Thursday, May 31, 2007

Bush flailing to assert leadership on climate change

Shluffing it off to the end of his administration, a year and a half from now...meanwhile the world has moved on. The big question is...will Mini Bush fall in line with Bush? It certainly appears, based on his bridge language of the last week, to be the likely scenario...Here's Bush desperately seeking relevance on the issue with the big plan:
“My proposal is this,” he said. “By the end of next year, America and other nations will set a long-term global goal for reducing greenhouse gases.

“In addition to this long-term global goal, each country would establish midterm national targets and programs that reflect their own mix of energy sources and future energy needs.”

Mr. Bush appeared to be belatedly seeking to take leadership of a cause that other countries, international organizations, American states and even cities have adopted as their own, and one that finds strong support from Americans and others around the world in opinion surveys.
Stunning mediocrity on the world stage...what we can expect Harper to sign on with...

A capital idea

"NDP asks Mounties to probe handling of Afghan torture report."

Kenneth Starr, why so much hate?

Still with the Clinton vendetta. Being an important law school dean, you'd think you'd have something better to do than continue to wallow in mud, re-living your heyday as special Whitewater persecutor and whispering in people's ears about the Clintons. You'd think. But then again, these are the days of the Alberto Gonzales Justice Department where politics reigns supreme. So here's what Ken's been up to of late:
Ken Starr says he could have "dumped on" Hillary Rodham Clinton for her dealings with Vince Foster but chose not to - provoking sharp new questions about the conduct of the controversial Whitewater independent counsel.

In "My Way," a biography of the former first lady written by two New York Times reporters, Starr hints he uncovered new details about her interactions with Foster, who was helping with her response to the Whitewater probe in 1993.

"I could have dumped on her," said Starr, who found no evidence of wrongdoing in connection with Foster's July 20, 1993 suicide. Starr's predecessor, Robert Fiske, reached the same conclusion. Starr didn't reveal any new information about Foster to the authors.

"Two independent counsels investigated this and completely cleared both Clintons," said Lanny Davis, who led White House damage control during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. "For Ken Starr to talk to reporters after announcing he cleared them [the Clintons], with the innuendo that he could have done something else, is a reckless abuse of prosecutorial power."
It's over, man, move on with your life...:)

News I'm watching...

(REUTERS/Chris Wattie)

Harper milking - or is it jinxing - the Sens?

Another Canadian dies in Afghanistan...

Letters to the editor of the New York Times expressing unanimous contempt for David Brooks' mocking of Al Gore's book earlier this week....

A terribly unfair decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on pay discrimination. The Roberts court is thus far living up to Republicans' wildest dreams...and causing Justice Ginsburg to read her dissents to the court. You go, girl!

Newt Gingrich, in a wonderfully memorable turn of phrase, refers to Karl Rove's election strategy in 2004 as "maniacally dumb" in a must-read New Yorker article on the Republican implosion this week...check out the New Yorker cover this week too for its tribute to the Sopranos...



Are Americans irresponsible enough, in the wake of the dimmest bulb possible occupying the highest office in their nation, to elect an actor in 2008? Well, some of them might be, judging from the hype...

Legal consequences need to be applied to the TB guy...

The spectre of an election in Quebec continues to loom as the PQ and Liberals fight it out over the budget numbers, leaving the ADQ on the sidelines as bystanders...mama Marois' polling higher than the other leaders in popularity...

The U.S. Justice Department is expanding its own internal investigation into improper politically motivated hiring that went on, under Monica Goodling's watch and others...in the civil rights division and in the summer intern programs...meanwhile, Alberto Gonzales' continues to walk the halls in Washington with a smug smile on his face and does not have the decency to even be embarrassed about his many failings...

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Funny



Put me down with the humour camp any time...:) I particularly enjoyed this cross-dressing ad...something about it reminded me, in a very subtle way, of the Harper psychic dresser brouhaha. The two actors are also to be congratulated, especially the Conservative guy, he's hilarious.

The buzz from these ads has certainly equalled the Conservatives' splash of yesterday. Nice going.

2006 benchmark levels are for girly-men

Straighten out that Harper guy when you meet tonight:
In a luncheon speech in Toronto, Mr. Schwarzenegger talked about the legislation he signed into law last fall that will force the state's leading industries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. The standards are the most ambitious in North America and typically require car makers to improve the fuel efficiency of their vehicles.

We call him Mini Bush for good reason

Bingo:
The federal party simultaneously posted a digital PowerPoint presentation on its website, making the case that Harper has "plagiarized" U.S. President George W. Bush's tactics and policies.

The presentation suggests the Harper government even shares the Bush administration's taste in interior design - a photo taken through a window in the prime minister's office building shows a 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign poster hanging on a Harper aide's wall.
Say it ain't so...

Conservative hatorade watch: today's hands down winner, John Baird

Let me count the reasons why today...

Just when it appeared the Conservatives were actually trying to get back on the high road...you know, finally putting their tails between their legs and making nice with the opposition parties at the Official Languages Committee and actually, cough...permitting it to meet again. How low our bars are being set, hey?

Yet lo and behold, our uber-Environment Minister flat out loses it in front of the Environment Committee yesterday. Can you say temperament problem? Not to mention the obvious immaturity on display from the leader of the pack of partisan wonder boys:
Sparks also flew earlier in the day at the Commons environment committee, where Mr. Baird accused Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty of lying about the speed with which the Ontario government could close down coal-fired generating stations.

"Here's a perfect example of a politician wanting to get elected who is prepared to promise the world and lie to voters," said Mr. Baird.

Officials in the Ontario government lashed back saying that reliance on coal increased by 127 per cent under the Progressive Conservative regime of Mike Harris, for whom Mr. Baird once acted as energy minister. Emissions of carbon dioxide also rose by 120 per cent.

"It's easy to call someone names," said one Ontario official. "With their [the federal Conservatives] record, it's their only option."
Unbelievably, we witnessed the federal Environment Minister calling the Ontario Premier a liar. Unabashedly, shamelessly, recklessly calling the Ontario Premier a liar. Think about that. What kind of public servant is this? Not one I wish to have representing me at the federal level, and especially not on the international scene dealing with other foreign environment representatives. When he's calling the leader of the largest province in the country a liar? Who in their right mind would want to deal with an intemperate hissy-fit throwing pol like this?

You know, Johnny, partisan wonder boy that you are, you might talk a mean streak, but episodes like this show that you're just as likely to shoot yourself in the foot with your gift of the gab. McGuinty may very well be re-elected (if that fella Kinsella has anything to do with it, and he's pretty good at that sort of thing) and become another Danny Williams for you if you're not careful. He's traded a few barbs with you but I'm sure it could get a lot worse. McGuinty's got a high profile meeting with the Governator today. Let's see if he has any return fire for you in consideration of your impolite comments yesterday.
Today, Mr. Schwarzenegger and Mr. McGuinty will also sign an accord that includes the provincial government's plan to embrace California's low carbon fuel standards for cars. The new fuel standard will require a 10-per-cent reduction by 2020 in the carbon content of Ontario's transportation fuel mix.

This will be the latest agreement Mr. Schwarzenegger has signed since last September when he made California the first state to limit greenhouse gases by pledging to cut emissions by about 25 per cent from 1990s levels by 2020. The governor has also signed agreements with other state and foreign governments to address global warming.
See that, John? Even the Governator likes the 1990 levels. And he just came into office too. 2006 benchmark years are for girly-men, yah.

And by the way, I was wondering how long it was going to take before the Ontario (and federal) Liberals would challenge John Baird, former Ontario Energy Minister, for his own record on emissions, especially when Baird's so quick to point a finger at everyone else. Finally, they speak up and point out that you know, all this mocking of the federal Liberals for their contribution to rising emissions and nary a word is ever spoken about the Harris Tories' contributions while governing the largest province in the country throughout many of those same years the federal Liberals were in office.

I'd say the technologically gifted out there ought to make a few little commercials about Mr. Baird, his many years with the Harris Tories and their sterling environmental record...:)

Al Gore on running



Your semi-daily Olbermann, featuring Gore from last night. Gore is getting the question, time and again. Check out his answer to Olbermann.

