Monday, July 31, 2006

Softwood deal in jeopardy?

"Softwood deal may not get as far as Commons vote." So says David Emerson, the Trade Minister, today:
Mr. Emerson said that if the provinces and lumber businesses don't agree with the deal, it will not be put to MPs for a vote.
More from Reuters:
The trade deal would return $4 billion to Canada, but give $1 billion to the U.S. lumber producers whose complaint in 2001 sparked the five-year trade battle.

Critics of the agreement in Canada have argued that Ottawa has given away too much. The CEO of Canfor, a key supporter and Canada's largest softwood firm, said on Friday he doubted the deal would actually be implemented without some of the changes urged by critics.
So what's going on here? Emerson seems to be having it both ways. He's saying the provinces and lumber producers have to come on board or the deal will die. So if it dies, he blames those parties. And the Conservatives get out from under a potentially damaging election issue, given they've said it's a confidence matter.

Or, he can blame the U.S. for its failure:
Emerson suggested there was room to amend the July 1 accord by consent of both governments but denied there were any talks underway to that effect.
More politically palatable for the Conservatives but not their preferred resolution. If they have to go back to the Americans, what are the chances they'll budge? Can you imagine Bush backing down on anything these days? In the run-up to midterm elections no less? They all back this deal, they negotiated it.

Quite the pickle this is. Seems they've considered Bob Rae's challenge to fight an election on the issue and they don't much like that option.

If Bush has broken laws, will he be held accountable or not?

Violations of 26 statutes alleged.

Unfortunately, these violations will not be investigated at all if there's no change in control of either the House or the Senate.

I wonder if such reports further galvanize Democratic voters or serve to energize and his scorched earth efforts to retain control. I would bet on the latter.

South Dakota poll looks bad for the reactionaries

Poll: S.D. Voters Against Abortion Ban:
"South Dakota voters are leaning against the state's tough new ban on abortions, a poll released Monday shows.

The statewide survey of 800 registered voters found 47 percent opposed the strict ban, while 39 percent favored it. The remaining 14 percent were undecided. The poll had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

The Legislature voted overwhelmingly earlier this year to make abortion illegal in all cases _ including rape and incest _ unless the procedure was necessary to save the woman's life. It was to become law on July 1, but opponents gathered enough signatures to delay it and to let voters decide in November whether the ban should take effect.

If voters reject the abortion ban at the ballot box, they would effectively repeal it."

Chris Matthews has woken up

Matthews: War in Iraq United ‘the Disparate Pieces of Shia Radicalism into a Frankenstein Monster’:
"MATTHEWS: Two years ago, King Abdullah of Jordan warned me of what was coming in the mideast. His prediction was dead. He spoke of his fears and what the United States was doing in iraq, toppling one government, electing another, was creating what he called a shi’ia crescent, from Tehran through Baghdad to Beirut that threatened to dominate the Arab world, challenging modern Sunni governments in Egypt and Saudi Arabia and others with an axis of Shia power based in Iran.

When I look at the map today, that Shia crescent the King foretold has come to light. It is hard for us westerners to understand the internal politics of another region when we can’t predict whether the Democrats will take congress from the Republicans three months from now, how could we see the Shi’ia grabbing the high ground from the Sunni in the mideast three years ago? That’s what happened. We converted Iraq from a country which has fought revolutionary Iran for eight years to a bloody stand still to a Shia dominated ally of Iran and created a boulevard of common religion and common regional politics."
Takes some people a few years, but he's finally speaking truth to power (OK, sometimes).

Chretien/Martin psycho-drama playing out in Australia

Australia's Prime Minister plans to run again. Will they never learn...

Gutless, soulless Republicans

Cynically trying to Fool the Voters.

They are so over...

Sunday, July 30, 2006

NYTimes endorses Lamont in Connecticut

"A Senate Race in Connecticut." Key excerpts:
At this moment, with a Republican president intent on drastically expanding his powers with the support of the Republican House and Senate, it is critical that the minority party serve as a responsible, but vigorous, watchdog. That does not require shrillness or absolutism. But this is no time for a man with Mr. Lieberman’s ability to command Republicans’ attention to become their enabler, and embrace a role as the president’s defender.
...
Mr. Lamont, a wealthy businessman from Greenwich, seems smart and moderate, and he showed spine in challenging the senator while other Democrats groused privately. He does not have his opponent’s grasp of policy yet. But this primary is not about Mr. Lieberman’s legislative record. Instead it has become a referendum on his warped version of bipartisanship, in which the never-ending war on terror becomes an excuse for silence and inaction. We endorse Ned Lamont in the Democratic primary for Senate in Connecticut.

The conflict escalating

Deadly Israeli Attack Escalates Conflict and it's clear that the Bush team missed a crucial window of opportunity to act, early on, to quell this war:
At the onset of the Lebanese crisis, Arab governments, starting with Saudi Arabia, slammed Hezbollah for recklessly provoking a war, providing what the United States and Israel took as a wink and a nod to continue the fight.

Now, with hundreds of Lebanese dead and Hezbollah holding out against the vaunted Israeli military for more than two weeks, the tide of public opinion across the Arab world is surging behind the organization, transforming the Shiite group’s leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, into a folk hero and forcing a change in official statements.
Update: Israel's halting airstrikes for 48 hrs.

Entertaining read on the Liberal leadership race

"Did someone say Liberals?" Picks through the candidates with the help of some pundits. One thing in the column that surprised me, the apparent impact that has been made by Martha Hall Findlay thus far:
It may well be, as veteran Liberal Dennis Mills believes, too early, and that a candidate may yet ignite. Mills lost his seat in Toronto-Danforth in January to NDP leader Jack Layton and works as vice-chair of a couple of Magna subsidiaries for auto magnate Frank Stronach, father of the oft-touted leadership candidate, Belinda.

He believes that Toronto lawyer Findlay, who narrowly lost to Stronach in Newmarket-Aurora in 2004 (before Stronach crossed the floor) has the most growth potential and could inspire a little magic. "Trudeau only really happened in the week (before the convention) in 1968," he said.

MacIvor argues that Trudeaumania took root earlier, over the summer of 1967, adding, "Trudeau was a watchful, shy man, and it took him a while to develop his public persona." Interestingly, she, too, picks Hall Findlay as being the most likely to ignite Marthamania. She lauds her earthy ability to talk to people about what matters. "It's that kind of Oprah thing."
The possibility of "Marthamania." Reason alone for this thing to get interesting.

Me? I'm leaning toward Stephane Dion at this point. Much for the same reasons cited here. His responsibility for the Clarity Act and the courage this took from a Quebec leader to usher it in, his powerful intellect, the "twinkle" that is glimpsed from time to time in his authenticity. His impassioned support of environmental issues. The Quebec base he could bring, just as Trudeau did many years ago. And I think he could pummel Harper one on one.

Iraq coverage no longer good TV

Frank Rich with a timely indictment of the ratings driven coverage of war today, "The Peculiar Disappearance of the War in Iraq." An excerpt:
AS America fell into the quagmire of Vietnam, the comedian Milton Berle joked that the fastest way to end the war would be to put it on the last-place network, ABC, where it was certain to be canceled. Berle’s gallows humor lives on in the quagmire in Iraq. Americans want this war canceled too, and first- and last-place networks alike are more than happy to oblige.

CNN will surely remind us today that it is Day 19 of the Israel-Hezbollah war — now branded as Crisis in the Middle East — but you won’t catch anyone saying it’s Day 1,229 of the war in Iraq. On the Big Three networks’ evening newscasts, the time devoted to Iraq has fallen 60 percent between 2003 and this spring, as clocked by the television monitor, the Tyndall Report. On Thursday, Brian Williams of NBC read aloud a “shame on you” e-mail complaint from the parents of two military sons anguished that his broadcast had so little news about the war.

Americablog calls out American censorship of war coverage

Joe in DC asks some hard questions, here on Americablog. I notice differing levels of graphic coverage, depending on whether you watch the news oriented BBC, for example, versus the American promotional, ratings driven coverage, such as CNN. Why the need for American media to be so self-censoring in this manner?

'A Terrible Tug' for Democrats

David Broder today writes on Lieberman's likely defeat in his Connecticut primary next week and zeroes in on Lieberman's Iraq war support as the principal cause of his political jeopardy. Little mention by Broder of the conventional wisdom some have circulated that Lieberman is the victim of angry liberal bloggers. Little mention, that is, as Broder still manages to end his column by characterizing the Lamont support as "elitist insurgents" who usually suffer defeat once "...a broader public weighs in." We'll see. Remember, the "broader public" is overwhelmingly with the Lamont anti-war view and the time for a change cause.

