Saturday, July 05, 2008
Early next week the U.S. Senate will vote on an extension of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, with a few small amendments intended to immunize telecommunications corporations that assisted our government in the warrantless and illegal wiretapping it has grown to love.
That such a gutting of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution even made it out of committee is yet another stain on the gutless and seemingly powerless Democratic majority in both houses of Congress.
That a majority on both sides of the aisle — not least of them the presumptive nominees for president of both political parties — intend to vote for such a violation of Americans' right to privacy and of the sanctity of their personal communications is a stunning surrender to those who want us to live in fear forever.
The District is escalating what some suburban commuters are calling its war against workers who drive into the city.
The city has changed parts of Constitution Avenue NE from a reversible commuter artery back to a quiet side street and is considering removing the reversible lane on 16th Street NW, a key commuting route from Montgomery County.
Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's administration also is studying closing the section of the Interstate 395 tunnel that connects with New York Avenue NW, expanding the use of speed cameras and increasing parking fees and enforcement. Fees for encroaching on a crosswalk would increase from $50 to $500 under a pedestrian safety proposal.
The last time Republicans dealt with the passing-of-the-torch question, in 1988, the circumstances were very different. President Ronald Reagan was surging in popularity, and the big fear was that he would overshadow the nominee, the first George Bush, at the convention in New Orleans. So their aides worked out a plan intended to let Mr. Reagan “give oomph to the Bush candidacy,” without stealing the show, said Kenneth W. Duberstein, Mr. Reagan’s chief of staff.
The 1988 GOP convention was held on August 15. Reagan job approval during 1988:
Job Performance Ratings for President Reagan
Start Date: 01/30/1981
End Date: 12/27/1988
Date Organization Approve Disapprove No
Notes 12/27-29/88 Gallup 63 29 8 11/11-14/88 Gallup 57 35 8 10/21-24/88 Gallup 51 38 11 9/25-10/1/88 Gallup 54 37 9 8/19-22/88 Gallup 53 37 10 7/15-18/88 Gallup 54 36 10 7/1-7/88 Gallup 51 35 14 6/24-27/88 Gallup 48 40 12 6/10-13/88 Gallup 51 39 10 5/13-22/88 Gallup 48 43 9 3021 5/13-15/88 Gallup 50 38 12 4/8-11/88 Gallup 50 39 11 3/8-12/88 Gallup 51 37 12 3/4-7/88 Gallup 50 42 8 1/22-25/88 Gallup 49 40 11 2061 1/8-17/88 Gallup 50 41 9 2109
Former congressman Curt Weldon is helping broker deals between Russian and Ukranian weapons suppliers and the Iraqi and Libyan governments as part of his new job with a private American defense consulting firm, Wired.com has learned.
Weldon, who is currently being investigated by the FBI over alleged corruption during his time in office, visited Libya in March to discuss a possible military deal, according to a letter describing the trip from Weldon to Defense Solutions CEO Timothy Ringgold. In May, Weldon, together with Ringgold and another company representative, traveled to Moscow to discuss working with Russia's weapons-export agency on arms sales to the Middle East.
Update: Found some.
Friday, July 04, 2008
Uh, Tom? SUCK ON THIS.
has a problem and the world has a problem. America has lost its way in recent years; bad habits have weakened our society’s ability and willingness to take on big challenges. The world also has a problem. It’s becoming hot, flat, and crowded. I am convinced that the best way for America Americato solve its big problem and the best way for Americato gets its groove back is for to take the lead in solving the world’s problem. America
July 4 (Bloomberg) -- European banks may need to raise as much as 90 billion euros ($141 billion) to restore their capital after the U.S. subprime mortgage collapse caused credit markets to seize up, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
European banks have already raised $115 billion from investors to replenish capital after reporting $134 billion in writedowns, Goldman analysts led by Christoffer Malmer said in a note to clients today
For the McCain campaign to put out a memo to reporters claiming that Obama has adopted McCain's policy only shows that his advisors believe that a sizable percentage of the political press is made up of incorrigible morons. And it's hard to disagree with the judgment.
And it just might work!
Thursday, July 03, 2008
And if you'd been reading me, instead of Mike Allen, you would have known that at the time. Me, in October 2005, a month before Mike Allen told the country that Bush was going to start leaving Iraq:
We are not going to see significant troop withdrawals in '06, '07, or '08 absent a major rebellion by Republicans in Congress, which I can't see happening. Even a Democratic sweep in '06 won't help end this thing.
