Myanmar: Hats Off to the Aussies!

7Myanmar Australia will immediately give three million dollars (2.82 million US) in aid for victims of the devastating cyclone that ravaged Myanmar, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said Wednesday.

The announcement by Smith, who is visiting South Korea, came as Australian aid groups joined their global agencies in scrambling to provide relief despite visa restrictions imposed by the country’s military.

“This is a massive tragedy for the people of Burma,” he told reporters in Seoul, using the country’s former name.

One million dollars of the Australian government relief will go to Australian aid agencies operating in Myanmar such as CARE, World Vision and Caritas.

Another one million will be allocated to the UN World Food Program, while one million dollars will go to the UN children’s agency, UNICEF.
The aid package is structured to ensure that “very quickly, we can assist in remedial efforts on the ground,” Smith said… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Channel News Asia>

I’m pleased that someone is offering substantial help to these poor people.  By contrast, the compassionate conservative Crawford Caligula urged Myanmar to accept a meager $250,000.  Lackluster Laura also showed her compassion by using the Myanmar news conference as an occasion to discuss the details of Jenna’s upcoming wedding.

Immigration: Flip-Flop-Flip

mccain4 What we need, 2006 John McCain insisted, is a comprehensive approach to immigration reform

“Our nation’s immigration system is broken. And without comprehensive immigration reform, our nation’s security will remain vulnerable. That is why we must act.”

No, this is all wrong, 2007 John McCain said. What we really need is to forget about “comprehensive” reform and focus our energies on securing the border.

John McCain spent months earlier this year arguing that the United States must combine border security efforts with a temporary worker program and an eventual path to citizenship for many illegal immigrants.

Now, the Republican presidential candidate emphasizes securing the borders first. The rest, he says, is still needed but will have to come later.

“I understand why you would call it a, quote, shift,” McCain told reporters Saturday after voters questioned him on his position during back-to-back appearances in this early voting state. “I say it is a lesson learned about what the American people’s priorities are. And their priority is to secure the borders.”

Au contraire, says 2008 John McCain. What we really need is a comprehensive approach to immigration reform

“We get in this kind of a circular firing squad on immigration reform in the Congress of the United States, and the lesson I learned from it is we’ve got to have comprehensive immigration reform.”

Maybe we could get all the various John McCains together in a room, let them debate one another on the various issues on which they’re diametrically opposed, and the Republicans can get back to us once they’ve figured out a policy platform. [emphasis added]

Inserted from <The Carpetbagger Report>

The author’s final comment is so dead on that I have nothing more to add.

FBI Raids GOP Goose Stepper

ME F.B.I. agents on Tuesday raided and temporarily shut down the offices of a small federal watchdog agency that is charged with protecting the rights of government whistle-blowers but has been accused of retaliating against whistle-blowers in its own ranks.

The raid on the downtown Washington headquarters of the agency, the Office of Special Counsel, and another at the home of its director, Scott J. Bloch, followed accusations that Mr. Bloch had destroyed evidence on government computers that might demonstrate wrongdoing.

Mr. Bloch, who has held the post of special counsel since January 2004, has denied intentionally destroying evidence from his agency’s computers, though he has acknowledged paying $1,000 of public money to a technology company, Geeks on Call, to scrub his own government computer in 2006. He has said he was trying to rid the computer of software viruses, an assertion challenged by members of Congress and by lawyers representing current and former employees of the office… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <NY Times>

Bloch has a long history or religious right activism and abuse of office, especially against the GLBT community.  I’m just geeky enough myself to know that a standard deep format, a task that can be accomplished by anyone with rudimentary computer skills, will rid the computer of viruses and will cost no more than $100 – $150.  A $1,000 wipe overwrites existing data so many times that the original data can never be recovered.

More Wars?

GOPSeal Three weeks after the 9/11 terror attacks, former U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld established an official military objective of not only removing the Saddam Hussein regime by force but overturning the regime in Iran, as well as in Syria and four other countries in the Middle East, according to a document quoted extensively in then Undersecretary of Defence for Policy Douglas Feith’s recently published account of the Iraq war decisions.

Feith’s account further indicates that this aggressive aim of remaking the map of the Middle East by military force and the threat of force was supported explicitly by the country’s top military leaders.

Feith’s book, ‘War and Decision’, released last month, provides excerpts of the paper Rumsfeld sent to President George W. Bush on Sep. 30, 2001 calling for the administration to focus not on taking down Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network but on the aim of establishing ‘new regimes’ in a series of states by ‘aiding local peoples to rid themselves of terrorists and to free themselves of regimes that support terrorism.’

In quoting from that document, Feith deletes the names of all of the states to be targeted except Afghanistan, inserting the phrase ‘some other states’ in brackets. In a facsimile of a page from a related Pentagon ‘campaign plan’ document, the Taliban and Saddam Hussein regimes are listed as ‘state regimes’ against which ‘plans and operations’ might be mounted, but the names of four other states are blacked out ‘for security reasons’.

