Archive for June, 2007

Vice President Exempts His Office from the Requirements for Protecting Classified Information

Thursday, June 21st, 2007

Check the links on this site to the letters to Cheney and the Fact Sheet on the Veep’s actions.

The Oversight Committee has learned that over the objections of the National Archives, Vice President Cheney exempted his office from the presidential order that establishes government-wide procedures for safeguarding classified national security information.

The Vice President asserts that his office is not an “entity within the executive branch.” As described in a letter from Chairman Waxman to the Vice President, the National Archives protested the Vice President’s position in letters written in June 2006 and August 2006. When these letters were ignored, the National Archives wrote to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in January 2007 to seek a resolution of the impasse. The Vice President’s staff responded by seeking to abolish the agency within the Archives that is responsible for implementing the President’s executive order.

In his letter to the Vice President, Chairman Waxman writes: “I question both the legality and wisdom of your actions. … [I]t would appear particularly irresponsible to give an office with your history of security breaches an exemption from the safeguards that apply to all other executive branch officials.”

A fact sheet prepared by Chairman Waxman describes other instances in which the Vice President’s office has sought to avoid oversight and accountability.

Canon tops list of climate-friendly companies

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

Canon tops list of climate-friendly companies - Reuters - National Business News - Portfolio.com
anon, athletic gear leader Nike Inc. and food and consumer goods giant Unilever Plc topped a list rating climate-friendly companies released on Tuesday.

There was a cluster at the bottom of the list of 56 companies. Six tied for last, with a score of zero on a 100-point scale — Jones Apparel Group Inc., CBS Corp., Burger King Holdings Inc., Darden Restaurants Inc., Wendy’s International Inc. and Amazon.com.

Even for those at the top, there was room for improvement on the Climate Counts scorecard, put together by a nonprofit group organized by the New England-based environmental entity Clean Air-Cool Planet and Stonyfield Farm, a U.S. organic yogurt maker that placed sixth on the list, with 63.

“It’s not enough to recycle paper and change lightbulbs,” said Gary Hirshberg, Stonyfield Farm’s chief and chair of Climate Counts. “We need to significantly reduce our carbon footprint … Nobody deserves, or for that matter is getting, an A.”

U.S. Is ‘Really in Trouble,’ Says Bloomberg, Sounding Like a Candidate

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007

U.S. Is ‘Really in Trouble,’ Says Bloomberg, Sounding Like a Candidate - New York Times
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, sounding every inch the presidential candidate he insists he is not, brought his message of pragmatic, nonpartisan leadership to California on Monday, telling a crowd of Google employees that the nation was “really in trouble.”

In unusually stark terms, Mr. Bloomberg expressed his frustration with the state of the nation, touching on campaign-style issues like the war in Iraq, immigration, education, health care and crime before a crowd of more than 1,000 employees at the Google campus here.

“Whoever out of those 20 becomes president I think has to do something about a country that I think is really in trouble,” Mr. Bloomberg said, referring to the current crop of candidates. “There’s the war, there is our relationships around the world.”

“Our reputation has been hurt very badly in the last few years,” he continued, criticizing what he called a “go-it-alone mentality” in an increasingly interconnected world.

Bob Woodward: Yes, I Should Have Probed Iraqi WMD More Closely

Monday, June 18th, 2007

Bob Woodward: Yes, I Should Have Probed Iraqi WMD More Closely
Woodward replied: “I think the press and I in particular should have been more aggressive in looking at the run-up to the Iraq war, and specifically the alleged intelligence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction stockpiles. To answer the WMD question before the March 2003 invasion would have been a monumental task, but one that we should have undertaken more systematically.”

Later, in response to a similar question, he added: “I think we’ve learned a lot from Watergate and from the handling of controversy and scandal in all the presidents’ administrations since then. At the same time, as I said earlier, I wish everyone would be more aggressive — the press and the Congress, and in developing a fuller system of accountability. Hopefully those in government also would see the value of transparency. Speaking openly and honestly gets issues out on the table, and as Nixon himself once said, ‘it’s the coverup that always matters.’”

