Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The real Mini Bush on Kyoto

Occasionally you get a glimpse, beyond the bland, family-man, harmless guy image makeover he's undergone: "Canada's PM blasted over old anti-Kyoto comments":
"Opposition legislators attacked Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Wednesday after it emerged that he had once described the Kyoto global warming protocol as 'a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations.'" (emphasis added)
This is Harper at his candid and most partisan apex on the issue. Mocking Kyoto as "socialist" to feed his base their red meat chum. In 2002, not so long ago. The condescending derision that's evident in his use of this phrasing is a telling insight into the partisan Harper.

Secondly, the framing of Kyoto as a "socialist scheme" also fits another of Harper's patterns...marching in lockstep with right wing Americans on any given issue. You can find lots of them using the same language as Harper to describe Kyoto as a "socialist" plot to harm the U.S. economy. When in doubt on an issue, look to the wingnuttery down south for a position. It's frankly embarrassing to see a national Canadian leader using the same partisan American right wing blog talk like this.

Now we are supposed to believe, faced with the polls and an opposition leader in Stephane Dion who has had a remarkable rise with his focus on the environment, Mini Bush all of a sudden is the environmentally sensitive and responsible leader.

Who's buying? Anyone?

Biden always makes it interesting

"Biden's description of Obama draws scrutiny."
In the article published Wednesday, Biden is quoted evaluating presidential rivals Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-New York, former Sen. John Edwards, D-North Carolina, and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois. His remarks about Obama, the only African-American serving in the Senate, drew the most scrutiny.

"I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy," Biden said. "I mean, that's a storybook, man."
Biden loves to talk and will say whatever pops into his head. He's actually quite funny sometimes. He's candid. I don't think anyone took real offence to these remarks, he clearly forgot about a few other African-American candidates who preceded Obama though...

Iran as linchpin in the Middle East

"Not-So-Strange Bedfellow," Tom Friedman's column on Iran today, has a few observations about Iran's importance to the future of Middle East peace and advice for the Bush administration:
Because the U.S. has destroyed Iran’s two biggest enemies — the Taliban and Saddam — “there is now a debate in Iran as to whether we should continue to act so harshly against the Americans,” Mohammad Hossein Adeli, Iran’s former ambassador to London, told me at Davos. “There is now more readiness for dialogue with the United States.”

More important, when people say, “The most important thing America could do today to stabilize the Middle East is solve the Israel-Palestine conflict,” they are wrong. It’s second. The most important thing would be to resolve the Iran-U.S. conflict.

That would change the whole Middle East and open up the way to solving the Israel-Palestine conflict, because Iran is the key backer of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and Syria. Iran’s active help could also be critical for stabilizing Iraq.
I hadn't heard that first point, that some Iranians are actually grateful, it appears, for the Americans having done away with the Taliban and Saddam. That's certainly not the conventional wisdom these days. It's more likely to be about Iran's growing power in the region as a result of these developments and its leader's pursuit of nuclear power. The latter view reinforces the U.S./Iran relationship as one of hostility. Perhaps Ahmadinejad's electoral losses of late and his rebuke by religious leaders in the government are affirmations of Friedman's point that the U.S. may have inadvertently gained some ground in their relationship with Iran. Now if only Bush wouldn't f*%# up potential new inroads with his bellicosity.

The advice for Iranian policy:
But for talks with Iran to bear fruit, we have to negotiate with Iran with leverage.

How do we get leverage? Make it clear that Iran can’t push us out of the gulf militarily; bring down the price of oil, which is key to the cockiness of Iran’s hard-line leadership; squeeze the hard-liners financially. But all this has to be accompanied with a clear declaration that the U.S. is not seeking regime change in Iran, but a change of behavior, that the U.S. wants to immediately restore its embassy in Tehran and that the first thing it will do is grant 50,000 student visas for young Iranians to study at U.S. universities.

Just do that — and then sit back and watch the most amazing debate explode inside Iran. You can bet the farm on it.

Mama Hugs Iowa

Maureen Dowd covers Hillary's trip to Iowa today, "Mama Hugs Iowa." She's been quite harsh on Hillary so I was surprised at the tone and content here. She captured what happened in Iowa where Hillary, by most accounts, did quite OK. Has Maureen Dowd too been dazzled, a bit, by the prospect of having a woman President, even Hillary? Could be. Although there's the obligatory knock on her Iraq position. Still, remarkably restrained for Maureen Dowd on this topic.

An excerpt:
When she was little, Hillary Rodham would sit on a basement bench and pretend she was flying a spaceship to Mars. Her younger brother Hugh, perched behind, would sometimes beg for a chance to be captain.

No dice. “She would always drive, and I would always have to sit in the back,” he once told me.

Through all the years of sitting behind Bill Clinton on his trip to the stars, Hillary fidgeted and elbowed, trying to be co-captain rather than just wingman, or worse, winglady.

Finally, in Iowa, she was once more behind the wheel of her spaceship to Mars. She didn’t have to prop up Bill after one of his roguish pratfalls. She didn’t have to feign interest in East Wing piffle — table settings and pastry chefs and designer gowns. She didn’t have to defer to her male colleagues in the Senate, stepping back to give them the limelight.

She positively glistened as she talked about how “I” — rather than the “we” of ’92 — would run the world.

Humbly, graciously, deftly, she offered Iowa the answer to that eternal question, What Is Hillary Owed?

Everything.

Composition of Bush's new "bipartisan" Iraq panel

Democrats Agree to Iraq Panel. You recall, Bush's suggested "bipartisan" effort to get advice on Iraq. Bush wanted to appoint the members, that predictably went nowhere. Now the Democrats are going to appoint their own members. To which I say...pick Jim Webb.

That'll shake Bush up...:)

Evidence against Libby piling up

Judith Miller's Account Hurts Libby Defense.

Cathie Martin, Ari Fleischer and now Judith Miller all confirming Libby spoke to them of Valerie Plame before he claims to have heard it from Russert.
Deliberately and sometimes defensively offering her account in Libby's perjury trial, Miller told the jury that "a very irritated and angry" Libby told her in a confidential conversation on June 23, 2003, that the wife of a prominent critic of the Iraq war worked at the CIA. Libby had told investigators he believed he first learned that information from another journalist nearly three weeks later -- the assertion at the core of the charges against him.

Miller testified that Libby, then the chief of staff to Vice President Cheney, shared this information as they talked alone in his office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and that he complained that the CIA and a former ambassador were unfairly trying to blame the White House for using faulty intelligence to justify the invasion of Iraq. He then mentioned that the wife of the ambassador, Joseph C. Wilson IV, worked at a bureau of the CIA.
Nice little extra here...her public confirmation of Libby and the White House's feud with the CIA over faulty intelligence that led to the Iraq invasion. Prime motivation, laid out in full, for Libby to have gone out of his way to expose Valerie Plame.

Other tidbits from this article: Judith Miller apparently kept notes/notebooks from interviews while a reporter for the New York Times in a shopping bag under her desk. This is where she retrieved notes from a meeting with Libby from after initially having overlooked them. And I thought I had poor organizational skills...:)

Meanwhile, the NYTimes today draws attention to the legal argument occurring at the end of today where Libby's lawyers are seeking to have Miller answer whether any other sources of hers had discussed Valerie Wilson. The Times suggests that if Miller refused to answer, she could be held in contempt and there could be a mistrial. The Post report, link above, however, quotes her lawyer as saying "there are no other sources she can recollect dealing with [concerning] Mr. Wilson and Ms. Plame." This issue continues into tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

One more observation about Ari Fleischer's testimony

I think this is the first time we've seen, publicly at least, an attack of conscience by any Bush administration official over the leak:
Asked why he thought he needed immunity, Fleischer testified that after learning that a criminal investigation had been launched into the disclosure of Plame’s employment, “I was absolutely horrified. I remember thinking, ‘Oh my God, did I play a role in somehow outing a CIA officer?’”

Specter hilarious today

"Specter: Bush Not Sole 'Decision-Maker'." You've got to be kidding me...Specter continues to excel at exasperating...

Libby trial news today, he didn't do it

Libby Reportedly Said 'I Didn't Do It'... to Cheney's legal counsel, David Addington. Of course he didn't! This is all much ado about nothing, says the Scooter man!

