As if that is any big surprise to anyone who has closely followed the utterly inept Ms. Rice as she does a dog and pony show across the Middle East. But yet again, she has failed to produce any result from her current trip to the Middle East. Sure the Saudis are going to gobble up the $20 billion dollars of advanced weaponry; after all we’re just giving it away with nothing to show in return.
Has there been a worse Secretary of State than Condoleezza Rice?
Rutenberg asked Brown: “Do you have the same philosophy as the President, in terms of terrorism?”
Bush: “What do you expect the answer to be, Rutenberg? Come on, man.”
Well, it looks like Britain will continue to be America’s poodle. And here we thought Brown could have had some balls and stood up to the dictator. Heh. Indeed, who still doesn’t dream of a British prime minister saying something like this to an arrogant American president:
Press Conference Reporter: Mr. President, has it been a good visit?
The President: Very satisfactory indeed. We got what we came for and our special relationship is still very special.
Press Conference Reporter: Prime Minister?
Prime Minister: I love that word “relationship”. Covers all manner of sins, doesn’t it? I fear that this has become a bad relationship. A relationship based on the President taking exactly what he wants and casually ignoring all those things that really matter to, erm… Britain. We may be a small country but we’re a great one, too. The country of Shakespeare, Churchill, the Beatles, Sean Connery, Harry Potter. David Beckham’s right foot. David Beckham’s left foot, come to that. And a friend who bullies us is no longer a friend. And since bullies only respond to strength, from now onward, I will be prepared to be much stronger. And the President should be prepared for that.
Paul Krugman describing conservative philosophy about as accurately as can be described:
Why should Mr. Bush fear that insuring uninsured children would lead to a further “federalization” of health care, even though nothing like that is actually in either the Senate plan or the House plan? It’s not because he thinks the plans wouldn’t work. It’s because he’s afraid that they would. That is, he fears that voters, having seen how the government can help children, would ask why it can’t do the same for adults.
And there you have the core of Mr. Bush’s philosophy. He wants the public to believe that government is always the problem, never the solution. But it’s hard to convince people that government is always bad when they see it doing good things. So his philosophy says that the government must be prevented from solving problems, even if it can. In fact, the more good a proposed government program would do, the more fiercely it must be opposed.
There you have it.
See, gas prices drop when refineries work. So one really does have to wonder why oil companies have not built any new refinery in over 30 years…
Perhaps they are far too comfortable with their record profits.
So let me get this straight, the most stable region of Iraq is the Kurdish north, and our most stalwart “allies”—if we can even call them that—in Iraq. But their desire for independence has gotten the Turks to put 250,000 troops at the border with Iraq. So what can Bush do? Well, instead of finding some diplomatic resolution, he helps and supports the Turks in their suppression and destruction of Kurds in Iraq.
What an idiot!
Anonymous Liberal says it best on the White House’s utter hypocrisy when it comes to revealing or leaking national secrets to the press, as they just did with the New York Times article on data mining.
It’s also worth pointing how breathtakingly hypocritical these leaks are. For years, the Bush administration has refused to acknowledge that it was involved in data-mining activities. When the USA Today reported in May 2006 that the administration was engaged in widespread data-mining, President Bush hastily convened a press conference in which he claimed that his administration was “not mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans.” He also noted angrily that “every time sensitive intelligence is leaked, it hurts our ability to defeat this enemy.”
Now the existence of data-mining activities is being confirmed by anonymous administration officials–almost surely at the behest of the White House–solely in an effort to defend Alberto Gonzales from perjury charges. How typical of this administration.
In other words, the White House gets mad at every time a piece of secret whatever gets leaked not at their behest, but when one of their own is in serious trouble, for something bad like perjury, they selectively release secrets to try to defend their own. At what point are they no longer working in the best interest of the United States?
Nothing would excuse false statements before the Congress.
That’s basically the gist of what is going on right now.
