Archive for August 16th, 2008

GEF @ 8:48 PM ET

Pelosi receptive to considering more drilling


WASHINGTON (AP) – Democrats’ stance against offshore drilling has shifted more, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi signaling on Saturday her willingness to consider opening up more coastal areas to oil and gas exploration.

In her party’s weekly radio address, Pelosi said opening portions of the Outer Continental Shelf for drilling would be a part of energy legislation that House Democrats intend to put forward in the coming weeks to address oil dependence and high gasoline prices.

Lawmakers will be able to “consider opening portions of the Outer Continental Shelf for drilling, with appropriate safeguards, and without taxpayer subsidies to Big Oil,” said Pelosi, D-Calif.

Just weeks ago Pelosi seemed resolved to block any votes to allow offshore drilling, in part because Californians have opposed drilling off their coasts since an oil spill off Santa Barbara in 1969. New oil drilling is only allowed now in federal waters in the western Gulf of Mexico and off Alaska.

Pelosi’s radio remarks were the latest to hint that the energy debate in Congress is still evolving, and that Democrats are budging on the issue.

Congress left for the August recess deadlocked over how to address $4-a-gallon gasoline. Democratic proposals to tap the nation’s petroleum reserve, curb oil speculation and force oil companies to drill on already leased federal lands were blocked by Republicans trying to force votes on offshore drilling.

Yet any vote on drilling is likely to force the Republicans’ hand, since it will likely be packaged with unpopular proposals to tap the petroleum reserve and recoup unpaid royalties from the late 1990s to pay for renewable energy projects.

“This comprehensive Democratic approach will ensure energy independence which is essential to our national security, will create millions of good paying jobs here at home in a new green economy, and will take major steps forward in addressing the global climate crisis,” said Pelosi, who criticized Republicans'”drill only” plan.

Republican leaders called Pelosi’s proposal a ruse.

She “is deliberately misrepresenting the facts about our plan in order to shift attention away from the Democrats’ shameful record,” said House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio. “Her new effort appears to be just another flawed plan that will do little to lower gas prices.” Boehner and more than 100 House Republicans refused to depart for the summer recess in protest of Democrats’ refusal to have a vote on their proposals.

The pressure to expand offshore drilling intensified last month when President Bush lifted an executive prohibition on drilling for oil and gas on the Outer Continental Shelf. A congressional ban remains in place.

Polls have shown that voters have grown more supportive of more domestic oil production as fuel prices have climbed.

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By- Suzie-Q @ 4:30 PM MST

In this July 12, 2006 file photo Rick Warren, a pastor of Saddleback Valley Community Church in Orange County, California is seen in Seoul, South Korea. Both Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama are scheduled to appear seperately at a forum at Warrens California megachurch Saturday, Aug. 16, 2008, spending one hour each with Warren, before coming together on stage for a handshake. The pastor, who does not endorse candidates, will be the only one asking questions. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu, File)

In this July 12, 2006 file photo Rick Warren, a pastor of Saddleback Valley Community Church in Orange County, California is seen in Seoul, South Korea. Both Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama are scheduled to appear seperately at a forum at Warren's California megachurch Saturday, Aug. 16, 2008, spending one hour each with Warren, before coming together on stage for a handshake. The pastor, who does not endorse candidates, will be the only one asking questions. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu, File)

Rick Warren’s Forum To Include Questions About Candidates’ Personal Lives

CHARLES BABINGTON | August 16, 2008 02:35 PM EST | AP

LAKE FOREST, Calif. — Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain agreed to appear on the same stage Saturday night, if only to share a handshake, as a televised discussion of faith ends a mid-August lull in the presidential campaign.

Obama spent the past week vacationing in Hawaii, and McCain held only a handful of public events during a time when many Americans were preoccupied with the Olympics and their own vacations. The contest now regains some intensity, starting with the two-hour forum hosted by the minister Rick Warren at his megachurch in Orange County, Calif.

Warren, nationally known for his sermons and best-selling book “The Purpose-Driven Life,” will be the only questioner. Obama will appear during the first hour and McCain will take the second.

The men, whose generally cordial relationship as senators is being strained by the campaign, are scheduled to shake hands onstage during the switch.

The forum carries opportunities and risks for both candidates. It gives Obama a chance to discuss his Christian faith and counter inaccurate beliefs that he is a Muslim. But it also may highlight his positions on issues such as supporting abortion rights, which Warren and many other evangelicals oppose.

McCain’s positions are more in line with evangelical Christians. But he often seems uncomfortable talking about his faith and other personal beliefs, and the Christian right shows less enthusiasm for him than for past GOP contenders.

