Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Years

Here's a good new year's video for you if you're celebrating tonight...turn it up, it needs it.

"Raymond" star has regrets

Here's a year end epitaph for you...Patricia Heaton has regrets about her involvement in this ad that ran in Missouri this fall opposing the stem cell research initiative. Seems to have hurt her career, as explained in this NYTimes article yesterday which is quite an interesting read. Whether this has everything to do with her political views or something to do with a lengthy run of overexposure (or typecasting perhaps), who knows. In any event, I'm glad to read that she apologized to Michael J. Fox for the ad which she should have known was trouble...

Seen on the Washington Post site

A comment to a story about dignitaries such as Bush and Rumsfeld who did not attend Ford's funeral service last night:
They said that Don Rumsfeld was stuck in New Mexico, but I think he was actually in Iraq wearing a black ski mask.

By ccs4756 | Dec 31, 2006 8:37:35 AM |

A must-read op-ed by Richard Clarke today

"While You Were at War . . " on the serious issues the Bush administration is letting slide as a result of its preoccupation with Iraq.

Bush slept through Saddam hanging, passes on Ford state funeral last night

Just wondering...why wasn't W at the Ford state funeral service last night in the Capitol? Isn't it customary for a sitting President to speak on such occasions? Or was it just another fitting and emblematic episode in the Bush administration with the Veep doing the honours of representing the executive branch.
President Bush sent his regrets; he was cutting cedar and riding his bike on his ranch in Texas.
...
The White House sent out a press release from Crawford, Tex., detailing the logistics of last night's service, then added an asterisk: "Please note that President George W. Bush will not be attending this event." He will pay his respects when he comes back to Washington, then go to the other service on Tuesday. Aides pointed out that this was the same thing Bush did for Reagan's funeral, but Bush had a better excuse that time: He was hosting the G-8 summit of world leaders, not clearing brush on the ranch.

Instead, Bush phoned in a eulogy, using his usual Saturday radio address to proclaim Ford a man of "selfless dedication" and saying, "He always put the needs of his country before his own."

It was a rare trait in official Washington last night.
Ford deserved better in another respect as well. The presentations by Senator Ted Stevens and outgoing Speaker Denny Hastert utterly failed to rise to the occasion. Ted Stevens read through his speech so quickly, with numerous flubs, you'd have thought he was trying to get out of there to catch a plane or something. It was embarrassing. Hastert was, well, just Hastert. It was left to Cheney to give the proper eulogy. And he did a very good job. Too bad this presidency has not seen more of Cheney in this traditional Veep's role. It would have been good for everyone to have him attend more funerals and fewer national security meetings.

Another observation on the Ford funeral, this one of a more mindless variation...did the Ford longtime congressional colleague who collapsed at the beginning of the service in effect perform a subtle tribute to Ford and his penchant for the occasional high profile tumble...:)

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Riveting account of Saddam's last minutes

Here:
The room was quiet as everyone began to pray, including Mr. Hussein. “Prayers be upon Mohammed and his holy family.”

Two guards added, “Supporting his son Moktada, Moktada, Moktada.”

Mr. Hussein seemed a bit stunned, swinging his head in their direction.

They were talking about Moktada al-Sadr, the firebrand cleric whose militia is now committing some of the worst violence in the sectarian fighting; he is the son of a revered Shiite cleric, Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, who many believe Mr. Hussein had murdered.

“Moktada?” he spat out, a mix between sarcasm and disbelief.

The national security adviser in Iraq, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, asked him if he had any remorse or fear.

“No,” he said bluntly. “I am a militant and I have no fear for myself. I have spent my life in jihad and fighting aggression. Anyone who takes this route should not be afraid.”

Video of Saddam before hanging

(AFP/Al Iraqyia)

This video, below, is being shown on CNN, it's likely all that will be shown, at least on the networks. The video captures a minute or so prior to Saddam's hanging when he's being put in place and a noose is being fixed around his neck, what you see in the picture.



CNN also has a link on its home page.

It's good that people will be able to judge for themselves. To many Iraqis, it's justice and they're celebrating. To me, what a hollow, horrible, unsatisfying feeling to experience this.

The most expensive personal vendetta ever?

Could very well be. The Bush family psychodrama has been a costly one indeed.
Two years after the Persian Gulf war, Mr. Hussein ordered an assassination attempt on the elder Bush, an act of spite that the 43rd president would never forget.

“There’s no doubt his hatred is mainly directed at us,” the current president said, speaking to a Republican fund-raising crowd in Houston on Sept. 26, 2002. “This is the man who tried to kill my dad.”

For his part, Mr. Hussein referred to the younger Mr. Bush as “son of the viper.” He delivered a famous snub of the 41st president, constructing a mosaic of the elder Bush’s face on the floor of the Rashid Hotel, perfectly positioned to be repeatedly stepped on. After the American troops reached Baghdad, they crushed the mosaic.

When Mr. Hussein was captured, the president said: “Good riddance, the world is better off without you.” But he dismissed suggestions that a family grudge played a role in shaping his Iraq policy or influenced his decision to go to war. “My personal views,” he said, “aren’t important in this matter.”

But Mr. Buchanan, a longtime observer of the Bush political family in Texas, said that these were no ordinary archenemies and that setting aside personal views entirely seemed impossible.

“I think the president will see this as justice done and may well feel some sense of vindication, in part because of the attempt on his father’s life,” he said. “It’s definitely part of the drama.”
"This is the man who tried to kill my dad."

CNN should show the hanging

Anderson Cooper is reporting that CNN management will first take a look at the hanging images and video once they come in. I think they should show it. Americans and the world should be able to see the full consequences of the invasion of Iraq. It should not be sanitized and withheld due to sensitivities. The brutality and death in Iraq needs to be seen, including Saddam's hanging.

UPDATE: New York Times coverage of media debating what should be shown.

Bush slept through Saddam execution

CNN just reported. There's a surprise.

What an incompetent ass.

From Reuters:
Bush was informed by national security adviser Stephen Hadley around 6:15 p.m. CST (0015 GMT) that the execution would take place in a few hours and was asleep when it occurred, said White House spokesman Scott Stanzel.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Matthews candid on American involvement in the hanging

On Saddam's hanging

The NYTimes coverage in part takes a decidedly "historic" look back at recent history:
When Mr. Hussein came to power three years before the Dujail killings, he ruled over an oil-rich country that was an economic and technical powerhouse in the Middle East with rising cultural and political influence in the region. When he hurtled through the trap door of the gallows Saturday morning, the nation he left behind was a smashed and traumatized remnant of that early promise, desperately trying to restore the most basic diplomatic ties with its neighbors.

In between, Mr. Hussein invaded Iran and Kuwait in wars that cost over a million lives and left his military in a shambles, brutally suppressed a Shiite uprising in the south and saw his country become isolated and impoverished under the weight of United Nations-imposed sanctions. Finally, he was ousted in 2003 and the country fell into a new round of internal violence as the rule of law disintegrated and the Western invaders proved unable to control a country in the aftermath of totalitarian rule.

Those developments, so unwelcome to the Americans who so easily conquered this nation
, showed that Mr. Hussein was also a unifying force whose painful grip held together Iraq’s many ethnicities and sects. Now, three years after his fall, Iraq has descended further and further into chaos. (emphasis added)
The "Western invaders"! This somewhat detached description sounds eery and strange despite its truth.

Some macabre details sneaking out:
The witness reported that celebrations broke out after Hussein was dead, and that there was "dancing around the body."
I'm sure that'll contribute to a peaceful aftermath.

The lighter side...

Soldiers falling, Bush escalating

(REUTERS/Kimberly White)

An American soldier who was the subject of an article in early November in the New York Times for his heroism in trying to rescue a fellow soldier has now been shot by an Iraqi sniper. He was shot in the face, damaging his jaw and upper palate on the left side. No doubt scarred for life.

Meanwhile, Bush continues to consult with his advisers, meandering his way to a solution that will escalate troops into Iraq.

Help, we're melting

Arctic ice shelf breaks up:
A giant ice shelf the size of 11,000 football fields has snapped free from Canada's Arctic, leaving a trail of icy boulders floating in its wake.

