Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for September 19th, 2007

Watch your wallet

Posted by Charles II on September 19, 2007

In the continuing fallout from the so-called subprime crisis, Daniel Wagner, Newsday:

Bankrupt Melville-based American Home Mortgage is attempting to seize as much as $27 million that employees had set aside from their paychecks as retirement savings, and if it is successful, the workers may never see the money again.

 

(Via The Kingsland Report)

Posted in economy | 7 Comments »

A Battle of Wits Against an Unarmed Man

Posted by MEC on September 19, 2007

Still watching the Senate on C-SPAN. There are moments of real entertainment.

John Cornyn introduced an amendment to the defense appropriations bill to condemn MoveOn.org for running an ad that hurt General Petraeus’ feelings.

The Democrats were ready for him.

Dick Durbin responded, if Senator Cornyn thinks it’s a terrible thing to attack the integrity of military officers, then the amendment should condemn all attacks on the integrity of all military officers. Specifically, he should include in his amendment a condemnation of the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth for spreading lies about Senator Kerry. Durbin said he’s going to offer an amendment to the amendment to that effect.

Senator Boxer reminded the Senate that Max Cleland’s honor was also “viciously attacked, his patriotism called into question” by Republicans. Then she reminded them of the retired generals who were called traitors for opposing the Iraq war.

Senator Cornyn was reduced to insisting that lies about military heroes are okay if they’re spread as part of a political campaign.

Senator Cornyn, military heroes are military heroes, and lies are lies. Don’t you go all “situational ethics” just because the truth hurts.

Posted in Democrats with spines, Senate, Silly Republicans | 3 Comments »

Republicans “Support the Troops”

Posted by MEC on September 19, 2007

casualties

Republicans support the troops — if “support” means “allow soldiers to be deployed and redeployed to Iraq even when they are mentally and physically unfit for duty”.

I just watched the vote on the Webb Amendment: 56 to 44, but it needed 60 to overcome the Republicans’ obstruction. Every Democrat voted for it, along with 6 Republicans and independent Bernie Sanders. All other Republicans, including Joe Hypocrite Lieberman, voted against it.

Now they’re voting on the Republican version of the amendment, which expresses the “sense of the Senate” but is nonbinding, so it’s completely worthless because it won’t result in the soldiers getting adequate recovery time between deployments. (This amendment also failed, 55-45.)

Posted in Congress, Iraq war, Republicans acting badly, rightwing moral cripples | 1 Comment »

Better than a poke in the eye: the Webb Amendment

Posted by Charles II on September 19, 2007

(Via digby)

The binding part of the Webb Amendment is this

It is the sense of Congress that— (A) the units and members of the reserve components of the Armed Forces should not be mobilized continuously for more than one year; and  (b) the optimal minimal period between the previous deployment of a unit or member of the Armed Forces specified in paragraph (3) to Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom and a subsequent deployment of the unut or member to Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom should be five years.

It applies to members of the Reserve and the National Guard of all units of the military. It allows the president and the military chief of staff/commandant to waive those requirements.

In other words, it doesn’t protect active duty military, it doesn’t doesn’t require that reservists get a year between deployments, and the president or the service chiefs can conscript at will.

I’ll take it, but I am not thrilled.

Posted in Afghanistan, Iraq war, military | Comments Off on Better than a poke in the eye: the Webb Amendment

I Can’t Stand It

Posted by MEC on September 19, 2007

janus.jpg

Joe Lieberman, who created a Party Of One so he could run for re-election after being defeated in the Democratic primary; Joe Lieberman, who consistently votes with the Republicans, even unto voting against the bill to restore habeas corpus; Joe Lieberman, who — never mind, you should already know all the things Turncoat Joe has done to separate himself from the Democratic Party and obstruct the Congresional Democrats’ agenda —

has registered as a Democrat.

Words fail me.

(H/T commenter Biodun in Firedoglake)

Posted in hypocrites, Joe Lieberman | 4 Comments »

Condi Doesn’t Have a Prayer

Posted by MEC on September 19, 2007

I don’t think much of Pope Benedict XVI. He seems determined to drag the Catholic Church back to the Middle Ages. But this time, I have to say, “You go, Pontiff!”

According to the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, the Pope rebuffed Condoleezza Rice’s attempt to use him to boost her diplomatic credibility.