NOTE: Watch it on MSNBC

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anthony @ 19:10 BST

Ralph Lopez | OpEdNews | August 16, 2008 at 11:17:44

House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers has taken the highly unusual step of calling his committee back from summer recess in order to investigate allegations by Ron Suskind that the Bush administration forged a letter to buttress the links made between Saddam and 9/11, and Saddam and WMD. The congressional Authorization for the Use of Force Against Iraq, the “”War Resolution” which, as far short as it fell of a congressional declaration of war, gave the invasion its constitutional legal cover, and gave Bush the authorization to invade only after he had certified to congress the existence of these two critical links. If Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11, and if he did not possess WMD, the war was off.

The Authorization for the Use of Force stipulated:

Sec. 3 (b) Presidential Determination.–

In connection with the exercise of the authority granted in subsection (a) to use force the President shall, prior to such exercise or as soon thereafter as may be feasible, but no later than 48 hours after exercising such authority, make available to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate his determination that–

(2) acting pursuant to this joint resolution is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorist and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.

On March 23, 2003, the president certified just that:

-“I have also determined that the use of armed force against Iraq is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.” -George Bush, certification to Congress to authorize the use of force in Iraq, March 23, 2003

“Armed force against Iraq is consistent with…actions against…nations…who…aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11…” are the operative words in that statement without the subordinate clauses. (more…)

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“Know-Nothingism” In America

By- Suzie-Q @ 10:30 AM MST

How Anti-Intellectualism Is Destroying America

By Terrence McNally, AlterNet. Posted August 15, 2008

Sad but true: Intelligence is a political liability in the US. Author of The Age of American Unreason Susan Jacoby explains why.

“It’s like these guys take pride in being ignorant.” Barack Obama finally said it.

Though a successful political and electoral strategy, the Right’s stand against intelligence has steered them far off course, leaving them — and us — unable to deal successfully with the complex and dynamic circumstances we face as a nation and a society.

American 15-year-olds rank 24th out of 29 countries in math literacy, and their parents are as likely to believe in flying saucers as in evolution; roughly 30 to 40 percent believe in each. Their president believes “the jury is still out” on evolution.

Steve Colbert interviewed Georgia Rep. Lynn Westmoreland on “The Colbert Report.” Westmoreland co-sponsored a bill that would require the display of the Ten Commandments in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, but, when asked, couldn’t actually list the commandments.

This stuff would be funny if it weren’t so dangerous.

In the 2004 election, nearly 70 percent of Bush supporters believed the United States had “clear evidence” that Saddam Hussein was working closely with al Qaeda; a third believed weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq; and more than a third that a substantial majority of world opinion supported the U.S.-led invasion, according to the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland. The political right and allied culture warriors actively ignore evidence and encourage misinformation. To motivate their followers, they label intelligent and informed as “elite,” implying that ignorance is somehow both valuable and under attack. Susan Jacoby confronts our “know-nothingism” — current and historical — in her new book, The Age of American Unreason.

A former reporter for the Washington Post and program director of the Center for Inquiry-New York City, Jacoby is the author of five books, including Wild Justice, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, and Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism. Her political blog, The Secularist’s Corner, is on the Web site of the Washington Post.


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By- Suzie-Q @ 9:00 AM MST

McCain Adviser Was Arrested For Carrying A Shotgun To Work At The Capitol

TPM Muckraker- By Andrew Tilghman – August 15, 2008, 11:23AM

As if helping to plan the Iraq war wasn’t troubling enough, now we learn that Randy Scheunemann, John McCain’s top foreign policy adviser, has been personally arrested at the Capitol for carrying an illegal weapon.

Scheuneman was arrested, charged and fingerprinted back in 1997 when Capitol Police saw a shotgun case in the back of his SUV while he was driving to work.

The Huffington Post points out today an old Washington Times article about the Jan. 23, 1997 arrest. Scheunemann was charged with possession of an unregistered firearm (an unloaded 12-gauge) and unregistered ammunition (two rounds).

Scheunemann, then an aide to Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS), told police he’d been duck hunting recently and fogotten to take the weapon out of the car, according to the Times story.

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many folks believe in foreign terrorism

by betmo @ 9:04 AM EDT

and that 9/11 was the largest act of such terrorism in american history. i agree- but with a caveat- i believe that it was domestic terrorism. i believe that the neocons planned and executed 9/11 in order to do just what they have done over the last 8 years- more if you count the clinton years and gingrich’s congress. i started researching the neocons with my mom at the start of my blog- life’s journey– and my archives are full of the information that i have found- and based on what i have uncovered and based on what people who actually have access to lots of information have uncovered- i believe that they are completely capable and were willing to kill americans. there have been numerous high level officials in the news recently- from generals to foreign diplomats to former cia and fbi personnel who speak to the inconsistencies and discrepancies in the official 9/11 reports. mark gaffney is publishing a book- out in september- in which he seeks to prove that 9/11 was indeed an inside job.

