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Saturday, December 13, 2008

McCain Campaign Sells Blackberries Filled With Confidential Files

When I found out from Wonkette that the McCain-Palin campaign was holding a firesale of campaign sundries -- including teevees and laptops -- not far from my neighborhood, I briefly thought about driving over to see what deals there were to be had. My wife talked me out of it, telling me that what she wanted for Christmas was a gift "not drenched in the stink of terrible failure." As it turns out, I should have gone, because the campaign was selling twenty-dollar Blackberries choked with campaign emails and addresses of GOP bigwigs!
A Fox reporter documented the find:
There were only 10 left. All of the batteries had died. There were no chargers for sale. But people were snatching them up. So, we bought a couple.
And ended up with a lot more than we bargained for.
When we charged them up in the newsroom, we found one of the $20 Blackberry phones contained more than 50 phone numbers for people connected with the McCain-Palin campaign, as well as hundreds of emails from early September until a few days after election night.
We traced the Blackberry back to a staffer who worked for "Citizens for McCain," a group of Democrats who threw their support behind the Republican nominee. The emails contain an insider's look at how grassroots operations work, full of scheduling questions and rallying cries for support.
But most of the numbers were private cell phones for campaign leaders, politicians, lobbyists and journalists.
We called some of the numbers.
"Somebody made a mistake," one owner told us. "People's numbers and addresses were supposed to be erased."
"They should have wiped that stuff out," another said. But he added, "Given the way the campaign was run, this is not a surprise."

Thousands Of Investors Facing Serious Losses From Wall St. Trader's Massive Fraud

For years, investors, rivals and regulators all wondered how Bernard L. Madoff worked his magic.
But on Friday, less than 24 hours after this prominent Wall Street figure was arrested on charges connected with what authorities portrayed as the biggest Ponzi scheme in financial history, hard questions began to be raised about whether Mr. Madoff acted alone and why his suspected con game was not uncovered sooner.
As investors from Palm Beach to New York to London counted their losses on Friday in what Mr. Madoff himself described as a $50 billion fraud, federal authorities took control of what remained of his firm and began to pore over its books.
But some investors said they had questioned Mr. Madoff’s supposed investment prowess years ago, pointing to his unnaturally steady returns, his vague investment strategy and the obscure accounting firm that audited his books.
Despite these and other red flags, hedge fund companies kept promoting Mr. Madoff’s funds to other funds and individuals. More recently, banks like Nomura, the Japanese firm, began soliciting investors for Mr. Madoff internationally. The Securities and Exchange Commission, which investigated Mr. Madoff in 1992 but cleared him of wrongdoing, appears to have been completely surprised by the charges of fraud.
Now thousands, possibly tens of thousands, of investors confront losses that range from serious to devastating. Some families said on Friday that they believed they had lost all their savings. A charity in Massachusetts said it had lost essentially its entire endowment and would have to close.
According to an affidavit sworn out by federal agents, Mr. Madoff himself said the fraud had totaled approximately $50 billion, a figure that would dwarf any previous financial fraud.


Fed Refuses To Disclose Recipients Of $2 Trillion Of Emergency Loans
Dec. 12 (Bloomberg) -- The Federal Reserve refused a request by Bloomberg News to disclose the recipients of more than $2 trillion of emergency loans from U.S. taxpayers and the assets the central bank is accepting as collateral.
Bloomberg filed suit Nov. 7 under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act requesting details about the terms of 11 Fed lending programs, most created during the deepest financial crisis since the Great Depression.
The Fed responded Dec. 8, saying it’s allowed to withhold internal memos as well as information about trade secrets and commercial information. The institution confirmed that a records search found 231 pages of documents pertaining to some of the requests.
“If they told us what they held, we would know the potential losses that the government may take and that’s what they don’t want us to know,” said Carlos Mendez, a senior managing director at New York-based ICP Capital LLC, which oversees $22 billion in assets.
The Fed stepped into a rescue role that was the original purpose of the Treasury’s $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. The central bank loans don’t have the oversight safeguards that Congress imposed upon the TARP.
Total Fed lending exceeded $2 trillion for the first time Nov. 6. It rose by 138 percent, or $1.23 trillion, in the 12 weeks since Sept. 14, when central bank governors relaxed collateral standards to accept securities that weren’t rated AAA.
‘Been Bamboozled’

Friday, December 12, 2008

MSNBC's Hall Pushes Back: Obama And Blagojevich Not 'Good Friends'

Via Media Matters. On yesterday's MSNBC LIve, Republican strategist Doug Heye attempted to characterize President-elect Barack Obama and Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich as "good friends." One problem: you're not going to be able to run that game on MSNBC's Tamron Hall! Prior to coming to MSNBC, Hall spent ten years in Chicago, working for WFLD-TV. Hall immediately called the characterization into question: "I lived in Chicago for 10 years. I don't know if 'good friend' is a fair assessment, and I've covered both of them...You want to use the words, 'good friend?'" Heye attempted to mock Hall's point of view by calling William Ayers to mind, replying, "You know, maybe this was just a governor who lived in his neighborhood..." Can't run that game on Hall, either! "Well, he doesn't live in his neighborhood. They actually live on opposite sides of town," Hall replied.

Auto Bailout Talks Collapse as Senate Deadlocks Over Wages

United States Senators Who Can't Provide $14 Billion To Save Our Own People***
Allard, Colo.; Barrasso, Wyo.; Bennett, Utah; Bunning, Ky.; Burr, N.C.; Chambliss, Ga.; Coburn, Okla.; Cochran, Miss.; Coleman, Minn.; Corker, Tenn.; Crapo, Idaho; DeMint, S.C.; Ensign, Nev.; Enzi, Wyo.; Grassley, Iowa; Gregg, N.H.; Hatch, Utah; Hutchison, Texas; Inhofe, Okla.; Isakson, Ga.; Kyl, Ariz.; Martinez, Fla.; McCain, Ariz.; McConnell, Ky.; Murkowski, Alaska; Roberts, Kan.; Sessions, Ala.; Shelby, Ala.; Thune, S.D.; Vitter, La.; Wicker, Miss.Baucus, Mont.; Lincoln, Ark.; Reid, Nev.; Tester, Mont***

United States Senators Who Had No Fucking Problem Spending A Half A Trllion Dollars On
Allard, Colo; Baucus, MT; Bennett, Utah ; Bunning, Ky; Cochran, Miss; Crapo, Idaho;Ensign, Nev.; Enzi, Wyo.; Grassley, Iowa; Grassley, Iowa; Gregg, N.H.; Hatch, Utah; Hutchison, Texas; Inhofe, Okla.; Kyl, Ariz.; McCain, Ariz.; McConnell, Ky.; Murkowski, Alaska; Roberts, Kan.; Reid, Nev.; Sessions, Ala.; Shelby, Ala.;


Why didn’t the fat cats on Wall Street have to cut their pay and bonuses, health care and retirement benefits?Good question

Answer? Because we’re IDIOTS (without lobbyists)http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/14-reasons-main-street-loses/story.aspx?guid=%7BF63EC448-D9C1-4138-AC18-97BF0FE68EE3%7D

A The Single BEST Article About The Economy - Joseph Stiglitz in Vanity FairPaste and copy this link in all those emails you're getting from your right wing Uncle saying it was ALL poor people...& Fannie &Freddie'fault.