God he'd be lightyears of an improvement...bring on the Vulcan.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Welcome back boys



I know you can't stay away...and yes, I did say you were politically bankrupt, glad to see the message got through!

Hello, we're politically bankrupt

Tories launch new round of attack ads...attacking Dion on on term limits for senators? Are you freakin' kidding me?

That sounds like a real winner there boys...:) Maybe in Alberta...:)

Leadership is...saying the other guy is not a leader...:)

Mini Bush's bridge to nowhere

Harper occupying the mushy middle on climate change. Is this what a strong and decisive leader does? After all, those are the vaunted strengths of Mini Bush. Or so they keep telling us. This bridge talking point thingy that John Baird's selling you is weak:
"The German presidency is insisting that the final declaration includes mandatory targets to reduce greenhouse gasses, but the Bush administration is opposing this," Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion told the House of Commons. "We want to know from the Prime Minister what side Canada will take. Will he put his foot on the gas, or on the brake?"

For his part, all Mr. Harper said yesterday was that he wants to act as a bridge between the nations who support the German proposal and other countries, like the United States.
Here's uber-Baird peddling the same bridge:
He said Canada will play a leadership role at the G8 meetings. Europeans look to Canada to act as a bridge to the United States, China, India and other countries that are struggling with how to reduce emissions but that want to be leaders, he said.
Seems to me they're setting the bar pretty high in terms of expectations. Apparently Harper and Baird are going to solve the global deadlock on climate change with their magic bridge.

Really though, I wonder what's going on behind the scenes...are Harper and Baird trying to get Bush to sign on to their mediocrity that's been roundly criticized? And that they then plan to sell as a major achievement, i.e., compared to Bush committing to nothing? Is that why they're being so vague and harping on this bridge motif?

Or in the alternative, Baird's just setting this up for the only victory he can get. The "big countries" of India, China and the U.S. don't budge and they can still say they tried building that bridge, but no one wanted to walk across it...

Mini Bush cleaning house in the Information Commissioner's office

Wouldn't have anything to do with that censored Foreign Affairs report blacking out torture allegations would it now? Or is Mini Bush shutting up a critic? Take your pick. The article suggests it's the latter. Given the Harper crowd's obsession with information management and control, the optics of this move are terrible.

A "Vulcan Utopia" sounds pretty good to me right about now

David Brooks' column in the NY Times today, "Vulcan Utopia," reviews Al Gore's book, "The Assault on Reason." While Brooks does acknowledge it's well worth reading and goes on to engage its premises, he nevertheless initially decrees Gore's writing to be pompous and proof that "...it is still possible for exceedingly strange individuals to rise to the top." David Brooks calling Gore pompous and "exceedingly strange," got that? Brooks' chutzpah just kills me sometimes.

In any event, his essential criticism of Gore's book is as follows:
[...] Gore’s imperviousness to reality is not the most striking feature of the book. It’s the chilliness and sterility of his worldview. Gore is laying out a comprehensive theory of social development, but it allows almost no role for family, friendship, neighborhood or just face-to-face contact. He sees society the way you might see it from a speaking podium — as a public mass exercise with little allowance for intimacy or private life. He envisions a sort of Vulcan Utopia, in which dispassionate individuals exchange facts and arrive at logical conclusions.
Heaven forbid people exhange facts and arrive at logical conclusions, hey!

Brooks thinks that Gore's view on upping the emphasis on reason, logic and objective truths in public policy decisions omits emotional considerations and is incapable of addressing concepts such as "virtue and justice," for example. The underlying suggestion seeming to be that Gore's prescription is just not equipped for the debates that have been going on in the U.S. since 9/11. That you can't understand Iraq, Osama et al. without considering fear and evil as motivating factors in society.

To which I guess I would argue...how has the public policy making that you've been living with been working out for you lately? How have the concepts of "virtue and justice" been fostered by the policy making of the Bush administration? How does the Bush administration firing U.S. attorneys who are investigating Republicans for corruption factor in to considerations of virtue and justice? Has the Bush administration's rampant ignorance and/or negligence to facts and logic been more successful instead? They've ignored Generals on the ground in Iraq such as Shinseki who argued for more troops in the early goings of the war. They've ignored science on stem cells, climate change and Terri Schiavo. They've ignored the law when it comes to their secret warrantless wiretapping programs.

There's been plenty of fear, fear-mongering and human emotion driving substantive policy making for too many years and a glaring deficit in facts and reason. Gore's call in his new book to right the balance is a welcome effort which Brooks needlessly mocks. There's plenty of fear to go around, Dave, let Al do his Vulcan thing...:)

Monday, May 28, 2007

Speaking of puking

Warren Kinsella writes today, in a most enlightened fashion, that a Lawrence Martin recent column "makes me want to puke." Right back at ya, Warren. As Kinsella admits, he does indeed sound most "hackneyed and cliched" today, what with his screaming "we are a nation at war" rhetoric. Really? Nobody doubts that proposition. Nobody doubts that Afghanistan needs help to fend off the Taliban and Al Qaeda who seek to use it as a base for their terrorist plotting. We get it. We all get it, okay? We all saw the suspects arrested last summer in Mississauga for their own domestic plotting (but as a result of police and intelligence work, not any presence in Afghanistan). What people doubt and object to is the demonizing of any criticism of the mission and its execution. It is perfectly legitimate, as Lawrence Martin did, to criticize Harper's over the top rhetoric about terrorism and Afghanistan and to put it in context. Here's some context on the threat of terrorism from a better writer than me:
The total number of Americans killed by Islamic terrorists in the last 5 years -- or 10 years -- or 20 years -- or ever -- is roughly 3,500, the same number of deaths by suicide which occur in this country every month. This is the overarching threat around which we are constructing our entire foreign policy, changing the basic principles of our government, and fundamentally altering both our behavior in the world and the way in which we are perceived.

And yet, one almost never hears anyone arguing that the terrorism threat, like any other threat, should be viewed in perspective and subjected to rational risk-benefit assessments. That's because opinions about terrorism are the new form of political correctness, and even hinting that this threat is not the all-consuming, existential danger to our Republic which the Bush followers, fear-mongerers and hysterics among us have relentlessly and shrilly insisted that it is, will subject one to all sorts of accusations concerning one's patriotism and even mental health.
The fact that Harper has adopted this line of thinking, the same rhetoric we see from Republican presidential candidates who are doling it out these days as red meat chum to the far right of the Republican base is so alien to see from a Canadian Prime Minister. Yet the Lawrence Martins who put terrorism in perspective to answer such over the top "they're going to follow us home" rhetoric makes Kinsella want to puke?

What's perhaps worse is Kinsella adopting this false equivalency - that Harper's unprecedented attacks on the opposition's patriotism equate with the positions taken by the opposition. Everybody goes to Afghanistan for photo ops, suggests Kinsella, everybody politicizes, it's all on the same plane.
Have cabinet ministers fled to Afghanistan for photo-ops, when the political going gets tough back home? Perhaps. But they wouldn’t be the first, and they won’t be the last.

Has the discussion and debate around Afghanistan become far too politicized, on all sides? Without a doubt. But that, too, is what politicians do. They politicize things.
The difference is the Conservatives are the first Canadian politicians, in my peanut brain's recollection at least, to blatantly accuse the opposition of being unpatriotic for their temerity to debate such issues as detainee rights in our House of Commons. That's objectively craven and below what some of us personally expect from our Prime Minister and his Ministers. And they should be called out as such. Kinsella's everybody does it argument reminds one of the media's laziness in the U.S., how they've categorized the Bush administration's unprecedented attacks on the constitution, rule of law, political gamesmanship as aw shucks, Democrats-do-it-too-equivalency. Well, it's not all equivalent and I'm not the first to point out the many inappropriate uses of this devious political device.

Let's look back on the past month or so, shall we? This Prime Minister has gone out of his way to use the troops as political props, as weapons against the opposition. Inappropriately conflating his party with the military and getting helpful assists along the way from Rick "my prime minister" Hillier. Here are just two gems from our Prime Minister himself to remind us of how base and gratuitous Harper's attacks are. Here:
"Why has the story gone on? I'm not sure we've heard any new information beyond the unsubstantiated allegations from a handful of former Taliban prisoners," he told reporters. "Apparently the opposition has little else to do these days than attack the good work that the Canadian troops are doing."
And here:
I can understand the passion that the Leader of the Opposition and members of his party feel for Taliban prisoners. I just wish occasionally they would show the same passion for Canadian soldiers.
I suppose all politicians indulge in this sort of labelling of their opponents as terrorist sympathizers, hey?