I find it amazing that in July of 2003 that Libby's talking up Plame with Fleischer, reporters (to come on the witness stand) and while doing so, is disseminating that she worked in the "counterproliferations" division of the CIA. Yet in September of 2003, as we learn from Addington today, he's apparently a little panicky and is asking Addington an interesting question:
Recalling their 2003 conversation in Libby's office, Addington testified Tuesday that Libby was curious about how someone could determine whether a CIA employee was working undercover. Addington, a former CIA counsel, said there's no way to know.

Addington said he gave Libby a highlighted copy of the federal law barring disclosure of the identity of covert agents.

Fitzgerald hopes Addington's testimony will bolster his argument that Libby was worried about whether his conversations with reporters were improper and therefore lied to conceal them.

Libby resigned as Cheney's chief of staff after being indicted in October 2005. Addington succeeded him.
(emphasis added)
I would find it hard to believe that Libby didn't know the law, inside and out, on disclosing an agent's identity prior to this meeting with Addington. The words used in July of 2003 by Libby and Rove when discussing Plame reinforce that they knew they had to do so carefully so as not to intentionally disclose her covert status. Firedoglake's Christy suggests Addington was handing him a copy of the law to stave off further information from Libby, as in, read this and don't say another word to me. That sounds about right.

His question to Addington on how you could determine whether someone was undercover reinforces a picture of Libby combing the issue, making sure he's covered off. If it's difficult to determine whether someone's undercover, then it's very difficult to prove the intention element of the crime of disclosure, isn't it? Addington provided comfort to Libby no doubt on this legal aspect. He's a former CIA counsel, and presumably why Libby asked Addington this question.

More from the Post AP report:
Libby's attorneys have accused White House officials of sacrificing Libby to protect President Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove. During cross-examination Tuesday, attorney Theodore Wells suggested that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who was counsel to the president in 2003, may have been involved in that effort.

Wells has described Rove as crucial to the Republican Party and said Tuesday that Gonzales was tasked with protecting Bush's interests.
Drawing in Gonzales now. The note that Cheney wrote stating that Libby was being sacrificed to protect Rove surfaced again in this line of questioning. Danged little note that was harmful to Rove...:)

The books to come on the tension between the Veep's office and Bush's are going to be interesting ones indeed.

Clever contrast between Webb and Cheney

"Mad About Mary," a guest column in the NYTimes today on the sudden prominence of children of celebrities and politicians in the news. The observations about Senator Jim Webb and Dick Cheney's recent newsmaking after being asked about their children is witty:
There are now officially only two people left in America who don’t want to talk about their kids. When Jim Webb bowed out of that White House receiving line, President Bush tracked him down and asked after his son. Senator Webb is a former Navy secretary; he knows his protocol. He is also one of only a few members of the U.S. Senate with children serving in the military. “I’d like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President,” Mr. Webb replied. “That’s not what I asked you,” Mr. Bush snapped. Mr. Webb didn’t really mean to answer, either. Evidently, he meant to slug the president.

Last week Wolf Blitzer asked Dick Cheney about his pregnant lesbian daughter. The vice president looked as if his arm had made contact with that meat grinder. Mr. Blitzer was, he growled, seriously out of line.

Neither Senator Webb nor Vice President Cheney wins points for his social graces. But what Letitia Baldrige said of the Webb encounter — “It was an uncivil reply to an uncivil remark” — does not apply equally to the vice president. Mr. Cheney has openly promoted an anti-gay agenda. His own base has called his daughter’s pregnancy unconscionable. Family values have been his calling card. And our Prohibitionist vice president can’t summon the courage to address the gin mill in the basement?

Mr. Webb was rude on principle; Mr. Cheney rude out of hypocrisy. One man took a stand. The other scurried away.
What the vice president’s nonresponse did deliver was a very cogent message: the rules apply to you, but not to us. It’s our privacy, your patriotism; our delusion, your sacrifice; our tax cuts, your kids. After all, as Mr. Cheney so tellingly said of his Republican critics, “I’m the vice president, and they’re not.” The part for which some of us have no stomach is the sense of entitlement.

An annoying thing about children is that they nudge you toward the high road and the long view. They demand pesky things like open-mindedness, self-denial, accountability, leadership and occasionally even integrity — qualities that appear to have packed up and gone home with Hans Blix. Once upon a time, you might have termed them family values.

Happy Birthday Darth Cheney

Yeah, that guy was born this fateful day. So happy birthday you icon of civility.

Groundhog day

S.D. lawmakers draft modified abortion bill.

Don't these people listen?

Sleeper issue for next election campaign

Angry income trust investors blame Flaherty:
Income trust investors who lost big chunks of their life savings took their anger today to the doorstep of the man they blame for their woes.

And they stated their case about Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's tax policy flip-flop in the kind of plain language politicians don't always hear.

"I'm pissed," said William Barrowclough a retired teacher from Peterborough, Ont. "I think I've got good grounds."

Mr. Barrowclough was one of more than a dozen investors who held a news conference on Parliament Hill as the Commons finance committee prepared for hearings on Flaherty's Oct. 31 decision to start taxing income trusts — a flat reversal of a Tory campaign pledge from the last election.
...
Mr. Barrowclough was one of those who took a hit, to the tune of $250,000 he had invested, partly to provide for his grandchildren's education. Much of the money came from an insurance settlement received for his wife's death in a traffic accident.
I'm sure a few of these people wouldn't mind appearing in ads on the issue, wouldn't you say? Since Mini Bush has his attack ads already launched and seems to favour the format, I'm sure he'll welcome similar tactics from all comers...:)

There are a lot of angry people out there and this should become a big election issue.

A leading Republican Senator talking war strategy

Richard G. Lugar - Beyond Baghdad :
"But the pendulum of Middle East politics may be swinging back against Iranian assertiveness. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, the Gulf states and others have become increasingly alarmed by Iran's behavior and by widening regional sectarian divisions. Because of this dynamic, U.S. bargaining power in the Middle East is growing. Moderate Arab states understand that the United States is an indispensable counterweight to Iran.

This opens up opportunities for solidifying our broader strategic objectives, and it offers a backup option in Iraq. Even as the president's Baghdad strategy goes forward, we need to plan for a potent redeployment of U.S. forces in the region to defend oil assets, target terrorist enclaves, deter adventurism by Iran and provide a buffer against regional sectarian conflict. In the best case, we could supplement bases in the Middle East with troops stationed outside urban areas in Iraq. Such a redeployment would allow us to continue training Iraqi troops and delivering economic assistance, but it would not require us to interpose ourselves between Iraqi sectarian factions."
What's that you say? A Republican Senator raising redeployment and an emphasis on regional states becoming a necessary part of countering Iran. This is good news...

Also worth a read today is this article on Iran's increasing power in the region, expanding in more depth on issues Lugar raises.

Simple video making a strong point

Cafferty publicizing the ouster of the U.S. attorneys by the A.G.



Keeping the spotlight on this story...good for him. More here:
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is transforming the ranks of the nation's top federal prosecutors by firing some and appointing conservative loyalists from the Bush administration's inner circle who critics say are unlikely to buck Washington, D.C.

The newly appointed U.S. attorneys all have impressive legal credentials, but most of them have few, if any, ties to the communities they've been appointed to serve, and some have had little experience as prosecutors.

Nine recent appointees held high-level White House or Justice Department jobs, and most of them were handpicked by Gonzales under a little-noticed provision of the USA Patriot Act that became law in March.

With Congress controlled by the Democrats, critics fear that in some cases Gonzales is trying to skirt the need for Senate confirmation by giving new U.S. attorneys interim appointments for indefinite terms. Some legal scholars contend the administration pushed for the change in the Patriot Act as part of its attempt to expand the power of the executive branch, a charge administration officials deny.

Being named a U.S. attorney "has become a prize for doing the bidding of the White House or administration," said Laurie Levenson, a former federal prosecutor who is now a professor at the Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.

"In the past, there had been a great deal of delegation to the local offices. Now, you have a consolidation of power in Washington."

Monday, January 29, 2007

Ari Fleischer sings his song today

Fleischer Tells Jury That Libby Told Him About Plame.

More evidence damaging to Libby's claim that he learned of Plame's undercover status from Tim Russert. Fleischer says Libby told him about Plame working at the CIA days before Libby spoke with Russert. Got that?

This looks like confirmation that Fleischer was being used by the higher ups in the White House to get the word out on Plame. He wasn't given the usual warning about classified information by Libby when they had their lunch. Message? Go ahead and leak this to the press, get the word out.

Some of the interesting details today:
"He added that this was something hush-hush or on the QT, that not many people knew this information," Fleisher said. "My impression was Mr. Libby was telling me this was kind of newsy."