AND NOW THE NEWSAIG – It’s BONUS time! The insurance company plans to hand over millions of dollars to its own employees.

BERNAERD MADOFF BEHIND BARS Former Nasdaq chairman gets arrested for possibly committing a $50 billion fraud scheme

SOUTHERN BASTARDS FIDDLE WHILE THE NORTH BURNSAUTO FAIL-OUT The Germans and Japanese win WW2, destroy America.It just took 63 extra years. And the Senate Republicans. GOP Kills Auto Bailout. Welcome, Depression.

The South Wins The Civil War?Classic Southern aristocratic disgust with organized workers, plus big money relationships with foreigners. Sounds like pure antebellum.

Talks Collapse Over Wages Thank Bob Corker for killing the Heartland because he thinks workers make too much. Barbara Boxer says senate "playing Russian Roulette with our economy..."

Corker Blames The Unions

It's "Herbert Hoover Time"The words of...of all people...Dick Cheney as he tried in vain to bring around Repubs on a deal the White House supported.

38 Days Too Long. Suppliers Can't Wait.The make parts for EVERYONE (Asian brands share 58% of suppliers with GM).....but Big 3 bills aren't paid, and they're on the verge of shutdown. Tell that to your slaves, Massah Shelby.

Tens Of Thousands Of Jobs Will Vanish Before ChristmasGM, Chrysler will be forced to close plants, radically cut production. Up to 3,000 GM dealerships alone could close nationwide. A nuclear attack on the midwest couldn't do more to ruin its' solvency. Thank you, anti-union Republicans.

Voices Of MichiganSenators, here's the people you are betraying....hardworking Americans now filled with fear for their families.

Now it’s up to Bush to release The TARP funds or plunge us into a Depression Seriously

The $73/hr figure is total bullcrap. http://www.freep.com/article/20081211/BUSINESS01/812110408

Hourly wages for UAW workers at GM factories are about equal to those paid by Toyota Motor Corp. at its older U.S. factories, according to the companies. GM says the average UAW laborer makes $29.78 per hour, while Toyota says it pays about $30 per hour. But the unionized factories have far higher benefit costs.

The UAW agreed to cap the cost of retiree health care through creation of an independent trust fund and agreed to cut wages in half, to $14 an hour, for new hires in non-assembly jobs (20% of the workforce

Autoworkers – “The cost of labor is 8% of the cost of a new car. We could work for free and it wouldn’t solve the problem”

$700 Billion BAILOUT...And Executives Are STILL Taking Millions In BonusesNeel Kashkari on the hot seat in Congressional Hearings

Bob Corker’s TENNESSEE

CEO of Compuware gets it

ECONOMY SINKING FASTER AND FASTER Jobless claims reach a 26 year high

Economy shedding jobs at an “alarming” rate

Hundreds of thousands of jobs being cut


We’re ALL Subprime NOW

WHERE’S THE DAMN STIMULUS PACKAGE PRESIDENT BUSH?http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/07/AR2008110701246_pf.html

BLAG-OY!-EVICHRahm Emanuel talked to Blago multiple times about Senate Seat likely on tape. Obama to turn over all docs – Absolutely sure “NO deal making”

Only two questions left for Obama

Blago Ultimatum: Quit Or We Bounce YouIL AG Madigan spearheads the charge...and threats....to remove Blagojevich from office

Obama Avoided Blago Like The PlagueDidn't see Blago speaking at the Convention? There was a reason. Obama and Blagojevich couldn't stand one another.

"Good Friend?"On MSNBC , Repub hack tries to make Blago and Barack best buds. One problem: The host had lived in Chicago and knew better

Obama In Damage ControlNah, nothing else to worry about, right? President-Elect forced to weigh in on Blago nonsense

The Narcissism ClassIt's an epidemic in politics & business. Right, Rod?http://www.nypost.com/seven/12122008/postopinion/opedcolumnists/nuts_galore_143737.htm

Obama Brings Good Cheer to Sidwell Friends

Portis/Zorn isn’t the only rivalry to heat up around here lately: For Sidwell Friends/Maret, it’s on.
On Saturday, Maret’s basketball boys were leading Sidwell Friends on the road when the home crowd taunted the visitors with a chant ripped from the headlines:
“The Sidwell kids started yelling ‘O-ba-ma! O-ba-ma! O-ba-ma!’ at us,” a Maret parent who attended the game tells me.
The First Family Elect’s first major post-election decision, of course, dealt with where to send daughters Malia and Sasha to school. Most reports had Maret and Sidwell as the finalists in the Obama sweepstakes.
After tours of both, Sidwell landed the kids for next year. So while Malia and Sasha aren’t even enrolled there yet, they’re already cheerleaders. And what the Sidwell fans were telling Maret with their “O-ba-ma!” chant was: “Even if you whup us at hoops, we still beat you in a bigger game!”
The Maret parent says Maret’s administrators looked confused, and Sidwell’s bemused, as “O-ba-ma! O-ba-ma! O-ba-ma!” rained down from the grandstand.
Just words? Hardly.

We should not change the standards now that a Democrat is making the selection."

