Archive for March 6th, 2008

GEF @ 5:28 PM MST

Via: C&L

Because the media has gotta have a horse race. Now that John McCain has locked up the Republican nomination, the focus moves to who he will choose as his running mate. Will he choose someone who offsets his age, his lack of appeal to the Religious Right faction of the party (what, Hagee isn’t good enough for you people?), his perceived lesser conservatism (because wanting to be in Iraq for a 100 years doesn’t quite cut it, you have to want to fence the US off from Mexico too, apparently) or perhaps a minority or woman to counteract the Democratic ticket? McCain has set up a committee to look into different methodologies of picking that running mate. But Jack Cafferty asks his viewers what they think, and bless their little hearts, it looks like some snarky liberals got in some good zingers:

video_wmv Video

Sky says: “Maybe he should look over at Shady Pines. There should be plenty of his contemporaries there. He might even find one who agrees with his brilliant suggestion to keep our GIs in Iraq for 100 years.”

Ed in Houston: “McCain ought to let Rush Limbaugh help him pick the vice presidential candidate as soon as possible. It sounds by his comments today regarding a Clinton/Obama dream ticket that he will be re-entering rehab again soon.”[..]

Dan in Gulfport, Florida: “Unfortunately, a lot of potential candidates are in jail or soon will be. McCain might be better off if he placed an ad in the jobs available section of The Times. The nice thing is that after Dick Cheney, the bar for vice president is so low that it won’t be difficult for anyone to hop over it. My personal recommendation would be Senator Larry Craig. He’d lock up the public restroom vote and there might not be many other places Republicans will be able to find votes this year.”

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By- Suzie-Q @ 3:15 PM MST

Scalia on Torture: “Not Everything That Is Bad Is Unconstitutional”

By Paul Kiel – March 6, 2008, 11:27AM

Last month, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia pronounced in an interview with the BBC that it was “extraordinary” to think that “so-called torture” might be prohibited by the Constitution.

Well, to the quotes from that memorable interview (“You can’t come in smugly and with great self satisfaction and say ‘Oh it’s torture, and therefore it’s no good'” and “Is it really so easy to determine that smacking someone in the face to determine where he has hidden the bomb that is about to blow up Los Angeles is prohibited in the constitution?”) you can add this, from Scalia’s speech at the University of Central Missouri yesterday:

Of torture, Scalia said: “It’s a bad thing to do. But not everything that is bad is unconstitutional.”

I guess torture is different from “so-called” torture. So to review your lesson in Scalia jurisprudence for the day: so-called torture, i.e. face-smacking, “sticking something under the fingernails,” and one presumes, waterboarding, inducing hypothermia, and the like — that’s OK. Not only is it Constitutional, it’s “absurd” to say you can’t do it. Torture, on the other hand, is “a bad thing to do” — presumably because it’s against the law. But still A-OK by the Constitution. Class is adjourned.

Via ThinkProgress.

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The Election That Might Not Happen

Sudhan @21:05 CET

Betsy Hartmann | CommonDreams.org, March 6, 2008

It’s springtime in American politics. It’s only early March, but there’s a giddy, hopeful feeling to this election season, a sense that new leadership is blossoming. We could have a Democrat in the White House next year. But winter isn’t over yet and we need to balance our hope with a little fear. In 2000 Bush and Cheney stole the election in Florida. In 2004 they played dirty tricks in Ohio. In 2008 could they go one step further — and suspend the election altogether?

The necessary architecture may already be in place. On May 4 last year, the White House issued the National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive, key parts of which remain classified and hence shrouded from public view. The directive outlines procedures to respond to a “catastrophic emergency,” defined broadly as “any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions.” Of course previous administrations also had emergency plans. But the Bush directive transfers power from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to the White House, where the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism is assigned the job of “National Continuity Coordinator”.

Continued . . .