Kennedy throwing down a marker on judicial confirmations

What else to make of his op-ed today, "Roberts and Alito Misled Us?" appears to be sending a message, that should Bush have the opportunity to appoint another in the Roberts, Alito mold, it'll be "no go." Now that there's been a term's worth of votes on record by and , their professed neutrality during their confirmation hearings has been put to scrutiny and Kennedy's view is that they've markedly departed from their representations. No nominee, Democrat or Republican nominated, should be able to get away with such fakery. Here's hoping that the sham hearings will not occur on the next occasion, replete with actual school cheerleaders as the nominee arrives in the morning.

Of course, if Kennedy's belief "...that the next justice will be nominated by a Democratic president and be sent to a Democratic Senate for confirmation" comes to pass, I'm sure the Republicans will most agreeably sign on to Kennedy's suggestions for heightened scrutiny.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Rove the pot calling the kettle black

"Rove Blasts Journalists' Role in Politics."

still beating the "bash the media" drum, I see. Surprised he didn't get in a dig at the NYTimes while he was at it.

Glad to see he's imparting such pearls of wisdom to today's graduates. Enjoining them to suspect the media from the start of their political careers. Nice.

Ugh

Toronto humidex at 41C today!

Joementum just not on

"After Sluggish Start, Lieberman Heeded Warnings of Trouble - New York Times." Read this quote from this article and then tell me Lieberman hasn't got problems:
“I want to assure you that I’m not surprised that I am in a fight for the Democratic nomination,” he said. “I always expected that I would have a primary challenge based on Iraq. I was hoping that God would send me a poor challenger. I am being tested with a rich challenger.” (emphasis added)
Que? He counted on winning against a cash-poor challenger. Never mind the issues to Joe. He hoped for a "poor" challenger in order to hang on. Poor Joe! Instead, God sent him ! What a telling comment, even if said in jest, about how calculating has become. It's not his first display of cold calculation either. Read this insightful analysis by Hendrik Hertzberg in the New Yorker of late for a spotlight on his fateful decision in 2000 to run for Senate and Vice-President at the same time and its "Joe-first" consequences:
Lieberman’s seat was up that year, and he decided to run simultaneously for senator and Vice-President. Lyndon Johnson had taken out a similar insurance policy forty years earlier, but there was a difference. The governor of Texas in 1960 was a Democrat, so when Johnson resigned his Senate seat after the election a Democrat was appointed to replace him. The governor of Connecticut in 2000 was a Republican. If Lieberman had made way for the state’s popular Democratic attorney general, Richard Blumenthal, who would have won easily, and if the Supreme Court had allowed Gore to take office, then the new Senate would have split 50-50, with Vice-President Lieberman breaking the tie in favor of the Democrats. But, by insisting on having it both ways, Lieberman single-handedly guaranteed that the new Senate would be Republican—either by a 51-49 margin under a Gore Administration or (as it turned out) by the tie-breaking vote of Vice-President Dick Cheney. This was more than just routine political expediency. It was what was known that year as a character issue. (emphasis added)
So as Hertzberg points out, it's not just Lieberman's position on Iraq that's at play in this primary...

(And more on Joe's struggles here, AP today.)

Canada 10th in happiness

Study reported in the Globe today and an interested Impolitical reader sends along a link to the University of Leicester for the interactive map.

So we're #10. I can live with that. We're certainly not a likely #1 in this type of study.

Some observations from the study:

The U.S. is at 23 and the U.K. at 41. Hmmm...major western nations at that.

I guess it is actually better in the Bahamas. (They rank #5.)

Venezuela at 25, 2 behind the U.S. Must make Hugo Chavez's day.

No happiness in Iraq. No happiness in Afghanistan. Res ipsa loquitur I suppose.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Will The Future Blame Us

One of my favorite songs this year...and a cathartic release given current world events. Enjoy!

Found myself listening to OLP quite a bit while away recently. A taste of home, no doubt!
The Coulter Freak Show

Note the two bodyguards that have to protect her, in the latter part of the video. Matthews takes her on but also at one point says, "you're great"??? For his ratings, I guess.

On the Eve of Madness

Friedman today, "On the Eve of Madness," really a must-read on what's going on in the Middle East:
There is nothing that you can’t do to someone in the Middle East today, and there is no leader or movement — no Nelson Mandela and no million-mom march — coming out of this region, or into this region, to put a stop to the madness.

And I mean madness. We’ve seen Sunni Muslims in Iraq suicide-bomb a Shiite mosque on Ramadan; we’ve seen Shiite militiamen torture Sunnis in Iraq by drilling holes in their heads with power tools; we’ve seen Jordanian Islamist parliamentarians mourning the terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, even though he once blew up a Jordanian wedding; we’ve seen hundreds of Palestinian suicide bombings of Israeli cafes and buses; and we’ve seen Israel retaliating by, at times, leveling whole buildings, with the guilty and the innocent inside.

Now we’ve seen the Hezbollah leader, Hasan Nasrallah, take all of Lebanon into a devastating, unprovoked war with Israel, just to improve his political standing and take pressure off Iran.

America should be galvanizing the forces of order — Europe, Russia, China and India — into a coalition against these trends. But we can’t. Why? In part, it’s because our president and secretary of state, although they speak with great moral clarity, have no moral authority. That’s been shattered by their performance in Iraq.

The world hates George Bush more than any U.S. president in my lifetime. He is radioactive — and so caught up in his own ideological bubble that he is incapable of imagining or forging alternative strategies.

In part, it is also because China, Europe and Russia have become freeloaders off U.S. power. They reap enormous profits from the post-cold-war order that America has shaped, but rather than become real stakeholders in that order, helping to draw and defend redlines, they duck, mumble, waffle or cut their own deals.

This does not bode well for global stability. A religious militia that calls itself “the party of God” takes over a state and drags it into war, using high-tech rockets — mullahs with drones — and the world is paralyzed. Those who ignore this madness will one day see it come to a theater near them.
...
There will be no new Middle East — not as long as the New Middle Easterners, like Rafik Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister, get gunned down; not as long as Old Middle Easterners, like Nasrallah, use all their wits and resources to start a new Arab-Israeli war rather than build a new Arab university; and not as long as Arab media and intellectuals refuse to speak out clearly against those who encourage their youth to embrace martyrdom with religious zeal rather than meld modernity with Arab culture.

Without that, we are wasting our time and the Arab world is wasting its future. It will forever be “on the eve of modernity.”

Another day, another Conservative dissident

Today's dissident, Richard Viguerie. On the heels of William F. Buckley dumping on Bush about Iraq and his tarnished "conservative' virtues, Viguerie joins in. Has a few interesting things to say on the likes of Tom , Rudy and John :
What really affects our life is the legal stuff, the legal thefts, the legal plunder of people [by people] like Tom DeLay, for the sole, in my opinion, immoral purpose of holding onto power. They are engaged in this illegal theft, spending money that doesn’t belong to them to hold onto power. And that’s corrupt and immoral. And people who are engaged in that are in no way worthy of the label conservative.
...
Raw Story: John McCain seems – at least right now – to be the front-runner among Republicans for the 2008 race, and has done so by asserting his independent streak while courting the Bush team and Bush’s supporters. What’s your opinion of McCain, or say, Rudy Giuliani?

Viguerie: The idea that Giuliani is a serious candidate for a Republican nomination is not a serious idea. It would destroy the Republican Party. He’s a serial adulterer, he doesn’t agree with Republicans on virtually anything... He doesn’t agree with the Republicans on the second amendment.

McCain is interesting. He’s a serious candidate. McCain is like a political broken clock. He’s right a couple of times now and then. Right on spending primarily, and right on other issues. But he has a real problem with conservatives because conservatives don’t see him as a conservative.
The hard core right is not at all sold on McCain and Giuliani, if you consider Viguerie's views to be representative. The mainstream media's anointment of these two as front-runners may be entirely premature. And don't you just love his "serial adulterer" comment about Giuliani. That's a bucket of cold water for you...

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Brownie, the gift that keeps on giving

Still not going quietly and giving enlightening interviews:
On President Bush saying the levee breaches were unexpected: "He doesn't have an incredible command of the English language."
More:
On Bush calling him "Brownie": "It's typical of the president. He's a cheerleader . . . How many people in the world do you think have ever called me Brownie? . . . When he used that nickname, a lot of people in the media went, Is he an insider?"
Looking forward to the full interview from the incorrigible Brownie...:)

Reassuring

Bush holds Idol summit:
"It's been called an historic meeting.

Tomorrow, as the world continues to spiral through miserable chaos, U.S. President George W. Bush will welcome the — wait for it — Top 10 contestants from American Idol.

