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"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." Theodore Roosevelt


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Saturday, February 25, 2006

Who Runs Port Security?

pResident Bush spent three days this week trying to tell the nation that the ports deal with the UAE was not to be worried about because they don't handle security. But a writer for the Associated Press disagrees.
The terminal operator is responsible for security at its own terminal and the area within the port where cargo is loaded, unloaded or transferred, according to the Homeland Security Department.

UAE-based Dubai Ports World would operate some of the terminals at a half-dozen of the nation's largest seaports: Baltimore, Philadelphia, Miami, New Orleans, Houston, and Newark, N.J.

So, seems like Bush lied - again.

Did Wolfowitz Approve Torture Methods?

Without the allegation ever making headlines, the Pentagon has decided to publicly deny that Paul Wolfowitz had anything to do with approving the torture techniques used at GITMO. That seems suspiciously strange in and of itself - denying allegations before they're news, and thereby making them into news.
In one email, an FBI official whose name was blacked out suggested talking to the bureau's Behavioral Assessment Unit about what he indicated were two specific examples of abuse.

In a reply the following day, a second unidentified FBI official cautioned that there was a distinction between "allegations of abuse and the use of techniques which fall outside of FBI/DOJ training and policy."

"As it relates to (redacted) and (redacted) the techniques employed against them in the interrogation process were, based on numerous inquiries I made, in addition to my personal review of the DoD interrogation plans, approved by the Deputy Secretary of Defense."

So, the questions remain - in spite of denials, is Wolfowitz the demon behind the torture directives? If the denial is in fact true, why are the FBI officials who wrote these memos not identified? Is it to avoid them being served with subpoenas over the issue? Why hide their identities if there is nothing here?

Even Homeland Security Opposed Ports Deal

Amazing isn't it? DHS, run by Bush pocket puppet Chertoff, actually opposed this deal made by the Bushies to hand over our ports operations to the UAE. I didn't think Chertoff would oppose anything Bush wanted to do - but then the fact that DHS rolled over on this one sort of proves I'm right about that.
The Homeland Security Department objected at first to a United Arab Emirates company's taking over significant operations at six U.S. ports. It was the lone protest among members of the government committee that eventually approved the deal without dissent.

The department's early objections were settled later in the government's review of the $6.8 billion deal after Dubai-owned DP World agreed to a series of security restrictions.
-x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x-
The administration approved the ports deal on Jan. 17 after DP World agreed during secret negotiations to cooperate with law enforcement investigations in the future and make other concessions.

Some lawmakers have challenged the adequacy of a classified intelligence assessment crucial to assuring the administration that the deal was proper. The report was assembled during four weeks in November by analysts working for the director of national intelligence.

The report concluded that U.S. spy agencies were "unable to locate any derogatory information on the company," according to a person familiar with the document. This person spoke only on condition of anonymity because the report was classified.

Secret negotiations? Of course they were secret. Bush was hoping to slide this one thru - selling our security to the enemies home team. Like everything else he wants to keep secret - it's a dirty deal for America, made by Bush, so it's "classified".

And since when is national security handed out merely because you couldn't locate any bad information about a company? Like it couldn't be a shell company? Like they would have claimed corporate responsibility for 9-11? As if they would put out an annual report with picutres of terrorists on the board? Crikey! Is anybody running this shop, or is it looters selling it all off to anybody for any price?

Ab Fab Iraq Policy

Just absolutely fabulous. That's about all you can say about Bush's handling of his ego-based Iraq war after you read this little piece by Doug Thompson.
"The civil war has started and the U.S. planners had better get used to it," says retired Marine and military affairs expert H. Thomas Hayden, now a writer for Military.Com. "Shiites have always planned to align themselves with Iran but the Pentagon dominated planners in the Administration have never understood the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite and the great religious gulf between them that has existed for almost a thousand years."
-x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x---x-
Pentagon professionals have long warned President Bush that if civil war erupts in Iraq the U.S. will have to admit failure in its efforts to create a stable, democratic government. As he has with most warnings from those who fight wars for a living, Bush ignored the advice.