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Global Meltdown…

GEF @ 10:08 AM MST

Carlyle Fund Gets Default Notice After Margin Calls

By Joseph Galante and Edward Evans

(Bloomberg) — Carlyle Group’s publicly traded mortgage bond fund failed to meet margin calls, prompting its creditors to seek immediate repayment of loans linked to even the highest-rated bonds.

Carlyle Capital Corp. missed four of seven margin calls yesterday totaling more than $37 million, the Guernsey, U.K.- based fund said today in a statement. The fund expects to get at least one more notice of default related to the margin calls.

The effects of the subprime mortgage market collapse are spreading, undermining the value of top-rated agency debt and leading to the failure of hedge funds including Peloton Partners LLP. The Carlyle fund raised $300 million in July and used loans to buy about $22 billion of AAA rated mortgage debt issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, securities that Carlyle says have the “implied guarantee” of the U.S. government.

“The credit crisis is spilling over to the next asset class, agency bonds,” said Philip Gisdakis, senior credit strategist at UniCredit SpA in Munich. “There’s never just one cockroach. If you see one highly leveraged hedge fund going bust, then there’s another on the way.”

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UBS Whopped By Fire Sale Talk

Vidya Ram

LONDON – It usually puts investors in a good mood to hear that a company is selling something, but rumors that UBS was clearing out its portfolio of Alt-A mortgages was worrying on Thursday. It looked as if the bank was holding a desperate fire sale, in contrast to the largely orderly sale of assets within the global banking system so far.

“The fear is that if this is the stuff UBS can sell easily, what can the rest of their portfolio look like?” remarked Peter Thorne, an analyst at Helvea in London. “If Queen Elizabeth sold her crown for £20 on eBay, that would tell you a lot.”

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By- Suzie-Q @ 9:00 AM MST

It’s 3 a.m. Who do you want answering the phone?

Not John McCain, say some military leaders: “I think his knee-jerk response factor is a little scary.”

By Mark Benjamin

March 6, 2008 | WASHINGTON —

It’s 3 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep
But there’s a phone in the White House and it’s ringing
Something’s happening in the world
Your vote will decide who answers that call
Whether it’s someone who already knows the world’s leaders, knows the military — someone tested and ready to lead in a dangerous world
It’s 3 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep
Who do you want answering the phone?

That, of course, is the script from Hillary Clinton’s now famous (or infamous) “3 a.m.” television ad that ran in Texas just ahead of the March 4 primary. At the end of the ad, Clinton answers the phone.

Following Clinton’s win of the popular vote in Texas, there seems to be general agreement among the pundits that a significant number of undecided voters were relieved by the idea of Hillary Clinton’s answering the phone, rather than Barack Obama. The ad was a fear-based attack, building on a theme that has been central to Clinton’s campaign. Clinton, the ad’s message said, is the Democratic candidate better equipped to deal with the frightening world out there from day one. It may have scared up enough votes to keep Clinton’s campaign alive by helping bring her a crucial win in Texas (notwithstanding the awarding of delegates there, still to come).

Polls show that the economy is a big deal to American voters in the 2008 election. But the apparent effectiveness of the 3 a.m. ad in Texas is a reminder of the importance of national security in voters’ minds, and of just how high the stakes are for the next commander in chief. The United States is bogged down in two nasty wars, and the Army and Marine Corps are stretched thin. China and Russia are on the rise. The Middle East is roiling, and Iran continues to bluster and obfuscate over its nuclear program. Something unexpected and bad is likely to happen during the next presidency, maybe even at 3 a.m. Washington time.


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Saving the Friends We Left Behind

By Paul Rieckhoff @ 9:08 AM (EST)

He was my most effective weapon in Iraq. Without him by my side, I was essentially deaf and blind. His name is Esam, and he served as my interpreter in Iraq. Iraqis like Esam put their lives on the line for their country, and for our troops. Now, most are facing forced exile, separation from their families, or even death.

Esam is one of the lucky ones to have made it out of Iraq alive. More than 250 interpreters working for U.S. forces or contractors have been killed in Iraq since the 2003 invasion.

