Loyalty without truth
is a trail to tyranny.
|Friday, 18 July 2008 at 18h 22m 28s|
Electrical Fires cause unnecessary soldier deaths
James Risen is one of the New York Times journalists that you must read all the time. Today he has a story about KBR
(Halliburton) getting a contract renewal despite causing about 300 electrical fires during a 6 month time span due to shoddy
work. But don't let that stop the tax-payer money spigot.
Shoddy electrical work by private contractors on United States military bases in Iraq is widespread and dangerous, causing more
deaths and injuries from fires and shocks than the Pentagon has acknowledged, according to internal Army documents.
During just one six-month period — August 2006 through January 2007 — at least 283 electrical fires destroyed or damaged
American military facilities in Iraq, including the military’s largest dining hall in the country, documents obtained by The New
York Times show. Two soldiers died in an electrical fire at their base near Tikrit in 2006, the records note, while another was
injured while jumping from a burning guard tower in May 2007.
But in a sworn statement, apparently prepared for an investigation of Sergeant Maseth’s death by the Army’s Criminal
Investigative Division, a Pentagon contracting official described how both military and KBR officials were aware of the growing
danger from poor electrical work.
In the statement, Ingrid Harrison, an official with the Pentagon’s contracting management agency, disclosed that an electrical fire
caused by poor wiring in a nearby building two weeks before Sergeant Maseth’s death had endangered two other soldiers.... “KBR
has been at R.P.C. for over four years and was fully aware of the safety hazards, violations and concerns regarding the soldiers’
housing,” she said in the statement. She added that the contractor “chose to ignore the known unsafe conditions.”
In another internal document written after Sergeant Maseth’s death, a senior Army officer in Baghdad warned that soldiers had to
be moved immediately from several buildings because of electrical risks. In a memo asking for emergency repairs at three
buildings, the official warned of a “clear and present danger,” adding, “Exposed wiring, ungrounded distribution panels and
inappropriate lighting fixtures render these facilities uninhabitable and unsafe.”
The memo added that “over the course of several months, electrical fires and shorts have compounded these unsafe conditions.”
Several electricians who worked for KBR have said previously in interviews that they repeatedly warned KBR managers and
Pentagon and military officials about unsafe electrical work. They said that supervisors had ignored their concerns or, in some
cases, lacked the training to understand the problems.
[SOURCE: James Risen | New York Times | 18 July
Any rabid apologist pro-war Republican like to explain why we allow contractor's impugnity? Will the terrorist's want to kill us
more when the Defense Department knowingly permits the death's of our soldiers due to shoddy electrical work, and then renews
the no-bid cost-plus contract?
|Friday, 18 July 2008 at 16h 7m 34s|
Inform yourself on the real issue of offshore oil leases
The Republicans think they have an issue they can use to snow the American people. Talk endlessly about the
the ban on offshore drilling and put the Democrats in a corner as environmental non-realists who don't care about the American
here to read a study by the Department of Energy called "Overview of U.S. Legislation and Regulations Affecting
Offshore Natural Gas and Oil Activity".
The Rethuglicans would have you believe that letting the oil companies grab up more land is the answer to all our problems. As
usual, the ploy is merely an attempt to pad the portfolio's of the oil companies, not to release more oil on the market. Exploring
and setting up new drilling rigs takes 7 to 10 years to get online. The oil companies aren't even pumping oil out of the
properties that they own right now, which would have an immediate effect. According to an MSNBC story,
Nearly three-fourths of the 40 million acres of public land currently leased for oil and gas development in the continental United
States outside Alaska isn’t producing any oil or gas, federal records show, even as the Bush administration pushes to open more
environmentally sensitive public lands for oil and gas development.
An Associated Press computer analysis of Bureau of Land Management records found that 80 percent of federal lands leased for
oil and gas production in Wyoming are producing no oil or gas. Neither are 83 percent of the leased acres in Montana, 77
percent in Utah, 71 percent in Colorado, 36 percent in New Mexico and 99 percent in Nevada.
A recent Wilderness Society study found that the Bureau of Land Management has approved more than 25,000 drilling permits for
public lands over the past decade, but the industry had drilled only about 19,000 new wells during that period.
“Even without additional leasing, if the current inventory of non-producing leases were placed into production, the scale of
drilling on public lands would increase dramatically, as would the degradation of lands where drilling is wholly inappropriate,” the
“The aggressive leasing of public land pushed by the Bush administration is a land grab, pure and simple, giving industry more
and more control over public land while costing taxpayers millions of dollars,” said Peter Morton, a resource economist with the
Morton said the leases, which companies can lock up for 10 years with annual rents of only $2 to $3 an acre, are an economic
boon to some companies because they count as assets that can make debt refinancing easier while also attracting potential
[SOURCE: MSNBC | MSNBC | July 2008]
In other words, the oil companies aren't drilling on about 70% of the land they could be pumping oil out of the ground, but they
want to grab more land so they can pad their capital assets. They could care less about the consumers.
