explosive device.”

From the Chinese site, xinhuanet.com:

“Iran and the IAEA agreed to implement five practical measures including the cooperation of resolving two points of Iran’s nuclear program related to the alleged nuclear weapon plan, so- called possible military dimensions (PMD) to Iran’s nuclear plan by deadline Aug. 25 in order to provide greater transparency of Tehran’s nuclear program.However, the IAEA said Iran missed the deadline in implementing three measures, and two measures related to PMD issues have yet to be implemented so far.”

Then in an article from Arutz Sheva, Israel National News, the headline shouts “353 US Reps to Kerry: Iran ‘Stonewalling’ on Nuke Detonator”, followed by the opening line, “Stunning bipartisan congressional letter focuses on Iran’s ‘refusal to fully cooperate’ with IAEA over Parchin.”   Hmmm, well, here’s the letter, which I didn’t find particularly “stunning.” The article continues:

“The Congressional Letter’s signatories included almost all of both parties’ leaderships, and was greatly aided by Republican Congressman Peter J. Roskam (R-IL-06) of Illinois, a stalwart, and tireless, advocate of Israel as a vital strategic asset of the United States.”

“This Congressional warning follows a similar warning from Israel Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, who issued a statement last week that emphasized that “credible sources” alleged that “internal neutron sources such as uranium were used in nuclear implosion tests at [Iran’s] Parchin.”

I also found this ^^ article interesting as it includes a diagram of a “neutron initiator” by the infamous AQ Khan – KHAAAAAAANN!  (Sorry, I had to.)

Okay, Congress and Israel, don’t get all freaked out and start shouting “mushroom cloud.” Remember the last time that we had “credible sources” about possible nukes, purportedly in Iraq, and went off half-cocked and half-assed? As Donald Rumsfeld (spit) so insultingly told under-provisioned U.S. troops to their faces, “…you go to war with the army you have—not the army you might want or wish to have…” How many thousands of American and coalition troops died, how many maimed, how many innocent Iraqis were killed? How much of their “sovereign nation” did we destroy? Seriously, do you macho politicians ever remember history, because you seem quite willing to repeat it.

Moving along…again from israelnationalnews.com, blogger Batya Medad writes about the following news:

“Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told Israel Radio late Thursday that he had agreed to an American framework proposal whereby Israel would negotiate peace with the Palestinians on the basis of the ’67 cease-fire lines with territorial swaps. (Jerusalem Post)”

Ms. Medad then writes:

“American policy is American policy. They promote what they think is good for the United States of America, and they want the support of what they perceive as “moderate Arab states.” The fact that such a phrase is an oxymoron has nothing to do with anything. Let the USA do whatever it wants. My complaints are against the Israeli Government, Binyamin Bibi Netanyahu’s government coalition.

Israel is supposedly an independent country and has been since the 1949 Armistice, which ended the active fighting between the newly established State of Israeli[sic] and the surrounding Arab countries, which had attacked it.

Although the State of Israel has been victorious in all of the wars against us by our Arab enemies, we have had successive governments that beg the United States for support and friendship. Bibi’s acquiescence to American demands is just the latest in a long series of bad policy steps over the decades.”

Oh, my, where do I start with this bit?

How about, if it weren’t for the U.S. and its allies, the State of Israel would not exist?

Or, AIPAC is the biggest and probably most powerful lobby in the United States?

Or, how much money and military equipment and assistance has the U.S. given to Israel throughout its existence?

Or, didn’t you guys actually start some of those “wars against us by our Arab enemies”?

Or, Israel doesn’t “beg the United States for support and friendship”, it demands it unconditionally and unswervingly, then spits in our faces. And when we politely ask that Israel restrain itself a tad when they’re violating the conditions of the 1967 agreement by bombing their neighbors and taking their neighbors’ land, Israel considers it an affront to their sovereignty. Bite me, Israel, you can stop taking our money and assistance, we can certainly use a few extra billion dollars right here.

As to Israel’s worry over the possibility of Iran hiding the development of a nuclear weapon, all I can say is, how big is Israel’s nuclear stockpile that Israel denies exists?

Okay, rant over…for now.

This is our daily open thread – don’t mind me, feel free to discuss whatever you want.

The Watering Hole, Monday, April 22nd, 2013: Last Chance

I have written off and on about the proposed Keystone XL pipeline and the many reasons why building it should not even be considered. Thousands of people have protested (and been arrested) against the proposed pipeline, and, thus far, the State Department has yet to decide on it.

Today is the last day for public comments on this proposal. If you have not yet submitted a comment, please, please, send an email to keystonecomments@state.gov. This is too important to our nation, our planet and our future.

Here’s the email that I sent:

I am writing this letter in objection to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

Advocates of the pipeline say that it will create thousands of American jobs. This is a lie. While it may create a certain number of temporary jobs in the construction stage, fewer than 50 permanent jobs will be created.

Advocates of the pipeline say that, once the pipeline is finished and the tar sands oil is refined, it will provide the U.S. with a plentiful supply of oil, lowering oil prices and lessening our dependency on “foreign”, i.e., “Middle Eastern” oil. They say that because of this, our “national security’” will be enhanced. This is a lie. The tar sands oil, once refined, will be sold on the world market, not directly to the U.S.