Yes, before the 'American Idols Live' concert series touches down in Washington, D.C., for a performance at the Verizon Center, the popular warblers will be granted a tour of the White House, one that includes face-time with the most powerful man on the planet."
Aren't you glad is spending time on such weighty issues of the day...

More of this please

Graham blasts PM for supporting Israel. Hold his feet to the fire, please...

Mini Bush losing ground in poll

Poll suggests Tory fortunes fading:
"A new poll suggests Stephen Harper's post-election surge in popularity has dissipated and dimmed his chances of turning his minority government into a majority.

The prime minister's Conservatives lost ground in the country's two crucial battlegrounds, Ontario and Quebec, according to the Decima poll made exclusively available to The Canadian Press."
...
Nationally, the Conservatives had the support of 36 per cent, the Liberals 30 per cent and the New Democrats 17 per cent.

In the two provinces that will determine whether Harper can turn his minority into a majority, the Conservatives had lost the ground they gained during a post-election honeymoon.

In Quebec, the province Harper has wooed most assiduously, the poll found the BQ had rebounded to 43 per cent, up five points since a Decima poll in May, while the Tories had slipped six points to 23 per cent. The Liberals had 18 per cent and the NDP eight per cent.

And in Ontario, where the Tories and Liberals had been neck and neck as recently as mid-June, the poll found the Liberals had pulled into a nine-point lead with 43 per cent support, compared to 33 per cent for the Conservatives and 18 per cent for the NDP.

"These patterns suggest that some recovery of the Liberal brand may be underway in Ontario and also that the Conservative momentum in Quebec has reversed, at least for the time being," Anderson said. (emphasis added)

Shocking news fact of the day

"No Chinese ruins in Cape Breton: archeologists."

Reports on Voting Rights Act today misleading

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) , W's "go to guy" on race relations...but that's beside the point of this post.

"Bush signs Voting Rights act extension." Unmentioned in this AP report is the fact that congressional Republicans tried unsuccessfully to scale back the provisions of the Voting Rights Act as they applied to some of the southern states. Instead, the AP makes it sound like the GOP were fully behind it:
The Republican controlled Congress, eager to improve its standing with minorities ahead of the November elections, pushed the bill through even though key provisions were not set to expire until next year.
See what I mean? Isn't that misleading? Here's part of the Washington Post report on the law's renewal that's got a little more context:
The Senate voted 98 to 0 to renew the law last week after contentious debate earlier in the House, where GOP leaders had to scramble -- and rely on heavy Democratic support -- to defeat proposed amendments that they said would dilute the bill and prove politically embarrassing.
That's a little better. Although there's no mention that the force behind the proposed amendments emanated from Bush's Republicans.

The AP includes more context in its later report today but it still doesn't identify Republicans as the party who sought to dilute the Act:
The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 98-0 and the House 390-33. The overwhelming majorities belied the difficulties getting to that point.

Some Southern lawmakers rebelled against renewing a law that requires their states to continue to win Justice Department approval before changing any voting rules -- punishment, they said, for racist practices that were overcome long ago.
Nor does Reuters:
The Senate passed the renewal unanimously after the House approved it by 390-33. Some lawmakers had opposed portions of the bill that renewed scrutiny on states with a legacy of voting-rights violations and required bilingual ballots in some cases.
Am I missing something, or isn't this a key fact being left out of this reporting by the major news organizations?

UPI manages to get close to the truth:
The measure passed the U.S. Senate on a 98-0 vote last week, after the House of Representatives voted 390-33 to reauthorize the 1965 law. Most of the opposition came from Republicans from southern states.
In fact, all 33 of the "No" votes came from Republicans.

The rookie

Harper bumbling, still. Apparently it's a puzzle as to why U.N. peacekeepers are in Lebanon and for Harper, they should pick up and run the moment the going gets tough. Unfamiliar with the U.N. role, yeah, I'd say so.

And further, apparently only real Canadians are going to be assisted in the future if war breaks out in a future conflict. Listen to the insinuations galore:
As the evacuation efforts of Lebanese-Canadians wind down -- as many as 10,000 will leave Lebanon with Canadian government assistance -- Mr. Harper yesterday defended his position on the massive evacuation but reiterated that he would revisit policies in the future.

"Our priority in this case has been the evacuation of citizens who are also residents but we have also been willing to evacuate citizens who are not permanent residents of Canada," he said.

"This has been somewhat controversial but there are large numbers involved and in other parts of the world there are even larger numbers involved. In future I think we'll look at the lessons learned here and evaluate what are the reasonable expectations of the government of Canada in these kinds of crises."
We'll just let the pseudo-Canadians fend for themselves when the rockets fly. They may have family in Canada or have dual citizenship, but let's cut them off when they might need a safe haven most. Because hey, it's not like we can afford it or anything compared to the Lebanons of the world.

I'll agree with him on one thing. I do hope there's a review of such policies in the future and hopefully it'll take place under a new government and not this small-minded bumbling crowd that is doing such damage to our international reputation.

Now imagine a president

"Failure Upon Failure," Herbert today with a scathing reminder that competence does count and perhaps voters might dain to consider this next time round in '08:
"Imagine a surgeon who is completely clueless, who has no idea what he or she is doing.

Imagine a pilot who is equally incompetent.

Now imagine a president.

The Middle East is in flames. Iraq has become a charnel house, a crucible of horror with no end to the agony in sight. Lebanon is in danger of going down for the count. And the crazies in Iran, empowered by the actions of their enemies, are salivating like vultures. They can’t wait to feast on the remains of U.S. policies and tactics spawned by a sophomoric neoconservative fantasy — that democracy imposed at gunpoint in Iraq would spread peace and freedom, like the flowers of spring, throughout the Middle East.

If a Democratic president had pursued exactly the same policies, and achieved exactly the same tragic results as George W. Bush, that president would have been the target of a ferocious drive for impeachment by the G.O.P."
Also gets in a pretty good shot at the ineffectual Condi, the it-girl for '08 in some Republican minds, while he's at it:
Saddled with one failure after another, the administration seems paralyzed, completely unable to shape the big issues facing the U.S. and the world today. Condoleezza Rice is in charge of the diplomatic effort regarding Lebanon. She’s been about as effective at that as the president was in his response to Katrina.

But Dr. Rice is still quick with the scary imagery. Her comment, “I have no doubt there are those who wish to strangle a democratic and sovereign Lebanon in its crib,” recalls her famous, “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”

It might help if she spent less time giving us provocative metaphors and more time on the very difficult nuts and bolts of trying to maintain or bring about peace.

When you're running for Senate...

It kinda helps if your spouse is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist: "Karl Rove's Playbook Goes Up in Smoke." Appears Sherrod Brown's got a secret weapon:
Mike DeWine failed in his shameful attempt to misrepresent my husband's record and prey on Americans' fears. But that doesn't mean he won't try again. His poll numbers are lagging, and he has a long record of betraying the working families he was supposed to serve. Surely, there's a lot more ugly on the way from DeWine and the ad firm he refused to fire.

No one knows that better than Sherrod. He's been in Ohio politics for more than 30 years, and he has a long memory. He remembers another Ohio Senate race, in 1992, when DeWine attacked Sen. John Glenn, a decorated war hero and astronaut, as being soft on communism. That year, the Columbus Dispatch offered up this quote from the DeWine campaign: "If Glenn had his way the Berlin Wall still would be standing and former Soviet republics still would be enslaved."

Sherrod remembers that. He remembers who won that race, too, and it wasn't Mike DeWine.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Canadian peacekeeper killed

Here:
Major Hess-von Kruedener was a member of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry – the same regiment that makes up the bulk of the force fighting in Afghanistan. The others killed were from China, Finland and Austria.

He has served with the UN in Lebanon since October, 2005. His wife Cynthia Hess-von Kruedener told the Kingston Whig-Standard that she hadn't heard from her husband since early Tuesday morning.
Kofi Anan Places Blame for Dead UN Observers

Good for him

Lance Bass comes out.

William F. Buckley unleashed

Buckley: Bush Not A True Conservative, CBS News Exclusive: Buckley Criticizes President For Interventionist Policies. Oh that liberal news outlet is at it again, putting words in the mouth of the "father of modern conservativism":
In particular, Buckley views the three-and-a-half-year Iraq War as a failure.

"If you had a European prime minister who experienced what we've experienced it would be expected that he would retire or resign," Buckley says.