All the talk of benchmarks, timetables, withdrawal, whatever is somewhat moot. There's nothing which will cause Bush to call for withdrawal. It's his mission, his purpose, his raison d'etre. It's all he's got, and he's not going to let go no matter how many people die.
It's difficult to fathom that warrantless wiretapping with no oversight whatsoever is condoned by the leading members of our elite press, and that it's a dirty fucking hippie position to think otherwise, but that's where we are.
Some of President Bush's allies tell the Political Bulletin they are embarrassed and angry that the White House seems to be wasting Bush's time on frivolous events when much of the country is suffering through economic hard times. "Look at the schedule for Monday," says an outside Bush adviser. "A highlight of his day was witnessing a tee ball game. ... He is being reduced to child's play." The adviser says Bush also signed a supplemental appropriations bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on Monday, but he adds that it didn't get much coverage and that the tee ball game set the wrong tone. There is growing concern among Bush allies that the Democrats will effectively portray the President and GOP candidate John McCain as out of touch. Some GOP insiders now predict that the Republicans will lose at least five seats in the Senate and 15 to 20 in the House, and it could get worse if gasoline prices continue to soar and the public remains in a disgruntled mood.
2. There was broad consensus in the Congress that if a suspicious pattern of communications is found and a U.S. person is targeted, there needs to be approval granted by the FISA court. And, as Nancy Pelosi insisted, it needed to be established that the FISA law was the only way to legally wiretap an individual--in other words, under this law the Executive can't just go ahead and do it.
WASHINGTON — A federal judge in California said Wednesday that the wiretapping law established by Congress was the “exclusive” means for the president to eavesdrop on Americans, and he rejected the government’s claim that the president’s constitutional authority as commander in chief trumped that law.
“Congress appears clearly to have intended to — and did — establish the exclusive means for foreign intelligence activities to be conducted,” the judge wrote. “Whatever power the executive may otherwise have had in this regard, FISA limits the power of the executive branch to conduct such activities and it limits the executive branch’s authority to assert the state secrets privilege in response to challenges to the legality of its foreign intelligence surveillance activities.”
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
American Airlines expects to cut nearly 7,000 employees by the end of the year, or about 8 percent of its worldwide work force, as it reduces flights and grounds aircraft because of high fuel prices, the airline told employees Wednesday.
The job cuts, which appear to be twice as big as those announced so far by any other carrier, could include as many as 900 flight attendants.
The Sebastopol City Council kicked off deliberations of a controversial redevelopment plan Tuesday with a majority of members voicing support for higher-density buildings as the most environmentally sound approach.Density makes transit possible, but more importantly it makes walkability possible as sufficient residential density provides demand for local goods and services and a sufficient number of establishments makes walking possible and desirable. Walkability in turn makes transit possible as you can head to a town center and then, you know, walk around.
The redevelopment plan would allow 300 residential units and nearly 400,000 square feet of new business and civic space between the Laguna de Santa Rosa and downtown.
A financial analyst fresh from a tour of construction sites in the Inland Empire is warning Wall Street of a "ghost town" where finished homes sit vacant and additional homes are still under construction.
"At several properties, there were a significant number of fully built homes sitting vacant along with a large number of additional homes still under construction," Sandler O'Neill & Partners analyst Aaron Deer wrote today after touring developments in Corona and Ontario. "At one master plan community, the entire development appeared to be vacant -- with the exception of crews working on new construction, it was a ghost town."
SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Fugitive hedge-fund manager Samuel Israel surrendered to police in Massachusetts, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday in its online edition, citing the Justice Department. Israel has been on the run since June 9 when his sport-utility vehicle was found abandoned in New York's Westchester County with the words "suicide is painless" scrawled on the hood.
The co-host of a recent top-dollar fundraiser for Sen. John McCain oversaw the payment of roughly $1.7 million to a Colombian paramilitary group that is today designated a terrorist organization by the United States.
Carl H. Lindner Jr., the billionaire Cincinnati businessman, was CEO of Chiquita Brands International from 1984 to 2001, and remained on the company's board of directors until May 2002. Beginning under his tenure, Chiquita executives paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (known by the Spanish acronym AUC), which is described by George Washington University's National Security Archive as an "illegal right-wing anti-guerrilla group tied to many of the country's most notorious civilian massacres."