Advocates of the pipeline say that the pipeline will safely bring tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, through several U.S. States, to refineries in Texas. This is a lie. Keystone’s own track record as regards previous spills, i.e., in Michigan’s Kalamazoo River (which to date, several years later, still has not been ‘cleaned up’) belies this notion. Tar sands oil is the filthiest form of oil, and the pipeline’s route would take it through hundreds of ecologically sensitive areas; most importantly, it will run through, or perilously close to, the largest aquifer in the country, which provides drinking water to several states.

Any claim that Keystone may make to guarantee that the pipeline will be safe would be a lie. Regardless of anything that the final Environmental Impact Statement may say, there is no technology on this earth that can clean up the kind of disaster that a tar sands oils spill would cause. Consider the ineffective efforts to contain the BP Deepwater oil spill in the Gulf, and the ridiculouis use of paper towels to attempt to clean up the recent Mayflower oil spill.

Are even 50 permanent U.S. jobs worth even the slightest possibility of a pipeline leak and the subsequent ecological and human disaster? Are 50 jobs worth ruining the drinking water of millions of Americans? I say NO, and I would hope that anyone with any critical thinking skills would have to agree.

Please, I implore you, just say NO to Keystone.

Respectfully,

Jane E. Schneider
Pawling, NY

This is our open thread — what will you say to the State Department?

The Watering Hole, Monday, November 26th, 2012: Time to Go, Senator McCain

Wave Bye-Bye Now!


As Rachel Maddow so perfectly pointed out recently, John McCain’s regular – some might say ubiquitous – appearances on so many of the Sunday morning political talkfests only serve to show McCain’s desperation to remain relevant at any cost. Unfortunately, that ‘cost’ seems to be the remnants of McCain’s respectability along with the shards of his integrity.

McCain’s latest insanity is shown in his recent calls for a “Watergate-style” investigation of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice regarding the Benghazi, Libya, attack. McCain’s rabid and, IMHO, unfounded attacks on Ms. Rice (including calling her “not very bright”, and his vow to block her possible nomination as future Secretary of State) were supposedly tempered a trifle yesterday, if by ‘tempered’ one means asking for the same information from Ms. Rice, presumably sans the “Watergate-style” investigation. Regardless, McCain still will not say whether, even if he (undeservedly) receives the requested information from Ms. Rice, he would consider NOT blocking her possible future nomination for Secretary of State.

But in McCain’s interview on Fox Sunday, he shows his characteristic bungling of essential facts:

HOST: You say that you will do everything in your power to block Susan Rice’s nomination if the President decides to name her to be secretary of state . . . . Is there anything that Ambassador Rice can do to change your mind?
MCCAIN: Sure, she can give everyone the benefit of explaining their position and the actions that they took. And I’ll be glad to have the opportunity to discuss these issues with her. Why did she say that al Qaeda has been decimated in her statement here on this program? Al Qaeda hasn’t been decimated. They’re on the rise. They’re all over Iraq.

Yes, John, of course Al Qaeda is “all over” Iraq, sure they are…NOT.

In the same Fox News Sunday interview, on women’s issues, McCain had this to say:

McCAIN:… And as far as young women are concerned, absolutely. I don’t think anybody like me, I can state my position on abortion, but, to — other than that, leave the issue alone. When we are in the kind of economic situation and, frankly, national security situation we’re in.

CHRIS WALLACE (HOST): When you say leave the issue alone, you would allow, you say, freedom of choice?

McCAIN: I would allow people to have those opinions and respect those opinions and I’m proud of my pro-life position and record, but if someone disagrees with me, I respect your views.

So, that would be a ‘NO’ to ‘freedom of choice”?

Since the 2008 Presidential election, when Senator McCain foisted Sarah Palin on us, it seems that his tenuous ties to reality, and his sense of decency and honor, have rapidly strained to the snapping point. I think that we all agree (and I wouldn’t be surprised if many in the Republican heirarchy agree, too), that it’s way past time for McCain to, shall we say, spend a lot more of his time at one of his seven -or was it eight? – homes.

This is our Open Thread. Feel free to discuss this topic, or anything else that comes to mind.

The Watering Hole, Saturday September 15, 2012 – Greater Love Hath No Man Than This

It was a week of tragedy. On Tuesday, an al Qaeda-trained unit breached security, overtook the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, his aide (and former Airman) Sean Smith, and two former Navy SEALs, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods. They were honored yesterday in a Transfer of Remains Ceremony at Andrews, AFB, in Maryland. [Full Disclosure: My first assignment out of Tech School was to Andrews, AFB, in 1983. I got to play golf on one of their championship golf courses because Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger decided to cancel his tee time, an hour and a half late.] Recent reports indicate the attack may have been in retaliation for a drone strike that killed the then-Number Two In Al Qaeda, widely agreed to be the most dangerous job in the world. It did not have anything to do with the protests going on in Egypt and Yemen over that stupid anti-Muslim movie trailer for a film that, in all likelihood, given the criminal past of one of the men involved, does not exist. Both President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton made wonderful, poignant remarks in remembrance of the fallen Americans.