Asked if the Bush administration has been distracted by Iraq, Buckley says "I think it has been engulfed by Iraq, by which I mean no other subject interests anybody other than Iraq... The continued tumult in Iraq has overwhelmed what perspectives one might otherwise have entertained with respect to, well, other parts of the Middle East with respect to Iran in particular."
...
"I think Mr. Bush faces a singular problem best defined, I think, as the absence of effective conservative ideology — with the result that he ended up being very extravagant in domestic spending, extremely tolerant of excesses by Congress," Buckley says. "And in respect of foreign policy, incapable of bringing together such forces as apparently were necessary to conclude the Iraq challenge."

Asked what President Bush's foreign policy legacy will be to his successor, Buckley says "There will be no legacy for Mr. Bush. I don't believe his successor would re-enunciate the words he used in his second inaugural address because they were too ambitious. So therefore I think his legacy is indecipherable"
The godfather is clearly off the bandwagon.

The Immutable President

Maureen Dowd today looks at "The Immutable President" as he sits, boxed in his corner by the Iraq war:
Mr. Bush also sent Condi Rice to lay out a plan to the Arabs and Europeans about the destruction and refugee flight in Lebanon, but the plan turns out to be a plan to do nothing until Israel has more time to kick the Hezb out of Hezbollah.

W. says he supports more diplomacy, but it’s the diplomacy of sanctimony. He now grudgingly notes that “the violence in Baghdad is still terrible,” but doesn’t seem to grasp the tragic enormity of an occupation that is sliding into civil war and constricting his leverage to deal with all the other crises crackling around the world. The U.N. reported last week that in May and June no less than 5,818 Iraqi civilians were killed.
...
The more things get complicated, the more W. feels vindicated in his own simplified vision. The more people try to tell him that it’s not easy, that this is a region of shifting alliances and interests, the less he seems inclined to develop an adroit policy to win people over to our side instead of trying to annihilate them.

Bill Clinton, the Mutable Man par excellence, evolved four times a day; he had a tactical and even recreational attitude toward personal change. But W. prides himself on his changelessness and regards his immutability as the surest sign of his virtue. Facing a map on fire, he sees any inkling of change as the slippery slope to failure.

That’s what’s so frustrating about watching him deal — or not deal — with Iraq and Lebanon. There’s almost nothing to watch.

It’s not even like watching paint dry, since that, too, is a passage from one state to another. It’s like watching dry paint.

Columnists today

Tom Friedman & David Ignatius today with prescriptions for the Israeli-Hezbollah clash...from Friedman's column:
One wonders what planet Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice landed from, thinking she can build an international force to take charge in south Lebanon without going to Damascus and trying to bring the Syrians on board.
...
We need to get real on Lebanon. Hezbollah made a reckless mistake in provoking Israel. Shame on Hezbollah for bringing this disaster upon Lebanon by embedding its “heroic” forces amid civilians. I understand Israel’s vital need to degrade Hezbollah’s rocket network. But Hezbollah’s militia, which represents 40 percent of Lebanon, the Shiites, can’t be wiped out at a price that Israel, or America’s Arab allies, can sustain — if at all.

You can’t go into an office in the Arab world today without finding an Arab TV station featuring the daily carnage in Lebanon. It’s now the Muzak of the Arab world, and it is toxic for us and our Arab friends.

Despite Hezbollah’s bravado, Israel has hurt it and its supporters badly, in a way they will never forget. Point made. It is now time to wind down this war and pull together a deal — a cease-fire, a prisoner exchange, a resumption of the peace effort and an international force to help the Lebanese Army secure the border with Israel — before things spin out of control. Whoever goes for a knockout blow will knock themselves out instead.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Impolitical was on vacation



A Caribbean beach...just got back last night. This will explain the reduced quantity and quality from the past two weeks.

Now catching up with life and the blog.

Hope you are all able to get a break as I was...:)!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Taking down Condi's mythology

The myth of the competent and vaunted Condi is taken on today by Maureen Dowd, "Condi’s Flying Dutchman." Maybe people will scrutinize her record a little more given the record. I've never quite understood the Condi fan club and the '08 cheerleaders, egging her on to run for President. I think that dream is dying of late.
The more W. and his tough, by-any-means-necessary superbabe have tried to tame the Middle East, the more inflamed the Middle East has become. Now the secretary of state is leaving, reluctantly and belatedly, to do some shuttle diplomacy that entails little diplomacy and no shuttling. It’s more like air-guitar diplomacy.

Condi doesn’t want to talk to Hezbollah or its sponsors, Syria and Iran — “Syria knows what it needs to do,’’ she says with asperity — and she doesn’t want a cease-fire. She wants “a sustainable cease-fire,’’ which means she wants to give the Israelis more time to decimate Hezbollah bunkers with the precision-guided bombs that the Bush administration is racing to deliver.

“I could have gotten on a plane and rushed over and started shuttling, and it wouldn’t have been clear what I was shuttling to do,” she said.

Keep more civilians from being killed? Or at least keep America from being even more despised in the Middle East and around the globe?
W's Iraq gambit (and Condi's) has put them in quite the pickle and Condi's now desperately trying to put lipstick on a pig...think you'd ever hear James Baker or for that matter, Madeleine Albright sputtering about the merits of diplomatic efforts as a tinderbox ignites? No, I don't think so.
Bush Gropes Merkel to Ludacris

A soundtrack for the grope that rocked the G8 summit...hilarious.
Pink on Letterman

Great voice, great performance from last night.

Letterman asked a strange question at the end, must be an inside joke.

A story out of Beirut

Veteran Reporter for British Paper, Based in Beirut, Recounts Chilling Episode.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Racial reconciliation? Talk to Karl Rove

"In Speech to N.A.A.C.P., Bush Offers Reconciliation":
"Another civil rights leader, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, said he spoke to Mr. Bush backstage after the speech and urged him to begin 'a meaningful dialogue’’ with a broader range of black organizations.

“He said, ‘Well, talk with Karl Rove,’ ’’ Mr. Jackson said, referring to Mr. Bush’s chief political adviser."
Yeah, since I have no idea how to actually make that happen, talk to my political strategist on creating a "meaningful dialogue." Because I'm not capable of providing a helpful response or commitment to say, we can do x, y and z. Just "talk to Karl," because we all know Karl Rove is known for his expertise in race relations...

Jr. MacKay sounds off

Here.

Seems Peter "I'm a big fan" MacKay had time, what with the massive evacuation he's overseeing, to pen a scrappy little letter to his pal, Ed Greenspon, the Globe's editor.

How dare the Globe use an unnamed source in their story yesterday suggesting the PMO was controlling evacuation efforts and simultaneously screwing it up! The nerve! And shouldn't the Globe have had the common decency to name their confidential source to the PMO and allowed them to set the record straight, for heaven's sake.

Junior goes on to warn the Globe's Editor in Chief that he should not be allowing such "uninformed and false sniping from the shadows of anonymity" given what's going on in the Middle East. Do I hear echoes of Ari Fleischer here? Remember Ari's classic warning, "People should watch what they say." Are you really venturing into that territory Junior? Are you really lecturing the Globe about when it's appropriate to cite unnamed sources? This is really a remarkable little development in the nascent war the Conservatives have launched against the media.

Junior MacKay has got a lot of gumption, I'll give him that. But he and his confreres should back off from this anti-democratic suppression of free speech tendency thing they've got going on in a big way. I think I'd prefer the Editor in Chief of the Globe and Mail to be making decisions about confidential sources and what they have to say, rather than checking with the PMO for approval on a story line.

Pretty incredible.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Matthews, Buchanan Slam Neocons for Mideast Warmongering

Well worth a few minutes to watch. Thankfully there are a few voices that aren't beating a drum for war on American cable networks...

Lamont 51, Lieberman 47

Wow is right.

Looks like Joementum is dead in the water. And if indeed this is the way it turns out, he should take his licking and pack it in, he should not put the seat in peril. I actually think this is his plan, he's just posturing right now about this running as an "independent" business. Somehow I think he sees it as a way to express his commitment to his job/the people he represents, however misguided.

From the heights of potential Veepdom to the lows of a primary battle...he won't be able to say it wasn't a terrific ride.

October is Ambrose time

Conservatives to announce environmental plan in October, apparently. Maybe that will be sufficient to force her to testify in front of the House Environmental Committee and stave off calls for her resignation...

Shock: Rove fabricates stem cell science

"Defending Bush’s Veto, Rove Grossly Distorts Stem Cell Science."

And his Faux acolyte, Fred Barnes repeated the same thing last night on air.

It's their game, people, and they get away with it...why didn't the Denver Post get the names of the "recent studies" cited by ? No one should be taking this guy's word on anything. He "spins" stem cell science, of all things, taking advantage of most peoples' lack of detailed knowledge about the topic and deflects from Bush's controversial position. Now people wonder if hey, maybe Bush isn't so extreme on the issue, maybe the adult stem cells are sufficient.