Substitute Harper's name for Lawrence Martin's in this Kinsella point, and you quickly get the absurdity of Kinsella's attack:
The one thing on which every politician finds common ground, I hope, is this: cynicism like Lawrence Martin’s is appalling, and outrageous, and has no place when Canadians are giving their lives for something that they (and we, at one time) consider so important.
With that small adjustment, I would say amen, brother Warren, amen.

Charest blinking

Mama Marois' steely position had an effect. Someone's suddenly sounding remarkably flexible as this Quebec budget week begins:
Nobody wants another provincial election in Quebec and Premier Jean Charest says he has done everything he can to prevent one.

Speaking to reporters Sunday in his home riding of Sherbrooke, Que., Mr. Charest said he hopes that his party will be able to forge out a deal with the opposition parties on the provincial budget and save his Liberal minority government and the province from what could be a second election this year.
...
“I can't predict how this week will end but what I can say is Quebeckers don't want another election and neither do I,” Mr. Charest told reporters.

Mr. Charest said no negotiations had taken place yet, but there was an entire week before the scheduled vote.
Deals, negotiations, doors to the opposition suddenly being wide open...kinda sounds like how a minority government should work. And it kinda sounds like Pauline Marois has made quite a splash thus far...

Harper in fine company

Paul Krugman's column today, "Trust and Betrayal," is a reminder of the 9/11 hangover that continues to paralyze the hope for reasoned, enlightened debate in the U.S.. And it's a reminder of how disappointing it is that Harper has signed on to the "uninformed posturing" that Krugman sets out below:
Here’s the way it ought to be: When Rudy Giuliani says that Iran, which had nothing to do with 9/11, is part of a “movement” that “has already displayed more aggressive tendencies by coming here and killing us,” he should be treated as a lunatic.

When Mitt Romney says that a coalition of “Shia and Sunni and Hezbollah and Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda” wants to “bring down the West,” he should be ridiculed for his ignorance.

And when John McCain says that Osama, who isn’t in Iraq, will “follow us home” if we leave, he should be laughed at.

But they aren’t, at least not yet. And until belligerent, uninformed posturing starts being treated with the contempt it deserves, men who know nothing of the cost of war will keep sending other people’s children to graves at Arlington.
It is terribly unfortunate for us that Harper has allowed such depressingly similar "follow us home" rhetoric and fear-mongering to infect our political discourse as well.

Danny Williams sticking it to Harper again

He keeps going and going and going...the disgruntled energizer bunny of confederation whom Prime Minister's tick off at their peril is now challenging Harper on his management of aboriginal issues. Putting the onus on Harper to stave off the threatened day of action and summer demonstrations by aboriginals. Here's his major barb from yesterday:
Mr. Williams said the federal Conservative government needlessly broke faith with aboriginal groups by reneging on the Kelowna accord, a $5-billion program to alleviate aboriginal poverty that was negotiated with the provinces by the previous Liberal government of Paul Martin.

"I sense pettiness" in Mr. Harper's position because the Kelowna package was so closely identified with Mr. Martin, Mr. Williams said.

"This [federal Conservative] government has not been fair to minorities."
It is a continual source of amazement that Harper and his crew have so poorly managed their relationship with Williams, to the point where he's willing to go out of his way on issue after issue to attack.

We love Danny Williams here at the Impolitical blog...:)

Sunday, May 27, 2007

John Baird, international man of mystery

"Canada's position on G8 climate declaration remains mystery." Is it really? I suppose technically it is at this point. But we all know that when push comes to shove, Mini Bush is unlikely to rock the boat with Bush. He's shown that he's more likely to quietly take a climate change position that sets us in no man's land. Not with the G8, not with the Americans, but some strange John Bairdland that makes us appear to be "taking action" but in reality puts us sorely behind where we should be heading. John Baird's lecturing to Stephane Dion that the U.S. has done more than Canada to date strikes a very telling note. Quel position you're staking out there, John. You really have an ear for Canadians' sensibilities on the environment, don't you? Despite your uber-spin, Canadians know what's going on:
The leaders of the world's wealthiest countries are headed for a showdown next month on how to tackle climate change, with the United States pitted against European nations on how to move forward.

Where Canada stands on this major rift remains a mystery leading up to the G8 meetings in Heiligendamm, Germany, beginning June 6.
...
International news agencies reported Friday the United States was balking at the text of a final statement from the G8 meeting, being drafted now by representatives from the various countries including Canada. The U.S. is opposed to any commitment that mentions targets or a date for reducing global greenhouse-gas emissions.

Washington also wants removed a statement of support for carbon trading markets, and will not support a line that reaffirms the negotiating mandate of the Bali talks for an international agreement with a deadline of 2009.

Environment Minister John Baird was asked about the controversy Sunday, but did not specifically comment on the U.S. position. He said he saw Canada acting as a "bridge" between the divergent opinions.
In other words, Baird will refuse to stand up to the American position on the world stage. Instead, he'll engage in doublespeak that makes it appear that he's fully committed to "action" on climate change, but in reality will continue to duck the meaningful Kyoto targets. Example:
Baird also said Canada supports the European-backed idea of a 50 per cent reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050, although he uses a much different base year for the reduction: 2006 versus 1990. (emphasis added)
Recall that the Conservatives are only responsible for Canada's environmental stewardship from 2006 onwards.

Are we going to stand up with the majority of G8 nations on climate change? Or are we going to witness John Baird and Mini Bush continuing to enable the Bush administration's irresponsible position? You'd think that if they were serious about climate change, they'd be doing their damnedest to exercise a little of their new found influence that comes from that special relationship between Steve and W. There are suggestions out there that the Americans are embarrassed about their leaked obstructionism. What will our contribution be? Inviting the Americans to our position of mediocrity?

Spectre of Al Qaeda expansion throughout Middle East being raised

"Al-Qaeda chief urges Iraqis to export jihad." A letter from Zawahiri is "intercepted by a Middle Eastern intelligence service" and an American source says he is "aware" of the letter. Such letter from Zawahiri urging Middle Eastern expansion as an agenda for the empowered Al Qaeda out of its base in Iraq.
THE deputy leader of Al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has urged supporters in Iraq to extend their “holy war” to other Middle Eastern countries.

In a letter sent to the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq in the past few weeks, Zawahiri claims that it is defeating US forces and urges followers to expand their campaign of terror.

He conjures a vision of an Islamic state comprising Lebanon, Palestine and Syria, where Al-Qaeda has already gained its first footholds.
Hmmm...whom does such a letter help at this moment in time? Why I'd venture to say it'd be Bush et al. and their desperate bid to hang on in Iraq and possibly enter Iran. Fearmongering about a destabilized and Al Qaeda beset Middle East can only shore up their positioning.
“Al-Qaeda is trying very hard to seize a foothold in Syria,” the American source added.
Thanks for that genius insight...that's just great.

And by the way...why is this f*%#er Zawahiri still at large? Oh yes, that's right, Iraq...

Way to send a message to the former Bush Chief of Staff

"Hundreds boo former Bush chief of staff at University of Massachusetts commencement ceremony." Check out the video, the protest was massive. I've never seen anything like that at a university convocation. Talk about a visceral reaction! The recent publicity surrounding Card's late night appearance at that Washington hospital along with Alberto Gonzales to procure a comatose John Ashcroft's sign off of Bush's illegal eavesdropping program may have launched this protest into overdrive.
Andrew Card, President George W. Bush's former Chief of Staff, was showered with a chorus of boos and catcalls from students and faculty of the University of Massachusetts while receiving an honorary degree Friday. Protesters, who caught the embarrassing scene on video, attached anti-Card signs to their robes and drowned out Provost Charlena Seymour's remarks about Card's "public service." Even faculty sitting on stage joined in on the action, screaming their disapproval while holding signs that read "Card: No Honor, No Degree."
Who sits on that Honorary Degree Committee at U Mass anyway? They sure as heck mucked this one up!

