Wednesday, February 28, 2007

About that anti-terror vote

I think Garth Turner sums it up quite well:
From the day I started to study this issue, and determine how I would vote, I came down on the side of freedom. Strikes me that the greatest blow possible to those who hate our value system and our democratic liberties is to protect and maintain them. So the vote to let lapse strong police powers which have never been used, and which were adopted in the panicked months following Nine Eleven, was an easy one. I voted to set them aside.

To say this is being soft on terror is bizarre. To demonize the Liberals and the NDP and the Bloc – in fact, the majority of MPs in the Canadian Parliament – for standing up for individual rights is to completely misunderstand the issue. Stephen Harper has spun this for one reason only, and that is politics. This is a wedge issue which he has used to portray the Liberal leader as weak and indecisive. Mr. Harper knows the existence of these two clauses will not matter in any battle against terrorism, He knows his statement that the Air India inquiry will not be effective without them is a lie. He knows the majority of MPs in the House of Commons are not, as he says, anti-police.

But he also knows that the emotional, devastated and sympathetic victims of terrible terrorist crimes are compelling. He knows politics. He knows exactly where this strategy will fit into his election campaign. And he knows the damage he wants done to his enemies.

Yes, it was a divisive day. But the right decision was made in Ottawa. Freedom beat fear. (emphasis added)
That's a great line to sum up this debate.

The big question for Gore

Maureen Dowd asks the big question everyone's thinking about in her column today, "Ozone Man Sequel."
The best ex-president who was never president could make one of the most interesting campaigns in American history even more interesting. Will he use his green moment on the red carpet in black tie to snag blue states and win the White House?

Only the Goracle knows the answer.
Watch An Inconvenient Truth and see if you find yourself hoping that the answer to that question is "yes." For many obvious reasons.
The Bush-Cheney years have been all about dragging the country into the past, getting back the presidential powers yanked away after Watergate, settling scores from Poppy Bush’s old war, and suppressing scientific and environmental advances. Instead of aiming for the stars, the greatest power on earth is bogged down in poorly navigated conflicts with ancient tribes and brutes in caves.

Surely the Goracle, an aficionado of futurism, must stew about all the time and money and good will that has been wasted with a Vietnam replay and a scolding social policy designed to expunge the Age of Aquarius.

When he’s finished Web surfing, tweaking his PowerPoint and BlackBerrying, what goes through his head? Does he blame himself? Does he blame the voting machines? Ralph Nader? Robert Shrum? Naomi Wolf? How about Bush Inc. and Clinton Inc.?

With the red carpet rolled up, the tux at the cleaner’s, and the gold statuette on the director’s mantle, not his, the Goracle is at his Nashville mansion, contemplating how to broker his next deal. Will he cast himself as the savior of the post-Bush era, or will the first Gore in the Oval Office be Karenna, mother of Oscar?
Canadians who think Stephen Harper is committed to making environmental change would do themselves a big service if they'd watch the movie and then decide which of the federal leaders is genuinely interested in the issue and which ones are coming to the table kicking and screaming.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Conservative hatorade watch

Today's winner: Pierre Poilievre.

A vacuous Giuliani on display

Dana Milbank has a sampling of his superficial positions presented at a Q&A the other day at the Hoover Institution:
Giuliani threw in bonus thoughts on foreign policy, such as "We clearly won the Cold War" (that two-second snippet had a market value of $71.58), and "We've never been a perfect country, we're never going to be a perfect country, but we're a good country, so we don't like war" ($214.74 for this six-second gem).
Please, tell me more, Mr. Foreign Policy. (The dollar figure references are Milbank's estimates for the "going rate" for Rudy's thoughts, given his post 9/11 $100,000 per speech rates.)
His brief foray into foreign affairs meticulously avoided Iraq. "We've got to say to the rest of the world, 'America doesn't like war, America is not a military country,' " he recommended.

Whatever Americans think about war, Giuliani clearly didn't want to talk about it. The first questioner tried to prod him by asking about those who have a "deep concern" about his lack of "experience in foreign affairs."

"Uh, what makes you think the mayor of New York City doesn't need a foreign policy?" he quipped. He then spoke about his business travel. "I've made about 91, 92 foreign trips and I've spoken in 34, 35 different countries," he said. "So I know the world."
Giuliani listed some of the things he learned from his travels: "My view of it is the American president needs to be our leader in foreign policy." And: "Foreign policy is also very much a part of our economy now."
Is it possible that W is more versed in foreign affairs than Giuliani? Just asking...

Can you see a difference?

(AP PHOTO/CP, Tom Hanson)

The latest Bush electoral campaign technology mimicked by Mini Bush...:) Because you know, I was just thinking to myself the other day...what I'd really love to see from our government is more propaganda...

By the way, "Protecting Canadians?" Stephen Harper is protecting us? From terrorism I suppose? And note the explicit linkage to "Rebuilding Afghanistan." Par for the course in conservative mythology these days. This is the implicit threat routinely made by Bush/Cheney/Rove that if we don't fight "them" over there, that we'll be fighting "them" over here. The flypaper theory.

In which case...see this report from the weekend on the serious domestic British terror threat, for example, describing the increased threat to Britain despite its efforts to fight "over there."

I'm for stabilizing Afghanistan but I'm not at all into our government's revolting metamorphosis into a franchisee of Bush's wedge partisan politics.

More on the propaganda sloganeering which is all focus group tested and manufactured here.

Effort to minimize death toll in blast targeting Cheney?

"Deadly blast hits U.S. base during Cheney visit":
There were conflicting reports on the death toll. Provincial Gov. Abdul Jabar Taqwa said 20 people were killed, but NATO said initial reports indicated only three were killed, including a U.S. soldier, a South Korean coalition soldier and a U.S. government contractor whose nationality wasn't immediately known. NATO said 27 people were also wounded.

It was unclear why there was such a large discrepancy in the reports.

Associated Press reporters at the scene said they had seen at least eight dead bodies carried in black body bags and wooden coffins from the base area and into the market area, where hundreds of Afghans had gathered to mourn.
NY Times also reporting conflicting death tolls.

Wouldn't look too good, would it, were Cheney's visit to be linked to so many deaths?

NY Times editorial praising the Supreme Court terror decision last week

"Canada’s Move to Restore Rights" draws a contrast between the Canadian and U.S. courts' approach to the post 9/11 anti-terror laws passed by both countries. It praises the Canadian approach which is scaling back excesses. This is the position Stephane Dion has taken on the anti-terror legislation. It is an entirely legitimate position, now affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada. Harper, by contrast, has clearly staked out his position as the Bush position, what with the childish "soft on terror" label which Harper has sought to apply to Dion.

Excerpts from the editorial:
The United States was not the only country to respond to the horror of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks with policies that went much too far in curtailing basic rights and civil liberties in the name of public safety. Now we see that a nation can regain its senses after calm reflection and begin to rein back such excesses, but that heartening news comes from Canada and not the United States.

Canada’s Supreme Court has struck down a law that the government used to detain foreign-born terrorism suspects indefinitely — employing secret evidence and not filing charges — while orders to deport them were reviewed. The law was actually passed in 1978, but was primarily employed to detain and deport foreign spies. After the 2001 attacks, the Canadian government began using it aggressively to hold terrorism suspects, claiming that it was an important tool for keeping Canada safe.

That is just the sort of argument the Bush administration used to ram the excesses of the Patriot Act and the 2006 Military Commissions Act through Congress, and offered as an excuse for other abusive policies, like President Bush’s illegal wiretapping of international calls and e-mail.

The Canadian justices rejected their government’s specious national security claim with a forceful 9-to-0 ruling that upheld every person’s right to fair treatment. “The overarching principle of fundamental justice that applies here is this: before the state can detain people for significant periods of time, it must accord them a fair judicial process,” Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin wrote.

The contrast with the United States could not be more disturbing. The Canadian court ruling came just days after a federal appeals court in Washington ruled that Congress could deny inmates of the Guantánamo Bay detention camp the ancient right to challenge their confinement in court. The 2006 military tribunals law revoked that right for a select group who had been designated “illegal enemy combatants” without a semblance of judicial process.
Lawmakers have only to look to the Canadian court for easy-to-follow directions back to the high ground on basic human rights and civil liberties. (emphasis added)

Monday, February 26, 2007

Quebec election, a few thoughts

"PQ 'delusional,' Charest asserts as race heats up." This is shaping up to be a nasty election indeed. The sharpness of the rhetoric and the hostile tone do not bode well at all. I fear that this is the style of campaign that Harper and his crew are cooking up for the national election as well. Hopefully the Liberals will be prepared to withstand and fight back the onslaught.