President Obama began by quoting Scripture, as Christian men are wont to do, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” It is, even to this Atheist, a beautiful sentiment, and one with which I wholeheartedly agree. As for me, I can think of no more honorable way to die than in an effort to save the life of others. The brave men who died in the service of their country did so knowing their jobs were dangerous ones, and that this could happen, yet they chose to do it anyway. Though much well-deserved credit is given to the armed forces who keep us safe, an insufficient amount of credit is given to the diplomatic corps who work behind the scenes to keep us safe, too. Bad things happen, more often than we would like, and some heads of countries cannot be seen to appear weak in the eyes of their people, and diplomats find a way to satisfy everyone’s interests in the name of Peace. We may not agree with some of their results from time to time, but by and large, if it weren’t for the Department of State, every able-bodied person would have to be prepared to fight in some war over some stupid shit, because we’d have no one to talk sense into those who wish us harm. And their efforts work. And they should be appreciated more. Because sometimes, even they die in the line of duty. And we owe them every measure of respect and devotion we’d give to a fallen soldier in combat. They died for the same noble cause.

UPDATE: Thanks to badmoodman, we now have a video we can post of the entire ceremony at Andrews AFB.

This is, of course, our Open Thread, so feel free to discuss the tragedy leading to four dead Americans which had nothing whatsoever to do with the ignorant, bigoted, fraudulent anti-Islam movie trailer, released on the Internets, or maybe something a little more lighthearted for a Saturday morning, such as cute little kittens:

Dawn broke, Captain Whiskers and his mysterious sidekick—known only as “the Kitten”—had triumphed, the city was safe.

[Cross-posted at Pick Wayne’s Brain]

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, June 20, 2012: Does it really Matter?

Ok, so for the next few months, if you’re in a “swing” State, you’ll be inundated with SuperPAC commercials designed to get you to vote against your own best interests. We will also be systematically bombarded with messages from the Mainstream Media designed to influence our thinking.

IT’S ALL A SHOW. IT REALLY DOESN’T MATTER.

If the Powers That Be really want Obama out, all they have to do is raise gas prices to about $5.00/gallon. Instead, gas prices are going down, heading into the summer vacation season. That’s not to say they won’t go up between now and the election – but they are an accurate predictor of where our economy will head. So, pay attention to the pump, not the talking heads.

Ok, that’s my $0.0199 cents. And you?

OPEN THREAD
JUST REMEMBER
EVERYTHING I SAID
DOESN’T REALLY MATTER

 

Sunday Roast, August 21st, 2011: Just Say “NO” to Oil

Amidst all of the beer, car, cell phone, erectile dysfunction and other pharmaceutical commercials, lately I’ve been seeing a lot more commercials for various oil and natural gas companies, touting all of the research they do or how ‘clean’ their product is. The latest push from Exxon/Mobil is for “oil sands” technology.

“Oil sands” or “tar sands” according to Wikipedia, are defined as “a type of unconventional petroleum deposit. The sands contain naturally occurring mixtures of sand, clay, water, and a dense and extremely viscous form of petroleum technically referred to as bitumen (or colloquially “tar” due to its similar appearance, odour, and colour).” One of the largest deposits is located in Alberta, Canada, and a proposed pipeline, the Keystone XL, to run from Alberta to Texas, is currently the center of a whirlwind of controversy, involving the State Department, Congress, the EPA, ranchers and landowners, environmental activists, protests and arrests, and opposing labor unions.

Whooping Cranes

The Keystone XL, owned by the TransCanada company, starts in Alberta, Canada, home of the magnificently beautiful but endangered Whooping Crane, of which there are only about 400 left. The process by which the oil sands are accessed starts with bulldozing forests, then stripmining, then steam-heating the bitumen product. The proposed 36″ diameter pipeline would run through several states, and more importantly, would run through the Ogalalla Aquifer, the “largest underground reservoir on the planet”, part of which is located under the Sandhills of Nebraska. Existing pipelines from the Alberta oil sands facility to parts of the U.S. have already had a history of leaks, including last year’s spill into the Kalamazoo River. Why would anyone even entertain the notion that the 2000-mile-long proposed pipeline would be less likely to be plagued by the same problems? I seriously urge everyone to read the entire Incite article (also linked to above), as well as related articles in this month’s edition of the Audubon magazine, as this post cannot encompass all of the pertinent information, including the sleazy and despicable actions of TransCanada in their efforts to force affected landowners off their lands.

While billions upon billions of dollars are being poured into this proposed pipeline, estimates of U.S. jobs the project could purportedly create are only around 20,000 – a mere drop in the bucket considering the millions of unemployed right now. Are 20,000 jobs really worth the possibility of a slow leak or spill in such a varied and important range of ecosystems through which the pipeline would pass, and especially the possibility of a catastrophic leak into an underground reservoir which serves as a water supply to eight states? The Final Environmental Impact Statement is due out around now, and, once it is published, the Obama Administration has 90 days to review it and make a decision. I sincerely hope that they come to the conclusion that a mere 20,000 jobs is not worth the potentially disastrous risks, and give this proposed pipeline the thumbs down that it deserves.