The Bushies know not what is coming to them after their years of trampling upon fellow citizens...:)

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Hey, a leader who answers substantive questions



Video of an intelligent leader responding substantively on climate change...enjoy...:)

A perfect storm for Marois?

Serving notice today: "PQ troops ready for summer election: Marois."

Let's see...a freshly minted PQ leader with years of experience, good will amongst a a sizeable chunk of the electorate for her third-time's-a-charm, long time coming leadership victory (all but a formality), and facing two perhaps tired leaders who have just been through a vigorous campaign. Charest stubbornly refusing to budge on his foolish tax cut which will see him campaigning on cash in people's pockets - what is it, $1000? - versus Marois and Dumont who will instead argue for Quebec's more long term needs like health care, education (if this election does happen, it'll be a great preview of the next federal election where Harper's gimmickry will similarly be put to the test). And throw in the fact that Marois has been shrewd enough to put a referendum on the back burner, that virtually disarms Charest from attacking Marois the same way he did Boisclair.

At this point, you have to think Charest is going to seek to back down somehow...mama Marois is calling his bluff.

Wonder how nervously the Harper brain trust is looking at these most unwelcome developments...

Give Libby the max

It's just about sentencing time for Scooter, one of the primary leakers of Valerie Plame's covert identity: "Special Prosecutor Seeks 30 to 37 Months in Prison for Libby."

Given the continued stonewalling in the U.S. attorney firings investigation by Alberto Gonzales, his many minions and their "I don't know" strategy to frustrate congressional investigators, I think a stiff sentence to Libby would be a most timely and helpful public reminder of the importance of truth-telling by senior administration officials and the consequences when they don't. They clearly haven't learned anything from Scooter's conviction, have they?

Travers calling out the Harper media strategy today

In his column today, James Travers highlights Harper's distrust of the media and how that's driving a lack of policy substance from the Conservative government. It's all political rhetoric and photo ops from these guys. An excerpt from Travers that suggests how dark this view of governing is:
Stephen Harper trusts reporters with his life – he just doesn't trust them to tell Canadians what they need to know. That contradiction reveals a lot about how this Prime Minister conducts the nation's business.

What happened at the beginning – as well as what was said at the end – of this week's trip to Afghanistan is a case study in Conservative operating methods.

First, officials who harbour dark suspicions about the national media relied on them – albeit with the threat of ball-and-chain punishment – to keep the top secret that Harper would make a second war zone visit. Then, reporters travelling with him were held at such distant arm's length that a significant news event became what is derisively known as a photo op.

There as here, father-knows-best discipline was imposed on a fourth estate that Harper clearly considers childlike. Tough questions weren't answered on the war, the controversial treatment of prisoners or on Harper's rationale that "terrorism will come home if we don't confront it here."
Why interrupt the nice pictures being taken of our fearless leader in Afghanistan with the pressing issues the mission raises, hey? Instead, Harper does a grave disservice to our democratic traditions that he so frequently holds up as the virtues the soldiers are fighting for by failing to address such matters.

I find it all very strange. He is a smart guy after all. But PMO people have decided they need to shut him up for the most part and not have him engage in the substantive questions. It's all just so fake. He doesn't even look comfortable when he's doing it - the photo ops, the canned speeches. I could see some utility in this strategery if he was actually good at it. If he had a natural affinity with people. But Mini Bush in a GI Joe outfit is not a fitting substitute for plain old answers.
A prime minister willing to trust his life to the media should have enough confidence in voters to let them sort through the best available information before making political and policy choices. But that isn't in his character.

Rather than demand the most from his cabinet, bureaucracy and country, Harper is asking Canadians to accept that the unexamined ruling party is worth re-electing.
And the answer to that Socratic question would be...no.

Wtf? The ex-spy and the ugly girls

"Former top spy breaks silence" and he's a weird, twisted sort'a fella:
Today, he uses a Jackism to answer perhaps the most pressing, and unresolved question facing CSIS in the wake of the Maher Arar affair: How does the Canadian spy service deal with countries that have a record of human rights abuses?

"Here's the deal. Everybody would like to believe that we have an array of choices that are good choices and bad choices. But we're going to a dance where every girl is ugly, okay," he said this week.

"They're all ugly. And all we can do is get the least ugly girl to dance with. But you know, when you bring her home your dad is going to tell you, `That is one ugly woman'. And you're going to say, `Yeah dad, but she was the best looking of that lot'. Does that make you smart? Not in the eyes of your father."
And he repeats this trash later in the article...I mean, wtf? Frankly, there's not a whole lot of learnin' to be gained from this supposed dish...other than a bunch of macho bravado, that is...

Friday, May 25, 2007

Awesome



Holy moly, new Chemical Brothers...:)

Some things just can't be said on American television

And people thought things had changed from the days post 9/11 when the White House Press Secretary warned that people should "watch what they say?" Seems to me there's still a ton of that going around...

Makes Harper's photo ops look obscene

Canadian killed in major assault on Taliban.

John Edwards, sleeper candidate

Leading Democrats in Florida now as well. In addition to Iowa, that is. Just a minor lead over Hillary, however, but still as telling as any of these numbers can be at this early stage...

Steve's strangely timed visit to the front line in Afghanistan

Well, geez, this is certainly a coincidence. Our fearless leader visits the front lines in Afghanistan and what do you know, a major battle breaks out there just a day or so later: "Canadians lead major assault on the Taliban." Coincidence? Or well-timed political coordination between the PMO and the military for Steve's political benefit?
Canadian troops have launched their most ambitious assault on the Taliban in nearly two months.

Shortly after dawn on Friday, a multi-national force including Canadians, Afghans, Portuguese and British, began an operation designed to flush out Taliban believed to be in the area near the Arghandab River.
...
The battle, fought under the codename Operation Hoover, is taking place only a few kilometres from where Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited on Wednesday.
You don't suppose the PMO and the military coordinated the exact site of Harper's visit because they knew of the military operation about to be executed there, do you? So that Steve could seek to bask in the reflected glory of the military battle? Um, yeah, I think they might have. From Wednesday's Globe:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper flew to within a few kilometres of Taliban territory Wednesday, visiting a Canadian forward operating base at Ma'Sum Ghar.

"No serving prime minister, in my opinion, has been closer to combat operations than this prime minister today," said Col. Mike Cessford, the deputy commander of the Canadian contingent in Kandahar.
Yes, indeed, he went out of his way to fly to the front lines, two days before a planned military operation and the military helpfully planted the seed with the media as to how close to combat Steve was. Colonel Cessford really tipped it off, hey! Little did we know at the time how candid he was being!

Aren't you heartened to know how well the PMO is coordinating with the military for Steve's political benefit? Anything for our fearless leader...

Your semi-daily Olbermann



On the trail of Gonzo-Gate, as always. With the incisive Jonathan Turley dissecting Gonzo's latest troubles post Monica Goodling.

Good going, birdie

Dripping with symbolism:
Is there no safe haven for President Bush?

It happened midway through his news conference in the Rose Garden yesterday morning, in between his 10th and 11th mentions of al-Qaeda: A bird flew over the president and deposited a wet, white dropping on the upper left sleeve of his jacket. Bush wiped the mess off with his bare hand.

There was no evidence that Osama bin Laden was responsible for this particular attack, and -- who knows? -- maybe the terrorist leader believes the superstition that bird poop is good luck. But just about everything else that came up during the hour-long news conference was traced to bin Laden's terrorist network.
That's a shame...:)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Yeah, baby



The text of the Senate resolution asserting Alberto Gonzales "no longer holds the confidence of the Senate and of the American people." Absolutely.

That Harper picture...caught between a rock and a hard place

And we thought Stockwell Day had set a new bar for photo-ops...Stockwell Day of the infamous jet ski, the rose on the silver platter. Well, there have been a doozy of a set of pictures from Harper's Afghanistan trip that rate as well in the annals of photo-op stage management.

Take for instance the photo accompanying this Star article on Harper's visit to the "front line" in and about Kandahar. You know, the one where he's perched in the middle of a rocky crag, peering out from between the rocks. The lone PM metaphorically caught between a rock and a hard place? Between Afghanistan and the House of Commons disastrous month that he had where his Obstruction Manual had just hit the press? Yeah, a rock and a hard place. A fitting picture of where Harper's at. By the way...how long must he have posed there for the fearless Canadian Press photographer to get the shot? And with the presumably unshielded photographer, Tom Hanson, clearly in front of him to take the shot and exposed to harm all the while? Anything for a picture of our fearless leader, boys!

