Yet another incompetent Bush appointee shows his true colors too late

Official’s Journey Ends in a Swirl of Accusations – New York Times

In 2004, less than two months after his confirmation as housing secretary, Mr. Jackson told a House panel that he believed poverty “is a state of mind, not a condition,” provoking strong criticism. Two years later, he said in a speech that he had canceled a contract for a company after its president told him that he did not like Mr. Bush. Mr. Jackson later said he had made the story up.

This month, Mr. Jackson took a pounding from senators who demanded explanations for accusations that he had steered hundreds of thousands of dollars to friends for work at the Virgin Islands housing authority and reconstruction in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Fiddling while Rome burns…

As usual Maureen Dowd sums it up quite nicely.

Soft Shoe in Hard Times – New York Times

“You know, I guess the best way to describe government policy is like a person trying to drive a car in a rough patch,” he said. “If you ever get stuck in a situation like that, you know full well it’s important not to overcorrect, because when you overcorrect you end up in the ditch.”

Dude, you’re already in the ditch.

Boy George crashed the family station wagon into the globe and now the global economy. Yet the more terrified Americans get, the more bizarrely carefree he seems. The former oilman reacted with cocky ignorance a couple of weeks ago when a reporter informed him that gas was barreling toward $4 a gallon.

White House conveniently forgets to save some of their e-mail

From the Seattle Times

Apparent gaps in White House e-mail archives coincide with dates in late 2003 and early 2004 when the administration was struggling to deal with the CIA leak investigation and the possibility of a congressional probe into Iraq intelligence failures.

The gaps — 473 days over 20 months — are cited in a chart prepared by White House computer technicians and shared in September with the House Reform and Government Oversight Committee, which has been looking into reports of missing e-mail.

Among the times for which e-mail may not have been archived from Vice President Dick Cheney’s office are four days in early October 2003, just as a federal probe was beginning into the leak of Valerie Plame’s CIA identity, an inquiry that eventually ensnared Cheney’s chief of staff.

Wonder how that excuse would’ve gone over in the MS anti-trust case or the Tyco case… Wonder how that excuse would have gone over when President Clinton was in office. Yet again, this administration shows just how little they think of the American people’s intelligence. Like no one in the country would notice.

go go gadget Harry Reid

Reid thwarts recess appointments (

Reid employed a rarely used parliamentary tactic of scheduling “pro forma” sessions twice a week until early December, when Congress returns for three weeks. Under that plan, a few senators, perhaps one Democrat and one Republican, will briefly open the chamber for debate on any topic during the next two weeks.

The move blocks Bush’s ability to make so-called recess appointments, which would allow the appointees to serve out the remainder of Bush’s term.

Under law, a president can use a recess appointment if the Senate is adjourned more than three days without reconvening on the fourth day. The interim appointments last through the current and next sessions of Congress.

AT&T gave feds access to all Web, phone traffic, ex-tech says

Story in the Seattle Times

In an interview this week, he alleged that the NSA set up a system that vacuumed up Internet and phone-call data from ordinary Americans with the help of AT&T and without obtaining a court order. Contrary to the government’s depiction of its surveillance program as aimed at overseas terrorists, Klein said, much of the data sent through AT&T to the NSA was purely domestic. Klein said he thinks the NSA was analyzing the records for usage patterns and for content.

He said the NSA built a special room in San Francisco to receive data streamed through an AT&T Internet room containing “peering links,” or major connections to other telecom providers. Other so-called secret rooms reportedly were constructed at AT&T sites in Seattle, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Jose, Calif.

In summer 2002, Klein was working in an office responsible for Internet equipment when an NSA representative arrived to interview a management-level technician for a special, secret job.

The job entailed building a “secret room” in another AT&T office 10 blocks away, he said. By coincidence, in October 2003, Klein was transferred to that office. He asked a technician about the secret room on the sixth floor, and the technician told him it was connected to the Internet room a floor above. The technician handed him wiring diagrams.

“That was my ‘aha’ moment,” Klein said. “They’re sending the entire Internet to the secret room.”

The diagram showed splitters glass prisms that split signals from each network into two identical copies. One copy fed into the secret room. The other proceeded to its destination, he said.

“This splitter was sweeping up everything, vacuum-cleaner-style,” he said. “The NSA is getting everything. These are major pipes that carry not just AT&T’s customers but everybody’s.”