Revolting, but all in a day's work for Rove.

Chickens coming home to roost for Steve

Enlightening article in the Globe today for those following the incredible challenge posed by the need to evacuate Canadians and other foreigners from Lebanon, here: "PMO wanted crisis kept under wraps, sources say." Apparently the Harper government's efforts here are being hampered by their continued preoccupation with information control and the need to centralize all decisions through the PMO. A little paranoid, these people. Their control freak tendencies are coming home to roost. And they may be learning some painful lessons in the process.

To wit:
In fact, Foreign Affairs staff realized last week that there was an emergency situation involving tens of thousands of Canadians brewing in Lebanon.

But federal sources say there was an edict handed down by Sandra Buckler, the Prime Minister's communications director, dictating that the situation was to be kept under wraps.
Edicts being issued by a PMO communications staffer? Excuse my language, but who the f*$# is Sandra Buckler? I think there's more to come in the way of blogging on her, that's for sure. Apparently she attended the Karl Rove school of political optics control. Very concerning, Ms. Buckler. Canadians don't take too kindly to this kind of thing. Recall your recent wrong-headed policy on media coverage of soldier repatriations from Afghanistan? Quite the disaster, wasn't it? Canadians don't like being shut out or managed in this way.

More:
In Cyprus, Canadian officials said they felt betrayed by Ottawa. Canadian diplomats say the reason Wednesday's evacuation was so catastrophically slow is because decisions had to be routed through Ottawa — and nobody was even at work in Ottawa until midafternoon in Lebanon. “If you want to know where that boat is going, don't ask us — it's Ottawa driving the boat,” one official said, using a line repeated by others throughout the day.
And when the evacuation route was moved officially from Cyprus to Turkey, Harper decides to re-direct his plane to Cyprus to pick up Canadians that essentially would have to be "stage-managed" onto the scene, somehow, in order to make it there to fly out on a plane with Steve and his official photographer. All 120 of them, of the thousands needing evacuation. While Harper may have had good intentions, this was a bad decision that appears to have confused and distracted the effort.

Amateur hour on the international stage continues.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Same old song, different country

Think Progress: Kristol Suggests People of Iran Would Embrace U.S. Attack, Triggering Regime Change.

Sound familiar?

John Dean's new book

A Q & A with John Dean on his new book, Conservatives Without Conscience:
It is long past time to start using the "A" word - authoritarianism - when talking about contemporary American conservatism. I started working on CWC in 1994, looking for explanations of what had happened to conservatism. Why were these people so nasty, mean-spirited, self-righteous and aggressive? Why were conservative leaders so manipulative? Why were the followers so compliant and unquestioning? After 9/11 I intensified my researching but I was still looking for answers in a lot of wrong places before I discovered some fifty years of social science research into authoritarianism. This information was an epiphany for me. It explained contemporary conservatism, not in the words of social scientists, rather in the words of authoritarian conservatives themselves. For these studies are based on answers to literally hundreds of thousands of questions over an extended period.

Giuliani, the Matthews candidate

Interesting poll on latest Presidential preferences:
"On the Republican side, Rudy Giuliani and Sen. John McCain 'typically vie for the lead in Republican preference polls, but a greater percentage of Republicans say they would find Giuliani acceptable than say this about McCain (73% to 55%).' In fact, 4 in 10 Republicans 'say they would not find McCain to be an acceptable GOP presidential nominee.'"
Interestingly, saw Chris Matthews pick as the candidate he thought most likely to be the next President, on Leno last night (was this a repeat? don't know, but still). Said he wanted a "guy" who's there, on the ground, not a detached Bush-like "guy" who takes a few days to get it right ( in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 and Katrina)...that is, a "guy" on the ground as Giuliani was on 9/11.

I wouldn't count out the McCain people, however, they're likely to engage in a death match with Giuliani. wants this, bad.

I think there may be something to this...given the instability the world over, people may still be looking for a leader in 2008 who is perceived to be someone who will provide security...I don't yet see who on the Democratic side might be this equivalent person. Not to say that I'm in any way favouring Giuliani or am at all as quick as Matthews is to anoint this strange man. Giuliani has notable weaknesses as a candidate, consider his serious case of foot-in-mouth disease and tendency to overstate his abilities, qualifications. Oh, and he married his cousin a while back (annulled, I believe). As for the 9/11 halo, well, Bush used to have that aura and that has all but disappeared since...events change so quickly, no one's a shoe-in. So anyone jumping on the Giuliani bandwagon, best of luck. He's not Secretariat.

The G8 Boor

As Impolitical did yesterday, Maureen Dowd takes note too of Bush's strange behaviour at the G8 summit,"Animal House Summit":
The open-microphone incident at the G-8 lunch in St. Petersburg on Monday illustrated once more that W. never made any effort to adapt. The president has enshrined his immaturity and insularity, turning every environment he inhabits — no matter how decorous or serious — into a comfortable frat house.

No matter what the trappings or the ceremonies require of the leader of the free world, he brings the same DKE bearing and cadences, the same insouciance and smart-alecky attitude, the same simplistic approach — swearing, swaggering, talking to Tony Blair with his mouth full of buttered roll, and giving a startled Angela Merkel an impromptu shoulder rub. He can make even a global summit meeting seem like a kegger.
...
He treated Tony “As It Were” Blair like the servant in “The Remains of the Day,’’ blowing off his offer to help with the Israel-Lebanon crisis, and changing the subject from substance to fluff at one point, noting about his 60th-birthday Burberry gift: “Thanks for the sweater. Awfully thoughtful of you.’’ Then he razzed the British prime minister, who was hovering and wheedling like an abused wife: “I know you picked it out yourself.”
Well worth a read today. Hones right in on Bush's incredibly boorish behaviour throughout and perceptively picks up on his casual approach to his job...focussed on getting home, complaining about lengthy end of conference speeches...suggesting that it may indeed be the case that W doesn't really enjoy the substance of his job. It's hard work, you see...and this guy's seen little of it through the course of his life. Weeks like this tell the story.

Hey, one of the bad guys actually lost!

Ex-Lobbyist in Abramoff Case Loses Georgia Race:
"Ralph Reed, the former director of the Christian Coalition and a former Republican lobbyist involved in the Jack Abramoff scandal, suffered an embarrassing defeat in his effort to win the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor on Tuesday."
...
Mr. Reed’s candidacy was viewed as a test of the effects of the Washington lobbying scandal on core Republican voters.

Mr. Reed, the former leader of the Georgia Republican Party, was a close associate of Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist who pleaded guilty to charges of fraud, tax evasion and bribery and who arranged for Mr. Reed to be paid by Indian tribes that ran casinos to coordinate anti-gambling campaigns against competing casinos.
As I am known to say, that's a real shame...

Oh goody

"Pamela Anderson and Kid Rock to tie the knot."

The world needs a little good news, doesn't it? Doesn't this just make your day?

Hamdan & the Bush wiretapping

Senator Russ thinks the Administration's Defense for Illegal Wiretapping is Just Plain Gone. In the sense that the Hamdan Supreme Court decision that put the kibosh on the Guantanamo military commissions arguably applies equally to the current wiretapping the Bush administration engages in. If Hamdan held that Bush couldn't invoke the "authorization for use of military force" to justify its Guantanamo tribunals, then, Feingold points out, it similarly can't use it as a rationale for its wiretapping program. So Feingold is still on the case here. And good for him. But if Arlen gets his way, the ridiculous "compromise" legislation which could submit the wiretapping program to the FISA court for review, consolidate existing lawsuits against it and provide immunity to the Bush administration will prevail. While this illegal wiretapping program could have indeed become Hamdan II, it now may become fully sanctioned with the force of law unless there's a change of control in the congress.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Inappropriate Bush



Why is this inappropriate? Look at the way she recoils. You don't see him massaging Chirac or Blair, do you? He wouldn't do it. Maybe he'd backslap them or do the "Yo, Blair!" thing. But he presumes he can touch Merkel in this way. This is particularly irksome for a woman and invades her space. Ask a woman whether she likes having this done in the workplace and see what she says. Let alone at an international summit. Not to mention the subservient aspect to this kind of touching. And not to mention that she is likely not too happy to be seen as being subservient to the most unpopular leader in the world...think this'll help her back in Germany?

Quite the summit for , don't ya think? Guess Time had it right when they ushered in the end of cowboy diplomacy...

