Just Foreign Policy Iraqi Death Estimator    

Saturday, May 29, 2010


Expected criminal charges related to a Fox News story last June are only the latest example of a wide-ranging Obama administration crackdown against leakers—an enforcement campaign that may exceed similar efforts under President George W. Bush, according to some media groups. More ›
The British official inquiry team examining the origins and conduct of the Iraq War met with some relatively senior former officials of the George W. Bush administration on a weeklong visit earlier in May. But, as the Brits admitted today, none of the administration's heavy hitters would talk. More ›
By most accounts, National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair was blindsided last week when President Obama agreed to accept his resignation. According to one former senior U.S. official who recently talked to Blair about his tenure in the "Intelligence Czar" post, Blair spoke about his plan to stay in the job until the end of Obama's first presidential term. But Blair also acknowledged that in order to succeed as the nation’s spy supremo, he had to demonstrate that his office had some control, or at least influence, over the CIA and its director, Leon Panetta, who bested Blair in a couple of hard-fought turf fights. More ›
On Dennis Blair’s last day in office as director of national intelligence, the Obama administration seems more stymied than ever in its efforts to replace him. More ›

Friday, May 28, 2010

Deeply regrets what?

Xipe Totec
1. Deeply regrets what?
That Israel is the only Middle East country that refused to sign?
or that
Israel is the only Middle East country that has nuclear weapons?
Source: Reuters
The United States said on Friday it "deeply regrets" that the final declaration agreed by the 189 signatories of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty singles out Israel for not signing the pact.

U.S. Undersecretary of State Ellen Tauscher told a treaty review conference that Washington would work with countries in region to organize a successful conference on creating a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.

But she said the U.S. ability to do that "has been seriously jeopardized because the final document (approved by treaty signatories) singles out Israel in the Middle East section, a fact that the United States deeply regrets." LinkHere

Former Argentine president says Bush told him ‘the best way to revitalize the economy is war.’

Oliver Stone’s new documentary South of the Border, which interviews several left-wing leaders of Latin American countries, has unearthed a startling new allegation from Argentina’s former president Néstor Kirchner. During his interview with Stone, Kirchner said he once discussed global economic problems with former President George W. Bush. The former Argentine president says that when he suggested a new Marshall Plan, referring to the WW II-era European reconstruction plan, Bush “got angry” and suggested that “the Marshall Plan is a crazy idea of the Democrats.” Instead, Kirchner says, Bush suggested that “the best way to revitalize the economy is war”:
KIRCHNER: I said that a solution for the problems right now, I told Bush, is a Marshall Plan. And he got angry. He said the Marshall Plan is a crazy idea of the Democrats. He said the best way to revitalize the economy is war. And that the United States has grown stronger with war.
STONE: War, he said that?
KIRCHNER: He said that. Those were his exact words.
STONE: Is he suggesting that South America go to war?
KIRCHNER: Well, he was talking about the United States: ‘The Democrats had been wrong. All of the economic growth of the United States has been encouraged by wars.’ He said it very cle

It is worth noting that despite the prosecution of two major wars, there was very minimal net job growth during Bush’s tenure as president. And of course, he bequeathed an economy that suffered massive job losses in his wake.
How's that whole drill baby drill thing working out for folks, been busy for the past 18 months and was just curious if anyone has an update now that I am back up for air again? I clearly recall the unbridled over the top recitation chants laden with great zeal and 'harrumph' from all those on the right, who BTW also advocated for less Gov't oversight and regulation with follow on insistence about 'let free markets rule' and such. And, after all, 'drill baby drill' was the unofficial continually looping 'mantra' for the Republican convention -- a tag line even supported by a bunch of Southern Blue Dogs?So where we at and how's all this working out for folks? Just curious: seemed a bit full of bravado and, in all honestly, some degree of reck1ess abandon to me, but what do I know, maybe I was wrong so I am happy to admit I was wrong if that's the case. I confess that I was banging a drum beat to 'we must move away from fossil fuels for reasons of independence, economics, environment, and national security' so again, apologies if off target.
Is BP Oil Catastrophe 'Unprecedented'? Hardly.