What's left to say?

Ports Deal Includes Sale of Frist and Hastert?

Apparently, overnight, Dennis Hastert and Bill Frist have been bought up by the UAE as well as the shipping port operatons, and it looks like Bush negotiated the deal.

As you might recall, Frist made the headlines by opposing this deal just 3 days ago. Now he's the White House yard lamb.
A Dubai company's offer to delay taking control of terminal operations at six U.S. ports, combined with aggressive White House lobbying, has tempered a rush by congressional GOP leaders for quick action next week to blockthe $6.8 billion transaction, which has triggered a political furor.

Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) will meet with House GOP leaders Tuesday to discuss the chamber's next move, while aides to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) said he will wait to be briefed by the company before taking a stand. Both Hastert and Frist had issued strong statements earlier raising concerns about national security in the wake of Dubai Ports World's acquisition of the London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co. and its terminal operations at six major U.S. ports, including those in New York and Baltimore.

Frankly, I think it's stupid to hand over operation of our ports to any company not entirely owned and based in the states. There's too much going in and out and too much information available about those cargoes for it to be safe to let anyone else, even an ally, control it. We move military goods and maybe even personnel thru those places.

But once again, the GOP proves by it's example that money talks, and bullshit walks.

What's Your Ground?

Last year Florida enacted a self-defense law commonly called the Stand Your Ground Law. This bill permits citizens to use deadly force to protect themselves and others in cases of clear life-endangering threats. 21 more states are now considering such legislation.
These new measures would push the boundaries beyond the self-defense measures
already on the books. Twelve states already allow citizens to shoot intruders in their homes, and 38 states permit concealed weapons in public places. The "Stand Your Ground" laws would allow people to defend themselves with deadly force even in public places when they perceive a life-threatening situation for themselves or others, and they would not be held accountable in criminal or civil court even if bystanders are injured.

Proponents say this puts the rights in the hands of the endangered citizens, not the criminals. Critics say it will lead to shoot-outs.

Nostradamnthem says if you aren't prepared and willing to defend yourself, you've chosen by default to be a victim - law or no law. But that business about no accountability for injuring bystanders will have to be re-defined, as will the legal and public understandings of when you feel threatened enough to use force.

What do you say?

Friday, February 24, 2006

Better and Better

The fight over management of our Ports is just providing no end of fun, and it's moving faster than the events at the winter olympics. It's literally a case of everyone expecting Bush to actually deliver on his promises of protecting the nation from terror while he's selling the opportunity for destruction to the enemy. This is what's happened in the last few hours.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has filed a lawsuit asking to stop the takeover of port operations. Bob Dole was hired by the UAE to defend the deal, and the Treasury Department (run by a Bush crony) has declined to produce details of even how the arab company was supposedly vetted for security - making one question if it was even done at all.

And predictably, the Democrats are seeing this whole thing as an opportunity to make Bush eat crow. Of course, given the lack of spinal material in the party, one really has to wonder if this will materialize. A few invitations to buy into the Carlyle Group will probably shut them all up.

And also predictably, Bush is sticking his chin out and trying to look tough on this. Apparently he doesn't realize that by sending Condi to the UAE to buy time, and the UAE agreeing to delay the deal for the investigation, he's already lost the 'tough' position - except for those brain-dead mullet heads who still support him.
The president's national security adviser said the White House would keep trying to persuade lawmakers — there's more time since the company offered to delay its takeover — but the administration wouldn't reconsider its approval.

Ri-ighhhhht. Bush claims to have not even known about the deal before somebody started yelling about it. But he immediately offered to veto any legislation to delay it, and is still saying he won't reconsider his approval, no matter what.

The "I didn't know" story sounds like a blatant lie to me. And of course the Bush love of complete secrecy has to make one wonder what is hidden about this deal - like the price paid to Bush to get it approved with normal restrictions removed. And maybe the way the materials for the next attack on US soil will be smuggled in.