This is our Sunday open thread — What do you think?

Breaking: Hillary Clinton confirmed by Senate w/Updates

The Senate confirmed President Obama’s selection for Secretary of State by a vote of 94 to 2 (Vitter and DeMint). And as the BBC states:

It is a new chapter in US foreign policy, as both President Obama and Mrs Clinton have already set a new tone for America’s re-engagement with the world, the BBC’s Kim Ghattas in Washington says.

Mrs Clinton has said foreign policy is about pragmatism not rigid ideology.

Next up, of course, is the selection of Senator Clinton’s replacement, by New York’s Governor Paterson. Speculation has been rampant lately that Paterson has been convinced to offer the position to Caroline Kennedy. . .

Gov. Paterson said Tuesday he has finally zeroed in on a candidate to replace Hillary Clinton in the U.S. Senate – but wants to mull it over a few more days.

Sources close to Paterson say they believe Caroline Kennedy is still the front-runner – despite the fact the governor has recently been talking up Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-Hudson).

. . . or not. Paterson is either milking the moment for all the attention he can get, is incredibly careful and thoughtful, or is indecisive in the extreme.

UPDATE 1:

Wednesday added more confusion to the story, as announcements were made that Caroline Kennedy had withdrawn from consideration. Or not. Ah, yes she did. Probably. And at this point it’s not at all clear whether the Governor has made a firm decision on the appointment or any solid guess as to who the appointee might be.

For his part, Mr. Paterson has conducted the selection process much like a business owner placing a want ad. He has encouraged people to reach out to him, invited them in for interviews and asked candidates to fill out a lengthy questionnaire that asked things like whether they had ever been fired from a job or had employed illegal immigrants as household help.

Mr. Paterson’s secrecy only fueled the speculation: He refused to release the questionnaire and he would often not answer when asked whom he had interviewed.

And when he has disclosed information about the process, often the result has been confusion. For example, his aides said on Tuesday that he had interviewed Byron Brown, the mayor of Buffalo, late that afternoon. But earlier in the day Mr. Paterson told reporters he had essentially settled on a choice.

Despite the vagueness of many of his public answers, Mr. Paterson has rarely shied away from the opportunity to speak about the issue. When he was in Washington this week for the inauguration, he was interviewed by MSNBC and CBS and twice by CNN.

He even told reporters at an inaugural ball on Tuesday night that he had spoken with the actress Sharon Stone about the appointment. “Sharon Stone mentioned someone, but I don’t remember who it was,” a tuxedoed Mr. Paterson said.

I was relieved to learn that Sharon Stone wasn’t actually on G0vernor Paterson’s short list for the appointment. The entire circus illustrates the shocking wisdom of Alaskan voters, who several years ago mandated that a vacant Senate seat trigger a special election, rather than leave the decision in the hands of a governor — whether from New York or Illinois.

UPDATE 2:

The media are now reporting that Caroline Kennedy withdrew her name from consideration because of problems with a nanny and taxes. This kind of thing is getting old. One would think that people of wealth who are interested in public service would have worked all this out by now as a bad move, regardless of the morality.

Problems involving taxes and a household employee surfaced during the vetting of Caroline Kennedy and derailed her candidacy for the Senate, a person close to Gov. David A. Paterson said on Thursday, in an account at odds with Ms. Kennedy’s own description of her reasons for withdrawing.

The account emerged 14 hours after Ms. Kennedy announced that she was taking her name out of contention for the Senate seat vacated by Hillary Rodham Clinton, and as Mr. Paterson, according to two Democrats told of his thinking, was leaning toward selecting Representative Kirsten E. Gillibrand, an upstate lawmaker in her second term in Congress.

Hard feelings toward Ms. Kennedy were clearly building among the governor’s staff on Thursday, after a dramatic evening in which she was reported to be dropping out, then wavering, then ultimately, shortly after midnight on Thursday, issuing a statement ending her candidacy.

The person close to the governor said Mr. Paterson “never had any intention of picking Kennedy” because he had come to consider her unready for the job. The person did not describe the exact nature or seriousness of the tax and household employee issues.

But other Democratic operatives and people who talked to the governor disputed that account, and said that he had all but decided to select Ms. Kennedy as senator, and that his staff was arranging a press conference for late this week.

An aide to Ms. Kennedy said Thursday that while Ms. Kennedy had not been told for certain that she was the choice, there were strong indications that she would be.

Oy. We’re certainly never going to know for certain what Governor Paterson had in mind relating to Ms. Kennedy, and there still has been no appointment to the Senate.

Another aide to Ms. Kennedy, while not denying there were issues that emerged during her vetting, said that there was nothing that surfaced that would disqualify her from the appointment, and that the Kennedy camp and the governor’s operation had been discussing how to publicly disclose the issues.Virtually no one in state politics on Thursday was willing to make a bet on the appointment the unpredictable governor might make in the end. And the governor and his aides remained shocked at the recent turn of events and stung by criticism of their handling of the process. They have maintained almost complete silence since Wednesday afternoon.