“Regrettably, there is considerable evidence that elements of the Bush administration were complicit in the 9/11 attack, and may even have helped stage it. Let us now examine some of what I regard as the most compelling evidence. However, the following discussion makes no claim to be comprehensive.”

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By- Anthony @ 12:18 BST

Conyers conducting examination into intelligence fixing and forgery

Steve Watson | Infowars.net | Friday, August 15, 2008

As part of a major examination into the evidence that the Bush administration forged intelligence documents to justify the invasion of Iraq, the House Judiciary Committee will also look into various considerations, plots and attempts to provoke war, including the idea of goading Saddam Hussein to shoot down a mock UN plane.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers has announced that he and his staff will investigate the evidence most recently collated and presented by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind in his book The Way of the World: A Story of Truth and Hope in an Age of Extremism.

According to a press release earlier this week, Conyers’ office will examine:

“Reported examples of the Bush Administration considering other deceptive schemes to justify or provoke war with Iraq, such as the reported consideration of painting a U.S. aircraft with UN colors in order to provoke Iraq into military confrontation.”

The revelation first appeared in February 2006 when minutes of George Bush and Tony Blair’s pre-war January 2003 meeting surfaced. Amongst the clear evidence that the two were planning to begin military action on March 10th 2003, irrespective of whether the United Nations had passed a new resolution authorizing the use of force or not, came the provocation idea.

President Bush said: “The US was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in UN colors. If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach.”

He went on: “It was also possible that a defector could be brought out who would give a public presentation about Saddam’s WMD, and there was also a small possibility that Saddam would be assassinated.”


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Sudhan @12:25 CET

Immanuel Wallerstein, Commentary No. 239, Aug. 15, 2009

The world has been witness this month to a mini-war in the Caucasus, and the rhetoric has been passionate, if largely irrelevant. Geopolitics is a gigantic series of two-player chess games, in which the players seek positional advantage. In these games, it is crucial to know the current rules that govern the moves. Knights are not allowed to move diagonally.

From 1945 to 1989, the principal chess game was that between the United States and the Soviet Union. It was called the Cold War, and the basic rules were called metaphorically “Yalta.” The most important rule concerned a line that divided Europe into two zones of influence. It was called by Winston Churchill the “Iron Curtain” and ran from Stettin to Trieste. The rule was that, no matter how much turmoil was instigated in Europe by the pawns, there was to be no actual warfare between the United States and the Soviet Union. And at the end of each instance of turmoil, the pieces were to be returned to where they were at the outset. This rule was observed meticulously right up to the collapse of the Communisms in 1989, which was most notably marked by the destruction of the Berlin wall.

It is perfectly true, as everyone observed at the time, that the Yalta rules were abrogated in 1989 and that the game between the United States and (as of 1991) Russia had changed radically. The major problem since then is that the United States misunderstood the new rules of the game. It proclaimed itself, and was proclaimed by many others, the lone superpower. In terms of chess rules, this was interpreted to mean that the United States was free to move about the chessboard as it saw fit, and in particular to transfer former Soviet pawns to its sphere of influence. Under Clinton, and even more spectacularly under George W. Bush, the United States proceeded to play the game this way.

There was only one problem with this: The United States was not the lone superpower; it was no longer even a superpower at all. The end of the Cold War meant that the United States had been demoted from being one of two superpowers to being one strong state in a truly multilateral distribution of real power in the interstate system. Many large countries were now able to play their own chess games without clearing their moves with one of the two erstwhile superpowers. And they began to do so.

Two major geopolitical decisions were made in the Clinton years. First, the United States pushed hard, and more or less successfully, for the incorporation of erstwhile Soviet satellites into NATO membership. These countries were themselves anxious to join, even though the key western European countries – Germany and France – were somewhat reluctant to go down this path. They saw the U.S. maneuver as one aimed in part at them, seeking to limit their newly-acquired freedom of geopolitical action.

The second key U.S. decision was to become an active player in the boundary realignments within the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. This culminated in a decision to sanction, and enforce with their troops, the de facto secession of Kosovo from Serbia.

Russia, even under Yeltsin, was quite unhappy about both these U.S. actions. However, the political and economic disarray of Russia during the Yeltsin years was such that the most it could do was complain, somewhat feebly it should be added.

The coming to power of George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin was more or less simultaneous. Bush decided to push the lone superpower tactics (the United States can move its pieces as it alone decides) much further than had Clinton. First, Bush in 2001 withdrew from the 1972 U.S.-Soviet Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Then he announced that the United States would not move to ratify two new treaties signed in the Clinton years: the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the agreed changes in the SALT II nuclear disarmament treaty. Then Bush announced that the United States would move forward with its National Missile Defense system.

Continued . . .

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