On Thursday, May 27, Rep. George Miller (D-CA) responded to the myth that this catastrophe was unprecedented and thus unforeseeable: LinkHere

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Oil Spill Response: 'Army Of Temp Workers' Bused To Grand Isle For Obama Appearance Leave Soon Afterward

This afternoon, President Barack Obama made a trip to Grand Isle, Louisiana to discuss the measures being taken to bring some form of relief to the region and the actions being taken to both stem the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and prevent future calamities from happening. Over at Yahoo's Newsroom, Brett Michael Dykes reports that for the occasion, Grand Isle was "invaded by an army of temp workers to spruce it up for the president and the national news crews following in his wake."
How temporary were these workers? As it turns out, pretty damn temporary!
Chris Roberts, a Jefferson Parish councilman whose district encompasses Grand Isle, told Yahoo! News that BP had bused in "hundreds" of temporary workers to work on the cleanup of local beaches. And as soon as the president was en route back to Washington, the workers were clearing out of Grand Isle, as well.
"The level of cleanup and cooperation we've gotten from BP in the past is in no way consistent to the effort shown on the island today," Roberts said by telephone. "As soon as the president left, they were immediately put back on the buses and sent home."
Again, I'll point out that one thing BP seems to have invested in heavily and prepared for exceedingly well is its PR operation, if not their stop-all-the-oil-from-killing-everything operation. I'll also remind you that at his press conference yesterday, Obama said pretty explicitly, "BP is operating at our direction. Every key decision and action they take must be approved by us in advance." LinkHere

The Party of "Drill Baby Drill" The Party of "Hell No"

As I read about President Obama's press conference yesterday addressing the government's plans for the cleanup of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, I was reminded of two of the major ills affecting our modern democracy.
The first has to do with the political blame game. For the first 16 months, the Republicans (aided by their loyal ally, the right-wing propaganda machine) have engaged in a cynical, anti-patriotic campaign to demonize the president and his policies through lies. (To be clear, opposing the president is not, in itself, unpatriotic. Honest opposition to work towards the best policy for all Americans is patriotic. But, in this case, the GOP was looking out for its own political fortunes ahead of the best interests of the country, and was dishonest in its approach.) What made this plan of action particularly disturbing is that not only was Obama tasked with trying to address major problems he inherited when he assumed office (a failing financial system and economy, two wars, a massive deficit, etc.), but these problems were created in large part by an incompetent and reckless Republican president, aided and abetted by a capitulating Republican-controlled congress.
So, all for political gain, the Republicans engaged in more than a year of lies and distortions, from creating "death panels" to trying to convince the American people that the president was an extremist, a socialist on the fringes of American political ideology, while offering no solutions to address the existing overwhelming problems (no, more tax cuts for the rich will not help create jobs). That doesn't even include the Tea Party types who told the world, often via complimentary right wing media, that the president was a Hitler-like, Communist/Nazi Kenyan Muslim seeking to destroy the United States of America from within.
The GOP strategy might be successful in November, but when a real tragedy happens, like the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the hypocrisy of this kind of approach becomes apparent. Many of the same right-wingers who tell tall tales of Obama wanting to initiate a government takeover of American industry now criticize the president for not pushing aside BP and overseeing the efforts to stop the flow of oil flooding the gulf. Many of the same conservatives who chanted "Drill baby, drill" are now using the BP oil spill to score political points, accusing the president of Katrina-like incompetence.
(As an aside: It is sad our mainstream news system has become so ineffectual that nobody seems able to point out the simple factual differences between the BP oil disaster and Hurricane Katrina. Katrina was an act of nature with no responsible party -- although the government did nothing in advance to ensure the levees could handle the flooding, and what was required -- search and rescue, humanitarian aid and rebuilding -- was firmly under the traditional banner of government action. But Bush did next to nothing. Meanwhile, the BP oil disaster was caused by a corporate entity, who bears the responsibility of addressing the situation, and the action that needs to be taken is of a technological and industry-specific nature not generally thought of as being within the expertise of the government. I guess it's easier for ratings-seeking news outlets to simply play up the political rhetoric, since, they believe, conflict sells. To be clear, I'm not saying that the Obama administration's response to the BP oil disaster was unassailable. But it would be hard for any objective party to compare the government's responsibility and failures in the two situations and say there were in any way equivalent.)
Put another way, if the president had stepped in a few days after the explosion and announced that the government was leading the operation to stop the flow of oil, Republicans would have undoubtedly screamed "Another government takeover!" to anyone who would listen. GOP complaints of government inaction reek of hypocrisy.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Congress To Pass Delayed Repeal Of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