Lawless Bush at it again

In Testimony, Gonzales Says Bush Blocked Inquiry :
"Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Tuesday that President Bush personally blocked Justice Department lawyers from pursuing an internal probe of the warrantless eavesdropping program that monitors Americans' international calls and e-mails when terrorism is suspected."
Note that this was an internal probe he blocked. Something that would tell the administration whether its Justice department was operating properly and within the bounds of the law. Even that little ounce of accountability within the Justice Department is too much to ask.

doesn't care about the law. He's lawless...and the American people, to date, have yet to express that they care. It's too bad, since an opposition Congress would put the fear of God into these people.

Monday, July 17, 2006

A subject long overdue for some attention

Journalists: It's time for some articles on the pro-Bush blogosphere:
"The extremist and increasingly deranged rhetoric and tactics found in the right-wing blogosphere -- not only among obscure bloggers but promoted and disseminated by its most-read and influential bloggers -- is, indeed, 'a very common disease.' When it becomes commonplace to hurl accusations of treason against domestic political opponents, or when calls for imprisonment and/or hanging of journalists and political leaders become the daily fare -- all of which is true for the pro-Bush blogosphere -- those are serious developments. And they merit discussion and examination by the media.

Instead of yet another story on whether Kos diarists are arguing with each other more than before or whether liberal bloggers curse too much, let us read about the extremist rhetoric, vicious character smears, and deliberate incitement to violence that has become the staple of the largest pro-Bush blogs --Malkin, Powerline, Instapundit and LGF -- along with the bloggers whom they tirelessly promote. Hundreds of thousands of people each day, including pundits and television news producers, are reading this material. The journalistic value in examining it and reporting on it ought to be self-evident."

Dark times

"The Definition of Tyranny":
"A lot of Americans are like spoiled rich kids who take their wealth for granted. Too many of us have forgotten — or never learned — the real value of the great American ideals. Too many are standing silently by as Mr. Bush and his cronies engage in the kind of tyrannical and uncivilized behavior that has brought so much misery — and ultimately ruin — to previous societies."

They never get called on this stuff

"March of Folly," Krugman today:
"Since those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it — and since the cast of characters making pronouncements on the crisis in the Middle East is very much the same as it was three or four years ago — it seems like a good idea to travel down memory lane. Here’s what they said and when they said it:

“The greatest thing to come out of [invading Iraq] for the world economy ... would be $20 a barrel for oil.” Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corporation (which owns Fox News), February 2003

“Oil Touches Record $78 on Mideast Conflict.” Headline on www.foxnews.com, July 14, 2006"
...
“My fellow citizens, not only can we win the war in Iraq, we are winning the war in Iraq.” President Bush, Dec. 18, 2005

“I think I would answer that by telling you I don’t think we’re losing.” Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, when asked whether we’re winning in Iraq, July 14, 2006
...

“Regime change in Iraq would bring about a number of benefits for the region. ...Extremists in the region would have to rethink their strategy of jihad. Moderates throughout the region would take heart, and our ability to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process would be enhanced.” Vice President Dick Cheney, Aug. 26, 2002

“Bush — The world is coming unglued before his eyes. His naïve dreams are a Wilsonian disaster.” (emphasis added) Newsweek Conventional Wisdom Watch, July 24, 2006 edition
When are these guys going to be held accountable? Hello?

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Duelling Secretaries of State

ABC News: Albright Blasts Bush Mideast Response, Cites Iraq 'Disaster':
"Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright criticized the Bush administration for not getting more involved in the crisis in the Middle East and said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice should leave the G8 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, and begin Mideast shuttle diplomacy.

'I'm very worried that we're at a crossroads and we're not going to take the right turn here,' Albright told 'This Week with George Stephanopoulos.' 'I still do think that we actually need to be more involved. And I wish that the secretary had announced that she was leaving.'"
Methinks Condi doesn't like this kind of talk.
Rice said that the United States' Middle Eastern policy now focuses on supporting democratic change in the region.

"For the last 60 years, American administrations of both stripes -- Democrat, Republican -- traded what they thought was security and stability and turned a blind eye to the absence of democratic forces, to the absence of pluralism in the region. And out of that set of policies we got a situation that produced or helped produce al Qaeda and other extremist elements," she said. "That policy has changed."

Critics have said U.S. operations in Iraq have shaken Middle East stability even though President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said that democracy in Iraq would reverberate throughout the region. Rice said the turmoil in Lebanon and other regions has been stirring for years.

"Iraq has diverted everybody's attention from really looking at a whole host of other issues," Albright said. "I think that it's very hard to say that [the Iraq war] has not made it worse. … It is absolutely clear that it has made it worse."
Yeah, Condi's a little testy, doesn't like it being laid at her feet that the Middle East hornets' nest is exploding, escalating. Do you like the new version or the status quo that's prevailed over the last 60 years that she mocks? That's a tough one. But her reticence to step up and portraying her role as a rather passive one is concerning:
Rice said President Bush is "deeply engaged" in the Middle East crisis, and did not rule out her own personal intervention.

"I'm certainly willing to play whatever role I'm needed to play," she said. "We have to go at the root cause. It's fine to have a cessation of violence. We want to have a cessation of violence. We're worried about the escalating casualties on all sides, but unless we go to the fundamentals here, we're going to continue to have these spikes of violence in the Middle East as we have had for the past 30 years."
God help us, Bush is "deeply engaged."

And this idea that the Bushites have that they're right and administrations for the past 60 years have been just screwing it up, well, that's hubris for you. They've withdrawn, created a vacuum with their Iraq preoccupation and the results of this posture are on full display at the moment.

Overstatement of the day?

Newt Gingrich, ever the flame thrower:
"This is World War III."

-- Newt Gingrich, quoted by the Seattle Times, on the escalating conflict in the Middle East. Gingrich said President Bush "should call a joint session of Congress the first week of September and talk about global military conflicts in much starker terms than have been heard from the president."
No one's doubting the severity of the situation, but this kind of rhetoric doesn't help. This is the kind of talk you hear the Faux talking heads pushing. Less ratcheting up of emotions and more strategy, diplomacy and leadership please.

I will agree, however, that Gingrich's sentiments on Bush are right on. Someone needs to light a fire under their asses and if this is it, maybe it's a plus after all.

Write your own caption

(AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

What do you think Condi's thinking at this moment?

"Please stop talking, George, I have enough damage control to do for one day..."

"How did I get here? Letting the days go by, water flowing under ground..." (Talking Heads reference for those too young, or old, for that matter)

"What the f*%# is he saying now...? Can't he remember his freaking talking points at a time like this! The Middle East is imploding!"

"Use the word "restraint" George, the word "restraint!"

"I am sooooo embarrassed."

Take your pick, it's quite the job she's got ahead of her for the next few years. And I don't feel sorry for her in the least.

Oh, and just wondering, think we'll hear any more Condi in '08 talk in the near future?

Ugh

GTA braces for record high heat.

Where's the good news these days?

That's a shame

Santorum struggles for support at home:
"Phyllis Sharkady has voted twice for the local boy who made good, Republican Sen. Rick Santorum (news, bio, voting record).

Not this year.

'I'm willing to go for change — big time,' said Sharkady, 59, a Hewlett-Packard retiree from Shaler Township, Pa., who admits she knows little about Santorum's Democratic challenger. 'You need somebody without the so-called baggage.'"
...
Sharkady said she's fed up with Santorum for not admitting where he lives.

"Just come out and say I live in Virginia ... or wherever," Sharkady said. "He needs to be more upfront."

Rich devastating today on Bush foreign policy failure

And on P.R. as the only "core belief" of this White House, "From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You ‘Axis of Evil'":
"The Bush doctrine was a doctrine in name only, a sales strategy contrived to dress up the single mission of regime change in Iraq with philosophical grandiosity worthy of F.D.R. There was never any serious intention of militarily pre-empting either Iran or North Korea, whose nuclear ambitions were as naked then as they are now, or of striking the countries that unlike Iraq were major enablers of Islamic terrorism. Axis of Evil was merely a clever brand name from the same sloganeering folks who gave us “compassionate conservatism” and “a uniter, not a divider” — so clever that the wife of a presidential speechwriter, David Frum, sent e-mails around Washington boasting that her husband was the “Axis of Evil” author. (Actually, only “axis” was his.)

