Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Nightowl Newswrap - a roundup of news you might have missed

A report from the House Armed Services Committee finds 78% of Bush's signing statements "unsubstantiated" If the real purpose was to muddy the waters and impede congressional oversight, they were wildly successful, but over 75% of the time, the basis of the objections or their specific application in practice, the report said, terming White House objections “broad and unsubstantiated.” “The functionality of a signing statement is greatly reduced if it is too vague to identify the concerns of the President and the interpretation of the law that the President is trying to convey to the executive branch,” the Committee report said. .pdf here

Our friend Brandon at VetVoice has some sobering statistics about the war in Afghanistan We quote him directly: The war in Iraq--at its most violent peak--was never as dangerous for our troops as Afghanistan now is. In the past 10 weeks, three American soldiers have been captured, killed, and chopped up. Nine American soldiers were killed in a single instance when their outpost was overrun by Taliban militants. And today, the violence only intensified: 10 French soldiers were slaughtered in an ambush, with four of them being captured and subsequently executed. Around the same time, Afghan insurgents launched a coordinated attack on a major U.S. base...The fatality rate in Afghanistan during the past 10 weeks would be equivalent to 353 deaths in Iraq at the same time--a rate not even seen during the bloody crescendo of 2007.

Dept. of State halts P3 family reunification program after DNA testing reveals widespread fraud Only about 20% of the refugees applying for entry into the U.S. under the program intended to allow close family members the chance to join loved ones who have already settled here actually had a blood connection to those they claimed kinship with.

Nigerian military chief ousted along with the heads of the Army and Navy. No reason was given but the move is understandable. Nigeria has a long history of military coups, and this is the first time since independence that the nation has had two successive civilian leaders.

A republican front group for McCain wouldn't violate McCain-Feingold...would it? Don't be silly! Of course they would! With them, illegality is a feature, not a bug! An attack ad aimed at tying Obama to former 60's radical William Ayers, produced by the America Issues Project (an incorporated 501c(4) committee, intersperses images of Obama and Ayers, and features a narrator asking, "Why would Barack Obama be friends with someone who bombed the Capitol and is proud of it? Do you know enough to elect Barack Obama?" "This negative campaign ad is clearly express advocacy, and under a federal law passed in 2003, the Bi-Partisan Campaign Reform Act (known colloquially as McCain-Feingold), it cannot legally be paid for with corporate money, including those of a non-profit," said Laura MacCleery, deputy director of the democracy program at the Brennan Center for Justice. "The ad indisputably concerns an election, takes a position on the character and fitness for office of a candidate, and raises no legislative issue. Even this highly skeptical Supreme Court would turn up its noses at the foul odor emitted by this clear abuse of federal election law." The ad is so far beyond the pale that Isvestia Fox News has refused to run it.

McCain wouldn't lie about his early advocacy for a troop buildup would he? After all, he was a POW! A pervasive theme of the McCain campaign has been, from day one, that he advocated more troops and went up against Donald Rumsfeld in his advocacy for that strategy. Maybe not - the right-wing Washington Times is reporting that Rumsfelds copious notes indicate that McCain is being less than forthcoming - "In November 2003, Secretary Rumsfeld and Senator McCain had one of a number of conversations that ended with the two in agreement on the need to win in Iraq," Keith Urbahn said. "Senator McCain may prefer to characterize their meeting as a Showdown at the OK Corral, but that's not straight talk. It's a fairy tale." Mr. Rumsfeld wrote a two-sentence summary shortly after his meeting, according to his office. "I had breakfast with Senator McCain. He said, 'The answer may not be more troops in Iraq, but the answer is not the status quo.' I agree with him." Where we come from, they call that lying.

Harry Reid goes on the record stating that he can't stand John McCain. And before anyone gets their panties in a twist and brings up congresses approval rating (which is always low) we have already dealt with that. Congressional approval ratings are low because everyone feels the same congressman is a saint - yours is as lying, thieving polecat and out to be strung up on the mall and made an example of, or at least indicted before lunch. If low approval ratings for congress as a whole meant anything, incumbents would be at a disadvantage, and they are not. Not by a long shot.

Autonomy deal scrapped in Philipines The Philippine government has pulled out of a controversial autonomy deal with Muslim separatist rebels in the south, following days of fighting that has claimed the lives of scores of civilians.

FEMA phones hacked, $12,000 worth of calls made to the middle east This makes me feel oh so secure in the homeland...The hacker made more than 400 calls on a Federal Emergency Management Agency voicemail system in Emmitsburg, Md., on Saturday and Sunday, according to FEMA spokesman Tom Olshanski. FEMA is part of Homeland Security, which in 2003 put out a warning about this very vulnerability.

Look for the wingnut freakazoids to call for a boycott of Hallmark any minute The Kansas City based greeting card manufacturer has rolled out a line of Gay Marriage cards. They employ neutral language, making them appropriate for civil union and commitment ceremonies as well. Let the freakazoids froth - but once you can buy a Hallmark card for something, it's in the mainstream and it ain't goin' anywhere. Deal, or freak. We could not care less either way. But if you freak, keep it to your damn self.

Afghan civilians reportedly killed in air raid More than a dozen civilians were reportedly killed in an air strike by U.S.-led coalition troops in Afghanistan's eastern province of Laghman, two provincial officials said on Thursday. U.S. military officials said Wednesday's operation, which also involved Afghan forces and air support, had killed more than 30 insurgents. A spokesman for the U.S. military denied any knowledge of non-combatant deaths.

We hope that this tidbit picked up in a comment section is true because we have missed Bob Geiger horribly since he ceased blogging a few months ago.


Hi - BG here. As you have surely noticed if you have been here in the last couple of weeks, we have refrained from the Veepstakes madness. Well, we are wading in...We think it is going to be Hillary and here is why...Earlier today, I was in the Obama headquarters in Kansas City. They were kind enough to let me use a desk and their WiFi in the phone banking area, and when I looked up at the back side of the temporary wall that backs the reception desk when you walk in, I saw huge, artist-quality posters of the two of them, and the renderings show them looking in the direction of one another. I wanted to take a picture, but was reluctant to call attention to the fact that I even noticed. It could be a gesture to those who made up Hillary's strong support in this area, but if that was the case, don't you think her image would be where people walking in could see it, rather than out of view to walk-in traffic, and only seen by the Obama volunteers who come in to phone bank?