Blames Rove
The Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee signaled on Friday that he will not acquiesce to GOP complaints and would stick to his original timeline for considering the nomination of Eric Holder as Attorney General.
In a lengthy statement from his office, Sen. Patrick Leahy offered no indication that he would move hearings on the Holder appointment from their scheduled date of January 8th. Moreover, he called GOP complaints that the nomination was being too quickly considered a fabricated and hypocritical critique driven by former Bush operative Karl Rove.
"In my statement to the Senate on November 20, I commended Senators Hatch, Sessions, Coburn, and Grassley for their nonpartisanship when they praised his selection. Senator Hatch spoke of his support for Mr. Holder, his experience and reputation. Senator Sessions, a former prosecutor, U.S. Attorney, and State Attorney General who is well aware of the problems at the Justice Department, said he was disposed to support him. Senator Coburn called it 'a good choice.' In addition, Senator Grassley has acknowledged Mr. Holder's impeccable credentials while reserving judgment. But of course since then, Karl Rove has appeared on the Today Show and signaled that Republicans ought to go after Mr. Holder. Right-wing talk radio took up the drum beat."

Sorry, We’re Booked, White House Tells Obamas

Updated 3:12 p.m. CHICAGO—The White House has turned down a request from the family of President-elect Barack Obama to move into Blair House in early January so that his daughters can start school on January 5.
The Obamas were told that Blair House, where incoming presidents usually stay in the five days before Inauguration Day, is booked in early January, a spokesperson to the Obama transition said. “We explored the idea so that the girls could start school on schedule,’ the spokesperson said. “But, there were previously scheduled events and guests that couldn’t be displaced.”
It remained unclear who on Bushes guest list outranked the incoming President.
“It’s not a public schedule,” said Sally McDonough, spokeswoman for First Lady Laura Bush, in refusing to disclose who was staying at Blair House. “It’s not a question of outranking the Obamas. Blair House will be available to them on January 15.”
Ms. McDonough said “there’s nothing more to say other than that it’s not available and won’t be available until January 15.” She added that “you’re trying to make a story out of something that’s not a story.”
A State Department official said he didn’t know of any foreign dignitaries staying at Blair House in early January.
A White House official said that Mr. Bush does not have family or friends from Texas staying at Blair House during the period which the Obamas requested. But Blair House, the official said, has been booked for “receptions and gatherings” by members of the outgoing Bush administration. Those receptions, the official said, “don’t make it suitable for full-time occupancy by the Obamas yet.”Read more…

GOP: White House Ruined Bailout Deal

GOP Senator: Bush Ruined Everything
WASHINGTON — A key Republican negotiator on the failed auto rescue package is blaming the White House for undermining attempts to reach a deal.
Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker says the Bush administration undercut his negotiating power with the United Auto Workers by making clear the auto industry would get an emergency lifeline even if talks in Congress collapsed.
Corker says that's what happened Thursday night. He says UAW negotiators felt there was no point in conceding the final point toward striking a deal because they believed the automakers would get money from the White House.
Corker told reporters on Friday that the deal probably fell through because the union knew "that the White House at the end of the day would probably blink."


More signs have emerged that Eric Holder's nomination for Attorney General will face a bitter committee fight as Republican Senators on Thursday criticized Holder's work in the Clinton White House and even attempted to tie him to disgraced Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich
Addressing the Senate during what was ostensibly a session to debate the auto industry bailout, Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) both took to the floor to raise objections not just to the current date for confirmation hearings, which they would like to delay, but to various episodes from Holder's past.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

"100 Percent Effective"

Breaking The Will
How waterboarding got the green light from Bush.
The Bush administration approved the use of "waterboarding" on Al Qaeda detainees after receiving reports from government psychologists that it was "100 percent effective" in breaking the will of U.S. military personnel subjected to the technique during training, according to documents released today by a Senate Committee.
The Senate Armed Services report concludes that waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques—including forcing detainees to stand naked, subjecting them to growling dogs and depriving them of sleep—were discussed by top members of the National Security Council and other senior administration officials inside the White House. Some officials expressed strong concerns about the legality of the methods. But the techniques were ultimately given the green light, based on government assessments that showed such methods were quick and effective in breaking down the resistance of U.S. military officers who were subjected to them in so-called Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape (SERE) classes.
Report Finds
WASHINGTON — The physical and mental abuse of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was the direct result of Bush administration detention policies and should not be dismissed as the work of bad guards or interrogators, according to a bipartisan Senate report released Thursday.
The Senate Armed Services Committee report concludes that harsh interrogation techniques used by the CIA and the U.S. military were directly adapted from the training techniques used to prepare special forces personnel to resist interrogation by enemies that torture and abuse prisoners. The techniques included forced nudity, painful stress positions, sleep deprivation, and until 2003, waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning.
The report is the result of a nearly two-year investigation that directly links President Bush's policies after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, legal memos on torture, and interrogation rule changes with the abuse photographed at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq four years ago. Much of the report remains classified. Unclassified portions of the report were released by the committee Thursday.
Administration officials publicly blamed the abuses on low-level soldiers_ the work "of a few bad apples." Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., called that "both unconscionable and false."

The A******* voted for Georgie 100% of the time for 8 years, and now they want to show that they have balls, simply amazing

Reid called the bill's collapse "a loss for the country," adding "I dread looking at Wall Street tomorrow. It's not going to be a pleasant sight."
WASHINGTON — A $14 billion emergency bailout for U.S. automakers collapsed in the Senate Thursday night after the United Auto Workers refused to accede to Republican demands for swift wage cuts.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he was "terribly disappointed" about the demise of an emerging bipartisan deal to rescue Detroit's Big Three.
He spoke shortly after Republicans left a closed-door meeting where they balked at giving the automakers federal aid unless their powerful union agreed to slash wages next year to bring them into line with those of Japanese carmakers.
Republican Sen. George V. Voinovich of Ohio, a strong bailout supporter, said the UAW was willing to make the cuts _ but not until 2011.
Reid was working to set a swift test vote on the measure Thursday night, but it was just a formality. The bill was virtually certain to fail to reach the 60-vote threshold it would need to clear to advance.
Reid called the bill's collapse "a loss for the country," adding "I dread looking at Wall Street tomorrow. It's not going to be a pleasant sight."