Following a Justice Department indictment last year, Chiquita admitted to illegally funding the paramilitaries and agreed to pay a $25 million fine. Chiquita's payments to the AUC began in 1997 and lasted seven years; roughly half of the funds came after the group was designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. State Department in 2001.
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
WASHINGTON — The military trainers who came to Guantánamo Bay in December 2002 based an entire interrogation class on a chart showing the effects of “coercive management techniques” for possible use on prisoners, including “sleep deprivation,” “prolonged constraint,” and “exposure.”
What the trainers did not say, and may not have known, was that their chart had been copied verbatim from a 1957 Air Force study of Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean War to obtain confessions, many of them false, from American prisoners.
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Starbucks Corp (NasdaqGS:SBUX - News) said on Tuesday it plans to close another 500 underperforming stores and eliminate as many as 12,000 fill- and part-time positions.
The company, which now plans to close a total of 600 underperforming stores, will take related charges totaling more than $325 million.
Good policy can also help tip the scales quite a bit, but ultimately there are going to be some downsides to living in densely populated areas. Different people will of course have different preferences and that's why
...adding that the reverse is true obviously. You can't live in a big city and have the benefits of living in the middle of nowhere. The point is you can't just pick out the best bits that you like from each and try to combine them, though I think decades of suburban development has in large part been a failed attempt to do just that.
The worst Midwest flooding since 1993 has generated images of swamped towns, cracked roads, washed-out bridges, overwhelmed dams, failed levees, broken sewage systems, stunted crops and water-logged refugees.
The losses are in the billions of dollars and still mounting, as the costs of crop losses alone send shocks through the inflation-wracked world food system and threaten insurers.
The disaster has reminded policymakers of the decrepit state of U.S. infrastructure, stirring concerns similar to those following the deadly Minneapolis bridge collapse in 2007 and the flooding of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
The economic slowdown and the high gasoline prices hit the carmakers hard in June.
Sales fell 28 percent at the Ford Motor Company, 21.4 percent at the Toyota Motor Company and 18 percent at General Motors in June the worst month yet in a miserable year for the automobile industry.
Sales at Honda Motor Company and Volkswagen rose about 1 percent. Those two automakers are less-dependent on pickup and sport utility vehicles.
I actually think all perspectives, except the crazy people who imagine the Obama campaign is funneling lots of money to me, have merit. It is vitally important that Obama win this election, and the importance of that towers over most day to day stuff But I'm inspired to criticize at times when I think Obama (and Kerry before him) is engaging in bad politics.
Mostly I just do whatever it is I do on this sucky blog without thinking too much about it. Still I try to distinguish between actions (what Obama does as a senator) and campaign rhetoric which doesn't matter nearly as much. Obama isn't trying to win my vote and the campaign isn't going to be aimed at me. There are ways a campaign approach can narrow options after victory, but mostly a campaign is about winning. Hope is not a plan, but let's hope they actually have a plan to do that.
As with all of these things the devil is in the details, but there's nothing wrong with supporting good programs.
Speculation is probably causing some oil price volatility, but count me among those who don't really see it as the underlying cause of high prices. Though the dollar decline has of course played a significant role.
There's really no chance that the housing market will suddenly rebound, that prices will appreciate 30%, that people trapped in mortgages they can't repay - some due to crazy lending terms, some simply because they have big mortgages they could never afford - will cease to be underwater and be able to refinance or sell.
Monday, June 30, 2008
"There are many important issues in this Presidential election, clearly one of the most important issues is national security and keeping the American people safe. In my opinion, protecting the American people is the most important duty of our next President. I have made comments in the past about John McCain's service and I want to reiterate them in order be crystal clear. As I have said before I honor John McCain's service as a prisoner of war and a Vietnam Veteran. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands and millions of others in Armed Forces as a prisoner of war. I would never dishonor the service of someone who chose to wear the uniform for our nation.
“John McCain is running his campaign on his experience and how his experience would benefit him and our nation as President. That experience shows courage and commitment to our country - but it doesn't include executive experience wrestling with national policy or go-to-war decisions. And in this area his judgment has been flawed - he not only supported going into a war we didn't have to fight in Iraq, but has time and again undervalued other, non-military elements of national power that must be used effectively to protect America But as an American and former military officer I will not back down if I believe someone doesn't have sound judgment when it comes to our nation's most critical issues.”