The Bush administration is preparing to ask Congress to approve an arms sale package for Saudi Arabia and its neighbors that is expected to eventually total $20 billion at a time when some United States officials contend that the Saudis are playing a counterproductive role in Iraq.
Yeah, that “counterproductive role in Iraq” is Saudis supporting and financing Sunni insurgents on a level far exceeding that of what Iran does with the Shi’ites. After all, most of the violence against Americans come from Sunnis. Remember the kind of relationship the Bush administration has with the Saudi Royal Family where the Saudi King can summon the Vice President of the United States! As Steve writes for Carpetbagger:
Dick Cheney was in Riyadh over the weekend, but the VP’s office, which is not exactly forthcoming on a regular basis, was unusually vague about this trip. According to what Cheney aides were willing to share, the Vice President traveled half-way around the world for a two-hour meeting with King Abdullah, then hoped on his plane and came home. A spokesperson for the VP’s office would only say that Cheney’s meeting covered a “wide range of issues.” Yeah, that’s helpful.
While the AP suggested that Cheney’s trip was part of a “U.S. diplomatic push to stem surging violence in Iraq,” the WaPo reported that that the push for the meeting came from the Saudis, not the other way around. (via Nico)
Saudi Arabia is so concerned about the damage that the conflict in Iraq is doing across the region that it basically summoned Vice President Cheney for talks over the weekend, according to U.S. officials and foreign diplomats.
Classic. No wonder Cheney and his aides wanted to keep this under wraps; it’s rather humiliating to have the Saudi Crown Prince “summon” our VP for a chat about how badly he’s screwing up the Middle East.
I’ve often wondered if there was any force on earth that could get Cheney to do something he doesn’t want to do. He’s not inclined to care about Congress, or follow U.S. law, or honor U.S. commitments, or negotiate, compromise, or cooperate with anyone.
But when “summoned” by King Abdullah, Cheney is on the plane. Good to know.
How much more evidence do you want, America, that the Bush administration is fake, that they have completely and utterly abrogated the oath they took to uphold the Constitution and protect America? Here they are selling advanced weaponry to the very country that strongly supports and aides Sunni insurgents who turn around and kill our soldiers? Where is the outrage akin to the outrage against Iran? Why are we outraged at Iran’s involvement in Iraq but not Saudi Arabia’s?
The Marine Corps Times is reporting on poor relations between the two men who have most to lose if the surge fails, Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Maliki and General Petraeus. The problem is that the two actors want two different things and both are talking past each other. General Petraeus has to satisfy his boss back home who has to deal with domestic pressures while Maliki’s priorities are, well, not the same as that of General Petraeus and the Americans. The article lists the problems they face:
— Al-Maliki, a Shiite who spent years in exile under Saddam Hussein, hotly objects to U.S. tactic of recruiting men with ties to the Sunni insurgency into the ongoing fight against al-Qaida. He has complained loudly but with little effect except a U.S. pledge to let al-Maliki’s security apparatus vet the recruits before they join the force. He also has spoken bitterly, aides say, about delivery delays of promised U.S. weapons and equipment for his forces.
Of course he’s complained about this. There is no way he can ever trust Sunnis in power anymore. That was the whole purpose of his backing the American removal of a Sunni dictator by the name of Saddam Hussein.
— Petraeus is confronted with an Iraqi military and police force, nominally under al-Maliki’s control, that has in many cases acted on sectarian — namely Shiite — not national Iraqi interests. He has faced a significant challenge in persuading al-Maliki to shed his ties to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who runs the Mahdi Army militia.
Heh, I think General Petraeus might have an easier time getting Bill Kristol to renounce neo-conservatism and turn against his best buddy Fred Kagan.
It’s fine for such leaders to really dislike each other and find it difficult to work together. We don’t need to sit at a campfire and sing kumbayas in order to get things done; sometimes you’ve got to slap people around to get them to do what they need to do. The problem in Iraq (out of the bazillions of problems plaguing that poor cursed country) is that even the sharp disagreements are not getting real long-lasting progress done. One really has to wonder why the city of Baghdad after FOUR YEARS still only gets less than one hour of electricity a day! You’d think a far advanced country like ours would have the ability to do this.