UPDATE: The House has passed an amendment to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The amendment, tied to a defense bill, passed with 234 yeas and 194 nays. The repeal is contingent upon a Pentagon study and subject to approval by President Obama and military leaders.
WASHINGTON (AP)-- A Senate committee on Thursday took a first step toward ending the policy that allows gays to serve in the military only if they don't disclose their sexual orientation.
In a 16-12 vote, the Senate Armed Services Committee approved a provision to repeal the 1993 "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, the only Republican to vote for the amendment to a defense spending bill, said it passed after "vigorous and aggressive debate."
Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., who promoted the measure with Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., said: "It's time for this policy to go. It doesn't reflect America's best values of equal opportunity, and it's not good for the military."
Repealing the 1993 law, a priority of gay rights groups that President Barack Obama has pledged to pursue, still faces a tough road.
The full House is voting on an identical amendment Thursday and opposition is fierce, particularly among Republicans.
GOP congressmen cited letters from military service chiefs urging Congress to hold off on the legislation until the Pentagon completes a study of the impact on military life and readiness.
The measure could face a filibuster when it reaches the Senate floor.
"I think it's really going to be very harmful to the morale and effectiveness of our military," said Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee and a leading opponent of the repeal. LinkHere

The art of keeping the US at risk for fun and profit

The Arms Circus
Israel Keeping The World In Turmoil
By Gordon Duff May 27, 2010 "Information Clearing House" -- This week, newspapers around the world received reports and signed documents from South Africa. The reports said that, in 1975, Israel agreed to sell South Africa nuclear weapons. South Africa then released an arms agreement signed by current Israeli President Shimon Peres. This is the document “heard round the world.”
Meetings being held in New York to set up a conference for 2012 to guarantee that the Middle East is nuclear free. Israel has been informed that it will not be able to hide behind denials and that the nuclear arsenal put on the sale block by Israel in 1975 and nobody knows how many times since, has to go. When Israel was finally caught, it changed at least one part of a game, but the game will go on. South Africa’s willingness to come forward has shocked the world only because of the selfless honesty of the act, something unseen, something clean and decent. Imagine, the fall of Israel at the hands of an innocent.
What does it mean? Neither South Africa nor Israel are admitting that the nukes were delivered. General beliefs are that they were, a real shock to Nelson Mandela when he took office, from prisoner of apartheid to commander of a nuclear power. What is proven by this is that Israel was, even 35 years ago, a nuclear state, in direct violation of numerous international treaties. It also proves that Israel offered nukes to South Africa, a rogue nation under sanctions that covered not only any weapons but trade as well. This made Israel a criminal state and Mr. Peres a war criminal.
More than that, it makes any aid America gives Israel illegal. If Israel is nuclear, which is now official, and in violation of international treaties, just as with Iraq and Iran, then America has to demand inspections and disarmament. There is no choice. This is the law. Law for Iran, law for Iraq is also law for Israel. Israel has expected this day for years. The US can’t give or sell arms to any country with an illegal nuclear arsenal. Worse than this, we are sworn to defend the world from any nation that would spread nuclear weapons, a charge made by the South African government, one that has been made before, but can no longer be ignored. LinkHere

“Drill, Baby, Drill”

Fox News Anchors: ‘We Can’t Trust BP’
This righteous anger at big oil is a remarkable turnaround for the networks that lied about the oil spills caused by Hurricane Katrina, deny the threat of oil pollution to the planet, and shilled for offshore drilling during the “Drill, Baby, Drill” summer of 2008.

