Saturday, September 30, 2006

Liberal delegate selection

Looks like things are working out the way most have predicted, with Michael Ignatieff being the front runner. Stephane Dion in second place, the turtle to Ignatieff's hare?
Early results from the Liberal party's election of delegates for its leadership convention later this year suggest Michael Ignatieff is the front-runner.

As of midday Saturday, the Toronto MP had captured 27.6 per cent of the delegates chosen so far by party members during meetings held in ridings across the country.

But Stephane Dion, Bob Rae and Gerard Kennedy were all within range to challenge Ignatieff at the convention Nov. 28 to Dec. 3 in Montreal.

Dion had secured 18.5 per cent, while Rae had 18.1 per cent and Kennedy had 14.3 per cent.
Thankfully, the Stockwell Day-like Gerard Kennedy is in the fourth position...

Quote of the day

Rove at a fundraiser yesterday, where he claims he was not questioning the Democrats' patriotism - but then went on to say they would weaken the nation and make American enemies stronger. In Karl's playbook, apparently that's not attacking patriotism. It's all good, clean political rhetoric.
Rove, who whisked out a side door after his half-hour speech, said that since moving to Washington to work in the White House, he's learned the importance of character.
He said whether or not you agree with Bush, he has the "courage to do what he thinks is right."
Hear that? First of all, I have to stop gagging over Rove actually having the gall to say he's learned the importance of character. Let's just put that aside for now (what a particularly ironic statement from Rove when his ties to corrupt lobbyist Abramoff have been proved this week). What's more unnerving is his plea to continue to follow Bush. Because Bush may not be right, in fact he might be a completely stubborn, isolated, passive leader incapable of providing the right direction...and willing to stay in Iraq if only Laura and Barney are on his side...but he's courageous in leading that sinking ship, ladies and gents! Follow on!

Haven't you had enough of this divisive character?

I don't get it

What's the big deal? As suggested here, Stronach's certainly not the brightest light around nor does she come off as particularly charismatic...and she's certainly no Pierre Trudeau, as one person hints here!

It'd be a surprise if it wasn't

Poll Shows Virginia Race Tied. It's been a heck of a week for Smilin' George Allen...:)

Friday, September 29, 2006

All the President's Lies



Video from Olbermann this week on what Bush did not do in the lead up to 9/11.

Bush admin, Condi, brushed off Bin Laden focus in 2001

More on that July, 2001 meeting Condi Rice had with intelligence officials on bin Laden:
The CIA'S top counterterrorism officials felt they could have killed Osama Bin Laden in the months before 9/11, but got the "brushoff" when they went to the Bush White House seeking the money and authorization.

CIA Director George Tenet and his counterterrorism head Cofer Black sought an urgent meeting with then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice on July 10, 2001, writes Bob Woodward in his new book "State of Denial."

They went over top-secret intelligence pointing to an impending attack and "sounded the loudest warning" to the White House of a likely attack on the U.S. by Bin Laden.

Woodward writes that Rice was polite, but, "They felt the brushoff."

Tenet and Black were both frustrated.

Black later calculated that all he needed was $500 million of covert action funds and reasonable authorization from President Bush to go kill Bin Laden and "he might be able to bring Bin Laden's head back in a box," Woodward writes.

Black claims the CIA had about "100 sources and subsources" in Afghanistan who could have helped carry out the hit.

The "Katrina foreign policy"

That's a vivid, effective slogan. Being used by John Kerry. Good one.

Rove linked to corrupt lobbyist Abramoff

Do you think anyone will care in this electoral season where terror and Iraq are predominating the news coverage that Karl Rove and his "office" had 82 documented contacts with the corrupt Abramoff? Highly doubt it. This is one that may get very lost in the daily barrage being led by the White House media manipulation p.r. machine. The fact that evidence is surfacing that the Bush White House is bought and paid for is unsurprising to many. In fact, it's the least of anyone's worries these days.

Iraq's a quagmire and a huge mistake that is breeding enough terrorists to last for generations. There's an incompetent Secretary of Defense who's overseen and mucked up the whole thing. Most significantly, there's an incompetent President who fiddled after Katrina, fiddled in the lead up to 9/11 and is delusionally sticking to his course in Iraq. And yes, there's a political adviser in the form of Karl Rove who politicizes it all and sustains a disastrous course for the U.S. by winning election after election, validating it all.

So is the American public going to feast on the Abramoff scandal in the upcoming midterms? There's too much on their plates already.

Bush pardoned himself



He got his "get out of jail free card" today, via retroactive immunity for his violations of the War Crimes Act.

Worst President ever...

Woman interviewed on Allen's use of "n" word

Think she's credible? Sure as heck sounds like it...

Too bad the discussion on Hardball seemed to be totally geared to figuring out how the Allen campaign should spin this...

More Bush administration bungling in lead up to 9/11

Bob Woodward has a new book coming which provides some further insight into the Bush administration's pre-9/11 efforts on bin Laden:
The 537-page book describes tensions among senior officials from the very beginning of the administration. Mr. Woodward writes that in the weeks before the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Tenet believed that Mr. Rumsfeld was impeding the effort to develop a coherent strategy to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. Mr. Rumsfeld questioned the electronic signals from terrorism suspects that the National Security Agency had been intercepting, wondering whether they might be part of an elaborate deception plan by Al Qaeda.

On July 10, 2001, the book says, Mr. Tenet and his counterterrorism chief, J. Cofer Black, met with Ms. Rice at the White House to impress upon her the seriousness of the intelligence the agency was collecting about an impending attack. But both men came away from the meeting feeling that Ms. Rice had not taken the warnings seriously.
Rice's credibility on this issue is being eaten away. More here on her claim not to have seen Richard Clarke's terrorist strategy memo from January of 2001.

Bush gave $43 million to Taliban in May 2001

Here's a column from May of 2001 published in the LA Times on the subject, "Bush's Faustian Deal With the Taliban" which provides a timely reminder of just what Bush was doing about bin Laden in the lead up to 9/11. Condi Rice claims they did at least as much as the administration in their first eight months of office leading up to 9/11. Just how is it that giving $43 million to the Taliban, host regime of Osama bin Laden, fit into their strategy? A key excerpt:
Enslave your girls and women, harbor anti-U.S. terrorists, destroy every vestige of civilization in your homeland, and the Bush administration will embrace you. All that matters is that you line up as an ally in the drug war, the only international cause that this nation still takes seriously.

That's the message sent with the recent gift of $43 million to the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan, the most virulent anti-American violators of human rights in the world today. The gift, announced last Thursday by Secretary of State Colin Powell, in addition to other recent aid, makes the U.S. the main sponsor of the Taliban and rewards that "rogue regime" for declaring that opium growing is against the will of God. So, too, by the Taliban's estimation, are most human activities, but it's the ban on drugs that catches this administration's attention.

Never mind that Osama bin Laden still operates the leading anti-American terror operation from his base in Afghanistan, from which, among other crimes, he launched two bloody attacks on American embassies in Africa in 1998.

Sadly, the Bush administration is cozying up to the Taliban regime at a time when the United Nations, at U.S. insistence, imposes sanctions on Afghanistan because the Kabul government will not turn over Bin Laden.
One more example of the administration's preoccupation with ideology while losing perspective on the important issues that are staring them in the face. $43 million to the Taliban, host regime of bin Laden, in the summer of 2001. Think about that.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Bush unpopular yet still ramming detainee legislation through

Froomkin today on the detainee legislation about to pass:
Today's Senate vote on President Bush's detainee legislation, after House approval yesterday, marks a defining moment for this nation.

How far from our historic and Constitutional values are we willing to stray? How mercilessly are we willing to treat those we suspect to be our enemies? How much raw, unchecked power are we willing to hand over to the executive?

The legislation before the Senate today would ban torture, but let Bush define it; would allow the president to imprison indefinitely anyone he decides falls under a wide-ranging new definition of unlawful combatant; would suspend the Great Writ of habeas corpus; would immunize retroactively those who may have engaged in torture. And that's just for starters.

It's a red-letter day for the country. It's also a telling day for our political system.

The people have lost confidence in their president. Despite that small recent uptick in the polls, Bush remains deeply unpopular with the American public, mistrusted by a majority, widely considered out of touch with the nation's real priorities.

