who both have extensive ties to criminal lobbyist Jack Abramoff, “landed more than 100 meetings inside the Bush White House, according to documents released Wednesday that provide the first official accounting of the access and influence the two presidential allies have enjoyed.”
An NYT/CBS News poll released tonight shows that 63 percent of Americans believe the U.S. should follow international agreements on detainee treatment (v. 32 percent who think the U.S. should “do what it thinks right, regardless of what other nations think”). Also, 56 percent say torture is never justified, while 35 percent say sometimes it is.
Last Thursday, Gen. Colin Powell, a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sent a letter to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) objecting to the President’s plan to redefine Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. Powell said Bush’s plan would “put our troops at risk.”
He was joined by three other former Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs — Gen. John Vessey, Gen. John Shalikashvili and Admiral William Crowe. Moments ago, McCain’s office announced that a fifth former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Hugh Shelton, has publically declared his objections. Shelton said Bush’s plan “would signal that the U.S. ‘is attempting to water down’ its obligations and would be an ‘egregious mistake.’” Watch CNN’s report:
Transcript: Read more
A federal judge has restored the “Roadless Rule,” a ban on road construction in nearly one-third of national forests (58.5 million acres in 38 states and Puerto Rico). President Bush overturned the rule, established by President Clinton, in favor of much looser policy of requiring state governors to petition for federal forest protection.
Today the administration announced their plan to address the problem of climate change. Dow Jones has the story:
The Department of Energy said in a statement that the program is part of President George W. Bush’s plan to slow growth of greenhouse gas emissions like carbon dioxide, which are emitted for cars, power plants and other sources. The plan includes $3 billion for research into new technologies and sets goals of reducing emissions and capturing carbon dioxide before it’s released into the atmosphere.
The money for research is a good thing. But the plan does not place any restrictions on emissions of carbon dioxide. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office studied this approach and concluded it was ineffective. Here’s a summary published today by the Senate Committee for the Environment:
A report issued yesterday by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) concludes that relying exclusively on research and development (R&D) funding is not the most effective strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. CBO found that combining R&D subsidies with a gradually increasing price on emissions is a more cost-effective approach.
In his speech on Monday, Al Gore recognized that the time to place limits on carbon dioxide emissions is now. The longer we wait, the harder it gets.
Revelations about George “Macaca” Allen’s heritage have some folks wondering to me how a nice Jewish boy could have turned out to be such a Stars & Bars loving racist. As I’ve been pointing out, it’s contrary to stereotype, but Jews have a long history with the Confederacy. Over to your right, you’ll see Judah P. Benjamin who I’d thought was the first Jewish Senator. He turns out to have actually been the second one, representing Louisiana in the Senate in the 1850s before resigning when the southern states seceeded. He then became the Confederate Attorney-General (the USA had never had a Jewish cabinet secretary at this point) and later held some other CSA cabinet posts.
Benjamin’s status as first Jewish Senator turns out to be somewhat complicated because of the case of David Levy Yulee who converted to Christianity before being elected to the Senate, but who had been a practicing Jew earlier in life. Yulee, too, was a southerner who also resigned his seat during the Civil War. So there you have it — the Confederacy was Good for the Jews.
Meanwhile, a note on nomenclature. Josh Marshall uses the term “crypto-Jew” with reference to Allen. That’s always been my preferred term for folks in the Allen/Albright/Clark category of having Jewish ancestry but not knowing about it. Another crucial category is the “stealth Jew” — persons like myself who are acknowledged Jews with very non-Jewish names. My successor at the paper I edited in college was a Jewish fellow by the name of Andrew Ujifusa so the Independent was, at the time, ground zero for the vast stealth Jew media conspiracy. Conversely, you have pseudo-Jews like Sam Rosenfeld — goys with super-Jewish names.
At the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York, America’s key international allies in the war on terror have delivered addresses to the general body criticizing the U.S.’s approach. These heads of state observe that the U.S.’s over-emphasis on military solutions to the current problems in the region — at the expense of employing political, diplomatic, and intelligence efforts — has created more insecurity and spawned more extremism. Here are a few examples:
Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai:
Military action in Afghanistan alone, therefore, will not deliver our shared goal of eliminating terrorism. We must destroy terrorist sanctuaries beyond Afghanistan, dismantle the elaborate networks in the region that recruit, indoctrinate, train, finance, arm and deploy terrorists. We must ensure that political currents and entities in the region are not allowed to use extremism as an instrument of policy.
Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf:
While we confront terrorism, our strategy must seek to eliminate this phenomenon comprehensively. We cannot do so unless we understand and address the root causes of terrorism today. How are terrorists able to find willing recruits even among educated youth and democratic societies? The reasons are clear. Across the Muslim world, old conflicts and new campaigns of military intervention have spawned a deep sense of desperation and injustice. Each new battleground involving an Islamic state has served as a new breeding ground for extremists and terrorists. Indiscriminate bombings, civilian casualties, torture, human rights abuses, racial slurs and discrimination only add to the challenge of defeating terrorism.
Jordan’s King Abdullah:
There can be no just global order when aggression and occupation are permitted to take the place of international law. When these occur in a region as strategic as the Middle East the shockwaves run worldwide. Our youth are asking, where is the justice, where is the will of the global community? We must answer them by establishing a lasting peace, based on the international legality we have pledged to uphold.
Predatory lenders are seriously harming the U.S. military, and one member of Congress is fighting to keep it that way.
A Pentagon report last month found that as many one in five U.S. service members “are being preyed on by loan centers set up near military bases” that can charge interest of 400 percent or more. Increasingly, soldiers have debt levels so high they are barred from serving overseas; others suffer from “bankruptcies, divorces and ruined careers.” (More facts HERE.)
The Pentagon has joined consumer, military, and veterans groups in backing a bipartisan amendment from Sens. Jim Talent (R-MO) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) that places a cap of 36 percent on high interest rates for short-term payday loans to military members.
But one conservative congressman, Rep. Geoff Davis (R-KY), is trying to gut the amendment. Davis has proposed his own language — praised by the payday lending industry — that sets no real limits on predatory lenders. One of Davis’s aides admitted last week that he consulted on the legislation with “CNG Financial of Mason, Ohio, one of his top campaign donors and owner of national payday lender Check ‘n Go.”
Today may be the last day to stop Davis in his tracks. Call his office now and tell him to stop enabling predatory lenders who are hurting the U.S. military.
Toll-free congressional switchboard (ask for Davis’s office):
(Let us know what you hear from Davis’s office in the comments section, or send us an email.)