In addition to the tone, I am troubled by how quickly the debate in Quebec has moved to the separation issue. Charest seems to be gambling that he can scare voters away from the PQ by ratcheting up the referendum talk. Boisclair, with nothing really to lose given his recent negatives, has taken him up on his dare and is now waving Jacques Parizeau in everyone's face. Could there be a worse scenario? I thought Harper's grand gesture declaring Quebec a nation within Canada was supposed to help do away with such debates. Ooops. Yeah, a big freakin' oops.

There is a lot of discontent about Charest's record in Quebec and if he attempts to cloak it behind the threat of another referendum, the voters may punish him for that reason. Meanwhile, Boisclair and the PQ will have campaigned on holding a referendum quickly in accordance with their separatist agenda. They'll be claiming that mandate.

Careful what you wish for Mr.'re playing with fire.

The rule of law under fire in the U.S.

The role of the U.S. attorney morphing into just another partisan wing of the Bush administration: "Why Have So Many U.S. Attorneys Been Fired? It Looks a Lot Like Politics."

Krugman says no more W's, please

Paul Krugman's column today, "Substance Over Image," advocates attention to the '08 candidates' proposals rather than the typical superficial analysis. Because what happened in 2000 was a sorry electoral campaign. As he puts it:
Six years ago a man unsuited both by intellect and by temperament for high office somehow ended up running the country.
And nobody wants that to happen again, clearly. While he focuses on the Democrats today, he does get in a line about Rudy Giuliani which warrants attention:
I should also say that although today’s column focuses on the Democrats, Republican candidates shouldn’t be let off the hook. In particular, someone needs to make Rudy Giuliani, who seems to have become the Republican front-runner, stop running exclusively on what he did on 9/11.

Over the last six years we’ve witnessed the damage done by a president nominated because he had the big bucks behind him, and elected (sort of) because he came across well on camera. We need to pick the next president on the basis of substance, not image.
While this campaign appears to be in the early stages, it seems there's much greater scrutiny of the Democrats thus far. The Republicans' leading candidates have yet to get the level of attention that they warrant, particularly Giuliani. Bush coasted on his 9/11 rubble laurels for a time, until Katrina burst that bubble. Giuliani's been able to escape to a private life and his bubble floats on...still waiting for the front page expose in the NYTimes on Rudy's marriages just as Hillary and Bill Clinton got theirs, for example. And throw in some scrutiny of his business dealings, his qualifications, his record in New York, and so on and so on and so on...

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Oscars a reminder that Gore is still in the wings

And David Remnick has an excellent column this week in the New Yorker on the topic. Excerpts:
It is worse than painful to reflect on how much better off the United States and the world would be today if the outcome of the 2000 election had been permitted to correspond with the wishes of the electorate. The attacks of September 11, 2001, would likely not have been avoided, though there is ample evidence, in the 9/11 Commission report and elsewhere, that Gore and his circle were far more alert to the threat of Islamist terrorism than Bush and his. But can anyone seriously doubt that a Gore Administration would have meant, well, an alternate universe, in which, say, American troops were sent on a necessary mission in Afghanistan but not on a mistaken and misbegotten one in Iraq; the fate of the earth, not the fate of oil-company executives, was the priority of the Environmental Protection Agency; civil liberties and diplomacy were subjects of attention rather than of derision; torture found no place or rationale?

In increasing numbers, poll results imply, Americans are disheartened by the real and existing Presidency, and no small number also feel regret that Gore—the winner in 2000 of the popular vote by more than half a million ballots, the almost certain winner of any reasonable or consistent count in the state of Florida—ended up the target of what it is not an exaggeration to call a judicial coup d’état. Justice Antonin Scalia routinely instructs those who question his vote in Bush v. Gore to stop their ceaseless whinging. “It’s water over the deck,” he told an audience at Iona College last month. “Get over it.” But it is neither possible nor wise to “get over it.” The historical damage is too profound.
Here are two more incisive lines from the column:
Gore’s critiques of the Administration’s rush to war in Iraq and of the deceptions used to justify it were early, brave, and correct. On the issue of climate change, of course, he has exercised visionary leadership.
Take a look, this is a must read.

Polls show Libs and Conservatives in mid-30's

Stuck in the middle with you?
The Ipsos-Reid poll, published in the National Post newspaper on Saturday, put support for the Conservatives at 36 percent, compared with 34 percent for the opposition Liberals.
The federal poll showed support for the left-wing New Democratic Party at 13 percent and backing for the environmentalist Green Party at 8 percent.
55% of the nation chooses someone other than Mini Bush at this point...yeah, that's great news for the Conservatives.

Mini Bush gets a slap

"Canadian Court Limits Detention in Terror Cases" was the lead story in the online version of the NY Times Saturday. Americans are looking to this decision for this reason, buried at the end of the article:
Dalia Hashad, the United States program director for Amnesty International, said the Canadian decision should serve as “a wake-up call that reminds us that civilized people follow a simple and basic rule of law, that indefinite detention is under no circumstances acceptable.”
Yeah, that's right folks. A much needed wake-up call indeed. And make no mistake about it, this decision is a significant blow to a nascent political argument Harper's Conservatives have begun to sling. That the Liberals are "soft on terror." If the Conservatives want to continue with their brilliant Republican strategy, they're going to have to go after the Supreme Court of Canada as well, since they've unanimously struck down part of the terror law. The Supreme Court decision has in effect slapped back the Conservative efforts to de-legitimize political debate over provisions of the terror law.

The crux of the decision, once more, with gusto:
Canada’s highest court on Friday unanimously struck down a law that allows the Canadian government to detain foreign-born terrorism suspects indefinitely using secret evidence and without charges while their deportations are being reviewed.

The detention measure, the security certificate system, has been described by government lawyers as an important tool for combating international terrorism and maintaining Canada’s domestic security. Six men are now under threat of deportation without an open hearing under the certificates.

“The overarching principle of fundamental justice that applies here is this: before the state can detain people for significant periods of time, it must accord them a fair judicial process,” Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin wrote in the ruling.
What a concept! Thankfully it's alive and well in our country. By contrast, the U.S. under Bush has done away with such rights. If you're a Canadian travelling in the U.S. and are deemed a terrorism suspect, they can lock you up and throw away the key. No hearing to find out why. Good night and good luck. Unless the Democratic congress rolls back the Military Commissions Act - and with a razor thin majority in the Senate and the political climate in the U.S., it's questionable - it's likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

And by the way, that's Chief Justice McLachlin, appointed by a Progressive Conservative Prime Minister, a breed that's done and gone. Now we've got Conservatives in Canada who exhibit daily how they are no longer "Progressive" and who are no doubt just itching to publicly criticize these Supreme Court judges as liberal and therefore their foes. Yet thankfully, in the wake of a 9-0 decision, they had the sense to accept the ruling and not play politics with it. It's almost a shock that they haven't (yet) given the petty streak they've been on. After all, we should expect it when we have a Prime Minister who will go so far as to characterize the Liberals' position in opposing the renewal of certain of the terror provisions as cover for their need to protect an MP's family member. We are becoming conditioned to expect petty partisan politics when we have a Prime Minister who uses Air India families as political props with which to bludgeon the Liberals on the same issue.

How low we've sunk with the Harper crew that one actually feels it is an out of the ordinary occurrence to hear them actually mouth respect for a court ruling that strikes down a provision of the terror law that this very week they sought to politicize. How low we've sunk when we have the feeling that Harper and his crew, privately, likely harbour real resentment at this decision. After all, it comes on the heels of a week where they tried to mount a significant political argument against their political foes by painting them as "soft on terror," just as their Republican heroes to the south have tried to do with their political opponents. A high profile 9-0 Supreme Court decision striking down one of the provisions of that very act you sought to wield against your political foes has got to put a real crimp in their "soft on terror" extravaganza! And with the international community, here the U.S., virtually cheering on the decision, you just know Harper and the gang are in a slow, seething burn this weekend.

Sorry, Harper boys, maybe next week you can get back on the low road of mudslinging and rabid partisanship. We know you can't wait and that this is but a temporary detour.

Go Garth, go

The Turner Report » The big lie:
"Well, I don’t think Canada is about these things, either:
- A government which is openly lying about its political opponents.
- A prime minister using terrorism victims as a pawn in the coming election campaign.
- Increased police powers which override human rights. In war, maybe. In peace, never.
- Conservative MPs not even allowed to discuss this, let alone exercise their free will or power of independent analysis."
What an entertaining read Garth's blog is these days, check it out.

PQ demonstrating why the Clarity Act was clearly needed

Pardon the pun...:)

This is comical. The verbal machinations that the separatists engage in when it comes to referendum talk never cease to amaze.