The mass of ice broke clear from the coast of Ellesmere Island, about 800 kilometres south of the North Pole. Warwick Vincent of Laval University, who studies Arctic conditions, travelled to the newly formed ice island and couldn't believe what he saw. "It was extraordinary," Vincent said Thursday, adding that in 10 years of working in the region he has never seen such a dramatic loss of sea ice.

"This is a piece of Canadian geography that no longer exists."

The collapse was so powerful that earthquake monitors 250 kilometres away picked up tremors from it.

Scientists say it is the largest event of its kind in 30 years and point their fingers at climate change as a major contributing factor.

New Orleans police officers indicted for Katrina bridge shootings

Unbelievable:
Seven New Orleans police officers were indicted Thursday on charges of first-degree murder or attempted murder in connection with the deaths of two men on a bridge six days after Hurricane Katrina struck.

Four other civilians suffered gunshot wounds in the episode, which took place on Sept. 4, 2005. No officers were hurt.
...
Two families were involved in the shootings. At the base of the bridge, the officers encountered the Bartholomew family: a couple and their teenage daughter and nephew, and the nephew’s friend James Brissette, 19. The family, which filed a civil lawsuit against the officers and the police department, said in court papers that it was trying to reach a grocery store on the other side of the bridge when the police officers began firing at them. Mr. Brissette died, while the nephew, Jose Holmes Jr., 19, jumped behind a barricade. As he lay on the ground, according to the court papers, he was shot at from a distance and then approached by a man who shot him point blank in the abdomen.

Mr. Holmes wound up partly paralyzed with a colostomy bag. Susan Bartholomew, the mother, lost her right arm.
...
Near the top of the bridge, according to a statement issued by the office of Eddie Jordan, the Orleans Parish district attorney, the police encountered Ronald Madison, a mentally retarded man, and his brother Lance, who had been employed by Federal Express for 25 years. The brothers had been forced to swim through floodwaters and had been trying to reach their mother’s house across the bridge, their family said in its civil lawsuit. The family said the brothers were on the bridge with other people they did not know when a rental truck pulled up and a group of heavily armed officers jumped out and began firing.

Ronald Madison, 40, died after being shot seven times in the back. His brother was arrested at the scene and charged with eight counts of attempted murder of a police officer, though no weapon was recovered. The grand jury that handed down Thursday’s indictments declined to indict Lance Madison.

A spokeswoman for Warren J. Riley, the superintendent of police, said he would not comment on the case.
Two Americas indeed...

More coverage here...

Thursday, December 28, 2006

John Edwards getting started



He's clearly differentiating himself from other Democratic candidates. Not your typical kick off. Looks pretty comfortable, doesn't he? I like it.

P.S. Here's the official announcement today, again from New Orleans' ninth ward (RealPlayer video).

Bush's tipping point

Josh Marshall initiated a great discussion on TPM Cafe this week asking what was the tipping point that galvanized opposition to Bush post his 2004 re-election. Lots of responses on Katrina, the botched effort to privatize Social Security, etc. A good year end question and an enjoyable thread to read through.

I'm sick of these people



Two more freaking years of the Bushes...this is their "ungainly" press conference from yesterday on Gerald Ford's passing...

Impeachment of Bush

In the January Harper's magazine, Lewis Lapham apparently argues for the impeachment of Bush based on a littany of evidence and for the purpose of "unearthing" democracy in America. To do so, he argues, is to affirm the constitution and do what it requires rather than ignore the damage done by Bush and co. It's not online yet. Here's a link to a discussion of it. And a better one, here.

Gerald Ford's death and the discussion surrounding the pardoning of Nixon which led to the "debatability" of Nixon's crimes for all these years should reignite, it seems to me, serious consideration of whether Bush should undergo impeachment proceedings.

Bob Woodward: crypt keeper

Surprise, surprise, Bob Woodward has another "embargoed" story he can tell on someone's death...wonder what other secrets Bob's got tucked away in that macabre back pocket of his? It's a little creepy, no?

Anyway, the news from Woodward comes from an interview he did with Gerald Ford in 2004, the relatively early days of the Iraq war. Here are some key excerpts:
Former president Gerald R. Ford said in an embargoed interview in July 2004 that the Iraq war was not justified. "I don't think I would have gone to war," he said a little more than a year after President Bush launched the invasion advocated and carried out by prominent veterans of Ford's own administration.

In a four-hour conversation at his house in Beaver Creek, Colo., Ford "very strongly" disagreed with the current president's justifications for invading Iraq and said he would have pushed alternatives, such as sanctions, much more vigorously. In the tape-recorded interview, Ford was critical not only of Bush but also of Vice President Cheney -- Ford's White House chief of staff -- and then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who served as Ford's chief of staff and then his Pentagon chief.

"Rumsfeld and Cheney and the president made a big mistake in justifying going into the war in Iraq. They put the emphasis on weapons of mass destruction," Ford said. "And now, I've never publicly said I thought they made a mistake, but I felt very strongly it was an error in how they should justify what they were going to do."
...
"Well, I can understand the theory of wanting to free people," Ford said, referring to Bush's assertion that the United States has a "duty to free people." But the former president said he was skeptical "whether you can detach that from the obligation number one, of what's in our national interest." He added: "And I just don't think we should go hellfire damnation around the globe freeing people, unless it is directly related to our own national security."
...
"He was an excellent chief of staff. First class," Ford said. "But I think Cheney has become much more pugnacious" as vice president. He said he agreed with former secretary of state Colin L. Powell's assertion that Cheney developed a "fever" about the threat of terrorism and Iraq. "I think that's probably true."

Describing his own preferred policy toward Saddam Hussein's Iraq, Ford said he would not have gone to war, based on the publicly available information at the time, and would have worked harder to find an alternative. "I don't think, if I had been president, on the basis of the facts as I saw them publicly," he said, "I don't think I would have ordered the Iraq war. I would have maximized our effort through sanctions, through restrictions, whatever, to find another answer." (emphasis added)
The news of Ford's views on Iraq aren't really that surprising. He's not the only prominent politician who has disagreed with Bush's course. There have been many reports on Bush's father's advisers, e.g., Brent Scowcroft, and their disagreement with the policy. Ford, having been President, likely would have garnered much more attention for public disagreement, the rationale for his wanting to "embargo" these thoughts. And since this interview occurred in July, 2004, that's noteworthy. Might it have caused a few problems for Bush in his re-election bid had these views come out? We'll never know. It likely was too early in November of 2004 for Americans to accept the possibility that they had done the wrong thing by going to Iraq. The worm had not turned yet, as they say.

So how does it really help to know Ford's views on Iraq other than to affirm what has now become the majority opinion in America? Perhaps it just serves to magnify the deficiencies in the current American leadership, as Ford's death seems to have done. As I heard Chris Matthews say earlier tonight, it's a reminder that there was a time when national leaders were unifying figures. And by implication, they weren't inherently divisive figures, like Bush.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Mini Bush fessing up to breaking finance laws

A little dose of hypocrisy to kick off the new year for you. Mr. Accountability Act who continues to try to make great hay with the Liberals' adscam scandal has a bit of explaining to do himself on his own party's financial dealings:
After months of heated denials, the federal Conservative party has quietly admitted it failed to publicly disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of donations.

And the muddle over the disclosure meant that at least three party members – including Prime Minister Stephen Harper – donated more than the legal limit last year.

Last Thursday, the party filed a revised financial report for 2005 with Elections Canada, acknowledging that it did not report delegate fees collected for its national convention that year as donations, contrary to political financing laws.

In the revised report, the Conservatives have "reclassified revenue related to the 2005 convention," disclosing an additional $539,915 in previously unreported donations, an extra $913,710 in "other revenue," and an additional $1.45 million in "other expenses."
"Quietly admitted"...:) Sounds like a great issue to kick off the post-holiday Parliament with...

Fun with states

Play this map game and see how you do...:) I got 86% due to weird east coast map drawings.

I didn't know Dick Cheney was in Toronto

"Man shot in face."

More on that rude awakening for W

Biden signals a "no" to the surge conventional wisdom :
Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), the incoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said yesterday that he would oppose any plan by President Bush to increase the number of U.S. troops in Iraq.

"I totally oppose the surging of additional troops into Baghdad, and I think it is contrary to the overwhelming body of informed opinion, both people inside the administration and outside the administration," Biden told reporters yesterday. He said he plans to hold hearings for his panel next month in a bid to influence the president's decision.