Face it, Condi. The Pope’s blessing wouldn’t have done much to improve your credibility, anyway, especially in the Middle East. Not even divine intervention could make you a respected diplomat.

Posted in Condolezza Rice, dope slaps for Dubya | Comments Off on Condi Doesn’t Have a Prayer

Yet Another Big Story That’s Not Getting The Coverage It Deserves From Our Wonderful US Media

Posted by Phoenix Woman on September 19, 2007

The IAEA’s El Baradei tries to stop a global catastrophe:

THE UN’s chief nuclear weapons inspector has warned against the use of force against Iran, in what he said was an attempt to halt an “out of control” drift to war.

Mohamed ElBaradei’s outspoken remarks on Monday, which drew a parallel between Iran and Iraq, appeared to be aimed at the US and Britain. They followed comments on Sunday by the French Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner, who said, “we have to prepare for the worst”, adding “the worst is war”.

“I would not talk about any use of force,” Dr ElBaradei, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, said. “There are rules on how to use force, and I would hope that everybody would have gotten the lesson after the Iraq situation, where 700,000 innocent civilians have lost their lives on the suspicion that a country has nuclear weapons.”

A string of reports has come out of Washington that the Bush Administration is running out of patience with diplomacy and is intensifying its plans for air strikes as a means of halting Iran’s disputed nuclear program.

UN officials said Dr ElBaradei was trying to slow what seemed to be an accelerating march to war. “There’s a strategic reason for doing these things,” one official said. “He really is alarmed. He sees this thing going out of control. The feeling around here is that this looks like the run-up to the Iraq war.”

China said yesterday it was also opposed to threatening Iran with war, and wanted a diplomatic solution. “We do not approve of easily resorting to threatening use of force in international affairs,” China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Jiang Yu, said.

Of course, Bush’s advisors know about this, but they don’t dare tell their “gimme the good news only” boss. Which is a pity: The one thing above all that might make Bush back off would be the reaction of America’s financial markets to the idea that China, as a punishment for our attacking Iran, just might cut off the infinite line of credit it’s given Bush so far to allow him to deficit-spend his way into the Iraq quagmire that’s been so lucrative for his buddies in the oil and security industries.

Posted in abuse of power, beat the press, Bush, BushCo malfeasance, Busheviks, Conflict in the Middle East, eedjits, evil, getting a clue, GOP/Media Complex, international, Iran, Iraq war | Comments Off on Yet Another Big Story That’s Not Getting The Coverage It Deserves From Our Wonderful US Media

They Hate Our Freedoms

Posted by MEC on September 19, 2007

Senate Republicans quashed a bill to restore habeas corpus.

The Reuters headline says the “Senate” barred the bill, but a quick check of the roll call in the Senate’s web site confirmed that every vote against the bill was cast by a Republican. (I include Joe Lieberman in that count.)

Senator Leahy explained briefly and clearly why habeas corpus is necessary:

“Any of these people could be detained forever without the ability to challenge their detention in federal court” under the changes in law Congress made last year, Leahy said on the Senate floor. This was true “even if they (authorities) made a mistake and picked up the wrong person.”

But the Republicans — with the exception of Chuck Hagel, Richard Lugar, Gordon Smith, Olympia Snowe, Arlen Specter, and John Sununu — obviously want innocent people punished for others’ mistakes and suspects condemned without a trial.

Bush is fond of saying that our enemies hate our freedoms.

In the words of the immortal Walt Kelly, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

Posted in abuse of power, Congress, Constitution, Gitmo, Guantanamo, habeas corpus | 4 Comments »

Onward, Christian (and Only Christian) Soldiers

Posted by MEC on September 19, 2007

Knight in Shining Armor

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is suing the Pentagon for allowing soldiers to be pressured into participating in Christian observances and punished when they resist.

“Immediately after plaintiff made it known he would decline to join hands and pray, he was confronted, in the presence of other military personnel, by the senior ranking … staff sergeant who asked plaintiff why he did not want to pray, whereupon plaintiff explained because he is an atheist,” says the lawsuit, a copy of which was provided to Truthout.
 