(Why do you folks in the intel business permit this guy to keep screwing up everything you work to protect? Or are you sold out now too and working to protect Bush, and not the American people?)

Stay tuned. The weekend starts now, but this won't go entirely silent, even if it does get subdued somewhat. But no worries mate, by Monday it'll be the issue on fire again.

Did Bush Forget an Appointment?

One would think that Bush must have forgotten to stuff a crony at the top of the IRS. They've been investigating churches for violating their tax exempt status with political action. And suprise, suprise, a lot of them are guilty.

Let's see here. The 'born-again' killer pResident has the support of the born-again religious right-wing fascists. Those people are making no bones about supporting Bush, trashing anyone against him and trying to raise money for him - like that nut case in Colorado. So guess who got rapped on this? Bush's support is my suspicion. Of course, you noticed that the link doesn't provide the names of the guilty parties, didn't you? It's pretty sure bet that DeLay's 'Family' organization was one of them. And we can make some guesses as to the rest, can't we?
Among the prohibited activities, the examiners found that charities and churches had distributed printed material supporting a preferred candidate and assembled improper voter guides or candidate ratings.

Religious leaders had used the pulpit to endorse or oppose a particular candidate, and some groups had shown preferential treatment to candidates by letting them speak at functions.

Other charities and churches had made improper cash contributions to a candidate's political campaign.

The IRS said the cases covered "the full spectrum" of political viewpoints.

So they apparently found somebody who spoke directly against Bush as well. Equal opportunity.

Six and a Half Billion

Tomorrow (Saturday) the earth's population will reach an estimated 6.5 billion human earthlings. In six more years, 7 billion. But hey, not to worry.

With George Bush in office, we'll drown most of those as a result of oceans rising due to global warming and the associated climate changes and flooding - that is the ones that don't die in the world war he's working up to. A few days of "nuk-u-lar" exchange in the Middle East and here should pretty much cut down about a half billion or so, especially after the fallout hits China, too. And of course a few nukes in the six cities where he's handing over control of the ports will pretty much decimate our small 300 million population and leave us oh, several million less. So don't worry about population 'explosion' - it's under control.

Ex-PORT-ing Cartoons

Just for grins, here are some 'toons based on the recent port deal. Seems all the cartoonists agree with me - it's a fuck-up. So, at the risk of having somebody offer a price for my head, I'm providing the link. Enjoy.

Oh, and why not provide links to your favorite port-o-toons too? Have at it.

A Third Bad Week for Bonzo

Thankfully our pResident is having yet another bad week. Maybe things are starting to go against him. Here's the rundown.

We've already covered the Ports sale biz, and the 'alternative energy' staffing cuts with the cover-up that followed, and covered the impending Iraqi civil war he precipitated on Monday. But you ain't seen nothing yet, as they say.

In the Woe on Terror, Georgie took a beating this week. Human Rights First released a report alleging over a hundred deaths of prisoners held by our forces in Iraq. 34 of those were suspected or confirmed homicides, 8 to 12 were died as a result of torture. Then, a committee of British MPs (Members of Parliament, not military police) released a statement that they are convinced that our Guantanamo prison actually hurts us in the war on terror. And a Federal Judge (Jed S. Rakoff) has ordered the government to release the identies of all the prisoners held in Guantanamo. This will work hard against the secret detentions policy of the White House, and help to ensure our freedoms under the Constitution aren't gutted by power crazed officials who would sell their own people in order to gain control.

In the on-going saga of the illegal domestic spying program that Bush now paints as only 'international', news came out Monday that the White House has quietly begun to fold it's cards on that one, and will provide some more information about the program to the Congress. They haven't agreed to quit spying on you as yet, but they are trying to duck the confrontation as they know it's not a winner for them. And to make things worse, we find out on Wednesday that USAF General Michael Hayden had planned to brief the House Committee on Intelligence but that the briefing was killed by White House Staffer Andy Card.

