Saturday, October 17, 2009

Score One For Cindy McCain

Published on Friday, October 16, 2009 by RebelReports
Cindy McCain Bankrolled Conference That Called for Ban on Mercenaries
by Jeremy Scahill
A little-publicized US Naval Academy conference named after Senator John McCain and bankrolled by his wealthy wife, Cindy, issued a call earlier this year for the US government to ban the use of armed private security contractors like Blackwater in US war zones, stating bluntly, "contractors should not be deployed as security guards, sentries, or even prison guards within combat areas."
The ‘McCain Conference on Ethics and Military Leadership’ appears to be ahead of the senator when it comes to the US use of mercenary forces."[T]he use of deadly force must be entrusted only to those whose training, character and accountability are most worthy of the nation's trust: the military," reads the executive summary of the U.S. Naval Academy's 9th Annual McCain Conference on Ethics and Military Leadership, which was held in April at the Annapolis Naval Station. "The military profession carefully cultivates an ethic of ‘selfless service,' and develops the virtues that can best withstand combat pressures and thus achieve the nation's objectives in an honorable way. By contrast, most corporate ethical standards and available regulatory schemes are ill-suited for this environment."
In 2001, Cindy McCain, who may be worth as much as $100 million, first endowed the McCain conference "in honor of her husband" with a $210,000 gift that was specifically intended to fund conferences that would "bring together key military officers and civilian academics responsible for ethics education and character developments."
According to the Fall 2009 newsletter, "Taking Stock," published by the US Naval Academy's Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership-the host of the McCain Conference-among the speakers at the 2009 event was none other than Erik Prince, the owner of Blackwater. Prince's company is the most infamous of those engaged in the type of armed activity explicitly condemned by the conference's leadership.
The executive summary released by the McCain conference was recently highlighted in a report completed on September 29 by the Congressional Research Service on the use of private contractors. That report said that the US is "relying heavily" on armed contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan and suggests their use could continue to rise. The report also states that misconduct and the killing of civilians by armed security contractors "may have undermined U.S. counterinsurgency efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan."
Despite the fact that the McCain conference, which publicly advocated against the use of armed contractors in combat areas bears Sen. McCain's name and was bankrolled by his wife, when it has come to making this a major issue on Capitol Hill, the Arizona Senator has been largely silent. In 2007, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Jan Schakowsky introduced the Stop Outsourcing Security Act, which sought to do precisely what the McCain conference called for two years later: to ban the use of mercenaries in US war zones. McCain did not endorse or co-sponsor that legislation, which would certainly have benefitted from his support (neither did then-Senator Barack Obama). Responding to a reporter's question on the campaign trail in July 2008 about whether he believed that US troops and not private guards should protect US diplomats in Iraq, McCain said, "I'd like it, but we don't have enough. Yes, and I'd love to see pigs fly, but it ain't gonna happen."
The McCain campaign hired people with deep ties to the mercenary industry to work on his presidential bid. Among these was senior strategist, Charlie Black, whose firm BKSH & Associates worked for Blackwater's owner Erik Prince, helping to guide Prince through his appearance on Capitol Hill in the aftermath of the September 2007 Nisour Square massacre in Baghdad. McCain also brought on as a senior foreign policy advisor Richard Armitage, the former deputy Secretary of State. After leaving the government, Armitage served as a senior adviser for Veritas Capital from 2005 to 2007. Veritas owns the mercenary giant DynCorp, which holds billions of dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan security and training contracts.
Moreover, the International Republican Institute, which has deep ties to McCain, hired Blackwater as its private security force in Iraq, paying Blackwater an average of more than $17 million a year since 2005 for security services, according to records.
As the Obama administration weighs a substantial troops increase in Afghanistan, leading Democrats and Republicans are calling for an expanded role for US trainers for the Afghan military, which will mean more business for private contractors. Blackwater continues to play a central role in the CIA's drone bombing program in Pakistan and Afghanistan, which vice president Joe Biden and others are suggesting should intensify. At present, there are 74,000 contractors on the DoD payroll in Afghanistan-roughly 10,000 more than the number of US troops. Thousands of other contractors work for the US State Department and other agencies.
The McCain conference raised questions about "the privatization of combat support functions," including intelligence collection and analysis, as well as "advising/training for combat." It concluded, "In irregular warfare environments, where civilian cooperation is crucial," barring the use of armed contractors "is both ethically and strategically necessary."
© 2009 RebelReports

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bipartisanship For Health Care?


Health care bipartisanship lives!
David Waldman Thu Oct 15, 2009
If one Republican vote for the Baucus health insurance "reform" bill makes it bipartisan, how many Democratic "no" votes on cloture does it take to make a filibuster of the public option bipartisan?
Maybe Glenn Thrush knows. Or maybe not. After all, he
granted anonymity for this important observation:
"If there really is such a groundswell of support for the public option, perhaps senator Schumer would like to show the caucus, especially the centrist Democrats, how he can come up with the 60 votes necessary to overcome the [Republican] filibuster that he damn well knows is coming," said a senior Democrat. In a full Senate, a "Republican filibuster" requires 41 "no" votes on cloture to sustain. There are only 40 Republicans in the Senate.So if there really is such a thing as a
"Republican filibuster" of the public option, perhaps SenatorAnonymous would like to show the world, especially his fellow Democrats, how they can come up with the 41 votes necessary to sustain this "Republican" filibuster that he damn well knows is every bit as "bipartisan" as the Baucus bill is.
Says me

79 Metro Areas Are Recession Free...

... according to an MSNBC and Moody's Economy Adversity Index. The index measures the economic health of some 381 metro areas, covering all of the states.
Using this link ( you can just click on the state in which you are interested, and you'll get some figures like the employment rate, single family housing starts, housing prices, ect. The map notes that 11 states are going through a time of recovery, though industrial production and other areas are still below normal.
I'm living down here in Tampa Bay, Florida, and we are not going to see any kind of better employment, or industrial production any time soon. Therefore, I'm not even going to comment on this state.
Speaking of the econony.
You may well know by now that those of you who receive Social Security checks will not be getting a " cost of living " increase in 2010. This will be the first time that this has happened since 1975! As if it isn't hard enough to live off of one of these checks as it is for most people, now you have to spend even more time in trying to decide if you should buy food or get your scripts filled! this is rediculous, folks. That is some 50 million people who will not be getting a raise. Some will suffer more than they should be. Are food and medicine prices going to stop going up in 2010? I doubt it.