Bush is said to be studying a plan to send as many as 30,000 additional troops to Iraq, possibly to help stabilize Baghdad, as part of a new strategy to improve security and stem the escalating sectarian violence. Biden contended that such a move "will not have any positive effect, except extremely temporarily."
Good for him. Stand up, stand up, stand up! What's a Democratic majority for if not to oppose the witless wonder who has ensnarled Americans into this quagmire?

A reminder that Republicans today sure aren't what they used to be

Gerald Ford's obituary, a somewhat lengthy piece but worth a read, in the NYTimes today.

A pro-choice Republican who warned of the dangers his party would face if the far right overtook it. Exactly where they are now.

Gerald Ford looks like a giant of statesmanship compared to today's Republican crowd.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

News flash: Bush still doesn't get it

Article in the NYTimes today telling us something we already knew. The troop "surge" is just not on with the American people or the Democratic controlled congress. January should, hopefully, be a very rude awakening for W.

"Macaca" mattered

Muslims in Virginia voted en masse for Webb...

U.S. arrests Iranians in Iraq

Very valuable political and p.r. ammo for the Bush administration just about now...Iranians detained in Iraq. The first Iranians to have been in Iraq thus far? I doubt it. Looks to me like they may be ginning up the case to "surge" troop levels...

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Somebody's having a white Christmas



Footage from the Reluctant Redneck in Boulder, Colorado. No such luck here in Toronto...green as can be. Have a good one...:)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Interview with the week's blowhard

Maureen Dowd's column today, "Trump Fired Up," gives the Donald a chance to air his views on the weighty and not so weighty issues of the day. Timely, I suppose, given his public and no doubt ratings-contrived dust up with Rosie O'Donnell:
When I call De Trop Trump at Mar-a-Lago, he’s still ranting about “that big, fat slob Rosie O’Donnell.” When he granted Tara Conner, the naughty beauty queen, a second chance this week, Rosie made a crack on “The View” about an oft-married snake-oil salesman not being the best person to pass moral judgments. He slimed back, and the Great American Food Fight was on.
That's all on the Donald/Rosie feud, thankfully. Trump, the ever-opinionated one, doesn't think much of W and in perhaps the only noteworthy thing he has to say, gives Hillary a serious hat tip:
Michael Richards and Judith Regan made irredeemable mistakes, in his view, as did Al Gore and John Kerry, when they couldn’t win winnable elections, and W., Cheney and Rummy, when they invaded Iraq.

“No matter how long we stay in Iraq, no matter how many soldiers we send, the day we leave, the meanest, most vicious, most brilliant man in the country, a man who makes Saddam Hussein look like a baby, will take over and spit on the American flag,” he says. “Bush will go down as the worst and by far the dumbest president in history.”

Colin Powell, he considers irredeemable as well: “He’s speaking up now, but he’s no longer relevant. I call him a pathetic and sad figure.”

He thinks John McCain has lost the 2008 election by pushing to send more troops to Iraq but that Hillary should be forgiven for her “horrendous” vote to authorize the war. “Don’t forget that decision was based on lies given to her,” he says. “She’s very smart and has a major chance to be our next president.”
I find it interesting to hear such remarks, even from Trump - as he is a high profile person, that convey a growing respect for her candidacy. Hillary who used to be too smart, too intellectual suddenly has grown into a welcome choice given the comparison to W.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Those wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have really helped to fight terrorism, haven't they?

Read this little item and then answer the question.

Junior MacKay meets with his idol once again

(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

And Junior MacKay is grateful:
"There's clarity as to Canada's position and the findings with respect to Mr. Arar. We've removed him from our watch list. We've urged the United States to take the same steps," said MacKay.

"And I was grateful to hear today that the subject will be re-examined by the State Department and Homeland Security."
...
Rice last met with MacKay when she visited his riding in September. Their apparent ease with one another, his frank admiration and the fact that she calls him Peter unleashed a flurry of baseless speculation about their relationship.

A blacked out day for the White House

In the NYTimes today you'll see an amazing sight. An op-ed piece with blacked out sentences. These are sentences struck out at the instigation of the White House. This step was taken at this time despite the fact that the information they required the CIA to black out has already been released into the public domain. Here's the accompanying explanation:
HERE is the redacted version of a draft Op-Ed article we wrote for The Times, as blacked out by the Central Intelligence Agency’s Publication Review Board after the White House intervened in the normal prepublication review process and demanded substantial deletions. Agency officials told us that they had concluded on their own that the original draft included no classified material, but that they had to bow to the White House.

Indeed, the deleted portions of the original draft reveal no classified material. These passages go into aspects of American-Iranian relations during the Bush administration’s first term that have been publicly discussed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; former Secretary of State Colin Powell; former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage; a former State Department policy planning director, Richard Haass; and a former special envoy to Afghanistan, James Dobbins.

These aspects have been extensively reported in the news media, and one of us, Mr. Leverett, has written about them in The Times and other publications with the explicit permission of the review board. We provided the following citations to the board to demonstrate that all of the material the White House objected to is already in the public domain. Unfortunately, to make sense of much of our Op-Ed article, readers will have to read the citations for themselves. (See links at left.)

The decisions of the C.I.A. and the White House took us by surprise. Since leaving government service three and a half years ago, Mr. Leverett has put more than 20 articles through the C.I.A.’s prepublication review process and the Publication Review Board has never changed a word or asked the White House for permission to clear these articles.

What’s more, we have spent a collective 20 years serving our country as career civil servants in national security, for both Republican and Democratic administrations. We know firsthand the importance of protecting sensitive information. But we also know the importance of shared knowledge. In the entrance to the C.I.A.’s headquarters the words of the Gospel of John are inscribed, “And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”

National security must be above politics. In a democracy, transparency in government has to be honored and protected. To classify information for reasons other than the safety and security of the United States and its interests is a violation of these principles. It is for this reason that we will continue to press for the release of the article without the material deleted.
The blacked out op-ed advocates a global "rapprochement" with Iran, picking up on the Iraq Study Group's suggested pursuit of diplomacy with Iran and Syria. The intervention of the White House at this time to black out evidence of incidents of cooperation between the U.S. and Iran post 9/11 appears designed to stop that train from leaving the station. Leverett and Mann are doing their country a public service by pointing out the White House's actions and likely motivations.

An opening in Iran

The NYTimes in an editorial today, picking up on its report yesterday, continues to push the Bush administration to use the unrest in Iran productively:
Last week, in a remarkable show of courage, students at one of Tehran’s elite universities openly denounced Mr. Ahmadinejad as a dictator and a fascist, forcing him to cut short his planned address.

Their anger had been stoked by a blatantly political purge of professors and students, a crackdown on basic personal freedoms, and worries that economic mismanagement and diplomatic provocations were blighting their future. Two weeks ago, the students chanted, “Forget the Holocaust — do something for us.” Last week, one of them told a reporter: “A nuclear program is our right. But we fear that it will do more harm than good.”

Indeed it would, and it is encouraging to hear from Iranians who recognize that threat. Washington needs to keep pushing for effective economic sanctions that will compel Mr. Ahmadinejad to recognize it as well.

Deal with it

An American who is Muslim will be a congressman. He responded yesterday to a fellow congressman's criticism of his intent to swear on the Koran. Take that, Virgil!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Times to run Iran op-ed by administration critic

Looks like the NYTimes is going to run the op-ed on Iran by administration critic, Flynt Leverett, after all. With blacked out sentences and all. I think that's a most excellent idea. Word is that it's to run tomorrow. Will post later if it does.

Hat tip to disco for assisting with my lacklustre blogging effort in this busy week...:)

Idiot watch

Today's winner: Donald Trump.

Looks like somebody's trying to gin up the poor ratings for his Apprentice show...

I like this

Dion's in campaign mode and is being well received in the West...more here.

Mini Bush's Pandora's Box

Today's development:
Former Parti Québécois leader Bernard Landry has thanked Prime Minister Stephen Harper for helping Quebec along the road to sovereignty by declaring the Québécois a nation.

Mr. Landry, who was Quebec premier before losing to Jean Charest in 2003, asked in a letter published Thursday in Montreal newspapers why Quebec should now be satisfied with being a province in another nation.

“I would like to express my gratitude for this effort to recognize Quebec and by which the Commons contributed to further consolidate our national reality and to make it known to those who were not yet aware of Quebec's true nature,” Mr. Landry wrote.

