Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for March 17th, 2007

The future, delivered yesterday

Posted by Charles II on March 17, 2007

My goal on MercRising is to deliver the news well before the mainstream press. I think that if news analysis does not accurately predict the future, what good is it?  You read this on Mercury Rising on March 7th, but had to wait several days to see it in the press. 

Uzi Mahnaimi, Sunday Times, March 11

AN Iranian general who defected to the West last month had been spying on Iran since 2003 when he was recruited on an overseas business trip, according to Iranian sources.

This weekend Brigadier General Ali Reza Asgari, 63, the former deputy defence minister, is understood to be undergoing debriefing at a Nato base in Germany after he escaped from Iran, followed by his family.

A daring getaway via Damascus was organised by western intelligence agencies after it became clear that his cover was about to be blown.

PW speculated that this sounds like a John Bolton scheme. My guess, based on some simple reasoning, is that Asgari was part of the Plame counterproliferation network, which the Iranians have presumably been rolling up since her exposure. Although Asgari is said not to have had any information about the nuclear program, he would have been valuable in terms of knowing the likely smuggling routes and personnel.  

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on The future, delivered yesterday

Mortgage crisis to hit builders, investors, taxpayers, and holders of CDs/money markets

Posted by Charles II on March 17, 2007

(Via Ursel Duran on Roubini’s website), Zelman et al, Credit Suisse, on Pimco Bond website

We believe that 40% of the [mortgage] market (share of subprime and Alt-A) is at risk of significant fallout from tightening credit and increased regulatory scrutiny....The proliferation of [likely-to-default] mortgage products has been disproportionately weighted to former hotbeds such as California, Nevada, Arizona and Florida....
[...W]e estimate that current inventory figures released by the NAR could ultimately be 20% higher when homes currently in the foreclosure pipeline hit the resale market.
...We estimate that Rhode Island (28% subprime share), California (25%), Mississippi (25%), Illinois (24%), and Texas (23%) had the greatest percentage of subprime homebuyers in 2005.
. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in economy | Comments Off on Mortgage crisis to hit builders, investors, taxpayers, and holders of CDs/money markets

Get Me Rewrite!

Posted by MEC on March 17, 2007

The Associated Press has issued a new story on Valerie Plame’s testimony, this one under Matt Apuzzo’s byline. It’s an improvement over the “glamorous blond [sic]” article by Julie Hirschfeld Davis, in that it focuses on Plame’s testimony and not on her looks, the news media’s attention on her, and the fatuous things Republican Congressmen said to her.

It even acknowledges the reason for the hearing:

“If our government cannot even protect my identity, future foreign agents who might consider working with the Central Intelligence Agency and providing needed intelligence would think twice,” Plame said in response to a question.


“It’s not our job to determine criminal culpability, but it is out job to determine what went wrong and insist on accountability,” Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said at the outset of the hearing.

But it repeats disinformation to contradict Plame’s testimony.

In fact, the reason I find this article so interesting is that, although it’s under Matt Apuzzo’s byline, it repeats the disinformation in the exact same words as in the earlier article by Jennifer Hirschfeld Davis.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in beat the press, GOP/Media Complex, mediawhores, WTF? | 1 Comment »

Looking Past the Shiny Things

Posted by MEC on March 17, 2007

So the Busheviks attempted to distract from Abu Gonzales’ little personnel problems and Libby’s guilty verdicts and Valerie Plame Wilson’s testimony by playing the “Look! Shiny things! A terrorost!” card, releasing Khalid Sheik Mohammed’s confession to everything from plotting the 9/11 attacks to kidnapping the Lindbergh baby.

Let’s hear an “Oops!” for the Busheviks.

First, the distraction didn’t work. The scandals are still in the headlines.

And now people are starting to pay attention to the real news buried in the confession.

Senators Levin (D-MI) and Graham (R-SC) are saying that Mohammed’s allegations that he was abused by his captors should be taken seriously and investigated. Since Senator Levin chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, I predict he’s going to make sure that investigation happens.

And a quick scan of Google News shows that the news media are beginning to raise questions about that “confession”. So instead of being a useful distraction, it could become another scandal for Bush.

Posted in BushCo malfeasance, distractions | 2 Comments »

Waxman Caught Toensing Lying Under Oath. Why Wasn’t There ‘Film At Eleven’?