So Andre Boisclair wants standards to be set for a future referendum? They want "transparency, legality and legitimacy?" It's called the Clarity Act, my friends, and it's there in the federal statutes for all to enjoy.
"I can't force the federal government to follow our rules," PQ Leader André Boisclair said yesterday, adding that there were "lessons learned" in the last debate over Canadian unity that a more rigorous standard and outside observers might prevent from re-occurring.
Probably not, Andre, since they're likely of questionable legality and/or constitutionality (I confess I haven't seen the details but I do remember Bill 99). The feds have sure as heck got their own rules to follow now and they'll be happy to share them with you at the appropriate time...:)

OK, David Brooks is off the deep end today

"Mosh Pit Meets Sandbox" is an emotional diatribe against....wait for it...."hipster parents." Maybe he's trying to be funny and it just doesn't take. Anyway, judge for yourself:
Can we stop hearing about downtown parents who dress their babies in black skull slippers, Punky Monkey T-shirts and camo toddler ponchos until the little ones end up looking like sad-parody club clones of mom and dad? Can we finally stop reading about the musical Antoinettes who would get the vapors if their tykes were caught listening to Disney tunes, and who instead force-feed Brian Eno, Radiohead and Sufjan Stevens into their little babies’ iPods?

I mean, don’t today’s much-discussed hipster parents notice that their claims to rebellious individuality are undercut by the fact that they are fascistically turning their children into miniature reproductions of their hipper-than-thou selves? Don’t they observe that with their inevitable hummus snacks, their pastel-free wardrobes, their unearned sense of superiority and their abusively pretentious children’s names like Anouschka and Elijah, they are displaying a degree of conformity that makes your average suburban cul-de-sac look like Renaissance Florence?

Enough already. The hipster parent trend has been going on too long and it’s got to stop.
Whoa, dude, you've got to relax! What have you got against hummus, my friend?

I'm inclined to just give this one a big "different strokes for different folks" rebuke.

Then again, I'll just say this...unfortunately, Dave, we can't all pull off the pink button down look as well as you can, my friend. Just leave the hipsters be.

(Btw, this post has prompted me to start a new blog post label - below - can you guess which one it is?...:))

Frank Rich on the terror threat "blinking red"

Frank Rich has an eerie column today, "Where Were You That Summer of 2001?" suggesting that we're experiencing deja vu all over again:
“UNITED 93,” Hollywood’s highly praised but indifferently attended 9/11 docudrama, will be only a blip on tonight’s Oscar telecast. The ratings rise of “24” has stalled as audiences defect from the downer of terrorists to the supernatural uplift of “Heroes.” Cable surfers have tuned out Iraq for a war with laughs: the battle over Anna Nicole’s decomposing corpse. Set this cultural backdrop against last week’s terrifying but little-heeded front-page Times account of American “intelligence and counterterrorism officials” leaking urgent warnings about Al Qaeda’s comeback, and ask yourself: Haven’t we been here before?

If so, that would be the summer of 2001, when America pigged out on a 24/7 buffet of Gary Condit and shark attacks. The intelligence and counterterrorism officials back then were privately sounding urgent warnings like those in last week’s Times, culminating in the President’s Daily Brief titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” The system “was blinking red,” as the C.I.A. chief George Tenet would later tell the 9/11 commission. But no one, from the White House on down, wanted to hear it.

The White House doesn’t want to hear it now, either. That’s why terrorism experts are trying to get its attention by going public, and not just through The Times. Michael Scheuer, the former head of the C.I.A. bin Laden unit, told MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann last week that the Taliban and Al Qaeda, having regrouped in Afghanistan and Pakistan, “are going to detonate a nuclear device inside the United States” (the real United States, that is, not the fictional stand-in where this same scenario can be found on “24”). Al Qaeda is “on the march” rather than on the run, the Georgetown University and West Point terrorism expert Bruce Hoffman told Congress. Tony Blair is pulling troops out of Iraq not because Basra is calm enough to be entrusted to Iraqi forces — it’s “not ready for transition,” according to the Pentagon’s last report — but to shift some British resources to the losing battle against the resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan.
As Mr. Scheuer, the former C.I.A. official, reiterated last week: “Al Qaeda is in Afghanistan and Pakistan. If you want to address the threat to America, that’s where it is.” (emphasis added)

That quote by Michael Scheuer's a doozy, isn't it? I caught that on Countdown this week and just stared at the screen after I'd heard it. It was shocking to hear someone who held a senior position in respect of pursuing Al Qaeda say something so startling and yet with such confidence. I'm glad to see it given such prominence by Rich in his widely read column today.

More on the dismissed U.S. attorneys

So we read that the U.S. attorneys dismissed by the Bush administration in favour of partisan appointees were of course doing their jobs: "Dismissed U.S. Attorneys Received Strong Evaluations." Their evaluations were positive.

Yet we also read that an unnamed official nevertheless anonymously slags the group in the NYTimes today:
On Saturday, Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, who has led a Congressional investigation into the dismissals and has been briefed on the evaluations, said the reports showed that new legislation was needed to keep the Justice Department from politically motivated firings.

“As we feared, the comprehensive evaluations show these U.S. attorneys did not deserve to be fired,” Mr. Schumer said. “To the contrary, they reveal they were effective, respected and set appropriate priorities.”

In response, a senior Justice Department official said the reviews, which focused on management practices within each United States attorney’s office, did not provide a broad or complete picture of the prosecutors’ performance.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the confidential nature of personnel information, said, “The reviews don’t take into account whether the U.S. attorneys carried out departmental priorities.”

Referring to the 94 United States attorney’s districts, the official said, “You can’t have 94 different sets of priorities,” suggesting that the dismissed prosecutors had failed to follow priorities set by the Justice Department in Washington.

However, each case report included a statement that each of the ousted prosecutors had established strategic goals set by the Justice Department in high priority areas like counterterrorism, narcotics and gun violence.
Just unbelievably low...and further confirmation that the Bush administration values political allegiance over competence irrespective of the job at hand.

Phenomenal headline today

"US generals ‘will quit’ if Bush orders Iran attack." Details:
SOME of America’s most senior military commanders are prepared to resign if the White House orders a military strike against Iran, according to highly placed defence and intelligence sources.

Tension in the Gulf region has raised fears that an attack on Iran is becoming increasingly likely before President George Bush leaves office. The Sunday Times has learnt that up to five generals and admirals are willing to resign rather than approve what they consider would be a reckless attack.

“There are four or five generals and admirals we know of who would resign if Bush ordered an attack on Iran,” a source with close ties to British intelligence said. “There is simply no stomach for it in the Pentagon, and a lot of people question whether such an attack would be effective or even possible.”
How's that for a start to your Sunday?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Harper crowd and their Republican talking points

More here: "Accused by Harper of being 'soft on terror', Liberals buoyed by court decision." I'm too disgusted by the utterances of Stockwell Day and Peter Van Loan et al. quoted in the article to reproduce them here. Read for yourself. Suffice to say that the Conservatives continue to follow the Republican playbook and continue to believe this resonates with Canadians.

Romney's weirdness factor

The bizarro world of the historical Romneys:
"While Mitt Romney condemns polygamy and its prior practice by his Mormon church, the Republican presidential candidate's great-grandfather had five wives and at least one of his great-great grandfathers had 12."
Throw in Giuliani having been married to a cousin and you've got quite a bunch over there on the Republican side.

Yet Hillary's one and only marriage seems to be the big issue, right?

Dick's disastrous world tour

Somebody give this guy the hook, please: Cheney: 'All Options' Available for Iran. And in addition to Cheney's comments, they're needling Iran, no doubt about it, with incidents like this seizing of a prominent Shiite political leader's son as he returned from Iran to Iraq on Friday.

Maureen Dowd on John McCain today

Maureen Dowd's doing equal opportunity thrashing of political candidates this week, Hillary on Wednesday, McCain today, "A Cat Without Whiskers." This column was written about a Q&A session McCain had after a lunch speech on Friday. And McCain does his usual recent shtick and comes off quite poorly. Without the straight talk, there's no "there" there. Do you know what I mean? He's boring. He doesn't match his last run.

“I’ve seen in the press where in your run for the presidency, you’ve been sucking up to the religious right,” the man said, adding: “I was just wondering how soon do you predict a Republican candidate for president will start sucking up to the old Rockefeller wing of the Republican Party?”

Mr. McCain listened with his eyes downcast, then looked the man in the eye, smiled and replied: “I’m probably going to get in trouble, but what’s wrong with sucking up to everybody?” It was a flash of the old McCain, and the audience laughed.
Although you know that these days, there's truth in that response for McCain.