So what should happen? Well General Petraeus and PM Maliki do not have to get along, but General Petraeus must be clear (and this should come from General Petraeus’s boss, Mr. Bush who will never do the right thing) that there is a severe consequence if Mr. Maliki refuses to press forward with the political resolutions. The real threat of withdrawal should do the job, or force Maliki out for being too weak. Iraq needs a leader. Maliki is not proving to be a good one. Unfortunately General Petraeus will also not do the right thing, as smart a man as he is. He has for too long towed the Bush neo-con line, and is basically the wrong man for the job. I mean, he’s not even following his own counterinsurgency principles in this surge!
The sad thing is that even in 2009 when (not if) a Democratic leader becomes president, they also won’t remove the troops, nor remove the failed leaders out of power. At least, I’m gearing up for extremely low expectations hoping to finally be nicely surprised by politicians. I’m learning though that upon getting an opening to do bad things, even the most good-hearted politician will choose the bad. So sad.
Army medical examiners were suspicious about the close proximity of the three bullet holes in Pat Tillman’s forehead and tried without success to get authorities to investigate whether the former NFL player’s death amounted to a crime, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.
“The medical evidence did not match up with the, with the scenario as described,” a doctor who examined Tillman’s body after he was killed on the battlefield in Afghanistan in 2004 told investigators.
The doctors – whose names were blacked out – said that the bullet holes were so close together that it appeared the Army Ranger was cut down by an M-16 fired from a mere 10 yards or so away.
You can find more at the Gavel.
Nice! At last, some real action. Good work Democrats!
A group of Senate Democrats called Wednesday for a special counsel to investigate whether Attorney General Alberto Gonzales perjured himself regarding the firings of U.S. attorneys and administration dissent over President Bush’s domestic surveillance program.
“We ask that you immediately appoint an independent special counsel from outside the Department of Justice to determine whether Attorney General Gonzales may have misled Congress or perjured himself in testimony before Congress,” four Democratic senators wrote in a letter Wednesday, according to a draft obtained by The Associated Press.
“It has become apparent that the Attorney General has provided at a minimum half-truths and misleading statements” to the Judiciary Committee, they added.
And here’s a great video of Jon Stewart getting past all the b.s. to what it is really about:
This is a breath of fresh air, albeit quite late in the game, but two conservatives from the Reagan administration, one the commandant of the Marine Corps, the other a lawyer in the Reagan White House, have now officially and publicly come out against Bush’s latest executive order, which really didn’t change anything about how the CIA (mis)treats detainees.
One of us was appointed commandant of the Marine Corps by President Ronald Reagan; the other served as a lawyer in the Reagan White House and has vigorously defended the constitutionality of warrantless National Security Agency wiretaps, presidential signing statements and many other controversial aspects of the war on terrorism. But we cannot in good conscience defend a decision that we believe has compromised our national honor and that may well promote the commission of war crimes by Americans and place at risk the welfare of captured American military forces for generations to come.
Awww, they still feel Bush has the imperial power, just as long as he doesn’t torture.
In April of 1793, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson wrote to President George Washington that nations were to interpret treaty obligations for themselves but that “the tribunal of our consciences remains, and that also of the opinion of the world.” He added that “as we respect these, we must see that in judging ourselves we have honestly done the part of impartial and rigorous judges.”
To date in the war on terrorism, including the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks and all U.S. military personnel killed in action in Afghanistan and Iraq, America’s losses total about 2 percent of the forces we lost in World War II and less than 7 percent of those killed in Vietnam. Yet we did not find it necessary to compromise our honor or abandon our commitment to the rule of law to defeat Nazi Germany or imperial Japan, or to resist communist aggression in Indochina. On the contrary, in Vietnam — where we both proudly served twice — America voluntarily extended the protections of the full Geneva Convention on prisoners of war to Viet Cong guerrillas who, like al-Qaeda, did not even arguably qualify for such protections.