Posted by Phoenix Woman on March 17, 2007

In the first post-Waxman-hearing commentary up at Fire Dog Lake (for which I guest post), Jane Hamsher stated the following (emphases mine):

Toensing’s testimony was rife with what could charitably be considered “inaccuracies.” She claimed knowledge of Plame’s status she freely admitted she could not have had, having not spoken to either the CIA nor Plame on the topic, and she also claimed that Grenier had given her name as Valerie Plame (he hadn’t). Waxman seemed to be aware of this as he closed out the proceedings, thanking the administration’s spokesman (and ComPost contributor) for her time, promising that her statements would be fact checked. I’m sure Marcy will be doing much the same here tonight.

And frequent DKos diarist and FDL commenter litigatormom has her own commentary over at Daily Kos on why Victoria Toensing is not just a bad liar, but a bad lawyer as well.

It was fun watching Toensing blanch when Waxman told her that her testimony would be fact-checked.  Waxman made it perfectly clear that he had no time for her nonsense, then gave her a final, elegant stab to let her evade being brought up on perjury charges — if she was willing to “correct” her lies.  Now she’s caught between two fires:  Admit she lied, or face perjury charges. 

It’s fascinating that something that was nearly as big news as the hearing itself would be all but ignored by the mainstream press.  Yet the accounts I’ve seen barely mention Toensing’s presence,  much less her lying under oath.

Gee, I wonder why.  Could it be that the GOP/Media Complex is too busy sticking shivs in Valerie Plame’s back to actually do any real reporting?

Posted in beat the press, Congressional hearings, eedjits, GOP/Media Complex, media, Media machine, mediawhores, mythmaking, Silly Republicans, Valerie Plame | 6 Comments »

The Business of War

Posted by MEC on March 17, 2007

“Karl Northman” of Salon’s Table Talk demolishes the Republican talking point that Democrats are trying to “micromanage the war” (not to mention their claim to be better for business):

The Republicans are now accusing the Democrats of wanting to “micromanage” the conduct of the Iraq War. So let’s look at this war from a business point of view.

The war is something like a 100 billion dollar a year enterprise. Including contractors and support, it has something like 250,000 employees. However, it is just a small part of USA, Inc. It is a division that opened four years ago with great hype and promises to the shareholders of low costs and high returns. Despite increasing investment, the costs have always been far over estimate, and the returns minimal, if not negative. In any real business, after 400 some billion dollars had spent, with no return and no turnaround in sight, questions would be asked:

  • Should the Iraq War Division get increased funding or less? Should it be allowed to increase its headcount, except with specific qualifications on who may be added and when?
  • The original network of business partners has not expanded, but has rather shrunk, and almost all Iraq War operations are now company-owned and not run by franchisees. As costs increase, and returns decrease, should we really even be in the Iraq War business any more?
  • How much of our resources should we commit to a product line that has never taken off, that is increasingly rejected by consumers, and where there doesn’t even seem to be the option of selling it or spinning it off to someone else?
  • How much can we afford to spend propping up the Iraq War division without serious damage to our other, more important, more profitable, lines of business, and how much longer can we afford the increasing damage to the asset we carry called “Goodwill”?
  • If we want to get out of the Iraq War business, how can we do it and minimize the one-time costs associated with the closure and divestiture?

These are the questions that are finally getting debated in Congress. These are not “micromanagement” questions nor are they tactical management questions. They are questions of corporate strategy. They are just some of the questions that the board of directors should ask, but that haven’t been asked for years because the CEO’s cronies there haven’t allowed them to be asked.

The previous board of directors let this division be created, let it continue and grow, let management do whatever it wanted and handed them a blank check, even when it was clear in the first six months that the original business plan was flawed. But in November, the stockholders put in a new board, and the cronies are no longer in control. It’s long past time that the board got involved in the strategic direction of the company, even if they haven’t yet decided that it might be time to fire the current management.

When the supposed party of business, who preened over having the “first MBA President”, thinks that the questions above are the sort of thing that constitutes “micromanagement”, they only show that they will use every talking point handed to them by their spinmeisters regardless of its self-evident absurdity. They may feel they must march in lockstep with the party, or they may truly not understand the issues, or they may not think that anyone else will know or care. It hardly matters which – they are demonstrating their inability to think independently, their willful ignorance, their contempt for the American people, or all of those at once.

Posted in Iraq war, Silly Republicans, Table Talk | 2 Comments »

Information-Free Reporting

Posted by MEC on March 17, 2007

Julie Hirschfeld Davis of the Associated Press provides a lesson on how to report on a big story without including any significant detail whatever:

Valerie Plame put a glamorous face and a personal story to Democrats’ criticism of the Bush administration Friday…

Mmm yeah. The important thing about a woman who helped to manage and run one of the CIA’s most important worldwide programs is that she’s a looker. Uh huh. Happy Women’s History Month.

