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Archive for February 16th, 2009

Is Allen Stanford The 21st Century’s Jay Gatsby?

It looks like Allen Stanford, the billionaire Texan banker whose investment firm is being probed by the Feds, has a positively Gatsbyesque yearning to be accepted into high society.

As we knew, Stanford calls himself “Sir” Allen Stanford, on account of a knighthood he was awarded by the former prime minister of Antigua, where his business is based. But it looks like maybe that wasn’t quite good enough for Stanford, since until recently he was claiming, falsely, that the knighthood was presented by the British Royal family.

Check out this report (via Nexis), from last November in the Mail on Sunday of London:

Texan-born billionaire Sir Allen Stanford’s corporate website claims that, after he became a citizen of the Commonwealth territory of Antigua, it appointed him a ‘Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of the Nation’.’He was presented [with] this honour by His Royal Highness Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex,’ states the website.

However, The Mail on Sunday has learned that the Prince had nothing to do with the honour and that it was not approved by the Queen.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said it was a coincidence that the knighthood ceremony, conducted by an Antiguan political appointee, took place during a celebration of the island’s independence, at which Prince Edward was a guest.

‘It is incorrect to say that the Earl of Wessex knighted this person while in Antigua,’ said the spokesman.

Stanford’s personal web site now says only that the Earl of Wessex attended the ceremony at which the “royal knighthood” was bestowed. (Though the “royal” part still seem dubious, since Buckingham Palace has disavowed any role in the proceeding.)

The whole tale is reminiscent of Stanford’s claim to be descended from the founder of Stanford University. The school has denied the link.

MORE HERE

Scenes from the Great Gatsby movie:

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Right Said Fred – I’m Too Sexy

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As Obama Readies To Sign The Stimulus Package, Several States Are Already Experiencing Economic Distress

As President Barack Obama is poised to sign momentus economic recovery legislation tomorrow in Colorado, there are several US states that are already boiling over in economic distress.

Most notably are Kansas, which is suspending their income tax refunds and may miss payroll on state workers, and California which just cannot pass their budget deal due to short falls remaining.

We remain cautiously optimistic watching historic events unfold tomorrow as President Obama still has a wide margin of support.  We hope Obama can steer America through these trying times and we must not let defeatist voices halt our progress towards a bright future.

These are the times that try our Nation but this is also the time that gives us the chance to reinvent, find ourselves,  and to follow our better Angels.

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Dem Senators To DOJ: How’s That Report On Torture Opinions Coming?

Looks like it’s not just journalists who are interested in the progress of that DOJ report into whether Bush administration lawyers shaded their opinions on the legality of harsh interrogation methods in order to please the White House.

In the wake of Newsweek‘s story from over the weekend that a draft of the report criticizes several top Bush officials, including John Yoo, Democratic senators Dick Durbin and Sheldon Whitehouse, both of whom sit on the Judiciary committee, have sent a letter to Marshall Jarrett, who heads the DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility and is overseeing the report.

In the letter, the senators, who wrote to Jarrett last year requesting the investigation, note that, according to Newsweek, a draft of the report was submitted in the final weeks of the Bush administration. They ask for an update on the status of Jarrett’s probe by February 23.

They also suggest that they’ll take action if the evidence shows that DOJ lawyers shaped their opinions to conform to the White House’s views, writing:

Our intelligence professionals should be able to rely in good faith on the Justice Department’s legal advice. This good faith is undermined when Justice Department attorneys provide legal advice so misguided that it damages America’s image around the world and the Justice Department is forced to repudiate it. If the officials who provide such advice fail to comply with professional standards, they must be held accountable in order to maintain the faith of the intelligence community and the American people in the Justice Department.”

As we noted before, it’s not clear that the report will ultimately be released to the public. But at least some in Congress appear to be taking it seriously.

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Sudhan @22:15 CET

Jason  Leopold | Consortiumnews.com, Feb 15, 2009

A key line in George W. Bush’s defense against war crimes charges has weakened with the disclosure that an internal Justice Department watchdog has concluded that the legal advice, which cleared the way for Bush’s policies on torture and other abuse of detainees, was tainted by political influence.

An investigation by H. Marshall Jarrett, head of the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility, reached “damning” conclusions about numerous cases of “misconduct” in the advice from John Yoo and other lawyers in the Office of Legal Counsel during the Bush administration, according to legal sources familiar with the report’s contents.

OPR investigators determined that Yoo blurred the lines between an attorney charged with providing independent legal advice to the White House and a policy advocate who was working to advance the administration’s goals, said the sources who spoke on condition of anonymity because the contents of the report are still classified.

One part of the OPR report criticized Yoo’s use of an obscure 2000 health benefits statute to narrow the definition of torture in a way that permitted waterboarding and other acts that have historically been regarded as torture under U.S. law, the sources said.

The report also criticizes Yoo’s legal theories that the President of the United States had the right to suspend Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures, the sources said. It is believed that Yoo’s legal theories led to a warrantless wiretap program after 9/11.

The OPR report was completed late last year but was kept under wraps by Attorney General Michael Mukasey while Bush finished out his days in office, the sources said.

Continued >>

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Historians rank Bush in the top 10 of America’s worst presidents.»

Think Progress- By Amanda Terkel on Feb 15th, 2009 at 3:28 pm

Today, C-SPAN released its second Historians Survey of Presidential Leadership, in which “65 presidential historians ranked the 42 former occupants of the White House on ten attributes of leadership.” Coming in first was Abraham Lincoln, followed by George Washington, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, and Harry Truman. Finishing last was James Buchanan. George W. Bush came in 36th, just beating out Millard Fillmore, who ranked 37th. A look at how historians judged Bush on measures such as his “economic management” and “moral authority”:

Looks like Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) was wrong when, in 2007, he predicted that Bush’s “ratings among the historians will be greater than his ratings in the polls today.”

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Geezer Power

Rep. Alan Grayson asked Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit about the terms of the government assistance his firm received, and read comments from several angry constituents. He is one of the more Progressive Democrats on the Obama team and should prove to be a real asset, especially on issues of accountability.

Grayson also has a record of combatting war protiteering and waste concerning the Defence Industries, as he points out, “the money we have thrown away on war profiteers could go a long way on the domestic front”.

Because of his track record suing defense contractors, Grayson is completely uninterested and unintimidated by ridiculous arguments about secrecy and national security. He thinks that war crimes have been committed, that people need to be put in prison, and that we absolutely cannot let bygones be bygones with the 2000-2008 era.


I really like this guy. Here he is defending Obama from the attacks of right wing media spin, as Rush Limpballs gets a perspective from the other side of the mirror.

“Rush Limbaugh is a has-been hypocrite loser, who craves attention,His right-wing lunacy sounds like Mikhail Gorbachev, extolling the virtues of communism. Limbaugh actually was more lucid when he was a drug addict. If America ever did 1 percent of what he wanted us to do, then we’d all need pain killers.”

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