But he's still got Congress wrapped around his little finger.

Today's vote will show more clearly than ever before that, when push comes to shove, the Republicans who control Congress are in lock step behind the president, and the Democrats -- who could block him, if they chose to do so -- are too afraid to put up a real fight.

The kind of emotionless, he-said-she-said news coverage, lacking analysis and obsessed with incremental developments and political posturing -- in short, much of modern political journalism -- just doesn't do this story justice.

So once again, I'll go to the editorials and opinions first.
Check out his column for a full sense of the opinion out there on this sad situation.

The death knell for the American democracy

The detainee legislation is to be voted upon this afternoon. And it will likely pass. It's an absolute travesty of justice. The Republican leadership and minions in the U.S. have completely caved to the terrorist fear and have compromised the American judicial system to the point of unrecognition. The terrorist threat has led them to turn back the clock to the dark ages by needlessly perverting their justice system. The terrorists have scored a great victory today.
Here’s what happens when this irresponsible Congress railroads a profoundly important bill to serve the mindless politics of a midterm election: The Bush administration uses Republicans’ fear of losing their majority to push through ghastly ideas about antiterrorism that will make American troops less safe and do lasting damage to our 217-year-old nation of laws — while actually doing nothing to protect the nation from terrorists. Democrats betray their principles to avoid last-minute attack ads. Our democracy is the big loser.
Instead of American leadership saying we are not like you, and we will beat you, they have said, we are like you and we will meet you at your level. We will torture. We will put you in prison and you will not know why. You may be innocent, but we don't want to know. Our President will decide what the Geneva Conventions mean.

I agree with this wholeheartedly:
There is not enough time to fix these bills, especially since the few Republicans who call themselves moderates have been whipped into line, and the Democratic leadership in the Senate seems to have misplaced its spine. If there was ever a moment for a filibuster, this was it.

We don’t blame the Democrats for being frightened. The Republicans have made it clear that they’ll use any opportunity to brand anyone who votes against this bill as a terrorist enabler. But Americans of the future won’t remember the pragmatic arguments for caving in to the administration.

They’ll know that in 2006, Congress passed a tyrannical law that will be ranked with the low points in American democracy, our generation’s version of the Alien and Sedition Acts.
Don't Democrats understand how demoralizing this must be for their constituents? Don't they get it? It is incomprehensible.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Pirro's back

Another strange tale from the beleaguered Pirro New York candidacy:
Federal prosecutors in New York are investigating whether Jeanine F. Pirro, the Republican candidate for state attorney general, and Bernard B. Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner, illegally taped conversations of Ms. Pirro’s husband last year to determine if he was having an affair.

At a hastily arranged news conference yesterday, called because of an imminent television report on the inquiry, Ms. Pirro conceded that she had her husband, Albert, followed in the summer of 2005. She said she had discussed bugging the family’s boat with Mr. Kerik, an old friend who was then running his own security business. But Ms. Pirro, who was the district attorney of Westchester County at the time, said she never went through with the plan, and she insisted that she broke no laws.

Missing the mark today

In this column, "Another Clinton Seduction," Maureen Dowd missed the big story of the week. Usually she's right on top of the hot issue...so why the focus on Hillary so much and not Bill? This column is all about deconstructing Hillary's every political move of late, a continuation of Dowd's disparaging of Hillary. Fair enough, she clearly doesn't give Hillary the benefit of any doubt. Too calculating, too risk averse, too many polls taken by Hillary. Hillary's no different from any other politician at her level though. I fail to understand why this is to be derided in her case so vehemently.

The lay low strategy?

Lay low and pounce when the opportunity presents itself. When the opponent mucks it up. So I'm interested in this point made on the Republican detainee proposal:
Democrats, while being careful to say that they had made no decision to block the detainee bill, expressed rising concerns about changes to the proposal that they said went beyond what Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, the Republican leader, had described Monday as merely “technical changes.”

The changes had been made over the weekend, as negotiators from the House and White House adjusted a compromise that had been reached between the White House and Senate Republicans on Thursday.
Laying the groundwork to argue for the original McCain version. Be more McCain-like than the Senator himself. Latch on to his credibility and original instincts on the issue. Could be very smart.

We'll see.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

"Combative Bush"

How the NYTimes describes him today, in a slap back to the Rethugs, no doubt in this "Combative Bush Releases Parts of Terror Study."

He's declassified part of the National Intelligence Estimate that establishes the Iraq war as a principal cause of growing global terror threats. A very damaging document declassified under intense political pressure. They must have sensed a growing furor over this report that would escalate on through October, high electoral season, unless they released it and could start putting it behind them. You know, through one of their trusty disinformation campaigns where they take such a report and it's weighty conclusions and run it through their Fantasyland media airbrushing campaign. Day is night, up is down, white is black. Stuff like that. By the time they're finished with it, Republican base firebreathers will believe it's all Clinton's fault. Too bad no one's taking this stuff lying down though.

One more, here's Webb's latest ad



I like it very much...this taps into the rubberstamping Republican theme, i.e., look where it's got the U.S., time for a change, etc. Very smart. Webb's a solid, knowledgeable guy who looks like a decent alternative. If you can pass that test, you're getting closer...

Sing it sister



Humble bloggers like me have been arguing this point too...:) The truth will set you free, Democrats, the truth will set you free!

How do you handle adversity?

Ask George Allen. Here's the latest on his campaign:



This report says Jim Webb his Democratic opponent raised $1 million last week. That's huge. Still not Allen money but if Allen keeps flubbing things up, Webb may not need as much to challenge. The free media from this national media market is working its own magic.

Olbermann ends the "free pass" for Bush on 9/11



Sing it, Keith! Something this humble blogger was musing about last night...what would have happened had Clinton received the PDB on August 6, 2001 entitled, "bin Laden determined to attack in the U.S." Effective executive leadership? Um, yeah...unlike what happened with Bush. Which was nothing. Went back to clearing brush.

Keith utters the unthinkable! Bush should be responsible in some way for 9/11 since he was President! Wha? (Major snark...:))

"Proof of incompetence..."

Reminding us of the Republican witchhunt of Clinton in 1998, impeachment, et al. that had something to do with any alleged distraction (there was none - read Richard Clarke) of Clinton.

On Bush, "You did not try." To blame your predecessor, "textbook definition of cowardice."

I think this is his best to date. Cheers!



(Sorry about the plethora of videos tonight, very busy and little time to post this week.)

Mini Bush doles out some payback

For the Conservative "base." Don't you just love hearing that phrase in Canada?

Unkind and needless cuts made just to support their right wing ideology. Despite the billions in surplus created by that oh-so-corrupt-and-incompetent Liberal predecessor administration. But unkind and needless cuts are what you get with Mini Bush. More details of the cuts in this article.

One programme being cut is the Court Challenges Programme, the government funding of interveners at the Supreme Court (and appellate) level, largely on significant social issues raised in Charter of Rights cases. The theoretical justification for paying legal intervener groups is to ensure that groups well-versed in the issues and with a depth of knowledge, resources, experience on those issues could provide the benefit of that knowledge to the court, dealing with issues of Charter interpretation often for the first time. Many of the groups funded have contributed to the development of jurisprudence in this country that is decidedly progressive, notably a number of decisions favouring same-sex issues.

And Mini Bush, and his Chief of Staff, Ian Brodie, in particular, have long had an axe to grind with such jurisprudence and the groups. Naturally, cutting off their funding is a long sought after goal. Congratulations to them on their small-minded, ungenerous, and short-sighted victory today. Ensuring that our highest courts in the land have every possible avenue of information made available to them as they decide the major legal issues of the day is indeed an unworthy cause for government support.

Sabato on Allen's use of racial epithet



A prominent political scientist at the University of Virginia, Sabato says he knows George Allen did use the "n" word. Won't say how or whether he heard it, but knows it. Hmmm.