The Geneva Conventions provide important protections to our own military forces when we send them into harm’s way. Our troops deserve those protections, and we betray their interests when we gratuitously “interpret” key provisions of the conventions in a manner likely to undermine their effectiveness. Policymakers should also keep in mind that violations of Common Article 3 are “war crimes” for which everyone involved — potentially up to and including the president of the United States — may be tried in any of the other 193 countries that are parties to the conventions.
In a letter to President James Madison in March 1809, Jefferson observed: “It has a great effect on the opinion of our people and the world to have the moral right on our side.” Our leaders must never lose sight of that wisdom.
It’s nice to see them hearkening back to our Founding Fathers, but…well, I wonder, where were you two in 2004? Abusive interrogations were known BEFORE the 2004 general election. I wonder why you two have waited until now to speak out. You quote Thomas Jefferson who said: “It has a great effect on the opinion of our people and the world to have the moral right on our side.” Did we not lose that moral right at Abu Ghraib? The evidence was clearly there that that incident was a direct result of President Bush’s orders vis a vis detainees and the Geneva Conventions. Why did you NOT speak out then, dear sirs?
Sure it is easier to speak out now, when the nation is clearly against this president. But true courage is to stand up to evil from the BEGINNING!
As per the conversation with ECS below, I have uploaded the Bismullah Brief here: (Bismullah Brief). It is a Word doc.
has there ever been a more shameful and embarrassing Attorney General in the last 100 years? (I skip out on the 1800s, because I think there might have been worse ones back then).
This past Saturday my wife and I went and saw Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The movie was pretty well done, though I do wonder what the “Order of the Phoenix” actually had to do with the plot of the movie—the actual Order members appear at the very beginning and then at the end to save the day (but that’s another story). In any case, the movie was pretty good. I got thinking about a particular aspect of our modern fictional heroes and villains. See I’m also reading Hugh Nibley’s books on the Jaredites and their origins in ancient Asiatic cultures and kingdoms. Absolutely fascinating stuff! Mr. Nibley has opened a window to a world I did not really know about but have been quite curious about for the longest time. The steppes of ancient Asia were quite a bloody, violent, and unstable times, with ruling kings dueling with rivals, capturing kings, having them live in captivity all their lives, so on and so forth. These ancient Asiatic and Jaredite kings were unafraid of battle. In fact, it was their culture that the king took the lead in the battle. They reveled in besting their rivals on the field of battle. In fact, in the account of the Jaredites the two remaining kings, Coriantumr and Shiz battled to the ultimate death and destruction of the Jaredite nation.
In any case, I’ve noticed quite a trend in our stories of late regardless of medium, be it film, television or book. The hero (and the villain too) usually takes the lead, usually is willing to go through hellfire and damnation to achieve near impossible tasks. (These same heroes apparently come out rather unscathed psychologically, but again that is also another story). Jack Bauer takes the lead on “24”. Harry Potter leads the ragtag children of Hogwarts against far more advanced Death Eaters at impossible odds. Maybe their young age makes them not think twice about the fact that they could die very easily at the hands of a Death Eater. And let me just say, if I were a Death Eater, I doubt I would let little kids get in my way of things. But that would ruin the story, wouldn’t it? Leonidas takes charge of the 300 Spartan warriors against one million Persians. Leonidas and his men die in their efforts but their efforts were able to weaken the Persians enough that a few years later they were defeated. Aragorn charges wildly into the mass of orcs in Return of the King, even though it is a foolish move if you think about it. He doesn’t though, because dramatically speaking, charging against the mass of orcs is a far more powerful scene than sitting back strategizing the perils of the kingdom of Gondor at large if the king were to die in battle.
Reality is that when the king leads the battle, the kingdom has a good chance of completely failing, of complete collapse. This is what we learn about ancient Asiatic kingdoms. People wait around until a strongman appears who takes charge, quickly amassing a powerful army that takes control of half of Asia. In no time at all, upon the king’s quick death in battle, the kingdom falls. Modern nations are a vastly different institution, where the ultimate leader stays in the back of the battle sending off the underlings to die for the cause, the homeland, for the state.