The Harper p.r. junket replete with such pictures reinforced the staged photo-oppery he and his staff value. Their elbowing out of the reporting media at key moments on the trip, referenced in the article linked to, and their focus instead on the nifty pictures and outfits gives you a real window on the Harper media strategy. That they think Canadians will buy. That's the real insult of this.

Looking forward to many more lovely photos...

Banana republic

What else do you call a country where this kind of activity is permitted?

Where the leader of the Justice Department, Alberto Gonzales, has a highly inappropriate session with a key underling where he refreshes his recollection of events in respect of wrongdoing she is also alleged to have been involved in - and in advance of their respective congressional testimony:
Under intensive questioning from Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.), Goodling also described a mid-March meeting with Gonzales that began as a discussion of her future at Justice but ended with talk about the U.S. attorneys' firings.

"Let me tell you what I can remember," he said, according to her account.

"He laid out for me his general recollection . . . of some of the process" of the firings and then asked "if I had any reaction to his iteration," Goodling said.

She said the conversation made her "a little uncomfortable" because she knew that she, Gonzales and others would be asked to testify before Congress.

"Do you think, Ms. Goodling, the attorney general was trying to shape your recollection?" Davis asked.

Goodling paused, then said: "No . . . I just did not know if it was a conversation that we should be having, and so I just -- just didn't say anything."

She added that she thought Gonzales was only "being kind."
Where the A.G.'s actions might fairly be considered obstruction of justice.

And where an individual with little judicial experience and of a questionable academic background is made responsible for hiring Justice lawyers and proceeds to improperly factor political allegiances of applicants into such decisions, and does so rampantly:
Goodling's testimony about hiring practices amounts to a dramatic public admission that she and other Justice aides routinely used potentially illegal criteria in deciding whom to hire as career prosecutors, immigration judges and those in other nonpolitical government jobs.

"I do acknowledge that I may have gone too far in asking political questions of applicants for career positions and may have taken inappropriate political considerations into account on some occasions," she testified. "I regret these mistakes."

Under questioning from Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), Goodling repeatedly declined to estimate how many times she had considered political affiliations in career hiring decisions. Johnson finally asked whether it was more or fewer than 50 cases.

"I don't think that I could have done it more than 50 times, but I don't know," she replied.

Goodling, a former opposition researcher for the Republican National Committee, revealed that prospective hires for the immigration courts, which are administered by Justice, were among those who may have been subjected to political litmus tests.
I mean, really, what should you call this kind of country?

A must see Olbermann special comment



Keith calls out the Democrats for their capitulation to Bush on Iraq funding and blasts Bush for his shameless use of the troops as political props in his play for history. Using the troops for political advantage. (Remind you of anyone else?)

And posing the killer question at the end: "Who among us will stop this war, this war of lies? To he or she fall the figurative keys of the nation..."

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Lawbreaking in the U.S. Justice Department



Watch Monica Goodling spin, as best she can, her lawbreaking. "I crossed the line." Well isn't that special? Talk about defining illegality downward. The Monica Goodlings, Kyle Sampsons, Alberto Gonzales' et al. are the living testaments to the standards that are at work in Karl Rove and George W. Bush's government. Do whatever you can to bend the law in favour of the Republican party. Put very little in writing. Then if you do get caught, you don't remember much of anything at all, and throw responsibility elsewhere in a circle-jerk extravaganza. Create an enigma wrapped in a mystery. It's just incredible.

Dastardly

Look at what Karl Rove's up to: "Rove Seeks Challenger to Landrieu." Making a little trip recently to Louisiana to line up a GOP challenger to Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu. Seems Karl thinks Louisiana, with New Orleans and its Democratic stronghold voting base decimated, is ripe for the GOP's pickings. Picking over the carcass, that's Rove for you.

Our soldiers are not partisan lemmings

They know when the photo op's over:
Harper began the final day of his two-day visit to Afghanistan by having breakfast with soldiers in the mess hall, delivering a speech and offering a gift of hockey sticks and balls.

But there were visible signs his audience, who crowded around the podium and sat atop armoured vehicles parked behind Harper for the benefit of the cameras, was decidedly non-partisan.

Scores of soldiers began filing out the moment he concluded, when an officer stopped them and said: "The prime minister is still here -- so that means we're still here. Get back inside.''
Yes, sir!

Best outfit ever

(REUTERS/Chris Wattie)

Harper playing GI Joe today

Check out the spin on how Harper is putting himself as near as possible to Taliban territory today: "Harper tours front line in Afghanistan." A willing military guy does his bit:
"No serving prime minister, in my opinion, has been closer to combat operations than this prime minister today," said Col. Mike Cessford, the deputy commander of the Canadian contingent in Kandahar.
Um, OK guy. Why is this at all important for us to know? Are we supposed to marvel at Steve's exploits or something? Be bowled over? Big yawn. I'm tired of the Hillier types and their "my Prime Minister" shtick. The PMO did its best to spin, too, and then, of course, dump on the media:
Officials travelling with Mr. Harper said he had insisted on getting as close to the "front" as possible, although no clear lines demarcate the shifting control and sporadic fighting that characterizes the vicious counter-insurgency war waged by Canadian troops in Kandahar province, heartland of the Taliban.

Officials in the Prime Minister's office turfed the Canadian Press reporter out of the small media pool allowed on board the pair of Black Hawk helicopters that flew Mr. Harper to the forward operating base, southwest of Kandahar.

That turned the visit into a photo opportunity, with only a TV cameraman and two still photographers accompanying Mr. Harper.
Oh yes, he's a fearless one. Unafraid of the Taliban but the Canadian Press? Get 'em out of there...

And doing his best Bush impression, once again:
We "can't set arbitrary deadlines and hope for the best," he said. "You known that we can't just put down our weapons and hope for peace.'' "Terrorism will come home if we don't confront it," in Afghanistan, he said.
Did you miss that incident with the guys in Mississauga, Steve? More intelligence and policing. Not tank buying.

And another thing, I just don't buy this military gung ho rhetoric coming from Harper, the man. He just can't pull off this tough talking thing. I'm not sure any Canadian leader can. It's not in their DNA. I can't even recall a federal leader I would believe uttering this military rah-rah stuff. When I hear Harper with these military speeches, I'm thinking it's like my accountant is over there. And I'm thinking some soldiers agree...note the "scattered" and "polite" applause for Harper reported in the article...

Bush library met with disdain, even in Texas

The George W. Bush library not welcome on the campus of Southern Methodist University:
"In mid-April, the S.M.U. faculty senate overwhelmingly passed two resolutions affirming the independence of any proposed Bush Institute from the university proper. And earlier this month the Daily Campus named Professors McElvaney and Johnson "S.M.U. Persons of the Year"- a vote of support for their efforts."
You see, Bush and his library gang are insisting that a right wing think tank thingy called a "Bush Institute" be created on the campus to, well, essentially repair his reputation for the historical long run. Talk about a herculean task! In any event, the majority on campus was none too pleased about it and faced with no real power to stop the record-setting $500 million library behemoth from coming, the two profs referenced above led the charge to formally disassociate S.M.U. from the so-called "Bush Institute." How's that for a kick in the pants?

Even in the heart of Texas, the honour of a presidential library isn't enough to overcome the taint that W will bring to your institution....it's just so sad to see such payback.

Video report from Afghanistan

If you want to check out what's it's like on the ground in Afghanistan, Graeme Smith of the Globe is posting video on the paper's site. He's pretty darned calm considering the bullets and gunfire whizzing about.

A nice contrast to Harper's walkabouts.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Arrests for leaking travel plans

About that surprise visit to Afghanistan by the PM...and this warning levelled at journalists:
Reporters were warned they could be arrested for breathing a word about the prime minister's travel plans.
What is the exact law and provision the PMO is relying upon for making such a threat? Inquiring minds would like to know that our PMO is following the law by issuing such threats. And I assume that journalists who were threatened with such measures would have asked about the authority for such an arrest. If it is the Security of Information Act, for example, exactly which provision applies to journalists here? If certain provisions do apply, were they followed in this instance? If the PMO is going to be threatening reporters with arrest, I hope that they're providing the statutory authority and applicable notices to reporters underlining that they are indeed able to make such threats.