So where does this leave things? Allen is bumbling along in this campaign, putting out fires weekly now. Now claims to be racially enlightened on the campaign trail yet has a lengthy trail of questionable racial sensitivity behind him. Yes, people can change and they should be given credit for that. But the incidents keep on coming with Allen and his responses just aren't convincing. If he can't handle allegations like the ones he's been dealing with, "macaca" - his Jewish heritage - use of racial epithets - squarely and honestly, in a manner that puts people's minds at ease, then how will he be able to squarely and honestly deal with the important issues? In this sense, it matters. It's adversity in his campaign, and people will judge how he deals with it, just as they judged Bill Clinton with all the dirt that was thrown his way.

More coverage in the NYTimes today...

Monday, September 25, 2006

Afghanistan falling apart

How's that Iraq thing working out for you W?
Two gunmen on a motorbike killed the provincial director of Afghanistan's Ministry of Women's Affairs outside her home Monday in apparent retribution for her efforts to help educate women, officials said.
The country that needs stabilization most is falling apart...

Good point

Americablog has another good take on the Faux News/neo-con attack on Clinton for not doing enough to get bin Laden.

Why didn't Bush do anything for the first 8 months of his presidency on bin Laden? Because Clinton was obsessed with him and they childishly ran in the opposite direction from anything Clinton prioritized. Didn't that pay off well?

If Bill Clinton had been President on August 6, 2001, and had been handed a Presidential Daily Briefing entitled, "Bin Laden determined to Attack in U.S."...all hell would have broken loose in the U.S. government. What active steps do you think Clinton would have taken? Would have lit a fire under the FBI, CIA, the department of transportation, you name it. But Bush did nothing and has been given a free pass. We'll never know, of course, what might then have been averted. But you can bet Clinton would have done a heck of a lot more than W.

Detainee legislation still facing Specter's hurdle

Here:
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) yesterday praised the bill as "a big improvement" over the administration's initial proposals. But he said on CNN's "Late Edition" that he opposes provisions in it that would bar terrorism suspects from challenging their detention or treatment in federal court. "That has to be changed," said Specter, who plans to hold a hearing on the issue this morning.
So is Specter the one who is going to put the kibosh on the deal after all? There may be hope yet. I still see little in the way of information on a Democratic plan of action on this. We'll find out soon enough...

New serious allegations about George Allen's racist past

Three teammates of George Allen from his college football days recall him routinely using the "N" word and acting in a racist manner. The article reports that the teammate named in the article who has come forward on the issue decided that upon hearing Allen was gearing up for a 2008 presidential run, he would speak out on Allen's racism if asked by any reporters. The two others who substantiated Allen's use of the term fear retribution from Allen and requested anonymity.

Watch for this named former teammate to be swiftboated back into the stone age.

As for Allen, here we go again...

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The only TV you need to see today

Watch Clinton smack down Chris Wallace. Big time...:)

It's a travesty that the Bush administration is not held to account over their lackluster terrorism efforts, from day 1.

Or watch right here:

Clinton speaks on bin Laden

And now the story's being covered by the Washington Post. They're picking up on the feisty interview to be aired on Faux on Sunday and the media attention it's garnering.

You can only provoke someone for so long and have them remain silent. The cabal of neocons scheming to make 9/11 a total Clinton responsibility have pushed a little too much and too far recently. This is a welcome interview it seems to me, completely genuine in its raw anger. Good for him. He's given Bush a complete free ride and look where it's gotten everyone...he's still the best Democrat around to make the case for why W and his Rethugs should be given the boot.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Terror spreading as a result of Bush's choice war in Iraq

A must read article in the NYTimes on how Bush's Iraq war has worsened the terrorist threat:
A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The classified National Intelligence Estimate attributes a more direct role to the Iraq war in fueling radicalism than that presented either in recent White House documents or in a report released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee, according to several officials in Washington involved in preparing the assessment or who have read the final document.

The intelligence estimate, completed in April, is the first formal appraisal of global terrorism by United States intelligence agencies since the Iraq war began, and represents a consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government. Titled “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States,’’ it asserts that Islamic radicalism, rather than being in retreat, has metastasized and spread across the globe.

An opening section of the report, “Indicators of the Spread of the Global Jihadist Movement,” cites the Iraq war as a reason for the diffusion of jihad ideology.
Yet somehow, Bush perversely gets credited for being "strong on terror?"

Saddam pre-9/11



In Powell and Condi's own words...nice little reminder.

Clinton advice to Bush



Listen to a brilliant response to Olbermann's hypothetical question as to what advice Clinton would offer to W if called...

You will also see this weekend the sandbagging of Clinton by Faux propagandist Chris Wallace...I hope a lot of people see that interview, actually. Clinton tells the truth about his efforts to get bin Laden, including extensive planning following the October 2000 bombing of the U.S.S. Cole. Clinton had war plans drawn up to get Bin Laden and go into Afghanistan but the intelligence agencies and military wouldn't go along. Contrast that to Bush's total inaction, absolute total inaction on al Qaeda for the first 8 months of his presidency despite the dire warnings from Clinton and Richard Clarke to Bush at the very outset of his taking office. No meeting on al Qaeda and the threat it posed until September 4th, 2001. Yet Bush never gets taken to task at all by the Chris Wallace's of the world for his absolute abdication of responsibility for that threat. They pooh-poohed it because Clinton was preoccupied with bin Laden, therefore Clinton must be wrong and we'll do the opposite. And Clinton was obsessed with Middle East peace and resolving the Palestinian-Israeli question. So we'll do the opposite and withdraw from the U.S.'s traditional role as honest broker in that process.

And look at the world now...yet the Faux propaganda lets all of it go unquestioned. If I were Clinton, I'd have reacted exactly the same way to that smug little tool. Good for Clinton for smacking him back.

More on the detainee compromise

Lots of criticism cited here about the detainee compromise agreement. And some Democrats are expressing skepticism, although there's no clear position they're taking yet. Apparently Arlen Specter's having hearings on Monday in the Senate Judiciary Committee on the agreement's exclusion of habeas corpus rights for detainees. Says its unconstitutional. Although I don't know why a little detail like that would stop Specter from supporting it, based on his track record of blustering then caving. Who knows, maybe a Republican will be the one to throw a wrench into the works after all.

The silence from prominent Democrats is deafening...WTF is going on?

On General Musharraf

Maureen Dowd today on Bush's naive relationship with General Musharraf of Pakistan, "Axis of Sketchy Allies":
The Paks, as W. and Vice like to call them, are at the heart of the Faustian deal the Bush administration has made. The justification for invading Iraq was that they couldn’t allow a dictator who might be harboring terrorists to stay in power. But their great ally in the war on terror is General Musharraf, a dictator who appears to be harboring terrorists, including the one we want most.

Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, who will dine with W. and General ... General at the White House next week, expressed a sly skepticism about his neighbor’s protestations that he is strategizing against militants. As David Sanger reported, Mr. Karzai told Times editors and reporters that he had tried to get Pakistan’s help in repelling the resurgent Taliban by giving the Pakistanis “information on training ground, on operation, people, their phone numbers, their G.P.S. locations.’’

“Our friends come back to us and say this information is old,’’ Mr. Karzai continued. “Maybe. But it means they were there.”

Asked where Osama was, he smiled and replied: “If I said he was in Pakistan, President Musharraf would be mad at me. And if I said he was in Afghanistan, it would not be true.”

We may not have Osama, but at least W. helped General ...General with his Amazon ranking. “Buy the book,” the president recommended as the two allies wrapped up.

This will make you very angry yet happy too

Transcript of President Clinton putting Faux News' Chris Wallace in his place. Setting smirky Wallace straight (Clinton notes his clever smirk) on his efforts to find and kill bin Laden, Faux News' bias, and Bush's misplaced priority in Iraq.

Read the whole transcript. It'll make you angry and yet you'll be cheering Clinton on as you read.

Note the gem of a line, that Bush has 1/7 the number of troops in Afghanistan - home of bin Laden - as he does in Iraq.

This is the kind of thing that'll motivate the Democratic base in November. And not rolling over for the detainee torture compromise.

George Allen macaca watch

What do you know? George Allen does seem to know the word "macaca" after all. It's not a made up word or a word he claims never to have heard before. Apparently it means "clown" or "buffoon"in northern Italy, where his mother has family. At least, that's what he explained to an evangelical publication a few weeks back.

Telling the truth is a funny thing. If you tell the truth, you never get tripped up...and you never have to explain away inconsistencies...