Added Fleischer: "My thought was that what I was hearing was about nepotism."
Ari hears that someone's wife works in CIA counterproliferation and nepotism is what springs to mind? How about classified territory and maybe I should be very careful where I'm treading? How about maybe she's doing something of importance for your country and you might not want to publicize that? He may have weighed such questions but in the end:
Fleischer said he never viewed the information he received about Plame as classified or secret, because the protocol in the White House was that press aides would be warned explicitly when information was classified and could not be used in discussions with reporters.
It didn't take Fleischer too long to realize he'd been hung out to dry and he told the government. Good for him. What is that vulgar yet comical expression I've read time and time again throughout the course of the CIA leak matter as the Bush insiders have turned on each other? It's along these lines...Ari in the end decided: "F*%# me? No, F*%# you..."

Very cool 3-D graphic

Economic activity around the world.

Mini Bush and his U.S. inspired political ad campaign

Tories rip Dion in TV ad blitz.

Straight out of the American political playbook, as usual for Mini Bush and his crowd! Define your opponent early and make the perception stick. I've got to say, it's an awful lot of trouble to go to when an election is not on the horizon. Would Mini Bush really want one now? Recent polls are still pointing to minority government territory, and not for him!

Plus there's just the weirdness factor. People will wonder, WTF is a political ad doing on my television in February and with no election occurring? Why is this man being attacked? Does he really warrant such special attention in this way? It has the aura of "methinks they doth protest too much."

And you know, I can't remember the last negative ad campaign that went over that well in Canada...the Tories ran those ads against Chretien with the mocking of his facial features that tanked. The Liberals ran terrible ads in one of their recent campaigns against Harper that were very negative and were universally condemned. We're just not that into it, Americans are. And unfortunately for Mini Bush, we live in Canada.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Funny sign seen at Washington protest yesterday



Great photo diary of the anti-war protest in Washington yesterday from missreporter on DailyKos. Couldn't resist posting one of her photos which is hilarious. Go see the rest.

This made me smile

Think Hillary's going to be Swift Boated?
The former first lady also said has learned the lessons of the last two presidential campaigns, both lost by Democrats who responded slowly to criticism.

"When you are attacked, you have to deck your opponent," Clinton said. "I have been through the political wars longer than some of you have been alive. We've got to be prepared to hold our ground and fight back."

Rich on Clinton and Iraq

Frank Rich challenges Hillary Clinton's Iraq position over time in his column today, "Hillary Clinton's Mission Unaccomplished," by contrasting it with Senator Jim Webb's SOTU response on Iraq. The criticism is largely that she's been calibrating all along and not leading on the issue. I suppose one could say the same of any sitting Senator. Webb and Obama are unfortunate contrasts for her, however, because they both took anti-war positions before the war's launch and explained why, lucidly, at the time. Neither were in elected national office though and I wonder if that would have made a difference. In Obama's case, due to his inexperience and his track record in the Senate of not making serious waves, it might have, one can't say for sure. In Webb's case, you sense he would not have been susceptible to the tremendous pressure due to his military and life experience. The fact that Webb could provide a stark contrast on Iraq to the position of so many Washington politicians in just an 8-9 minute speech was striking. It's quite a challenge for her candidacy as well it should be.

Here's an excerpt:
Few Americans know more than Senator Clinton about health care, as it happens, and if 27 Americans hadn’t been killed in Iraq last weekend, voters might be in the mood to listen to her about it. But polls continue to show Iraq dwarfing every other issue as the nation’s No. 1 concern. The Democrats’ pre-eminent presidential candidate can’t escape the war any more than the president can. And so she was blindsided Tuesday night, just as Mr. Bush was, by an unexpected gate crasher, the rookie senator from Virginia, Jim Webb. Though he’s not a candidate for national office, Mr. Webb’s nine-minute Democratic response not only upstaged the president but also, in an unintended political drive-by shooting, gave Mrs. Clinton a more pointed State of the Union “contrast” than she had bargained for.

To the political consultants favored by both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Bush, Mr. Webb is an amateur. More than a few Washington insiders initially wrote him off in last year’s race to unseat a star presidential prospect, the incumbent Senator George Allen. Mr. Webb is standoffish. He doesn’t care whom he offends, including in his own base. He gives the impression — as he did Tuesday night — that he just might punch out his opponent. When he had his famously testy exchange with Mr. Bush over the war at a White House reception after his victory, Beltway pooh-bahs labeled him a boor, much as they had that other interloper who refused to censor himself before the president last year, Stephen Colbert.

But this country is at a grave crossroads. It craves leadership. When Mr. Webb spoke on Tuesday, he stepped into that vacuum and, for a few minutes anyway, filled it. It’s not merely his military credentials as a Vietnam veteran and a former Navy secretary for Ronald Reagan that gave him authority, or the fact that his son, also a marine, is serving in Iraq. It was the simplicity and honesty of Mr. Webb’s message. Like Senator Obama, he was a talented professional writer before entering politics, so he could discard whatever risk-averse speech his party handed him and write his own. His exquisitely calibrated threat of Democratic pushback should Mr. Bush fail to change course on the war — “If he does not, we will be showing him the way” — continued to charge the air even as Mrs. Clinton made the post-speech rounds on the networks.

Mrs. Clinton cannot rewrite her own history on Iraq to match Mr. Obama’s early opposition to the war, or Mr. Webb’s. She was not prescient enough to see, as Mr. Webb wrote in The Washington Post back in September 2002, that “unilateral wars designed to bring about regime change and a long-term occupation should be undertaken only when a nation’s existence is clearly at stake.” But she’s hardly alone in this failing, and the point now is not that she mimic John Edwards with a prostrate apology for her vote to authorize the war. (“You don’t get do-overs in life or in politics,” she has said.) What matters to the country is what happens next. What matters is the leadership that will take us out of the fiasco.
So, let's see what they all have to say...

Parting Ways in Iraq

"Parting Ways in Iraq" is David Brooks' column today on partition in Iraq:
"The best answer, then, is soft partition: create a central government with a few key powers; reinforce strong regional governments; separate the sectarian groups as much as possible.

In practice, that means, first, modifying the Iraqi Constitution.

As Joe Biden points out, the Constitution already goes a long way toward decentralizing power. It gives the provinces the power to have their own security services, to send ambassadors to foreign countries, to join together to form regions. Decentralization is not an American imposition, it’s an Iraqi idea."
Citing the Bosnia model as precedent, sectarian division is what he's advocating, with suggested steps. It's a solution, yes, and I don't know of a better one. He's right about needing the neighbouring countries to join in as well.

But it's just so damn patronizing for the western world, the U.S. in particular, to be presuming to impose a division of Iraq upon these people after practically destroying this country. After years of rule under a brutal dictator, Iraqis are supposed to be able to play nicely and govern themselves properly. All the while with U.S. politicians expressing impatience at the Iraqis' inability to stop the cycle of violence.

Whatever happens, it's got to be driven by the Iraqis, and regional/bordering states. Not a solution seen to be imposed by Americans.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Barack Obama went to law school

Other than that, not much new here. Sounds pretty typical to me...

Big anti war demonstration today

(AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

Coverage of the march in the Times.

More on the botched strategy and the failure of both the political and military establishments to engage the issue as needed, by a retired general here.

John McCain needs some serious scrutiny

Here's a bit. The myth of McCain:
"A few months ago, McCain suddenly rushed up to a friend of mine, a prominent Washington lawyer, at a social event, and threatened to beat him up because he represented a client McCain happened to dislike. Then, just as suddenly, profusely and tearfully, he apologised."
If Hillary Clinton did this, or Barack Obama, or John Edwards...need I say more?

Arianna reports he's not so temperate these days with reporters either...

Will Rove Testify?

Rove and Bartlett subpoenaed by Libby's team.

Lots of interesting stuff to come in this trial. Rove on a witness stand, under oath. My oh my.

Ari Fleischer, former spokesman for Bush, apparently was told by both Libby and Bartlett about Valerie Wilson's CIA employment in connection with their effort to discredit Joe Wilson, an Iraq war critic and thorn in their side. It suggests the possibility that Libby was not the initial scapegoat that the White House had in mind. Perhaps it was Fleischer instead. Let's let Fleischer in on some classified stuff by slipping him a juicy classified document while he's travelling, make him feel part of the gang, let Fleischer get the word out and let him suffer the repercussions from dealing in such classified territory. Let Ari be the first to get it out there, get reporters talking about it and then we'll just say, "we heard that too" as Rove did with Novak. As Libby tried to argue with Russert. Nice plan, but gone awry.