But wait. There is more. Democrats are publicly stating that as Americans learn more about Bush's new Medicare program they will like it less and less. There's a no-brainer. The administration was also caught RE-classifying already de-classified security related documents that have been public for years, much of it already published even by the federal government. It's an attitude of secrecy that can only indicate that we'd BETTER find out what these guys are doing, because if they work that hard to keep things secret they must be up to something not good for America. And, in a transparent white-wash attempt, the White House had to release it's own version of the What Went Wrong During Katrina report - because the one from Congress was too critical for Bush to bear. It's enough to make a man drink. Some more.

Hang in there. We're still going.

The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law released the "Protecting Minority Voters: The Voting Rights Act, 1982-2005" report, which basically says that if you're a minority voter you're probably getting screwed at the polls. (Surprised?) Get your copy of the report here if you want to read it.

Also, orders for durable goods (manufacturing orders) fell by the largest amount in 5 & 1/2 years. (Let's see, subtract 5 & 1/2 years from today and you're back just after Bush was handed the White House by the Repuglican Supreme Court.)

But the one I like best is the study of voting issues in Florida during the last presidential election which shows that Bush may NOT have been elected President at all. We all know it didn't happen the first time, but apparently it didn't happen the second time either.
An examination of Palm Beach County's electronic voting machine records from the 2004 election found possible tampering and tens of thousands of malfunctions and errors, a watchdog group said Thursday.

Bev Harris, founder of BlackBoxVoting.org, said the findings call into question the outcome of the presidential race. But county officials and the maker of the electronic voting machines strongly disputed that and took issue with the findings.

All in all, must have been a bad week for the Chimperor. And folks, a bad week for Bush is a good week for America. Raise your glass.

Be Careful About Drawing Lines in the Sand

So, early this week the Bushies told the Iraqis that "the United States would not be willing to support crucial public institutions plagued by sectarian agendas". Basically, they're saying to the Iraqis that we'd cut off the money if they didn't quit playing games and establish a government so we could go home.

And the next thing that happens is a big BOOM at the Shiite shrine in Samarra. Then, predictably, murderous responses from both sides. Now, Thursday evening NPR reported that Bush has ordered US officials to avoid the term 'civil war' (I'm still looking for that link folks). But apparently Civil War in Iraq is a good possibility, or maybe even probability.

So the timing seems suspicious, doesn't it? If the Sunnis or the terrorists wanted to bomb that shrine, they've had several years to do it, so why now, within two days of Bush threatening to cut funding if the sectarian fighting didn't stop? Is this Bush's way of getting out of Iraq - by instigating a civil war? He must have known that demand would result in increased sectarian terror events. Or is it a means of justifying keeping our troops there forever as an occupation force to 'protect the Iraqi people'? I'm betting it was his 'exit strategy'.

They don't know yet who actually did the bombing either - were they simply terrorists playing the obvious card handed out by Bush when he threatened to cut funding (sure it was the ambassador who said it, but he's not in a position to make that call, only his boss can, and that is Condi Rice and hers is Bush), or were they people who are actually working for Bush in some way (mercenaries perhaps)? Another 'Aw Shit' for the boy wonder. Does he even have one 'Attaboy' left?

Ex-PORT-ing National Security

Well, we all know the story on the ports deal by now, don't we? Management of six of our shipping ports was sold to an arab company from the UAE by the by the Brits who had the contract. (Our allies sold our shipping to our enemies?) This did not go down well.

First, there was a general announcement of displeasure in Congress - on both sides. Then Senator Frist starts resisting by suggesting legislation to hold up the deal while it's investigated by Congress, and two GOP governors of states where these ports are located threaten to block the deal. So the cowboy-chimp calls for a show-down (that there boy really loves to start a fight, don't he?) and says he'll veto any legislation - as if he'd ever vetoed anything before (he hasn't yet and apparently can't spell 'Vetoed'). And just like the last terror alert, nobody was scared.