A state-by-state interactive of non-producing acreage is available at
Click here to read the House resource committee report by Illinois representative Nick J. Rahill called
"The Truth About America’s Energy: Big Oil Stockpiles Supplies and Pockets Profits ".
From the above Congressional report:
... of the 47.5 million acres of
on-shore federal lands that are currently being leased by oil and gas
companies, only about 13 million acres are actually "in production", or
producing oil and gas . Similar trends are evident offshore as well
, where only 10.5 million of the 44 million leased acres are currently
producing oil or gas.
That's only 27.3 percent of the land-based and 23.86 percent of the off-shore leases the oil and gas companies can
produce from land they already have a right to drill. Which means they can come online within a month, not 7 to 10 years
are not the offshore oil leases about which the Rethuglicans are speaking.
This whole public relations push is just a blatantly crass attempt by the Republican party to give the oil companies what they
want and bullshit the ignorant
public that they are doing consumers a favor. Notice how the corporate media is helping spin this issue.
Maria Cantwell (D-Wash) is blocking 3 nominations to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission because she correctly sees
the spike in gas prices as being fueled by speculators and oil companies holding supply by not pumping more oil from 70% of
the rigs they already own.
The Republican mantra :
Republicans counter that there are abundant resources offshore and polls show that a majority of Americans support more
drilling on the outer continental shelf.
"All we are getting from the majority is silence," said New Mexico Sen. Pete Domenici, the ranking Republican on the Senate
Natural Resources Committee. "The American people are calling for solutions, and they are getting excuses."
Blumenthal | McClatchy Newspapers | 18 July 2008]
You see, polls skewed towards Americans who answer their land-based phones and are home in the late afternoon-evening
hours say that the Republican propaganda is working. Ignorant people want to get screwed over. How dare those up-start
Democrats stand up for what's right and actually consider the facts before making public policy decisions that don't
address the fundamental issues we face as a nation. After all, Pete Domenici hasn't been a tool of the oil-gas industry all these
years for nothing. He reads the crafted arguments provided by the oil-gas industries hired public relations firms all the
This is yet more proof why the corporate media model is the hand-maiden of large aggregate monopolistic practices. You have
to work to be informed these days. If you just read the local newspaper and watch the evening news, you are being fed
manipulative information all the time.
|Tuesday, 15 July 2008 at 8h 8m 2s|
McCain campaign agents keep resigning
In May, national finance co-chair Tom Loeffler stepped down after the press revealed that he had been lobbying on behalf of
foreign interests, including collecting nearly $15 million from Saudi Arabia since 2002. Today, Vanity Fair reports that another
finance co-chair, former New Jersey congressman Jim Courter, is also resigning:
McCain finance co-chair and former New Jersey congressman Jim Courter, chief executive of telecom corporation IDT, is resigning
from the campaign after the FCC slapped IDT with a $1.3 million fine last week for failing to disclose information about its
contracts in Haiti. IDT is being investigated by several federal agencies after a former employee filed a lawsuit alleging that the
company engaged in corrupt practices in order to obtain favorable contracts in the country....
Courter has been the chief executive of IDT since 2001. His resignation follows that of McCain finance co-chair Tom Loeffler in
May over lobbying ties, and that of Rick Renzi, another McCain finance co-chair, who was indicted in February for money
laundering and other charges.
[SOURCE: | Thinkprogress.org | 14 July 2008]
[SOURCE: Christopher Bateman | Vanity Fair | 14 July
That makes a total of three co-chairs since February of this year, having to resign because they are breaking federal laws against
Can it be any more obvious that McCain represents more corruption and less oversight than was conceivable even during the
days of Dubya Bush? If you want more corruption and less oversight, McCain is your prez-dent.
|Tuesday, 15 July 2008 at 8h 18m 24s|
Lawyers for Canadian Omar Khadr have released a video that shows 2 minutes at the end of an interrogation. Mr.
crying, proclaiming his innocence, saying "You don't care about me". Although the tape does not show any torture, the way in
which Mr. Khadr responds is heart-rending. He is an innocent man caught at the wrong place at the wrong time, being accussed of
things he did not do, and was also tortured by US officials while in captivity before this interrogation took place.
Click here for a post of the video by the BBC.
Click here for a direct link to the 2
for a link to a 3 minute 24 second video provided by the French newspaper LeMonde.