Wanda Sykes: "There's Gonna Be Some Booty-Slapping" In The White House

How Bush has done a lot for black people and should get a Source award:

Sykes said of the Obamas:"I am so excited that now we are going to have some action in the White House... You see they're into each other, which is cool. There's going to be some booty slapping, because he's got those big ears. We finally got a First Lady with a nice ass."
On the economy:"Black people know how to pinch a penny... He'll get the budget straight."
How Bush has done a lot for black people and should get a Source award:"President Bush has done more for black people than anybody else in the history of this country... If he wasn't such a screw up, this never would have happened." LinkHere

Colin Powell Slams Sarah Palin: I'm From The South Bronx... "Nothing Wrong With My Value System"

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell took aim at Sarah Palin and the Republican party's emphasis on small-town values during an interview with CNN's Fareed Zakharia that will air this Sunday.
Powell also says that we should rethink its "don't ask, don't tell" policy on homosexuals in the military.
As noted by Think Progress, Powell says:
Gov. Palin, to some extent, pushed the party more to the right, and I think she had something of a polarizing effect when she talked about how small town values are good. Well, most of us don't live in small towns. And I was raised in the South Bronx, and there's nothing wrong with my value system from the South Bronx.
And when they came to Virginia and said the southern part of Virginia is good and the northern part of Virginia is bad. The only problem with that is there are more votes in the northern part of Virginia than there are in the southern part of Virginia, so that doesn't work. LinkHere

Powell on Small-Town Values

Watchdog group: Depth of Bush failures surprised even us

With the Bush administration about to leave office after reaching record-setting disapproval ratings, the nation might be in the mood for some New Year's resolutions pinpointing mistakes of the last eight years that it never, ever wants to make again.
For example, the country might want to do something about its massive backlogs in various essential government functions -- including 730,000 backlogged patent applications, 760,000 Social Security disability claims, and 806,000 Veterans Affairs disability claims.
The nation might also resolve to avoid a recurrence of the recent losses of hundreds of laptops containing sensitive law enforcement information, or to rethink the decision to keep plowing $12.5 billion into a joint civilian-military weather satellite system that is still incomplete and may leave gaps in crucial climate monitoring as older satellites fail.
The most comprehensive guide to these and other Bush administration failures is a new list compiled by the Center for Public Integrity (CPI), a non-profit investigative journalism group which recently "set out to document just how off-track things have gone," assigning thirteen reporters to document the worst failures of the last eight years.

'Won't Work'

Although Republicans have been doing their best to implicate President-elect Barack Obama in the scandal involving Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's attempt to sell Obama's former Senate seat to the highest bidder, New York Times columnist Frank Rich believes Obama has nothing to worry about.In an appearance Wednesday on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show, Rich began by suggesting that the extravagantly obscene transcripts of Blagojevich's conversations are "going to be the gift that keeps on giving, I think, for quite a while ... but the attempts to link Obama to it are almost as laughable as the transcripts themselves.""Republicans, for obvious reasons, they want to tie Blagojevich to Obama like an anchor," Maddow noted."Right, but it won't work," Rich replied confidently. He suggested that the Republicans are "just trying to change the subject" now that 79% of Americans tell pollsters they won't miss George Bush's when he's gone and even Joe the Plumber is saying he was appalled and embarrassed by John McCain.

Obama Team Fears Total Economic Collapse Of Unstable Nation

The First New Foreign Crisis
It's quite unsettling to talk to members of Barack Obama's transition teams these days, especially those who are helping with the economics portfolio. Without going into details, the sense I get from them is that they are very worried that the economy will get a lot worse before it gets better. Not just worse... a lot worse. As in -- double digit unemployment without the wiggle factors. Huge declines in aggregate demand. Significant, persistent deficits. That's one reason why the Obama administration seems to be open to listening to every economist with an idea and is stocking the staff with the leading lights of the field. In one sense, the general level of concern among Obama advisers and transition staffers is reassuring; they get the magnitude of the problems, and they're not going to assume that, just because the bottom has never dropped out before -- certainly not in the lifetimes of most people doing policy these days, the bottom will never drop out.Where the discussion isn't going, at least in public, (or the PR level), is the possibility that the first foreign policy crisis the administration will face will be the complete economic collapse of a large, unstable nation. To be sure, Pakistan is nearly broke, and U.S. policy makers seem to be aware of that; but a worldwide demand crisis could lead to social unrest in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, Singapore, the Ukraine, Japan, Turkey or Egypt (which is facing an internal political crisis of epic proportions already). The U.S. won't have the resources to, say, engineer the rescue of the peso again, or intervene in Asia as in 1997. The public rhetoric from Team Obama seems to treat history as having ended in early October, which is understandable; the priority right now is on the liquidity crisis, the structure of government and the peopling of the administration and the domestic economy. Most of the administration's major policy voices don't have the luxury of time to game out scenarios. Now -- it can fairly be said that Treasury nominee Tim Geithner, himself an assistant secretary for international economic affairs during the Clinton administration, is aware of the precarious state demand in certain critical countries, as is Larry Summers. The question: what's the administration's policy in this area? Which countries can we afford to let fail? Which unstable states would concern us the most? Is there something the U.S. can do, in advance, should do, in advance, to forestall the collapse of other economies?

Poll: Obama's Handling Of Transition Is Winning Over McCain Voters

Bob Cesca: Obama Unfairly Tainted by Crimes He Didn't Commit

We've seen this before: specious attempts to connect Barack Obama with corrupt or controversial figures in Chicago, followed, then, by a Republican and establishment media outcry for the president-elect to denounce and reject them. It appears as if in this post-Bushie universe, the president-elect doesn't have to be involved in corruption in order to be pegged as corrupt. Indeed, he can be entirely and vigorously declared to be absolutely corruption-free and still be tagged with the red letter "T" for "taint." This is what we can expect for the next four years. The crazy has only just begun.
Really, is there anything the President-elect can do to satisfy these people?
Let's check the recent historical record. When former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was accused of ethics violations and money laundering, and then was indicted on charges of conspiring to commit campaign finance fraud and consequently resigned from Congress in disgrace, President Bush publicly denounced and rejected DeLay -- a fellow Texan.
Oh. Wait. President Bush didn't denounce DeLay at all. In fact...
Bush Expresses a Belief in DeLay's Innocence New York Times
President Bush Shows Support to Embattled DeLay The News Hour
President Says DeLay Is Not Guilty of Money Laundering The Washington Post
Bush Declares DeLay Innocent The Washington Post
Lott urges Bush to give DeLay 'aggressive support'The Washington Times
Bush to Give DeLay a Lift to Show SupportThe Los Angeles Times
Read that last headline again. Not only did President Bush not denounce and reject the corrupt Republican leader, but DeLay was literally rewarded with a free ride aboard Air Force One. Both men wantonly tainting each other aboard the presidential aircraft.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Blagojevich Profanity-Laced Conversations Reenacted On "Rachel Maddow"

Everybody's been reading over the obscenity-strewn transcribed conversations of Rod Blagojevich and realizing that he's the most profane, David Mamet-like politician since Tom Tancredo bellowed, "This hurts me? Hurt me like this all day long. Hurt me. Hurt me. That kind of shit doesn't hurt me." So to drive the point home in a funny way, here's a clip from the Rachel Maddow Show professing to be an Enhanced History Re-Enactment Event, that features strings of Blago blather shouted aloud by people attempting the sort of Chicagoland dialect that was best left for Mike Royko's "Slats Grobnik" to voice. Anyway, LOTS OF SWEARING. And, over time, the dialect sort of migrates, settling into something of a "Sarah Palin." Make of that what you will!