Gen. Wesley Clark, who commanded the NATO bombing campaign in the Kosovo War, recalls in his 2003 book ‘Winning Modern Wars’ being told by a friend in the Pentagon in November 2001 that the list of states that Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz wanted to take down included Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan and Somalia.

Clark writes that the list also included Lebanon. Feith reveals that Rumsfeld’s paper called for getting ‘Syria out of Lebanon’ as a major goal of U.S. policy.

When this writer asked Feith after a recent public appearance which countries’ names were deleted from the documents, he cited security reasons for the deletion. But when he was asked which of the six regimes on the Clark list were included in the Rumsfeld paper, he replied, ‘All of them.’… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <IPS>

This is confirmation of a story I posted here in March, 2007. That story was the video of a statement by Gen. Clark, which I am reposting here:

McCain-redphoneNow we have confirmation from within the inner circle of the GOP Reich that Iraq was only part of a plan for world domination through military force. They made the US a rogue state, and all involved in their attempt to implement this plan should be tried as war criminals.

On the campaign trail, McBoomBoom has promised more wars. I submit to you that these are the wars.


All articles cross-posted from Politics Plus

McCain: Poor Vetting?

mccain3 In addition to having previously referred to Catholicism as “The Great Whore,” controversial pastor John Hagee said on NPR in September 2006 that Hurricane Katrina was the result of God condemning New Orleans because “there was to be a homosexual parade there” the day the hurricane hit — a belief he recently reaffirmed.

Despite Hagee’s radical and bigoted beliefs, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) sought and received Hagee’s endorsement for president — one McCain said he was “very honored” to have. Since then, Hagee’s views have garnered more attention, sparking wider questions as to why McCain would accept such an endorsement.

In a recent article on the McCain/Hagee saga, Newsweek reports that McCain aides attribute the courting of Hagee’s support to “poor vetting.” But some from McCain’s own party wonder how his views could have “slipped through the cracks”:

McCain’s aides attribute the Hagee controversy to poor vetting. But even some Republicans (not affiliated with the campaign) privately wonder how the pastor’s extreme views slipped through without notice. McCain personally wooed Hagee for more than a year.

Indeed, “some Republicans” weren’t the only ones greeting this explanation with confusion. The New York Times’s Frank Rich noted yesterday that “[a]ny 12-year-old with a laptop could have vetted this preacher in 30 seconds, tops”:

Are we really to believe that neither Mr. McCain nor his camp knew anything then about Mr. Hagee’s views? This particular YouTube video — far from the only one — was posted on Jan. 1, nearly two months before the Hagee-McCain press conference. Mr. Hagee appears on multiple religious networks, including twice daily on the largest, Trinity Broadcasting, which reaches 75 million homes. Any 12-year-old with a laptop could have vetted this preacher in 30 seconds, tops

…Newsweek noted that McCain “likes to think of himself as a straight-shooter” but when asked about Hagee’s endorsement, McCain starts “bobbing and weaving” — which is exactly what happened last month during an interview on ABC’s This Week. McCain agreed that the endorsement was “a mistake,” but 30 seconds later said he is “glad to have it.”

In seeking Hagee’s support, perhaps McCain and his staff did not “properly” vet the controversial pastor because they were taking advice from McCain’s buddy Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), who just last year compared Hagee to Moses… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Think Progress>

The notion that McBigot did not know Hagee’s views is patently absurd.  I first reported on Hagee’s extremism in November, 2006, less than three weeks after I relocated my blog to Blogger.  Since, I have done so on ten other occasions.  If I have thoroughly vetted Hagee, it’s inconceivable that, with all their resources, the McConJob campaign did not.  Not only did he McFlipFlop within the space of 30 seconds, but also this goes beyond a mere flip-flop.  McLiar is McFullOfIt!

War Spending: Defying or Just Posturing?

gop-spin-club Defying President Bush, House Democrats are preparing to forge ahead with a war spending measure that would include extended unemployment assistance and new educational benefits for returning veterans.

After a meeting Monday evening of House Democratic leaders, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she hoped to bring a $178 billion measure to the floor this week. What could be a contentious debate on the matter is likely to be held on Thursday, aides said.

Ms. Pelosi, of California, did not disclose details of the proposed bill, which will be presented to rank-and-file Democrats at a closed party session on Tuesday. But Democratic officials, who did not want to be identified since the bill was still being put into final form, said the legislative package would include provisions requiring a significant withdrawal of troops from Iraq by December 2009 and measures that would force Iraq to share more costs of its reconstruction.

Democrats also intend to make veterans eligible for new educational assistance if they have served from three months to three years or more on active duty since Sept. 11, 2001. The aid would be equivalent to a four-year scholarship at a public university for those with three years or more service, with payments prorated for those with less time.