The video was being filmed secretly through an air duct
|Monday, 14 July 2008 at 9h 49m 55s|
Another closeted Gay Republican
This is too insane. Remember Troy King, the Alabama Attorney General that mentioned possible voter fraud in Alabama ...
Troy King just got caught in bed with another man, by his wife.
And he was vocally anti-gay too. He's also the Alabama chair of the John McCain campaign.
Quick Troy, dig up a voter fraud scandal while there's still time to distract the public.
[SOURCE: Crooks and Liars | | 11 July 2008]
|Monday, 14 July 2008 at 9h 42m 38s|
Cash for access
In order to circumvent the law, GW Bush is using cash donations to his presidential library as a means test for access -- kind of
like what disgraced ex-Congress critter Texan Tom DeLay did with a non-profit Children's fund that got siphoned into various
Republican war chests.
A lobbyist with close ties to the White House is offering access to key figures in George W Bush’s administration in return for six-
figure donations to the private library being set up to commemorate Bush’s presidency.
Stephen Payne, who claims to have raised more than $1m for the president’s Republican party in recent years, said he would
arrange meetings with Dick Cheney, the vice-president, Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, and other senior officials in
return for a payment of $250,000 (£126,000) towards the library in Texas.
Payne, who has accompanied Bush and Cheney on several foreign trips, also said he would try to secure a meeting with the
Unlike campaign donations, there is no requirement to disclose the donors to the libraries, no limit on the amount that can be
pledged and no restrictions on foreigners contributing.
During an undercover investigation by The Sunday Times, Payne was asked to arrange meetings in Washington for an exiled
former central Asian president. He outlined the cost of facilitating such access.
“The exact budget I will come up with, but it will be somewhere between $600,000 and $750,000, with about a third of it going
directly to the Bush library,” said Payne, who sits on the US homeland security advisory council.
He said initially that the “family” of the Asian politician should make the donation. He later added that if all the money was paid
to him he would make the payment to the Bush library. Publicly, it would appear to have been made in the politician’s name
“unless he wants to be anonymous for some reason”.
Payne said the balance of the $750,000 would go to his own lobbying company, Worldwide Strategic Partners (WSP).
Asked by an undercover reporter who the politician would be able to meet for that price, Payne said: “Cheney’s possible,
definitely the national security adviser [Stephen Hadley], definitely either Dr Rice or . . . I think a meeting with Dr Rice or the
deputy secretary [John Negroponte] is possible . . .
[SOURCE: Daniel Foggo | London Times | 13 July 13
Okay then stupid people, do you now see how this game is played? What did you think "lobbyists" do? They are merely the
consiglieri go-betweens, the monetary bag persons for the corruption.
|Monday, 14 July 2008 at 10h 9m 12s|
Our Great Nation
As I was traveling up Interstate 5 to Seattle, somewhere in the Southern part of Washington State, I noticed a huge sign
one of the landowners. The sign: "We live in a great nation ... why change?"
Now I thought about that comment all the way on the drive to Seattle. I imagined going to the front door and speaking with that
landowner, asking him what he thought was going to change. If our country changed, would that imply that we would no longer
be great? Would he be opposed to all change, regardless of the need? Was he resentful of the Bill of Rights and all the
amendments and laws passed since the initial Constitution was written in 1787 ? Indeed, would he have preferred the Articles of
Confederation, since the Constitution itself was a "change" necessitated by the ineffectiveness of the original document of
I supposed that like most pithy aphorisms, this one is stated without reflection. It reflects a conservative mindset which wants
nothing to change, even when change and transitions are inescapable realities of life. The greatness that is our nation, is just a
misunderstood anachronism in the mind's eye. Making a mistake does not give reason for reflection, because the mistake is
admitted. The initial reasoning which justified the creation of the mistake are repeated endlessly. Events are interpreted in ways
construe a continuation of the mistake, rather than provide an impetus to reassess and modify, since change implies weakening
makes us great.
I doubt I will speak with this landowner. He (or she) represents a whole mass of well-intended persons who form their
philosophical positions by mixing fear and ignorance. More specifically, the fear of change commingles with a lack of knowledge
on how the change occurred. If you don't remember how you arrived, how will you know where to go next.
Instead, the flag is waved faster, and singing "God Bless America" defines patriotism in absentia. Myths of history form moral
carried on the backs of righteous leaders who mouth the words that appeal to self-interest, while these leaders chose sides with
elite economic forces that stab the masses in the back. And when the economic decay becomes painful, blame can misdirect
attention from the source of the trouble -- as when Japan and China are blamed when American financiers and CEO's downsized
and expatriated American jobs in the interests of more profit extraction for themselves.
|Friday, 11 July 2008 at 10h 44m 30s|
Why Bush is awful
Oh, gosh, I know if you criticize the worst president, then you are just a bush-basher.
here for the interview with the worst president in the history of the United States. This was an interview with President Bush
on Irish television that caused a bit of a storm in 2004. The interview conducted by the tenacious Carol Coleman of Radio
Television Ireland was not aired on American television, and Bush's press officers apparently complained vociferously about
the rigorous questioning.