In normal times I'd assume that there would be, as there was with Reagan, some end of presidency sentimentality modestly boosting poll numbers. I doubt it'll happen this time, and certainly not all the way to 45.
Interestingly, though it does say a leaky investigation is a bad investigation, it doesn't bother to mention all of the links ABC received which connected anthrax to then-Hitler of the week Saddam Hussein.
As a fellow Middle American, let me step up and say this: if you believe that Obama is a Muslim, unpatriotic, a terrorist, not born in America, any of the various rumors floating around about him, you are an ignorant, bigoted asshole giving in to the worst temptations of society, no matter how coddled they are by people unwilling to offend you lest they seem like the sort of elitist who doesn’t obsess over whether or not Negroes with funny names are going to kill you in your sleep. Facts don’t seem to work, so I’m more than willing to try abject shame for being unrepentant dumbassery.
Once upon a time in blogland, which was 3 million years ago in blogtime, back around the time when Howard Dean was ANGRY and all of his supporters were possessed by BUSH DERANGEMENT SYNDROME, completely blinded by irrational hatred and anger, there was a lot of talk about how assholes like me needed to be nicer and sweeter in order to reach out to those nice Midwestern folks who didn't read my sucky blog anyway. But the fact is that much of our politics has for some years been unrepentant dumbassery, even if much of it comes out of the mouths of leading mainstream media figures like Brian Williams and Maureen Dowd. There's no reasoning with it, no being nice to it. It isn't useful to simply throw up an argument or competing narrative.
In 1990, while I was in the employ of a now-defunct all-sports daily newspaper, I went to Atlanta to work on a piece about Evander Holyfield, who was preparing to fight James (Buster) Douglas for the heavyweight champeenship of the woild (!). Anyway, one night, my hotel was hosting a fundraiser for a guy named David Worley, a lawyer who was running against Newt Gingrich. What the hell, I thought, maybe the hors d'oeuvres are good. I went down to the ballroom and, in the course of extensive freeloading, I talked to a number of people from the Worley campaign who were absolutely convinced that their guy could take Gingrich down. They were extremely frosted at the Democratic National Committee, which barely bothered to return their phone calls. By the end of the evening, they even had me convinced. Turns out they were right.Signed,
Sunday, June 29, 2008
long hard slog
WASHINGTON --Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said Thursday that his country's forces would be able to assume security command by June 2007 -- which could allow the United States to start withdrawing its troops.
"I cannot answer on behalf of the U.S. administration but I can tell you that from our side our forces will be ready by June 2007," Maliki told ABC television after meeting President Bush on Thursday in Jordan.
This goal, drawn from recent interviews with more than 20 U.S. military officers and other officials here, including senior commanders, strategists and analysts, remains in the early planning stages. It is based on officials’ assessment that a sharp drawdown of troops is likely to begin by the middle of next year, with roughly two-thirds of the current force of 150,000 moving out by late 2008 or early 2009. The questions officials are grappling with are not whether the U.S. presence will be cut, but how quickly, to what level and to what purpose.
WASHINGTON - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi predicted Thursday that there would be “a drastic reduction in troops” in Iraq by the middle of 2008, saying Democratic opposition to the war had “changed the debate on Iraq in our country.”
In an interview airing Friday on MSNBC’s “Hardball,” Pelosi, D-Calif., told host Chris Matthews that while Democrats may have failed for now to force President Bush to agree to a timetable to withdraw U.S. troops, their agitation for disengagement from Iraq had backed the president into a corner.
ABC's "This Week" — Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill.; Gov. Tim Pawlenty, R-Minn.; Ralph Nader, independent presidential candidate.
CBS' "Face the Nation" — Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn.; retired Gen. Wesley Clark.
NBC's "Meet the Press" — Govs. Arnold Schwarzenegger, R-Calif., Dave Freudenthal, D-Wyo., and Bill Ritter, D-Colo.
CNN's "Late Edition" — U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker; Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; Govs. Jon Corzine, D-N.J., and Bobby Jindal, R-La.; Terry McAuliffe, campaign chairman for Hillary Rodham Clinton.
"Fox News Sunday" _ Gov. Ed Rendell, D-Pa.; former Rep. Rob Portman, R-Ohio; Bob Barr, Libertarian presidential candidate.