Friday, September 22, 2006

On McCain's caving

Another interesting comment worth highlighting, from TPM Cafe, on McCain's role in this detainee negotiation:
This ought to be the moment when John McCain loses his status as a serious contender for the Presidency. If he can't stand up to a pissy little man like G.W. Bush on a moral issue as clear-cut as torture, than he doesn't deserve to be a significant figure in our political landscape.

Does the Democratic silence portend a strategy?

Is it possible that the conspicuous silence of the Democrats to date on the detainee agreement has been calculated? That is what some are thinking, such as this reader of Talking Points Memo:
It may not be as bad as it appears because it may not pass before Congress adjourns.

Rove and his allies waited to present this issue until he thought the election time was right but he did not figure on an intra- party debate to delay the bill by more than a week. So, now time is short.

Meanwhile, I am guessing that Reid made the smart decision to keep the Dems out of the "negotiations". Why should they invest what little access to media they have on a bill without details, without knowing the dimensions of the constitutional issues. He saved our little powder until now we can see how bad the bill is but it may be easier to slow down the legislative mechanism enough to get us past adjournment, especially if we get a little help from Duncan Hunter and his buddies in the House.

So, let's not panic. Reid may be playing our cards right and, if so, this accounts for the silence of Feingold and Durbin and the others we would have thought to have been breathing fire.
There may yet prove to be something in the works...it is true that the silence has been strange, as astutely noted by this TPM reader. Have the Republicans miscalculated by negotiating with themselves and leaving it too late? Stay tuned...

The shameful detainee agreement

Froomkin has an excellent summary today of criticism of the detainee agreement reached between the White House and the McCain troika. The gist of the coverage is that Bush essentially got what he wanted, the ability to continue torture and as noted in this blog yesterday, a "get out of jail free card," a label also used by a number of others to describe the immunity protections included in the agreement.

If ever there were a piece of legislation worth a filibuster, this is it.

Today's "A" for effort

(REUTERS/John Gress)

Iraq war protesters stage a "die-in" in Chicago's Federal Plaza yesterday, posing as Iraq war victims...

Mini Bush at the U.N. - echoes of you-know-who

(REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)

Not surprising. But it's amazing how blatant the U.S. influence is at times in his speeches. From the Globe coverage today:
Mr. Harper said Afghanistan, like other missions, is a significant test of the UN's health. He raised questions, for example, about the mission in the Sudan and the effort to prevent hostilities on Israel's northern border with Lebanon.
Poking at the U.N.'s relevance...hmmm, where have we heard that before? From Bush himself, of course! Here's coverage of Bush's speech this week to the U.N. reminding us of the Bush view of the U.N.:
Before the same assembly where he laid out the justification for the Iraq invasion four years ago, Bush's tone seemed far more conciliatory than in previous addresses. He avoided questioning the relevance of the world body, an argument his administration employed in the past when its diplomats opposed his policies.
Nice to see our P.M. parroting the Bush line once again. To top it off, Steve also inserted another traditional Republican dig at the world body:
Finally, Mr. Harper urged the UN to get on with plans for internal reforms on how funds are spent.
Way to distinguish yourself as an independent leader, Stevo!

And yes, we're involved in an important mission in Afghanistan, but it's not bigger than, say, the Bosnia exercise of a few years back.

By the way, the chamber was two-thirds empty with many empty chairs apparent in television coverage, despite CTV being strangely atwitter over the speech...

Opening for the Democrats

The majority of Americans do not approve of Bush. An even greater majority do not think the country is moving in the right direction. So instead of caving on the detainee legislation, the Democratic party opposition has an opening. To challenge the Republicans in control of Congress who are also mightily disapproved of...there are significant problems remaining with the framework agreement between the White House and Republican Senators. It is a hasty and defective compromise that undermines the supposed commitment not to torture, that lets perpetrators of torture go unpunished, that does away with habeas corpus rights, that will permit suspects to be convicted on evidence they won't see.

From the Times, "A Bad Bargain":
Here is a way to measure how seriously President Bush was willing to compromise on the military tribunals bill: Less than an hour after an agreement was announced yesterday with three leading Republican senators, the White House was already laying a path to wiggle out of its one real concession.
Hear that Democrats? Unless you oppose this administration, they're going to continue to do whatever the heck they want, irrespective of a supposed agreement reached with their own Republican crowd. As for the much vaunted agreement not to touch the letter and spirit of the Geneva Conventions, again from the Times:
The deal does next to nothing to stop the president from reinterpreting the Geneva Conventions. While the White House agreed to a list of “grave breaches” of the conventions that could be prosecuted as war crimes, it stipulated that the president could decide on his own what actions might be a lesser breach of the Geneva Conventions and what interrogation techniques he considered permissible. It’s not clear how much the public will ultimately learn about those decisions. They will be contained in an executive order that is supposed to be made public, but Mr. Hadley reiterated that specific interrogation techniques will remain secret.
And this final excerpt:
The Democrats have largely stood silent and allowed the trio of Republicans to do the lifting. It’s time for them to either try to fix this bill or delay it until after the election. The American people expect their leaders to clean up this mess without endangering U.S. troops, eviscerating American standards of justice, or further harming the nation’s severely damaged reputation.
So let's see what the Post says today in its editorial, "The Abuse Can Continue":
THE GOOD NEWS about the agreement reached yesterday between the Bush administration and Republican senators on the detention, interrogation and trial of accused terrorists is that Congress will not -- as President Bush had demanded -- pass legislation that formally reinterprets U.S. compliance with the Geneva Conventions. Nor will the Senate explicitly endorse the administration's use of interrogation techniques that most of the world regards as cruel and inhumane, if not as outright torture. Trials of accused terrorists will be fairer than the commission system outlawed in June by the Supreme Court.

The bad news is that Mr. Bush, as he made clear yesterday, intends to continue using the CIA to secretly detain and abuse certain terrorist suspects. He will do so by issuing his own interpretation of the Geneva Conventions in an executive order and by relying on questionable Justice Department opinions that authorize such practices as exposing prisoners to hypothermia and prolonged sleep deprivation. Under the compromise agreed to yesterday, Congress would recognize his authority to take these steps and prevent prisoners from appealing them to U.S. courts. The bill would also immunize CIA personnel from prosecution for all but the most serious abuses and protect those who in the past violated U.S. law against war crimes.
And there's this stinging rebuke of Bush:
But the senators who have fought to rein in the administration's excesses -- led by Sens. McCain, Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and John W. Warner (R-Va.) -- failed to break Mr. Bush's commitment to "alternative" methods that virtually every senior officer of the U.S. military regards as unreliable, counterproductive and dangerous for Americans who may be captured by hostile governments.

Mr. Bush wanted Congress to formally approve these practices and to declare them consistent with the Geneva Conventions. It will not. But it will not stop him either, if the legislation is passed in the form agreed on yesterday. Mr. Bush will go down in history for his embrace of torture and bear responsibility for the enormous damage that has caused.
So what's it going to be, Democrats? Are you going to allow this travesty to occur or work toward a better, more comprehensive system for detainees that your country can actually be proud of...

The "get out of jail card" is in the detainee agreement

Bingo:
The senators agreed to a White House proposal to make the standard on interrogation treatment retroactive to 1997, so C.I.A. and military personnel could not be prosecuted for past treatment under standards the administration considers vague.
Republicans sure know how to look after their own. Bush is home free for any illegal orders he may have given for torture of suspects. The Post spells out, specifically, Bush's need for immunity:
The White House has pressed for the legislation partly to obtain immunity from prosecution for government officials, including CIA interrogators, for past acts that degraded and humiliated detainees. Its impetus was a Supreme Court ruling in June, in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld , that declared some aspects of the administration's past interrogation and trial policies illegal.

Officials' anxieties were provoked by a 10-year-old U.S. law, the War Crimes Act, that makes violations of the Geneva Conventions' prohibitions on degrading and humiliating detainees, as well as actions that amount to "outrages upon personal dignity," subject to felony prosecution. Senior military officials have told Congress those prohibitions were violated.
Why do they all get a pass for torture that's occurred in recent years? Is the American electorate going to give them a pass too?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

It's all about dangerous Canadians

John at Americablog with his take on Bush's statement today, on the detainee legislation agreement:
“The agreement clears the way to do what the American people expect us to do — to capture innocent Canadians, to detain innocent Canadians, to question innocent Candians, and then to deport them to Middle Eastern countries where they'll be tortured.”