The next day we're told that Bush didn't know about the ports deal until after it was approved. (Covering his ass because his veto threat didn't scare anyone. How can our Chief Executive not know about something that involves national security? And can you believe he actually threatened to veto legislation over something he didn't even know about, and therefore couldn't possibly have known the details involved?) And Bush actually tried to cover up the mess by saying that the UAE is an ally of the US.

(Let's review our allies. It's common knowledge that Near and Middle Eastern governments may say they are allies of the US, but still harbor terrorists and have terrorist sympathizers in the government and the security and intelligence forces. The UAE may be an ally, but why were some of the 9-11 hijackers funded with UAE money? Yemen is an ally, but a prison break that implies complicity of authorities with terrorists calls that into question. Saudi Arabia is an ally, but 17 of the 19 hijackers on 9-11 were Saudi, as is Osama Bin Laden. Pakistan is an ally, but Osama is ruputedly hiding in that country for 3 years now, and the Paki scientist who gave the nuke technology to Iran illegally is not even in jail. These allies are not to be trusted. Either they only appear to be allies because they want to sell oil, or they are not capable of securing their own countries and therefore CANNOT be depended on to help protect America. Can we really afford to have nations doing less than Bush does to stop terror managing ANY piece of turf in America?)

Then we find out that the deal made is less restrictive than it should have been. The company won't even have to keep copies of the shipping records on US soil, but they did have to promise to give them to us if we request them. Yeah, right. Like they won't have an employee somewhere willing to sell or give up all that information about port operations, shipping schedules, destinations and cargoes to the terrorists. (Now who is limp on defense against terror, Dum-bya?) And for once even our Senators are concerned about the risks. As well they should be. Don't we move military equipment and supplies out of these ports?

So basically, all Bush did is piss off everybody on this one, including his own party. Even Tom DeLay is opposed to this sell-out by Bush (will miracles never cease - DeLay opposing a sell-out?). The end result is that he packed Condi Rice off to Dubai to clean up the mess, and today the UAE is willing to delay the deal to save his ass.

But America still has a few questions George. Why didn't you know about this deal, given that it involves national security at such a high level? Why are so soft on the possibilities of terrorism when money is concerned? How are you going to paint the Democrats as soft on terror after this trick? Did you really sell out our safety for money? Didn't you just lose all of your "political capital" by negating your own fear tactics? And just whom will you blame when a dirty bomb actually does go off in one of these ports?

Bush's Energy Plan

So we all heard the BS in the SOTU address about alternative energy, followed the next week by the cuts to the energy research lab that were proposed in Bush's budget. Apparently, that was a little embarassing, as the Chimperor himself put on his boots and loped out to Colorado to do some public 'speech-ifying'.

First, he blames the staff cuts on a "Mix-up". Yet another institutional failure of his executive leadership. Then, we find out that the money was restored just in advance of the speech, an attempt to cover the poop with the carpet obviously.

So, here's the program:
The White House says Bush is providing that leadership. They say he wants to invest more in zero-emission, coal-fired plants, as well as support solar and wind research, promote cars that run on hydrogen, encourage more nuclear power plant construction and fund work to produce ethanol — not just from corn, but from wood chips and switch grass.

Notice what our pResident thinks is an alternative energy policy - INVEST in coal-fired plants, SUPPORT solar and wind, and PROMOTE hydrogen cars. Only one of those words involves any money, and the other two are done with more 'speech-ifying'. OK, granted he also said fund ethanol, but that is only something to mix with oil, not a true alternative fuel - at least not today. And the coal fired plants, even if they are in 'truthiness' zero-emissions, still involve environmental destruction to get the coal.

But here's an idea. San Francisco is investigating the possibility of turning dog poop into methane for power. Fart fermentation to power the city. It's a concept, and with all of the hot air and bullshit Bush emits, maybe HE could power Washington if it could only be captured.

Fristing

What's up with Bill Frist these days? Last week our Senator was singing the Bush song about the budget cuts and defending the illegal domestic spying agenda. This week he's at the head of the line to oppose the ports deal.

One week he looks like he's sucking up, and the next it seems he's challenging Bush to hit him on the chin.








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