Pakistan Has Been Playing Us For Fools Since 9/11

Word that Pakistan has arrested--no, detained--Masood Azhar, the leader of the terrorist group that pulled off the Mumbai assault is being greeted by great skepticism in both the U.S. and India, and with good reason. For one thing, Azhar had been similarly arrested in 2001, after his Lashkar-a-Taiba terrorists invaded the Indian parliament, but released 11 months later. But more important, it is finally dawning on some in Washington--if not exactly those packing their bags and shredding their files in the Bush White House--that Pakistan has played us for fools ever since September 11, 2001.
I'll have a lot more to say about this in the print edition this week, specifically with regard to the war in Afghanistan, but the combination of the Mumbai attacks and the incoming Obama Administration should represent the beginning of a new era with regard to US-Pakistani relations. There are those who counsel continued caution: the democratic government of Asif Ali Zardari is fragile. It has been making the right noises. It is beginning to fight the jihadi threat in its Northwest province and tribal areas. Zardari intends to lower the temperative with India and has begun to cooperate with Afghanistan.


Update - 6:20PM ET: All fifty members of the Democratic Senate caucus have signed Majority Leader Harry Reid's letter calling on Gov. Rod Blagojevich to step down from his post and refrain from appointing anyone to the vacated Illinois Senate seat, a source confirms.
The development is noteworthy on several fronts. It signals that the Democratic Party, led by the Nevada Democrat, is organizing a united front against allegations of corruption - though, on this matter, it would be remarkable had any Senator refused to sign the petition. More importantly, it indicates that the Democratic senators are prepared to exercise their constitutional authority to undo any move that Blagojevich may make before he exits office.
Because he is still, officially, the governor, Blagojevich has the power to appoint Barack Obama's replacement. Illinois officials have tried to take away such authority by passing legislation that would allow the seat to be decided by a special election. But Blagojevich could make the appointment before the bill becomes law. That said, the United States Senate has the power to reject his appointment - something that Reid threatened in his letter. The fact that 49 other Democratic colleagues, including Vice President-elect Joseph Biden and Secretary of State nominee Hillary Clinton, have signed this letter suggest that they are serious about pushing back against any 11th-hour Blagojevich move.

: Bill Ayers Calls Accusations "Profoundly Dishonest" On Hardball

"I don't tend to watch television news...I have three grown sons who kind of filter those things and they sent it to me."
That's Bill Ayers, making an appearance this evening on Hardball, with Chris Matthews. Once of the Weather Underground, Ayers was more recently a central figure in the vast booga-foo nightmare that the GOP tried to paralyze the nation with to prevent the election of Barack Obama, because they didn't have any ideas or policies they wanted to talk about instead. I guess. I mean, such things could have been useful to a presidential campaign or something! Anyway, instead, we had loud braying about how Obama and Ayers might have met at some point, and Obama's failure to strike Ayers down in cold blood for his crimes was proof that they were in cahoots with one another. Or, in the parlance of Alaska Secessionists, "pallin' around."
Asked about his reaction to Palin's "palling around with terrorists remark, Ayers said: "I thought it was outrageous and profoundly dishonest, and I chose not to react to it at the time."

Obama Backed Fitzgerald, Despite GOP Claims

Republican officials are working overtime, it seems, to draw the first political blood from President-elect Obama by connecting him to the arrest of his home-state governor, Rod Blagojevich. Much of this effort is driven by Obama's own refusal to weigh in on the matter (specifically, the extent of his own staff's contacts with Blagojevich) -- a stance he is perfectly entitled to take, but one that lets GOP officials bemoan a lack of transparency.
Some of the criticisms, however are truly devoid of sincerity, including one being pushed by Illinois State GOP Chair Andy McKenna. In an interview with Politico, the Illinois Republican questioned whether Obama would keep U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald at his post -- the implication being that, since Fitzgerald was now looking into Democratic corruption, Obama would want to get him out of the way.
A basic Lexis Nexis search, as pointed out by Talking Points Memo's Greg Sargent, would have answered McKenna's question: Obama has said that he wants Fitzgerald to continue on the job.
There is, however, even more public information available that McKenna and others could have accessed. Here is a transcript from the Chicago Tribune in December 2006.

ABC News: Jesse Jackson Jr. Is Senate Candidate Number 5

***UPDATE***1:40pm ESTNBC News is now reporting, along with ABC News, that "Senate Candidate #5" is Jesse Jackson Jr.:
A law enforcement official confirms that the person referred to in the federal criminal complaint against Gov. Rod Blagojevich as "Candidate 5" is Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.
However, federal officials caution that they have no evidence, other than statements made by Blagojevich, about whether Candidate 5 actually made any improper approaches to the governor. No conversations with Candidate 5 were ever picked up on any of the bugs or wiretaps.
***UPDATE*** 12:00pm EST
The Chicago Sun-Times is also reporting that Jesse Jackson, Jr. is "Senate Candidate #5," according to sources.
ABC News' Brian Ross is reporting that Jesse Jackson, Jr. is "Senate Candidate #5" in the Blagojevich indictment:
Chicago Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) is the anonymous "Senate Candidate #5" whose emissaries Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich reportedly claimed offered up to a million dollars to name him to the U.S. Senate, federal law enforcement sources tell ABC News. [...]
Jackson Jr. said this morning he was contacted yesterday by federal prosecutors in Chicago who he said "asked me to come in and share with them my insights and thoughts about the selection process."
Jackson Jr. said "I don't know" when asked if he was Candidate #5, but said he was told "I am not a target of this investigation."

"The intelligence failure in Iraq."