He assured Mr. Harper that he will “pursue the democratic struggle to have our nation choose freedom as soon as possible” and added Quebec and Canada can then work together more successfully.
And a Merry Christmas to you too, Mr. Landry...

Hey W

You're not George Washington:
“Look, everybody’s trying to write the history of this administration even before it’s over,” Mr. Bush said. “I’m reading about George Washington still. My attitude is, if they’re still analyzing No. 1, 43 ought not to worry about it, and just do what he thinks is right, make the tough choices necessary.”
From his press conference yesterday where he continued to speak in terms of victory in Iraq. Delusions of grandeur, anyone?

Student unrest in Iran

Iran's President is facing growing student opposition to his policies that clamp down on civic freedoms and have brought economic problems. Interesting article in the NYTimes today providing some insight:
The student movement, which planned the 1979 seizure of the American Embassy from the same university, Amir Kabir, is reawakening from its recent slumber and may even be spearheading a widespread resistance against Mr. Ahmadinejad. This time the catalysts were academic and personal freedom.

“It is not that simple to break up a president’s speech,” said Alireza Siassirad, a former student political organizer, explaining that an event of that magnitude takes meticulous planning. “I think what happened at Amir Kabir is a very important and a dangerous sign. Students are definitely becoming active again.”

The protest, punctuated by shouts of “Death to the dictator,” was the first widely publicized outcry against Mr. Ahmadinejad, one that was reflected Friday in local elections, where voters turned out in droves to vote for his opponents.

The students’ complaints largely mirrored public frustrations over the president’s crackdown on civil liberties, his blundering economic policies and his harsh oratory against the West, which they fear will isolate the country.
...
The students also complain about the president’s failure to deliver economic growth and jobs. At last week’s protest, which coincided with a now infamous Holocaust conference held by the Foreign Ministry, students chanted, “Forget the Holocaust — do something for us.”

A student who identified himself only as Ahmad, for fear of retribution, said: “A nuclear program is our right, but we fear that it will bring more damage than good.”

Another student said: “It is so hard and costly to come to this university, but I don’t see a bright future. Even if you are lucky enough to get a job, the pay would not be enough for you to pay your rent.”
Welcome evidence that there are people in Iran who share in a feeling of trepidation about their leader, what he's doing on the world stage and how it affects them personally. Could it be that there's a way of using such unrest against him and get him to somehow play ball on Iraq? Calling all creative diplomats...

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Funny clothing label



An American company selling clothing in France makes a comic addition to their clothing labels...:)

Thanks to disco for the tip...:)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Cheney to be called as a Libby witness

This should be good. Looks like Libby's just about had enough and he's not going down alone. He has no choice, really.

Flack coming back?

People should be careful with what they say about this. These are sensitive times, and people should watch what they say.

In case you don't get my drift, that's my Ari Fleischer impression. Remember the good old days of Ari Fleischer and free speech warnings in the wake of September 11th? Well he might be baa-aack...:)

Run from Rona

Harper to pull the plug on the disastrous environmental turn by Rona Ambrose. Yet he's shuffling her over to Intergovernmental Affairs? I take it that Mini Bush is banking on the Quebecois nation issue being a fait accompli and not a can of worms. That's an iffy proposition to me. Seems like he's taking her out of the line of fire on a major electoral issue only to put her in line on another one that is always latent and that can flame up at any time. And I suppose he's viewing this shuffle as an interim move in any event, counting on an election in 2007. Better hope so. Because it's not clear that she'll do any better with the sensitive Intergovernmental Affairs portfolio. There's blood in the water around Ms. Ambrose and the PQ/Bloc sharks likely smell it. Don't count on them making this any easier for her.

Some of the lowdown from observers cited in the article:
It didn't help Ms. Ambrose that she had to juggle conflicting messages from a micro-managing Prime Minister's Office, says a senior government source who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“The impression I got was that she didn't do her homework. But I have to offset that by saying it doesn't matter if you've done your homework if someone switches the books first thing the next morning.

“At the last minute, they gave her new stuff or didn't give her information. It's not entirely her fault by any means.”

A low point came last week when Ms. Ambrose was corrected on a point of fact by her own assistant deputy minister as she testified before the Commons environment committee.
...
Ms. Ambrose is bright and worked hard to understand her files, said another Conservative insider who did not want to be named.
Nice to see the Conservative insiders dishing. The Rona camp has its supporters. Steve and Sandra B. must be mighty frustrated at their lack of control over such comments. You reap what you sow, guys.

Anyhoo, we'll now see whether it's Rona or the "file" that's determinative of her performance...

Washington Post gets in on the Clinton marriage action

In case you missed it, here's the Washington Post's go round with the subject of the, oooh, wait for it, Clinton marriage and how much of a problem it'll be for Hillary to have Bill in the background if she runs for President. Yeah, big problem.

Yawn.

Bush critic on Iran policy being censored



Flynt Leverett, a former CIA analyst, is being prevented from publishing an op-ed in the NYTimes that is critical of the administration's Iran policy. The CIA is carrying out the wishes of the White House, apparently, and has redacted substantial parts of the op-ed under the guise of national security. He's being threatened with criminal prosecution as well. More details are in the Times today.

The crap that keeps coming down the pike from this despotic lot never ceases to amaze.

Here's a little video gift



Stick around to about the 3 minute mark to hear Damon's comments about Cheney...:)

Idiot watch

Oh yeah, this guy is Presidential material...not.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Colin Powell puts the kibosh on increasing the troops in Iraq

Ouch:
Colin L. Powell, the former secretary of state and former chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, said Sunday that the Army was “about broken” and that he saw nothing to justify an increase in troops in Iraq.

“I am not persuaded that another surge of troops into Baghdad for the purposes of suppression of this communitarian violence, this civil war, will work,” he said in an interview on the CBS News program “Face the Nation.”

“But if somebody proposes that additional troops be sent,” Mr. Powell said, “if I were still chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, my first question to whoever is proposing it: what mission is it that these troops are to accomplish?”

Mr. Powell said heavy demands on the Army had meant “a backlog of equipment that is not being repaired” and “repetitive tours” for soldiers assigned to Iraq. “So if you surge now,” he said, “you’re going to be bringing in troops from the United States who have already been kept there even longer.”
Take that, boss.

Mr. Powell said the United States should be talking directly with the governments of Syria and Iran in an effort to stabilize the region — a contrast to the policy of the Bush administration, which has not engaged in such talks.
And take that, Condi.

Mini Bush Time Canada's newsmaker of the year?


For this reason:
Time Magazine has chosen Prime Minister Stephen Harper its 2006 Canadian Newsmaker of the Year.

Contributing editor Stephen Handelman writes that the prime minister who was "once dismissed as a doctrinaire backroom tactician with no experience in government has emerged as a warrior in power."
A warrior in power. WTF? He of the trailing polling numbers is a warrior in power. Unh hunh. How low the bar has been set that a leader at 32% in national polls can be so described.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

A living rejoinder

Frank Rich's column today, "Mary Cheney’s Bundle of Joy," is a timely year end indictment of the GOP's hypocrisy on gay issues (Foley, Haggard for recent examples) and shameful electorally timed gay-bashing (same-sex marriage ballot initiatives). Here's an excerpt that suggests why the conservative's recent playbook on bashing Democrats for their inclusive views (read, anti-gay-bashing) may no longer be useful wedge devices:
For those who are cheered by seeing the Rovian politics of wedge issues start to fade, the good news does not end with the growing evidence that gay-baiting may do candidates who traffic in it more harm than good. It’s not only centrist American voters of both parties who reject divisive demagoguery but also conservative evangelicals themselves. Some of them are at last standing up to the extremists in their own camp.

No one more dramatically so, perhaps, than Rick Warren, the Orange County, Calif., megachurch leader and best-selling author of “The Purpose Driven Life.” He has adopted AIDS in Africa as a signature crusade, and invited Barack Obama to join the usual suspects, including Senator Brownback, to address his World AIDS Day conference on the issue. This prompted predictable outrage from the right because of Mr. Obama’s liberal politics, especially on abortion. One radio host, Kevin McCullough, demonized the Democrat for pursuing “inhumane, sick and sinister evil” as a legislator. An open letter sponsored by 18 “pro-life” groups protested the invitation, also citing Mr. Obama’s “evil.” But Mr. Warren didn’t blink.