I wonder what it is doing to our culture and our mindset when we tie in our hearts and culture the worship of the hero, the soldier, the warrior, the one who, risking all, darts off to battle “evil”, coming back conqueror. Even the most insanest of us all tends to be quite realistic when it comes to his or her own survival. Thus I am befuddled when I see for example this video of College Republicans who speak so easily of our cause against terrorism, but who they themselves do not wish to pick up a weapon and fight.
I don’t mean to pick necessarily on Republicans with this point, it’s just that their example is the most blatant right now. Who do they expect to do the fighting for the cause they speak so proudly of?
We see so many examples in our entertainment, in all mediums, books, television and film, of a worship of the warrior that I really do think it has clouded our understanding of both warfare and tolerating situations we really have no power to control. So many speak of doing “something” about Iran, for example, as if it were not tolerable to have an Iran with nuclear technology. When we speak of not tolerating a nuclear Iran, what does that mean? Do we really have the power to 1) stop Iran from learning nuclear technology? 2) and not further decay our own power?
Reality bites hard. We may have deposed Saddam Hussein. Few doubted our military might and our ability to defeat someone as weak as Saddam. But I wonder if the fakery of fictional characters has so clouded our vision that we think taking massive risks means the risks won’t actually take place? I was watching “A Bug’s Life” with my daughter the other day and I thought some more about this. Flick made a grave mistake when his contraption caused the offering to fall into the river below. That’s fine, a big problem, but fixable. But Flick does not learn the lesson of his mistake, and that is that taking risks could be destructive to the whole tribe. It was quite opportune for Flick and the ants that a bird lived close by, because really, without the bird, something Flick could not control, all his plans were doomed to fail.
Pundits favoring the actions in Iraq talked so often and frequently about how this action would utterly change the Middle East that one really has to wonder how they were believed. Then again no one really asked these pundits just what evidence they had that forcible invasion of a very nationalistic tribalistic state would magically create a pro-Western democratic haven right smack in the middle of a whole slew of other ultra-nationalistic tribalistic states whose influences were and still are far greater and more powerful than the invading army’s influence. We took a high priced risk. We were the hero who rushed wildly at the mass of orcs thinking that, hey it worked in the fictional account, it should work in reality. Aragorn won’t die. He can’t. Frodo will somehow magically make it to the Mount of Doom to melt the ring of Sauron’s power. And more importantly that action would somehow make all the orcs stop attacking to kill Aragorn. Or that Han Solo would appear at the right moment to “surge” and deflect just enough of Vader’s ship to give Luke the opportunity to shoot his guns into the plot-appropriate hole that magically destroys the entire Death Star. We hear plenty in real life from war supporters who say, hey “bomb them all to hell.” “Just nuke the place, that will solve all our problems.”
I used to think that we should restart a draft into American culture, because I used to believe that forcing Americans to serve in defense of their country would make them wisen up about risking so much in wars of choices. After all, interestingly, many of today’s leaders did NOT fight in Vietnam (Dick Cheney had five deferments for “other priorities” for example). But I now don’t think the problem with our rush to wars is lack of fighting by Americans. I think it is our worship of the hero, the warrior, the soldier. Ironically, the Army’s new slogan is an “Army of One.” Heh, it couldn’t be more fitting for our culture of hero worship.
This is not going to change soon. In fact, it will probably get worse before it gets better. Which is too bad, because we’re now in decline in the world around us. The risks were not neutralized, but instead materialized as we were warned. We’ve got many problems ahead of us.
It is because oil companies control oil refineries and they have had no incentive to do anything about their crappy refineries over the past thirty years. What incentive do they have to make better refineries? Certainly no competition forcing them. Certainly no governmental pressure to force them. So we get a corrupt and degrading market that forces Americans to pay higher prices, not because the free market wills it, but because oil companies have no market pressure to improve their product.
