Saturday, April 14, 2007

Weekend Video Theatre: A Man Without A Country

In memory of Kurt Vonnegut, his 'Daily Show' appearance from 2005-

Enjoy your weekend.

Quote of the Day

Talking Points Memo gets an email nailing a major issue Democrats should run on in 2008.... namely that the era of the Bush Republicans has destroyed our ability to believe that we as a nation are capable of great things. They have destroyed the American dream and spirit.

But it can be rebuilt by people who care enough about government and its people to do it right (the overarching lesson of the Walter Reed scandal, for instance). That can begin in 2009.

It's on that note that I am reminded of Bobby Kennedy-- the Democrats' great President who never was. Bobby Kennedy said the following in 1968-
"I do not want--as I believe most Americans do not want--to sell out American interests, to simply withdraw, to raise the white flag of surrender. That would be unacceptable to us as a country and as a people. But I am concerned--as I believe most Americans are concerned--that the course we are following at the present time is deeply wrong. I am concerned--as I believe most Americans are concerned--that we are acting as if no other nations existed, against the judgment and desires of neutrals and our historic allies alike. I am concerned--as I believe most Americans are concerned--that our present course will not bring victory; will not bring peace; will not stop the bloodshed; and will not advance the interests of the United States or the cause of peace in the world. I am concerned that, at the end of it all, there will only be more Americans killed; more of our treasure spilled out; and because of the bitterness and hatred on every side of this war, more hundreds of thousands of [civilians] slaughtered; so they may say, as Tacitus said of Rome: 'They made a desert, and called it peace.'...

The reversals of the last several months have led our military to ask for more troops. This weekend, it was announced that some of them--a 'moderate' increase, it was said--would soon be sent. But isn't this exactly what we have always done in the past? If we examine the history of this conflict, we find the dismal story repeated time after time. Every time--at every crisis--we have denied that anything was wrong; sent more troops; and issued more confident communiques. Every time, we have been assured that this one last step would bring victory...

....You are the people, as President Kennedy said, who have 'the least ties to the present and the greatest ties to the future.' I urge you to learn the harsh facts that lurk behind the mask of official illusion with which we have concealed our true circumstances, even from ourselves. Our country is in danger: not just from foreign enemies; but above all, from our misguided policies--and what they can do to the nation that Thomas Jefferson once told us was the last, best hope of man. There is a contest on, not for the rule of America, but for the heart of America. . . . I ask you to go forth and work for new policies--work to change our direction--and thus restore our place at the point of moral leadership, in our country, in our hearts, and all around the world."

He challenged his party's leadership in speaking those words. Who among the President's dwindling supporters will have the courage to do the same? None, it seems, who have the credibility to lead... or would get the base's support.

And so we all wait for our respective political saviors to come.

Odd? Not Really.

Blogger 'Atrios' (sarcastically) states that it's odd that none of the leading political figures in support of the Iraq war have called upon citizens of this country-- particularly the most vocal supporters in the Republican base-- to enlist in the military to fight for Iraq when they are needed the most.

It's not very odd at all... it's transparently expected. I read sites like the National Review every day and I see lots of posts obsessing over the 2008 race or hand-wringing over immigration, but absolutely no posts whatsoever about supporting the war effort or calls to action. Nothing about the status of the troops and/or their deployments. These are the same people, of course, who use the troops as political shields to obscure the debate and cover up realities of military funding.

War supporters actually talk very little about the war-- except when they're scapegoating the media or liberals for bad news-- and they discuss the reality of the war for the troops even less (ie. the disappearing Walter Reed scandal).

The reason is obvious. If people knew about how stretched and abused the much-heralded troops are, or what a pathetically-scraped together plan Bush's 'surge' really is, they wouldn't be able to sustain their fantasy bubble about how we're always just six months away from certain victory. They'd have to admit we're close to the breaking point and that it's time to find the least damaging way out.

They have no real solutions or plans... just a lot of optimistic bravado.

There are basic questions every war supporter must answer if they are intellectually honest: How we can sustain an indefinition occupation without bleeding the military dry (since there will never be another draft, and recruiting is way down) and without destroying the treasury (since Republicans seemed to now regard ever raising taxes as downright blasphemous). And, of course, without draining what remains of our international credibility and the patience of the American people.

That those questions aren't even asked in the needed circles is, again, not odd at all.

[PS- The President admitted on Tuesday that his treatment of the military is "unacceptable". He was, of course, trying to preemptively blame the newly announced extended tours of duty on Democrats. Some ' very thoughtless person' gave away his big surprise.

I don't get how war supporters can defend the President; he's not even honest in his support for his own escalation.]

Friday, April 13, 2007

Odds and Ends

Here's some miscellaneous news to process before my brain implodes...

Headline of the day: 'Study: Teens in abstinence classes just as likely to have sex'

Karl Rove's defense on the missing emails... 'I'm a big fucking moron'. At least that's what I take from this AP update: "Karl Rove's lawyer on Friday dismissed the notion that President Bush's chief political adviser intentionally deleted his own e-mails from a Republican-sponsored server, saying Rove believed the communications were being preserved in accordance with the law... Luskin said Rove didn't know that deleting e-mails from his RNC inbox also deleted them from the RNC's server."

And Attorney General Gonzales... incompetent or also a moron? You decide.

In related news, newly released Justice Department documents would seem to seal Gonzales' fate. But then shouldn't all the previous revelations have done that? The new revelations prove that Gonzales and other top staffers were heavily involved in advance planning on which fire U.S. Attorneys to purge, and who to replace them with and why (despite their previous testimony otherwise).

(UPDATE: Many, many updates on this story via Talking Points Memo- here, here, and here.)

Finally, Senator Obama vs. Daily Kos?? An internal-party debate on what to do about Iraq.

Quote of the Day

Not only are many of the President's former supporters and confidantes jumping overboard, but they're not being shy about their opinions on the way down.

The latest is former Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca. Here's what he has to say-
"Am I the only guy in this country who’s fed up with what’s happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We’ve got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we’ve got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can’t even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car...

...You might think I’m getting senile, that I’ve gone off my rocker, and maybe I have. But someone has to speak up. I hardly recognize this country anymore. The President of the United States is given a free pass to ignore the Constitution, tap our phones, and lead us to war on a pack of lies. Congress responds to record deficits by passing a huge tax cut for the wealthy (thanks, but I don’t need it). The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs. While we’re fiddling in Iraq, the Middle East is burning and nobody seems to know what to do. And the press is waving pom-poms instead of asking hard questions. That’s not the promise of America my parents and yours traveled across the ocean for. I’ve had enough. How about you?

I’ll go a step further. You can’t call yourself a patriot if you’re not outraged…. Why are we in this mess? How did we end up with this crowd in Washington? Well, we voted for them — or at least some of us did. But I’ll tell you what we didn’t do. We didn’t agree to suspend the Constitution. We didn’t agree to stop asking questions or demanding answers. Some of us are sick and tired of people who call free speech treason. Where I come from that’s a dictatorship, not a democracy."

Daaaamnnnn, Lee. Tell us how you really feel.

Much more-- here.

Spy Games

Less than three months after the White House capitulated on the warrantless wiretapping issue-- agreeing that, yes, following the law won't be a problem-- their new National Intelligence Director is trying to push the limits once again.

From the AP-
President Bush's spy chief is pushing to expand the government's surveillance authority at the same time the administration is under attack for stretching its domestic eavesdropping powers.

National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell has circulated a draft bill that would expand the government's powers under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, liberalizing how that law can be used...

Okay, before we continue, it must be point that the existing 1978 law is pretty liberalized as it is. The law merely asks that warrants be approved by a secret court (which is virtually a rubberstamp) to ensure that all spying activity is legitimate. Warrants can be issued retroactively in emergency or urgent situations, and allows anywhere from 72 hours to 15 hours before getting said warrant. Etc etc.

The only reason you need to liberalize it even more than that is you've been abusing your power.

According to the AP piece, McConnell met with officials from the National Security, Justice Department, and other agencies to see what pesky rules and law currently "ties their hands". Yikes! Suddenly that 2002 Onion article-- 'Bill Of Rights Pared Down To A Manageable Six'-- doesn't seem as funny.

These are, of course, the people who spent an entire year infiltrating peace groups before the 2004 Republican National Convention, put anti-Bush people on the no-fly list, keep a database on protestors, and the like. Not to mention reports that the President's now-defunct (?) program was a dead-end waste that did intrude on the privacy of countless Americans.

And they expect to be trusted with broad and unaccountable spying powers... why?

From the AP report again, here's some of the proposed changes-
-Give the NSA the power to monitor foreigners without seeking FISA court approval, even if the surveillance is conducted by tapping phones and e-mail accounts in the United States...

-Clarify the standards the FBI and NSA must use to get court orders for basic information about calls and e-mails — such as the number dialed, e-mail address, or time and date of the communications. Civil liberties advocates contend the change will make it too easy for the government to access this information.

-Triple the life span of a FISA warrant for a non-U.S. citizen from 120 days to one year, allowing the government to monitor much longer without checking back in with a judge.

-Give telecommunications companies immunity from civil liability for their cooperation with Bush's terrorist surveillance program. Pending lawsuits against companies including Verizon and AT&T allege they violated privacy laws by giving phone records to the NSA for the program.

-Extend from 72 hours to one week the amount of time the government can conduct surveillance without a court order in emergencies.

Feel safer?

As Digby says, "If they can't 'protect us' with that kind of [existing] power then they are either incompetent or they are doing something so wrong that even a kangaroo court won't sign off on it. Loosening those rules is absurd on its face."

But hey, what do I know... I'm just a crazy moonbat.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

GOP Scandal Overload!!!

The number of scandals coming out these days is insane. Who can even keep track? And, as one blogger said, every GOP tree the Dem dogs have barked up since January has had a cat in it. And it's only April. 2007. God only knows what else will be revealed in the next year and a half.

You can also tell how damaging a scandal by reading the major conservative blogs (National Review, Michelle Malkin, Powerline). The less it's mentioned, the bigger a deal it is. As of this writing, I haven't seen any of the stories mentioned below acknowledged on those sites. It's radio silence. So let's dig in...

The big news is the fallout from Wednesday's report that "The White House said Wednesday it had mishandled Republican Party-sponsored e-mail accounts used by nearly two dozen presidential aides, resulting in the loss of an undetermined number of e-mails concerning official White House business." These emails were being sought for the investigation into the firing of the U.S. Attorneys.

Then came news that the White House may have lost as many as 5 million emails. This is, of course, illegal. As Salon's Tim Grieve explains, the Presidential Records Act requires that all such communications be preserved.

The White House had a difficult time defending how this email thing was handled.

Then there were further revelations that as far back as 2004, White House officials (ie. Karl Rove) were told by prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald not to delete any emails, and they agreed to comply. Except no one can seem to find Mr. Rove's emails. Oops!!

On a related note, the NY Times has a followup story on how the Republican party had exaggerated and overplayed voter fraud threats for political purposes. How they forced U.S. Attorneys to pursue these bogus cases-- and how some refused to play the game-- is at the heart of the U.S. Attorney purge scandal.

And The Atlantic's Joshua Green reminds us that scam is one of Karl Rove's oldest tricks.

Moving on to a completely different scandal, we come to Sam Fox, the GOP donor and Swift Boat bankroller whom the President recess-appointed as ambassador to Belgium even though his nomination had been formally withdrawn. Mr. Fox says now that his new ambassadorship position will not stop him from donating to 2008 campaigns. Seems like he's taking his new position very seriously!

And the White House's ambassador to the Sudan crisis says... genocide? What genocide?

Finally, remember Paul Wolfowitz? One of the founding neocons who helped create the Iraq war and assured Americans it would be cost-free and who later admitted the WMD thing was just used as the justification because it was the "one issue that everyone could agree on"? He left the White House after the first term for a cushy job running the World Bank... but now he's in trouble again! Turns out he got his girlfriend a job at the State Department where she made $10,000 more then even Secretary Rice (amidst other scandalous behavior). Calls are growing for him to resign.

So.... Did any new scandals pop up while I was typing all this?

Don Imus, Talk Radio Garbage, and Hypocrisy

If anyone is interested in my take, read my LiveJournal rant.

Al-Qaeda Still In Business

Four years in and counting, even the Green Zone isn't safe.

Boy this little adventure sure has been worth it.

[UPDATE: Via Andrew Sullivan, video of the attack.]

Any Time You Hear Republicans Mentioning 'Voter Fraud'...

...They are really scheming to suppress minority and low-income votes.

Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall explains.

And John Cole has some related thoughts on the 'great deal of debate' canard.

[PS- Emails? What emails?]

Wanted: One Sucker To Run My War. Ask For George.

It's official... the Iraq war has jumped the shark.

The news yesterday was that the White House is looking to hire a "war czar" post in the National Security Council to oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and coordinate things and issue orders to different agencies to help better implement war policy.

Yes, four years in, they're finally admitting that they're in way over their head.

And--if you can believe it-- no one is racing to take the job. From the Washington Post-
...At least three retired four-star generals approached by the White House in recent weeks have declined to be considered for the position, the sources said, underscoring the administration's difficulty in enlisting its top recruits to join the team after five years of warfare that have taxed the United States and its military.

"The very fundamental issue is, they don't know where the hell they're going," said retired Marine Gen. John J. "Jack" Sheehan, a former top NATO commander who was among those rejecting the job. Sheehan said he believes that Vice President Cheney and his hawkish allies remain more powerful within the administration than pragmatists looking for a way out of Iraq. "So rather than go over there, develop an ulcer and eventually leave, I said, 'No, thanks,' " he said...

...All three generals who declined the job have been to varying degrees administration insiders. Keane, a former Army vice chief of staff, was one of the primary proponents of sending more troops to Iraq and presented Bush with his plan for a major force increase during an Oval Office meeting in December. The president adopted the concept in January, although he did not dispatch as many troops as Keane proposed...

In an interview yesterday, [General] Sheehan said that ... "There's the residue of the Cheney view -- 'We're going to win, al-Qaeda's there' -- that justifies anything we did," he said. "And then there's the pragmatist view -- how the hell do we get out of Dodge and survive? Unfortunately, the people with the former view are still in the positions of most influence." Sheehan said he wrote a note March 27 declining interest...

Bold added by me- even the people who cheerleaded the new policy don't want to sign up.

Unless Congress can cut through The Decider's impenetratable wall between now and this time next year (because everything will grind to a halt once the election begins), the next war czar is going to be the poor sucker who is elected as President to clean up this mess. I don't imagine he/she will be any more enthusiastic about the task than Gen. Sheehan.

[PS- The Red Cross declares that the situation in Iraq is getting worse.]

Kurt Vonnegut Has Passed Away

Rest in peace, Kurt.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

"[O]ne of the great moments in the history of liberty."

Greg Saunders takes us on a walk down memory lane.

Those were the days.

Pres. Bush Invites Congress Over To Discuss The War Yell At Them

The big 'news' of the past day or two (if you can actually call it that) is President Bush's 'offer' to the Democrats to 'discuss' their pending Iraq war funding/withdrawal legislation. If I didn't clearly see the AP logo on this story, I'd swear I was reading The Onion-
President Bush on Tuesday invited Democrats to discuss their standoff over a war-spending bill, but he made clear he would not change his position opposing troop withdrawals. The White House bluntly said the meeting would not be a negotiation...

...."At this meeting, the leaders in Congress can report on progress on getting an emergency spending bill to my desk," Bush said. "We can discuss the way forward on a bill that is a clean bill, a bill that funds our troops without artificial timetables for withdrawal and without handcuffing our generals on the ground. I'm hopeful we'll see some results soon from the Congress."

....In essence, Bush invited the Democratic leaders of Congress to come hear the stance he has offered for weeks...

Bored of puffing his chest from afar, The Decider now wishes to do it in person.

This man is pathetic. He defends his failed democracy-building experiment in Iraq how? By treating the co-equal legislative branch of our country like a kindergarten teacher scolding misbehaving toddlers. Lesson learned- A man who has nothing but utter contempt for democracy should not be allowed to build one through war and occupation.

And, FYI, a slight majority of Americans support the Democratic position on this.

And why should the Democrats even bother showing up to this farce? Says White House spokeswoman Dana Perino: "Maybe they need to hear again from the president about why he thinks it is foolish to set arbitrary timetables for withdrawal" and also so that they can "discuss with him how they are going to be able to bring him a clean bill that he can sign."

Maybe the President needs to explain in what universe we are capable of maintaining an indefinite occupation.

The Democrats' response should be this: 'Mr. President, we would be happy to sit down and discuss how we proceed from here collectively. When you are ready to do as a grownup and not obscure this issue with strawmen and faux-patriotic rhetoric, please let us know. Until then, we stand confident that we have given you a good bill to sign. Thank you.'

(UPDATE: Ahh, I see the Democrats have responded. I was pretty close too!)

As for all the GOP talk of the troops, Democrats you really, really need to get on that.

Quote of the Day

"All of the hypocrisy swirling around the Don Imus 'controversy' is driving me nuts. The media as a whole (especially CNN & Fox) have no place to criticize Imus for the offensive things he said. That’s why they hire loudmouths like Imus in the first place. We’ve seen this same cycle repeat itself ad infinitum and if it’s not Imus, it’s Glenn Beck, or Nancy Grace, or Howard Stern, or those pinheads at Fox News. When all of the forced apologizes have been doled out and the boycotts lose steam, everyone knows this is a net positive for the entertainment news industry because people are going to tune in just to see what the racist asshole in the cowboy hat says next."
--Greg Saunders on the hypocrisy behind the media's Imus uproar.

What he said.

[PS- Meanwhile, Stephen Colbert finds himself in similar trouble this week.]

A Tale of Two Headlines

Reuters: Stem cell transplant promising for type 1 diabetes

AP: Bush would veto stem cell research bill

No comment.

Iran Really Wants Those Nukes (Neocons Do Too)

Iran says... full steam ahead: "Iran announced a dramatic expansion of uranium enrichment Monday, saying it has begun operating 3,000 centrifuges — nearly 10 times the previously known number — in defiance of U.N. demands it halt its nuclear program or face increased sanctions."

(There are scattered doubts about these claims, though.)

So even ignoring the usual media hysteria about imminent nukes and ignoring the usual warmongers excitedly beating their drums at the thought of a new excuse to act all tough, this remains a very important story.

The above-linked National Review blogger says hopes that the nuclear development will speed up inside Iran so that it can give the Republicans a campaign issue they've really been hoping for... a new foreign enemy!!! But does anyone really trust these morons with national security and foreign affairs anymore? How can they simultaneously acknowledge that they treated the Iraq invasion recklessly and with intellectual emptiness, and then demand/insist that they be allowed a do-over with a more formidable regional power?

This administration has no credibility and it has no options. Iran knows this, of course, hence the bluster. Both sides will continue to push the issue front and center for their respective domestic political benefit.

That leaves us trapped in the childish escalation of tiny men who want to play war games with each other. We've seen this train coming at us for years now, and it seems increasingly unstoppable. Let's hope that the actual reaction of American voters is to put more grownups in charge in 2008 and tell the children to go to bed.

Supporting The Troops

Two headlines that, oddly enough, I didn't see on The National Review's blog today...

AP: 15,000 troops could stay longer in Iraq

Salon: Injured troops shipped back into battle-
Salon has uncovered further evidence that the military sent soldiers with acute post-traumatic stress disorder, severe back injuries and other serious war wounds back to Iraq.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Thrilla In Vanilla

John Kerry and Newt Gingrich debated on global warming.

This is like fight night for political nerds.

[PS- You can download the first episode of Sundance's "Big Ideas For A Small Planet" for free on iTunes. It's a great new show exploring how innovation and invention is taking on climate change... the first episode focuses on fuel.]

Time To Go

There is a new talking point going around the right-wing blogs that what Americans actually voted for in November was victory in Iraq... and the evil Democrats are failing to deliver this!!

There are several problems with this. One is that for right-wingers to believe this, they'd have to acknowledge that President Bush failed to deliver victory, hence the rebuke of his policies in the midterms. Of course, they'd sooner perform an abortion than admit that. The second is-- and this is the most complicated one-- that 'victory' is no longer possible in Iraq. Survival, yes. 'Victory', no. The third thing is that this is just a lie. The message between the two parties was clear... Republicans wanted to continue the war; Democrats wanted to start getting out. Voters preferred the latter message.

The most recent polling confirms that. The polls shows a slight improvement in Congress's approval ratings (because, really, they had nowhere to go but up after last year). Moreover, the poll " indicates the public wants Congress to push for an end to a war that has claimed the lives of more than 3,200 U.S. troops."

To the extent that voters are dismayed at the congressional leadership, it's because they don't think they are doing a good enough job working toward that end. There's probably some disagreement on how to achieve that goal, but what people believe is clear... it's time to get going.

Ungrateful Iraqis Want Us To Stop Liberating Them

Four years ago this week, the U.S. army took Baghdad and staged the tearing down of Saddam's statue for a complicit media the people celebrated in the streets. And it's been smooth sailing since (if you're Dick Cheney or Joe Lieberman or John McCain).

Now? They just want us gone-
Tens of thousands of people waving Iraqi flags staged a peaceful rally in the southern city of Najaf on Monday to demand the withdrawal of U.S. forces, four years to the day since Baghdad fell to invading American troops.

The streets of the Iraqi capital itself were largely empty after authorities clamped a 24-hour ban on vehicles to prevent any insurgent attacks, especially car bombings...

...The protesters in Najaf were responding to a call by powerful anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who blames the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003 for the country's woes and wants a timetable set for a U.S. troop withdrawal...

[Bush administration] So let's stay forever to spite him! Wooo! [/Bush administration]

And the Iraqi man who famously took a sledgehammer to the Saddam statue now is pessimistic-
"It achieved nothing," he said, after he had put away the magazines...

..."We got rid of a tyrant and tyranny. But we were surprised that after one thief had left, another 40 replaced him," said Jubouri, who is a Shiite Muslim. "Now, we regret that Saddam Hussein is gone, no matter how much we hated him."...

...His country today is politically fractured and struggling to find direction. He has seen four Iraqi governments since the fall of Hussein. Tens of thousands of Iraqis have died. At least 3,260 U.S. soldiers have been killed...

...He called the new Baghdad security plan "a failure from the beginning." Although he has noticed that Shiite militias have faded from neighborhoods, suicide bombings have not stopped, he said. Every time he hears an explosion, he worries that his friends and relatives are among the victims...

..."I feel lost now," he said.

No wonder the administration ignored what four years ago was to be their victory lap.

One the issue of the President's escalation plan, the NY Times evaluates how it's going. While the military plays whack-a-mole with the insurgency, "there is little sign that the Baghdad push is accomplishing its main purpose: to create an island of stability in which Sunni Arabs, Shiite Arabs and Kurds can try to figure out how to run the country together. There has been no visible move toward compromise on the main dividing issues, like regional autonomy and more power sharing between Shiites and Sunnis." If you think this will change in another year or two, I have some uranium from Niger I'd like to sell you.

Finally, Ali A. Allawi, who had been in the new Iraqi government cabinet, has written a book ripping the "rank amateurism and swaggering arrogance" of the U.S. occupation.

These damn Iraqis are being so damn ungrateful. Maybe we need to reinvade them.

Alberto Gonzales Is Ready For His Closeup...

...Err, maybe not.

From Newsweek-
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has virtually wiped his public schedule clean to bone up for his long-awaited April 17 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee—a session widely seen as a crucial test as to whether he will survive the U.S. attorney mess. But even his own closest advisers are nervous about whether he is up to the task. At a recent "prep" for a prospective Sunday talk-show interview, Gonzales's performance was so poor that top aides scrapped any live appearances. During the March 23 session in the A.G.'s conference room, Gonzales was grilled by a team of top aides and advisers—including former Republican National Committee chair Ed Gillespie and former White House lawyer Tim Flanigan—about what he knew about the plan to fire seven U.S. attorneys last fall. But Gonzales kept contradicting himself and "getting his timeline confused," said one participant who asked not to be identified talking about a private meeting. His advisers finally got "exasperated" with him, the source added.

Shit, that's more effort than I put into the SATs.

So you really only have two options here: Either Alberto Gonzales is a huge liar (spoiler alert: it's that one) who needs literally weeks of preparation to make sure the administration has its cover story straight even though the scandal is three months old now... Or he's an incompetent buffoon who can't manage the simplest tasks or keep track of his own Department. Either way, how can anyone defend keeping this man on as Attorney General?

So dude, seriously, just resign already. I know the President needs you to legalize torture, authorize warrantless wiretapping, turn the DoJ into a GOP political machine, enforce the laws of our nation, but this is getting pathetic. We're into Harriet Miers/SC nomination territory here.

Quote of the Day

Andrew Sullivan takes on the rank hypocrisy of those who rightfully dismissed the 'confessions' of the British sailors because they were coerced, while still remaining defenders of our broad and legal program of torture and abuse. Says Sullivan-
"It's especially telling since we dismiss the statements of the captive British soldiers as the fruit of coercion even though their treatment was like a bed and breakfast compared to what has taken place at Abu Graib, Camp Cropper, Bagram or Gitmo. Why are we unable to make the same assumptions about other coerced testimony?

One possible answer is simply that as long as the victims of torture are not white or Western, they are not seen as fully human victims of torture - and therefore none of the rules we apply to full human beings count...

...The scenario changes instantly when the victim of coercion is white or an allied soldier. It's striking, isn't it, that the only cases of torture in Gitmo and elsewhere that have had any traction in the wider culture have been people who do not fit the ethnic profile of Arabs. Jose Padilla is Latino; David Hicks is Australian. When they're tortured, we worry about the reliability of the evidence. But when we torture 'information' out of men called al-Qhatani or Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, the information we get is allegedly saving 'thousands of lives.' How do we know this? Because the torturers, i.e. the Bush administration, tell us so. And so the circle of cognitive dissonance tightens until it becomes airtight."

But remember, Andrew... it's not evil when we do it.

More Odds and Ends

I wish I had Congress' vacation schedule. But I'll avoid my work by summing up the news...

President Bush revisits the immigration issue, where he intends "to push for the creation of a guest worker program and a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants." Let's see, guest-worker program is basically paid temporary slave labor, so liberals won't go for that. And citizenship is a no-no to all the conservatives who are frightened of Mexicans. Yea, this plan is gonna go real far.

Nancy Pelosi's Syria trip still eliciting anger/hypocrisy from diplomacy-phobic right-wingers.

Democrats to Fox News: We are not gonna play your games.

Democrats to tax cuts: We changed our minds; let's give you a makeover.

Finally, Newsweek cribs off Time magazine... devotes an entire issue to climate change.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Meanwhile, In Afghanistan...

AP: NATO troops take over Taliban stronghold

The War On Terrorism Hippies...

...And this one isn't even a hippie!!

Via Andrew Sullivan-
Meet Professor Walter F. Murphy, emeritus of Princeton University. He's a former Marine, with five years of active service and 19 years in the reserve, and a legal critic of Roe vs Wade and supporter of the Alito confirmation. He's also on the Terrorist No-Fly List:
"I presented my credentials from the Marine Corps to a very polite clerk for American Airlines. One of the two people to whom I talked asked a question and offered a frightening comment: "Have you been in any peace marches? We ban a lot of people from flying because of that." I explained that I had not so marched but had, in September, 2006, given a lecture at Princeton, televised and put on the Web, highly critical of George Bush for his many violations of the Constitution. "That'll do it," the man said."
Just a heads up about what these people are up to.

Yeep! I better shut down this blog or I can't fly to Comic Con this summer.

Very serious war they're fighting. The grownups are in charge, ya know.

Lying About The War Is Fun! (Pt. 2)

Vice President Cheney subjected himself to the questions of the liberal media Rush Limbaugh last week, in which he reasserted one of his favorite lies (it's a long list)... namely that al-Qaeda was operating inside Iraq "before we ever launched" the war.

But look out Mr. Vice President, the truth is launching a counter-attack!!!-
Captured Iraqi documents and intelligence interrogations of Saddam Hussein and two former aides "all confirmed" that Hussein's regime was not directly cooperating with al-Qaeda before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, according to a declassified Defense Department report released yesterday.

The declassified version of the report, by acting Inspector General Thomas F. Gimble, also contains new details about the intelligence community's prewar consensus that the Iraqi government and al-Qaeda figures had only limited contacts, and about its judgments that reports of deeper links were based on dubious or unconfirmed information...

Not that this matters. Those who believed the myth-- the hardcore war defenders-- always will; it's a part of their worldview. And judging by Zogby poll this past September, they're not alone. 46% still believed in a link between Saddam and 9/11.

This latest report, of course, comes on the heels of a Senate report last September that debunked the supposed ties, as well as a Defense Department inspector general's report two months ago that showed efforts by the Pentagon to manipulate intelligence to suggest those ties.

Meanwhile, Andrew Sullivan reads through the transcript of the Cheney/Limbaugh chat-- particular why we can never leave Iraq-- and comes away with this conclusion-
So what would be the feasible conditions for withdrawal? I see none. Even if we were to "win," as in Afghanistan in the 1980s, Cheney sees that as a reason to stay. If there is any chance of "losing," we also have to stay. The same logic applies to Pakistan were Musharraf to fall. And Saudi Arabia if that autocracy were to collapse. If the criterion is now space for Islamist terrorists to return, then we don't so much have mission creep as mission explosion. We're talking empire here - for ever. At least that's the logical conclusion of Cheney's control-fixation. And, of course, as these occupations create more terrorists, Cheney uses that as more reason to keep fighting. There is no end to this strategy - just permanent war, occupation and terror.

Took ya four years to figure that out, Andrew?

He continues-
And domestically, you can see Cheney outfitting the executive office with extraordinary powers to fit this unending imperial project. He sees the presidency as a permanent war-maker and guardian of domestic security: able to arrest citizens at will without charging them, legally empowered to torture them if necessary, wiretap phones without warrant, and eager to treat all opposition as a form of treason against the troops. Hence his aspersions about "the motive" for wanting a redeployment out of the catastrophe Cheney has created in Iraq. Isn't the motive obvious? We have created a disaster, and we need to find some way forward. Nowhere in the interview is it assumed or even thought that the administration has any responsibility for the possibility of defeat we now face in Iraq. It is all the Democrats' fault. Because the Democrats have been running this war for the past four years.

Bingo. He found the new talking point... Bush would've won this war big-time, if it wasn't for those meddling Democrats. They used it for Vietnam, so why not dust it off again?

It's going to be a long two years.

Lying About The War Is Fun! (Pt. 1)

Backstory on this: A week ago, Sen. McCain-- who intends to run to the right of the President on the war issue-- traveled to Baghdad to prove how safe and awesome it is now. The centerpiece of this was a 'stroll' he took around one neighborhood market. Just him... oh, and "100 American soldiers, with three Blackhawk helicopters, and two Apache gunships overhead". Very safe indeed, Senator!

Well now, the Senator wants you to know he regrets that botched photo-op-
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in a '60 Minutes' segment coming on Sunday says he misspoke in comments he made about security in Baghdad earlier this week and admitted that heavily armed troops and helicopter gunships accompanied him when he visited a market there.

'60 Minutes' correspondent Scott Pelley accompanied McCain to Baghdad and then interviewed him afterward after the senator drew wide criticism.

"I'm happy, frankly, with the way I operate," McCain explained, "otherwise it would be a lot less fun."

Lying about blowjob = impeachment. Lying about war = fun! What a grand old party!

I would add that this botched photo-op was exposed because the media chose to actually reveal the relevant facts about his super-extensive military protection and the general dangers of Baghdad in general. That's their job and, this time, they did it. If only they hadn't voluntarily allowed the wool to be pulled over their eyes at the beginning of the war (the Jessica Lynch BS, the staged tearing down of the Saddam statue, 'Mission Accomplished', etc), we wouldn't still be stuck in this holding pattern with the war.

Finally (via Atrios), Grover Norquist unintentionally unravels a mystery I'd been pondering... if the war is issue #1 for the hardcore Republican base (the 28%-ers) and Sen. McCain is the most hardcore on that issue, why is he their least-preferred presidential primary candidate? The answer reveals that indeed the base doesn't care about the war, they are simply the Cult of Bush.

Says Norquist: "The base isn't interested in Iraq. The base is for Bush. If Bush said tomorrow, we're leaving in two months, there would be no revolt." Bingo. Sen. McCain can wrap himself up in the war all he wants, all that matters to the base is that he has insulted Lord Bush in the past. So he will lose. God only knows what these morons will do when January 2009 comes around.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Odds and Ends

Some more news you might've missed...

Disney is opening up its Fairy Tale Wedding program (at Disneyland, Disneyworld, etc) to gay couples. Chip and Dale = stoked.

Bill O'Reilly is so fucking insane he makes Geraldo Rivera look reasonable.

Could disasters caused by climate change affect national security? Two Senators want to know: "Two weeks ago, the bipartisan duo [of Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill.] introduced a bill that would require federal intelligence agencies to collaborate on a National Intelligence Estimate to evaluate the security challenges presented by climate change."

Finally, the Washington Monthly ponders the status of supply-side economics.

Pelosi Diplomacy

Some good takes on the media hysteria to Speaker Pelosi's Mideast diplomacy trip from Time magazine's Joe Klein and from blogger Matthew Yglesias.

[PS- One blogger has a request for the Speaker's next trip... visit New Orleans, please.]

Iran/Britain Standoff: The Aftermath

With the British sailors safely home, we're learning new facts about what happened.

First up, Sky News reports the following, based on information they gathered just prior to the arrest of the sailors in Iran: "The captain in charge of the 15 marines detained in Iran has said they were gathering intelligence on the Iranians." If true, I don't know why that hasn't been bigger news.

The British government, natch, still maintains that they were in Iraqi waters at the time.

Then there are the revelations that-- surprise, surprise-- the 'confessions' the British sailors made in Iran were made under duress. They described psychological abuse... mock executions, fake letters from family, the isolation of the female soldier.

You'll notice, though, that the U.S. government had nothing to say about those revelations. Their official, legal approval of indefinite detentions, kidnapping, and torture (from sleep deprivation to waterboarding to occassionally even fatal beatings) has made it impossible to criticize any other nation on the issue of human rights. We have the Republican party to thank for this shame.

Speaking of, as part of a tit-for-tat for the sailors' release total coincidence, we released one of the Iranian diplomats we grabbed in northern Iraq in January. The freed diplomat now details of his interrogation and torture by the CIA. The U.S. denied any involvement with his disappearance or release. And we totally believe them too! {*cough*}

And then there are the further revelations that the Bush administration offered to intervene on Britain's behalf (read: lots of shows of military aggression). The response from London... Do us a favor, Dubya, and stay out of this, let the grownups handle this.

The right-wing is of course, disappointed that this didn't end in war. King Neocon himself, William Kristol, told his friends at Fox News that the proper response to the crisis would've been military strikes on Iran. Tough-guy Michelle Malkin laments that the sailors didn't get themselves killed with some "let's roll"-esque bravado. And the National Review's John Derbyshire states that the captured sailors "disgraced their country and dishonored their uniforms" with their cowardice.

That they did what was necessary to survive is a loss to them. The right-wing brain in action.

Finally, was this really a PR win for Iran? The Washington Monthly's Kevin Drum says no.

More GOP Scandal Overload

The Alberto Gonzales death clock just got a little closer to midnight-
The top aide to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales abruptly quit on Friday, almost two weeks after telling Congress she would not testify about her role in the firings of federal prosecutors.

"I am hereby submitting my resignation to the office of attorney general," Monica M. Goodling said in a three-sentence letter. There was no immediate reason given, but her refusal to face Congress had intensified a controversy that threatens Gonzales' job...

(She was also a a graduate of Pat Robertson's law school, by the way)

Gonzales won't resign, of course. Not for a while still. They have to drag this out. The President only hires loyal Bushies-- no one remotely independent allowed-- and he's fresh out of those.

Meanwhile, there's controversy brewing over one of the new U.S. Attorneys appointed during the 'purge'. Minneapolis' Rachel Paulose (who had worked in AG Gonzales' office before be giving this plum new job) "has earned a reputation for quoting Bible verses and dressing down underlings."

Then on Friday came the news about Paulose's office that "Three lawyers in the U.S. Attorney's office in Minneapolis resigned their management posts [and] have decided to 'go back to the line to be full-time prosecutors.'"

The destruction of the DoJ's integrity is just another thing to add to the President's legacy.

Headline of the Day

AP: 'Pope says 'nothing positive' is happening in Iraq'

The Generic Democrat...

...Will win in a landslide in 2008.

The actual candidates running? Notsomuch. What accounts for this? I don't know, but I think in the case of Sens. Clinton and Obama, good old-fashioned bigotry may play in. I think liberals take for granted the kind of prejudices (even if entirely unconscious) that lie in the center and the right... there are many who just aren't comfortable with the idea of a woman or a black President. So why not Edwards? Well, I like him, but he's hardly the party's best to offer. The party is putting forth their best celebrities, but not necessarily their best candidates.

Given the pathetic GOP front-runners, though, Democrats may just need to show up to win.

[PS- Time's Joe Klein brings up another reason to dread a Hillary Clinton presidency.]