Among those defending the invitation was David Kuo, the former deputy director of the Bush White House’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. In a book, “Tempting Faith,” as well as in interviews and on his blog, the heretical Mr. Kuo has become a tough conservative critic of the corruption of religion by politicians and religious-right leaders who are guilty of “taking Jesus and reducing him to some precinct captain, to some get-out-the-vote guy.” Of those “family” groups who criticized Mr. Obama’s appearance at the AIDS conference, Mr. Kuo wrote, “Are they so blind and possessed with such a narrow definition of life that they can think of life only in utero?” The answer, of course, is yes. The Christian Coalition parted ways with its new president-elect, a Florida megachurch pastor, Joel Hunter, after he announced that he would take on bigger issues like poverty and global warming.

But it is leaders like Mr. Hunter and Mr. Warren who are in ascendance.
...
For all the skeptical theories about the Obama boomlet — or real boom, we don’t know yet — no one doubts that his language about faith is his own, not a crib sheet provided by a conservative evangelical preacher or a liberal political consultant on “values.” That’s why a Democrat from Chicago whose voting record is to the left of Hillary Clinton’s received the same standing ovation from the thousands at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church that he did from his own party’s throngs in New Hampshire. After a quarter-century of watching politicians from both parties exploit religion for partisan and often mean-spirited political gain, voters on all sides of this country’s culture wars are finally in the market for something new.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

I am Time Magazine's person of the year

Really, I am:
Congratulations! You are the Time magazine ''Person of the Year.''

The annual honor for 2006 went to each and every one of us, as Time cited the shift from institutions to individuals -- citizens of the new digital democracy, as the magazine put it. The winners this year were anyone using or creating content on the World Wide Web.
See? That's me...:)

Why?
``For seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game, Time's Person of the Year for 2006 is you,'' the magazine's Lev Grossman wrote.
That part about working for nothing...definitely.

Thank you, Time Magazine, for bestowing this honour on the Impolitical blog...:)

The Dense Prince

"Farewell, Dense Prince," Maureen Dowd's column today has more on the Rumsfeld gold watch ceremony:
James Baker ran after W. with a butterfly net for a while, but it is now clear that the inmates are still running the asylum.

The Defiant Ones came striding from the Pentagon yesterday, the troika of wayward warriors marching abreast in their dark suits and power ties. W., Rummy and Dick Cheney were so full of quick-draw confidence that they might have been sauntering down the main drag of Deadwood.

Far from being run out of town, the defense czar who rivals Robert McNamara for deadly incompetence has been on a victory lap in Baghdad, Mosul and Washington. Yesterday’s tribute had full military honors, a color guard, a 19-gun salute, an Old Guard performance with marching musicians — including piccolo players — in Revolutionary War costumes, John Philip Sousa music and the chuckleheaded neocons and ex-Rummy deputies who helped screw up the occupation, Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, cheering in the audience.

It was surreal: the septuagenarian who arrogantly dismissed initial advice to send more troops to secure Iraq, being praised as “the finest secretary of defense this nation has ever had” by his pal, the vice president, even as a desperate White House drafted ways to reinvade Iraq by sending more troops in a grasping-at-straws effort to reverse the chaos caused by Rummy’s mistakes.

Just imagine the send-off a defense secretary would have gotten who hadn’t sabotaged the Army, Iraq, global security, our chance to get Osama, our moral credibility, the deficit and American military confidence.
...
The Rummy hoopla was a way for W. to signal his decision to shred the Baker-Hamilton study, after reportedly denouncing it as a flaming cow pie. Condi Rice signaled the same, telling The Washington Post that she did not want to negotiate with Syria and Iran, as the Iraq Study Group had proposed, because “the compensation” might be too high.

The Democrats thought that when they had won the election, they won the debate on the war and they had W. cornered. But the president is leaning toward surging over the Democrats, voters, Baker and the Bush 41 crowd and some of his own commanders.

W. seems gratified by the idea that rather than having his ears boxed by his father’s best friend, he’s going to go down swinging, or double down, in the metaphor du jour, on his macho bet in Iraq. He’s reading about Harry Truman and casting himself as a feisty Truman, but he’s heading toward late L.B.J. The White House budget office is studying how much it will cost to finance The Surge, an infusion of 20,000 to 50,000 troops into Baghdad to make one last try at “victory.” The policy would devolve from “We stand down as they stand up” to “We stand up more and maybe someday they will, too.”

Olbermann on Rumsfeld's farewell tour



In case you missed it, here's Olbermann's coverage of Rumsfeld's farewell tour. Remarkable. What does Rumsfeld have on Bush? The prospects of being portrayed unfavourably in a coming book, no doubt...

Stay tuned for Rumsfeld's Medal of Freedom ceremony...

Saturday video



A little Cafferty for you today...note his new nickname for Fox news...:)

Food for thought

George Will on why Obama should run:
First, one can be an intriguing novelty only once. If he waits to run, the past half-century suggests that the wait could be eight years (see reason four, below). In 2016 he will be only 55, but there will be many fresher faces.

Second, if you get the girl up on her tiptoes, you should kiss her. The electorate is on its tiptoes because Obama has collaborated with the creation of a tsunami of excitement about him. He is nearing the point when a decision against running would brand him as a tease who ungallantly toyed with the electorate's affections.

Third, he has, in Hillary Clinton, the optimal opponent. The contrast is stark: He is soothing; she is not. Many Democrats who are desperate to win are queasy about depending on her. For a nation with jangled nerves, and repelled by political snarling, he offers a tone of sweet reasonableness.

Fourth, the odds favor the Democratic nominee in 2008 because for 50 years it has been rare for a presidential nominee to extend his party's hold on the presidency beyond eight years....Only the first President Bush, in 1988, succeeded, perhaps because the country desired a third term for the incumbent, which will not be the case in 2008. So the odds favor a Democrat winning in 2008 and, if he or she is reelected, the Democrat nominated in 2016 losing.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Is your password "password1"?

A blogger passes on some common passwords, from a pool of 34,000 he obtained information about:
The top 20 passwords are (in order): password1, abc123, myspace1, password, blink182, qwerty1, fuckyou, 123abc, baseball1, football1, 123456, soccer, monkey1, liverpool1, princess1, jordan23, slipknot1, superman1, iloveyou1 and monkey.
Recognize any?

W's green Texas roots

Tom Friedman's column today, "Whichever Way the Wind Blows," touts W as having been a great "green" Governor for his signing a law in Texas in 1999 that encouraged the growth of wind power. At first read, it makes W sound like a visionary, almost.
Time for another news quiz: Which American state produces more wind-generated electricity than any other? Answer: Texas. Next question — this one you’ll never get: Which politician launched the Texas wind industry? Answer: Former Gov., now President, George W. Bush.

Yes, there are many things that baffle me about President Bush, but none more than how the same man who initiated one of the most effective renewable energy programs in America, has presided over an administration that for six years has dragged its feet on alternative energy, used its regulatory powers to weaken efficiency standards for major appliances and stuck its head in the sand on global warming.

I’ll wait for historians to sort that out. But here is some immediate advice I can give the president: If you want to salvage any positive legacy, it will not come from Iraq. There are only tears left there. No, the only way for you, Mr. President, to salvage any legacy is to get back in touch with your green Texas roots and devote the rest of your term to REALLY ending America’s oil addiction, liberating us from dependence on petro-authoritarian regimes and making America the leader in renewable energies that combat climate change.
Hmmm, I said to myself, there's got to be something more to this. Well, how about this? Seems W's friend, Sam Wyly, he who ran an anti-environmental ad against John McCain for W back in 2000 and one of W's big financial backers, has interests in - you guessed it - wind power. From a Times article in 2000, this explains W's environmental altruism:
These days, Mr. Wyly can barely restrain himself when he talks about the environment, an interest apparently ignited three years ago, after he, his family members, Maverick Capital and others invested $100 million in GreenMountain.com. Previously, he said, while he and his family had been large political donors to Republican causes, he had never contributed to an environmental group. ''The air is dirty because of the electricity monopolists,'' he said excitedly. ''They have powerful money lobbyists.''