And then the questions turn to his Iraq position, and it's sinking him, clearly.
Most Americans are sick and tired of watching things go hideously backward in Iraq and Afghanistan, and want someone to show them the way out. Mr. McCain is stuck on the bridge of a sinking policy with W. and Dick Cheney, who showed again this week that there is no bottom to his lunacy. The senator supported a war that didn’t need to be fought and is a cheerleader for a surge that won’t work.

It has left Mr. McCain, an Arizona Republican, once the most spontaneous of campaigners, off balance. He’s like a cat without its whiskers. When the moderator broached the subject of Iraq after lunch, Mr. McCain grimaced, stuck out his tongue a little and said sarcastically, “Thanks.”

Defending his stance, he sounds like a Bill Gates robot prototype, repeating in a monotone: “I believe we’ve got a new strategy. ... It can succeed. I can’t guarantee success. But I do believe firmly that if we get out now we risk chaos and genocide in the region.”
And here's a major backtrack from his former straight talk:
And how, I asked him, can Dick Cheney tell ABC News that British troops getting out is “an affirmation that there are parts of Iraq where things are going pretty well,” while he says that Democrats who push to get America out would “validate the Al Qaeda strategy.” Isn’t that a nutty?

But Senator McCain was back on his robo-loop: “I can only express my gratitude for the enormous help that the British have given us.”

Sometimes I miss John McCain, even when I’m with him.
The John McCain of 2000 would never have responded that way. He's been replaced by John McCain the 2008 version. Not new and improved but old and backwards.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Big news on the Anti-Terror front

The world is watching. Front page of the NYTimes, "Canada's High Court Strikes Down Indefinite Detention":
One of Canada's most contentious anti-terrorism provisions was struck down Friday by the Supreme Court, which declared it unconstitutional to detain foreign terror suspects indefinitely while the courts review their deportation orders.

The 9-0 ruling was a blow to the government's anti-terrorism regulations. Five Arab Muslim men have been held for years under the ''security certificate'' program, which the Justice Department had insisted is a key tool in the fight against global terrorism and essential to Canada's security.

The court found that the system violates the Charter of Rights and Freedom, Canada's bill of rights. It suspended the judgment from taking effect for a year, to give Parliament time to rewrite the part of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act that covers the certificates.
Hey, Harper? Hear that? Post 9/11, overreaching which led to such embarrassments as the Arar deportation are now being appropriately and rightfully scaled back. From the Globe:
"It's a ringing, profoundly important endorsement of one simple bedrock truth: Security is all about human rights," Mr. Neve said.

The ruling strengthens the Arar Commission's position in "conveying an unequivocal message" that fundamental rights will not be countenanced by the nation's senior judges, he said.

"That will be heard outside Canada as well in courtrooms, legislatures around the world, and it helps to reverse the global rollback in human rights that has been such a worrying trends worldwide since September 11th," he said.
The world will right itself, despite the efforts of the Bushes and Harpers on the far right.

Good for him

"Trudeau takes plunge into federal politics."

This is very cool

And it's Friday, so enjoy...:)

Friedman on Bush's foreign policy disasters today

Tom Friedman reviews Bush's many foreign policy blunders today, "A Foreign Policy Built on Do-Overs." A key problem in the Bush approach to foreign policy that set the tone:
The only thing the Bush folks all agreed on was that they would never do anything Bill Clinton did. Beyond that, it’s been a food fight. The trial of Scooter Libby, with its testimony about wars between the V.P.’s office and the White House, the White House and the C.I.A., and everyone against the State Department, proves that beyond a reasonable doubt.
That petty partisan motivation really should not have occurred given the protestations that the "grown ups" would now resume charge of foreign affairs. His thoughts today about Iraq and Iran:
The irony of Iraq is that it’s the one place where Mr. Bush decisively chose regime change, but he then executed it so poorly, with insufficient troops, that Iraq never stood a chance. If Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney had spent as much time plotting the toppling of Saddam Hussein as they did the toppling of Colin Powell, Iraq today would be Switzerland. Today’s Bush troop surge in Iraq is just another mulligan — the president’s trying to do in 2007 what he should have done in 2003. In between, we’ve paid a huge price.

How about we avoid a mulligan on Iran? Let’s put a clear deal on the table: full diplomatic relations, security guarantees and thousands of student visas if Iran puts its nuclear program under U.N. inspection and stops supporting terrorism. If not: more sanctions and isolation. Such an offer would at least get us some leverage, unite us more with our allies outside Iran, energize our allies inside Iran and force some excruciating choices on Iran’s leaders.
I must say, that's a good line about Cheney and Rumsfeld. But it's a bit of a nod to the thinking that Bush is not ultimately responsible for the Iraq disaster, which of course he is. John McCain is trying to make the same distinction in his campaign, evidenced lately in his mini war of words with Cheney.

And what does this all mean for 2008?
I guess we should be thankful that Mr. Bush is trying to fix some of his mistakes, but we have paid a huge, unnecessary price for his learning curve. Which is why it’s always best to get it right the first time. The best golfers never take mulligans, and the best presidents never need them.
Which of the 2008 candidates could we fairly say would be least likely in need of those "mulligans?" Not too sure about that one right yet. But I will say, Bill Clinton may have needed a few golf (and personal) mulligans, but overall, his presidential judgment was pretty sound and I believe you could fairly say that he would never have led the U.S. to the state it's in now. So the vaunted foreign policy experience and indeed Washington experience may not be so necessary for the next president to have. Indicators of judgment from one's past professional experience and how they react to the campaign curveballs are arguably just as important, if not moreso.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Calling Liberal strategists

Follow this advice:
"Two, the Liberals need to stop kvetching and start fighting back. Go see your bankers, Grits, and get a line of credit to run a few tough, factual televised critiques of the Conservatives' record."
Finally Dion is fighting back against the Conservatives today on this Air India flap...but there's so much more of this needed. Harper's taking advantage of Liberal disarray the same way Chretien did with Stockwell Day, back in the day. Dion, however, is no Stockwell Day. If he gets a chance to get his sea legs, in conjunction with an effective attack on Harper's record thus far...could be a very competitive election we see, despite the pro-Conservative media story line.

Garth Turner's blog

Has more on Harper's shameful actions today.

Mini Bush's politics interfering with a criminal investigation

"PM's attack on Liberal fuels bedlam in Ottawa." Let me get this straight. Harper's on the spot in the House of Commons over his partisan effort to re-orient the judicial committees which appoint judges...and he responds by publicly naming a potential witness in an RCMP criminal investigation?
Vancouver RCMP Sergeant John Ward said the police do not release the names of people who may be subject to an investigation and would not confirm whether Mr. Saini is of interest to police for questioning.
Well he's certainly been named now by the Prime Minister of Canada!

Again we see that Harper's modus operandi is to politicize to the extreme any given issue he touches. He's using the Air India inquiry now as a partisan cudgel against the Liberals when he should be ensuring that the inquiry has everything it needs in order to do its job. The Judge leading the inquiry this week said he'd suspend the inquiry because government lawyers are censoring documents so heavily as to prevent the commission from doing its job. That's the problem.

So Harper did what he does best. He threw a bomb at the Liberals to deflect from his own government's actions. Because you know, in Mini Bush's world, it's always the Liberals' fault...

Meet the Press for Idiots


Brooks on how to win the Repub nomination

David Brooks writing about something he may actually know something about today, winning the GOP nomination, "So You Want to Run ... ." Sets out some advice in the form of "rules." Here's an interesting one equally applicable to the Dems right now:
Second: Remember the Rule of Three. When three big candidates go up against one another, two of them often get into a mutually destructive grudge match and the third skates through to victory. (Right now, the McCain and Romney camps seem set to brawl, leaving Giuliani alone.) Whatever you do, don’t let yourself become one of the duelists.
Hillary meet Barack, Barack meet Hillary...

OK, now I depart from any pretense that he's got the big wisdom thing going on. He's back to his "chaos" theory, the world is bad, people, very bad. So his incredible advice seems to be, it's 1968, be Nixon:
Fourth: Be the Change. You are running to lead a traumatized party. Many Republicans think their party can recover from recent setbacks by returning to the old verities: cutting spending, cutting taxes, attacking government bureaucrats.

That’s wrong. The world has changed since the glory days of the 1980s, and no amount of Reagan nostalgia will bring those conditions back.

For example, Republicans in the 1980s could win by promising to expand freedom and reduce overbearing government. But today, post-9/11, most Americans aren’t anxious because their freedoms are being impinged. They’re anxious because there’s chaos all around: foreign policy chaos, fiscal chaos, cultural chaos. The authority structures they rely on have let them down.