Since then, the administration has fiddled in Iraq while Islamic radicalism has burned brighter and the rest of the Axis of Evil, not to mention Afghanistan and the Middle East, have grown into just the gathering threat that Saddam was not. And there’s still no policy. As Ivo Daalder of the Brookings Institution writes on his foreign-affairs blog, Mr. Bush isn’t pursuing diplomacy in his post-cowboy phase so much as “a foreign policy of empty gestures” consisting of “strong words here; a soothing telephone call and hasty meetings there.” The ambition is not to control events but “to kick the proverbial can down the road — far enough so the next president can deal with it.” There is no plan for victory in Iraq, only a wish and a prayer that the apocalypse won’t arrive before Mr. Bush retires to his ranch."
...
“Before long, Congress will be leaving on its summer vacation,” Bob Schieffer of CBS News said two weeks ago. “My question is, how will we know they are gone?” By the calculation of USA Today, the current Congress is on track to spend fewer days in session than the “do-nothing Congress” Harry Truman gave hell to in 1948. No wonder its approval rating, for Republicans and Democrats together, is even lower than the president’s. It’s not only cowboy diplomacy that’s dead at this point in the Bush era, but also functioning democracy as we used to know it. (emphasis added)

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Valerie Plame Press Conference - video

See it for yourself. How the weasels get out of this one will be a feat.

Brilliant

Rae urges leaderless Liberals to risk election, over the softwood lumber deal, that is:
Rae said Harper is assuming the Liberals will support the deal, or at least absent themselves from a vote that could bring down the government, rather than risk an election before a new leader is chosen on Dec. 3.

But he said the Liberals must not fall into Harper’s trap.

“The Liberal party cannot under any circumstances allow our own internal issues to get in the way of focusing on the importance of this question in the House of Commons,” said Rae, who once served as legal counsel to the Free Trade Lumber Council.

“This is a terrible deal. It should not pass. It should not be allowed to pass. If the prime minister is saying there will be an election over this deal, I would like nothing better than an election on the issue of Stephen Harper’s relationship — or perhaps I should say Steve Harper’s relationship — to George Bush,” Rae said, referring to Bush’s new nickname for Harper.

Rae said the Liberal party could move up the date of its leadership convention, among other options, if it needed to install a leader quickly to fight an election. (emphasis added)

The power of words

"Letter With White Powder Found in 'NYT' Mailroom, But It's a Hoax."

Bush and Cheney ratchet up emotions and slag the New York Times for publishing newsworthy and important stories and this is the kind of out of control thing that ends up happening.

Thank goodness the grownups are in charge.

When a Republican's in trouble...

What do they do?

Cry 9/11.

Lovely Ohio politics update here, and Kenneth Blackwell's surprisingly not involved:
"In Ohio, Republican Sen. Mike DeWine (news, bio, voting record) had $6.6 million compared to Democratic rival Rep. Sherrod Brown (news, bio, voting record), who had $3.7 million. Brown raised $1.6 million in the three-month period, while DeWine took in $2.1 million.

DeWine launched his first negative ads of the campaign Friday, criticizing his rival's votes on intelligence spending in the 1990s and opposition to the expansion of government surveillance powers. The statewide ad buy was $470,000.

To emphasize DeWine's claim that Brown is 'weakening America's security,' the ad uses images of the burning World Trade Center towers and head shots of the Sept. 11 hijackers.

Brown's campaign complained that the ad was insensitive in its imagery and selective in its claims, ignoring Brown's support for $2.4 trillion in national security funding since 1993." (emphasis added)
Isn't that nice? Yet Republicans complain about Democrats' commercials and they pull them...hope Brown hits back hard.

I've noticed this too

Walter Pincus on "Fighting back against the PR presidency":
"A new element of courage in journalism would be for editors and reporters to decide not to cover the President's statements when he -- or any public figure -- repeats essentially what he or she has said before. The Bush team also has brought forward another totally PR gimmick: The President stands before a background that highlights the key words of his daily message. This tactic serves only to reinforce that what's going on is public relations -- not governing. Journalistic courage should include the refusal to publish in a newspaper or carry on a TV or radio news show any statements made by the President or any other government official that are designed solely as a public relations tool, offering no new or valuable information to the public."
This column is making its way around the blogosphere, and it's something I've found to be quite offensive as well.

I'll say once more, ixnay on the ridiculously oversized propaganda-ay...Bush's massive travelling PR backdrop has become obscenely obvious and 1984-ish...

Specter's just happy to be on the playing field

georgia10 has a great summary of the politics of Specter's bill on oversight of Bush's domestic spying program: "Specter's Bill Is No "Compromise." With everything going on, this is a story that should not be falling by the wayside...

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Plame complaint

Just a few thoughts as I'm reading over the Plame lawsuit against Cheney, Libby, Rove et al....

I certainly hope no one is intent on arguing that they're too busy, or that they're too occupied with pressing national security issues in a post 9-11 world to deal with such trifles as a civil lawsuit. I think if a lawsuit over sexual harassment is deemed worthy of occupying a President's time, then an outed CIA agent's suit for damages for the loss of her career against a Vice-President and senior aides would certainly be an even more pressing suit to proceed. I'm sure that these types of arguments won't be brought forth, right?

See paragraph 20 for a statement by Patrick Fitzgerald, a reminder that Valerie Plame's status at the CIA was indeed classified information at the time her identity was outed by these incompetents. To date, I still hear it being argued by conservative spinners that her status was no big deal. Enough.

Paragraphs 30 & 31 remind us of the absurd White House Press Secretary's public assurances in October of 2003 that he checked with Rove, Libby (and one other, unnamed) and they had assured him that they were not "involved in this." Further, at the time he stated that the idea of Rove being involved was "totally ridiculous." Now some of this may have been pawned off on McClellan for perhaps over-eagerly defending his confreres, but the point is there has been no accountability for the White House putting out these lies. Other than a consistently low approval rating, of course.

So I say, best of luck with this lawsuit, hit 'em where it hurts, right in the old wallet. Couldn't happen to a nicer group of fellas.

Mini-Bush weighs in

globeandmail.com : Harper sides firmly with Israel:
"“Israel has the right to defend itself,” the prime minister told reporters aboard a Canadian Forces Airbus en route to London, where he's starting a week-long diplomatic mission.

“I think Israel's response under the circumstances has been measured.”"
I think we could have actually titled this post, this week's episode of "RNC North."

Firmly onside with Bush, no nuance, balance or call for restraint...the Middle East is imploding, let's hope there is some kind of leadership that emanates from this week's G8 on this crisis.

Good for them

Maybe Rove et al. will pay for their deeds, after all:
"Valerie Plame, the undercover CIA operative whose identity was revealed to reporters, has filed suit against Vice President Dick Cheney, former top presidential policy adviser Karl Rove, and Cheney's ex-chief of staff I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby on Thursday, RAW STORY has learned.

Plame is reportedly accusing the men of conspiring against her, targeting her career and reputation."

Hapless

"Bush the Bystander," Froomkin's column today, draws welcome attention to the glaring lack of leadership from the U.S. President at a time when the Middle East appears to be falling apart.

Heartening

"Democrats Link Fortunes to Rise in Minimum Wage."

Looks like it could be a winning strategy. The Dems have their own version of the Rethugs' red meat for their base. It's called minimum wage state ballots, and they're coming to a competitive state near you...

So sad


Political Wire: In Ohio, Poll Shows Schmidt in Close Race.

Nice try

Another article about the uncertainty a lot of voters apparently have about Hillary Clinton: "Beyond the Poll Numbers, Voter Doubts About Clinton." You know, this really can't hurt. Expectations are being lowered. If so many people doubt her and her negatives are so high (a story about candidate negative ratings, a month ago, which Hillary apparently won), well what else could be worse? Oh yes, the "problem" of her marriage, covered in a front-pager in the NYTimes, also about a month ago. Seems like a lot of negatives are getting put out there for people to stew over. Then down the road, clever Clintonites will all be saying, "That's old news, people have been saying those things since the summer of 2006..."

Someone's not too impressed with Novakula's explanation

Eric Alterman: Robert Novak, Traitor to His Country; Traitor to His Profession.

Keith, the "Star"

I absolutely agree with this "designation," if you will. Nice little profile of the rise of Olbermann and Countdown in the Times from the other day, "MSNBC’s Star Carves Anti-Fox Niche" and a killer quote to boot:
"“The country gave this president every imaginable benefit of the doubt,” he said, about the period following the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. “He abused it. You know what Lincoln said: You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of time. But it looks like you can’t fool all of the viewers all of the time, endlessly.”"
Looks like he may have finally found his comfort zone...

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Malveaux knows more than Bush about North Korean buildup?

Maybe...he seems a little puzzled and unsure of the facts on this topic. Wouldn't you expect the President of the United States to be a little better versed and confident on such issues? Just wondering...
Rahm Emanuel gets to the point

That's a shame

Putin Rips Cheney With Hunting Quip.
John Dean on Olbermann

As usual, Keith Olbermann is one of the few who is countering the conservative onslaught of propaganda...enjoy.

Delusional

Justice Department Lawyer To Congress: ‘The President Is Always Right.’