Fleischer wasn't one of the original Bush inner circle, so it would make sense that they would view him as expendable. And Fleischer apparently embarked down the road to disseminating the information. It's repeated here how Fleischer told NBC's David Gregory about Wilson's wife. The problem for the White House lies in Fleischer's immunity deal with Fitzgerald. Did Ari figure out he was being set up and get the heck out of dodge? Looks like it.

What's interesting is how, with Fleischer gone, Libby somehow became the guy with the target on his back and ended up indicted when Rove and Bartlett were involved as well. Rove's testimony, should he actually end up being called, will be among the highlights of this thing.

At Ease, Mr. President

At Ease, Mr. President, a thoughtful op-ed today by Garry Wills on the proliferation of the use of the term "commander in chief" to describe you know who:
WE hear constantly now about “our commander in chief.” The word has become a synonym for “president.” It is said that we “elect a commander in chief.” It is asked whether this or that candidate is “worthy to be our commander in chief.”

But the president is not our commander in chief. He certainly is not mine. I am not in the Army.
...
Wartime and war analogies are embraced because these justify the secrecy. The representative is accountable to citizens. Soldiers are accountable to their officer. The dynamics are different, and to blend them is to undermine the basic principles of our Constitution.

Maureen Dowd on Cheney today

Maureen Dowd today, "Daffy Does Doom," takes on the principal buffoon of the week, Dick Cheney, mainly for his dangerous, offensive and out of touch bravado exhibited during his interview on CNN this week.
Dick Durbin went to the floor of the Senate on Thursday night to denounce the vice president as “delusional.”

It was shocking, and Senator Durbin should be ashamed of himself.

Delusional is far too mild a word to describe Dick Cheney. Delusional doesn’t begin to capture the profound, transcendental one-flew-over daftness of the man.

Has anyone in the history of the United States ever been so singularly wrong and misguided about such phenomenally important events and continued to insist he’s right in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary?

It requires an exquisite kind of lunacy to spend hundreds of billions destroying America’s reputation in the world, exhausting the U.S. military, failing to catch Osama, enhancing Iran’s power in the Middle East and sending American kids to train and arm Iraqi forces so they can work against American interests.
...
You must have a real talent for derangement to stay wrong every step of the way, to remain in complete denial about Iraq’s civil war, to have a total misunderstanding of Arab culture, to be completely oblivious to the American mood and to be absolutely blind to how democracy works.

In a democracy, when you run a campaign that panders to homophobia by attacking gay marriage and then your lesbian daughter writes a book about politics and decides to have a baby with her partner, you cannot tell Wolf Blitzer he’s “out of line” when he gingerly raises the hypocrisy of your position.
Did you enjoy that as much as I did?

Friday, January 26, 2007

Friday night video



This is one of my favourite songs lately, Truth No. 2 by the Dixie Chicks...if you listen to the lyrics you'll hear why...:)

Charges Dropped Against NSA Protesters

Charges Dropped Against NSA Protesters:
A federal judge dropped charges against 13 peace activists arrested for protesting outside the headquarters of the secretive National Security Agency.

An NSA security officer lacked the legal authority to charge the protesters and did not provide a statement of probable cause, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Gauvey ruled Thursday.

The law only prohibits illegal entry, not remaining on NSA property, and the protesters were never told the NSA objected to their presence, the judge said.

''There was no guard. There was no checkpoint. There was no sign warning them of anything,'' Gauvey said.

The activists were charged with entering a military installation for illegal purposes, which carries a maximum six-month sentence and a $5,000 fine.
More overstepping of legal bounds by Bush administration officers. Convenient tandem report to this morning's more significant Times piece on the Justice Department's excessive secrecy tactics in NSA wiretapping cases.

Do you think the lawless tone at the top of this administration has anything at all to do with such incidents? Where they've lawyered down the Geneva Conventions, repeatedly expressed disdain for the judiciary, declassified intelligence for political purposes such as silencing an Iraq war crtitic (Joe Wilson)? The message they've sent with such actions has trickled down, no doubt about it. Might makes right has been the unofficial slogan of the Bush administration, to date.

Membership has its privileges

"And You Thought Katherine Harris Lost."

Damaging testimony for Libby yesterday

"Ex-Cheney Aide Contradicts Libby":
Cathie Martin, Mr. Cheney’s former spokeswoman, testified that she had a clear memory of telling both Mr. Cheney and Mr. Libby that a prominent war critic’s wife worked for the C.I.A., days before he contends he first learned it from a reporter.
...
She testified that both Mr. Cheney and Mr. Libby were intensely interested in Ms. Wilson and her husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, who had been sent to Africa to investigate reports that Saddam Hussein was trying to buy uranium from Niger for his nuclear weapons program.

Ms. Martin, who no longer works for Mr. Cheney but remains at the White House as a communications assistant to the president, described how Mr. Libby had telephoned a senior Central Intelligence Agency official in her presence sometime in early July and asked about the Wilson trip. She said she was then put on the phone with Bill Harlow, the C.I.A. spokesman, who told her that Mr. Wilson went to Africa on behalf of the agency and that his wife worked there.

She testified that, later that day, in a meeting with Mr. Libby and Mr. Cheney, she related the fact that Mr. Wilson’s wife worked at the agency.
Intensely interested yet still he claims to have learned it from a reporter...

Running on Empty

"Running on Empty," Tom Friedman today calls for the Democrats to step up and take the lead on two major issues, climate change and Iraq. Hear, hear to that. His suggestion on climate change is similar to what Stephane Dion has been advocating in Canada:
The really bold, transformative — and popular — initiative Mr. Bush should have offered would either be a national cap-and-trade system for controlling CO2 emissions by utilities, manufacturers and autos, or a carbon tax. Both would create economic incentives for us to get rid of appliances, buildings and cars that emit a lot of CO2 and to invent and purchase those that don’t.

But there is no reason that the Democrats could not right now put a cap-and-trade bill on Mr. Bush’s desk themselves by spring, Mr. Krupp said, “and I think Bush would sign it.”
I wouldn't hold my breath on Bush signing it, but it's a worthwhile goal.

And on Iraq:
Let the troop surge be accompanied and reinforced by what the Baker-Hamilton commission proposed: a regional conference that puts Syria, Iran, Jordan and Saudi Arabia around a table with Iraqis to try to stabilize the place. And that requires that America brandish carrots and sticks with all the parties. If a real regional conference doesn’t work, then Democrats who want to just set a date to withdraw will have an even stronger case because we will truly have tried everything. But let’s try everything: a surge of diplomacy, not just troops.
Diplomacy, diplomacy, diplomacy...regional diplomacy said Jim Webb...

U.S. Justice Dept reinventing the legal system in NSA cases?

An article in the NYTimes today, "Secrecy Is at Issue in Suits Opposing Domestic Spying," suggests Americans are facing significant threats from the Justice Department to the impartial functioning of its judicial branch. The Justice Department is taking extraordinary secrecy measures in the NSA wiretap cases and is arguably taking on a quasi-judicial role by asserting control over the processes used in the lawsuits. For example, the Justice Department is submitting their written responses to lawsuits filed "...by placing them in a room at the department." Normally a response would be sent to the complainants in a case. Well not anymore if you happen to be suing the government for illegally wiretapping you. Parties have to go to the Justice Department to see them! Here are a few more details of the measures being employed:
The Bush administration has employed extraordinary secrecy in defending the National Security Agency’s highly classified domestic surveillance program from civil lawsuits. Plaintiffs and judges’ clerks cannot see its secret filings. Judges have to make appointments to review them and are not allowed to keep copies.

Judges have even been instructed to use computers provided by the Justice Department to compose their decisions.
With respect to the complainants who have filed cases:
Some cases challenging the program, which monitored international communications of people in the United States without court approval, have also involved atypical maneuvering. Soon after one suit challenging the program was filed last year in Oregon, Justice Department lawyers threatened to seize an exhibit from the court file.

This month, in the same case, the department sought to inspect and delete files from the computers on which lawyers for the plaintiffs had prepared their legal filings.

The tactics, said a lawyer in the Oregon case, Jon B. Eisenberg, prompted him to conduct unusual research.

“Sometime during all of this,” Mr. Eisenberg said, “I went on Amazon and ordered a copy of Kafka’s ‘The Trial,’ because I needed a refresher course in bizarre legal procedures.” (emphasis added)
Why are they seeking to seize exhibits and not seeking instead to seal a sensitive document from public view instead? Why can't they make the argument and get a court order? It demonstrates utter contempt for the legal process.
Nancy S. Marder, a law professor at the Chicago-Kent College of Law and an authority on secrecy in litigation, said the tactics were really extreme and deeply, deeply troubling.