You need to lead the party to a new definition of Republicanism. This is a Republicanism that can provide safety, order and authority, so people can feel secure enough to pursue their dreams. This doesn’t mean championing a big government. It means championing a strong government that can do the jobs it is supposed to do. (emphasis added)
Yes, "Be the Change," he writes. A law and order guy, hey? Brooks has a crush on Giuliani, methinks.

He's right that people are anxious. And they're anxious about all the things Brooks' enumerates. However, all of the chaos can be largely attributed to Republicans and George W. Bush. The "authority structures" letting people down seems to be Brooks' nebulous way of detaching responsibility from the Republican leadership that's been running Washington since 9/11. Fat chance that's got in succeeding. Now a new Republican leader is supposed to say, hey, we Republicans gave you a disastrous war in Iraq, we let al Qaeda resurge in Afghanistan/Pakistan and hey, we let New Orleans descend into hell...but please give us another chance at fixing chaos.... . Something tells me this is going to be very tough.

His other advice? Pander to the social conservatives (pick 4 programs you and they can agree on!) and come up with a new strategy to win the "war on extremism." Oh, is that all, Dave? Nice try. But what else is a Republican pundit to do these days....

Busting stereotypes

Here's an interesting read, for any of you in the category: The Romantic Life of Brainiacs.

Libby jury deliberating

Insightful diary on dailykos tonight,"Libby Trial: Madness! Madness! Madness!", that gives you a feel for what the inside of the courtroom was like during the closing arguments in the Libby trial. Rest of the coverage today is pretty mundane. The Post has a bit about the jury instructions.

It's remarkable to hear pundits and commentators so easily floating the idea that Libby, if convicted, is likely to be pardoned by Bush in any event, so what is one to do? There's a cavalier attitude that a pardon is virtual conventional wisdom, so hey, Fitzgerald's out of luck if he tries to flip Libby and go after Cheney. Imagine if the President in question were named Clinton.

Just saying...

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The overhyped, misread polls

Harper was at 36% a year ago!:
"A new poll yesterday by Decima Research, provided to Canadian Press, placed the Conservatives at 32 per cent and the Liberals at 30 per cent. The NDP was at 15 per cent, the Green party was at 11 per cent and the Bloc Québécois was at nine per cent nationally."
Yet it's all doom and gloom in the media for the Liberals! They're exactly where they were a year ago, after just having chosen a new leader. People need to relax...Harper's stuck in the low 30's, so are the Liberals. Call me when Harper's at 40%...I'll be waiting a while...:)

Judges rebelling against Mini Bush's appointment plans

"Tories imperil neutral courts: Judges."

We deserve an independent judiciary, free from Harper's negative, lowest common denominator politics which assumes that judges are inherently partisan. Simple as that.

A portrait of the deluded

Living in an alternative reality.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Article on Cheney's power inside the White House

As illuminated by the Libby trial: "Trial Spotlights Cheney’s Power as an Infighter." Most intriguing part of the trial evidence enumerated here, to me:
In a hush-hush meeting described in testimony, Mr. Libby asked the vice president’s chief counsel, David S. Addington, whether the president could declassify intelligence personally, effectively without C.I.A. knowledge or approval.

Mr. Addington testified that as he explained to Mr. Libby that indeed the president could do so, Mr. Libby shushed him. “He extended his hands out and pushed down a little like that, that would indicate, ‘Hold your voice down,’ ” Mr. Addington said at the trial. Mr. Libby testified that Mr. Cheney then went to Mr. Bush and got a presidential declassification.

White House officials have said Mr. Bush did not know how Mr. Cheney and Mr. Libby intended to use the intelligence. (emphasis added)
The implication, of course, that Cheney could in effect "work" Bush to get whatever he wanted, here a quickie declassification. This is strange, however, as Cheney has publicly claimed to have the power to declassify intelligence himself. Apparently there was an Executive Order issued by Bush on March 25, 2003 amending classification powers to include the Vice President. So what's Libby, Cheney's Chief of Staff, doing in the summer of 2003 asking Addington about declassification if Cheney already had that power? The more likely answer is that Cheney did not have declassification authority, despite his public position.

For the leaking of Valerie Plame's CIA status, a special presidential seal of approval was required and Cheney got it. Note the comic last line from the excerpt above, that Bush didn't know how Cheney and Libby were going to use the intelligence he was declassifying. A tad irresponsible, don't ya think? Oh well, that's just Bush being Bush, right?

The rest, as they say, is history.

Since Mitt Romney's getting some attention...

Here's a Bill Maher clip on the topic of Mormonism and Romney. Notice Michael Steele is one of the panelists (I'm sure that's him) and he doesn't say a word...

Looky here everybody! Mini Bush is surging!

Allan Gregg's poll today:
Were an election to be held today, 34 per cent of voters would opt for the Conservatives, up three points from last month. The Liberals are at 29 per cent, down six points from the same period, while the New Democratic Party is down one point to 14 per cent. The main beneficiary appears to be the Green Party, which has the support of 12 per cent of voters, up from eight per cent.
Described as a Tory "surge." OK? Got those numbers down?

Election results from 23 January 2006:

Got that? Harper's surge is a LOSS of 2% from the election in 2006. Dion's freefall, disastrous tenure (a few months worth!) or whatever other terminology the nervous nellies are using...represents a loss of 1%. 1%!!!!!!!

Keep underestimating and predicting disaster...:)

Monday, February 19, 2007

Mini Bush criticized by former Chief Justice of Supreme Court

PM trying to muzzle judges says Antonio Lamer:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is trying to "muzzle" the judiciary by baldly acknowledging he wants judges who are tough on crime, says the former chief justice of Canada.

Antonio Lamer, in an interview with CanWest News Service, said he sympathizes with the Harper government's complaints that some judges hand out soft sentences, but the prime minister shouldn't be trying to influence the judiciary just because he's frustrated that his justice bills are not passing in the minority Parliament.

"I must say I was taken aback," Mr. Lamer said of Mr. Harper's blunt assertion last week in the House that he wants judges who will enforce his government's law-and-order agenda. "The prime minister is going the wrong route as regards to the independence of the judiciary. He's trying to interfere with the sentencing process."
That's pretty unprecedented for a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to criticize a sitting PM like this...

More apology groupthink

Paul Krugman gets in on the "Hillary owes us an apology" groupthink today, "Wrong Is Right." I disagree but at least Krugman has a novel reason worth a read:
For the last six years we have been ruled by men who are pathologically incapable of owning up to mistakes. And this pathology has had real, disastrous consequences. The situation in Iraq might not be quite so dire — and we might even have succeeded in stabilizing Afghanistan — if Mr. Bush or Vice President Dick Cheney had been willing to admit early on that things weren’t going well or that their handpicked appointees weren’t the right people for the job.

The experience of Bush-style governance, together with revulsion at the way Karl Rove turned refusal to admit error into a political principle, is the main reason those now-famous three words from Mr. Edwards — “I was wrong” — matter so much to the Democratic base.

The base is remarkably forgiving toward Democrats who supported the war. But the base and, I believe, the country want someone in the White House who doesn’t sound like another George Bush. That is, they want someone who doesn’t suffer from an infallibility complex, who can admit mistakes and learn from them.
So Hillary has to make up for this deficiency, apparently. Uh, didn't she admit her mistake in her approach to health care reform that went nowhere early in President Clinton's first term? Isn't that a major mistake she's made that she's owned up to? How's that for an example?

Does anyone really think Hillary could ever "sound like another George Bush?" Sorry, I love ya Paul, but this is almost comical.

This apology obsession is really annoying at this point. She's made her decision on explaining that vote. She's not going to apologize. Move along folks...nothing more to see here. Iraq is now about what to do, how to get out, it's about the future. Judge her on her Iraq vote, yes, but more importantly, look at what she's proposing be done.

Must read report today on resurgence of al Qaeda

"Al Qaeda Chiefs Are Seen to Regain Power."

This report echoes reports a few months back, that Al Qaeda's developed strongholds along the Afghan-Pakistani border, particularly in North Waziristan. The new information is that Bin Laden and his deputy Zawahiri are back in the saddle controlling operations. Also reported here and not really new, is the fact that British citizens of Pakistani descent are travelling to Pakistan for terrorist training in camps set up just for such purposes.

The sourcing for this article is anonymous and comes from "intelligence and counterterrorism officials." So what's the motivation for this story being put out now? Bush spoke to the American Enterprise Institute at the end of last week on Afghanistan and the need for NATO to have more of its troops fighting there, not solely involved in humanitarian efforts. Echoing Bush's call? Is that what they're doing? Or do we take them for purer motivations, perhaps, as providing a dire reminder that Afghanistan is equally as pressing as Iraq's challenges at this time. That perhaps the intelligence community is looking for a surge in the Afghanistan direction rather than Iraq?

