Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for September 5th, 2007

Tough crowd

Posted by Charles II on September 5, 2007

Mark Glassman of Smartmoney:

Republican Presidential Debate: The candidates slug it out at the University of New Hampshire in Manchester. Warning: So palapable is the excitement surrounding this debate that viewers with pre-existing heart conditions are advised not watch it unless they are the Vice President of the United States. Brit Hume moderates. FNC, 9 p.m.

Posted in Just for fun | Comments Off on Tough crowd

Heckuva Job, T-Paw!

Posted by Phoenix Woman on September 5, 2007

The latest addition to my sidebar, courtesy of the wonderful Tild:


Posted in 'starving the beast', infrastructure, Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty | Comments Off on Heckuva Job, T-Paw!

Billions over Baghdad

Posted by Phoenix Woman on September 5, 2007


Funny how the righties got so exercised over “the Oil-for-Food scandal” (at least until it was discovered that Texas Republicans were at the heart of it), yet have looked the other way for years now in regard to the $9 billion that went missing during Paul Bremer’s reign of error in Iraq:

On Tuesday, June 22, 2004, a tractor-trailer truck turned off Route 17 onto Orchard Street, stopped at a guard station for clearance, and then entered the eroc compound. What happened next would have been the stuff of routine—procedures followed countless times. Inside an immense three-story cavern known as the currency vault, the truck’s next cargo was made ready for shipment. With storage space to rival a Wal-Mart’s, the currency vault can reportedly hold upwards of $60 billion in cash. Human beings don’t perform many functions inside the vault, and few are allowed in; a robotic system, immune to human temptation, handles everything. On that Tuesday in June the machines were especially busy. Though accustomed to receiving and shipping large quantities of cash, the vault had never before processed a single order of this magnitude: $2.4 billion in $100 bills.

Under the watchful eye of bank employees in a glass-enclosed control room, and under the even steadier gaze of a video surveillance system, pallets of shrink-wrapped bills were lifted out of currency bays by unmanned “storage and retrieval vehicles” and loaded onto conveyors that transported the 24 million bills, sorted into “bricks,” to the waiting trailer. No human being would have touched this cargo, which is how the Fed wants it: the bank aims to “minimize the handling of currency by eroc employees and create an audit trail of all currency movement from initial receipt through final disposition.”

Forty pallets of cash, weighing 30 tons, were loaded that day. The tractor-trailer turned back onto Route 17 and after three miles merged onto a southbound lane of the New Jersey Turnpike, looking like any other big rig on a busy highway. Hours later the truck arrived at Andrews Air Force Base, near Washington, D.C. There the seals on the truck were broken, and the cash was off-loaded and counted by Treasury Department personnel. The money was transferred to a C-130 transport plane. The next day, it arrived in Baghdad.

That transfer of cash to Iraq was the largest one-day shipment of currency in the history of the New York Fed. It was not, however, the first such shipment of cash to Iraq. Beginning soon after the invasion and continuing for more than a year, $12 billion in U.S. currency was airlifted to Baghdad, ostensibly as a stopgap measure to help run the Iraqi government and pay for basic services until a new Iraqi currency could be put into people’s hands. In effect, the entire nation of Iraq needed walking-around money, and Washington mobilized to provide it.

What Washington did not do was mobilize to keep track of it. By all accounts, the New York Fed and the Treasury Department exercised strict surveillance and control over all of this money while it was on American soil. But after the money was delivered to Iraq, oversight and control evaporated. Of the $12 billion in U.S. banknotes delivered to Iraq in 2003 and 2004, at least $9 billion cannot be accounted for. A portion of that money may have been spent wisely and honestly; much of it probably wasn’t. Some of it was stolen.

Once the money arrived in Iraq it entered a free-for-all environment where virtually anyone with fingers could take some of it. Moreover, the company that was hired to keep tabs on the outflow of money existed mainly on paper. Based in a private home in San Diego, it was a shell corporation with no certified public accountants. Its address of record is a post-office box in the Bahamas, where it is legally incorporated. That post-office box has been associated with shadowy offshore activities.

Posted in big money, Bush, BushCo malfeasance, Busheviks, corruption, Iraq war | 3 Comments »

They Met Him Nearly All The Way, And He Still Went Back On His Word.