Several people who have spoken to the governor said he had decided on Ms. Kennedy some time ago. A Democrat operative with ties to Mr. Paterson said the governor told Ms. Kennedy last week that she was the choice, but that he would use the next few days to do “a little misdirection to keep the suspense up.”

A person close to the governor adamantly denied that assertion.

“The fiasco of the last 24 hours reinforced why the governor never intended to choose her,” the person said.

There is admittedly a certain entertainment value in the governor’s behavior and farcical fodder for Comedy Central and the late night talk shows. Living on the other side of the continent I can only speculate on the attitude of New Yorkers at this point, but if I was one of them I would be royally pissed off.

No-mo Gitmo!

President Barack Obama began overhauling U.S. treatment of terror suspects Thursday, signing orders to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center, shut down secret overseas CIA prisons, review military war crimes trials and ban the harshest interrogation methods.

Now, I was thinking, perhaps it shouldn’t be closed entirely. It would be the ideal facility to house, try, and hold members of the previous administration for international war crimes, crimes against humanity, state-sponsored terrorist acts….

“I was just following orders!”

Oh. Ok. In that case, no one will prosecute you for torturing people.

As President-elect Barack Obama assures intelligence officials that his complaints are with the Bush administration, not them, there are growing hints from Democratic Senate allies that spy agency veterans will not be prosecuted for past harsh interrogation and detainee policies.

Never mind that we have never accepted that rationale, that “defense”, for crimes committed by foreigners.

Obama has an opportunity to tell the world that we are not a rogue nation, that we do stand for the rule of law, even when fighting terrorists, and that we will hold everyone accountable.

If we do not, if our law enforcement, our military, our clandestine operators, if they all get a free pass to do whatever they please, we create the Ministry of Love. The ends will justify any means.

No one will be safe, least of all from their own government.

Avast Ye Privateers

Arrrgh!

When President George W. Bush wanted to get around the Constitution in order to raise and support his own private army to provide protection for Coalition Provisional Authority chief L. Paul Bremer, Blackwater was there. When the president also wanted his own private army to operate on American soil, one of many disastrous moves by his administration during Hurricane Katrina, Blackwater was there. When seventeen Iraqi civilians were gunned down by foreigners in Nisoor Square, Blackwater was there. And now that pirates are ramping up their operations off the coast of Somalia, it looks like Blackwater will be there, too.

According to Blackwater Worldwide CEO and Founder, Erik Prince,
Continue reading

Condi (Kinda-lies-alot) Rice..

He said, she said..? On the integrity and honesty front, Carter has her beat hands down. No contest.

Raw Story (Reuters)

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter on Wednesday accused Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice of not telling the truth about warnings she said her department gave Carter not to speak to Hamas before a Middle East trip.

The State Department has said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State David Welch, the top U.S. diplomat for the Middle East, issued the warning before Carter, a veteran of Middle East diplomacy, went on his trip last week.

Rice said in Kuwait on Tuesday:

“We counseled President Carter against going to the region and particularly against having contact with Hamas.”

“President Carter has the greatest respect for … Rice and believes her to be a truthful person. However, perhaps inadvertently, she is continuing to make a statement that is not true,” a statement issued by the Carter center in Atlanta said on Wednesday.

“No one in the State Department or any other department of the U.S. government ever asked him (Carter) to refrain from his recent visit to the Middle East or even suggested that he not meet with Syrian President (Bashar) Assad or leaders of Hamas,” it said.

It said Carter attempted to call Rice before making the trip and a deputy returned his call since Rice was in Europe.

“They had a very pleasant discussion for about 15 minutes, during which he never made any of the negative or cautionary comments described above. He never talked to anyone else,” the statement said.

Read entire article…

Why does this not surprise me…

Obama’s passport file breached

ThinkProgress

“Two State Department employees were fired recently and a third disciplined for improperly accessing electronic personal data on Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama.” Obama’s passport files were breached three times in the past three months. In a conference call tonight, a State Department official admitted they “failed.” The official also said that the State Department Inspector General was not informed of the breach until today.

The State Department says there was no political motivation for the breach, they were just curious.

Sorry, not buying it. Nothing happens by accident around this administration — NOTHING.

Statement from Obama’s campaign:

This is an outrageous breach of security and privacy, even from an Administration that has shown little regard for either over the last eight years. Our government’s duty is to protect the private information of the American people, not use it for political purposes. This is a serious matter that merits a complete investigation, and we demand to know who looked at Senator Obama’s passport file, for what purpose, and why it took so long for them to reveal this security breach.

And why this breach was reported at this particular time…

UPDATE: Critter Wayne, over at his blog Pick Wayne’s Brain, poses intriguing questions: Who are these people, and who are they working for? Go check it out.

Bloody hands

Reuters, via CommonDreams

Heh.  This is what we need to see happen to every member of this administration, at every possible opportunity.

Chanting “war criminal,” anti-war protesters waved blood-colored hands at U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Wednesday, but police held them back as she left a Capitol Hill hearing room.

Fantastic.

Earlier, Republicans had complained about the distraction from the group as they held up signs saying “Condi Kills Kids” during the hearing on the State Department budget.