WASHINGTON — Gently admonishing President George W. Bush, the nation's newly retired chief intelligence analyst on Tuesday suggested that the Iraq war was as much the failure of policymakers as it was the flawed intelligence on which they relied.
Bush told ABC News last week his biggest regret was "the intelligence failure in Iraq."
"I wish the intelligence had been different, I guess," Bush said.
Thomas Fingar, until this week the deputy director of national intelligence for analysis, declined to directly address the president's swipe. But he said: "I learned something a long time ago in this town. There are only two possibilities: policy success and intelligence failure."
Fingar is in a better position than many in the intelligence agencies to assess those possibilities. Before the Iraq invasion, he was second in command of a small group of State Department analysts that notably cast doubt_ albeit behind closed doors _ on a key Bush administration rationale for the 2003 war.'

Torturing Democracy

The Documentary PBS Does Not Want You to See Before Jan 21, 2009

Video and Transcript

"Torturing Democracy" is a new documentary which details how the government set aside the rule of law in its pursuit of harsh interrogations of suspected terrorists.

Guantanamo 'a Stain on US Military'

Gitmo Military Prosecutor Breaks His Silence

9 Minute Video Report From The BBC
Former Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld, a former U.S. prosecutor at Guantanamo, told BBC yesterday in his first interview since resigning earlier this year that Guantanamo detainees were treated in a "wrong, unethical and finally, immoral" manner. Watch BBC's segment:

Babylon's History Swept Away in US Army Sandbags

Agence France-Presse:
"Fragments of bricks, engraved with cuneiform characters thousands of years old, lie mixed with the rubble and sandbags left by the US military on the ancient site of Babylon in Iraq. In this place, one of the cradles of civilisation, US troops in 2003-2004 built embankments, dug ditches and spread gravel to hold the fuel reservoirs needed to supply the heliport of Camp Alpha. Today, archaeologists say a year of terracing work and 18 months of military presence, with tanks and helicopters, have caused irreparable damage."

US Forces Mistakenly Kill Six Afghan Police

Kirk Semple, The New York Times:
"American forces killed six Afghan police officers and one civilian Wednesday during an assault on the hideout of a suspected Taliban commander, in what a senior military spokesman called a 'tragic case of mistaken identity,' the authorities said. Thirteen Afghan security officers were wounded in the incident. A statement issued jointly by the American and Afghan military commands said a contingent of police officers fired on American forces after the Americans had successfully overrun the hideout, killing the suspected Taliban commander and detaining another man."
Media Matters' Jamison Foser makes note of an emerging press conceit to be on the lookout for -- Blagojevich stories that seem to raise the specter of President-Elect Barack Obama being "implicated in the scandal, followed by concessions that he, you know...isn't."*
Ironically, on last night's Hannity & Colmes, the opposite occurred. On four separate occasions, it was mentioned that the raft of legal documents contained material that was "exculpatory" to Obama. Sean Hannity made mention of it, early in the show:
HANNITY: But for all of the Obama supporters out there that say Sean Hannity never gives the President-elect a break, there is exculpatory information in here that I think helps Barack Obama a ton. And let me tell you what it is. When the Governor Blagojevich says they're not willing to give me, and he was talking specifically about Obama, anything except appreciation [for giving his preferred Senate candidate the vacated seat], I would think that that works very favorably for the President-elect. The thing that works against him is what Blagojevich said the day before where, quote, "he would work with the Service Employees International Union," they'd work out a deal that would benefit Blagojevich, and that, quote, something favorable would go to the union from the President-elect in the future.
Now, of course, Hannity's second point depends on a Barack Obama who, having spurned a shady quid pro quo in the first place, would be willing to keep a shady promise to someone else at a later date. This does not seem like plausible human behavior to me, but hey, it's not like the White House has been some Temple to Plausible Human Behavior lately. The salient point is this: as far as any ongoing corruption is concerned, what Fitzgerald has put out there more or less indicates that Obama wasn't willing to participate in anything out of bounds.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

CHICAGO — The creditor of a Chicago plant where laid-off employees are conducting a sit-in to demand severance pay said Tuesday it would extend loans to the factory so it could resolve the dispute, but the workers declared their protest unfinished.
A resolution seemed nearer as Bank of America, which yanked the plant's financing last week, announced it sent a letter to Republic Windows and Doors offering "a limited amount of additional loans" to resolve its employee claims.
About 200 of the 240 laid-off workers had responded to their three days' notice of the plant closing by staging a sit-in and vowing to stay put until assurances they would get severance and accrued vacation pay.
Their protest has come to symbolize the plight of laid-off workers around the nation as the economy crumbles.
Lawmakers in Illinois have singled out Bank of America for criticism, blasting the Charlotte, N.C.-based company for cutting off the plant's credit after the bank itself received $25 billion from the government's financial bailout package.
Word of Bank of America's loan offer came as the bank, union representatives and Republic held talks in Chicago on the fifth day of the sit-in.


As the full extent of Rod Blagojevich's alleged scheme to auction off the vacant Illinois Senate seat became known, some of the Governor's Illinois colleagues were at a loss to explain what, exactly, he was thinking.
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D), in an interview Tuesday afternoon, was nearly shell-shocked by the full extent of the Justice Department's complaint, saying that Blagojevich had exhibited remarkably reckless behavior.
"I think, perhaps, [crazy] is sort of a clinically appropriate word," she said of Blagojevich, who allegedly sought to reap massive financial rewards from candidates vying for Obama's seat. "If you think about it, this individual who was still willing to entertain the notion of himself as Secretary of Health and Human Services or being a candidate 2016. There is something not right there ... It is absolutely so fanciful or delusional and individual. It's not representative of, 'well here are the rules.' It is not, in fact, the way most political people would handle a serious situation."
Schakowsky, considered a possible replacement for Obama, argued that Blagojevich, in light of these charges, should step down from office. Absent that, she added, the Illinois state government should launch impeachment proceedings. She agreed with the notion -- put forward by State Senate President Emil Jones and Senator Dick Durbin -- that the legislature should pass a bill allowing the people of Illinois to determine Obama's replacement (legislation that Blagojevich would, if governor, have to sign). And she cautioned that anyone appointed by the embattled governor to the post -- even if that person was herself -- would not enjoy political legitimacy.