The Allen video

Judge for yourself.



By the way, why is asking a question about one's Jewish heritage like this casting "aspersion" on someone, as he says at the end?

Now he's all apologetic and sensitive, today, vowing to go on a crusade for religious freedom or something like that. He's all over the place.

More today on Allen and his Jewish heritage

Reports today are focussed upon George Allen's mother, Etty, who is speaking for him now, publicly, which seems a bit strange. When you have to haul out someone's mother, it can't be good.

Seems she told the U.S. Senator about his Jewish heritage this August. So it seems a little strange for George to have completely avoided the question during a debate this week about it. He knew of it, yet said nothing. If you watch the video, he fed off the audience's reaction, which was hostile to the question, and rode it. He did the same thing when in front of a crowd with the macaca incident. Why not a heartfelt, honest statement during the debate in response to the question instead of pandering to his audience? It all would have gone away.

By the way, when is anyone going to ask Allen about this? Seems to me that's a bigger issue than anything in this post.

Supposed detainee agreement - yet no details

No details yet on the compromise reached between the holdout Republican Senators and Bush:
Three Republican senators said this afternoon that they had reached an agreement with the Bush administration on legislation to clarify which interrogation techniques can be used against terror suspects and to establish trial procedures for those in military custody.
Some vague details from the Post:
One official said that under the agreement, the administration agreed to drop language that would have stated an existing ban on cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment was enough to meet Geneva Convention obligations.

Convention standards are much broader and include a prohibition on "outrages" against "personal dignity."

In turn, this official said, negotiators agreed to clarify what acts constitute a war crime. The official spoke on condition of anonymity, saying he had not been authorized to discuss the details.

The agreement did not extend to a related issue _ whether suspects and their lawyers would be permitted to see any classified evidence in the cases against them.
So we have yet to see how the acts constituting a war crime will be defined. This process raises the question though - how would Americans feel if all nations started specifying for themselves what acts constitute war crimes? Doesn't this do exactly what McCain et al. did not want other nations around the world to do? It's not a redefining of the text of Article 3, exactly, but it's defining it in a piece of U.S. domestic legislation.

Secondly, where are the Democrats on these issues? They've completely stepped back from this process. Indeed, they're hardly mentioned in either of these two reports. They can hardly oppose it now, or at least mount any significant opposition if the Republican agreement is defective. There's not time to persuade. It's like the debate is virtually over. It must be that they've decided to hitch themselves to McCain's wagon and what's good for him is good for them. I suppose any Democrat up for re-election will be voting with McCain. As for the rest, who knows. Don't like it one bit...once again, they're absent on a major issue of the day. Why vote for them when they won't even stand up on a major national security issue? Smarten up, people, please.

Thirdly, there is nothing here in any of the reporting about the issue of immunity for interrogators and administration officials. At least it's not being released publicly. Given Bush's immediate backing and Hadley's presence in the negotiations, you've got to think they're happy on this issue.

Oh to hear some clear and factual reporting on the details. Nothing's really being released yet the media are portraying this as a done deal, it's all over. Silly me for wondering about the details. You'd be hard pressed to think this were a democracy or something...

Mini Bush speaks at U.N.

Probably will post more later...just heard an excerpt on the radio. I must say, Mini Bush is completely lacking in passion. He is an orator - not. It's like a chartered accountant is our leader. The content is completely underwhelmed by his delivery.

P.S. I will refrain from calling him "Mini Devil." He could never evoke such hostility, I'm sure Mr. Chavez would agree.

Dear Mr. Broder

Are you taking lessons from Rush Limbaugh in big fat idiocy? Or is that just your natural crotchety old self showing today?

Seems you don't like "know it alls" like Gore and Kerry but prefer the mental midgets like W because he sold America a bill of goods on who he was. Buyers remorse, hey Dave? Ooops, beeg mistake on your part not to have seen what an empty suit he was, waiting to be filled up by the most opportunistic elements in his administration. Too bad for the world it was the neo-cons. Oops again, hey?

Now you're crying for a new independent party? Strange, but all the "centrists" you mention in your column as fighting back in this vein are all Republicans! Coincidence?

My friend, people like you have brought this state of affairs into being by supporting the W's of the world and ushering in Karl Rove as a lovely bi-product. You've enabled the hardening of positions. So cry me a freaking river...:)

Love from,

A vituperative, foul mouthed blogger on the left,

Impolitical

P.S. I suggest you read this post, from a writer par excellence who will educate you as to some highly vituperative, foul mouthers on the right. Indeed, some violence inciting, hate mongering foul mouthers. It's really a must read for you.

Legal rights as political fodder

Bob Herbert has a compelling column on Maher Arar today, the Canadian citizen who was rendered to Syria for torure by the U.S.
Mr. Arar lived in torment for nearly a year, confined most of the time to a tiny underground cell, about the size of a grave. Despite the torture, the Syrians were unable to connect him to terrorism in any way. The Canadian government managed to secure his release in October 2003.

If this were just a bad but honest mistake, we might be able to simply wish Mr. Arar well and vow never to let it happen again. Instead, the United States is about to ensure that many more individuals who are falsely accused are deprived of the single most fundamental tool they need to establish their innocence.

In the push to enact legislation dealing with the interrogation and prosecution of terror suspects, both the White House and dissident Republicans in the Senate intend to strip away the hallowed safeguard of habeas corpus for some noncitizens held in U.S. custody outside the United States.
The removal of habeas corpus rights for these prisoners is attracting little attention. It appears to be one of the aspects of the Bush detainee position that is being obscured by the more prominent debate over torture/Article 3 and whether immunity will be given to CIA and administration officials for acts committed, past and future. So what's the big deal about habeas corpus?
Habeas corpus (literally “produce the body”) is a legal proceeding that allows one to challenge his or her detention in a court of law. It is the most significant safeguard against arbitrary imprisonment. Someone deprived of this right — which is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and has been recognized by various societies all the way back to the Middle Ages — can be locked up, whether innocent or guilty of any offense, and never heard from again.
...
At a minimum, said Mr. Goodman, “A person has a right to know what crime he’s being charged with. And a court can demand that the government produce evidence indicating that there is a reason to hold that person.”

The authority to demand that even the highest officials in a nation — even the president, even the king back in the days of the Magna Carta — justify the detention of a human being is powerful, and essential in a free society.
...
I spoke to Mr. Arar by phone yesterday. He said now that the Canadian government has publicly cleared his name, he would like the U.S. government to follow suit. But the U.S. government is busy trying to make sure that other innocents, trapped unfairly in a cage, have absolutely nowhere to turn. No recourse at all.
This column is one more significant reminder of Maher Arar's case, just as the U.S. Senate and the Bush White House try to hammer out a deal on such provisions as habeas corpus for those imprisoned. It may have no effect, sadly, as legal rights these days are subjected to partisan political realities. Bush needs a win to bludgeon the Democrats with in the election and he'll do his damnedest to get this legislation, for that reason or perhaps more sinister motivation - his own immunity. If an innocent must sit in a dungeon somewhere being tortured...WTF does he care?

Good for Rosie

I had meant to post something about this earlier but other things always manage to capture my attention first...just wanted to say good for Rosie O'Donnell (and Barbara Walters for recruiting her for The View). Ratings for the show are up by a substantial percentage apparently. Could it be that free speech actually sells?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Olbermann covering Iraq war profiteering



Now there's a topic that needs such national coverage...

Bush reaping what he's sown

Chavez calls Bush the "Devil":
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez today called President Bush "the devil" and the "world dictator" on the floor of the U.N. General Assembly, then asserted that the United Nations suffers from a "mortal disease" because it is dominated by the "North American empire."

"Yesterday, ladies and gentlemen, from this rostrum, the president of the United States, the gentleman to whom I refer as the devil, came here, talking as if he owned the world," Chavez told the General Assembly. "I think we could call a psychiatrist to analyze yesterday's statement made by the president of the United States."