“These are the basics that we take for granted in our court system,” Professor Marder said. “You have two parties. You exchange documents. The documents you’ve seen don’t disappear.”
More proof of the bully mentality permeating this administration and its Justice Department. Until people stand up to the bully, the bully will try to get away with all they can. And it's apparently been quite a lot...

Russert's a Cheney fave

Arianna Huffington's been saying this for months:
"Memo to Tim Russert: Dick Cheney thinks he controls you.

This delicious morsel about the 'Meet the Press' host and the vice president was part of the extensive dish Cathie Martin served up yesterday when the former Cheney communications director took the stand in the perjury trial of former Cheney chief of staff I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby.

Flashed on the courtroom computer screens were her notes from 2004 about how Cheney could respond to allegations that the Bush administration had played fast and loose with evidence of Iraq's nuclear ambitions. Option 1: 'MTP-VP,' she wrote, then listed the pros and cons of a vice presidential appearance on the Sunday show. Under 'pro,' she wrote: 'control message.'

'I suggested we put the vice president on 'Meet the Press,' which was a tactic we often used,' Martin testified. 'It's our best format.'"

Thursday, January 25, 2007

On Gore running

Political Wire: Quote of the Day:
"He's going to run, and he's going to be formidable. If he didn't run, I'd be shocked."

-- James Carville on Al Gore to Rolling Stone.
Gore vs. Clinton is a match-up I'd love to see. McCain-Giuliani-Romney will put you to sleep in comparison...

Brooks calling for partition in Iraq

"Breaking the Clinch," David Brooks' column today, suggests Iraq is on the verge of becoming a genocide akin to Darfur. And Democrats, he says, are the party that abhors genocides:
The Democratic approach, as articulated by Senator Jim Webb — simply get out of Iraq “in short order” — is a howl of pain that takes no note of the long-term political and humanitarian consequences. Does the party that still talks piously about ending bloodshed in Darfur really want to walk away from a genocide the U.S. is partly responsible for? Are U.S. troops going to be pulled back to secure bases to watch passively while rivers of Iraqi blood lap at their gates? How many decades will Americans be fighting to quell the cycle of regional violence set loose by a transnational Sunni-Shiite explosion?
This is rich. First of all, he completley misarticulates the Democrats/Webb's position. Webb did not advocate a simple withdrawal in short order.

I agree completely with him that Iraq's a looming bloodbath. It is already and is going to get worse. But to say to Democrats that hey, you can't walk away, we've got a looming Darfur...does Brooks advocate saving Darfur? Probably not (have I missed it?) But an Iraqi genocide where oil sits under the land? Yeah, we'll stay and engage in this one. And with respect to a "genocide," none of the predictions made by the administration or their advocates have been worth much at all. Why is a plea to stay and stave off a "genocide" any different from previous warnings from Bush? Ratcheting up the stakes to the level of a "genocide" seems highly irresponsible to me.

The current strategy of the Bush administration with its surge of troops, continuing to believe they can get the civil war under control is an escalating commitment to a losing course of action. There is no evidence it's likely to break the cycle at all. So Brooks is more likely on to the right track with his conclusion that Iraq be divided into sectarian areas. Partition, validating Biden once again. A political solution enforced by regional diplomacy - see Jim Webb's address the other night.

Hillary's blog ad buy getting attention

"Hillary in Blogistan: On Blogads, The Netroots and Peter Daou at Blog P.I.." Insightful piece on the politics of placing ads on the blogs. If you're not a blogger it's an interesting little read which will give you a sense of the growth in power of blogs and the ad fees that are being commanded. I don't understand why some would knock her campaign for advertising on leading conservative blogs. If you're a national candidate, clearly you have to advertise everywhere but with appropriate buys, which her campaign appears to have done.

Is that Liddy - or Libby?

Ooops. Misspelling in headline caught on Google News...:) Guess the media is taking the Bush/Nixon comparisons of late more seriously than we thought...:)

Evocative moments at the Libby trial

I couldn't help but recall a scene from the movie, Clear and Present Danger after reading this passage from the NYTimes coverage of the Libby trial today:
Mr. Libby’s lawyers said in an opening statement on Tuesday that he felt so abandoned by the White House as the leak investigation intensified in the fall of 2003 that he appealed to his boss, Vice President Dick Cheney. Mr. Cheney subsequently wrote, according to the defense’s opening statement: “Not going to protect one staffer + sacrifice the guy who was asked to stick his neck in the meatgrinder because of the incompetence of others.”
Was this like a "get out of jail free card" that Cheney was penning to ease Libby's mind as he went about his mission to discredit the Wilsons? Remember this scene from the movie?
Jack Ryan: I didn't sign up for this. This is someone's bullshit political agenda. Who authorized this? Cutter?
Ritter: Cutter couldn't tie his own shoes without permission.
Jack Ryan: If I go down you're coming with me.
Ritter: Wrong again. I have an *autographed get-out-of-jail-free card*! "The President of the United States authorizes Deputy Director of the CIA Robert Ritter to conduct 'Operation Reciprocity' including all necessary funding and support. This action is deemed important to the national security of the United States etcetera, etcetera, etcetera." You don't *have* one of these, do you Jack?
[as Ryan walks away]
Ritter: Gray! The world is gray, Jack!
Rove: The world is grey, Scooter!

Of course, this is all an interesting and fun dramatic embellishment on my part. The parallel is not so much in the note but in the feelings evident in the Ryan character about having been left dangling in the wind by his White House colleagues and left to take the fall. From Libby's counsel's opening statement, it seems that Libby experienced something similar.

Note also the emphasis in the Times article that there's "little known evidence" of Libby being set up as a scapegoat. Of course not, does anyone believe Rove would leave fingerprints?

Speaking of Rove, Murray Waas is of the opinion that the Rove fingering by Libby's team is meant to signal to the White House that Libby's looking for a pardon and some assurance in exchange for tamping down the Rove references/amending his defense...hmmmmm...if you were Libby, would you count on that?

Weird Giuliani video



Something is not right in this video...can you figure out what it is? It's a physical characteristic...

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Mini Bush still clinging to the sponsorship scandal

If Mini Bush thinks he can run a second election on the sponsorship scandal, let him try.

The Conservative strategy on any given issue that "it's the Liberals fault" isn't likely to get him very far at all. It's a convenient deke from the environmental and foreign policy embarrassments they're currently piling up, nothing more. So have fun with it for now, but the sponsorship scandal ship has sailed.

They're not your friends, Mini Bush

Wilkins slams Day for questioning U.S. on Arar.

Kerry not running

Kerry Bows Out of '08 Presidential Race.

It is very clear now that Kerry would have been a much, much, much, much better choice than W in 2004. Some consolation for the Senator. Probably the right decision, reminds me of Gore's declining to run in 2004...

A madrassa too far

Great diary today: Daily Kos: Hey, Gang of 500 - Fox News is Not a Real News Outlet. Prompted by the outrageous Faux coverage of Barack Obama's childhood schooling...Faux's agenda is to paint Obama as a Muslim and rule him out as a viable presidential candidate. And people are once again calling them out.

Olbermann with more on the CIA leak



Olbermann delves into the Libby trial developments from Tuesday with David Shuster...some interesting tidbits here, including Cheney allegedly instructing Scott McLellan to go out and lie about Libby's involvement in the leak. And keep in mind that Cheney's response to reports of his involvement in the leak is likely what has been reported before, that Bush had declassified some intelligence in order to refute Joe Wilson's report that the Nigerian "yellow cake" was bunk. Needless to say, this does not help Libby on the charges he faces nor Cheney if he's implicated in any obstruction schemes.

Also on the clip, Keith briefly interviews Hillary Clinton on Iran. Hillary seems newly unleashed in the ferocity of her critiques of Bush. The race is clearly on.

A leading blogger's view on Bush's speech



This is a blogger whose writing I admire very much, Josh Marshall, and he's getting into video blogging now. Very insightful and just as good as any talking head you'll see on the networks. I heartily agree with the comments on Webb as a potential '08 sleeper candidate.

Bizarre Giuliani reaction to SOTU

Here:
On Fox News, meanwhile, Rudolph W. Giuliani, New York’s former mayor and a potential candidate for the Republicans’ nomination in 2008, responded to the president’s speech.