Or are the Americans thinking of taking action in Pakistan? The difficulties inherent in that are laid out in the article. Musharraf's fragility is the primary difficulty. Is this intelligence laying the groundwork for some new front?

Whatever the motivations of these officials, there are some tough questions that have to be asked as a result. What are our armies doing over there? And I'm speaking largely from a Canadian perspective regarding the Canadian contingent over there. This report, if true, essentially means that our troops are over there metaphorically sticking their thumbs in a dike. For what? So we don't have to fight "them" over here? Sounds like "they" are gearing up to do just that anyway. Our troops aren't capable of stopping those plots. All they can do is help sustain Afghanistan's stability so the Taliban can't come back to run that country. And we don't have the numbers there to do that.

This report suggests there needs to be a greater emphasis on intelligence to root out the terrorists from their camps and safe havens. Traditional warfare is clearly proving obsolete.

It may well be that after years of war in both Iraq and Afghanistan, the plotters of 9/11 remain relatively free to continue on with their new plots in the safe haven they've created. They've waited out the Americans in Afghanistan and watched as the U.S. has become bogged down in Iraq. They sat in their caves and waited while the world has been preoccupied with another part of the world. It's enough to make a person feel outraged and saddened all at the same time. With the stakes so high, we have failed miserably in answering the terrorist threat.

There's a real opening for a Canadian leader in the upcoming election to speak coherently about Afghanistan and terrorism in a manner that provides a stark contrast with the vision of the Bush administration that Harper has largely followed...

Quote of the day

From an old Clinton foe:
Back when Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton was first lady, no one better embodied what she once called the “vast right-wing conspiracy” than Richard Mellon Scaife.

Mr. Scaife, reclusive heir to the Mellon banking fortune, spent more than $2 million investigating and publicizing accusations about the supposed involvement of Mrs. Clinton and former President Bill Clinton in corrupt land deals, sexual affairs, drug running and murder.

But now, as Mrs. Clinton is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, Mr. Scaife’s checkbook is staying in his pocket.

Christopher Ruddy, who once worked full-time for Mr. Scaife investigating the Clintons and now runs a conservative online publication he co-owns with Mr. Scaife, said, “Both of us have had a rethinking.”

Clinton wasn’t such a bad president,” Mr. Ruddy said. “In fact, he was a pretty good president in a lot of ways, and Dick feels that way today.” (emphasis added)
Everything's relative, I guess...:)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The double standard applicable to Clinton

Giuliani trying to get a pass on his 3 marriage mess:
"But most of Giuliani's personal history is so well known, from books and journalistic profiles, that most political insiders and operatives predict little fallout."

I'm sure the same standard will be applied to Hillary's marriage issues, right?

Fancy Rudy

"Rudy's inner diva is outed." Isn't this the kind of thing they criticized Harold Ford for, albeit on a much smaller scale?

Brooks' pessimistic view of human nature

"Human Nature Redux." This column is just plain weird. The short version - apparently a "belief in natural human goodness" is no longer the predominant belief in the world. (Not according to Izzy the other night on Grey's Anatomy, by the way...:) but I digress) Anyway, that's what he says - and that it's replaced now by a "darker" worldview called the "Tragic Vision" which says human nature is bad, it's "nasty" and has "competitive elements," "we don't understand much about it" and that conservatives are the "thinkers" most associated with this vision. What's the basis, Dave? Do you read your own newspaper? Some are musing about a potential great "liberal" moment right now given failure after failure of the Bush administration's policies. Failed Social Security privatization, for example. Or, recall the outrage at the failure of FEMA to provide basic emergency services post-Katrina, something that the American people clearly wanted to occur. Those programs represent the "good" that government can accomplish, don't they?

I'm at a loss for his message. People are bad and you can't impose social programs to fix them...yet on the other hand, he writes, "Iraq has revealed what human beings do without a strong order-imposing state." So the law and order function of a state is acceptable, because people are bad. But fostering the good? Not in Brooks' world...whatever happened to the sunny Reaganite conservatives?

This one gets a big, "WTF?"

Rich on Iran

In "Oh What a Malleable War" today, Frank Rich suggests all this talk about Iran from Bush is at its worst a rationale for war with Iran, at its best, a smokescreen:
We know what Mr. Bush wants to distract us from this time: Congressional votes against his war policy, the Libby trial, the Pentagon inspector general’s report deploring Douglas Feith’s fictional prewar intelligence, and the new and dire National Intelligence Estimate saying that America is sending troops into the cross-fire of a multifaceted sectarian cataclysm.

That same intelligence estimate also says that Iran is “not likely to be a major driver of violence” in Iraq, but no matter. If the president can now whip up a Feith-style smoke screen of innuendo to imply that Iran is the root of all our woes in the war — and give “the enemy” a single recognizable face (Ahmadinejad as the new Saddam) — then, ipso facto, he is not guilty of sending troops into the middle of a shadowy Sunni-Shiite bloodbath after all.

Oh what a malleable war Iraq has been. First it was waged to vanquish Saddam’s (nonexistent) nuclear arsenal and his (nonexistent) collaboration with Al Qaeda. Then it was going to spread (nonexistent) democracy throughout the Middle East. Now it is being rebranded as a fight against Tehran. Mr. Bush keeps saying that his saber rattling about Iran is not “a pretext for war.” Maybe so, but at the very least it’s a pretext for prolonging the disastrous war we already have.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Clinton says she won't apologize

I happen to think she's right. Why should she apologize for having voted based on intelligence and representations made by Bush? Bush is responsible for the Iraq war, not Hillary. Bush made the mistake. If she had been President, or Gore, or any right-thinking individual with an ability to sort through intelligence and make a reasonable decision, there likely would have been no Iraq war. That is the point.
Yet antiwar anger has festered, and yesterday morning Mrs. Clinton rolled out a new response to those demanding contrition: She said she was willing to lose support from voters rather than make an apology she did not believe in.

“If the most important thing to any of you is choosing someone who did not cast that vote or has said his vote was a mistake, then there are others to choose from,” Mrs. Clinton told an audience in Dover, N.H., in a veiled reference to two rivals for the nomination, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois and former Senator John Edwards of North Carolina.
Hillary apologizing for her vote is just so irrelevant right now. All the apology seeking crowd wants is another scalp, some kind of groupthink retribution or punishment for having believed Bush. No one knew at the time the depths of deception and manipulation being perpetrated on the world by Bush and Cheney, in particular. The facts are now coming out. To say Hillary should have seen through this at the time is hindsight wishful thinking. Yes, it would have been nice had she voted against it, but she had her reasons and if they're not good enough, don't vote for her.

The question is how to get out of this quagmire without doing further damage to the Middle East.

How to use an RSS feed to read a blog

Helpful post by John Aravosis at Americablog, in case you're an avid blog reader and don't use a news aggregator of some kind. Here's how you do it, using the new "Google Reader": How to use an RSS feed to read my blog and many others.

In a nutshell, if you're not using RSS, set up a Google Reader account. John explains how. Then go to town adding blogs and news sources to it.

I use the news aggregator "My Yahoo" which is provided by Rogers, my internet provider. It serves the same purpose as any "aggregator," to put on one page for you the headlines from the news and blog sources you select. That way, at a glance, you can assess what's going on and where you might want to go to delve into the day's news. You still end up visiting a bunch of sites, but it's a very handy summary.

Read John's post, it's very useful.

And if you're on my site and want to subscribe to my blog on your RSS page/news aggegator, here's a shortcut. Click on the orange RSS icon down below in the right hand column that looks like this:

Happy reading and blogging!

Mini Bush paying for focus groups to tell him how to speak

Too bad it's not working:
"The Conservative government has been 'too American' in its attempts to justify the Afghan war to a skeptical Canadian public, according to an internal report commissioned by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The extensive critique of the Tory communications strategy on the war comes from a series of cross-country focus groups conducted in November 2006 at a cost of almost $76,000.

The study, obtained by the Toronto Star, found that Prime Minister Stephen Harper was 'echoing' U.S. President George W. Bush in his attempt to explain why Canadian soldiers are fighting and dying in the country's southern province."
They can't help it...they love the Republicans and Bush. They think Bush is right.
The Tory communications problems are compounded by "a general perception that this government is already closely aligned with the U.S. on other fronts," the report states.
Yes they did we end this week? Let's see, Harper calling Dion "soft on terror." Hello? Straight out of the Bush/Rove playbook. This is the basis for an electoral campaign against Harper - along with the "flip flopping" on the income trusts and environmental priorities.