In other words, media censorship in America is real. But we had to go through 4 more years of this disaster because of the
refusal by some to admit they made a mistake, and the denial by the media conglomerates to let Americans see all sides of the
Click here for the YouTube interview.
The interview took place almost four years ago, but is the perfect illustration of a man elected purely on name recognition, dirty
money, and no discernible talent. Four years ago, there were still enough Americans who believed Bush's infantile bluster was
charming and direct. Now, even Republicans do not waste their time with him, quietly wishing he would disappear and stop
embarrassing their party.
The interview with Coleman should go down on record as definitive proof of Bush's utter incompetence, a priceless picture of a
madman who had no business occupying the highest office of the land.
[SOURCE: Ben Cohen | Huffington Post | 10 July
|Friday, 11 July 2008 at 10h 32m 52s|
The media treats McCain with kid's gloves
here for an excellent
analysis of how the media lets McCain get away with craven political posturing and outright lying.
During this past week: McCain called the most import entitlement program in the U.S. a disgrace, his top economic adviser called
the American people whiners, McCain released an economic plan that no one thought was serious, he flip flopped on Iraq, joked
about the deaths of Iranian citizens, and denied making comments that he clearly made -- TWICE. All this and it is not even Friday!
Yet watching and reading the mainstream press you would think McCain was having a pretty decent political week, I mean at least
Jesse Jackson didn't say anything about him.
|Thursday, 10 July 2008 at 14h 53m 55s|
Voter fraud tactics
Today the New York Times reports about allegations of voter fraud with anecdotal evidence. Click here for the New York Times story by Adam Nossiter.
Click here for a summary of the history
of Republican voter fraud tactics over the last few years
Note first that the title to the NY Times story is "Officials Investigate 3 Alabama Counties in Voter Fraud Accusations".
Accusations are being investigated by Officials. This does not mean the accusations are true or even
have any validity. The story further calls a Republican political front group a "local citizens group", and says this "local" group
gathered affidavits, without saying how many affidavits, only saying that these affidavits "detailed several cases in which a
one Democratic party official paid citizens for their votes, or encouraged them to vote multiple times."
Three individuals are quoted in the article as attesting to the "payments". Only one of them signed an affidavit however, and this
man is a 23 year old unemployed man who said he had been paid by "local officials" (which local officials?). The other two
"sources" were not said to have signed affidavits, but were quoted as saying they have seen the selling of votes and that it is a
The Perry County district attorney, Michael W. Jackson (a Democrat) said he thought the volume of absentee ballots was odd,
stating that "When you get the absentee ballots, it’s a lot easier to pull that off, forge their names, vote for them".
The Republican Secretary of State Beth Chapman "raised questions" ... since
a quarter of the voters here, 1,114, cast absentee ballots, a percentage that is six times the state average and a figure that Ms.
Chapman called “astronomical.” In Jefferson County, which includes Birmingham and has 60 times Perry County’s population of
10,600, there were 365 absentee ballots.
However, the rate of absentee ballots is expected to increase in rural counties which long distances to polling places are more
common. So the reasoning used by Mrs. Chapman has very little merit.
The Republican Alabama Attorney General Troy King seized records in three Alabama counties. He commented about the
possible voting fraud tactics on Fox news, but declined to answer questions by the New York Times.
Mind you this is the same state which sent ex-Governor , Democrat Don Seigelman to jail on false accusations. It is also curious
that the New York Times was only able to mention one of the supposed "several" affidavits and all three accusations are
extremely vague. You'd think an affidavit would state a name, or be specific about precisely what was done and how. If we
assume that absentee ballots are causing problems, that means that 25% of 1,114 voters (about 270) mentioned by Mrs.
potentially fraudulent. Are all 270 absentee ballots fraudulent? Probably not.
The last time this happened in Missouri, after a 2 year investigation, the authorites were only able to find 2 incidences of actual
voter fraud -- a women who signed her daughter's ballot because she wouldn't be home in time, and another person who used
an address at one of his properties instead of his home address, but only voted once anyway. 2 years of investigating, and that
was all they ever found.
I'm skeptical, but I admit I really don't know. It is odd however that this surfaces now, don't you think.
GOTO THE NEXT 10 COLUMNS