House Energy and Commerce Committee -- accuses Martin of manipulating data and suppressing information

House Report Slams FCC Chair For Manipulating Data, Suppressing Information
WASHINGTON (AP) -- In a scathing report released Tuesday, congressional investigators outlined a pattern of mismanagement, dysfunction and abuse of power at the Federal Communications Commission under the agency's Republican chairman, Kevin Martin.
The report -- the result of a nearly yearlong, bipartisan investigation by the House Energy and Commerce Committee -- accuses Martin of manipulating data and suppressing information to influence telecommunications policy debates at the agency and on Capitol Hill.
The report also charges that the commission has become politicized, failed to carry out some important responsibilities under Martin's leadership, and blames him for undermining an open and transparent regulatory process.
Martin also is accused of micromanaging commission affairs, demoting agency staffers who did not agree with him and withholding information from his fellow commissioners. "Chairman Martin's heavy-handed, opaque, and non-collegial management style has created distrust, suspicion and turmoil among the five current commissioners," the report says.
Martin's legacy at the FCC will be "a blueprint of what not to do," said Bart Stupak, D-Mich., who chairs the House Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations

O'Reilly, Rove Agree Reports On Economic Crisis Part Of Media Cabal To Help Obama

Think Progress catches Bill O'Reilly and Karl Rove agreeing that there is a conscious effort among parts of the media, including the New York Times, to paint a dire picture of the economy in order to help Obama. Their logic seems to be that if the media can portray the economic situation as direly as possible, any change when Obama takes office will be for the better, thus giving the new president a bump. We're of the mind that the economic crisis is actually as serious as news reports make it out to be. Think Progress explains.
Watch O'Reilly and Rove discuss this sinister media cabal.

Rove, O'Reilly Blame Media For Hyping Bad Economy

"Appalled Me," Made Me Feel "Dirty"

Joe the Plumber: McCain "Appalled Me," Made Me Feel "Dirty"
Politico reports that Joe Wurzelbacher isn't a huge fan of the man who made him famous. He told conservative radio host Glenn Beck that he felt "dirty" after "being on the campaign trail and seeing some of the things that take place."
"I honestly felt even more dirty after I had been on the campaign trail and seen some things that take place. It was scary, man," Wurzelbacher said. He told Beck he asked McCain "some pretty direct questions" about the bailout, and wasn't pleased with the response. "They appalled me, absolutely. You know, I was angry. In fact, I wanted to get off the bus after I talked to him.
Asked why he didn't leave McCain's campaign if he was "appalled" by the candidate, Wurzelbacher said, "Honestly, because the thought of Barack Obama as president scares me even more."
While Wurzelbacher was critical of McCain, he gushed about Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. "Sarah Palin is absolutely the real deal," he said.
You know, I only got to spend a short amount of time with her but, you know, it was been asked if I felt any presence when I was with John McCain or Barack Obama. You know, with Sarah Palin, I don't want to say I felt a presence but she definitely had energy and she definitely went to work for American people, and it disgusts me on how often they try to bash her just for her sincerity. It's just, you know, she really wants to work for America and I mean, I wish people would listen to her and let them, and let her work for us. You know, she wants to serve us. She's not looking for power.
Read the whole interview and listen to audio here.

"Strange Alliance"

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, often described as the mastermind of 9/11, and four other prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay told a military judge on Monday that they wish to plead guilty to all charges. Law professor Jonathan Turley sees this confession as a "strange alliance" between Mohammed and George W. Bush, where both men get what they want -- martyrdom in Mohammed's case and vindication in Bush's -- and President-elect Barack Obama is stuck in the middle with a dilemma on his hands.Mohammed and the other accused terrorists first announced their plan to confess on November 4, which -- as MSNBC's Rachel Maddow pointed out in introducing Turley -- was "the day America elected a president who is expected to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay and is expected to close the military tribunal system.""Could it be that they want to beat the clock?" Maddow asked. "They want to make sure they are convicted, and probably executed, under Bush's tribunal system because that feels more like martyrdom to them than risking going into an actual non-kangaroo court trial in a real legal system?"


For Bush's staff, upbeat talking points on his tenure

Administration officials get a memo from the White House suggesting what to say about the last eight years: President Bush upheld 'the honor and the dignity of his office,' for one.
Reporting from Washington -- In case any Bush administration officials have trouble summing up the boss' record, the White House is providing a few helpful suggestions. A two-page memo that has been sent to Cabinet members and other high-ranking officials offers a guide for discussing Bush's eight-year tenure during their public speeches.
Titled "Speech Topper on the Bush Record," the talking points state that Bush "kept the American people safe" after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, lifted the economy after 2001 through tax cuts, curbed AIDS in Africa and maintained "the honor and the dignity of his office."The document presents the Bush record as an unalloyed success. It mentions none of the episodes that detractors say have marred his presidency: the collapse of the housing market and major financial services companies, the flawed intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war, the federal response to Hurricane Katrina or the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

Now, Finally, We Can Clean Up This State

It is a day many have long anticipated, but wished would never happen.
Two years ago I took on Mr. Blagojevich in the Democratic Primary. It was already clear back then that he was deeply involved in the kind of pay-to-play politics that have tainted Illinois for too long. I've received dozens of calls and messages this morning. The ones who don't know me that well said, "You must be so happy." I'm not. I'm heartbroken. This is a day many have long anticipated, but wished would never happen.


AP: Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested on Tuesday on charges he brazenly conspired to sell or trade the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by President-elect Barack Obama to the highest bidder in what a federal prosecutor called a "corruption crime spree."
U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald told a news conference prosecutors make "no allegations" Obama was aware of any alleged scheming.
Blagojevich also was charged with illegally threatening to withhold state assistance to Tribune Co., the owner of the Chicago Tribune, in the sale of Wrigley Field, according to a federal criminal complaint. In return for state assistance, Blagojevich allegedly wanted members of the paper's editorial board who had been critical of him fired.
"We were in the middle of a corruption crime spree and we wanted to stop it," Fitzgerald said Tuesday, calling the corruption charges against Blagojevich "a truly new low."

WATCH: Fitzgerald later in the conference discussing why the arrest had to happen today, saying that Illinois is in the midst of a "corruption crime spree."