Speaking from the podium where Bush spoke a day earlier, Chavez said he can still smell the "sulfur" -- a reference to the scent of Satan.
While this speech was inappropriately mocking and disrespectful in tone to the U.N. body, it is an example of the kind of rhetoric that Bush should expect as he has doled out such similar monikers as well. His tendency to use the word "evil" in his own speeches or comments and his use of the phrase "axis of evil" in a state of the union address, for example, will tend to provoke such responses from the Chavez's of the world. And by the way, I'm sure that's "unacceptable" for me to think, these days.

I'm not surprised at all that Chavez, here acting like a buffoon, would take the opportunity in New York, media capital of the world, to give it back to Bush....

Go Stephane

Interesting poll out on the Liberal leadership. And my guy Stephane Dion is right there.
Michael Ignatieff has a slender lead among Liberals in the race to become national party leader and could well lose to Bob Rae or Stéphane Dion, both of whom possess greater potential for growth at the leadership convention.

Fresh insights into the race are contained in an exclusive poll of Liberal Party members conducted by the Strategic Counsel for The Globe and Mail/CTV News, which shows that Mr. Ignatieff, while slightly ahead of Mr. Rae and Mr. Dion, is nowhere near the level required to establish a commanding lead on the first ballot and lacks second- or third-ballot appeal.
Don't count him out. Rae looks tough at this point, yes, and it's hard to figure the doom and gloom for Ignatieff who is currently first after all. But IMHO, Dion has a rare charisma and intellect that win people over. Look how he's risen from this pack to the top echelon thus far. This race is shaping up to be a great one, one of the most engaging groups of calibre people in quite a long time in Canadian politics...

REUTERS/Christinne Muschi

Good question



Clinton meets the "Seat of Heat" on the Daily Show. Enjoy:)

"Grave breaches"

Apparently the White House is dropping its insistence on amending Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions to "clarify" permissible interrogation techniques. And apparently they're seeking instead to work with the opposing Republican Senators on amending the War Crimes Act instead. It looks like they're going to try to list examples of breaches of Article 3 in the War Crimes Act. So the approach looks like it's going to be Article 3 will stand and by the way, here are some examples of serious breaches. Whether the effect of this "compromise" will be the same as Bush having achieved an amendment of Article 3...we'll wait and see on that.

No word on how the immunity sought by the White House for "CIA interrogators" (and I'm sure for certain others up the food chain as well) is being handled at this stage. Stay tuned on this. I would be very surprised if Bush still didn't end up achieving what he wants here...after all, his future liability may be at stake for incidents that may have occurred under his watch until now. And really, for anyone who has been responsible for acts of torture occurring, it's just ludicrous to be immunizing them, let's be clear...wonder how Maher Arar feels about that?

Allen's latest statement

Here's the latest:
In a statement released by his campaign yesterday, Allen said he was proud to have recently discovered that his grandfather, a Nazi resistance fighter in North Africa, was part of a well-known Jewish family.

"I was raised as a Christian and my mother was raised as a Christian," Allen, 54, said. "And I embrace and take great pride in every aspect of my diverse heritage, including my Lumbroso family line's Jewish heritage, which I learned about from a recent magazine article and my mother confirmed."
This latest kafuffle with the Allen campaign is not about religion or its relevance in a political campaign. Typically it's not relevant and the separation of church and state should absolutely be paramount. There has been an inordinate and inappropriate amount of blurring in recent years. People should take note of a candidate's religion or non-religion and move on.

But sometimes, a question of religion can become relevant given the candidate's treatment of the issue. Allen's telling reaction during a debate the other night to a question on his Jewish heritage, perfectly legitimate in previous national races, by the way (Kerry, Wes Clark), makes it all the more intriguing. It's particularly legitimate to ask about heritage in Allen's case, especially given his frequent referencing of his grandfather being put in a Nazi concentration camp. He put it out there. And it's especially likely to generate questions given his and his campaign's previous reluctance to acknowledge any questions about his heritage.

Once more Allen has demonstrated a gut reaction in an unscripted situation that raises more questions, just at a time when he may have been able to pull away from Webb, facing his own difficulties with his past colourful writings. I think George Allen has become Impolitical's favourite fall candidate...:) Any odds on how many more times we'll see him issue statements clarifying such matters?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The reason for Allen's anger?

Here's the article that formed the basis of the reporter's question at the Allen-Webb debate, posed to George Allen and which made him become angry. The question was regarding his reported Jewish heritage. So the next question becomes, why is Allen so reluctant to acknowledge it? Here's an excerpt which gives you a sense of the issue for Allen:
Allen’s own African heritage casts a different light on the matter. Though Etty Allen seems not to have dwelled on it during her years in the spotlight as a coach’s wife, she comes from the august Sephardic Jewish Lumbroso family. Her father, who was the main importer of wines and liquors in Tunis — including the Cinzano brand — was known in France, where he lived after World War II, as part of the family, according to French Jewish sources. If both of Etty’s parents were born Jewish — which, given her age and background, is likely — Senator Allen would be considered Jewish in the eyes of traditional rabbinic law, which traces Judaism through the mother.

This might complicate life for Allen, a practicing Presbyterian who besides running for re-election this year in Virginia is often mentioned as a possible Republican 2008 contender. Political analyst John Mercurio of National Journal’s noted tip sheet, The Hotline, said that any complication “would depend largely on how this information was revealed.”

“If it was discovered that Allen knew this family history, but attempted to keep it under wraps for whatever reason, it could do great harm to any political campaign,” Mercurio wrote in an e-mail. “He’d face serious questions, in the wake of the Macaca incident and his history with the Confederate flag, of whether he’s both racially prejudiced and anti-semitic. Given the intensely pro-Israel sentiment that exists in this country today, that could be a huge political liability — but on the other hand, if this is something he discovers and promptly reveals about himself, and does so with a sense of pride in his family history, I don’t think he’d face much backlash at all.”
His response in the debate to a question on his heritage suggests he's decided to handle it in the, let's say, sub-optimal method. Debates can certainly give people an insight into a candidate's immediate, gut reaction to such questions, don't they?

One other interpretation of his angered reaction...if it's widely known his mother is from north Africa, then it may be that he actually has heard the word "macaca" before and it suggests something more serious about his use of the word. He has claimed all along that it was just a "made up" word and he'd never heard it before.

Got to love the Virginia Senate race...

Allen gets angry

At a debate with Webb, he's asked a question by one of the debate panel about his mother's religion and he gets a little ticked...methinks he doth protest too much. Why is this such a sensitive area for Allen? Think a nerve was struck. Displayed a little of that feisty spirit he showed when singling out the Webb kid and calling him macaca. You never know when Allen's going to turn on that famous charm, do you? Sounds like someone's a little irritated that the cakewalk he presumed is not exactly turning out that way...

Olbermann on Bush, the thought policeman



On Bush's remark that it is "unacceptable to think" that any action of the U.S. can be compared at all to actions of extremists...bravo to Olbermann for standing up to this bully once more.

Don't you love the outrage of the wingnuts in reaction to Olbermann...:) They've had a free ride for six years with O'Reilly blathering on with his opinions, yet anyone else dain to do it, the horror, the horror...

The Maher Arar report

Marshall, Morin, Milgaard...Maher Arar.

The terrible result of a U.S. rendition gone horribly awry...something for the Americans to keep in mind as they ponder their detainee legislation and what it says to the world when the U.S. enables the torture of innocent individuals like Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen. Tortured for 10 months in a Syrian cell...

Mini Bush has an exit strategy

And he's setting the bar quite high:
"The exit strategy is success," Mr. Harper said. "There will be no other conditions under which this government leaves Afghanistan. We will succeed in our security mission and we will see that country moving in irreversible progress to being an economically prosperous and peaceful society. That is the only way this government will leave."
Success? Sounds like a long time in coming, my friend, care to be a little more explicit? People would like you to act like you're on top of this and not ignore it for months at a time and say little while Canadians are dying. People get restless:
The number of respondents who said they supported the mission remained significantly lower than those who said they opposed it: 42 per cent said they agreed with the decision to send troops while 49 per cent said they disagreed.