Moreover, the complaint alleges that on August 7, when Hall received permission by an Army chaplain to organize a meeting of other soldiers who shared his atheist beliefs, his supervisor, Army Major Paul Welborne, broke up the gathering and threatened to retaliate against the soldier by charging him with violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The complaint also alleges that Welborne vowed to block Hall’s reenlistment in the Army if the atheist group continued to meet – a violation of Hall’s First Amendment rights under the Constitution. Welborne is named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

According to Mikey Weinstein, the foundation’s founder, a former White House attorney under Ronald Reagan, and an Air Force Judge Advocate (JAG), this is far from an isolated incident.

Since he launched his watchdog organization nearly two years ago months ago, Weinstein said he has been contacted by more than 5,000 active duty and retired soldiers, many of whom served or serve in Iraq, who told Weinstein that they were pressured by their commanding officers to convert to Christianity.
 

The lawsuit also includes examples of other alleged constitutional abuses by Pentagon officials.

Mr. Weinstein isn’t the only person accusing the Pentagon of violating the Constitution’s prohibition against establishing a state religion:

Since he launched his watchdog organization nearly two years ago months ago, Weinstein said he has been contacted by more than 5,000 active duty and retired soldiers, many of whom served or serve in Iraq, who told Weinstein that they were pressured by their commanding officers to convert to Christianity.
 

The lawsuit also includes examples of other alleged constitutional abuses by Pentagon officials.
 

[…]
 

The Army generals who appeared in the video appeared to be speaking on behalf of the military, but they did not obtain prior permission to appear in the video. They defended their actions, according to the inspector general’s report, saying the “Christian Embassy had become a ‘quasi-Federal entity,’ since the DOD had endorsed the organization to General Officers for over 25 years.”

Government officials have a right to practice and even promote their own religion — as private persons. When they lend their authority as government officials to the cause, they’re going too far. And when they claim that an organization that promotes sectarianism is a government institution, they are attacking the Constitution and thus violating their own oath of office:

I … do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same…

These officials shouldn’t merely be sued. They should be court-martialed.

Posted in abuse of power, Constitution, military, theocrats, Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Transportation: Everyone’s Issue

Posted by Phoenix Woman on September 19, 2007

nonewcollapses.jpg


In their fight to keep rich people from ever feeling much of a tax bite ever again, the local Republicans like to play off rural communities against the Twin Cities and their suburbs.That strategy’s not working that well any more:

Members of House Transportation Finance Committee are urged to pass a transportation bill with a gas tax increase

Carolyn Lange West Central Tribune
Published Tuesday, September 18, 2007


WILLMAR — Members of the House Transportation Finance Committee were told repeatedly Monday night in Willmar to pass a transportation bill with a gas tax increase.The committee, which is made up primarily of metro legislators, listened to testimony for more than two hours about the need for additional transportation funding in rural regions, like Kandiyohi County.

Nearly all who testified expressed disappointment that the transportation bill was vetoed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty this spring, and nearly all asked the committee to try again to get the bill and gas tax increase approved.

“Put that transportation bill back on the floor,” said Kandiyohi County Board Chairman Harlan Madsen.

“I urge you to do what is right for the people of Minnesota.”

[…]

He was joined by former Kandiyohi County Commissioner Earl Larson, who pleaded with the committee to pass a gas tax increase. He said if the current trend of borrowing for roads continues, his children and grandchildren will have to pay “for their roads and my roads.”

Larson said legislators were elected “to do something” and he urged them to pass a 10-cent gas tax. He said they’d “catch just as much hell” if they passed a nickel or a 15-cent gas tax, so they might as well raise it a dime.

Without additional state funds, county projects, including replacing bridges, will be delayed, said Kandiyohi County Public Works Director Gary Danielson. Those delays will result in increased safety risks for travelers.

Ron Mortenson, Meeker County highway engineer, said because of the lack of state funds, Meeker County commissioners have been forced to raise property taxes in order to get matching federal funds for road projects.

The lack of state transportation funds is causing just as many problems for those building the roads as it is for those who need the roads. Bids for many projects were under the engineers’ estimates this year because contractors were hungry for work.

Brian Mathowitz, from Mathowitz Construction of Sleepy Eye, said contractors had to “start getting cheaper or get out of business.”

Posted in 'starving the beast', 2008, infrastructure | Comments Off on Transportation: Everyone’s Issue

 
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