Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Et tu, Larry King?

Larry gettin' in on the Gonzo swarm and makin' news tonight. Beeg interview with the pseudo-President this evening in which he uncovers the following startling revelation: Cheney can't recall whether he sent Gonzo and Card to Ashcroft's bedside to get him to renew the NSA wiretapping program.

I am shocked, shocked, I tell you, that someone at the highest levels of the Bush administration can't recall such a vital detail...:)

Cheney agrees with letter Edelman wrote about Clinton

You know, the one that accused Clinton of being unpatriotic and that his boss, the Defence Secretary, has backed away from:
After Clinton wrote to Gates in May requesting a briefing on plans for troop withdrawal, Pentagon policy chief Eric Edelman responded with a letter last week accusing the senator of reinforcing "enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies" by discussing a timetable for withdrawal. Edelman, a career diplomat, moved in 2005 to the Pentagon from the office of Vice President Dick Cheney.
Here's Cheney today saying it was a "good letter":



Go Cheney, you out of touch albatross...:)

What to do about General Hillier?

Much talk in the media today over what to do in the wake of General Hillier and Defence Minister O'Connor's public "spat," if you will, over the timeline for Canadian troops to turn matters over to Afghan battalions that are ramping up to take over the fight against the Taliban. The NDP say fire O'Connor. Mr. O'Connor seems to be the easy target but he's just part of the equation. The Globe, by contrast, is on the right track in their editorial today by attributing responsibility for the divergent public messages on the Afghan file at Harper's doorstep:
Even the lowest-ranking soldier understands that an army cannot function properly without discipline. But in the midst of Canada's most important mission in a half-century, this principle appears to have been forgotten at the highest level of the military. And while Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor bears much of the blame for this state of affairs, ultimate responsibility rests with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Mr. O'Connor and Rick Hillier, Chief of the Defence Staff, have long had an uneasy relationship. But recently it has reached an untenable level of dysfunction, as evidenced by a bizarre public disagreement over the future of Canadian troops in Afghanistan.

On July 22, Mr. O'Connor appeared on CTV's Question Period to paint a rosy picture of the mission's progress. By the end of this year, he suggested, Afghanistan's army may be ready to allow Canadian front-line efforts to be scaled back. At the time, his comments seemed out of step with the more common analysis that Afghanistan's army has a long way to go. Sure enough, a week later General Hillier appeared on the same program to contradict Mr. O'Connor. "It's going to take a long while," he said of preparing Afghan troops to take over. "We've just started the process."

It has been increasingly obvious throughout his tenure as defence minister that Mr. O'Connor is in over his head. But, embarrassing though it may be for him, it reflects even more badly on Mr. Harper. For months, the Prime Minister has stood by as Mr. O'Connor has repeatedly been humiliated - not only by Gen. Hillier's repeated contradictions of his public statements, but also by his incompetence in handling the controversy over the treatment of Afghan detainees. No doubt concerned that replacing Mr. O'Connor would shake public faith in the Afghan mission, Mr. Harper has refused to acknowledge his obvious mistake in appointing Mr. O'Connor to his position. Meanwhile, his responses to Mr. O'Connor's critics have grown increasingly ludicrous, with the Prime Minister going so far as to suggest this past spring that the minister was beyond criticism because, unlike opposition MPs, he once served in the army.

No military can function properly without strong civilian oversight. But with every day that Mr. Harper leaves his overmatched minister in the job, we are moving closer to that scenario. Gen. Hillier, more than Mr. O'Connor, now appears to speak for Canada's defence policy. Disturbing as this may be when it comes to public statements, it is all the more so if he is also steamrollering Mr. O'Connor behind closed doors.

It is not Gen. Hillier's fault that he effectively has nobody to answer to. But if Mr. Harper does not replace Mr. O'Connor, his only option will be to rein in Gen. Hillier himself. Better he should appoint a minister who commands the respect of the Chief of the Defence Staff and all other Canadian soldiers.
A few notes...it seems that Harper has waited too long on moving O'Connor out of his portfolio out of some misplaced Bushian sense of loyalty, or so as not to send the wrong message to his cabinet that he's too quick to pull the rug out. Harper had already given a high profile heave-ho to Rona Ambrose, after all. Another axe falling within a six month or so period might have added to the public perception that Harper's group is just not up to the job. Well, so much for looking after such concerns.

Harper's also likely dealing with the problem of having little else in the Conservative bunch by way of a suitable replacement for O'Connor. Who's going to step in now? Jim Prentice? There are few prospects to choose from. It's quite the pickle Mini Bush finds himself in...

And the larger problem may well be that Harper is just fine with Hillier being out in front on military issues - out on that limb pushing the military's continued commitment to the mission. We shall see if he does indeed rein Hillier in. But it is entirely possible that Harper is in agreement with Hillier's public statements from this past Sunday that Canada is "in the fight" and wants Canada to continue in that role, despite his seeming backtracking of late and bow to political consensus for the determination of our future participation. I note this final quotation in the Globe's coverage of the dispute today:
A senior Prime Minister's Office official said that “Gen. Hillier has and will continue to provide important comment on operational issues, which is his purview.”

Monday, July 30, 2007

Conservative strategery

Can't wait to see what the brain trust comes up with as they converge in Charlottetown this week: "Tories appear stuck in driver's seat: adviser."