And a clear majority, 57 per cent of those polled, said the price Canadians are paying in terms of casualties is too high.
So "success" is the determining factor of the length of the mission. Here are some stark observations to think about while pondering Mini Bush's decision making criteria:
Victory in war, the University of Calgary analyst said, is not only taking territory, "but keeping it" and improving life for the locals in ways that can be clearly measured, in terms of security and quality of life.
...
One American analyst, John Pike of globalsecurity.org, wondered how long Canada's military could sustain such losses.
...
In Afghanistan, Pike envisions a near-endless scenario.

"It's not going to end," he said of the Afghan war. "And it may get worse before it gets better ... it's going to last for decades."
...
Declarations of victory in Afghanistan will be difficult, he said. In Iraq there are metrics — measurable indices like electricity, oil supplies, security forces and cellphone use.

"There are no metrics in Afghanistan," he said. That will make progress — the basis of victory — difficult to measure.
Lots more where that came from...even the experts find it difficult to describe what a victory or success will look like. Mini Bush is certainly confident that he knows better though...:)

Bush at the UN

"Take the Lead on Darfur" suggests the NYTimes editorial board today in their message to Bush...if Afghanistan, a highly troubled, tribal society terrorized by the Taliban warrants international forces then surely Darfur is equally deserving. This is an urgent matter that Bush could really focus the world on since the whole world will be watching...

Monday, September 18, 2006

GOP fighting Rosie O'Donnell

Glad to see they're taking on the real important issues of the day in this election...inflammatory tactics, as usual, par for the course for the GOP.

For this reason alone, Bush deserves to be defeated in November

The people sent to Iraq by the Bush administration in 2003 to commence the reconstruction of Iraq were largely unqualified political hacks who had to profess loyalty to Bush and his terror policies.
Many of those chosen by O'Beirne's office to work for the Coalition Provisional Authority, which ran Iraq's government from April 2003 to June 2004, lacked vital skills and experience. A 24-year-old who had never worked in finance -- but had applied for a White House job -- was sent to reopen Baghdad's stock exchange. The daughter of a prominent neoconservative commentator and a recent graduate from an evangelical university for home-schooled children were tapped to manage Iraq's $13 billion budget, even though they didn't have a background in accounting.

The decision to send the loyal and the willing instead of the best and the brightest is now regarded by many people involved in the 3 1/2 -year effort to stabilize and rebuild Iraq as one of the Bush administration's gravest errors. Many of those selected because of their political fidelity spent their time trying to impose a conservative agenda on the postwar occupation, which sidetracked more important reconstruction efforts and squandered goodwill among the Iraqi people, according to many people who participated in the reconstruction effort.
This is just an outrage, especially since Bush has taken to elevating the struggle to stabilize Iraq as the central front in the war on terror. The locus of his clash of civilizations. The modern Omaha Beach or whatever other WWII analogy he dreams up on a given day. He has completely undermined the Iraq effort by not putting the right people or resources there.

Is the American voter ever going to hold Bush to account for repeated instances of complete incompetence?

What, no crayons?

W likes bright markers...

This should be good

Watch the contortions performed on the detainee legislation this week. Bush et al. are desperate to get their immunity on this issue before the congressional break. How McCain, Warner and Graham will bend is the question...

More "NATO" soldiers killed

Grim news today:
Afghan police said a suicide bomber on a bicycle attacked Canadian troops while they were giving out aid.

Several Canadian soldiers had been killed and about a dozen wounded, said a police officer. About 25 civilians, most of them children, had also been wounded, said the officer, who declined to be identified.
That's from the Reuters story which reports Canadian soldiers have been killed, quoting Afghan police. In all the AP reports, the reference is to NATO soldiers, and NATO says this:
NATO said four of its soldiers were killed but declined to provide their nationalities.
Is this a new policy? I think Canadians have a right to know if Canadian soldiers are being killed...

Boots as a metaphor for the Virginia Senate race

(AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

This is such a great photo. Allen's cowboy boots versus Webb, the military man, wearing combat boots to a debate. Given the problems facing the U.S., how do you think a military heavy state like Virginia might lean? Webb did quite well on MTP, I thought, in providing intelligent positions on Iraq.

And there's a great article in the NY Times today, "As Senator Falters, a Democrat Rises in Virginia," on the now competitive Virginia race. Why am I so interested in this race? Allen to me is a surrogate Bush. A smiling dolt who mouths platitudes yet whose substance is suspect. The type of politician we don't need to see anymore of and who doesn't need to get any encouragement for an '08 run. Oh yeah, and he's a morally questionable Rethuglican (see "macaca" episode).

Webb is really a compelling candidate. Former Reagan Navy Secretary. Son is currently deployed in Iraq. Seems to relish the fight in taking on Allen and has been driven to get into this race because of the Iraq war, despite knowing what a longshot he was and having as he puts it, "zero dollars and no staff."

Think the YouTube factor might make up for his lack of money? Stay tuned...here's a snippet:

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Virginia Senate should get even closer...

Sounds like the Virginia Senate candidates, Allen and Webb, on MTP were entertaining. I've heard Chris Matthews say he doubts whether Webb has, in Matthews' famous vernacular, the "Juice" to win. Reading this account, it sounds like he does. I'm sure there'll be lots of video to come so people can judge for themselves...

More fun with Condi

Ted Rall

British film, "Death of a President" wins a prize

At the close of the Toronto International Film Festival. Are you sitting down, Rush Limbaugh, you big, fat idiot? Remember now, it's British:
Briton Gabriel Range's controversial speculative documentary Death of a President took the FIPRESCI prize, handed out by international critics, "for the audacity with which it distorts reality, to reveal a larger truth."
And "Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing" also earned a prize...we're a veritable bastion of free speech up here...:)

There's a lot to cover

Raw Story is today publicizing the Olbermann segment with constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley from Friday on Bush's motivation to get his detainee legislation passed. "Covering his own backside" is their choice line from the segment...:)

Occupy

Did anyone else read this headline, "U.S. and State Plan to Occupy Freedom Tower," and envision a military occupation? Just wondering...

Who are the defeatists here anyway?

Frank Rich today, "The Longer the War, the Larger the Lies," is one of his best of late, tackling the ongoing onslaught of lies from Bush and his crowd. A comical point of view on Cheney:
The untruths are flying so fast that untangling them can be a full-time job. Maybe that’s why I am beginning to find Dick Cheney almost refreshing. As we saw on “Meet the Press” last Sunday, these days he helpfully signals when he’s about to lie. One dead giveaway is the word context, as in “the context in which I made that statement last year.” The vice president invoked “context” to try to explain away both his bogus predictions: that Americans would be greeted as liberators in Iraq and that the insurgency (some 15 months ago) was in its “last throes.”

The other instant tip-off to a Cheney lie is any variation on the phrase “I haven’t read the story.” He told Tim Russert he hadn’t read The Washington Post’s front-page report that the bin Laden trail had gone “stone cold” or the new Senate Intelligence Committee report(PDF) contradicting the White House’s prewar hype about nonexistent links between Al Qaeda and Saddam. Nor had he read a Times front-page article about his declining clout. Or the finding by Mohamed ElBaradei of the International Atomic Energy Agency just before the war that there was “no evidence of resumed nuclear activities” in Iraq. “I haven’t looked at it; I’d have to go back and look at it again,” he said, however nonsensically.
And a more serious point, suggesting that Bush should put his money where his mouth is if this is indeed a struggle of civilizations:
Perhaps the only way to strike back against this fresh deluge of fiction is to call the White House’s bluff. On Monday night, for instance, Mr. Bush flatly declared that “the safety of America depends on the outcome of the battle in the streets of Baghdad.” He once again invoked Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, asking, “Do we have the confidence to do in the Middle East what our fathers and grandfathers accomplished in Europe and Asia?”
...
“Even the most sanguine optimist cannot yet conclude we are winning,” John Lehman, the former Reagan Navy secretary, wrote of the Iraq war last month. So what do we do next? Given that the current course is a fiasco, and that the White House demonizes any plan or timetable for eventual withdrawal as “cut and run,” there’s only one immediate alternative: add more manpower, and fast. Last week two conservative war supporters, William Kristol and Rich Lowry, called for exactly that — “substantially more troops.” These pundits at least have the courage of Mr. Bush’s convictions. Shouldn’t Republicans in Congress as well?