Crist now supports DADT repeal compromise

DCBob 6
The "liberalization" of Charlie Crist continues...
Source: Washington Post
Charlie Crist, who previously opposed repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell when he was a Republican but has since been under pressure to take a stand on current repeal efforts, will now support the repeal compromise, his spokesperson confirms to me.

Until recently, Crist had been saying that the current policy works. But with the repeal compromise moving forward in Congress, both Republican Marco Rubio and Dem Kendrick Meek, each for their own reasons, have been pressuring Crist to take a stand on the compromise.

Now Crist is coming out for it. His spokesperson, Michelle Todd, emails a statement from him:

"Ultimately, as in all military matters I defer to the Pentagon and to the Generals and what the Senate is doing today is giving them the ultimate authority to do what is best for our military. So, I would be inclined to support the Senate's action on this." LinkHere GOP Rails Against DADT Repeal On House Floor: It’s ‘A Social Experiment,’ Un-Patriotic, ‘Insult’ To Military
This afternoon, as the House considers the Defense Authorization Bill of 2010, Republicans took to the floor to condemn a single amendment that would repeal the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy, which prohibits gays and lesbians from openly serving in the military. Under the proposal, Congress would repeal the statute this year, but the current military policy would remain in place until President Obama, the Defense Secretary, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certified that repeal is “consistent with the military’s standards of readiness, effectiveness, unit cohesion and recruitment and retention” and Congress and the public had 60 days to review the study.
In an orchestrated manner, almost every single House Republican took to the floor to condemn the proposal, misrepresenting it as an immediate repeal that does not allow the Defense Department to complete its study. In the midst of considering other amendments, Republicans turned the discussion into an opportunity to condemn gays in the military: LinkHere

A Washington Post/ABC News poll showed that 75 percent of Americans support ending DADT. A New York Times survey indicated 70 percent support for gay men and lesbians serving openly.

APNewsBreak: New, giant sea oil plume seen in Gulf

Source: AP
By MATTHEW BROWN and JASON DEAREN Associated Press Writers © 2010 The Associated Press
May 27, 2010, 11:13AM

NEW ORLEANS — Marine scientists have discovered a massive new plume of what they believe to be oil deep beneath the Gulf of Mexico, stretching 22 miles from the leaking wellhead northeast toward Mobile Bay, Alabama.

The discovery by researchers on the University of South Florida College of Marine Science's Weatherbird II vessel is the second significant undersea plume recorded since the Deepwater Horizon exploded on April 20.

David Hollander, associate professor of chemical oceanography at the school, says the thick plume was detected just beneath the surface down to about 3,300 feet. He says it's more than 6 miles wide. LinkHere
Setback Delays ‘Top Kill’ Effort to Seal Leaking Oil Well in Gulf
Source: N.Y. Times
4:38 EST
Published: May 27, 2010

HOUSTON — BP had to halt its ambitious effort to plug its stricken oil well in the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday afternoon when engineers saw that too much of the drilling fluid they were injecting into the well was escaping along with the leaking crude oil.

A technician at the BP command center said that pumping of the fluid had to be stopped temporarily while engineers were revising their plans, and that the company hoped to resume pumping by midnight, if federal officials approved.

The technician, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters, said the problem was not seen as serious. “We’re still quite optimistic,” he said, but cautioned: “It is not assured and its not a done deal yet. All of this will require some time.”

The news of yet another delay in capping the well came on a day of rapid-fire developments from Louisiana to Washington. LinkHere

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

US soldier beaten after reporting crimes: officials

Source: AFP
US soldier beaten after reporting crimes: officials
Tue May 25, 7:39 pm ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – A US soldier who blew the whistle on his comrades over possible drug use and the deaths of three civilians in southern Afghanistan suffered a severe beating in retaliation, officials said Tuesday.