“I thought it did what the president had to do, which was to get us beyond Iraq,” he said.

Of President Bush’s new strategy in Iraq, Mr. Giuliani echoed his earlier, measured support. “The strategy makes sense; it makes sense that it works better than what we were doing before.”
WTF is he talking about? How did Bush in any way "get us beyond Iraq?" I'll leave you to ponder the craven nature of his words.

Iraq is a terrible, deep, complicated mess. Tom Friedman includes a quote in his column today, "Martin Luther Al-King?" (wondering where the Muslim leaders are to lead the Middle East out of its current state) that evokes the depth of the problem (at end of excerpt):
There’s a lot at stake. If Iraq is ultimately unraveled by Muslim suicide-nihilism, it certainly will be a blot on our history — we opened this Pandora’s box. But it will be a plague on the future of the whole Arab world.

If Arab Muslims can summon the will to protest only against the insults of “the foreigner” but never the injuries inflicted by their own on their own, how can they ever generate a modern society or democracy — which is all about respecting and protecting minority voices and unorthodox views? And if Sunnis and Shiites can never form a social contract to rule themselves — and will always require an iron-fisted dictator — decent government will forever elude them.

The brutally honest Syrian-born poet Ali Ahmad Said, known as Adonis, gave an interview from Paris on March 11, 2006, with Dubai TV, and warned of what’s at stake (translation by Memri):

“The Arab individual is no less smart, no less a genius, than anyone else in the world. He can excel — but only outside his society. ... If I look at the Arabs, with all their resources and great capacities, and I compare what they have achieved over the past century with what others have achieved in that period, I would have to say that we Arabs are in a phase of extinction, in the sense that we have no creative presence in the world. ...

“We have the quantity. We have the masses of people, but a people becomes extinct when it no longer has a creative capacity, and the capacity to change its world.”

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

We heart Jim Webb

Good evening, I'm Senator Jim Webb from Virginia and I just kicked the President's a*$ around the block.

Here's a link to Senator Jim Webb's speech: Democratic Response to the State of the Union Address.

A highlight:
The President took us into this war recklessly. He disregarded warnings from the national security adviser during the first Gulf War, the chief of staff of the army, two former commanding generals of the Central Command, whose jurisdiction includes Iraq, the director of operations on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and many, many others with great integrity and long experience in national security affairs. We are now, as a nation, held hostage to the predictable - and predicted - disarray that has followed.

The war's costs to our nation have been staggering.

Financially.

The damage to our reputation around the world.

The lost opportunities to defeat the forces of international terrorism.

And especially the precious blood of our citizens who have stepped forward to serve.

The majority of the nation no longer supports the way this war is being fought; nor does the majority of our military. We need a new direction. Not one step back from the war against international terrorism. Not a precipitous withdrawal that ignores the possibility of further chaos. But an immediate shift toward strong regionally-based diplomacy, a policy that takes our soldiers off the streets of Iraq's cities, and a formula that will in short order allow our combat forces to leave Iraq.

The New York City subway hero stole the show

That was a great moment.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is right on

(AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson)

I'm just enthralled with this new picture.

Speaker Pelosi looks like she's right on top of everything Bush is saying. She's ready to applaud, shift her eyes, blink with disapproval or acknowledgement at just the right time. She's got the expressive looks down pat! It's like she's visibly representing everyone who opposes Bush. It is making listening to this imbecile entirely bearable.

What a welcome change.

Btw, I'm now hearing the part where W scares the sh*t out of the world...citing all the foiled terror attacks - this will be fact checked no doubt, can you believe anything he says anymore? Did you catch the mention once again of the foiled plot to crash an airliner into the tallest building on the west coast? Using this classified information once again for political gain, for an applause line, to scare Americans.

Sunnis and Shiites are part of the same totalitarian threat? Kill on an even more horrific scale? WTF is he talking about? Elevating them to al Qaeda's status?

He's been able to craft enough applause lines I see...

Video report on Cheney's involvement

Iraq and New Orleans

Jim Webb previewing a theme in his response to the SOU tonight:
Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, set to deliver the Democratic rebuttal to Tuesday’s State of the Union address, suggested Monday that the United States is spending too much on reconstruction in Iraq while ignoring the rebuilding of New Orleans.

Webb said his “gut instinct” tells him not to support more funding for Iraq without a full accounting of the money already spent there.

“If we’re putting all this money into Iraq and ignoring New Orleans, then we’re doing something wrong,” he told reporters during a teleconference.

CIA Leak case exploding today


Big news is that Libby is claiming he's being scapegoated by the White House for the leak of Valerie Wilson's CIA operative status in order to protect Karl Rove. From MSNBC:
Attorney Theodore Wells said Libby went to Cheney in 2003 and complained that the White House was subtly blaming him for leaking Plame’s identity to columnist Robert Novak.

“They’re trying to set me up. They want me to be the sacrificial lamb,” Wells said, recalling the alleged conversation between Libby and Cheney. “I will not be sacrificed so Karl Rove can be protected.”
When you work in a den of snakes, what can one expect when everyone's back is against the wall? A circular pointing squad.

And Cheney's involvement in the leak is being portrayed as "deep." Confirming suspicions many have had all along. MSNBC is reporting on the opening statements and a kos blogger transcribes it:
Shuster's report continues:

The prosecuters will also show that it was VP Cheney who directed Scooter Libby on how to handle the media inquiries on the Wilsons, on Joe Wilson's criticisms, that was a violation of protocal. In addition, prosecutors are alleging that VP Cheney himself wrote out for Scooter Libby what he should say to one of the cruicial reporters in the case and it was during that conversation with the reporter when Scooter Libby gave the confirmation to that reporter that Valerie Wilson was undercover at the CIA.

There was other information that was damaging to the Vice President concerning the State of the Union and the false claim that was made. The prosecutors say the evidence will make it clear that VP Cheney asked the Director of the CIA George Tenet to take complete responsiblity for the mistake and to make it clear that the VP and the president were not involved...

And:

There was a note that VP Cheney wrote to Scooter Libby about how Libby should handle this matter, that Scooter Libby, according to prosecutors, destroyed just before Scooter Libby testified to the FBI where Libby allegedly lied about his dealings with reporters. It is damaging information about this Vice President, politically, it could also be a big deal as far as this trial is concerned.

[Update: Shuster now says the phrase Fitzgerald used was: Wiped out (as in from memory), not destroyed, and he reports that the note itself was found in Libby's files]
Um, and Cheney is on the defense list as a witness? Is Fitzgerald salivating or what?

Happy anniversary Mini Bush

Here's some anniversary sentiment just for you:
With a full year of Conservative rule behind them, Canadians now want to see the Tories start taking responsibility for their government's actions, says Heather MacIvor of the University of Windsor.

People are growing weary of hearing the prime minister blame previous Liberal governments for everything that goes wrong in Ottawa, said Prof. MacIvor.

“They're going to have to stop calling themselves Canada's new government,” she said.

“It's just getting dumb.”
Wasn't that thoughtful of me to remember your anniversary...:)

Richard Clarke on Olbermann



Clarke reminds us of the many issues being ignored while Iraq's sucking up the oxygen after a discussion of Iraq...

The good news about Bush's State of the Union

To those of you who plan to watch it, of course. Many of us cannot take more than a few minutes of this man on television asserting himself and lecturing the congress. So here's a reminder of a few bright spots to watch for on Tuesday night:
Behind the president on the podium will be not Representative J. Dennis Hastert, the former speaker and Mr. Bush’s stalwart Republican ally, but Representative Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, with whom Mr. Bush traded insults throughout the 2006 campaign.

Giving the Democratic rebuttal will be Senator Jim Webb, Democrat of Virginia, whose son is serving in Iraq and who reported having a tense exchange with Mr. Bush at the Congressional Christmas party. The audience in the House chamber is expected to include the actor Michael J. Fox, who has become the face of the movement to overcome Mr. Bush’s objections and increase federal financing for stem cell research.
It might be worth watching just to see Pelosi's facial reactions to what Bush is saying and to see whether he's uncomfortable at all...:)

The congress isn't with him, the American people aren't with him...it'll be interesting as well to note his demeanour, to see if he's defeated or defiant.

And really, it's quite the strategy they're deploying for the SOU. Apparently the big focus will be health care. While I'm sure it's pressing for a lot of Americans, isn't the elephant in the room - Iraq - going to make his effort look small in comparison? And besides, his proposals sound absolutely draconian for New York, it's hard to fathom what he's thinking and how he envisions accomplishing the cuts he proposes. I'm sure the Democrats will be having none of it.