After all, if what the president says is true about the stakes in Baghdad, it’s tantamount to treason if Bill Frist, Rick Santorum and John Boehner fail to rally their party’s Congressional majority to stave off defeat there. We can’t emulate our fathers and grandfathers and whip today’s Nazis and Communists with 145,000 troops. Roosevelt and Truman would have regarded those troop levels as defeatism.
So how about it, W?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Stalling the Bush detainee law

Interesting article here on the Warner, McCain and Graham opposition to the Bush detainee legislation. The article suggests that support for the Warner position is growing among Republicans in the Senate:
One aide said on Saturday that the number of Senate Republicans behind the three senators was widening beyond the 8 or 10 they had anticipated, with lawmakers — heavily influenced by Mr. Powell’s stance — preparing to soon go public with their views.
And there's this:
A Republican senator separately described the clash between the White House and Mr. Warner’s group as “a train wreck.”
Yeah, I guess if everyone's not in lockstep, caving to the White House, it's a "train wreck." The GOP's certainly not used to debate these days, are they?

For all of the frustration that's been expressed, for years, about Colin Powell's unwillingness to break from Bush on key matters, it just may be that he's been saving his heft for an issue like this. His weighing in now with opposition to Bush's detainee efforts speaks all the more loudly.

Digging a trench around Baghdad

That's the report today. What to make of this? Think of any large city, say the one you live in. Then imagine digging a trench around it and creating checkpoints around the perimeter to control entry. Sounds like a desperate measure to reestablish control and doubtful it'll work, yet they seem to have no choice:
It is unclear whether Baghdad can really be sealed off, given the city’s circumference of about 60 miles. With so much terrain, guerrillas might find areas that are unconstrained by the trenches and checkpoints. On the main roads, traffic could be snarled for miles, especially in the final days of Ramadan, when people travel to celebrate with their families.
Oh and by the way, while it's all terror all the time in Washington, remember what a mess Iraq is:
There has been a surge in the number of Iraqis killed execution-style in the last few days, with scores of bodies found across the city despite an aggressive security plan begun last month. The Baghdad morgue has reported that at least 1,535 Iraqi civilians died violently in the capital in August, a 17 percent drop from July but still much higher than virtually all other months. (emphasis added)
Over 1500 deaths in Baghdad in August. That is staggering. And:
Seven bodies were found in four different parts of Baghdad on Friday, an Interior Ministry official said. An American soldier was killed by a roadside bomb south of Baghdad, and another was killed Thursday night by a bomb northwest of Baghdad, the military said. A soldier was missing after an attack in Baghdad on Thursday in which a suicide car bomber killed two soldiers and wounded 30 others. In Anbar Province, a marine died in combat.
Further graphic details from the Post today:
The grisly discoveries of more bodies around the capital illustrated how serious the ongoing sectarian strife has become. According to Iraqi police officials, some of the corpses had disfigured faces. Most were shot in the head. All bore marks of torture. Some were found near a railroad track, others near a bus station. Five were beheaded. All were young men, in civilian clothes, between the ages of 20 and 35.

The bodies were dumped in both Shiite Muslim and Sunni Muslim neighborhoods, east, west and south of the Tigris River, which weaves through the heart of the city. In total, 114 bullet-riddled and tortured corpses have turned up since Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the U.S. army is targeting teenagers for recruitment with video games:

(AP Photo/U.S. Army)

That should help prepare them for the reality they'd face in Iraq...

Bush in the bubble

Maureen Dowd excerpt for Saturday, from "Awake and Scream," focussing on W's many insightful comments emanating from his meeting with conservative columnists this week:
Despite his history reading, Mr. Bush seems to have forgotten Vietnam. “It’s impossible for someone to have grown up in the 50’s and 60’s to envision a conflict with people that just kill mercilessly, using techniques that are kind of foreign to our — to modern warfare,” he said. “But it’s real.” Besides saying he’s in “a struggle between good and evil” — which inflames many Muslims — W. told the columnists he thought America might be experiencing “a Third Awakening,” a religious fervor, because people he meets in rope lines tell him they’re praying for him. That could also be because W.’s policies have led to so much global chaos and hatred for America, his supporters know he needs more prayers.

“I got into politics initially because I wanted to help change a culture,” he said. He wanted to banish the old 60’s “if it feels good, do it” culture and “help usher in an era of personal responsibility.”

He has changed American culture, for sure. Bustling under Bill Clinton, the nation is now insecure about its moral force and military force. The president should take responsibility for the hash he’s made, instead of insisting every decision was correct, and come up with more astute cultural and military analyses. The “awakening” should be W.’s.

The inconvenient Geneva Convention



Listen to constitutional scholar, Jonathan Turley, on a reason for the urgency behind Bush's push to get his military tribunal and Geneva Convention-redefining legislation passed...the White House is seeking what is essentially retroactive immunity for torture that many believe was committed on the 14 suspects recently transferred from secret prisons to Gitmo. If they don't get this immunity now, before the congressional session ends prior to the midterm elections, and the Democrats retake the House, then Bush and other administration officials and CIA officers who knew of, approved or committed such measures could suffer the legal consequences. More here on the legal issues, though primarily addressing the CIA's concerns. Strangely no mention of the responsibilities to be faced by administration officials in that article.

Why did they leave it this late? Didn't foresee the opposition from McCain, Warner and Graham? I find that hard to believe. It's quite the gamble they took, assuming this is indeed a central reason for their push on the torture issue...

Friday, September 15, 2006

Major General Batiste on the Geneva Convention

Taking on Bush's effort to dilute the Convention's standards on treatments of prisoners.



And here's David Gregory taking on Bush in the Rose Garden today, getting Bush to admit that other countries would similarly be able to reinterpret the Convention. What the f*%# is Bush doing...

Colbert gets in on the Condi-MacKay showmance

Did White House coerce military lawyers?

This is a story everyone should read today. Bush is desperate not to suffer a defeat on his terrorist tribunal legislation and it is clearly showing:
White House officials released a letter from senior Pentagon uniformed lawyers, who said they "do not object" to two key sections of the administration-backed bill that would reinterpret U.S. obligations under the Geneva Conventions and protect U.S. intelligence agents from war crimes prosecutions. They then summoned senators from the Armed Services and intelligence committees to an afternoon meeting with Rice and national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley. Seven attended, sources said.

The Pentagon letter immediately generated controversy. Senior judge advocates general had publicly questioned many aspects of the administration's position, especially any reinterpreting of the Geneva Conventions. The White House and GOP lawmakers seized on what appeared to be a change of heart to say that they now have military lawyers on their side.

But the letter was signed only after an extraordinary round of negotiations Wednesday between the judge advocates and William J. Haynes II, the Defense Department's general counsel, according to Republican opponents of Bush's proposal. The military lawyers refused to sign a letter of endorsement. But after hours of cajoling, they assented to write that they "do not object," according to three Senate GOP sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were divulging private negotiations.
Strong-arming the military lawyers, apparently. And yesterday was no shining moment for Tony Snow. He's just so unhelpful at times:
At a feisty briefing, Snow said critics have misconstrued the administration's intent, which he said is to define the Geneva Conventions' ban on cruel and inhumane treatment, not to undermine it.

"Somehow I think there's this construct in people's minds that we want to restore the rack and start getting people screaming, having their bones crunching," Snow said. "And that's not at all what this is about."

He said Powell did not discuss the issue with the White House before releasing his letter.

"They don't understand what we're trying to do here," he said of Powell and retired Army Gen. John W. Vessey Jr., who wrote a similar letter. Asked if Powell is "confused," Snow said, "Yes."

McCain, who was tortured as a Vietnam War prisoner, dismissed similar comments in the committee session, saying Powell knew exactly what he was doing. (emphasis added)
Tony Snow had a very rough day. Great image to throw out there to really capture a moment.

McCain is really in a difficult situation here that's testing his mettle. Let's see how he meets the test. If he caves to Bush, he's compromising on a principle - humane treatment of prisoners - that is at the core of his story. He can't. And if he doesn't, well, watch and see how they threaten his 2008 run in any way they can. I wouldn't put it past them to put in play all the Bush resources that have lined up behind him thus far...