Rove confirmed Plame was a CIA agent

To Novakula that is. This we really knew a long time ago. But not straight from the horse's mouth, if you will. There have been reports earlier (undoubtedly from Murray Waas, I'm too lazy to call them up right now, but bet on it) which drew attention to the "I heard that too" versus "Oh, you knew that" variations on confirmation Rove apparently gave Novak on Plame's identity.

So let's all remind ourselves, once again, that it's been confirmed that Rove, senior aide to the President, confirmed the identity of a CIA agent to a journalist and yet there have been no consequences. It was careless, reckless or intentional outing of a CIA agent. And yet no indictment. No resignation. Just party on, Karl, with reckless abandon, destroying political civility as we know it. You have the President's blessing at that. This President, who so speciously picks and chooses which security leaks are important and which aren't...just remarkable. Down is up. Black is white. Night is day...

Promotions in the bizarro administration

William Haynes, W's nominee for the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals gets a grilling today from Maureen Dowd, "He Let the Dogs Out!" for his role in encouraging the use of dogs during interrogations by the U.S. military since late 2002. Apparently, this nominee may actually end up with a fight on his hands, possibly even a filibuster. I am shocked, shocked, that the Dems may take the leap and stand up to this most unwarranted reward. Backbone makes an appearance.

Excerpts:
As three female protesters in Abu Ghraib-style orange jumpsuits and black headscarves stood vigil in the back of the Senate Judiciary hearing room, like the supernatural chorus in “Macbeth,” William Haynes was grilled about his worthiness to ascend to the federal bench when his main claim to the promotion is complicity in letting Dick Cheney dance a jig on the Geneva Conventions.

“The State Department characterizes the use of dogs as an interrogation aid as torture, cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment,’’ Senator Dick Durbin, a Democrat, said to the Pentagon general counsel. “We publicly condemned the countries of Libya and Burma for using dogs in interrogation. In November of 2002, you recommended that Secretary Rumsfeld approve the use of dogs to intimidate detainees at Guantánamo.

“The Department of Defense’s own investigation concluded that this technique migrated from Guantánamo to Iraq and Abu Ghraib. At least two members of the armed forces have now been convicted under the Uniform Code of Military Justice for using dogs to frighten detainees. It is striking that as these soldiers were prosecuted, you were being promoted. What message are we sending our troops? And what message are we sending the world, in light of your role in promulgating abusive interrogation techniques, like the use of dogs, stress positions and forced nudity. What message are we sending if we promote you to the second highest court in the land?”

The senator added that the message would be terribly unfair: “Well, we’re going to dispatch a few privates, a few corporals, a sergeant, maybe it will get to a lieutenant, but it’ll never get upstairs. ... Apparently, upstairs there’s a promotion party. Downstairs people are being sent to prison.’’

Mr. Haynes, 48, lamely resorted to the argument that Abu Ghraib was simply a few bad apples, “the work of the night shift, without any authority whatsoever.”

Sad

Soldier's father denies son was ill-trained, unhappy:
"Cpl. Boneca was the 17th Canadian soldier to die in the country. One Canadian diplomat has also been killed.

Since Cpl. Boneca's death, questions have arisen about the fallen soldier's feelings about Canada's mission in Afghanistan.

The father of the soldier's girlfriend Megan has suggested that Cpl. Boneca was terrified of his mission and ill-equipped for its demands.

'They weren't prepared for what they ended up with over there, that's the big thing,' Larry DeCorte said in an interview in Tuesday's edition of The Globe and Mail.

Cpl. Boneca was on his second tour in Afghanistan when he was killed. However, Mr. DeCorte said the latest mission was different, with the young soldier being sent to Kandahar to rout the Taliban.

'When they went over there, they didn't think they were going to have that kind of combat,' Mr. DeCorte said.

'They thought it was going to be the same kind of things, going on patrols and stuff like that, not hand-to-hand combat like he ended up in. Also, they aren't mentally prepared for it. He wanted out in the worst way.'"

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

For once I agree with John McCain

Political Wire's Quote of the Day, from yesterday, that is:
I think the biggest mistake we could make is to underestimate Hillary Clinton. She's smart and she's tough. She's very disciplined in all ways -- unlike her husband -- and I think she's formidable. Plus, she already has $20 million in the bank. If we don't get our act together..."

-- Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), quoted in an Esquire magazine profile excerpted by Hotline On Call, on the 2008 presidential election.

Rove running White House policy

Contrary to the much publicized demotion from his policy position a few months back, he seems to be fully back in the saddle. Read this and tell me he doesn't have a lead role in setting White House policy.

That's a shame

Rove given a hard time in Aspen. Didn't know what to say when asked about the Plame outing and whether he regretted it. "Hissed" at by the audience on a number of occasions, to which he mocked the Aspen attendees of having flown in on their private jets. Nice.

The Plame question was put to him by Walter Isaacson, as suggested by Bill Clinton the previous night. Clinton also prompted Isaacson to ask two further questions, on the tarring of Max Cleland in 2002 as unpatriotic and on the repeal of the estate tax while America is at war and the funds could be used for port security, for example. Good questions, almost stumped the dark master...

Friday, July 07, 2006

Bush suggests North Korean nukes could hit Canada

Froomkin picks up on part of the /mini-Bush press conference that was indeed strange. Bush seeming to threaten Canada with the prospect of a nuke from North Korea that could fly our way by accident. As if this will galvanize Canadian support for participation in a missile-shield system. Guess again.

In any event, Froomkin corrects Bush's dangerous meandering musings:
"And although news reports didn't convey it, there were a few moments when Bush went bizarrely off script.

At one point, the president reassured everyone about 'how safe Canada is' -- not typically a concern.

And then, this questionable and unsupported bit of speculation about North Korean missiles: 'We don't know, for a fact, where it was headed. But, for example, one thing that Stephen and I talked about is he could be seemingly firing a missile at the United States, say, at -- I don't know, this is all speculation -- but could be headed toward the Northwest of our country, and it wouldn't take much for it to get off course, and end somewhere where he may not have intended.'

The outer range of North Korea's longest-range missile is generally said to be 3,700 miles, barely enough to reach Alaska, and not enough to reach either the continental United States -- or Canada."

Interesting item

On AMERICAblog today. It's regarding the New Hampshire phone jamming which the Rethugs conducted on Election Day 2002 to suppress voter turnout. Apparently a defendant in that case will argue "he may have been persuaded not just that the phone jamming was legal, but that he would be carrying out the scheme on behalf of the United States government." Who did the "persuading" of this defendant to conduct this scheme? Sounds like the RNC or White House or both...

The knives are out

McCain's Out-of-Control Anger: Does He Have the Temperament to Be President?

Conservative website asking questions on the temperament. Well this seems a little early, don't ya think? Still, makes for an entertaining article.

And by the way, where the f*%# were you when W was being vetted? You thought he was "fit" to be President, yet McCain is not.

Let's just say your judgment is a little suspect...

Powerful column by Krugman today

"The Treason Card" a must read:
Over the last few months a series of revelations have confirmed what should have been obvious a long time ago: the Bush administration and the movement it leads have been engaged in an authoritarian project, an effort to remove all the checks and balances that have heretofore constrained the executive branch.

Much of this project involves the assertion of unprecedented executive authority — the right to imprison people indefinitely without charges (and torture them if the administration feels like it), the right to wiretap American citizens without court authorization, the right to declare, when signing laws passed by Congress, that the laws don't really mean what they say.

But an almost equally important aspect of the project has been the attempt to create a political environment in which nobody dares to criticize the administration or reveal inconvenient facts about its actions. And that attempt has relied, from the beginning, on ascribing treasonous motives to those who refuse to toe the line. As far back as 2002, Rush Limbaugh, in words very close to those used by The Wall Street Journal last week, accused Tom Daschle, then the Senate majority leader, of a partisan "attempt to sabotage the war on terrorism."

Those of us who tried to call attention to this authoritarian project years ago have long marveled over the reluctance of many of our colleagues to acknowledge what was going on. For example, for a long time many people in the mainstream media applied a peculiar double standard to political speech, denouncing perfectly normal if forceful political rhetoric from the left as poisonous "Bush hatred," while chuckling indulgently over venom from the right. (That Ann Coulter, she's such a kidder.)

But now the chuckling has stopped: somehow, nobody seems to find calls to send Bill Keller to the gas chamber funny. And while the White House clearly believes that attacking The Times is a winning political move, it doesn't have to turn out that way — not if enough people realize what's at stake.
Apologies for extended excerpt...not everyone appreciates them. But it's a worthwhile read, view the entire column if you can.

Another voice saying enough and drawing a line at the recent outlandish calls for editors to be imprisoned.