Illinois Governor in Federal Custody


Durbin Urges Special Election For Obama's Seat After Blagojevich Charges

MediaTribune Editor: Prosecutors Asked Us To Delay Stories On Blagojevich

Illinois Dem Governor Rod Blagojevich Arrested on Multiple Federal Felony Charges, As Chicago-Based BuzzFlash Has Predicted for Months -- The BuzzFlash Editor's Blog

Why Barack Obama left Springfield

Buzz Flash
To thwart Blagojevich, Dick Durbin wants a special election for Obama's Senate seat
Meet Pat Quinn: the man who might pick Barack Obama's Senate replacement
Fitzgerald: 'He attempted to sell the Senate seat'
Master of delusion: IL Gov. Rod Blagojevich thought he might run for president in 2016
Highlights: DOJ Criminal Complaint Says Gov. Embraced Pay-to-play & Sought to Use Obama's Senate Seat for Personal Advantage
Click To Read More >>>

GOP Turns To Howard Dean For Salvation

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, in politics and elsewhere. And after two straight cycles of congressional pickups, outgoing DNC chair Howard Dean is no longer a boogeyman for his Republican counterparts -- he's a template for success.
This past weekend, a candidate for RNC Chair, Michigan Republican Party Chair Saul Anuzi, said the Grand Old Party would do well to follow the example set by the former Vermont Governor.
"There is a perception that we are a regional party and that we are a party from the South because that's the region we're consistently winning today," Anuzis told Politico. "I do think we need to have our version of the 50-state program that [Democratic National Committee Chair Howard] Dean had."
This prescription came days after Karl Rove, the architect of the current Republican Party, made a similar plea of his own. Noting incredible margins that Barack Obama had among black and Latino voters, the former Bush strategist -- appearing at a debate on the Bush legacy in New York -- said the GOP had to "be a party governing all Americans... It can only do that by making the case to African American and Latinos."
Implicit within these critiques is the notion that Republicans have become regionalized -- overly reliant on strong turnout among white working class voters, primarily below the Mason-Dixon line. In this context, Dean's vision of building infrastructure across the electoral map -- which, it should be noted, was initially taken from the GOP -- makes sense for the current Republican Party. Why cede the entire New England House delegation when, at the very least, they could force the DCCC to spend resources defending those seats?

The Road Ahead

An old British Prime Minister was once asked what were the greatest challenges that a statesman faces. His response was simple: "Events, dear boy, events."
This week we got a tragic and searing reminder from Mumbai, India, of the scope and scale of the challenges that President-elect Obama, his team, and all of us will face in the months and years ahead.
The good news is that this week, Barack Obama passed his first test as President-elect. After ending the era of "my way or the highway" foreign policy on November 4, he put the nail in the coffin this week when he nominated a terrific, talented national security team of thinkers every bit as diverse as they are impressive. Whatever surprises the world holds for America, we can count on the efforts of an all-star team to respond - and deliver.
What we do know is that the next administration will be asked to undertake the tough work of remaking American foreign policy in the (long overdue) post-George Bush era. And as we rethink, it's time we finally take the full measure of the 21st century threats we face. While a previous generation's defining security "events" often came internationally--Roosevelt defeating Hitler, Kennedy standing down Khrushchev--today the very definition of national security is being rewritten to include threats that know no borders: global terror, global AIDS--lately--global finance.
These, too, are national security events to be reckoned with. These too will bear the kinds of surprises we once expected only from our Cold War adversaries. And none will be more global in its scope, more urgent in its stakes and timing, or more desperately in need of a complete policy overhaul than global climate change. As the incoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and an architect of the first climate change hearings with Al Gore back in 1988, I'm full of hope that we now stand on the precipice of a new bold era of environmental diplomacy.
Time is short. About seven weeks ago, we learned that carbon dioxide emissions are rising faster than even our leading experts predicted. The latest statistics show that global emissions rose 3% between 2005 and 2007. And while that may not sound like a huge increase, it is faster than the worst-case scenario predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Next week I'll heading to Poznan, Poland to head the US Congressional Delegation at talks on a new climate change treaty.
I head overseas with a simple message: America is back.

Ex-generals to urge Obama action on torture issue

Barack Obama should act from the moment of his inauguration to restore a U.S. image battered by allegations of torturing terrorism suspects, said a group of retired military leaders planning to press their case with the president-elect's transition team on Wednesday.
"We need to remove the stain, and the stain is on us, as well as on our reputation overseas," said retired Vice Adm. Lee Gunn, former Navy inspector general.
Gunn and about a dozen other retired generals and admirals, who are scheduled to meet Obama's team in Washington, said they plan to offer a list of anti-torture principles, including some that could be implemented immediately.

Report's most "damning conclusion,"

Report: Military Leaders Knew Of Deadly Roadside Bomb Threat In Iraq But Did Nothing
WASHINGTON — The Marine Corps left troops in Iraq vulnerable to deadly roadside bombs by failing to answer an urgent request from battlefield commanders for blast-resistant vehicles, according to an internal Pentagon investigation obtained by The Associated Press. Acquisition officials shelved the February 2005 request for the "MRAPs" (pronounced EM-raps) after Marine leaders decided armored versions of the Humvee were the best answer to the improvised explosive devices that became the signature weapon of the Iraq war. However, the beefier Humvees proved incapable of withstanding the increasingly powerful IEDs.
The AP obtained portions of the investigation by the Pentagon inspector general. It was expected to be released publicly on Tuesday.
The Marine Corps and the other military branches were aware of the threat from mines and roadside bombs and of the commercial availability of MRAPs well before U.S. troops invaded Iraq in 2003, the report said. Yet nothing was done to acquire the vehicles.
"As a result, the department entered into operations in Iraq without having taken available steps to acquire technology to mitigate the known mine and IED risk to soldiers and Marines," the report said.
This is the report's most "damning conclusion," Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., a critic of the military's wartime procurement practices, said Monday. "It appears that some bureaucrats at the Pentagon have much to explain to the families of American troops who were killed or maimed when a lifesaving solution was within reach," Bond said in an e-mail to the AP.

Monday, December 08, 2008

At a press conference Sunday, President-elect Barack Obama voiced his views on auto company executives:
President-elect Barack Obama said yesterday that top executives at the nation's three automakers should be replaced if they don't use pending government loans to make major changes - including taking immediate steps to produce energy-efficient vehicles - in a clear signal that he expects a bailout to be predicated on a wholesale restructuring of the industry.
"We have to have an auto industry that understands they can't keep on doing things the same way," Obama said at a news conference in Chicago. "If this management team that is currently in place doesn't understand the urgency of the situation, and is not willing to make the tough choices and adapt to these new circumstances, then they should go."
Obama did not single out any of the automakers. But the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Democrat Chris Dodd of Connecticut, said earlier in the day that he believes Rick Wagoner, the CEO of General Motors Corp., which is in worse financial shape than Ford Motor Co. or Chrysler LLC, "has to move on."
Pressure is building for Rick Wagoner, the General Moters CEO, to be ousted as part of a bailout deal.
The New York Times reported this weekend that the presidential transition is complicating auto bailout talks.
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