Yes, it's quite the scene for the State of the Union...

Kristof with a lesson for W on Iraq

Forget about Vietnam, Kristof says, it's Moby Dick that helps us understand what W's been doing. Iraq's the white whale:
To me at least, Melville captures the trajectory of the Bush years. It begins with a president who started out after 9/11 with immense support at home and abroad and a genuine mandate to fight terrorism. But then Mr. Bush became obsessed by his responsibility to prevent another terror attack.

This was an eminently worthy goal, but Mr. Bush abandoned traditional rules and boundaries — like bans on torture and indefinite detentions — and eventually blundered into Iraq. And in a way that Melville could have foretold, the compulsive search for security ended up creating insecurity.

Melville’s lesson is that even a heroic quest can be destructive when we abandon all sense of limits. And at a time when we hear the siren calls of moral clarity, the classics almost invariably emphasize the importance of moral nuance, an appreciation for complexity, the need for humility.
Now if only we can stop Ahab from destroying the ship...

Silly irrelevant French politicians

"Canadian politicians rap Segolene Royal for comments on Quebec sovereignty." Here's what Royal, a potential leader of France, said:
Royal, who has never visited Quebec, said the province and France have common values, including "sovereignty and Quebec's freedom."
With respect, we'll look after our own affairs, thank you. How did our leaders react? Here's Mini Bush:
"Experience teaches that it is highly inappropriate for a foreign leader to interfere in the democratic affairs of another country," he said.

"We look forward to marking the 400th anniversary of the founding of Canada at Quebec City with the next president of France.

"We expect in turn that the next president will display an understanding of our shared history, and the respect for Canada and Canadians that such an important partnership requires."
And here's Dion:
"She does not understand," he said. "You do not interfere in the affairs of a friendly country, you do not wish for the dismantling of a friendly country. Canada does not wish for the dismantling of France and France certainly does not wish for the dismantling of Canada."
They both drew attention to her inexperience and both said don't mess with us. Same message but different styles. Whose do you prefer? For me, it's no surprise, I would much prefer to have Dion as our national leader on such questions, he's much more comfortable than Harper on such questions. He also seems to have a better diplomatic touch, he didn't hammer her in the way Harper's formalistic statement did.

Harper's formal, Dion's a natural.

Monday, January 22, 2007

That's a shame

Bush polling in Nixon territory. Sounds about right...

Bill Clinton won two terms, remember?

Editorial in WPost continues to set the bar to her advantage.

Mini Bush unveils Canada's New Environmental Government

And it even rates in the Washington Post today, albeit in a not so flattering light: "In Reversal, Canada's Conservatives Embrace Environmental Concerns." Yes, that's "Reversal," as in Canadians don't agree with your policies and you're going to lose if you don't do something. So reverse.

Now that they have, of course, they're susceptible to the charge of political opportunism that bloggers like myself might hurl at them. And you know we can't resist that here at the Impolitical blog...:) So you know, Mini Bush might start hearing things like this: "Don't you Conservatives have any principles? If you're going to be anti-environment, then stick with it, don't cave at the sight of the first negative poll! How are we ever going to believe anything from you again?" You know, hastily contrived jibes off the top of my head of that nature...:)

So what's the report anyway?
Canada's Conservative Party government, faced with a strong public demand for action on climate change, is scrambling to rebuild environmental programs that it dismantled last year and offer new initiatives.

Two ministers for Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government on Sunday announced the allocation of $26 million previously pledged to help preserve the giant Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia and unveiled a program to encourage homeowners and businesses to make their buildings more energy-efficient.
Scrambling you say? That can't be good. And the political context is laid out as well:
Harper's government is trying to show its resolve on global warming after the opposition Liberal Party elected a leader, Stéphane Dion, who pledged to make global warming the top issue, a stance that a majority of Canadians agree with, according to opinion polls.

Harper fired his environmental minister this month and offered plans last week to boost alternative energy sources and conservation. But many of the programs were simply different versions of those advanced by the previous Liberal government and scrapped during the elimination of many Liberal programs when Harper presented his budget last spring.

"Why did we have to wait a year until Stephen Harper has his back against the political wall, until we get old copycat versions of Liberal programs?" Dave Martin, an energy analyst with Greenpeace Canada, said in an interview. "Despite the greenwashing, it's not clear to me that Stephen Harper really intends to take strong action on climate change."
(emphasis added)
Hey? I thought the Liberals didn't do anything worthwhile in their 13 long years of government...what's that expression, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? Amazing how governing will turn one into a Liberal, hey Steve?

On the video trail to 2008

Washington Post article today: On the Electronic Campaign Trail talking about internet video and its impact, already, on the 2008 campaign. All the Democratic candidates thus far have announced by web.
Peter Dao, the campaign's Internet strategist, who worked on the 2004 presidential campaign of Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), said Clinton's team hopes to make her campaign as interactive as possible and said the opportunities today are far advanced over just a few years ago.

"I remember in 2003 and 2004 when you said 'blog,' most people didn't know what you meant or the significance of it," Dao said, adding that with the growth of blogs and social networking sites, "the ubiquity of it is so amazing . . . the sky's the limit."
I think that latter point is the key...everyone knows that video has changed campaigns, witness George Allen's implosion post "macaca" and the candidate announcements. It's the unknown use that we can't foresee that makes this development so intriguing at this stage.

The end of an era

Tighter Passport Rules for U.S. and Canadian Citizens Start Tuesday. Passport now required. The stiffened posture at the border is taking full effect. Driven by the U.S., the message is clear...the nations that have been your best friends are no longer viewed as such. So I'll show my passport (as I've been doing for years anyway) with a bit of sadness from here on in for the changed relationship. It didn't have to be this way...

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Brownie, the gift that keeps on giving

Brown still dishing on the politics of the Katrina response:
Brown, speaking at the Metropolitan College of New York, said he had recommended to President Bush that all 90,000 square miles along the Gulf Coast affected by the devastating hurricane be federalized — a term Brown explained as placing the federal government in charge of all agencies responding to the disaster.

"Unbeknownst to me, certain people in the White House were thinking, 'We had to federalize Louisiana because she's a white, female Democratic governor, and we have a chance to rub her nose in it,'" he said, without naming names. "'We can't do it to Haley (Barbour) because Haley's a white male Republican governor. And we can't do a thing to him. So we're just gonna federalize Louisiana.'"

Brown, 52, declined to say who in the White House had argued for federalizing the response only in Louisiana.

This ain't no disco

Terry McAuliffe, a Hillary backer, sends a message today:
"McAuliffe predicted a rough campaign. “She is going to fight for herself and she is going to have people around her who will fight,” he said.

“They are going to play mean, nasty and dirty on the other side. You don’t walk into a knife fight without adequate gloves.”"
I think he should have said you don't walk into a knife fight without a bigger knife or a gun. But maybe that would have sounded too whack. In any event, toughness is definitely what's been missing from the Dems, so dial it up. Especially since the Rethugs will be dishing it out in spades...

Lies and the lying liars who tell them

Frank Rich with his column today, "Lying Like It’s 2003," points out that essentially, we've heard it all before from Bush and Cheney and they weren't right the first time round. Why back their assurances now?
Mr. Cheney was honest, at least, when he said that the White House’s Iraq policy would remain “full speed ahead!” no matter what happened on Nov. 7. Now it is our patriotic duty — politicians, the press and the public alike — to apply the brakes. Our failure to check the administration when it rushed into Iraq in 2003 will look even more shameful to history if we roll over again for a reboot in 2007. For all the belated Washington scrutiny of the war since the election, and for all the heralded (if so far symbolic) Congressional efforts to challenge it, too much lip service is still being paid to the deceptive P.R. strategies used by the administration to sell its reckless policies. This time we must do what too few did the first time: call the White House on its lies. Lies should not be confused with euphemisms like “incompetence” and “denial.”
Rich devotes most of his column to the lies, past and present, and highlights the reliance on Maliki as flawed:
The president’s pretense that Mr. Maliki and his inept, ill-equipped, militia-infiltrated security forces can advance American interests in this war is Neville Chamberlain-like in its naiveté and disingenuousness. An American military official in Baghdad read the writing on the wall to The Times last week: “We are implementing a strategy to embolden a government that is actually part of the problem. We are being played like a pawn.” That’s why the most destructive lie of all may be the White House’s constant refrain that its doomed strategy is the only one anyone has proposed. Administration critics, Mr. Cheney said last Sunday, “have absolutely nothing to offer in its place,” as if the Iraq Study Group, John Murtha and Joseph Biden-Leslie Gelb plans, among others, didn’t predate the White House’s own.
But he ends on a hopeful note focussing on Jim Webb, with which I agree:
The next push on the “way forward” propaganda campaign arrives Tuesday night, with the State of the Union address. The good news is that the Democrats have chosen Jim Webb, the new Virginia senator, to give their official response. Mr. Webb, a Reagan administration Navy secretary and the father of a son serving in Iraq, has already provoked a testy exchange about the war with the president at a White House reception for freshmen in Congress. He’s the kind of guy likely to keep a scorecard of the lies on Tuesday night. But whether he does or not, it’s incumbent on all those talking heads who fell for “shock and awe” and “Mission Accomplished” in 2003 to not let history repeat itself in 2007. Facing the truth is the only way forward in Iraq.