By the way, why are we paying for this political advice to Mini Bush? The retro Conservative party should be paying for this.

We call him Mini Bush here at the Impolitical blog for good reason, you know...:)

The two words that most describe Bush are...

Incompetent and Arrogant. Check out the list of polled responses.

My personal favourite, "Idiot" which comes in at #5.

Rove henchman out as U.S. attorney

So sad.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Nothing is ever the Conservatives' responsibility

When will Harper ever take responsibility for his government's actions?

They just can't seem to help themselves...they defamed Ralph Goodale and the Liberals in the last election, yet now that the Liberals have been cleared? No, Harper's continuing his partisan attacks and ads that continue to mislead.

This guy is an attack dog and the Liberals, instead of taking the "high road," had better start attacking back. Harper's bringing it, they've got to stand up to this bully. Canadians have typically rejected the negativity, but in this new media era of hyper-partisanship, the multitude of attacks starts to sink in with people...

Mini Bush parroting his idol yet again

Dion is 'soft on terrorism,' PM contends.

You've got to be f*%#ing kidding me. Is Karl Rove running the Conservatives' political affairs?

Keith gets 4 more years

Congrats! We love Keith here at the Impolitical blog!

Rove's deputy installed as U.S. attorney at request of Harriet Miers

She was such a loyal foot soldier:
A United States attorney in Arkansas who was dismissed from his job last year by the Justice Department was ousted after Harriet E. Miers, the former White House counsel, intervened on behalf of the man who replaced him, according to Congressional aides briefed on the matter.

Ms. Miers, the aides said, phoned an aide to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales suggesting the appointment of J. Timothy Griffin, a former military and civilian prosecutor who was a political director for the Republican National Committee and a deputy to Karl Rove, the White House political adviser.

Later, the incumbent United States attorney, H. E. Cummins III, was removed without explanation and replaced on an interim basis by Mr. Griffin. Officials at the White House and Justice Department declined to comment on Ms. Miers’s role in the matter.
Looks like out and out political cronyism at its worst. I'm sure Mini Bush would heartily approve.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

David Brooks hearts Hillary

"No Apology Needed" appears to be Brooks' belated Valentine to Clinton. What else to make of his column defending her Iraq war vote and careful presentation of her voiced positions during that time?

Far be it from me to get in the middle of a liberal purge, but would anybody mind if I pointed out that the calls for Hillary Clinton to apologize for her support of the Iraq war are almost entirely bogus?

I mean, have the people calling for her apology actually read the speeches she delivered before the war? Have they read her remarks during the war resolution debate, when she specifically rejected a pre-emptive, unilateral attack on Saddam? Did they read the passages in which she called for a longer U.N. inspections regime and declared, “I believe international support and legitimacy are crucial”?

If they went back and read what Senator Clinton was saying before the war, they’d be surprised, as I was, by her approach. And they’d learn something, as I did, about what kind of president she would make.
She sought a third way: more U.N. resolutions, more inspections, more diplomacy, with the threat of force reserved as a last resort. She was triangulating, but the Senate resolution offered her a binary choice. She voted yes in order to give Powell bipartisan leverage at the U.N.

This is how she’s always explained that vote, and I confess that until now, I’ve regarded her explanation as a transparent political dodge. Didn’t everyone know this was a war resolution? But now, having investigated her public comments, I think diplomatic leverage really was on her mind. I also know, from a third person, that she was spending a lot of time with Powell and wanted to help.
When you look back at Clinton’s thinking, you don’t see a classic war supporter. You see a person who was trying to seek balance between opposing arguments. You also see a person who deferred to the office of the presidency. You see a person who, as president, would be fox to Bush’s hedgehog: who would see problems in their complexities rather than in their essentials; who would elevate procedural concerns over philosophical ones; who would postpone decision points for as long as possible; and who would make distinctions few heed.

Today, the liberal wing of the Democratic Party believes that the world, and Hillary Clinton in particular, owes it an apology. If she apologizes, she’ll forfeit her integrity. She will be apologizing for being herself.
The column goes through the basics of her positions at the crucial times, well worth a look, decide for yourself whether her position was reasonable. While I rarely agree with Brooks, at least it's an effort to break through the growing groupthink taking hold in media circles and thereby in the U.S. national discourse that Hillary needs to apologize for her actions.

Bush: unhinged and unfit for office

"Unhinged and unfit for office," a diary by clammyc crossposted on My Left Wing says what everyone in their right minds thinks if they caught any of Bush's press conference yesterday:
And we are watching the very high profile, very public meltdown of a United States President. A so-called "Commander in Chief" who can’t even handle a few pointed and necessary questions from a compliant and deferential press corps. We are watching our Vice President present as "absolute" statements that are long on innuendo, threats and manipulation but even shorter on truth and evidence. We are watching a combative Secretary of State outright lie about negotiation proposals from Iran. The same Secretary of State that nobody in the Middle East wants to talk to.

The administration has become the Land of the Broken Toys. Except for the fact that we all felt sorry for those toys. We shouldn’t feel sorry for these people. They are willfully endangering our country and future every single day. They are unfit for office. They are unhinged, angry, delusional, out of the mainstream.

They are a threat to all of us and to the world at large. They must be removed. And this country deserves nothing less than a debate on their fitness for office, especially at this time in history.
This is exactly the kind of discussion the blogosphere excels in and gets moving. And a discussion sorely needed right now.

A big shout out to My Left Wing, by the way. Maryscott O'Connor, the site's founder, raised a big fuss at DailyKos in the last week over Kos's shrinking blogroll and among other things, his claiming to be a bystander in the '08 campaign. MSOC tells it like it is and has got some incredible chutzpah going on. Check out the site, I highly recommend.

By the way, here's Olbermann's coverage (with some interesting editing):

About Al Franken...

This is brilliant:

Giuliani to Seek Advice From FEC About Speaking Fees

Giuliani to Seek Advice From FEC About Speaking Fees. Nice little article drawing attention to a recurring theme in Giuliani's post-9/11 private life. His ability to profit from his political past. In the Post article, the attention is on income from speeches he's made while pondering a presidential run and the questionable ethics involved.

You can bet that his profiting following 9/11 through his consulting/security business, Giuliani Partners, will similarly come in for great scrutiny. Giuliani made millions post 9/11. Here's a good article to give you a sense of it all, "Cashing in on Catastrophe."

More great candidates on the way

Al Franken to challenge Norm Coleman for the U.S. Senate in Minnesota in '08. As Olbermann quipped last night, he's good enough, he's smart enough and gosh darn it, people like him...!

And of course, Rudy's in! Is he a great candidate? To bloggers like me, but of course...

And still the rumours percolating about Gore. The latest:
According to one influential Democratic insider, close associates of the former Vice President have communicated to him and other prominent fund-raisers who are uncommitted to the other ’08 candidates that Mr. Gore will consider entering the race—if an opening presents itself—in September.
Very good news...:)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Liberal bloggers grabbing headlines in the NY Times!

(And no, they're not part of the Edwards campaign...that's a whole other story...)

For Liberal Bloggers, Libby Trial Is Fun and Fodder. You got that right!

Way to go, Firedoglakers! Getting the recognition they deserve for extensive coverage of an important story, the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame and the resulting Libby trial. Jane Hamsher, Christy Hardin-Smith and the other bloggers there have really made a difference.

The real John McCain...on video

Great little website, The REAL McCain, that may come in very handy in the years ahead...:)


Harper's Conservatives throwing rocks. More American style negative ads from Harper.

That's what this is. They might as well be name calling. This is just embarrassing.

Get ready for the nastiest election we've seen in a long time...

Mini Bush openly confirming partisan judicial appointments

Michael Ignatieff, the Liberal deputy leader, tore a strip off Harper for his effort to link future judicial appointments to Conservative law-and-order policy.

"That's not how the separation of powers works in our country," Ignatieff said. "We leave the judges to interpret the law, and we choose them on the basis of quality and competence."

Ed Ratushny, a University of Ottawa law professor, said he was startled by the baldness of Harper's assertions.

"It's very unfortunate, turning the judiciary into a political football," Ratushny said.

"There is a constituency that is no doubt impressed by the idea of getting tough on criminals, but it's a narrow perspective that doesn't take into account the complexity of these issues."
And here's more reaction:
The Canadian Bar Association, which first raised concerns about Tory judicial policy last fall, was quick to denounce Harper on Wednesday for undermining a long-standing tradition of non-partisanship on the bench.