Posted by Phoenix Woman on September 5, 2007

The full text of a letter sent by the Speaker of the Minnesota House and Minnesota’s Senate Majority Leader to Smilin’ Tim Pawlenty, our very own Pharaoh of the Ten Plagues and the Hardened Heart:

September 4, 2007

Governor Tim Pawlenty

130 State Capitol

Saint Paul, MN 55155

Dear Governor Pawlenty:

Two days after the I35W bridge collapse, which you described as “a catastrophe of historic proportions,” you asked us to come together in a special session to pass a long term, comprehensive transportation package that included a gas tax, a bonding bill, and local government aid; we agreed. You suggested the focus be on transportation and helping local communities; we agreed. You asked that we do so in a short, one or two day session; we agreed (August 7 letter).

In order to format bills that would be to your liking, we asked for further detail in the August 7 letter, regarding which of your ideas you wanted included specifically on transportation. On August 10th, you responded; we agreed (August 17 letter).

Then came the floods in southeastern Minnesota. You asked us to meet again (August 21 letter) and told us that we needed to add flood relief to the agenda; we obviously agreed (August 22 letter).

You proposed a five cent gas tax on August 30th, which you admit would only build one “medium-sized road or bridge”. In the same Pioneer Press article, you also said you would like to see more borrowing for transportation and less spending on “social services, healthcare welfare and the like, which the government pays a boatload for and is going up like a rocket”. We do not agree that we should drag the human service discussion into the special session. You also said that it had to be temporary and offset by an income tax decrease. This provides no new money for bridges.

It is time to stop the word games. It is unfortunate that you are unable to act decisively and comprehensively to the transportation challenge, either due to philosophy or politics. However, we agree the emergency needs from the bridge collapse and the flooding remain and must be dealt with immediately. It is our understanding that there is over $370 million cash on the bottom line to deal with these issues; there is no need to burden a future generation with more borrowing.

Therefore, we would ask that you call a special session for Tuesday, September 11th, to deal only with cash flow for reconstruction of the I35W bridge and a flood relief package. We would expect that a special session would end no later than Wednesday, September 12th , for the start of Rosh Hashanah. Please provide proposed legislative language that you would like considered by Thursday, September 6th. Committees will meet Friday, and if necessary Monday, to finalize a package.

While we remain committed to a comprehensive transportation package, meaningful property tax relief, local government aid and a bonding bill, we have absolutely no interest in putting special session legislation on your desk that you feel compelled to veto. If there are other items that you want us to consider in a special session, please provide specific written legislation; we are sure we can match it up with something legislators are interested in doing at this time.


Margaret Anderson Kelliher Lawrence J. Pogemiller

Speaker of the House Senate Majority Leader

Posted in 'starving the beast', 2008, abuse of power, hypocrites, infrastructure, liars, Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty, WTF? | Comments Off on They Met Him Nearly All The Way, And He Still Went Back On His Word.

Either His Stubborn Streak Is Revealing Itself Again…

Posted by Phoenix Woman on September 5, 2007

…or Larry Craig wants a nice big fat platinum parachute — preferably in the form of a few well-renumerated corporate board memberships — in exchange for his going away quietly so Idaho’s Republican governor can appoint another Republican to replace him.

Those are the two main ways I can see of interpreting this:

Sen. Larry Craig is reconsidering his decision to resign after his arrest in a Minnesota airport sex sting and may still fight for his Senate seat, his spokesman said Tuesday evening. “It’s not such a foregone conclusion anymore, that the only thing he could do was resign,” said Sidney Smith, Craig’s spokesman in Idaho’s capital.

“We’re still preparing as if Senator Craig will resign Sept. 30, but the outcome of the legal case in Minnesota and the ethics investigation will have an impact on whether we’re able to stay in the fight – and stay in the Senate.”

Or maybe Craig’s decided that he doesn’t owe anything to the party for which he gave the best four decades of his life, only to be discarded like a used condom at a frat party — and knowing full well that if he, like Diaper Dave Vitter, came from a state with a Democratic governor (who could replace him with a Democrat), the very same Republicans who forced him out now would be defending him tooth and nail.

Posted in 2008, Larry Craig, Republicans | 2 Comments »

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