This guy has very bad timing

Kansas Senator Announces Bid for Presidency on same day as Hillary...imagine the luck.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Peggy Noonan on the State of the Union

It's too late for this:
It's been an era of soft thinking and hard words. Those who opposed the war were weak and craven; those who supported it were dupes and bullies; those who came to oppose the war were cowards bowing to polls; those who continue to support it love all war all the time. Some of this was inevitable -- the stakes could barely be higher; passions flare. But it's not getting us anywhere. And it's limiting debate. It's making people fearful.

It is time for a kind of verbal amnesty in which thoughts are considered before motives are judged. An admission that the White House is as responsible for this situation as everyone else would help clear the air -- and just might prompt some soul-searching in members of the audience. An honest plea here could break through the cement that has hardened over the debate. Who could answer harshly when a president who loves his country admitted the problem and pleaded for change? That's what might really hit reset.
And Bush has given no indication he could ever restrain himself or his White House from the use of "hard words." Maybe if there were a reservoir of good will that Bush could tap into this suggestion might resonate. But this is a White House and President that have tried to divide from the beginning and show no sign of easing up. Besides, Bush tried this before in his speech to the American nation leading up to the fifth anniversary of 9/11. He called for unity, etc. and then proceeded to run around the country during the midterms calling Democrats terrorist coddlers, terrorist enablers. Because that's who he is.

Report on White House use of intelligence coming: Rockefeller

Sen. Rockefeller Assails Bush Over Iran Stance:
The new chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Friday sharply criticized the Bush administration’s increasingly combative stance toward Iran, saying that White House efforts to portray it as a growing threat are uncomfortably reminiscent of rhetoric about Iraq before the American invasion of 2003.
...
Mr. Rockefeller was biting in his criticism of how President Bush has dealt with the threat of Islamic radicalism since the Sept. 11 attacks, saying he believed that the campaign against international terrorism was “still a mystery” to the president.

“I don’t think he understands the world,” Mr. Rockefeller said. “I don’t think he’s particularly curious about the world. I don’t think he reads like he says he does.”

He added, “Every time he’s read something he tells you about it, I think.”
Rockefeller's working on that infamously delayed report by his formerly Republican-controlled Intelligence Committee on White House manipulation of intelligence in the run up to the war. He has this to say:
He said that the committee was nearing completion on one part of that investigation, concerning whether the White House ignored prewar C.I.A. assessments that Iraq could disintegrate into chaos.

That report, Mr. Rockefeller said, could be released within months and was “not going to make for pleasant reading at the White House.”

Hillary's in

Sen. Clinton Launches 2008 Campaign.

Yes, we all knew it, but still, this is exciting...her campaign managed to surprise with this.

There's a recent Zogby poll showing Obama on top in New Hampshire. Wouldn't you rather be her than him? He's got nowhere to go but down and it absolutely helps her to not be perceived as inevitable. The Post article and the NYTimes coverage both are cast in ways that emphasize the challenges for her. What other candidate warrants such special scrutiny? Gets the bar set so high?

I say, good, she's got nowhere to go but to exceed these expectations.

We could have told you this: Toonies aren't transmitters

Pentagon Says Its Own Spy Coins Report is False.

No transmitters in Toonies to track Americans in Canada. Another effort to make Canada the bogeyman down the tubes. Nice try though. 10 for ingenuity on this one.

Profile of Stephane Dion in the Globe today

A worthwhile read on a Saturday. I liked it for the introduction to his wife, in the leadership campaign I had not gotten a sense of her at all. An interesting life and the intellectual preparation and political experience, in spades, to be PM.

Junior MacKay's Middle East jaunt

Or, how not to win friends and influence people:
Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay emerged yesterday from a tête-à-tête with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas with little to say after a meeting in which the Palestinian side appeared to have scant interest.

Originally, Mr. MacKay was to meet Mr. Abbas this weekend in Ramallah, but the meeting had to be hastily rescheduled for yesterday in the Jordanian capital after Mr. Abbas decided to travel to Damascus via Amman to meet with Syrian President Bashar Assad this weekend.
...
In an interview before the meeting, Rafik Husseini, Mr. Abbas's chief of staff, said that because of the 10-month-old boycott, the Palestinian side knew little about the year-old Canadian government.

"Canada is not a big player in general and because, of course, of what has happened with the [economic] siege and with the no-talk policy towards Hamas, we cannot tell the difference between the old and the new government," he said.

Mr. Husseini's impression was that Canada has become less friendly to the Palestinians under Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He didn't attend the Amman talks, but said that had he been in the room, he would have confronted Mr. MacKay over Canada's pro-Israel swing under Mr. Harper, and the fact Canada's policies in the region are now almost indistinguishable from those of the United States. (emphasis added)
Junior's picking up where Condi left off last week:
Following the 45-minute meeting at Mr. Abbas's Amman residence, Mr. MacKay said he had come to the region largely to listen "and to look for ways we can make a positive contribution." It was strikingly similar to the justification U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gave for her trip to the region last week, a visit that was widely ridiculed as having created little other than some photo opportunities.
Well, what do you expect? He's got little to no experience in Foreign Affairs after all. We don't call him "Junior" for nothing here at the Impolitical blog...

Junior MacKay and the gang are following Mulroney's playbook on enhanced relations with the U.S. and this trickles out into the foreign affairs file as well. Problem is, it's not 1984 and W is not Reagan. Canadians despise W. So Mulroney's tactics are pathetically out of date and bring these guys in for scorn when they play along. Unfortunately, they're only serving to marginalize Canada in a significant problem area of the world by blindly following in step with the Bush administration. Very unfortunate.

Olbermann on Bush's latest attack on the judicial branch



Keith Olbermann with more on Bush's unprecedented removal of 7 U.S. Attorneys. Gonzales has always been more "General" than "Attorney" says Jonathan Turley...:)

More Colbert, this time on O'Reilly



Colbert is brilliant...

Friday, January 19, 2007

Obama evokes craziness from the right

First they make fun of his name(s). Now they're slinging mud about where he went to school as a child. Trying to actually make it sound like he attended a muslim school (a madrassa) with all the implications that carries with it in the post 9/11 world. And they're trying to pin it on Hillary's campaign. It's just comical. This recalls the attempts to smear Bill Clinton in the '92 campaign as having been brainwashed by the Soviets when he visited as a university student. It's striking how concerted the effort is among the three hosts to marvel over and play up this "story" and the brazen effort to link it to Hillary.

Mini Bush sends out unnamed official to speak about secret Khan report

"PM preparing to send Khan on second trip to Mideast":
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is sending his controversial special adviser Wajid Khan on another fact-finding mission and is planning to turn some of the recommendations from Mr. Khan's secret report on the Middle East into policy, a government official said yesterday.

"[In] the report that was submitted by Wajid Khan, there was some good advice in there and you are likely to see some of that advice be reflected in what the government will be doing in the future," said the official, who asked not to be named.

He would not say, however, when Mr. Khan, who recently crossed the floor from the Liberals to join the Harper Conservatives, would be travelling on his next mission.

This time he is to go to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
If they intend to do some of the things Khan is recommending, then why not release this much ballyhooed report and just discard what's not going to be done? What are they so afraid of here? That they chose someone whose views are so diametrically opposed to the governments', likely. Consider Khan's position on Israel's borders, expressed in a Ramallah newspaper uncovered by the Globe. It looks like they're just afraid of the political embarassment because Khan's a loose cannon. In which case, he's a questionable choice for a "Special Mideast Adviser" once more calling into question Harper's judgment.

And we can't make Mini Bush look any worse than he already does. Those polls just aren't looking good.