My point is not that reporters should feel free to give notice to the world that the PM is on his way to Afghanistan. It is that the heavy-handed nature of the warning cries out for scrutiny. The amateurish nature of execution of all things governmental of late by the Conservatives doesn't leave me in the position of taking their word on anything. It's certainly a matter of security for the PM's trip to a war zone not to be tipped off to local terrorist organizations in Afghanistan. But I'd like to know what authority they have, and that it was followed, to be threatening journalists with arrest for disclosure of what appears to be not only a security issue, but principally a p.r. junket for the PM.

Have you seen the otters holding hands?



Over 6 million people have seen this clip...you should too. A nice way to start your week...:)

And a big shoutout to Chuck Schumer today

For keepin' it real:
"“The president should understand that while he has confidence in Attorney General Gonzales, very few others do. The right thing to do is to replace him with a new attorney general who will restore confidence in the rule of law.”"

Mini Bush on surprise trip to Afghanistan today

Following the cardinal rule of his idol, when polls are flagging, get thee to a war zone, and pronto.

Is this some whacked effort to once again exploit some jingoistic patriotism the Cons are obsessed with these days? Or is it going to backfire by reminding everyone of the Afghan detainee abuse allegations and the soaring costs of this endeavour, human and financial. I'll bet on the latter. But hey, that's just me...:)

Bonus contextual information tucked into the story by a most helpful journalist:
Mr. Harper's office spared no effort to keep the trip under wraps. A call went out Friday afternoon telling journalists to pack for a warm climate and to show up at a military hangar on Sunday if they wanted to join Mr. Harper on a trip to an unspecified foreign location.

They were told not to breathe a word about the trip. Journalists were later warned that they could be arrested if they divulged details of the Prime Minister's travel plans.
Methinks you might do a little better in the media coverage if you didn't threaten to arrest them, Buckler...:)

FDA fell down on the job?

This is a huge story today. The heart attack risk posed by the diabetes drug, Avandia as a result of a study conducted by one of America's top cardiologists on the drug's side effects. Making very big news. And there are questions as to why a study from August of last year which also pointed out similar risks for increased heart attacks for those on Avandia was not made known to patients and doctors by the FDA and Glaxo at that time. Is this the Bush administration's incompetence shining through again? Thankfully, Henry Waxman is about to exercise some long overdue oversight over the controversial Bush FDA commissioner, Andrew von Eschenbach.
"An article in a leading medical journal yesterday raised serious safety questions about the widely used diabetes pill Avandia and renewed skepticism about the vigilance of federal drug regulators.

The analysis, based on a review of more than 40 existing clinical studies involving nearly 28,000 patients, showed that Avandia significantly increased the risk of heart attacks, compared with other diabetes drugs or a placebo.

Both the study’s lead author and the editors of The New England Journal of Medicine, in which the article appeared, cautioned that the research method used left the findings open to interpretation. But they said the study nevertheless raised important concerns.

And the publication of the study on the journal’s Web site prompted the Food and Drug Administration to issue a public safety alert and advise users of the drug — an estimated million people in this country and two million worldwide — to consult their doctors about the potential cardiovascular risks."
...
While the analysis took Wall Street and many doctors by surprise, Glaxo and the F.D.A. disclosed yesterday that they had known about the signs of potential cardiovascular risk since last August, when the company, on its own initiative, submitted a similar analysis to the agency. That disclosure prompted questions on Capitol Hill about why patients and doctors had not been informed earlier.
...
In an interview, Dr. Nissen said that the average diabetic has a 20.2 percent risk of a heart attack over a seven-year period. A diabetic taking Avandia has a 28.9 percent risk during that same seven-year period, according to his analysis.

“It’s a huge risk,” he said, estimating that “tens of thousands of people” had heart attacks as a result of taking the drug.

An editorial that accompanied the article questioned why doctors would continue to prescribe Avandia, which is known generically as rosiglitazone. But the editorial cautioned patients not to stop taking the medication without discussing it with their doctors.
Anyone on this drug should clearly see their doctors. And you know what else is coming...three words: class action lawsuit.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Hilarious video

Samantha Bee's NILF...:)

Al Gore still on the comeback trail

And a welcome comeback it is...! Looks like a must-read this summer, Al Gore's The Assault on Reason...currently sitting on the Impolitical husband's desk and about to be handed over...:)

Rove in a landslide win

"A Rove Farewell Fares Well in Doonesbury.com Poll." The Impolitical preferred exit, as always:

Progressives winning online in the U.S.

Online, GOP Is Playing Catch-Up. That's a shame...:)

Why the U.S. attorney scandal matters

"Why This Scandal Matters," a worthy New York Times editorial today on the U.S. attorney scandal explaining why the American democracy is broken, in a fundamental respect. The Republican party, run out of the White House by Karl Rove, has run roughshod over the impartial administration of justice:
The Justice Department is no ordinary agency. Its 93 United States attorney offices, scattered across the country, prosecute federal crimes ranging from public corruption to terrorism. These prosecutors have enormous power: they can wiretap people’s homes, seize property and put people in jail for life. They can destroy businesses, and affect the outcomes of elections. It has always been understood that although they are appointed by a president, usually from his own party, once in office they must operate in a nonpartisan way, and be insulated from outside pressures.

This understanding has badly broken down. It is now clear that United States attorneys were pressured to act in the interests of the Republican Party, and lost their job if they failed to do so. The firing offenses of the nine prosecutors who were purged last year were that they would not indict Democrats, they investigated important Republicans, or they would not try to suppress the votes of Democratic-leaning groups with baseless election fraud cases.

The degree of partisanship in the department is shocking. A study by two professors, Donald Shields of the University of Missouri at St. Louis and John Cragan of Illinois State University, found that the Bush Justice Department has investigated Democratic officeholders and office seekers about four times as often as Republican ones.

It is hard not to see the fingerprints of Karl Rove. A disproportionate number of the prosecutors pushed out, or considered for dismissal, were in swing states. The main reason for the purge — apart from hobbling a California investigation that has already put one Republican congressman in jail — appears to have been an attempt to tip states like Missouri and Washington to Republican candidates for House, Senate, governor and president.
...
Congress has to save the Justice Department, something President Bush shows no interest in doing. It should pass a resolution of “no confidence” in Mr. Gonzales, and push for his removal. But it also needs to insist on new leadership that will restore the department’s traditions of professionalism and impartiality, and re-establish that in the United States, the legal system does not work to advance the interests of a political party. (emphasis added)
More testimony this week from the woman who was the liaison between the Justice Department and the White House and who has immunity for her testimony. I hope she's able to shed some light on Karl Rove's role and influence in the dismissals of the U.S. attorneys, but given the obfuscation we've seen, I'm not holding my breath. "I don't recall" has become the motto of the Bush administration...

Poor beleaguered Conservatives

Poor guys. Outnumbered by the opposition who have been frightfully ganging up on the inexperienced little tykes. You see, they have no choice but to cancel meetings and filibuster the work of the committees: "Tory whip defends manual on disrupting committee meetings." And now there's talk of cutting their losses, getting out of dodge early and recharging over the summer. What a monumental letdown in governance.

I mean, really, what should we expect of them? To live up to their promises of good government and accountability?

Silly us.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

About that Harper visit to Waterloo/RIM this week...

Can't recall whether anyone pointed out that Harper's visit to the RIM sponsored Perimeter Institute this week and standing shoulder to shoulder with Mike Laziridis to tout a science & technology agenda might have been a little inappropriate given RIM being under investigation by the OSC, SEC and Manhattan U.S. attorney's office having to do with their questionable stock option backdating issues...that's a little different twist on a PM's visit, this time around. I'm sure all that talk about tapping into the "creative genius" of Canada's entrepreneurs in no way was meant to include the option backdating creativity RIM's alleged to have undertaken...:)

The long haul

Interesting polling results in Iowa today, site of the early and influential presidential caucuses. Edwards continues to lead on the Democratic side.

A disturbing development, however, Mitt Romney, one of the slickest, say-anything, chameleon candidates in recent memory, is way up in Iowa. Could be important for Romney who's been trailing otherwise.