One of Klein’s documents listed links to 16 entities, including Global Crossing, a large provider of voice and data services in the United States and abroad; UUNet, a large Internet provider now owned by Verizon; Level 3 Communications, which provides local, long-distance and data transmission in the United States and overseas; and more familiar names, such as Sprint and Qwest. It also included data exchanges MAE-West and PAIX, or Palo Alto Internet Exchange, facilities where telecom carriers hand off Internet traffic to each other.

“I flipped out,” he said. “They’re copying the whole Internet. There’s no selection going on here. Maybe they select out later, but at the point of handoff to the government, they get everything.”

why do republicans hate air traffic controllers so much?

Far more veteran air traffic controllers than the government expected have retired since the Bush administration imposed a contract on their union on Labor Day 2006, new data show.While veteran controllers bail out in unprecedented numbers and air travelers experience record delays, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a series of all-is-well pronouncements about its work force.

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association, by contrast, has produced a stream of warnings about safety risks to the public from overworked controllers in major air-control centers it says are understaffed.

During September 2006 — the month before fiscal 2007 — 97 controllers retired, compared with the 39 the FAA predicted, according to the Transportation Department inspector general, who said the jump “was a result of the breakdown in contract talks.”

That month began with the FAA ending an impasse in negotiations by imposing a contract with new work rules, including staffing cuts, a dress code and a 30 percent cut in the pay of starting controllers. The agency tossed out staffing levels negotiated in the 1998 contract and targeted all 314 control facilities for staff cuts ranging from 9 to 26 percent.

From the Seattle Times

Liberal Brains work differently than Conservative ones… duh.

Well, of course, this is scientific, but their conclusions aren’t real proof. See, I can say that because my liberal mind is open to more possibilities than the conservative talk show hosts who are guaranteed to rail against these findings if they acknowledge them at all.

In a study likely to raise the hackles of some conservatives, scientists at New York University and the University of California, Los Angeles, found that a specific region of the brain’s cortex is more sensitive in people who consider themselves liberals than in self-declared conservatives.

The brain region in question helps people shift gears when their usual response would be inappropriate, supporting the notion that liberals are more flexible in their thinking.

Brains of liberals, conservatives may work differently, study finds [Seattle Times]

The Bush Administration doesn’t want to hear dissent

In a healthy Democracy, all voices are heard. In a dictatorship or fascist regime all measures are taken to move those who do not agree to the margins to minimize their influence and maximize the impact of the thought control emanated from the leaders. Once the campaign was over, Bush was supposed to be everybody’s president. By tightly controlling their events so that only the approved loyalists can attend, Bush is telling the 49% that didn’t vote for him or the 70+% that don’t approve of him, “I don’t care what you think.” What if instead of surrounding himself by toadying yes-men, he instead had a debate with the hecklers and showed his depth of understanding on the issues? That’d be amazing if he had any understanding of the issues. Well, maybe the next president.

White House Manual Details How to Deal With Protesters –

Among other things, any event must be open only to those with tickets tightly controlled by organizers. Those entering must be screened in case they are hiding secret signs. Any anti-Bush demonstrators who manage to get in anyway should be shouted down by “rally squads” stationed in strategic locations. And if that does not work, they should be thrown out.

arctic ice shrinks, countries react short-sightedly

So, this summer, the arctic ice has retreated farther than usual, a strong signal of global warming and possible problems for the future. And the world’s response? Well, start to argue over who gets jurisdiction over the newly exposed resources, of course.

Analysts See ‘Simply Incredible’ Shrinking of Floating Ice in the Arctic – New York Times

The area of floating ice in the Arctic has shrunk more this summer than in any other summer since satellite tracking began in 1979.

The progressive summertime opening of the Arctic has intensified a longstanding international tug of war over shipping routes and possible oil and gas deposits beneath the Arctic Ocean seabed.

Last week, Russians planted a flag on the seabed at the North Pole. On Wednesday, Stephen Harper, the Canadian prime minister, began a tour of Canada’s Arctic holdings, pledging “to vigorously protect our Arctic sovereignty as international interest in the region increases.”

Another Bush Administration sell-out to corporate America

Third scandal today!

The Interior Department said Friday that it would review and probably overturn eight decisions on wildlife and land-use issues made by a senior political appointee who has been found to have improperly favored industry and landowners over agency scientists.

The appointee, Julie A. MacDonald, resigned on May 1 as a deputy assistant secretary for fish and wildlife and parks, after an internal review found that she had violated federal rules by giving government documents to lobbyists for industry. The agency’s inspector general also found several instances in which Ms. MacDonald browbeat department biologists and habitat specialists and overruled their recommendations to protect a variety of rare and threatened species.

full article: U.S. Agency May Reverse 8 Decisions on Wildlife – New York Times