Since that investment, the company has successfully lobbied lawmakers in states like California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Texas to pass laws that deregulate energy markets by either encouraging alternative energy use or requiring that a small portion of the states' electricity pool -- up to 3 percent -- come from nontraditional sources. These include solar power, wind energy, and biomass, which involves the burning of organic matter like wood.
See? W's friend buys an interest in an environmental company, then lobbies W to require Texas deregulate its energy market and require that wind power be a certain percentage of the power pool. Bingo, Wyly's there to clean up.

Yeah, W, go back to your green Texas roots...the green being money...

Creepy speculation

Let this Senator get well. Enough said.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Rove to retire after W's term up?

From political consulting, that is, according to Novakula.

That would be a darn shame.

Here's a Christmas gift idea for you if you're stumped


Bush aviator action figure.

Really.

Good eye over there at the liberalcandy site...:)

This is fun, a "Draft Obama" ad

Mini Bush opening a can of worms

Is this really the priority of the day? Allowing for Senators to be elected? Whatever Mini Bush, satisfy your western base with your red meat chum.

But this is a constitutional issue and who wants to go there? And secondly, this fits the Mini Bush story line, always enamored of how they do things down south...

Mulroney afraid of Dion too

Warning Mini Bush that the environment is a sleeper issue that could doom his prospects. Question, though...if Harper is going to move quickly to an election this coming year, say in the spring...how does he have enough time to recover from the negatives the Conservatives have on the issue?

Jon Stewart says goodbye to Rumsfeld



Classic.

Tony Snow taking the heat

Tony Snow's in "I don't know" purgatory:
To paraphrase Howard Baker's immortal question: What didn't Tony Snow know, and when didn't he know it?

The answer: A lot, and frequently.
...
On Monday, reporters wanted to know whether newly confirmed Defense Secretary Robert Gates would attend White House meetings on Iraq policy. "I don't know," said Snow. Would the Iraq experts visiting the White House talk about the Iraq Study Group's particulars with Bush? "I don't know." Was there anything in the report that the administration hadn't already considered? "I don't know. Again, good question. I don't know. I mean, there are some -- again, I don't know."

In recent days, the "I don't know" reply has greeted queries about whether the administration would talk to Iran and Syria, Pakistan's plans for Kashmir, benchmarks for reducing violence in Iraq, the process of preparing the federal budget, when Bush might name a new U.N. ambassador, and whether the president would address the nation about Iraq. Even the seemingly obvious -- whether Bush would be outlining "a different course in Iraq" -- stumped Snow. "I just -- I don't know," he said.
Milbank has a way of putting his finger on an underlying sentiment that's ripening. Snow's stonewalling of late and argumentative nature have been increasing, no doubt in concert with turmoil in the White House over what to do on Iraq. So Tony's catching flies these days...and most arrogantly, at that.

Saudis kick in for W

They're always there for the Bushes when they need them. A little tidbit in the NYTimes today, doled out just as W is being pressured to do something with the deteriorating mess in Iraq. The Saudis weigh in with their position:
Saudi Arabia has told the Bush administration that it might provide financial backing to Iraqi Sunnis in any war against Iraq’s Shiites if the United States pulls its troops out of Iraq, according to American and Arab diplomats.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia conveyed that message to Vice President Dick Cheney two weeks ago during Mr. Cheney’s whirlwind visit to Riyadh, the officials said. During the visit, King Abdullah also expressed strong opposition to diplomatic talks between the United States and Iran, and pushed for Washington to encourage the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, senior Bush administration officials said.

The Saudi warning reflects fears among America’s Sunni Arab allies about Iran’s rising influence in Iraq, coupled with Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. King Abdullah II of Jordan has also expressed concern about rising Shiite influence, and about the prospect that the Shiite-dominated government would use Iraqi troops against the Sunni population.
The Saudis want W to "stay the course," as it were. Afraid of the vacuum that will be created if there's an American pull out and a possible Sunni massacre at the hands of Shiites. So there you have it. A salvo from the Saudis on their backing of Iraqi Sunnis. A well-timed piece of information for Bush which makes his ability to keep troops there and make an extra push more palatable as the prospect of regional powers getting involved becomes a public factor.

Cheney's still running this thing, by the way...all the more evident with this news.

Dowd on the early Democratic '08 frontrunners

Maureen Dowd today, "Will Hillzilla Crush Obambi?" continuing the media focus of late on the two perceived Democratic '08 front-runners, Hillary & Obama:
In terms of legislative and senatorial substance, it’s a wash. So far, she’s Senator Pothole and he’s Senator Bestseller List.

But unlike her impertinent challenger, Hillary will have to do a lot of fancy dancing to explain her opinions about the Iraq war. And we know that she’s not a good dancer.

Built on a cult of personality, her campaign will be ruthless in stomping on Obambi, as a Chicago columnist referred to the idealistic pol who was too naïve to steer clear of a sleazy fund-raiser who wanted to buy his favor with a sweetheart real estate deal.

Hillary hasn’t waited this long and market-tested this assiduously for nothing. Obambi’s message may be mushy communitarianism — we’re a crazy quilt and why can’t we all get along? — but her message is simply the Divine Right of Clintons.

So there is a second question, perhaps one that will trump race and gender. It’s about whether he’s tough and she’s genuine.
And maybe a third question...whether Al Gore will jump in if these two can't overcome such doubts and a solid front-runner doesn't emerge...oh yeah, and there's this guy who apparently is much improved...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Bloc this

"Bloc issues ultimatum on Afghan mission: Duceppe says he'll try to topple Tories unless focus of troops shifts to rebuilding."

Sounds to me like someone's a little afraid of Monsieur Dion eating into his Bloc of votes as Dion's environmental views gain support in Quebec...

Rona's not up to the job

Quite the appearance before a parliamentary committee yesterday for Ms. Ambrose:
Ms. Ambrose was scorned by MPs for insisting repeatedly that Canada had no unpaid debts to the international Kyoto system, even though MPs said United Nations documents show that -- at $1.5-million -- Canada owes more than any other country.

Eventually Ms. Ambrose's assistant deputy minister, David McGovern, came to the table and confirmed that in fact the year-old debt has not been paid.

"I'm increasingly concerned in terms of the briefings you're getting on some of the critical issues," NDP MP Nathan Cullen told the minister after she was corrected.
Know your file, Rona. Seems you're the last one in the room to know a basic fact. How embarassing. Mini Bush appears to be letting you twist in the wind in the environment ministry. And here's another gem from Rona:
During a fiery appearance before the Commons environment committee in October, she attacked the Liberals for spending $100-million on overseas Kyoto projects, listing project after project. But it became clear afterward that Ms. Ambrose was mistaken and no money had actually been spent on such credits.
Guess Harper's got slim pickings. When does out and out incompetence lead to a demotion, however?

Gore still kicking it around

Bit of a slow news day. But there's word Gore still might throw his hat in at some point to the Democratic nomination process.

Oh, and there's the usual chaos in Baghdad where 60 were killed in a car bombing today...while W is getting cherry-picked advice on what to do.

Think the U.S. would be bogged down in Iraq if Gore had legally won in 2000? Not a chance. Oh yeah, but he sighs annoyingly during debates and you wouldn't want to have a beer with him...

Monday, December 11, 2006

Taliban regrouping in Afghanistan

Big story in the NYTimes today reminding the world that the Taliban is making a comeback along the border between northern Pakistan and Afghanistan:
Islamic militants are using a recent peace deal with the government to consolidate their hold in northern Pakistan, vastly expanding their training of suicide bombers and other recruits and fortifying alliances with Al Qaeda and foreign fighters, diplomats and intelligence officials from several nations say. The result, they say, is virtually a Taliban mini-state.

The militants, the officials say, are openly flouting the terms of the September accord in North Waziristan, under which they agreed to end cross-border help for the Taliban insurgency that revived in Afghanistan with new force this year.

The area is becoming a magnet for an influx of foreign fighters, who not only challenge government authority in the area, but are even wresting control from local tribes and spreading their influence to neighboring areas, according to several American and NATO officials and Pakistani and Afghan intelligence officials. (emphasis added)
The report also mentions the possibility that Osama bin Laden and al Zawahiri may be among the militant thugs ruling the area. Predictions for an escalation in violence in Afghanistan in 2007 are made, endangering NATO soldiers presently there, including Canadians.