Compare the oil industry, specifically the refinery section, to the computing industry, specifically the highly advanced software/internet section. Note the vast difference in competition levels. Really anyone in the world can create software. What does this do for the industry? Why there is no better competition, and no stronger, more advanced and expansive industry that I can think of.
You want lower prices, America? Perhaps it is time to talk about breaking up these massive oil companies, particularly break them from the oil refinery business. They obviously suck at it, to put it mildly.
“There is a lack of investments in modern equipment,” Ms. Merritt said. “The overwhelming preponderance is that if you have inadequate engineering and equipment, poor process safety management, and poor staffing, you’re set up for a catastrophe.”
Ms. Merritt, who was appointed by President Bush and will retire after her five-year term ends in August, also said the Occupational Safety and Health Administration does not conduct enough inspections. “There is no enforcement,” she said.
OSHA defended its record and said it had inspected almost 500 refineries from 1994 to 2004. The agency also said it would inspect all refineries under its jurisdiction within the next two years. “OSHA inspections of refineries have proven to be effective,” the agency said.
Meanwhile, demand has been rising relentlessly, providing little respite to the nation’s aging energy infrastructure. Even as consumers complain loudly about high prices, they show no signs of scaling back. Gasoline consumption reached 9.66 million barrels a day in the first week of July, the second-highest level on record.
“The cushion that used to be available five to seven years ago for these unplanned perturbations is no longer there,” said Jeet Bindra, Chevron’s president of global refining. “When a refinery has a hiccup, there are consequences on supplies.”
Part of the problem, analysts and refiners said, stems from the hurricanes two years ago. In Louisiana and Mississippi, many refineries were flooded, and about a quarter of the nation’s refining capacity was shut for weeks.
“Since refining has become such a wonderful business, refiners have delayed maintenance,” Mr. Robinson said. “But when they do go down, they stay down for longer and they discover all sorts of problems.”
In late March, for example, a fire at a large compressor at a BP refinery in Whiting, Ind., caused a hydrogen-treating unit that removes sulfur from some oil products to shut. That meant BP had to turn off a crude oil unit for early maintenance. Two weeks later, a brief power disruption damaged another distillation tower. And in July, a third crude oil tower was shut briefly so operators could fix a small leak. Since the first incident, the 405,000 barrels-a-day refinery has been running at about half its capacity.
Not all refining disruptions are the result of similar incidents. Refineries typically schedule yearly maintenance that sometimes requires them to halt production entirely. But even these long-scheduled shutdowns can now take longer to complete.
No refineries have been built in the United States in over three decades, because refiners say they are too costly. Instead, they have been expanding their existing refineries.
All this is happening as the industry goes through another golden age. After 20 years in the doldrums, the refining business has never been so good for oil companies. Refining margins — the difference between the price of crude oil and the value of refined gasoline made from it — have shot up as much as $25 a barrel for some types of crude oil, compared with about $5 a barrel just a few years ago.
So let us review:
1. Lack of investment in modern equipment
2. No enforcement
3. Relentlessly driving demand
4. Refiners delay maintenance, stay down longer
5. Long maintenances take even longer to complete
6. No new refinery in THREE DECADES! Reason: Too costly…but
7. Refining business has never been so good to oil companies.
Is this right?
You be the judge. Here is the story, and here is the image:
PS: Did you notice how that woman couldn’t even spell Momma correctly. What IS IT with conservatives and spelling!
else why would he just now, six years after the program began sign an executive order banning some vaguely defined “cruel and inhuman” treatment? I mean, the standard should have been all along that we treat people with respect no matter who they are. By signing this executive order, Bush is admitting that by his orders the CIA engaged in illegal actions.
My guess is that some court ruling is fast approaching that will go against the Bush administration yet again. The Bush administration has backtracked before just moments before a defeat at the Supreme Court, in such cases as Jose Padilla and Hamdan.
Then again, it is Friday and Fridays are Bush’s bad news dump time…
This says it all: