Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Darn those troops

Inconveniently speaking their minds:
A new poll to be released today shows that U.S. soldiers overwhelmingly want out of Iraq — and soon.

The poll is the first of U.S. troops currently serving in Iraq, according to John Zogby, the pollster. Conducted by Zogby International and LeMoyne College, it asked 944 service members, "How long should U.S. troops stay in Iraq?"

Only 23 percent backed Mr. Bush's position that they should stay as long as necessary. In contrast, 72 percent said that U.S. troops should be pulled out within one year. Of those, 29 percent said they should withdraw "immediately."
Does this mean 29 percent of the troops want to "cut and run?" Any Repubs up to making that characterization?

I like it

You have to hand it to Hillary and her advisers, they know how to brush off Rovian chicanery: Clinton Says Bush Adviser Obsesses About Her and '08 - New York Times. I like this characerization of et al. as obsessed. The more they attack her, the more this view is vindicated. And they'll start worrying about their own optics in attacking her. Nice little pre-emptive "back off, Karl" move going on.

She is right, of course. Karl is obsessed with her. He can't find a worthy or competent candidate in the entire state of New York to take her on. He had one, Jeanine Pirro, but he couldn't unify Republicans behind her. So now poor Karl is effectively left as the candidate himself, putting words in the mouth of his handpuppet, John Spencer. See article:
Earlier this month, John Spencer, the former mayor of Yonkers and the only declared Republican candidate for the Senate, said he had met with Mr. Rove's aides at the White House.
Make no mistake about it, Karl is the virtual Senate candidate here and he's going to do his best to tar Hillary before '08. His Regnery press onslaught is just more evidence he's started already...

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Selling access to Rove

Is being pursued in the Abramoff investigation or is the slippery one getting away with his antics again? Abramoff apparently was selling access to Rove, according to this guy:
"No one doubts that, but what were your tribal councilmen thinking when they wrote so many checks to Jack Abramoff and the publicist Michael Scanlon?

We wanted access into senior levels of the government, whether it be the Department of the Interior or- Jack said he could reach into the Bush administration and had access to Karl Rove."
I'm sure it was all Abramoff, right Karl? We just had beers when we were college Republicans...

Brilliant way to end the games...

(REUTERS/Shaun Best)

Good for her! And look what she's doing: Gold medal winner Hughes gives away her savings.

Friday, February 24, 2006

South Dakota anonymous donor puts Abramoff to shame

It's difficult to actually choose what is the most outrageous aspect of the legislature & Governor's actions in passing their draconian law restricting women's reproductive health. Clearly the restrictions in the law are reprehensible. But a big part of this story is the money that's influencing this act by the legislature. Let's just take a look at one glaring fact that has jumped off the page in this story:
During debate on the measure, lawmakers were told that an anonymous donor has pledged to give the state $1 million to defend the abortion ban in court. The Legislature is setting up a special account to accept donations for the legal fight.

''I can tell you first-hand we've had people stopping in our office trying to drop off checks to promote the defense of this legislation already,'' Rounds said.


Opponents of the bill argued that abortion should at least be allowed in cases involving rape, incest and a threat to a women's health.

If a woman who is raped becomes pregnant, the rapist would have the same rights to the child as the mother, said Krista Heeren-Graber, executive director of the South Dakota Network Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault.

''The idea the rapist could be in the child's life ... makes the woman very, very fearful. Sometimes they need to have choice,'' Heeren-Graber said. (emphasis added)
That's right. Someone is buying influence overtly, in plain sight and the South Dakota legislature is giving full airing to that fact. They think it's a-OK to drop this fact publicly. We've got a sugar daddy financing our legal fight - in addition to the financial resources of the state. Touting it as if it justifies their actions, legitimizing their course of action.

We all know money influences political decisions, there is a lobbying industry in Washington under the magnifying glass right now thanks to Jack Abramoff and his Republican lawmaker beneficiaries. But Abramoff et al. didn't have the gall to announce to the world that they were buying a piece of legislation. Here we have an anonymous donor, a private citizen ponying up to the tune of $1 million to defend this law in court. It doesn't mean that the law will actually hold up. It does, however, mean that such a law will stand until it's struck down. And the size of the donation financing the fight means it's likely to stand for a number of years, all the way to the Supreme Court. How do you like them apples, citizens of South Dakota?

The dunderhead Governor also thinks it's great that people are "trying to drop off checks to promote the defense of this legislation already." When people are ready to pay for legislation, that means, in this day and age in the USA, that the legislature is on the right track.

I'd like to hear a few thoughts on this from people like , the supposed reformer, straight-talker, and supporter of finance reform in the political realm.

I'd also like to know who exactly this donor is. Care to step forward and give the people of South Dakota the identity of the person who's pulling the levers on their legislature? Who exactly is running things in South Dakota?

No thanks

Canada's military priorities: more troops, closer relations with U.S. No, those are the Conservative military priorities, not Canadians'...

I'd say this Defence Minister will also be one to watch...seems a tad too fiery for his own good...

No more Fox News, so sad

The "free preview" of Fox news in the Impolitical household, at long last, appears to be over.

No more pompous Sean Hannity.

No more hateful Bill O'Reilly.

No more plastic-surgeried Greta.

No more pinball machine-like news graphics to overstimulate the audience.

Such a sad day...

Thank you to Rogers cable for removing this blight from my life. I don't think I've ever thanked a cable company for anything.

A fond good riddance to you all!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Karl's crisis playbook

When in trouble, deploy message to nationally known Republican public relations firm masquerading as Fox News:
"President Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, signaled today that Mr. Bush might accept a slight delay in implementing the switch from P & O Ports to Dubai Ports World. When asked in an interview on Fox News Radio whether the president would be open to a brief delay, Mr. Rove said, 'Yes, look, there are some hurdles, regulatory hurdles, that this still needs to go through on the British side as well that are going to be concluded next week.' Mr. Rove added that it was important that members of Congress 'have the time to get fully briefed on this.'"
Cheney has a fireside with Brit, uses radio today. Fox News, at Karl's beck and call to assist whenever there's a crisis, that's quite apparent.

Funny

Have a laugh.

Wingnuts on the march

South Dakota, nice place to visit, wouldn't want to live there:
South Dakota lawmakers yesterday approved the nation's most far-reaching ban on abortion, setting the stage for new legal challenges that its supporters say they hope lead to an overturning of Roe v. Wade .

The measure, which passed the state Senate 23 to 12, makes it a felony for doctors to perform any abortion, except to save the life of a pregnant woman. The proposal still must be signed by Gov. Mike Rounds (R), who opposes abortion.
Just three women in the South Dakota state Senate, by the way. Nice of these dudes to make these choices for women, real nice.

Let's take a look at the introductory provisions of this gem of a statute, just so all can see what's going on here:
FOR AN ACT ENTITLED, An Act to establish certain legislative findings pertaining to the health and rights of women, to revise the physician disclosure requirements to be made to a woman contemplating submitting to an abortion, and to provide for certain causes of action for professional negligence if an abortion is performed without informed consent.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA:

Section 1. The Legislature finds that all abortions, whether surgically or chemically induced, terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.

Section 2. The Legislature finds that there is an existing relationship between a pregnant woman and her unborn child during the entire period of gestation.

Section 3. The Legislature finds that procedures terminating the life of an unborn child impose risks to the life and health of the pregnant woman. The Legislature further finds that a woman seeking to terminate the life of her unborn child may be subject to pressures which can cause an emotional crisis, undue reliance on the advice of others, clouded judgment, and a willingness to violate conscience to avoid those pressures. The Legislature therefore finds that great care should be taken to provide a woman seeking to terminate the life of her unborn child and her own constitutionally protected interest in her relationship with her child with complete and accurate information and adequate time to understand and consider that information in order to make a fully informed and voluntary consent to the termination of either or both.

Section 4. The Legislature finds that pregnant women contemplating the termination of their right to their relationship with their unborn children, including women contemplating such termination by an abortion procedure, are faced with making a profound decision most often under stress and pressures from circumstances and from other persons, and that there exists a need for special protection of the rights of such pregnant women, and that the State of South Dakota has a compelling interest in providing such protection. (emphasis added)
So there you have it. Silly women of South Dakota, we shall protect you from your clouded judgment and emotional crises, in all our Republican infinite wisdom.

The only saving grace about this law is its overreach, making it unlikely to mount a challenge with any teeth to Roe. Still, this state's emboldened action in the wake of the new composition of the Supreme Court is a wake-up call to the silent majority of voters who absolutely do not support this kind of extremism.

Al Gore looks pretty good right about now

An '08 comeback? Could very well be in the offing. How many, I wonder, if they could, would switch their vote for W to Gore if they could turn back time? Bet it'd be a landslide...

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Rookie Minister mistake watch

Someone is going to learn fairly quickly the need for subtlety in international diplomacy, "MacKay apologizes for raising hopes of hostages' families":
"Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay has apologized to the families of the two Canadian hostages being held in Iraq after suggesting he had new information about their fate.

MacKay told reporters on Monday he was confident the hostages were alive and would be released soon, and that he believed they had been moved several times.

The next day, he told reporters he had no new information since a video was released three weeks ago that indicated they were alive and well."
The much vaunted Peter MacKay may be in over his head in foreign affairs. Is there the intellectual heft here that the nuances and delicacies of international diplomacy requires? We shall see. The Nova Scotia lawyer MP is new to the foreign affairs desk, and such mistakes may be inevitable. This was no doubt the job requested by MacKay to burnish his international credentials for future leadership aspirations. And Harper has agreed to enable his learning on the job. File under the rookie minister mistake watch...

Dubya delinquent on Dubai

Seems there's a might of damage control being done today on the burgeoning debacle, White House Says Bush Played No Role in Port Deal - New York Times:
"The White House said today that President Bush had not been aware of the pending takeover by a state-owned company in Dubai of port terminal operations in several American cities, but that the deal had been thoroughly reviewed by a dozen or more federal agencies.

The chief White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, said inaccurate news reports had created the impression that the Dubai company 'would be in control of our ports, and that is a false impression.'

Nevertheless, Mr. McClellan said, it seems clear in hindsight that, given the widespread hostility to the arrangement, 'we probably should have briefed members of Congress about it sooner.'

As soon as Mr. Bush became aware of the growing furor, Mr. McClellan said, he interviewed all Cabinet officials whose departments had to review the transaction. 'And each and every one expressed that they were comfortable with this transaction going forward,' Mr. McClellan said." (emphasis added)
Delegate at your peril, Dubya.

Another lesson in what happens when you elect an incompetent to office. Surround him with the "best and brightest" said his minions during many elections past. He'll be fine if all he does is sign-off on expertly made decisions. But there's weakness at the top, where the lack of strong, focussed leadership becomes sorely apparent at moments like these. Just who is running this show, anyway?

Flog that horse

My sometime contributor, disco, says look here for more fun with Dick...

My very first veto

Ah, the spectacle of yet another Bush administration debacle in the making. Such a shame...

So I have two theories on the genesis of the Bush veto in this Dubai port takeover mess.

The first is, quite simply, that someone let W loose on Air Force One without properly thinking things through. (If there is a culprit there, I'm guessing it'd be Dan Bartlett, quoted in many of the press reports yesterday.)

You see, during W's lecture to the the press corps while in flight on matters of racial corporate profiling, the Demander-in-Chief took things a step too far. W needed to justify the administration decision, already made prior to his knowledge (there's a surprise) and proceeded to do so. His bulliness kicked in, however, and he managed to threaten his own party leaders and for good measure, threw in the veto threat. In this version of events, the veto threat disaster is an example of what happens when W is left to his own devices. Anyone remember Harriet Miers? It used to be that letting "Bush be Bush," uttered with such pride by the likes of Peggy Noonan and other assorted Repub collaborators, was the fountain of political bounty. It is now an idea that evokes much trepidation...

So how can we be sure it was W who brainstormed the veto idea all on his lonesome? Well, we can't know for sure, but let's see...what we've got on our hands now is a universally condemned decision to let these ports be controlled by a Dubai company. Is ass enough to make such a massive miscalculation? Would he really advise threatening a veto on an issue like handing over ports to a Dubai company? Walking political thermometer that he is? It's hard to believe. My bet is that there is only one person who has demonstrated the capacity for such political buffoonery. And it ain't Karl, my friends, it's W.

The second theory is that, well, yes, it actually is Karl's strategy. Simply put, this theory holds that the asinine-veto is the opening salvo of a George Costanza-inspired "do the opposite" type deal intended to oust W from the all-time basement of presidential approval ratings. Expect me to nuke the deal on national security concerns? Nah, I'm going to try to play the nuanced statesman here and actually threaten a veto on an issue that most consider to be a slam dunk loser. If every instinct I have is wrong, then doing the opposite must be right, right? I can't go any further into the political basement, so what the heck?

Impolitical theorizes, you decide...

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Yay!

(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Great Olympic moment for this team and Canada. These women trained hard, played hard and conducted themselves with class and sportsmanship. They deserved their on-ice celebrations. What a great day it was!

Silly Kristof

Kristof today, dreaming in technicolour, has four suggestions for Bush to kick start his pathetically mired, 39% approved of presidency:
• It's time for Dick Cheney to announce that he must resign because of poor health. His approval rating is only 29 percent, and his replacement could presumably be somebody far more popular, like Condoleezza Rice.

• Don Rumsfeld should also step down. And just as President Clinton appointed a Republican as secretary of defense, Mr. Bush should appoint a Democrat, like Sam Nunn.

• Mr. Bush should publicly admit mistakes and reach out more to Democrats, and even his critics. Mr. Bush has taken a few steps in this direction in his second term, but not enough.

• Mr. Bush should emphasize policy goals that can generate bipartisan support. Mr. Bush's recent push for alternative energy sources was a fine example of that, as are his efforts to organize a U.N. peacekeeping force to stop genocide in Darfur. A trip to Africa to meet Darfur refugees and see how U.S. programs are fighting AIDS and poverty would help build bridges to critics at home and abroad."
What are the chances of any of these items being taken seriously by and his gang? Maybe yes, maybe no, maybe no chance. If Bush were to attempt any of these, hell would surely be freezing over and pigs flying through our fair skies...

Dick Cheney is not resigning, he is, for all intents and purposes, the President, or "shadow President" if you will. How do you replace the guy who's doing all the work? And he's the icon for the base. And we all know how the base dominates every consideration undertaken by Rove in this administration.

Don Rumsfeld is not resigning, he's also powerfully situated and running things handily, in W's poor, dim eyes. Replacing Rumsfeld would be tantamount to Bush admitting his Iraq policy is misguided. And speaking of such things...

Bush publicly admitting mistakes? That's going to evoke countless peals of laughter around the world...the bully boy thinks he walks on water and if anyone doesn't like his policies, they're just "playing politics," as he so peevishly likes to put it. Reach out more to Democrats? Like crazy Zell Miller, maybe.

As for the last point, emphasizing policy goals that might get bipartisan support...a very difficult task given the bashing of Democrats for being unpatriotic, against the troops, weak pre-9/11 partisans who jeopardize national security by asking nervy questions during pesky congressional oversight...nah, I think that bipartisan bridge thing has been burned long before now...

This gang doesn't like advice from anyone, let alone the NYTimes "smart set" as Mary "Madalin" put it so smugly on MTP Sunday...so Impolitical, once again, is not holding her breath on any of these helpful suggestions coming to fruition. And it'll look just fine from where a lot of us are sitting.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Happy Presidents' Day

Happily, quite a few sightings of the word "impeachment" today! A timely and appropriate topic to consider on this splendid day. So have a good one!

Enough already? Nah...

What can a little more perspective on the bonanza hurt? It is Monday morning, after all...

Especially if it's insightful, heartfelt opinion. See Josh Marshall:
"About physical courage I don't know the answer. But all available evidence suggests that the Mr. Cheney is a man of deep moral cowardice. Makes a mistake and shoots his friend; blames the friend. Only he won't do it directly. So he gets underlings to do it for him. Forced to speak out publicly, he appears before a ringer-journalist guaranteed not to press uncomfortable questions.

It's all of a piece with the man's record. He's afraid of accountability. That's why he's such a fan of self-protecting secrecy. That's why he's big on smearing government whistle-blowers. It's really just two sides of the same coin. He's afraid of accountability. It's the same reason why he's such a notorious prevaricator -- lies to avoid accountability.

These are all the hallmarks of a moral coward."
A blogger I admire for his consistent ability to create compelling content through the force of his own sharp-witted analysis.

A choking from last week

It's never too late to see one of the Bush spinners crushed...in case you missed it last week, Imus called out Mary Matalin:
She was on the Don Imus radio program the next morning, and promptly got into a heated argument about Mr. Cheney with the host.

"He didn't shoot Harry on purpose, but you're handling this horribly and you're just trying to spin me," Mr. Imus said, adding that he wanted to know why the vice president had a beer at the ranch at lunch, as Mr. Cheney told Fox News.

"What are you, his nanny?" Ms. Matalin shot back.
That's just a taste (full interview/choking here). Imus really put her full-steamroller spin on ice. He does have his way of putting people neatly into their boxes when he wants.

Addendum: Just saw Matalin on MTP...what a freak show that was indeed...kudos to David Gregory and Maureen Dowd for handily putting the contrary view front and center, and with aplomb!

Sad

A propos of the Dick Cheney shooting debacle, Krugman today:
"Officials in this administration never take responsibility for their actions. When something goes wrong, it's always someone else's fault.

Was it always like this? I don't want to romanticize our political history, but I don't think so. Think of Dwight Eisenhower, who wrote a letter before D-Day accepting the blame if the landings failed. His modern equivalent would probably insist that the landings were a 'catastrophic success,' then try to lay the blame for their failure on the editorial page of The New York Times.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Oh what a week it was...

(Anna G: Firedoglake)

Last word to the sheriff

Apparently in Texas, if you know the local law enforcement, you can get away with quite a bit. So suggests the crack local sheriff in charge of the Cheney "investigation," quoted here:
"The sheriff, in that article, had explained why he did not rush to the ranch that night. 'We've known these people (witnesses) for years. They are honest and wouldn't call us, telling us a lie,' Salinas said. 'I talked to an eyewitness who said it was a definite accident. We knew Mr. Whittington was being cared for.'"
Are you interested in the least, Mr. Sheriff, as to why that accident occurred? Would that be a relevant consideration for law enforcement? Is it acceptable behaviour for a hunting party to drink, with say, some of the members getting drunk, to the extent that it impairs their faculties? Then someone ends up getting shot? Is that a definite "accident" too? Such a scenario may have happened here, we don't know, thanks to the gullible local sheriff.

But as we all must conclude from the sheriff's remarks, what apparently counts in his neck of the woods is who is telling you what happened, not what actually may have happened...

A quote of the day

Thanks to Sarah Vowell, the witty guest columnist at the Times, from "The Pessimism Deficit ":
"Alas, I see my initial worries about the current administration as the greatest betrayal in my whole life by my old pal pessimism. I attended the president's inauguration in 2001. When he took the presidential oath, I cried. What was I so afraid of? I was weeping because I was terrified that the new president would wreck the economy and muck up my drinking water. Isn't that adorable? I lacked the pessimistic imagination to dread that tens of thousands of human beings would be spied on or maimed or tortured or killed or stranded or drowned, thanks to his incompetence."
A powerful encapsulation of a sentiment that the majority of Americans and most of the world feel about Bush...

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Nice catch

Talking Points Memo captures a moment.

Um, excuse me?

Where's Bush, i.e., George W. on this list? And the top 10 worst presidential blunders are...� I assume that the current office holder is exempt in order to obtain the proper historical perspective? You've got to think the invasion of Iraq would be one of the top 10. If Bill Clinton's personal failing makes it, already, and which pales in comparison, you've got to be kidding me that Bush would not also be so examined...

Update on the NASA hijinks

In the wake of the firing of the last Rovian spinner (the big bang "theory"), there's a new one in town:Bush Adds Appointee to NASA Press Office - New York Times. Let's see how this one pans out...

Friday, February 17, 2006

The sheriff got spun

And see if you can spot the Star Trek connection:
"The department also issued a detailed account of its inquiry. Sheriff Ramon Salinas III said he had learned of the incident at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, moments after it happened, in a call from Capt. Charles Kirk, who said that he had been told of it — in a way not explained in the report — and that he was on his way to the ranch. Eight to 10 minutes later, the sheriff said, a Secret Service agent called him to report a shooting involving Mr. Cheney.

Then, the account went on, Captain Kirk called to say he had been turned back at the ranch gate by a Border Patrol agent who said 'he didn't know anything about the accident.'

Sheriff Salinas said that he then called a former sheriff who was working at the ranch, Ramiro Medellin Jr., and that Mr. Medellin said, 'This in fact is an accident.' The sheriff said he confirmed that with another unnamed 'eyewitness' and decided to send his chief deputy to the ranch the next morning."
So a "Captain Kirk" was turned away by a Border Patrol agent when he arrived at the ranch. Border Patrol? Highly illogical. What is a Border Patrol agent doing in this story? Is this a common thing in that part of Texas for Border Patrol to be on guard at a ranch? Does a Border Patrol agent outrank, jurisdictionally, a local sheriff's official? Impolitical just doesn't know how this fits in.

Anyway, "Captain Kirk" is turned away so the sheriff relies on two people who tell him it's an accident. One source is a former sheriff working at the Armstrong ranch. This little fact may provide some insight about the dynamics of this story and why the sheriff might have been inclined to wait until the next day to interview . The Armstrong Ranch appears to be a privileged place in this community and there's perhaps a tad too much deference at play here. Any bets on who the unnamed "eyewitness" was? Impolitical thinks it just may have been the ubiquitous ranch owner, Katharine Armstrong, who's been quite available with the press throughout the course of this story and quite vocal about this being an accident.

Sheriff Ramon Salinas III, maybe there's a job for you waiting at the Armstrong Ranch some day - providing security for high-powered Republican weekenders - when you're finished your now infamous run with the Kenedy Sheriff's Department....

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The AP bottom line

On the key question:
Cheney said he had had a beer at lunch that day but nobody was drinking when they went back out to hunt a couple hours later. Law enforcement officials have ruled out alcohol as a factor, but have not explained how they determined it was not involved.
(emphasis added)
This last line of this AP piece is indeed the bottom line. and his party have said, "Trust me" to the local law enforcement and that's all, by the next day, that anyone could do. This deputy who conducted the interviews was instructed by his boss to report to the ranch the next day. And we know from yesterday that the Secret Service version is that they would make Cheney available immediately but that the Sheriff "agreed to wait until Sunday." It's all been hung on that local sheriff, it was his decision to wait until the next day.

Well, Dick, the question of whether you were under the influence will remain unanswered for all time, it appears. Hope you're able to live with that cloud, there's nothing you can do about it now.

Bully boy makes an appearance

ABC News: Bush Says Cheney Handled Issue 'Just Fine':
Bush, during an Oval Office photo opportunity, seemed upset when pressed about whether he was satisfied that Cheney had disclosed the shooting in a timely way.

"I'm satisfied with the explanation he gave," Bush said tersely.
Do not question me beyond my talking points or I will get very, very upset...

Happy thoughts

Mr. Vice President, It's Time to Go - New York Times:
"It's time for Dick Cheney to step down — for the sake of the country and for the sake of the Bush administration."
Well, of course, it's no secret that Impolitical would fully support such a development. And it's heartening to see such a prominent voice calling for this move. The weekend incident embodies the worst characteristics of the Bush administration, neatly rolled up into one oh-so-evocative picture. I have had the same feeling since hearing about this, that the worm has turned for Cheney and that all bets are off. But on the other hand, unless he decides to resign, Impolitical doubts that W will ask him to go. This is like a co-presidency and we all know it. So while I will happily say, I'm with you Bob Herbert, unless Mr. Whittington's condition changes, I won't be holding my breath on that resignation any time soon. The only other scenario under which such a development might occur? The White House assesses the fall out, still developing, then teams up with a GOP '08 hopeful and sticks them in the VP slot to take Cheney's position, establish a front-runner and completely shake up the 40% Bush approval dynamic. Whether this week might get that train rolling down the tracks is pure speculation...

Appropriate slam

Of Faux News by Jack Cafferty.

The "I had one beer" defense

In which a small man tries to dig himself out of a hole he has dug for himself:
"He suggested that the outcry about his failure to release the news, and then just to a local newspaper, reflected the unhappiness of the White House press corps that they were left out of the first reports.

'They didn't like the idea that we called The Corpus Christi Caller-Times instead of The New York Times,' Mr. Cheney said. 'But it strikes me that The Corpus Christi Caller-Times is just as valid a news outlet as The New York Times is, especially for covering a major story in south Texas.'"
Yeah, read that last paragraph again for the sound of a ridiculous and desperate effort at spin. goes on television, with one of his favorite "newsmen" to try to put a human face on this, act contrite and maybe answer some questions. Be sympathetic. Be human, let people know how sorry you are and how it's affected you. Yet his gut instinct kicks in and he manages to instead take the low road and act in a petty, small-minded way by hammering home one of the more popular Republican talking points of the week. That is, the smearing of the White House press corps that have dared to ask any questions about this incident. An incident in which he now has admitted that he had been drinking beforehand. Speaking of which:
When asked whether anyone in the group had been drinking, Mr. Cheney said: "No, you don't hunt with people who drink. That's not a good idea."

A few moments later, he said that at a lunch barbecue several hours before the accident he had a beer. He did not say whether his partners also consumed alcohol. Hunting resume at 3 p.m. he said.

"The five of us who were in that party were together all afternoon," he added. "Nobody was drinking. Nobody was under the influence."

"Shooting Safety Rules" of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department warn, "Don't drink alcohol or take drugs before or while handling firearms or bow and arrows." (emphasis added)
I don't know about you out there, my dear readers, but any time I have ever uttered the sentence, "I only had one beer," I'm sorry to say it's just not been entirely true. It's a common refrain, usually expressed when you're in the tightest of circumstances and someone is not entirely happy with any drinking having occurred in the particular circumstance. Ring a bell with anyone? If ever you find yourself having to say you've only had "one beer"...there's just something wrong with the picture and chances are...it's not true. You're fudging. It's like Nancy Grace's theory that nothing good ever happens after midnight. The "I had one beer" defense, to any objective observer, is a red flag waving in the breeze...

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Trust me

CNN.com - Cheney: 'It's a day I'll never forget' - Feb 15, 2006:
"Cheney said he drank a beer with lunch the day of the shooting, according to his interview. The shooting took place about 5:50 p.m.

Armstrong had previously told CNN that she never saw Cheney or Whittington 'drink at all on the day of the shooting until after the accident occurred, when the vice president fixed himself a cocktail back at the house.'

Lee Anne McBride of Cheney's office referred CNN to a statement from the Kenedy County Sheriff's Office Monday, which said that the investigation 'reveals that there was no alcohol or misconduct involved in the incident.'"
Oh, OK Dick, we'll just trust you on that one. Guess we have to, you saw to that and there's little to be done, objectively to confirm that now...

Repubs in lock-step

The strategy:
Cheney himself should make a public appearance on the matter, and the sooner the better. He should get himself with a respected national anchor — perhaps Brit Hume of Fox News — as soon as this evening to express his regret and explain in his own words what happened. He should stop relying on press aides who were not present at the accident to tell his side of the story. Not talking only feeds speculation, and aids the cause of those who want to lampoon and smear him. Let's hear from the vice president.
And whammo, Cheney is on with Brit Hume on Fox this evening...so the Republican media outlets and pols are falling into line. Like the damage done to the Bush administration after their faltering in response to Katrina, however, the perception of favoritism and incompetence has set in once more and there's no undoing that.

Dick "interviewed" by Brit

Cheney Takes Full Responsibility for Shooting Hunter - New York Times:
"Ultimately, I'm the guy who pulled the trigger that fired the round that hit Harry," he said in a televised interview with the Fox News anchor Brit Hume in Washington. "You can talk about all the other conditions that existed at the time, but that's the bottom line.

"It was not Harry's fault," he went on to say. "You can't blame anybody else. I'm the guy who pulled the trigger and shot my friend. It's a day I'll never forget."
And we will talk about all tlhe other conditions that existed at the time, at least as much as we can, Dick, given the way you've handled this. What were you doing in the hours leading up to your hunting outing, Dick? Did you have any alcohol? Did Brit Hume ask this? Let me guess, no....
He also said he thought it was the right decision to allow Ms. Armstrong become the only voice in describing what had happened.

"I thought that that was the right call," he said. "I didn't have any press people with me. I was there on a private weekend with friends."
This privacy spin is such a load of hooey. And if you'd been shot, Dick?

Still no further information here, but thanks for keeping the story going...

On the lighter side...

(Tarjaconan.png)

If you're not a regular Conan O'Brien watcher, you may have missed this. And it's quite funny.

There's something wrong here

Update in the Times this morning doesn't settle any more questions, although the Veep's footmen are certainly trying to put issues to rest:Fellow Hunter Shot by Cheney Suffers Setback - New York Times.

was interviewed by local law enforcement the day after the Saturday shooting, on Sunday. It had been reported that a local sheriff's deputy had shown up at the ranch on the evening of the shooting, Saturday, to interview Cheney. This doesn't look good. So the Secret Service is on the job, trying to clarify what happened:
After some initial confusion about what steps the local police had taken to investigate the shooting on Saturday, Secret Service officials said on Tuesday that they had offered to make the vice president available for an interview as quickly as possible but that the local sheriff had agreed to wait until Sunday.
So it was the local sheriff who "agreed to wait until Sunday"... now it may be just me, but it sure sounds like the sheriff was asked to wait, what do you think? I just don't buy it that the sheriff decided to wait until the next day and that this was his freely taken, independent decision, uninfluenced by the Secret Service or anyone else. Do we really think the sheriff was running this operation? Just smacks of ignored procedure in favour of the Vice President. Evidence can go cold by the next day. If this truly were an accident as reported, then there was absolutely no reason to wait overnight for the interview to occur. None that have been suggested make any sense.

And there's another point of contention now between the Secret Service version and the local law enforcement:
Eric Zahren, a Secret Service spokesman, said the shooting occurred at 5:50 p.m. Central time, slightly later than the White House had said at first. After helping Mr. Whittington into an ambulance, the agents in Mr. Cheney's security detail returned to their command post on the hunting ranch by 6:30 p.m. The Secret Service supervisor in McAllen, Tex., had called the sheriff in Kenedy County to tell him about the shooting by 7 p.m., Mr. Zahren said.

The Secret Service supervisor arranged with the sheriff for Mr. Cheney to be interviewed at the ranch at 10 a.m. Sunday, Mr. Zahren said. But the vice president's office changed the time to 8 a.m.

While there were reports, some from the sheriff himself, that a deputy had been dispatched to the ranch on Saturday night and been turned away, Mr. Zahren said that some local police officers had heard about the shooting on a scanner when an ambulance was sent to pick up Mr. Whittington. They showed up at the ranch unsolicited. Private guards, not Secret Service agents, Mr. Zahren said, turned the police away because they did not know anything had occurred.
The "sheriff himself" as a source that a deputy had been dispatched to the ranch on Saturday night and had been turned away. Versus the Secret Service reporting that local police heard about it on a scanner and showed up "unsolicited." Like they're unwanted guests or something! Portrayed as gawking at the scene of an accident, like any other bystanders I guess. And turned away by the conveniently ignorant private guards on hand to provide unaccountable private security.

Private guards. Are there private security guards frequently on detail when the Vice President is visiting a private residence? Doesn't seem too secure to me, especially since these are dangerous, Al-Qaeda-lurking-in-every-shadow, fearful, terror-ridden times, as someone who shall go unnamed likes to frequently remind us...you'd think the crack Secret Service would be responsible for the entire security force for the Vice President, wouldn't you? But, let's accept for a moment that they were using private guards. Then shouldn't these guards be informed that there was a shooting on the premises that day that involved the Vice President? Seems to be an important detail to tell the hired help, my friend.

And, to break it down even more, as this is quite interesting to do - if the guards did not know of the incident, then if the police show up - wouldn't they be more inclined to let them in? Nah, sounds like they sure had their orders down pat.

Sorry, not buying any of it you unfortunate, dragged-into-it Secret Service lackeys...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Crisis Mgmt 101

They've failed again. CNN.com - Hunter shot by Cheney hasminor heart attack - Feb 14, 2006:
During Tuesday's White House news conference, spokesman Scott McClellan was asked if waiting 14 hours after the shooting before Cheney spoke with police was appropriate, and whether an average citizen would have been afforded the same amount of time.

"That was what was arranged with the local law enforcement authorities," McClellan said. "You ought to ask them that question."
Sheriff's deputies in Kenedy County, near Corpus Christi, questioned Cheney on Sunday and Whittington on Monday.
This is the central problem for Cheney...why did you wait until the day after to permit yourself to be interviewed by authorities? Josh Marshall picked up an AP piece that reports a Sheriff's deputy showed up at the ranch on Saturday, the same day of the shooting, to speak to Cheney but was turned away by the Secret Service. You see, "arrangements had already been made to interview the vice president..." "....the following morning at 8 a.m....". Why, oh why, would one wait a day to be interviewed? We're waiting....

Back door Dick

(AP Photo/Ron Edmonds) Apparently a quiet entrance to the back of the White House on this Valentine's Day for the Veep...first appearance since word of his weekend escapades...lying low, Dick, attaboy, keep it up and this'll go on for days...

Just say Noe

Dateline Ohio...crazy Republican fund-raiser, investing in rare coins: $1 Million Theft Charged in Ohio in Coin Scandal - New York Times.
A coin dealer and prominent Republican fund-raiser was charged Monday with stealing at least $1 million from a state investment in rare coins that has embroiled Republicans in scandal during an election year.

The 53 charges against the coin dealer, Tom Noe, conclude a 10-month investigation by state and federal prosecutors into the $50 million rare-coin investment Mr. Noe managed for the state insurance fund for injured workers.
How's that for a safe state investment vehicle? If I were a voter in Ohio, I might feel a little peeved at the audacity of state officials in handling worker's insurance funds in such a suspect manner...but hey, that's just me.

Another Republican episode in this election year's culture of corruption watch...

Monday, February 13, 2006

Mmmmm, shiny

(ABC)

The talking points robot

More from Froomkin's column today illustrating Bush is as dense in "private" (to Republican lawmakers with journalists having been ushered out) as he is in public. Confirmation that he's a talking-points machine, and that's all folks:
The Associated Press reports: "The eavesdropping tables were turned on President Bush on Friday. The president apparently believed he was speaking privately when he talked about listening in without a warrant on domestic communications with suspected al-Qaida terrorists overseas. But reporters were the ones doing the listening in this time.

"The incident happened at a House Republican retreat. After six minutes of public remarks by the president, reporters were ushered out. 'I support the free press, let's just get them out of the room,' Bush said, intending to speak behind closed doors with fellow Republicans and take lawmakers' questions.

"When reporters left, Bush spoke about the National Security Agency program that he authorized four years ago and which has drawn criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike."

The most amazing thing about what Bush said is that even speaking in confidence to fellow Republicans, he cleaved to exactly the same unrevealing talking points that he uses in public.

Here, from the pool report, is a transcript of the inadvertently recorded remarks...
Read on to hear once more Bush's "9/11 changed-me" talking point monotony...

Spinning bullets

Shoots, Hides and Leaves - Froomkin, quoting Mike Allen of Time:
"...White House aides can be expected to say that the Vice President did not shoot Whittington, which suggests a bullet, but rather sprayed him with birdshot, a type of ammunition made up of tiny pieces of lead or steel."

Attention: Firebrand wingnut on the loose

Looky here, right on cue, Karl's minion is breathing fire as he speaks: Likely Challenger Lashes Out at Clinton. Who's supposed to be the angry one in your story line, ? Seems to me that your little handpuppet may foil that line of strategy if he keeps uttering such extremist gems:
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's likely Republican Senate race challenger charged Monday that the New York Democrat's criticism of the Bush administration "aids and abets our enemies" in the battle against terrorism.
Recycling oldies but goodies out of the Rovian playbook I see, she's not patriotic. This guy is right out of the McCarthy mold. Must be why Karl's so big on him. On the Patriot Act:
"I wish we had it before 9-11," said the former mayor of Yonkers. "And, I wish we had an administration in Washington that wasn't an appeasing, liberal, whining administration in the 90's that allowed the terrorists to build up the way they built up."
Earth to Spencer, you're in New York where the are, frankly, a lot more popular than the current crowd of ideologues you prefer. Keep talking about the 90's in the campaign, I must say that might be a good strategy you have there. What was it about peace and prosperity that you didn't like? And a final jab from the peanut gallery:
"We're going against the International Bank of Clinton," Spencer told the Conservative Party leadership.
Wha? We'll just let that one go. Smacks of some international, black-helicopter, UN hating conspiracy theory or something.

All in all, it's quite a high calibre of candidate you've offered us, Karl, you must be so proud.

Nice little reminder

Of what's in the White House.

The President KNEW....... (a photo-op summary)...AND MORE.

Enjoy...

Hilarious

If you need a laugh this Monday morning, check out this link: Bob Cesca: EXCLUSIVE: First Photo of Cheney Shooting Victim .

The curious case of Dick shooting his friend

More Questions Raised About Delay in Reporting Cheney Misfire in E&P today, quoting Frank James of the Chicago Tribune:
"When a vice president of the U.S. shoots a man under any circumstance," James noted, "that is extremely relevant information. What might be the excuse to justify not immediately making the incident public?

"The vice president is well-known for preferring to operate in secret....Some secrecy, especially when it comes to the executing the duties of president or vice president, is understandable and expected by Americans.

"But when the vice president's office, or the White House, delays in reporting a shooting like Saturday's to the public via the media, it needlessly raises suspicions and questions of trust. And it may just further the impression held by many, rightly or wrongly, that the White House doesn't place the highest premium on keeping the public fully and immediately informed."
And listen to this negligent response from a Cheney spokesperson on why they waited to make the news of the Cheney shooting public only after the news media inquired:
Asked by The New York Times why it did not make the news known, Cheney spokeswoman McBride said, "We deferred to the Armstrongs regarding what had taken place at their ranch."
So if it had been the other way around, for example, and the millionaire attorney had shot Cheney, then you would have deferred to the ranch owners on "what had taken place at their ranch"? How about if it were a criminal matter? Do the property owners get to decide what becomes public and what doesn't?

I'd also like to hear more about this:
In an odd disparity, Armstrong told the Houston Chronicle that Whittington, 78, was "bruised more than bloodied" in the incident and "his pride was hurt more than anything else." Yet he was airlifted to a hospital and has spent more than a day in an intensive care unit.
"Armstrong" is the person who owns the ranch where the shooting extravaganza took place on Saturday. Sounds like someone's trying to do damage control and this poor friend of Cheney is in worse condition than they're letting on. Intensive care doesn't sound like a "bruised more than bloodied" situation. And no local law enforcement involved apparently. This just reeks.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Cheney taking "Tough Guy" label literally

CNN.com - Cheney accidentally shoots fellow hunter - Feb 12, 2006.

Here's the bad news, you've been shot.

The good news, you're hunting with the decrepit old Veep whose health is so frail that he has an ambulance on call...

I hope this matters

Powerful editorial in the NYTimes today,"The Trust Gap." Makes a strong case, as they have been doing consistently of late, about the failings of the Bush administration on three fronts: domestic spying, abuses at U.S. military prison camps and the Iraq disaster. The Times has been excellent lately in stirring public opinion against Bushocracy and this is no exception.

What I sincerely hope results, however, is that people take action and commit to taking back the power from the Repubs who hold all the levers in Washington right now. The national Democratic leaders, in particular, have to do what Harry Reid is saying they will, and roll out that agenda of opposition and sing it from the rooftops. They have yet to galvanize the opposition to the Iraq war effectively as a result of their initial support for that war, despite all of the policy foibles that have been committed by the Bushites. They need to get over that initial stumble, the rest of us have.

So when I see editorials like this, I feel solace but am not fully hopeful that change will occur. The Republican weapons of mass propaganda are so finely polished and revved up by , and the gang, that unless the Democrats bring more than a knife to the gun fight, we're in for more of the same. The world's leading democracy, continuing to be injured by its caretakers and taking the brand name down with it...

Dowd, always of note

Maureen Dowd in Saturday's Times:
Vice President Dick Cheney bitterly complains that national security leaks are endangering America. Unless, of course, he's doing the leaking, tapping Scooter Libby to reveal national security information to punish a political critic.

President Bush says he will not talk about specific security threats to America. Unless, of course, he needs to talk about a specific threat to Los Angeles to confuse the public and gain some cheap political advantage.
Sounds a bit like Impolitical raking Porter Goss on Friday...:)

Breaking news from Laura Bush

First Lady Dismisses Clinton's Criticism. Now there's a shock to the entire thinking world.

Listening to Laura Bush is like watching paint dry...chalk it up to a slow news day over there in Torino...

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Tres cool

(AFP/Odd Andersen)

This is not getting better

CBC News: 'I won't quit' embattled Emerson tells CBC. If this story keeps up, Impolitical thinks he might be protesting too much...

Advice to Sen. Harry Reid

Saw this summary of meeting on the Hill with a number of journalists, outlining plans, issues, strategy. This caught my eye:
As to whenthe Democrats would actually unveil a comprehensive agenda, Reid notedthat the GOP's "Contract with America" in 1994 didn't come out untillate September of that year. "We'll roll out one [issue] at a time. By September it will all be out."
Senator Reid, keep in mind that it's not 1994 anymore. The non-stop cable and internet chat should be factored into your timetables for such a roll out. The Republicans and in particular will have done their darnedest to define the Democrats, no doubt through the summer and long before September. If you wait until then to roll out your version of the "Contract with America" it could be too late...

Friday, February 10, 2006

Funny cover, couldn't resist. Still, sad state of affairs worth a heavy sigh. Can't believe this guy was betting. Wayne, what have you gotten yourself into?

Stephen Colbert rocks

The truthy one on science in America and other hilarity.

(Hat tip to disco, my sometime contributor...:)

Mr. Goss, thy middle name is Irony

CIA Director Goss' op-ed in the NY Times today is the height of hypocrisy, "Loose Lips Sink Spies."

writes:
On the other hand, those who choose to bypass the law and go straight to the press are not noble, honorable or patriotic.
Is that so, Mr. Goss? Let's remember an old friend of the administration. Meet : "Cheney 'Authorized' Libby to Leak Classified Information."

And let's further enjoy Mr. Goss' lecture:
Revelations of intelligence successes or failures, whether accurate or not, can aid Al Qaeda and its global affiliates in many ways.
Mr. Goss, meet your boss: "Bush Details L.A. attack plot."

Speak freely, Brownie, let it rip

Ex-FEMA Chief, in Reversal, to Answer Questions on Storm - New York Times.

is testifying today and gave a hint of what's to come:
Now that he is a private citizen, he said, "I feel an obligation to answer any questions they put to me."
Translation, now that I'm no longer a member of the Bush gang, I feel no obligation to cover for these sob's anymore. I particularly feel no compulsion to continue to blame Governor Blanco or sing from any other Rove songbook, because they scapegoated my ass. (Well, OK, that's my hopeful translation.)
"The public needs to know the entire picture of what was going on," Mr. Brown said.
Yes, we do and please feel free to paint that picture vividly please Brownie. We're counting on you...

Republicans call Bush "disengaged"

Update on the Katrina aftermath in the NY Times today, "White House Knew of Levee's Failure on Night of Storm" just as Brownie is set to testify before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Friday. And it seems that there may be some Republican talking points at play here. But not the kind you'd think! Let's look at what the Republicans leading the congressional investigations have to say:
Representative Thomas M. Davis III, Republican of Virginia, chairman of the special House committee investigating the hurricane response, said the only government agency that performed well was the National Weather Service, which correctly predicted the force of the storm. But no one heeded the message, he said.

"The president is still at his ranch, the vice president is still fly-fishing in Wyoming, the president's chief of staff is in Maine," Mr. Davis said. "In retrospect, don't you think it would have been better to pull together? They should have had better leadership. It is disengagement."
Thanks very much Representative Davis, you're actually reminding us of those fleeting days following Katrina when politicians were actually truth-telling and not spinning. And there's more:
But Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine and chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, said it was obvious to her in retrospect that Mr. Chertoff, perhaps in deference to Mr. Brown's authority, was not paying close enough attention to the events in New Orleans and that the federal response to the disaster may have been slowed as a result.

"Secretary Chertoff was too disengaged from the process," Ms. Collins said in an interview.
(emphasis added)
"Disengaged," "disengagement"...Impolitical loves these Republican talking points of the day, let's keep it up shall we?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Who would've thunk it?

TheStar.com - Coyle: New PM makes us miss Mulroney. Entertaining column on Harper's gross miscalculation.

Bingo

Froomkin nails it on Bush's much-hyped speech of today. Speaking of a supposed disruption of a 2002 plot, Bush today"...with much fanfare disclosed new details about the thwarting of a terrorist hijacking plot four years ago." Froomkin asks the million dollar question:
Why is the White House suddenly offering all these details, even though they are unrelated to the central issue preoccupying official Washington, namely whether Bush's secret surveillance plan is illegal?

Could it just be an attempt to change the subject?
Here a terror episode, there a terror episode...conveniently doled out when congress is scrutinizing the legality of your administration's actions and the heat gets a little much. Once Republicans, like Heather Wilson, start turning on you, it's time to start reeling off the terror plots and hyping the fear to get the American public on side. They cannot lose the next congressional elections and today was a reminder of just how far willing to go.

How not to succeed in politics

CBC News: 'I don't really care' about reaction to party switch: Emerson. Unless there's a sea change in Emerson's public posture, he's going down in the next election, you can write it down. Publicly expressed contempt for the views of the people who elected you is not helpful. Impolitical thinks Emerson, who has been appointed to top positions all his life, missed out on some of the fundamentals of Electoral Politics 101...

Now there's a nice picture

(Larry Downing/Reuters)

Quote of the day

Bob Herbert today, on the lamentably feeble testimony of Alberto Gonzales on the NSA wiretapping this week:
To laugh or to cry — that is the question as we contemplate three more years of this theater of the absurd known as the Bush administration.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Sycophants

"With Tribute To King, Bush Reaches Out." Headline in today's Washington Post on Bush's appearance at Coretta Scott King's funeral. Strangely out of step with the preponderance of coverage on this event.

Caucus disunity

globeandmail.com : Tory MPs riled by Harper's outsiders. Harper could have made a big miscalculation. The last thing he needs is such discontent so widely expressed by his caucus. File under "mistakes to be expected from rookie government" and I'm sure there'll be lots more to come, what with all the rookie ministers...

The NASA Brownie takes his leave

Update from the recent hijinks at NASA where intelligent design politics had been making a comeback, A Young Bush Appointee Resigns His Post at NASA - New York Times:
George C. Deutsch, the young presidential appointee at NASA who told public affairs workers to limit reporters' access to a top climate scientist and told a Web designer to add the word "theory" at every mention of the Big Bang, resigned yesterday, agency officials said.

Mr. Deutsch's resignation came on the same day that officials at Texas A&M University confirmed that he did not graduate from there, as his résumé on file at the agency asserted.

Officials at NASA headquarters declined to discuss the reason for the resignation.
Occasionally Karl loses one of his minions.

That's a shame...

Gut check time for Republicans

Republican Who Oversees N.S.A. Calls for Wiretap Inquiry - New York Times. This story in the Times today suggests a question: if a Republican breaks ranks with the White House, will anyone hear it? Will it matter?

That seems to be the existential question these days. If one Republican lawmaker, Heather Wilson, can break with the White House, will others follow her lead and put principle over partisanship? Or will the usual partisan lockstep blindness kick in once more. Just how far can strong-arming of Republicans go when the President is at 38-40% approval rating territory? What good does it do for Republican lawmakers to have the White House on your side when Presidential unpopularity is the white elephant in the room?

Republicans should ask themselves what kind of country they want to be living in. A Republican will not always be President, no matter how hard they try. So what's it gonna be? Is it Karl Rove's America or the people's?

Fun with Vic

Well, that didn't take him long. First day on the job, bingo, public hearings for Supreme Court nominees are on his mind.
Following the first cabinet meeting, Toews said he would like to hold public hearings on the qualifications of the next top-court judge. There is currently one vacancy.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin has warned that U.S.-style questioning of court nominees could politicize the process.

But on Tuesday, Toews said public hearings would make the process more transparent and give parliamentarians the opportunity to "demonstrate their maturity.

"It falls on the shoulders of parliamentarians to demonstrate restraint and appropriate questioning. If that fails, we'll have no one to blame but ourselves."
What is it with the fascination with everything U.S. with these guys? As issues arise, look at their solutions. It's all about looking south and seeing what the Americans do. And on this issue, we just don't need their guidance. This preoccupation with fixing the Supreme Court nomination process is a waste of time, our process works. We get the most qualified judges on our top court, the leading minds, completely independent. Consistently. From Prime Minister to Prime Minister, party to party. I wouldn't mind this idea if I thought it might actually accomplish something. But the spectre of Vic Toews, Stockwell Day, Myron Thompson, or other similarly situated Conservatives quizzing Supreme Court nominees on their views on any given issue makes my skin crawl. Conservatives want this process to ensure that nominees conform to their socially conservative positions, like opposing gay marriage. Plain and simple. The creation of political and ideological divisions on our highest court is exactly where that road leads. And we've all seen how that's played out in the U.S. We just don't need American-style judicial hearings in Canada.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Send O'Reilly to Darfur, please

Kristof looking for pledges to take O'Reilly to Darfur. A worthwhile cause if I've ever seen one.

Que?

Globe and Mail all freaky looking today.

Revenge of the wingnuts

Harper forgets why he won. Predictable Toronto Star, I know. But I agree. And a good point is made here:
Surrendering the ethical high-ground is risky, as is the willingness to put hardliners, including Justice Minister Vic Toews, in jobs sensitive enough to alienate the moderate voters Harper will need to move from minority to majority. (emphasis added)
Such "hardliner" cabinet choices flew under the radar yesterday, lost in all the attention given to Emerson and Fortier. They will likely prove to be the more controversial ones. Just wait 'till Vic gets going on gay marriage and judicial appointments, that's a show no one will want to miss...

Angry label? What, me worry?

Nicely deflected:
"I would suggest that the Washington Republicans worry about these devastating budget cuts, the confusion and bureaucratic nightmare in the prescription drug benefit — that that's where they should be spending their time and energy, instead of trying to divert attention away from their many failures and shortcomings," Mrs. Clinton said.
Nice try , I'm sure there's lots more to come from the RNC bag of dirty tricks and obfuscation and we'll be watching...

BTW, anyone else think it's ironic to see an over-caffeinated pit bull label someone else as angry? He's just plain weird, almost a caricature of a political operative...

Silly Ken Mehlman

GOP Chair Says Clinton Turns Off Voters - Yahoo! News.

Silly.

What are you doing? Drawing attention to presidential ambitions? Painting her as angry? Don't you realize how absurd you sound? Out of the blue, tagging a U.S. Senator as "angry" seems a little strange. First of all, it's not really an accurate description of Hillary's constitution. If anything, she's one cool character who's plenty capable of controlling her emotions. Did you miss the 90's, Ken?

Secondly, you appear tres defensive by singling her out for such a labelling at this point. Why on earth would you do so unless you felt a need to start defining her character years in advance of '08. That suggests she's formidable and you know it.

Silly Ken.

Drawing attention to Hillary's candidacy in such a ham-handed way. Maybe you guys really don't know how to handle her candidacy after all. All in all, a very gauche effort.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Harper's cabinet: patronizing anti-democratic optics

Well this is all very interesting.

Do they remember the election campaign at all? The Conservatives ran on a squeaky clean platform of ethics and integrity and shouted from the rooftops about Liberal improprieties and rule-breaking. Well what's the phrase? Do as I say not as I do? Or insert some other of your own phrasing about the heights of hypocrisy and extremely questionable strategy.

For a minority government, they've certainly made some controversial decisions that don't seem to be playing well. Let's take David Emerson, former high profile Liberal minister from Vancouver, who has abruptly joined the Conservative cabinet! Yeah, I ran for a Liberal a few weeks ago, but forget that, it's all about what's best for the people of my riding. As suggested in the title of this post, the patronizing anti-democratic optics of this move are stunning. And this move is, apparently, completely different from what Belinda Stronach did. In Harper's view, she crossed the floor for partisan reasons, as he put it today in the scrum, while Emerson is apparently a patriot acting in the interests of his region. I guess how it looks all depends on where you're standing, hey Stephen? I must say, Emerson seemed to be completely unprepared for the media barrage and didn't handle it very well. Did you really think this through Mr. Emerson?

Harper has been subjected to a deluge of questions on Emerson, the appointment of Michael Fortier to the Senate so there can be a cabinet minister from Montreal....major decisions that fly in the face of his principal campaign theme of ethics, doing the right thing, and playing by the rules...

This is the central problem with setting the bar so high. He's set ethical expectations that his government would likely find it challenging to meet, in the best of times. The slightest move off-side would have been scrutinized, but these moves display a tin ear indeed. Two heavy-handed moves that run counter to the Conservatives' professed principles. Anyone surprised?

Karl you may still be in beeg trouble

Plame Was Still Covert at Time of CIA Leak. So there you have it. Confirmation from the redacted portion of a federal court ruling in the CIA leak affair has been made public this past week. This puts to shame all of the Republican hacks who have been mouthing off so callously by questioning Plame's covert status in the first place:
Lawyers for Libby, and White House allies, "have repeatedly questioned whether Plame, the wife of White House critic Joe Wilson, really had covert status when she was outed to the media in July 2003," Newsweek's Michael Isikoff notes. "But special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald found that Plame had indeed done 'covert work overseas' on counterproliferation matters in the past five years, and the CIA 'was making specific efforts to conceal' her identity, according to newly released portions of a judge's opinion."
Not good news for , unfortunately, whose fate mysteriously still hangs in the hands of Fitzgerald. Such a shame.

NSA hearings start today

So here are some words from Bob Herbert that are appropriate context for the day:
Until recently, no one was above the law in the U.S., not even the president. Richard Nixon was threatened with impeachment and run out of town for thumbing his nose at the Constitution. Bill Clinton was impeached for lying under oath about his sex life.

The Bush administration, by exploiting the very real fear of terrorism, and with the connivance of Republican majorities in both houses of Congress, has run roughshod over constitutional guarantees that had long been taken for granted. The prohibition against cruel and inhuman punishment? Habeas corpus? The right to face one's accuser? When it suits the Bush crowd, such protections are simply ignored.
Here's hoping that Arlen Specter's words of yesterday do not prove to be lip service to effective oversight but that the serious issues raised by this NSA spying program are thoroughly and effectively probed. And that the Bush administration is not given a pass, again, by this pathetic Republican majority...

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Specter's comments today encouraging

Specter Says Surveillance Program Violated the Law - New York Times. Well, Senator Specter might just be up to doing his job and providing effective oversight after all. I think he's calculated that he's done the administration's bidding on the Supreme Court confirmations, even shepherding Elito through, and now, it's time to get to work. Some of his comments:
The program "is in flat violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act," said the chairman, Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who will open committee hearings on Monday.
How's that for an opener to the hearings? The Republican Chairman making such a comment cannot bode well for the administration. And that little used subpoena power of late while in the hands of Repubs:
Of Democratic calls to subpoena notes of administration deliberations about the legality of the program, Senator Specter said he would not immediately move to do so. But "if the necessity arises," he added, "I won't be timid."

Mr. Specter's strong language reflects sharp concerns among many in Congress - mainly Democrats, but also some Republicans - over the legality of the program, the administration's decision to circumvent the FISA court rather than ask Congress to change the law, and whether the administration kept Congress adequately informed.
Sounds foreboding on the eve of the hearings, and I like it...

Saturday, February 04, 2006

A must watch

Check this out.

Don't you be like me

That role model of a leader, that inspirational man, at it again:
As he sought to inspire students to excel in disciplines such as engineering and physics, Bush played on, rather than ignored, his own background as a so-so student, prep school cheerleader and hard-partying fraternity president.

With freewheeling folksiness, Bush joked that he himself could use a tutor in math. And, in a reference to his reputation for mangling the spoken word, English as well.

"A lot of people probably think math and science isn't meant for me — you know, it seems a little hard, algebra," Bush said to laughter from his invitation-only crowd at Intel. "I understand that, frankly."
And can't you just hear him as one of the jock, cool legacy guys making fun of the geeks, echoing in these words of today:
Bush then turned to the social pitfalls sometimes associated with enthusiasm for certain subjects.

"Take a look at math and science. I'm sure they're saying, you know kind of, `They're nerd patrol,'" the president said. "It's not. It's the future. The future is engineering and physics and chemistry and math."
Do as I say, not as I did...as Jack Nicholson's character said to the dog in As Good as it Gets, "Don't you be like me..."

NASA's very own Brownie

The NYTimes has more on the hijinks that have been afoot at NASA lo these many years of Bushocracy.

Seems there's a young presidential appointee named George on the loose in the space agency, telling scientists what they can and cannot say. And it seems that he's got a bee in his bonnet for, and this will be a surprise to no one, yes, it's intelligent design folks! Making its way into the workings of the key scientific research agencies in the United States thanks to the well-placed presidential appointees.

Do these Brownies not know their limits? Do they have no shame? Do they not sense that they are in over their heads?

Check out the gumption of this Brownie, just 24 precious years old:
The Big Bang memo came from Mr. Deutsch, a 24-year-old presidential appointee in the press office at NASA headquarters whose résumé says he was an intern in the "war room" of the 2004 Bush-Cheney re-election campaign. A 2003 journalism graduate of Texas A&M, he was also the public-affairs officer who sought more control over Dr. Hansen's public statements.

In October 2005, Mr. Deutsch sent an e-mail message to Flint Wild, a NASA contractor working on a set of Web presentations about Einstein for middle-school students. The message said the word "theory" needed to be added after every mention of the Big Bang.

The Big Bang is "not proven fact; it is opinion," Mr. Deutsch wrote, adding, "It is not NASA's place, nor should it be to make a declaration such as this about the existence of the universe that discounts intelligent design by a creator."

It continued: "This is more than a science issue, it is a religious issue. And I would hate to think that young people would only be getting one-half of this debate from NASA. That would mean we had failed to properly educate the very people who rely on us for factual information the most."


The memo also noted that The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual specified the phrasing "Big Bang theory." Mr. Acosta, Mr. Deutsch's boss, said in an interview yesterday that for that reason, it should be used in all NASA documents.

The Deutsch memo was provided by an official at NASA headquarters who said he was upset with the effort to justify changes to descriptions of science by referring to politically charged issues like intelligent design. Senior NASA officials did not dispute the message's authenticity.

(emphasis added)
Isn't that precious? Intelligent design being forced upon the NASA scientists by a 24-year-old neophyte.

And once again, two of the most disconcerting aspects of the Bush attitude toward government are on full display: the incompetent appointments of crony after crony and the utter contempt for the integrity of the workings of vitally important government agencies.

But they'll be doing their best to scare the bejeezus out of voters come November time with their terror refrains, to make you forget all about such damning episodes...

Not on my watch

Don't mess with Chief Justice McLachlin. You Tories want to politicize the Supreme Court appointment process and end up with the useless circus that we've seen with Roberts and Elito of late? Make her day...

Thursday, February 02, 2006

It's happened, again

CBC News: Sea King crashes off Denmark. Remember Chretien's election promise: "Zero helicopter, Chretien"...? His vow not to purchase the Mulroney government's upgrades? Incidents like this cause one to wonder what has been the actual cost of delaying the purchase of those helicopters. For whatever perceived excess there was by Chretien and his government at the time, we'd have been better off to have fulfilled the initial Mulroney purchase...

Support for separation still down

Oops. So they were off by 3 percent after all...support for separation is at 37% not 34% as CROP had stated earlier this week. Still it's good news...

Watch her, she's dangerous

So, we find out that of course the police were instructed to watch Cindy Sheehan closely:
The Associated Press reported on Wednesday evening that the police had decided to apologize to the two women and to drop the charges against Ms. Sheehan, who had been invited to attend the speech by Representative Lynn Woolsey, Democrat of California.

The Capitol police did not return phone calls for comment. An officer who insisted on anonymity because the officers are not authorized to speak publicly about their work said the guards at the speech had been instructed to watch Ms. Sheehan closely in case she sought to interrupt the event to gain attention for her cause.
Who gave these instructions and on what basis were they given? I'd like to hear that part please, NYTimes or some other news outlet.

Oh the danger posed to a free society by a who lost her son in Iraq. It really is quite amazing how afraid of her they are.

One of Bush's human-animal hybrids spotted in Seattle

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Yeah, he said it:
Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research: human cloning in all its forms, creating or implanting embryos for experiments, creating human-animal hybrids, and buying, selling, or patenting human embryos. Human life is a gift from our Creator -- and that gift should never be discarded, devalued or put up for sale.

Bartlett spin comes up short

Here's what Dan Bartlett said before the SOTU on Katrina:
Q Any recognition of Katrina in the speech?

MR. BARTLETT: Yes, a lengthy recognition of the duty we have to help the people of the Gulf Coast, quite frankly, not only to recover, but to address some of the underlying problems that were there before the storm even hit, to make sure that we build back better schools, provide better economic opportunity to the region. This will be something that will be very specific and very -- and a direct commitment by the President yet again. (emphasis added)
And what was actually in Bush's speech:
A hopeful society comes to the aid of fellow citizens in times of suffering and emergency -- and stays at it until they're back on their feet. So far the federal government has committed $85 billion to the people of the Gulf Coast and New Orleans. We're removing debris and repairing highways and rebuilding stronger levees. We're providing business loans and housing assistance. Yet as we meet these immediate needs, we must also address deeper challenges that existed before the storm arrived.

In New Orleans and in other places, many of our fellow citizens have felt excluded from the promise of our country. The answer is not only temporary relief, but schools that teach every child, and job skills that bring upward mobility, and more opportunities to own a home and start a business. As we recover from a disaster, let us also work for the day when all Americans are protected by justice, equal in hope, and rich in opportunity.
Many have discussed this point in the wake of the speech...you decide how much recognition is carried in these words or whether there are any specifics here. How reassured would you feel if this were your city or region?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

What a difference a day makes

Charges against Sheehan dropped - Politics - MSNBC.com. And a lot of bad PR...the Capitol Police have been made to look foolish. Who wants to bet they're taking the fall for instructions issued from elsewhere? This kind of ejection happened routinely during Bush's re-election campaign and the incident is just too coincidentally similar.

The "All Terror All the Time" Tour

Details here. Bush's central message, fear, fear and oh, did I mention fear?
Today, he spent most of his time explaining why the United States should not give up its war on terror, as several polls show public support for the war in Iraq is waning and his own approval ratings hover in the low 40's.

"The enemy is a bunch of cold-blooded killers" who have "perverted a great religion," he said.

"They have stated clearly their desire to hurt us," he said.
And for good measure, he threw in a dose of "bully" as well:
"There's too much politics up there," he said about Washington. "I want the Democrats on Capitol Hill to hear loud and clear, I want a bipartisan solution on mandatory and entitlement spending for the sake of future generations of Americans."
Hear that Democrats? The 39% President is issuing orders on what he wants done...I'm sure they'll get right on it...

Good news

Quebec independence a harder sell after Canada's election - Yahoo! News...good numbers on the separatist front, separatism support has fallen and is at just 34%. The PQ still lead the provincial Liberals, but the trend is downwards for the PQ and up for the Liberals...for what it's worth...

T-shirts aren't illegal

Unclaimed Territory - by Glenn Greenwald: Learning from Dear Leader. Well worth reading, an analysis by a lawyer with first amendment experience. The upshot, it is illegal to do what was done to Cindy Sheehan last night.