“Canada has always had independent judiciaries,” said bar president Parker MacCarthy. “This could shake Canadians’ confidence in the fairness of our justice system.”
This is what you get when you vote for Harper...a very Americanized view of our political system and the branches of government. In Harper's view, our judges are politicized, like in the American system. Harper believes that if a judge was appointed by a Liberal government, then they're inherently hostile to Conservative policies. That's balderdash. Judges in Canada are free from partisan taint. They're appointed independently and due to their qualifications. Harper fundamentally misunderstands the Canadian system.

This is just so tragic, to have our government speaking as if the partisan assumptions at play in the American judicial system are actually present in ours. Why are they so fascinated by the American system and so willing to ignore our own great traditions?

Incredible video

Video gives you the answer to the following question: what happens when you paint "Hillary for President"(among other things) on the side of a car and drive through Alabama?

Giuliani says Bush is like Lincoln

"“He had the ability to look forward,” Mr. Giuliani said of Lincoln. “He had the ability that a leader has, a leader like George Bush, a leader like Ronald Reagan, to look into the future.”"
Cough, cough....excuse me while I heave.

Run, Rudy, run!

Maureen Dowd noting Obama's growing pains today

Maureen Dowd today, "Obama, Legally Blonde?" continuing on her quest to resurrect the candidacy of Joe Biden, I take it...:) A bit of slagging on a grumpy Obama learning life as a newbie Presidential candidate and not making nice with the media, apparently.

He is backed up by a strong, smart wife and a professional campaign team, but he doesn’t have a do-whatever-it-takes family firm with contract killers and debt collectors, like Bush Inc. and Clinton Inc.

He was eloquent, if not as inspiring as his advance billing had prepared audiences to expect. He made his first Swift-boat-able slip when he had to apologize for talking about soldiers’ lives “wasted” in Iraq. He sounded self-consciously pristine at times, as if he was too refined for the muck of politics. That’s not how you beat anybody but Alan Keyes.

After talking to high school journalists, he took a sniffy shot at the loutish reporters who were merely whispering where’s the beef: “Take some notes, guys, that’s how it’s done.”

No fewer than three times last week, Mr. Obama got indignant about the beach-babe attention given to a shot of him in the Hawaiian surf.

Using the dreaded third person that some candidates slip into, he told the press that one of their favorite narratives boiled down to “Obama has pretty good style, he can deliver a pretty good speech, but he seems to prioritize rhetoric over substance.” After an ode to his own specificity, he tut-tutted, “You’ve been reporting on how I look in a swimsuit.”

He poses for the cover of Men’s Vogue and then gets huffy when people don’t treat him as Hannah Arendt.

For some of us, it’s hard to fathom being upset at getting accused of looking great in a bathing suit. But his friends say it played into this Harvard grad’s fear of being seen as “a dumb blond.” He has been known to privately mock “pretty boys” (read John Edwards, the Breck Girl of 2004).

He doesn’t lack confidence, but he’s so hung up on being seen as thoughtful that he sometimes comes across as too emotionally detached and cerebral with crowds yearning for an electric, visceral connection. J.F.K. mixed cool with fire.

For a man who couldn’t wait to inject himself into the national arena, and who has spent so much time writing books about himself, the senator is oddly put off by press inquisitiveness.
Is that such a sin? Given the strange priorities of the media in this era (see: Anna Nicole Smith coverage), he's shrewd to be wary of the "People" effect. I suppose there's worse that could be going on. All in all, sounds like normal nationwide growing pains to me...

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Libby trial quote of the day

Ouch. Frosty quote from former NYTimes reporter Judith Miller's former boss:
"Earlier, New York Times managing editor Jill Abramson testified she could not recall Miller suggesting to her that the Times look into Plame, as Miller had testified. But on cross-examination, she added she 'occasionally tuned her out.'"
What a clever burn...:)

In other trial news...there's an interesting bit in the NYTimes report tonight about a question a juror asked of one of today's witnesses, John Hannah, described as "a former deputy to Mr. Libby who is now a national security adviser to Mr. Cheney."
Mr. Hannah also provided testimony for another defense argument when he said Mr. Libby had a notoriously bad memory. “On certain things, Scooter just had an awful memory,” he said, using Mr. Libby’s nickname.

He said that on occasion Mr. Libby would tell him some idea in the afternoon, having forgotten that he, Mr. Hannah, had given him the idea in the morning. Mr. Libby, sitting at the defense table, laughed. Mr. Hannah said in response to a question from a juror — an unusual procedure used by Judge Walton — that Mr. Libby had a good memory for ideas and concepts. (emphasis added)
So the juror bore in on the notion that, yes, Libby might forget details from time to time as we all do...but would he be likely to forget what appeared to be an ongoing concerted effort out of the Vice President's office to target Joe Wilson and his wife, including discussing Valerie Wilson's CIA status with reporters? Yeah, that's a darn good question, juror.

Speaker Pelosi kicks off the Iraq debate

"No more blank checks for President Bush on Iraq."

Right wing hatred

On full display, here. The holy rollers show their love for a blogger.

Feel the love!

No Cheney on the stand

Cheney, Libby won't testify at CIA leak trial.

Not a big surprise...he'd have been walking into a lion's den. Better to work on the pardon?

Olbermann on the Iranian weapons in Iraq

Why would anyone believe the Bush administration on this?

Sympathy for the Bushes at this difficult time

Daily Kos: "Poor Daddy Bush Agitated About His Idiot Son."

Giuliani's "weirdness factor"

Um, yeah:
"He surely could not have been pleased to read that his 'personal life raises questions about a 'weirdness factor.'' That weirdness, aides reported, stemmed from Giuliani's 14-year marriage to his second cousin, a union that he got annulled by claiming to have never received proper dispensation from the Catholic Church for the unorthodox nuptials."
Run, Rudy, run!

Times editorial on Dixie Chicks' win

"The Courage of Others’ Convictions," NYTimes editorial today on the Dixie Chicks' big wins Sunday night:
The music industry awarded an armload of Grammys to the Dixie Chicks on Sunday night, in what was celebrated as a blow for freedom of speech as much as tunefulness. The endorsement was about three years too late. The awards — including for the trio’s fittingly titled album “Taking the Long Way” and the song “Not Ready to Make Nice” — ended a desolate period in which their music was boycotted and banned by country music stations, their CDs were burned and smashed, and group members’ lives were threatened.

The Chicks’ offense was geographic but labeled unpatriotic. The lead singer, Natalie Maines, told a 2003 London concert crowd that she was ashamed that President Bush was from her home state, Texas. She briefly apologized to fans, then quickly took it back, reclaiming her right to oppose the Iraq war and criticize the president.

Had Ms. Maines been a senator at the time, she might now be a shoo-in candidate for president.

The gutsy group beat back the campaign by conglomerate radio chains to obliterate them and did it with little support from fellow artists, who apparently feared getting Dixie-Chicked themselves. The band reinvented itself, taking on a pop style, reclaiming some old fans and finding new ones — a lot of them. Meanwhile, Mr. Bush’s polls plummeted to Nixonian levels. Suddenly, the industry found the courage to really, really like them again.

We’ve seen this sort of political calibration by the arts before. Lillian Hellman scalded an Academy Awards ceremony in 1977, 25 years after she defied the House Un-American Activities Committee. The film industry, she said, responded to Washington’s red-baiting and blacklisting with all the “force and courage of a bowl of mashed potatoes.”

There must be a Dixie Chicks song in there somewhere. (emphasis added)
Yeah, tons of vindication to go around...:)

On that last point regarding a song... there is's called "Bitter End," directed at their country music pals in particular and it's on Taking the Long Way...:)

8 reasons to turf Mini Bush

And their environmental record is just one of them. Read the rest here. An excerpt from the conclusion:
"“This is a guy who will never change,” says Murray Dobbin, Vancouver-based journalist and author of Paul Martin: CEO for Canada? “The notion that Stephen Harper would change his fundamental values is just delusional. He is still viscerally contemptuous of his own country, and I think that puts him in a unique position of any prime minister in the history of the country. I can’t think of any other prime minister who actually hated his own country.” After all, Stephen Harper is the same man who, only a decade before, was head of the National Citizens Coalition, perhaps the most virulently right-wing organization in Canada, a group that was founded to oppose publicly funded, universal health care. He’s the same man who has advocated a firewall around Alberta to protect itself from a hostile federal government. The same man who has mocked Canadians’ understanding of their own country and who has called America’s conservative movement an inspiration. This is the same man who has made a career out of consistently and ardently criticizing Canada and its values. “Canada is a northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it,” Harper told the Council for National Policy, a right-leaning American think tank, at a June 1997 meeting in Montreal."
What a masterful effort it's been to disguise this guy...

We report, you decide

disco wants you to see this.

Me? I think I'm mildly offended...after all, how offended can one be by a KFC billboard?