Who ever would have thought it

Another great line about Gonzales' infamous hospital visit to the ailing John Ashcroft to obtain his signature:
"I did not think it was even possible to make John Ashcroft into a civil libertarian," Neas said in an interview. "But somehow Alberto Gonzales for at least one moment managed to make John Ashcroft into a defender of the Constitution."
Interesting article suggesting even John Ashcroft was too moderate for the Bush administration on many issues...the continuing exposure of Alberto Gonzales for the subservient hack that he is rolls on...

Are we that boring?

This article in the NY Times today, "Immigrants Reject Quebec’s Separatists," is virtually identical to the same article they published on May 13th, here. While I appreciate their emphasis on the topic, it's a little strange. Maybe they think no one will notice? It's just Canada, after all...:)

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Gonzales now under attack from within the Justice Department

What more will it take before Bush fires this guy? His own prosecutors are sticking it to him in private meetings and details of it are leaking to the media:
Even as he came under renewed political pressure in Washington this week, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales faced sharp criticism from many of his own U.S. attorneys at a private meeting in San Antonio, prosecutors who were there said.

At an executive session Wednesday during the Justice Department's annual U.S. attorneys conference, Gonzales met with most of the nation's 93 U.S. attorneys to apologize for the controversy over the firings of nine prosecutors last year and to attempt to shore up sagging morale.

More than a dozen U.S. attorneys spoke during the morning session, most of them expressing concern to Gonzales about the scandal's impact on their own offices and the overall image of the department, several participants said.

"People were very plainspoken," said one U.S. attorney, who along with others interviewed spoke on the condition of anonymity because the session was private. "The overwhelming majority of the comments were about the controversy and how people are still not happy in the way things were going."
...
One U.S. attorney complained to Gonzales on Wednesday that the fired prosecutors were not given "even the minimum professional treatment," said another prosecutor who recounted the comments.
Well, at least the inmates have joined in and are trying to straighten out the asylum.

Graeme Smith's reporting from Afghanistan

The attacks in the wake of the killing of Taliban leader Mullah Dadullah continue: today's, German soldiers killed by suicide bomber on foot. There's a must-read today from Grame Smith in the Globe who is doing what appears to be life-risking reporting. He writes of a Taliban ambush of British and Afghan National Army soldiers and includes this first hand insightful observation:
In the first moments of the ambush, the British were jamming their vehicles into reverse and pulling back. For them, it was standard procedure: Get out of the Taliban's sights and return fire.

The Afghans did the opposite, bailing out of their vulnerable pickup trucks and charging forward. They took shelter in a ditch and looked back at the retreating British with undisguised scorn. Two Afghan soldiers had been wounded, and many others had barely avoided injury when an anti-tank mortar slammed into the tailgate of their truck. It was a dud; the explosion only shattered the rear window. The mortar's tail fin remained stuck in the vehicle, which sat empty in the road as the Taliban continued to sweep the area with gunfire.

Despite the Afghans' bravery, it was the British who answered the insurgents with the most firepower.
Undisguised scorn. How's that for an on the spot report giving a sense of the dynamic at play on the ground and which may be a driving force behind efforts such as the recent motion in the Afghan House on a deadline for foreign armies to leave the country. Smith also notes the involvement of Afghan civilians in contact with the forces, notably an old woman informing on a Taliban munition stash and who wants the Taliban out of her village. Smith's reporting is providing rare detail you don't get from the wire services.

Good question

Eugene Robinson on "Gonzales's Signature Moment":
"The image I can't get out of my head is of Alberto Gonzales carrying a document for Ashcroft's signature into the man's hospital room, attempting a sneaky end-run around the deputy whom Ashcroft left in charge of the department, knowing full well that Ashcroft was seriously ill and almost certainly medicated. What did he intend to do, guide the man's hand?

This is the attorney general of the United States, ladies and gentlemen. Heaven help us."

Hey, here's a new word for the Canadian electoral lexicon

"Gerrymandering," in connection with this story: B.C. and Alberta break ranks with Ontario over Peter Van Loan's special plan to add new seats in the House of Commons. A definition, please. Gerrymandering: to "manipulate the boundaries of (an electoral constituency) so as to favor one party or class." Harkens back to the good old days of Tom DeLay manufacturing a Republican majority in Texas under constitutionally circumspect circumstances and which led to the Republican majority in congress...just the kind of influence we need imported into our own electoral reform efforts. Here's the problem, for newbies to the issue (aren't we all):
Alberta and British Columbia abandoned Ontario Friday over electoral reform, saying they were happy with federal plans to increase western representation in the House of Commons.

Ontario has said it is being politically discriminated against by the formula revealed last Friday, which will give it only 10 extra seats by 2011, even though the population increases projected for the province mean it should receive a further 21.

There will be no such cap in terms of representation by population for either Alberta or B.C., two provinces that have argued together with Ontario for an increase in MPs based on each province's expanding population.

And that has split the united front.
Yup...this is a little bigger problem than first appeared. Peel off the superficial wrapper on a Harper plan and you'll soon find their partisan bent on the issue.

Either we treat every voter equally and have representation proportionate to equal populations uniformly across the country, or we don't. And Van Loan and Harper are in the unequal camp. There's no justification for it, including some lame obfuscation about minimums for provinces like PEI. If Ontario's growing faster than the other provinces, then it should grow faster in the House of Commons seat allocations as well. Disgruntled Westerners (and those that love them) should not be pushing for more seats than they warrant simply out of some sense of historical grievance. Otherwise, you perpetuate the notion that it is indeed gerrymandering:
Ontario Liberal MP John McKay, Scarborough-Guildwood, said his initial thought was that Ontario was left out simply because of “blundering,” but the government has since argued constitutional principles prevent the top-up from applying to Ontario.

“My secondary response is that they thought it through in terms of where they think their vote growth is going to be.

“And if this is gerrymandering, this is gerrymandering at a very, very large scale. This is not just fiddling boundaries any more.

“What you're doing is fiddling the entire country to suit where you think your vote will grow.”
Seems to me that Van Loan's conceded he's gerrymandering by permitting B.C. and Alberta to grow unequally to Ontario.

Not cool at all, Mini Bush. We know what you're up to...

Friday, May 18, 2007

Keep your war propaganda to yourself, Wilkins

Bush's good ole boy equating Afghanistan and Iraq while touring about today:
"'There is a lot of discussion about Canada's role in Afghanistan and about my country's role in Iraq, but I believe history will note that we made the right decision at the right time. We didn't run away when it was hard and when it was dangerous.'"
Nifty little trick, hey? Won't work here pal. The two are not equivalent at all. Afghanistan was unanimously viewed as an effort that needed to be undertaken given its use as Osama bin Laden's launching pad. Iraq? Not so much. A diversion that's destabilized the Middle East and spawned a generation of new terrorists determined to take on the U.S., to say the least about the damage the war in Iraq has caused.

And Wilkins, the Bush organizer from South Carolina who helped put a stop to John McCain's momentum in 2000 and so was a key figure in foisting this disaster upon the world, perpetuates the Bush nonsensical talking points that terrorists wish to harm us because of our freedoms:
"The war on terror needs to be waged as long as there are those in the world attempting to do harm to freedom democracies like Canada and the United States."
They don't hate us for our democracy and freedoms, they hate the U.S. for its policies the world over.... This is the same claptrap that Giuliani is trying to milk, now, all the way to the Republican nomination...

Thank you for putting your contempt for democracy in writing, Steve

"Opposition demands release of alleged Tory 'dirty tricks' manual."

I think that's a fine record to have on file.

Harper's reaping what he's sown

(Alex Clark)

The consensus is that the level of collegiality in the House is in the tank. Another report on the acrimony today in the Globe: A House divided against itself: Can it stand? When the Prime Minister is setting the tone and attacking the opposition as unpatriotic, Taliban supporting, weak and corrupt...what else would you expect to result other than a fired up opposition that will fight back? Harper's reaping the Parliament he's sown. It's a mad house reflection of his demonizing, partisan attacks.