But the chairman of the House of Representatives committee, a New York Democrat, declined to eject the protesters.

“We’re here in the United States of America. And as long as they don’t disrupt this proceeding and as long as they’re silent, they will be welcome,” said Rep. Nita Lowey, who runs the subcommittee overseeing State Department appropriations.

Rep Nita Lowery, I love you.  Thank you for allowing dissent — it’s the American way.  There was one mortified soul…

“I am embarrassed for the entire committee,” said Rep. Jerry Lewis, a California Republican.

“I hope we never do this to the likes of you again,” he told Rice.

Ah well, poor Jerry Lewis.  His type have never enjoyed being involved with actual freedom.

Go Code Pink!!

Sibel Edmonds: ‘Buckle up, there’s much more coming.’

Here is an interview by Luke Ryland with Sibel Edmonds via OpEdNews:

In the last few weeks, UK’s Times has run a series of articles about the so-called ‘Sibel Edmonds case.’ (‘For sale: West’s deadly nuclear secrets, ‘FBI denies file exposing nuclear secrets theft’ and ‘Tip-off thwarted nuclear spy ring probe’)

Former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds stumbled into a world of espionage, nuclear black market, narcotics trafficking, money laundering, and corruption at the highest levels of the US government.

I interviewed Sibel yesterday regarding the current investigation and reporting by the Times, the failures of the US media, and last week’s decision by the Bush administration to legalize the sale of nuclear technology to Turkey, in an apparent to exonerate prior criminal activity by officials in his administration.

Sibel also has some urgent ‘action items’ so that we can stop these dangerous nuclear proliferation activities. I urge you to act on her suggestions.

Read entire article (4 pages)…

You might also want to read this article in Anti-War.com by Justin Raimondo called ” None Dare Call It Treason
Who is stealing our nuclear secrets – and why are they being shielded by the authorities?

Raimondo ties in the Edmonds story to the Valerie Plame Wilson story, and its implications.

Buzzflash “Wings of Justice Award” ~ Sibel Edmonds

via: BuzzFlash

The first thing you need to know about Sibel Edmonds is that she has been under a gag order by the Department of Justice for five years. The second thing you should know is that she worked for a time as a FBI translator of Turkish intercepts. The third thing that you need to know is that she claims to have uncovered a covert network of senior American officials who transferred nuclear secrets to third parties.

Edmonds has had closed-door hearings before Congress, but her testimony has apparently been dropped like a hot potato. So it took of all newspapers — one owned by Rupert Murdoch in London — to reveal the extent of Edmonds’ allegations in an article, “For sale: West’s deadly nuclear secrets“, and to further uncover that the FBI appears to be lying about the existence of a key piece of evidence that might corroborate Edmonds, in an article subtitled, “The FBI has been accused of covering up a file detailing government dealings with a network stealing nuclear secrets.”

It is hard to distill the importance of what Edmonds is alleging, except to say that, if true, the American government has been allowing the transfer of nuclear secrets that endanger our national security, particularly as it related to the information obtained by the father of the Pakistani bomb, Abdul Qadeer Khan. There is also a tantalizing potential tie into another reason why Valerie Plame may have been outed by the Bush Administration.

The BuzzFlash reader who nominated Sibel Edmonds praised her, “Because she is risking her life, her safety, her entire reputation, and her future for the national security and integrity of this country trying to get her story out to the media so that Congress will finally have to act on the corruption and criminal actions taking place at the highest levels of our government that have and continue to put our country at risk. It was incredibly brave of her to speak out through the UK Sunday Times yesterday. Now we’ll see if anything is done to start investigations and clean house.”

In a recent commentary on Bradblog.com, the heroic Vietnam-era whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg noted: “For the last two weeks — one could say, for years — the major American media have been guilty of ignoring entirely the allegations of the courageous and highly credible source Sibel Edmonds, quoted in the London Times on January 6, 2008 in a front-page story that was front-page news in much of the rest of the world but was not reported in a single American newspaper or network. It is up to readers to demand that this culpable silent treatment end.”

Surely, Sibel Edmonds deserves to be heard. She accidentally ventured into an area of clandestine operations that literally may put her life at risk, and yet only overseas papers take her claims seriously.

For her courage and tenacity, BuzzFlash honors Sibel Edmonds with this week’s Wings of Justice Award.

I am posting this because it is one of our Critters who nominated Sibel Edmonds. I am glad Sibel is getting more exposure and recognition for her courage.

Found in Translation

FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds spills her secrets.

by Philip Giraldi
via: The American Conservative

Most Americans have never heard of Sibel Edmonds, and if the U.S. government has its way, they never will. The former FBI translator turned whistleblower tells a chilling story of corruption at Washington’s highest levels—sale of nuclear secrets, shielding of terrorist suspects, illegal arms transfers, narcotics trafficking, money laundering, espionage. She may be a first-rate fabulist, but Edmonds’s account is full of dates, places, and names. And if she is to be believed, a treasonous plot to embed moles in American military and nuclear installations and pass sensitive intelligence to Israeli, Pakistani, and Turkish sources was facilitated by figures in the upper echelons of the State and Defense Departments. Her charges could be easily confirmed or dismissed if classified government documents were made available to investigators.