The soldier was beaten after telling authorities about illicit drugs and then, while recovering in hospital, recounted his comrades' alleged role in the deaths of three Afghan civilians, said two officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The soldier was "beaten within an inch of his life," one of the officials told AFP.

One soldier has been placed in detention in the case and authorities said last week the probe was launched this month after receiving "credible information" from the soldiers' unit earlier this month. LinkHere

BP-owned Alaska oil pipeline shut after spill

800-mile pipeline from Alaska's oilfields closed
Source: Reuters India
ANCHORAGE, Alaska, May 25 (Reuters) - The Trans-Alaska Pipeline, partly owned by BP (BP.L: Quote, Profile, Research), shut down on Tuesday after a crude oil spill, drastically cutting supply out of Alaska's oilfields.

The accident comes at a difficult time for BP -- the largest single owner of the pipeline, holding 47 percent of Alyeska -- as it struggles to plug a gushing Gulf of Mexico oil well .

The shutdown followed a series of mishaps that resulted from a scheduled fire-command system test at Pump Station 9, about 100 miles south of Fairbanks, said Alyeska Pipeline Service Co, the operator of the 800-mile (1,287 km) oil line said.

The power outage triggered opening of relief valves, causing an unspecified volume of crude oil to overflow a storage tank into a secondary containment. There were no injuries, but the work site was evacuated, Alyeska said. LinkHere

Worker: Oil rig partners clashed before explosion

Oil rig's chief mechanic Douglas Brown, at left, corroborates other statement of BP “taking shortcuts” before catastrophic blast. Full story

Republicans Demand a Government Takeover and Bailout of the Oil Spill

"government takeover"

However hypocritical the Republicans might be on this, they're ultimately correct. The federal government has a responsibility to protect our economy, our natural resources and our lives from the destruction that's often wrought by irresponsible corporations. Thanks, Republicans, for finally catching up.
The words "government takeover" were originally injected into the discourse by Frank Luntz in the early stages of the health care reform process and have been repeated in the pejorative sense by Republicans across the board.
Despite the fact that thousands of Americans die every month from a lack of affordable health insurance, the Republicans have argued that the government isn't allowed to "takeover" the industry. It goes without saying that the president wasn't proposing any such thing and, in fact, publicly denounced single-payer health insurance, but okay. The Republicans truly believe the health care reform bill is socialism and a total takeover of the industry. It's not.
Likewise, the Republicans and tea party people have been screeching about the bailouts. They insist that the banks and financial institutions (and GM) should have been allowed to fail, rather than receiving emergency loans from the government in order to, at the time, prevent the American economy from being dragged down along with these institutions had they not been hoisted with an infusion of cash.
Speaking of which, the Republicans also loudly opposed the recovery bill, which included, as a total dollar amount, the biggest middle class tax cut in American history as well as a considerable amount of funding for the states. Yet the Republicans, once again, screeched about state's rights and tried to block the funding.
In his response to the president's first address to a joint session of Congress, Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana famously mocked such obviously hilarious things as volcano monitoring in the recovery bill. Volcanoes? Why should we monitor those?
The dominant centerpiece to all of this outrage has been the Republican idea that the states and the free market should be left alone to deal with problems and crises on its own without "socialist" -- or even "communist" depending on which AM radio station you listen to -- interference from big government and our America-hating president. No government takeovers. Freedom! Liberty! And no stupid volcano thingees also.
Americans dying from a lack of health insurance? Too bad. No government takeover. The economy about to sink into a second Great Depression? Too bad. No government takeover. The Earth growing warmer due to the burning of fossil fuels? Too bad. No government takeover.
That is until last month.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Obama's move pre-empts efforts to legislate troops' return to border.