10 Ways to Green Your Home

Sunday, June 17th, 2007

10 Ways to Green Your Home | LiveScience

The General’s Report

Sunday, June 17th, 2007

Annals of National Security: The General’s Report: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker
Taguba was met at the door of the conference room by an old friend, Lieutenant General Bantz J. Craddock, who was Rumsfeld’s senior military assistant. Craddock’s daughter had been a babysitter for Taguba’s two children when the officers served together years earlier at Fort Stewart, Georgia. But that afternoon, Taguba recalled, “Craddock just said, very coldly, ‘Wait here.’ ” In a series of interviews early this year, the first he has given, Taguba told me that he understood when he began the inquiry that it could damage his career; early on, a senior general in Iraq had pointed out to him that the abused detainees were “only Iraqis.” Even so, he was not prepared for the greeting he received when he was finally ushered in.

“Here . . . comes . . . that famous General Taguba—of the Taguba report!” Rumsfeld declared, in a mocking voice. The meeting was attended by Paul Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld’s deputy; Stephen Cambone, the Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence; General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (J.C.S.); and General Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, along with Craddock and other officials. Taguba, describing the moment nearly three years later, said, sadly, “I thought they wanted to know. I assumed they wanted to know. I was ignorant of the setting.”

Whisper Campaign Attacking Romney; Mormonism…Is Big Love Slam Next?

Sunday, June 17th, 2007

So it begins…like many non-Mormons, I have plenty of questions about Mormonism–especially their purported views on minorities; but that’s not the issue here. This situation is purely a nasty way of slapping Romney with all the worst (reputed) aspects of Mormonism. Call it the “Big Love” attack. The worst part of this is yet to come, when some devious Brownback(er) will start sending out anonymous quotes from Under the Banner of Heaven.

Link and excerpt below from Chris Cill/archives/date/2007/06/big_love_poster.jpgizza’s The Fix:

Romney’s Mormonism Attracts More Scrutiny . . . and a Whisper Campaign - washingtonpost.com
excerpt:

Mitt Romney’s Mormonism isn’t something his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination talk much about in public, but his faith appears to have stoked a whisper campaign, engineered by an Iowa staffer for Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.).

In an e-mail obtained by The Fix, former state representative Emma Nemecek, the southeastern Iowa field director for Brownback’s presidential campaign, asked a group of Iowa Republican leaders to help her fact-check a series of statements about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including one that says: “Theologically, the only thing Christianity and the LDS church has in common is the name of Jesus Christ, and the LDS Jesus is not the same Jesus of the Christian faith.”

Democrats urge more fuel-efficient cars…Bush Doesn’t Like It

Sunday, June 17th, 2007

Democrats urge more fuel-efficient cars - CNN.com
In their weekly radio address, Democrats on Saturday called for a new direction in energy policy, away from gas-guzzling automobiles and reliance on foreign oil.

“America deserves more fuel efficient cars,” Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington said. But she added “the only way consumers are going to get more out of a tank of gas is if the president and his party help deliver votes in a narrowly divided Congress.”

It’s widely expected the Senate will approve some sort of increase in auto fuel economy as part of an energy bill it hopes to finish in the coming weeks.

The Senate bill would require automakers to increase the fuel economy of new cars, sport utility vehicles and pickups beginning in 2020 to a fleet average of 35 miles per gallon. It currently is 27.5 mpg for cars and 22.2 mpg for SUVs and small trucks.

But a group of senators close to the auto industry — both Democrats and Republicans — argue that carmakers can’t meet that steep of an increase, especially for SUVs and small trucks. They will try to get approval this week for a more modest boost in the federal requirement to 36 mpg for cars and 30 mpg for SUVs and pickups by 2025.

Bush has said he opposes Congress setting any new arbitrary numerical fuel economy standard.