Mr. Bush has steadily insisted he would not approve any legislation that exceeds his spending request for the war, sets any withdrawal deadlines or adds domestic money he opposes like the unemployment benefits. And House Republicans, angry that the measure is not going through formal committee consideration, began on Monday to open procedural attacks on the House floor in protest, forcing extra votes on noncontroversial measures.

“The Democrat leaders of the House and Senate are attempting to jam a 200-plus-billion-dollar spending bill through the Congress with absolutely no oversight or scrutiny by a vast majority of members, senators or their constituents,” Representative Jerry Lewis of California, the senior Republican on the Appropriations Committee, said in a statement on Monday. “Never in my 30 years in Congress has there been such an abuse of the processes and rules of the House.”

Democrats said privately that they expected the provisions setting a withdrawal deadline and putting other conditions on the war money to be eliminated by the Senate before a final House vote later this spring… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <NY Times>

Impeach Of course there is no way this bill can ever get through the automatic GOP filibuster in the Senate.  Nevertheless it’s still a good idea, because it gives GOP Senators a choice to actually do something for America or come down solidly against the unemployed and veterans in the height of election season.

Representative Jerry Lewis needs help for his comedy routine from his side-kick, Dean Martin.  Throughout the GOP dominated 109th, no bill made it to committee without having first been approved by a majority of the House Repuglicans.

Think how much better it would have been if the Democratic majority in the House had wasted time with impeachment hearings instead of with posturing!

GOP Would Kill Planet to Protect Big Oil Profits

bigoil2 Listen to almost any politician, President Bush included, and you’ll hear that the fight against global warming cannot be won without cleaner technologies that will ease dependence on fossil fuels. Yet these same politicians are on the verge of allowing modest but vital tax credits to expire that are crucial to the future of renewable energy sources like wind and solar power.

These credits are necessary to attract new investment in renewable sources until they become competitive with cheaper, dirtier fuels like coal. When the credits disappear, investments shrivel. The production tax credit for wind energy has been allowed to expire three times. In each case, new investment dropped by more than 70 percent. The credits for wind and solar expire at the end of this year, so action now is important.

Though there is plenty of blame to go around, Mr. Bush and Senate Republicans bear a heavy burden. The House approved, as part of last year’s energy bill, a multiyear extension of the credits, while insisting — under its pay-as-you-go rules — that they be offset by rescinding an equivalent amount in tax credits for the oil companies. The oil companies (though rolling in profits) screamed, Mr. Bush lofted veto threats, and the Senate, by a one-vote margin, refused to go along.

Senator John McCain — who is far ahead of his party on climate change — missed that crucial vote. He could be a hero if he now rode in off the campaign trail and corralled the Republican votes needed to extend the tax credits; his vote alone might be enough.

The Senate is still trying — but not hard enough. Three weeks ago, it approved a bipartisan measure that would authorize a one-year extension of the production tax credit for wind and a multiyear extension of the investment tax credit for solar power.

With other bells and whistles, it would cost $6 billion. The bill still does not rescind any oil company tax credits, so it does not meet the House’s legitimate demand for offsets. Like the House, we believe strongly that Congress must pay as it goes.

So the burden remains with the Senate. And the choice for the senators, in particular the Republicans, is simply this: They can extract a few billion dollars from the ridiculously rich oil companies (Exxon alone made more than $40 billion last year), or they must explain to the American people why protecting the oil companies is more important than protecting the planet. [emphasis added]

Inserted from <NY Times>

We can always count on the GOP to filibuster any measure that favors the interests of the American people over those of greedy corporations.  The Times did a good job with this, except for one thing.  Their claim that McConJob is far ahead of the rest of his party on this issue just does not hold water.

mccain2 …But since he started running for president last year, McCain has largely downplayed climate change. He hasn’t declared support for a tougher and more detailed bill, proposed by Senators John Warner and McCain ally Joe Lieberman. And his top domestic policy recently suggested that McCain might not even stand by his own weaker bill, telling a reporter: “He wasn’t so much committed to the bill as to an issue.”

Most important, McCain has not made global warming a rhetorical priority. Since he began his White House run, he hasn’t given a single speech that we’re aware of devoted to the issue, or released an ad that mentions it in any detail. In general, McCain has based his pitch to voters, both before and after clinching the GOP nomination, on his personal biography, his national-security experience (particularly his support for the troop surge in Iraq), and his straight-talking persona. No fair assessment could conclude that global warming, or any other environmental issue, has been “central” to McCain’s campaign… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <CJR>

Were the environment a concern, he would have returned to Washington to vote on that bill.  On the environment, as on virtually every other issue, except 100 years of war, more wars, and bomb bomb Iran, McFlipFlop is squarely positioned on both sides of the issue, attempting to cover-up that he is McSame as Bush.