It's not clear yet what the Americans are going to do about Iraq and specifically, whether any troops will be leaving in the near future. If they do, here's a destination that is crying out for resolution. The terrorists are making a home among the Taliban once more, it appears, no doubt plotting again.

What was the point of going over there if not to put an end to this?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

WTF? Rumsfeld does farewell tour

In Iraq, visiting the troops on a final "surprise" visit...what is this about? The U.S. midterm elections were widely viewed as a resounding slap at the Bush administration for the Iraq debacle, with Rumsfeld at the helm. Rumsfeld resigns as a result and yet he takes a farewell lap at the Pentagon, and this weekend in Iraq...isn't it a tad inappropriate for him to be doing this farewell tour thing? Since when is a cabinet official who resigns under such a disastrous cloud permitted to take this kind of tour? Shouldn't he be keeping a low profile while he's on his way out instead of publicly and defiantly proceeding on in this grandiose manner? WTF is going on here?

The L word

Frank Rich's column today, "The Sunshine Boys Can't Save Iraq," takes aim at the Iraq Study Group and its work. Some excerpts follow. On the recommendations made:
Its recommendations are bogus because the few that have any teeth are completely unattainable. Of course, it would be fantastic if additional Iraqi troops would stand up en masse after an infusion of new American military advisers. And if reconciliation among the country’s warring ethnicities could be mandated on a tight schedule. And if the Bush White House could be persuaded to persuade Iran and Syria to “influence events” for America’s benefit. It would also be nice if we could all break the bank in Vegas.

The group’s coulda-woulda recommendations are either nonstarters, equivocations (it endorses withdrawal of combat troops by 2008 but is averse to timelines) or contradictions of its own findings of fact. To take just one example: Even if we could wave a magic wand and quickly create thousands more military advisers (and Arabic-speaking ones at that), there’s no reason to believe they could build a crack Iraqi army and police force where all those who came before have failed. As the report points out, the loyalties and capabilities of the existing units are suspect as it is.

By prescribing such placebos, the Iraq Study Group isn’t plotting a way forward but delaying the recognition of our defeat. Its real aim is to enact a charade of progress to pacify the public while Washington waits, no doubt in vain, for Mr. Bush to return to the real world.
On the choices faced by Bush and the growing consequences:
Since these troops don’t exist and there is no public support in either America or Iraq for mobilizing them, the president can’t satisfy the hawks even if he chooses to do so. Since he’s also dead set against a prompt withdrawal, we already know what his policy will be, no matter how many “reviews” he conducts. He will stay the course, with various fake-outs along the way to keep us from thinking we’ve “lost,” until the whole mess is deposited in the lap of the next president.

But as Chuck Hagel said last week, “The impending disaster in Iraq is unwinding at a rate that we can’t quite calibrate.” It is yet another, even more reckless flight from reality to suppose that the world will stand still while we dally. The Iraq Study Group’s insistence on dragging out its deliberations until after Election Day for the sake of domestic politics mocked and undermined the urgency of its own mission. Meanwhile the violence metastasized. Eleven more of our soldiers were killed on the day the group finally put on its show. The antagonists in Iraq are not about to take a recess while we celebrate Christmas. The mass exodus of Iraqis, some 100,000 per month, was labeled “the fastest-growing refugee crisis in the world” by Refugees International last week and might soon rival Darfur’s.
If you want to blow your mind a little bit more, have a look at David Brooks' fare today, "After the Fall," a hypothetical historical look back at the history of the Middle East following a "Second Thirty Years' War" which he surmises is in the offing once the U.S. pulls out of Iraq. It's chilling if that's what we're in for...this is a momentous point to which W has so foolishly brought the world.

The "L" word? Rich dares to state that Iraq is lost...cue the right wing delusionals for their attacks...

Do ya think?

"Regulators Study Tighter Controls on Polonium 210."

Dion support growing?

Mini Bush won't like this much:
Support for Canada's Liberal Party has surged under its new leader, Stephane Dion, to the point where it would form the next government if an election were held soon, according to a poll published on Saturday.

The EKOS poll for the Toronto Star and Montreal's La Presse indicated 40.1 percent of voters would choose the Liberals, who form the opposition in Parliament.

That puts them well ahead of the 33.5 percent support for the Conservatives, who rule with a minority government.
...
Liberal fortunes have rebounded since the party chose Dion as its new leader on December 2, but this was the first time in three years it topped the pivotal 40 percent mark.

To win a majority of seats in the House of Commons in Canada's first-past-the-post electoral system, the winning party generally must win about 40 percent of the popular vote.
Those attacks on Dion for his dual citizenship, petty as they are, reflect a nervousness about Dion's potential on the part of Conservatives. It looks like they've got good reason to be worried.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

A George Allen postscript

The Washington Post today has an interview, of sorts, with defeated Virginia Senator George Allen. Just in case you were wondering what happened to one of the highest profile Republican losers from this fall...this is his year-end epitaph, I guess. Not much new in the article, just a confirmation that he's in denial about why he lost. How the mighty can fall so quickly...

Trying to deprogram the Decider

Maureen Dowd with an appropriate play-like scenario today, "The Oval Intervention," describing the absurdly disconnected from reality presidency:
It is not a happy mood in the Oval Office.

Poppy is sobbing, his face in his hands, slumped in one of the yellow-and-blue striped chairs. Laura is screaming the words “Oscar de la Renta” and “rendition” into her cellphone, still seeing red after showing up at a White House gala in the same $8,400 red gown as three other women who did not happen to be first lady.

Bob Gates is grim-faced, but not as grim-faced as Barbara, whose look could freeze not only the Potomac but the Tigris and the Euphrates. Scowcroft is over on the couch, trying to nap while Kissinger drones softly in his ear.

And, of course, there is the Deprogrammer for the Decider, James Baker, perfectly suited in bright green tie and suited perfectly for his spot behind the president’s desk.

The Council of Elders had hoped this Apocalypto moment wouldn’t be necessary. They had assumed that the scorching Iraq Study Group report would have the same effect on Junior as the bucket of cold water that Mr. Baker’s strict father, a lawyer known as “the Warden,” used to throw on his face to wake him up as a boy.

But Junior is trying to wriggle away completely, offering a decidedly cool response to the attempt to yank him into the reality-based community. He rallied his last two allies — his English poodle and his Scottish terrier, Blair and Barney.
Will the mocking make W change course? How about a 27% approval rating on his handling of Iraq? Time to apply the George Costanza opposite strategy, I'd say...

A whole new meaning to the war on Christmas

Some miscreant in Illinois looking for attention. Shades of the Miami seven with aspirations but little in the way of means to do anything significant.

Dion on his dual citizenship



Well done...makes those asking look very small-minded.

(You may need to turn the volume up)

Friday, December 08, 2006

Christmas video



I referred to this yesterday, happy holidays...:)

Leverage

Tom Friedman returns to the Iraq issue today, "Set a Date and Buy Some Leverage," advocating a date be set to withdraw troops and shake up the dynamics:
The brutally honest Baker-Hamilton assessment of the Iraq morass implies that we need to leave Iraq if the factions there don’t get their act together, but it also urges a last-ditch effort to enlist the help of Syria and Iran to salvage something decent. Both are good suggestions, but they will only have a chance of being effective if we go one notch further and set a fixed date — now — for America to leave Iraq.

The only hope of moving the factions inside Iraq, not to mention Syria and Iran, toward reconciliation is if we have leverage over them, which we now lack. The currency of Middle East politics is pain. And right now, all the pain is being inflicted on us and on Iraqi civilians. Only if we tell all the players that we are leaving might we create a different balance of pain and therefore some hope for a diplomatic deal. Trying to do diplomacy without the threat of pain is like trying to play baseball without a bat.
He suggests Iran and Syria are standing by, loving the chaos in Iraq, but will come to regret America leaving:
The minute we leave, chaos in Iraq is not their friend anymore. First of all, if there is a full-fledged civil war, Syria, a largely Sunni country, will have to support the Iraqi Sunnis. Shiite Iran will have to support the Iraqi Shiites. That would mean Iran and Syria, now allies, will be on opposite sides of the Iraqi civil war. That will leave them with the choice of either indirectly fighting each other or working to settle the war.