Exactly

Washington Post editorial today standing up for the rule of law and against this lawless President who knows no bounds:
IT DOESN'T much matter whether President Bush was the one who phoned Attorney General John D. Ashcroft's hospital room before the Wednesday Night Ambush in 2004. It matters enormously, however, whether the president was willing to have his White House aides try to strong-arm the gravely ill attorney general into overruling the Justice Department's legal views. It matters enormously whether the president, once that mission failed, was willing nonetheless to proceed with a program whose legality had been called into question by the Justice Department. That is why Mr. Bush's response to questions about the program yesterday was so inadequate.

"I'm not going to talk about it," Mr. Bush told reporters at a news conference with departing British Prime Minister Tony Blair. "It's a very sensitive program. I will tell you that, one, the program is necessary to protect the American people, and it's still necessary because there's still an enemy that wants to do us harm."

No one is asking Mr. Bush to talk about classified information, and no one is discounting the terrorist threat. But there is a serious question here about how far Mr. Bush went to pressure his lawyers to implement his view of the law. There is an even more serious question about the president's willingness, that effort having failed, to go beyond the bounds of what his own Justice Department found permissible.

Yes, Mr. Bush backed down in the face of the threat of mass resignations, Mr. Ashcroft's included, and he apparently agreed to whatever more limited program the department was willing to approve. In the interim, however, the president authorized the program the Justice lawyers had refused to certify as legally permissible, and it continued for a few weeks more, according to former deputy attorney general James B. Comey's careful testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Under the Constitution, the president has the final authority in the executive branch to say what the law is. But as a matter of presidential practice, this is breathtaking.

These are important topics for public discussion, and if anyone doubts that they can safely be discussed in public, they need look no further than Mr. Comey's testimony. Instead of doing so, Mr. Bush wants to short-circuit that discussion by invoking the continuing danger of al-Qaeda.

"And so we will put in place programs to protect the American people that honor the civil liberties of our people, and programs that we constantly brief to Congress," Mr. Bush assured the country yesterday, as he brushed off requests for a more detailed account. But this is exactly the point of contention. The administration, it appears from Mr. Comey's testimony, was willing to go forward, against legal advice, with a program that the Justice Department had concluded did not "honor the civil liberties of our people." Nor is it clear that Congress was adequately informed. The president would like to make this unpleasant controversy disappear behind the national security curtain. That cannot be allowed to happen.

McGuinty's right

Tory bill unfair to Ontario, McGuinty charges:
"Ontario will be shortchanged in House of Commons seats by federal legislation introduced last week to bring fast-growing provinces up to par, Premier Dalton McGuinty said yesterday."
Mini Bush should be treating all provinces equally or don't do it at all...

Hillary's funny



Check it out.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

All Gonzales all the time



Democrats seeking non-confidence vote in Gonzales...Bush's Rose Garden appearance...Olbermann has the latest. Richard Wolffe from Newsweek suggests the Democratic effort to vote non-confidence in Gonzales could cause the stubborn Bush to dig in, instead. I say dig in, the longer Gonzales is around, he's a gift that keeps on giving.

Oh, and Keith offers a tongue in cheek comment off the bat that Gonzales is set to become World Bank President...:)

Impeachable offense video



The must-see Olbermann interview of Jonathan Turley on the latest in Gonzo-gate...

Watch Bush dodge a crucial question

Video of Bush in the Rose Garden today. Being asked a most pesky question by an NBC reporter about whether he ordered Gonzales and Card to get the hospitalized John Ashcroft's signature authorizing his illegal NSA warrantless eavesdropping program...

They're just not up to it

James Travers highlights a deficiency of the Harper government with respect to the Afghanistan mission in today's column. His point, that regarding Afghanistan, the lack of substantive and responsible debate on the mission has led the Conservatives to a default position, almost a vacuum-like state where their partisan gut instincts take over, just as they appear to do with any other challenge on any given day. And that's led to their jingoistic shtick on supporting the troops and questioning the opposition's patriotism above all else. A hollow, papered-over positioning that suggests they can't speak to the substance of the issue. An excerpt:
"NATO is proving as unable to find workable solutions as the Harper government is unwilling to engage Parliament in a freewheeling examination of the mission, its limitations and chances of success.

Not surprisingly, the result in Afghanistan is growing animosity to foreigners killing locals as they work at cross-purposes and a Canadian government relying on bumper-sticker patriotism to support a war that warrants thoughtful explanation.

Whatever the causes or effects, the mission is now reaching a tipping point. Unless there is broad local support and unity of NATO purpose, it will either fail or sink into the usual quagmire.

Changing that outcome won't be easy. It would require dramatically reducing the need for air strikes by ballooning ground forces up from about 30,000 to 200,000 and for governments with unique domestic political situations to agree on a single, very long-term strategy their voters will not tolerate, let alone support.

Given the fat chance of any of that happening, a coalition government and an Afghanistan free of foreign troops starts to look better."
The Afghanistan mission, like other pressing issues the Harper government is confronted with on a daily basis (official languages deficiencies, foreign policy document censorship), demands leadership from the ministers of the government, an ability to competently manage the issues through Parliament, its committees and in the public's consciousness. They're showing on a regular basis that they're just not up to the task of governing as they continue to default to the partisan, easy out on so many issues. We deserve a heck of a lot better than what we're seeing from our government.

More filibustering

I stand by my former post, despite this update, of course: Tories hold up committee delving into Afghan human rights:
"The Tory filibuster finally broke after five hours and the witnesses were allowed to speak around 2 p.m.

The meeting of the House of Commons access to information and ethics committee was the second in a row to feature Tory MPs talking at length about procedural minutia to avoid delving into the committee's scheduled work."
Their instincts are anti-democratic and routinely on display these days.

Your daily evidence of why the Conservatives don't deserve a majority

"Tory MPs block testimony on alleged Afghan detainee coverup" :
Conservative MPs blocked witnesses Thursday from testifying at a Commons committee on the Afghan detainee controversy.

The ethics committee was to hear from a law professor and a freelance journalist about whether the foreign affairs department deliberately withheld scathing human rights reports on Afghanistan.

But Tory MPs Mike Wallace and Scott Reid tied up the committee for two hours, arguing they were not prepared for the witnesses and that the committee should seek legal advice.
Res ipsa loquitur...

Leakers going at Gonzales again

Today's Washington Post report on Alberto Gonzales and the firings of the U.S. attorneys once again includes leaks from anonymous sources, leaking against Gonzales for the second time in a week, and which again expose Gonzales as a liar: "Justice Weighed Firing 1 in 4."

Here's the lie (see italics):
The Justice Department considered dismissing many more U.S. attorneys than officials have previously acknowledged, with at least 26 prosecutors suggested for termination between February 2005 and December 2006, according to sources familiar with documents withheld from the public.

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales testified last week that the effort was limited to eight U.S. attorneys fired since last June, and other administration officials have said that only a few others were suggested for removal.


In fact, D. Kyle Sampson, then Gonzales's chief of staff, considered more than two dozen U.S. attorneys for termination, according to lists compiled by him and his colleagues, the sources said.

They amounted to more than a quarter of the nation's 93 U.S. attorneys. Thirteen of those known to have been targeted are still in their posts.
So Gonzales lied in his testimony last week about the scope of the effort to remove U.S. attorneys. But really, we all know by now that the truth is hard to come by for this guy. On Tuesday, former Deputy A.G. Comey's testimony exposed that Gonzales' prior testimony to congress that there was no internal resistance within the Bush administration to Bush's NSA warrantless wiretapping program was suspect as well. It's almost a joke at this point.

What's fascinating, once again, is the attribution of this information to "sources familiar with documents withheld from the public." This suggests there are whistleblowers - plural - concerned about what's going on and they are connected enough to know about the content of these documents and the process that has occurred. These sources know that information is being withheld from the public and concerned enough to be leaking it when they hear a lie. This, I take some comfort from.

At least there are individuals concerned enough about the public story being told by Gonzales to call him out on it by reaching out to the press. It may be the only way the investigation of Gonzales (and Rove) gets anywhere. As the sources note, documents are being withheld from the public and congress, limiting the effectiveness and speed of congressional investigation. And we all know about the lost Karl Rove emails. And then there's the sheer chutzpah of the "I don't recall" song being sung in repeated testimony.

If all other levers of the government fail, at the end of the day it may be that it's the journalists and these sources that will be needed to get to the bottom of this.