But Congress has refused to act, and the Justice Department has shrouded Edmonds’s case in the state-secrets privilege, a rarely used measure so sweeping that it precludes even a closed hearing attended only by officials with top-secret security clearances. According to the Department of Justice, such an investigation “could reasonably be expected to cause serious damage to the foreign policy and national security of the United States.”

After five years of thwarted legal challenges and fruitless attempts to launch a congressional investigation, Sibel Edmonds is telling her story, though her defiance could land her in jail. After reading its November piece about Louai al-Sakka, an al-Qaeda terrorist who trained 9/11 hijackers in Turkey, Edmonds approached the Sunday Times of London. On Jan. 6, the Times, a Murdoch-owned paper that does not normally encourage exposés damaging to the Bush administration, featured a long article. The news quickly spread around the world, with follow-ups appearing in Israel, Europe, India, Pakistan, Turkey, and Japan—but not in the United States.

Read entire article.
(Philip Giraldi, a former CIA Officer, is a partner in Cannistraro Associates, an international security consultancy.)

This is one of the best articles I have read on this yet.

Don’t forget to read the piece from Daniel Ellsberg, (the legendary ‘Pentagon Papers’ whistleblower) as well.

UPDATE: I just found this opinion piece from the Portland Oregonian: Sandra Duffy: Journalism’s first loyalty is to citizens. Duffy points out the role of the journalist, and asks in the case of Sibel Edmonds, where are they??

DANIEL ELLSBERG: Covering Up the Coverage – The American Media’s Complicit Failure to Investigate and Report on the Sibel Edmonds Case

by Daniel Ellsberg
via: BradBlog

In an Exclusive BRAD BLOG Op-Ed, the Legendary ‘Pentagon Papers’ Whistleblower Calls on the Media to Perform Their First Amendment Obligations, on Congressional Leaders to Perform Their Oversight Duty, and for Insider Sources to Come Forward to the American Public…

For the second time in two weeks, the entire U.S. press has let itself be scooped by Rupert Murdoch’s London Sunday Times on a dynamite story of criminal activities by corrupt U.S. officials promoting nuclear proliferation. But there is a worse journalistic sin than being scooped, and that is participating in a cover-up of information that demands urgent attention from the public, the U.S. Congress and the courts.

For the last two weeks — one could say, for years — the major American media have been guilty of ignoring entirely the allegations of the courageous and highly credible source Sibel Edmonds, quoted in the London Times on January 6, 2008 in a front-page story that was front-page news in much of the rest of the world but was not reported in a single American newspaper or network. It is up to readers to demand that this culpable silent treatment end.

Just as important, there must be pressure by the public on Congressional committee chairpersons, in particular Representative Henry Waxman and Senator Patrick Leahy. Both have been sitting for years on classified, sworn testimony by Edmonds — as she revealed in the Times’ new story on Sunday — along with documentation, in their possession, confirming parts of her account. Pressure must be brought for them to hold public hearings to investigate her accusations of widespread criminal activities ,over several administrations, that endanger national security. They should call for open testimony under oath by Edmonds — as she has urged for five years — and by other FBI officials she has named to them, as cited anonymously in the first Times’ story.

And this is the time for those who have so far creditably leaked to the Times of London to come forward, accepting personal risks, to offer their testimony — and new documents — both to the Congress and to the American press. I would say to them: Don’t do what I did and waste months of precious time trying to get Congressional committees to act as they should in the absence of journalistic pressure. Do your best to inform the American public directly, first, through the major American media.

Continue reading

More on the Sibel Edmonds story..

In her post from this morning on TheZoo, EV linked to the story in the Sunday Times Online (UK) with more on Sibel Edmonds, the FBI whistleblower who has become the most gagged person in history.

In the Times’ article “FBI denies file exposing nuclear secrets theft“, they write this:

The FBI has been accused of covering up a file detailing government dealings with a network stealing nuclear secrets”

THE FBI has been accused of covering up a key case file detailing evidence against corrupt government officials and their dealings with a network stealing nuclear secrets.

The assertion follows allegations made in The Sunday Times two weeks ago by Sibel Edmonds, an FBI whistleblower, who worked on the agency’s investigation of the network.

Edmonds, a 37-year-old former Turkish language translator, listened into hundreds of sensitive intercepted conversations while based at the agency’s Washington field office.

She says the FBI was investigating a Turkish and Israeli-run network that paid high-ranking American officials to steal nuclear weapons secrets. These were then sold on the international black market to countries such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

One of the documents relating to the case was marked 203A-WF-210023. Last week, however, the FBI responded to a freedom of information request for a file of exactly the same number by claiming that it did not exist. But The Sunday Times has obtained a document signed by an FBI official showing the existence of the file.

Edmonds believes the crucial file is being deliberately covered up by the FBI because its contents are explosive. She accuses the agency of an “outright lie”.