Plame, the operative at the center of the leak scandal that resulted in last week’s criminal conviction of a former top White House official, created more of a stir by her presence on Capitol Hill than by her testimony.


She revealed little new information about the case….

Oh, so it’s not significant that she settled the question of whether she was, in fact, a covert agent and therefore White House officials committed a serious breach of national security by outing her.

Still, Plame’s appearance before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee was a moment of political theater that dramatized Democrats’ drive to use their control of Congress to expose what they see as White House efforts to intimidate dissenters.

See? It’s all just about partison politics, not about Congress’ duty to provide oversight, especially when there’s misconduct in the other branches of government.

News cameras whirred and spectators craned their necks to catch a glimpse of Plame as the blond former operative took her place alone at the witness table for her 90 minutes of testimony.

The rest of the report is just as empty — except where Davis is actively undermining Valerie Plame Wilson’s testimony by repeating disinformation. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in anti-truth, beat the press, Congressional hearings, distractions, GOP/Media Complex, hearings, mediawhores, The smear industry, Valerie Plame | 2 Comments »

Was Valerie Wilson, not Joe, the Real Target?

Posted by MEC on March 17, 2007

Valerie Plame Wilson testified yesterday about her CIA assignment:

In the run-up to the war with Iraq, I worked in the Counterproliferation Division of the CIA, still as a covert officer whose affiliation with the CIA was classified. I raced to discover intelligence for senior policy makers on Iraq ‘s presumed weapons of mass destruction program. While I helped to manage and run secret worldwide operations against this WMD target from CIA headquarters in Washington , I also traveled to foreign countries on secret missions to find vital intelligence.

She also testified that

In February of 2002, a young junior officer who worked for me — came to me very upset. She had just received a telephone call on her desk from someone — I don’t know who — in the office of the vice-president asking about this report of this alleged sale of yellow cake uranium from Niger to Iraq.

She was specifically working on Iraq ‘s presumed weapons of mass destruction program. She wasn’t just an agent; she had people reporting to her in CIA headquarters. What are the odds that Dick Cheney, who was actively meddling in the very work she was overseeing, didn’t know about her? Slim, or none?

We know from other sources that Cheney was angry that he wasn’t getting what he wanted from the intelligence reports. And he wouldn’t get reports that “fit the facts around the policy” from Valerie Plame Wilson. Her testimony makes that very clear:

Intelligence collection is certainly more of an art than a science. But if there is any taint of bias, then it undermines its usefulness. The primary customer of our intelligence if, of course, the president of the United States. And if the president of the United States thinks somehow or doesn’t believe that his intelligence that he receives on his desk — he or she receives on his desk every morning — is free of ideology, politics, a certain viewpoint, how then can that president make the most important decisions of all about the security of our country? And I do feel passionately about that. You have to get the politics out of our intelligence process.

Ms. Wilson testified that she believed her outing was retaliation for her husband’s public criticism of Bush’s lies. She could be wrong about that. It might have been retaliation for doing her job the way it should be done, as the Busheviks have retaliated against so many people from climate scientists to U.S. attorneys for doing their jobs the way they should be done instead of serving the Bushevik agenda.

[H/T Arizona Girl in Salon’s Table Talk for inspiring these thoughts]

Posted in Congressional hearings, Dick Cheney, heroines, Iraq war, Joe Wilson, Table Talk, Valerie Plame | 5 Comments »

Media Atrocity Averted

Posted by MEC on March 17, 2007

There were reports last month that when the White House press room reopens after extensive renovations, Helen Thomas, who as the doyenne of White House correspondents has a place of honor in the front row for press briefings, would be displaced by cable news and relegated to a second-row seat.

Apparently Les Kinsolving and I weren’t the only people who was outraged by this affront to Ms. Thomas.

When the White House press room reopens, the White House Correspondents Association will

honor a previous commitment by our association to maintain Helen Thomas’ seat in the first row. As the dean of the White House press corps, Helen is an institution. First with United Press International and now as a White House columnist for Hearst newspapers, Helen has covered every president since John Kennedy.

[H/T Salon’s Table Talk]

Posted in Helen Thomas, real journalism, Table Talk | Comments Off on Media Atrocity Averted

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