Moreover, right now we are “Mr. Big” in Iraq, soaking up all the popular anger. But the minute we’re gone, Iran becomes “Mr. Big” and the age-old tensions between Iraqi Arab Shiites and Iranian Persian Shiites will surface. Iran and Moktada al-Sadr will be at each other’s throats.
...
As long as we’re in Iraq, Iraq implodes, and we absorb a lot of the pain. The minute we leave, Iraq explodes — or at least no one can be sure it won’t — and that is a real threat to the Iraqi factions and neighbors. Even facing that reality might not knock enough sense into them to compromise, but at least then they’ll have their medieval religious war without us.

Only that threat will give us leverage. Yes, it would be a sad end to our involvement there. But everything Iraq’s leaders have done so far suggests that a united, democratic and pluralistic Iraq is their second choice. Tribal politics is still their first choice. We can’t go on having our first-choice kids dying for their second choice.
It's quite the gambit. Set a date to leave and hope the Middle East doesn't devolve into a regional war but that cooler self-interested Syrian and Iranian heads will prevail and prevent it. Pretty incredible choices that are left.

Mini Bush loses his gay bashing motion

Gay bashing? Yes, it was. Bringing his cowardly motion on re-opening the same-sex marriage issue before the House, just to fulfill an election promise and once more subject gay persons' rights to yet another bout with uncertainty was shameful.

Thankfully, he and his ilk are outnumbered.

Another poll shows Mini Bush losing support

That's a shame. In this poll on national support, the Liberals are at 35% to the Conservatives' 31%.
"This is the continuation of a phenomenon that's been going on for a while now," pollster Bruce Anderson said. "It's the somewhat slow and somewhat steady erosion of Conservative support among urban voters, particularly in Quebec but also in Ontario."
And did you see Stephane Dion, the next PM of Canada, on The National last night doing an extended interview? He was hoarse from last week's events yet still managed to hit it out of the park on most questions. Poor English? Are you kidding me? He's ten times better than Chretien who managed just fine, thank you. He managed to make those challenging his French citizenship (by birth) seem quite small last night as well:
"If it's a problem for a significant number of Canadians and if it's a liability that may keep Mr. Harper in power and prevent us … [from bringing] together more than any other country in the world: economic prosperity, social justice, environmental sustainability, then I will do this sad thing then, to renounce my French citizenship that I received from my mother," Dion told CBC's Peter Mansbridge.

"As everyone, I love my mother, I love everything she gave to me, including that. It's part of me. I don't see why it's a problem."
Keep attacking Quebecers heritage, Mini Bush allies!

Dion's tremendous command of the issues and his decency and honesty are going to serve him quite well when standing next to Mini Bush, thank you very much...:)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

I think I'm catching the Christmas spirit after all

"Man's anti-Bush Christmas light creates furor."

Dion handled Mini Bush's challenge quite handily

Article here. Liberals will, in large numbers, oppose Mini Bush's political ploy to wreak havoc with gay people's lives.
Stéphane Dion, the newly elected Liberal Leader, considered ordering his MPs to vote against the motion but decided at a meeting with them yesterday that they will be permitted a free vote according to their conscience.

“We do not want to see this kind of vote in the House any more and the best way to ensure it never happens again is through a free vote, to prove the vast majority of Liberal MPs are against what the Prime Minister wants to do,” Mr. Dion said.

He said he was helped in his decision by the fact that the motion is procedural, asking only whether the government should act to end gay and lesbian marriage.

If it had gone to directly striking down same-sex marriage, Mr. Dion said he would have whipped the caucus because the unions are protected by the Charter of Rights. The motion “is a tactical vote on his part,” he said of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, “and we will use a tactic to counter it.”
Increasing the number of Liberals who will vote with the Liberal position from the last time such a vote was held. Nicely navigated, Mr. Dion.

Weak, Mini Bush, weak...:)

Good for Leahy and good riddance to Specter

"Democrats Set to Press Bush on Privacy and Terrorism," including that cross-border terrorist rating thing that we all may be subjected to when we cross:
Mr. Leahy said he was troubled by recent reports about the Department of Homeland Security’s use of a scoring system to rate the risk that people coming across American borders might be terrorists or criminals. He said the program and broader government data-mining efforts could make it more difficult for innocent Americans to travel or to get a job — without giving them a chance to know why they were labeled a risk.

“It’s worrisome,” Mr. Leahy said, “because if it’s done poorly or without proper safeguards and oversight, databanks don’t make us safer. They just further erode Americans’ privacy.”
And the right to challenge detention, habeas corpus, is also on Leahy's agenda:
As a first step toward what Mr. Leahy described as an effort to roll back the administration’s curtailment of rights, he and Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, proposed legislation that would seek to restore the rights of all terrorism suspects to challenge their detentions in court.

The military detention legislation that President Bush signed into law in October stripped the federal courts of jurisdiction to hear petitions from noncitizens for rights of habeas corpus.
There's a new sheriff in town leading the Senate Judiciary Committee who's going to exercise his powers for a change. Good riddance to the toothless Arlen Specter.

Iraq study group releases its findings

News report here and summary of recommendations here. And from a NYTimes editorial today:
Make no mistake, the report is a stunning indictment of Mr. Bush’s failure — in Iraq and no less in Washington. But its recommendations are still couched in language vague enough to allow the president to pretend it is the “new way forward” his aides are now talking up, rather than a timetable for withdrawal, which is on Mr. Bush’s no-go list. Predictably, the first reaction of Tony Snow, the White House spokesman, was to insist that “there is nothing in here about pulling back militarily.”

The world has watched as Mr. Bush painted himself into a corner and then insisted it was a strategic decision. Even the Iraqis are trying to provide cover to for him to come tiptoeing back to the real world. Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s call for a regional conference on Iraq would allow the administration to get past its refusal to talk to Tehran and Damascus, by saying that ban was never meant to include Iraqi initiatives.

The Iraq report is a deeply diplomatic document, stuffed with “coulds” and “mights.” It is, all in all, exactly the kind of shades-of-gray thinking that Mr. Bush despises, and exactly what he needs to get the country out of the hole he has dug.
Isn't it incredible that the focus of news coverage is largely on whether Bush will listen? Disastrous policy and esteemed Americans provide recommendations...yet the question is whether, in a democracy where his party was largely repudiated in a very recent election, the President will listen.

Someone needs to have a "come to Jesus" talk with him. You'd really like to think Baker et al. would have gotten through. We'll see, I suppose. Early buzz has not been promising on Bush's willingness to listen. And the prospects beyond this Iraq Study Group are grim. He doesn't listen to his father, clearly...and Cheney's no good, he's a Rumsfeldian. Rove is likely talking up the political angle, hang it on the Democrats, let them push to take the troops out and look like they're "cutting and running" for 2008.

Yes, it's quite the hole he's dug for himself, his country and the world.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

On Mini Bush's intolerant motion today




"I'm Mini Bush and I approve this message." :)

Goodness gracious, no more Rumsfeld

Maureen Dowd today, "Goodness Gracious! The Truth!" on the candid Gates confirmation hearings to replace the master of obfuscation, Rumsfeld:
There was no blathering yesterday about “known unknowns” or “Henny Penny” pessimists. The soft-spoken, vanilla Mr. Gates offered a sharp contrast from the finger-wagging, flavorful Rummy. In a remarkable shift from the mindless bellicosity and jingoism of the last few years, Mr. Gates said he did not favor military action against Iran or Syria.

Even though he was a member of the Iraq Study Group, Mr. Gates conceded that there would be no silver bullet. “It’s my impression that, frankly, there are no new ideas on Iraq,” he said. Asked by Robert Byrd who was responsible for 9/11, Saddam or Osama, Mr. Gates did not try to fudge. “Osama bin Laden, Senator,” he replied. Asked who has represented a greater threat to the U.S., he repeated “Osama bin Laden.”
And with the big question:
Gates’s friends from the old Bush 41 gang have been watching closely to see if 43 brought the old Washington hand back for “cosmetic reasons,” as one put it, simply to try to change the perception that W. has been stubborn and deaf on Iraq. Or whether 43 really will give his new defense chief the parameters he needs to make real changes in strategy. Will he let him Go Maximalist?
Rumsfeld is no more.

Alas, no more comic turns like this gem in the New Yorker, "Donald Rumsfeld Orders Breakfast at Denny's." Yes, there actually was a time when we would laugh about Rumsfeldian constructions...