The SoonerThought Show Celebrates 50 Episodes

Sunday, June 17th, 2007

The SoonerThought Show
Episode 50 looms!

Wanna send us your congrats, wisecracks, critiques, requests or whatever? Call our Listener Line by June 19–and we’ll put your message on the show!

CALL: 206-339-4328.

Come on, give us a call!

50 Years Buried in Oklahoma Yields A Bucket Of Rust

Saturday, June 16th, 2007

In honor of my state’s Centennial, I’ll refrain from snarky remarks about how incredibly idiotic this stunt was.

That Buried Car? A Bucket Of Rust, 1957 Plymouth Belvedere Unearthed After 50 Years Still Turns Heads, But Not The Way You’d Think - CBS News

/archives/date/2007/06/rusty.jpg

House Votes to Bolster Database on Gun Buyers

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

House Votes to Bolster Database on Gun Buyers - New York Times

excerpt:

The House voted Wednesday to close a loophole in gun control laws that allowed the Virginia Tech gunman to buy firearms even though he had been committed to a mental hospital. The Senate is likely to follow suit, marking the first time since 1996 that Congress has approved a measure strengthening gun control.

Blum: What if NBC cheered on a military coup against Bush?

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

During the Cold War, if an American journalist or visitor to the Soviet Union reported seeing churches full of people, this was taken as a sign that the people were rejecting and escaping from communism. If the churches were empty, this clearly was proof of the suppression of religion. If consumer goods were scarce, this was seen as a failure of the communist system. If consumer goods appeared to be more plentiful, this gave rise to speculation about was happening in the Soviet Union that was prompting the authorities to try to buy off the citizenry. I’m reminded of this kind of thinking concerning Venezuela. The conservative anti-communist American mind sees things pertaining to Washington’s newest bête noir in the worst possible light (to the extent they’re even being sincere and not simply ideological). If Chávez makes education more widely available to the masses of poor people, it’s probably for the purpose of indoctrinating them. If Chávez invites a large number of Cuban doctors to Venezuela to treat the poor, it’s a sign of a new and growing communist conspiracy in Latin America, which includes Evo Morales, president of Bolivia. If Chávez wins repeated democratic elections … here’s the recent Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld: “I mean, we’ve got Chávez in Venezuela with a lot of oil money. He’s a person who was elected legally just as Adolf Hitler was elected legally and then consolidated power and now is, of course, working closely with Fidel Castro and Mr. Morales and others.”[1] The latest manifestation of this mind-set is the condemnation of the Venezuelan government’s refusal to renew the license of RCTV, a private television station. This has been denounced by the American government and media, and all other right-thinking people, as suppression of free speech, even though they all know very well that the main reason, the sine qua non, for the refusal of the license renewal has to do with RCTV’s unqualified support for the 2002 coup that briefly overthrew Chávez. If there was a successful military coup in the United States and a particular TV station applauded the overthrow of the president (and the dissolving of Congress and the Supreme Court, as well as the suspension of the Constitution), and if then the coup was reversed by other military forces accompanied by mass demonstrations, and the same TV station did not report any of this while it was happening to avoid giving support to the counter-coup, and instead kept reporting that the president had voluntarily resigned … how long would it be before the US government, back in power, shut down the station, arrested its executives, charging them under half a dozen terrorist laws, and throwing them into shackles and orange jumpsuits never to be seen again? How long? Five minutes? The Venezuelan government waited five years, until the station’s license was due for renewal. And none of the executives have been arrested. And RCTV is still free to broadcast via cable and satellite. Is there a country in the entire world that would be as lenient?[2] It can be said that the media in Venezuela is a lot more free than in the United States. Can anyone name a single daily newspaper in the United States that is unequivocally opposed to US foreign policy? Can anyone name a single television network in the United States that is unequivocally opposed to US foreign policy? Is there a single daily newspaper or TV network in the entire United States that has earned the label “opposition media”? Venezuela has lots of opposition media.

Here Blum interviewed on our podcast here. 

More from William Blum here.