GOP: U.S. can't afford to fund health 'entitlement program' for 9/11 rescue workers

WASHINGTON - Republicans argued Tuesday that it would put the nation's finances at risk if Congress gave aiing Sept. 11 responders a permanent, guaranteed program to ensure they get health care.
Calling the Sept. 11 Health and Compensation Act a new "entitlement program" like Medicare, GOP members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee argued the nation already has too much that it must pay for. They said obligating the feds for lifetime care of tens of thousands of 9/11 responders was too much of a burden.
"By making this a new mandatory program, you jeopardize the financial health of the United States of America," said Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.).And they argued that the heroes of Sept. 11, 2001, were already being cared for, noting the $150 million the Obama recently requested for this year.
Speaking to dozens of responders gathered in a Capitol Hill hearing chamber, Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) argued that their demand for the federal government to help "would be just if we weren't spending money already."
"In fact, there's $131 million in the fund right now. The health care needs of first-time responders have been addressed," Shimkus declared, referring to contracts that are being spent now and were delayed by the federal government.

Deepwater Horizon survivor describes horrors of blast and escape from rig

Workers who escaped oil rig blast were held at sea until signing legal waivers

Fair and Balanced, you decide!!!!!!

FOX has about as much integrity as Bernie Madoff has.
Kangaroo Down Under
In other words Slimy

Fox News Video Omits Applause During Obama's West Point Speech

Fox News video of President Obama's speech this weekend at West Point omits cadets' applause after the President discussed ending the Iraq War.
"WestPt cadets applaud Obama, FoxNews alters tape 2 remove applause," Michael Moore tweeted.
In the official video, seen at bottom, cadets applaud after Obama says, "through their competence and creativity and courage, we are poised to end our combat mission in Iraq this summer."
In the Fox News version of the video, seen below, there is no applause but rather an awkward pause.
Media Matters' Jamison Foser acknowledges that Fox News' microphone may not have picked up the audience applause, but suggests that the network still promoted that section of the clip to make it seem as though Obama's comments were not well received by the cadets:
Now, maybe Fox didn't intentionally remove the audience applause. Maybe Fox's video used a direct feed from Obama's microphone, and it simply didn't pick up audience noise. But if Fox didn't intentionally try to make Obama look silly, why did it choose a 2-minute clip -- out of a 32-minute speech -- that portrayed Obama looking silently around the room, seemingly for no reason?
Fox News Erases Applause for Obama from West Point Cadets (0:46-56), May 22, 2010

Official video via WhiteHouse.gov (applause at 10:28):

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Robert Gibbs Defends White House On Oil Spill Response

All the right wing nuts who want government to stay out of business and out of theirs lives are now screaming for the government to fix this. I'm sure if the government knew how, they would have done it by now.If he had fixed it Obama's critics would be complaining that he had taken over where he shouldn't have, and that he shouldn't have interfered in private enterprise. The Right doesn't give him credit for anything he does that is good, and blames him for everything that is wrong, whether it is his fault or not.
Don't forget the Tea Baggers
As simple as it may seem, the law prevents the government from just taking over, Allen said. After the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska, Congress dictated that oil companies be responsible for dealing with major accidents – including paying for all cleanup – with oversight by federal agencies

The ‘Randslide’ and Its Discontents

Barry Blitt IF there is one certain outcome to recent American elections, it’s this: The results will invariably prove most of the Beltway’s settled political narratives wrong.
Tuesday’s pre-midterms were no exception. We were told that all incumbents and Washington insiders were doomed, but Exhibit A, the defeat of Arlen Specter, was hardly a test case. The sui generis opportunist Specter lost to another incumbent, a congressman who has been a Democrat far longer than he has. We were also told — as we were, incessantly, in 2008 — that blue-collar white men in western Pennsylvania would flee the Democrats. But in the special House election there — Tuesday’s only Republican-vs.-Democrat battle — a million G.O.P. dollars and countless anti-Obama-Pelosi ads proved worthless. Not only did a Democrat win big, but that winner was a Washington insider’s insider, a longtime aide to the seat’s previous occupant, the quintessential pork baron John Murtha. LinkHere
free hit counter