“I can tell you that that file and the operations it refers to did exist from 1996 to February 2002. The file refers to the counterintelligence programme that the Department of Justice has declared to be a state secret to protect sensitive diplomatic relations,” she said. Read on…

Continue reading

Unhappy Diplomats

ThinkProgress:

Secretary of State Condi Rice is getting a very poor job review from her diplomats.

18% of the Foreign Service thinks Rice is doing a good job of protecting their profession.

44% rate Rice’s performance as “poor” or “very poor.”

And 48% of diplomats disagree with the Bush administration’s Iraq policy:

But 48 percent cited “disagreement” with administration policy as a factor in their opposition, said the survey conducted by the American Foreign Service Association, the union that represents U.S. diplomats. In addition, nearly 70 percent of U.S. diplomats oppose forced assignments to Iraq.

Ouch. 😆 As a taxpayer, I’d say she’s fired, but…

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack dismissed the findings, claiming the poll was “self-selective.”

She’ll probably get a medal soon.

U.S. Boots on the Ground in Pakistan… What a Surprise

Willyloman over at the American Everyman has up a great post about the “need” to send US troops and CIA into certain areas of Pakistan…

According to an article in the New York Times, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto has sparked a need for us to send troops into certain areas of Pakistan, along with, the CIA, to help keep Pakistan “safe for democracy”.

And just who is putting this plan together, well, Rice and Cheney, of course; with the CIA, that is.

“The new options for expanded covert operations include loosening restrictions on the C.I.A. to strike selected targets in Pakistan, in some cases using intelligence provided by Pakistani sources…” NYT.

So, because of the assassination of the main opposition to Musharraf’s strangle hold on Pakistan, we are going to turn loose the CIA to attack targets, picked out by, Musharraf? Fucking brilliant.

It seems appropriate to call someone a tool right now…..but it’s so hard to choose…

Rice Scripted Bhutto’s Return then Left her Unprotected

An update on the Benazir Bhutto assassination from the American Everyman:

Two months ago Secretary of State, Condi Rice, convinced Pakistan’s president and current dictator, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, to allow exiled Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto back into the deeply troubled country.

Rice also had to convince Bhutto it to come out of exile and go back into public spotlight and the rough and tumble world of Pakistani politics. She did so with a promise of US support and a shared power structure agreement with Musharraf. (Slate story here.)

But after two attempts on her life, beginning almost the minute she touched down in Pakistan, one might start to wonder if the former Prime Minister wasn’t set up from the beginning. Especially when you consider Bhutto was sent there with no additional security.

However, the State Department didn’t offer her any personal protection, even though they all knew that Bhutto’s past history with the Pakistani Taliban and al Qaeda would make her an instant target. Rice didn’t even offer the services of private firms like Blackwater, which the State Department routinely uses all across the globe to protect important diplomats.

The results? An attempt on her life the moment she touched down in Pakistan which killed 158 innocent civilians and another one this week that did take the life of Benazir Bhutto. At least, one of the three official causes of death took the life of the “last hope of Pakistan.”

Keep reading…

Rajiv Chandrasekaran on “Imperial Life in the Emerald City”

Rajiv Chandrasekaran explains to Jon Stewart (The Daily Show) some of the mistakes made by the American civilians living in a bubble in the Green Zone of Iraq. This episode ran December 14, 2006.

I read this book and it is EXCELLENT!! I just can’t recommend it enough! The NY Times put this book at the top of their list as Best Book of the Year for 2007 (under Non-fiction).

Vodpod videos no longer available. from www.thedailyshow.com posted with vodpod

Failure and incompetence MUST be rewarded..

(Title written with a high degree of sarcasm..)

After Blackwater Controversy, State Dep’t Gave Bonuses to Contracting Officials By Spencer Ackerman
via: TPM Muckraker

According to internal State Department cables obtained by TPMmuckraker, the State Department has slated two Diplomatic Security officials who oversee private-security contractors guarding U.S. diplomats in Iraq and Afghanistan for salary bonuses. The optional bonuses, called Senior Foreign Service Performance Pay Awards, come months after administrative investigations have raised questions about the propriety of State’s relationship with security contractors like Blackwater.

Read entire article..

Normally when something like what has been happening with Blackwater in Iraq happens, someone is held accountable and loses their job.
Well, at least the WH and the State Department are consistent. Someone screws up, things go horribly wrong, well, someone gets a promotion!

Black is white, up is down… War is peace..

Perhaps these people are being rewarded because things AREN’T going wrong; perhaps things are going exactly according to plan…

Wolfowitz returns…

via: Newsweek

Don’t ever say the Bush administration doesn’t take care of its own. Nearly three years after Paul Wolfowitz resigned as deputy Defense secretary and six months after his stormy departure as president of the World Bank—amid allegations that he improperly awarded a raise to his girlfriend—he’s in line to return to public service. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has offered Wolfowitz, a prime architect of the Iraq War, a position as chairman of the International Security Advisory Board, a prestigious State Department panel, according to two department sources who declined to be identified discussing personnel matters. The 18-member panel, which has access to highly classified intelligence, advises Rice on disarmament, nuclear proliferation, WMD issues and other matters. “We think he is well suited and will do an excellent job,” said one senior official. Read the rest…

Holy shit.. I don’t even know what to say to this…