Current estimates put the number of Iraqis who have worked with American forces in Iraq in the tens of thousands. And in many cases, their cooperation with Americans has put them at a huge risk for retaliation. Unfortunately, they’re finding it almost impossible to find refuge inside the U.S.

Our government has pledged to bring 12,000 Iraqi refugees to the U.S. by this September. But we have seen this promise broken before. As it stands now, only 1,432 refugees have been admitted since October of 2007. Sweden, a country with no troops in Iraq, has admitted 20,000 refugees in the same time period.

This is an issue our country has wrestled with in the past, so we know it has a solution; in 1999, President Clinton oversaw the admittance of 10,000 Kosovo refugees. Now it’s clear that a similar, executive-level government effort is needed to ensure we don’t leave these people behind without recourse and without hope.

IAVA and our Member Veterans are making this issue a major priority in 2008. In January, IAVA’s Will Bardenwerper, an Iraq veteran, spearheaded an unprecedented working group in New York City with people involved in the fight to help our Iraqi allies. The speakers included advocates such as Kirk Johnson, a former USAID employee who worked in Baghdad and the founder of The List Project. The List Project is already tracking more than 1,000 Iraqis running from persecution as a result of their cooperation with American forces, and they hear from more each day. Kirk was joined by Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, The New Yorker‘s George Packer, Iraqis themselves (including five interpreters and their veteran sponsors), human rights organizations and other leaders in the field, to talk about the best way to tackle this problem.

The 2008 National Defense Authorization Act, signed into law by President Bush in January, included a provision to increase the number of special visas for Iraqi interpreters and other Iraqis who worked for the State Department or American contractors in the war zone. But progress has been stalled. Its implementation is being held up by officials in the State and Homeland Security Departments. Meanwhile, the Iraqis wait under constant threat.

As Kirk Johnson argues:

“If this doesn’t prove why it’s President Bush’s responsibility to whip these bureaucracies into shape, and why the best intentions of Congress can only nudge things, I don’t know what else can.”

Join IAVA in bringing this urgent message to Washington. Click here to sign a petition to President Bush telling him to take real action on the issue. This is just the first step towards repaying our debt to the comrades we have left behind to die.

Cross Posted at Huffington Post

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Israel’s Right to Terrorism

Sudhan@14:40 CET

By Ghali Hassan | Axis of Logic exclusive, Mar 5, 2008,

In response to Palestinian Resistance to Israel’s terror, Matan Vilnai, Israel’s deputy defence minister, threatened Palestinian with a holocaust. Vilnai told Israeli Army Radio: “[the Palestinians] will bring upon themselves a bigger shoah (holocaust) because we will use all our might to defend ourselves”. An occupying power (aggressor) has no right to self-defence. The deliberate killing of innocent and defenceless Palestinians is not self-defence; it is terrorism.

For nearly sixty years, Jews – Israeli in particular –, have exclusively used the word “holocaust” to describe crimes committed against Jews by the Nazis, ignoring the Nazi’s millions of none-Jewish victims. The holocaust is not only being used as a Zionist tool (a weapon) to shield Israel from any criticism, but also to manipulate the public and gain Israel sympathy as a “victim state”. In addition, Israeli leaders use the holocaust as a justification for ongoing Israel’s terror and war crimes against the Palestinian people. The creation of Israel brought unimaginable suffering on the Palestinian people and turned them into holocaust victims.

According to Gaza-based journalist Mohammed Omar of rafahtoday.org, at least 130 Palestinians, including 39 children and 10 women were murdered by the Israeli army in the last days of February 2008. Even babies as young as six-month-old are targeted by Israel’s terror. In addition, more than 370 children were injured. Only one Israeli settler and two Israeli soldiers were killed by Palestinian resisting Israeli aggression against the people of Gaza, the perfect pretext for mass murder of Palestinians. The home-made Palestinian rockets used by the Palestinian Resistance are nothing compared with the F-16s bombers, helicopter missiles, cluster bombs and artillery shells used by the Israeli war machine against defenceless Palestinian population under brutal occupation.

Continued . . .

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