Personally, I would advise them to increase their use of the kind of gimmickry that's brought them such success to date. More race cars, more "Democratic Reform Weeks," more psychic staff members...

I mean, that's the stuff that really grabs our attention...:)

Wtf

There's no accounting for taste: "Magazine names Trudeau as 'Worst Canadian'." The likely explanation for this absurd result:
The Beaver admits the online poll used to determine the winner of the Worst Canadian contest is far from scientific. As a result, the magazine came up with an alternative list formed by polling "10 of Canada's most renowned historians and writers of popular history."

That list, which can only be found in the printed edition of the magazine, is described by The Beaver as "arguably more measured, and takes into consideration the full breadth and scope of Canadian history."

Trudeau didn't make the cut on that list.
But, you know, what else could you really expect from such an asinine "contest" in the first place...

Gingrich on Gonzales



Probity, integrity and competence required in the A.G. position, says Gingrich. On this, we agree.

Meanwhile, the daily onslaught of terrible headlines for Gonzales continues as the Washington Post carries another damaging story today, "Gonzales's Truthfulness Long Disputed." The story cements the perception of Gonzales as Bush's long time fixer:

Questions about Gonzales's willingness to shade the truth on Bush's behalf came to prominence in the 1996 episode in which Bush was excused from Texas jury duty in a drunken-driving case. Bush was then the state's governor, and Gonzales was his general counsel. If Bush had served, he probably would have had to disclose his own drunken-driving conviction in Maine two decades earlier.

The judge, prosecutor and defense attorney involved in the case have said that Gonzales met with the judge and argued that jury service would pose a potential conflict of interest for Bush, who could be asked to pardon the defendant. Gonzales has disputed that account. He made no mention of meeting with the judge in a written statement submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Not exactly the kind of reminder the White House or Gonzales would be looking for at this point when Gonzales is purporting to remedy the perception of the Justice Department's politicization under Bush...

Cheney

Josh Marshall also notes the news that was made in the Gonzales' editorial Sunday where Cheney was fingered as the one who ordered Gonzales and Card to "meet" with the hospitalized John Ashcroft. The consensus seems to be that this is indeed a revelation and I assume they've got their sources to substantiate it. Why it has not been the subject of a news story is an interesting question indeed.

Reconsidering

I wanted to follow up on a post I did yesterday...I linked to the New York Times story of yesterday reporting on Justice Department lawyers who are speaking out against Alberto Gonzales' record as Attorney General and ongoing tenure. I think that individuals such as Mr. Metcalfe who were named in that article should be applauded for speaking out against the abysmal Gonzales. Hopefully the weight that such officials carry and the fact that they are indeed speaking out will help to get the desired result of so many, the ouster, one way or another, of this Attorney General.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Is Hillier being isolated?

You tell me. Survey says, IMHO, yes.

Here's Gordon O'Connor last week, paving the way for a reserve kind of role:
Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor laid out a speedy timetable Sunday for Canada's departure from the Afghanistan front lines, saying up to 3,000 Afghan troops are being trained over the next five months to take over the heavier fighting.
...
Speaking on CTV's Question Period, he said the training of Afghan soldiers over the next four or five months will allow Canadians to take on a reserve role some time near the end of the Vandoos' tour, which concludes next February.“We're hoping that by the end of this rotation ... the so-called Vandoos rotation, we'll have about 3,000 Afghan Army operating in the Kandahar province,” he said.

“And as we train more and more of the Afghan army to carry out their own operations, we will continue to withdraw. With more emphasis on training … at some stage [we'll] basically be in reserve.”

Here's Mini Bush's position of late, articulated in the same Globe article of last week, developed in reaction to the Canadian population's increasing trepidation with the mission:
The mission is slated to end in February, 2009, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said it will only be extended if a consensus of parliamentary parties can be reached. He said that one Canadian-trained Afghan battalion is already seeing action and that Canadians will train four or five more.
And here's Lt.-Gen. Michel Gauthier quoted today by the Canadian Press, hot off the presses:
A top Canadian Forces commander says it doesn't have to be Canadian soldiers who stay in Afghanistan past February 2009 to help finish rebuilding the country.

Lt.-Gen. Michel Gauthier, commander of the Canadian Expeditionary Force Command, says work in Afghanistan will be far from over in 18 months, when Canada is scheduled to end its mission.

But Gauther said in Kandahar today it doesn't make a difference whether the work is done by Canadians or troops from other countries.

Gauthier says the international community will need to be present in Afghanistan for several more years for the country to become self-sufficient.
Sounds like Gauthier is willing to let go of the reigns.

Here's Brigadier-General Grant, quoted in the Globe yesterday, suggesting he also knows the mission's military focus is likely to change:
“This can't be done in two or three years,” he says. “Do we have a long way to go? Absolutely.”

But Brig.-Gen. Grant's political antennae aren't just tuned to shifting sentiments among Afghans. “The mission focus can change,” he said, well aware that the high-profile of the military effort, and its heavy cost in casualties, may need reshaping.
Yet here's the lone General Hillier, today on Question Period, out there and entrenched on what seems to be an increasingly lonely limb keeping Canadian soldiers front and center in a combat role:
Canada's top soldier Gen. Rick Hillier says pulling out Canadian troops by February 2009 will prove to be a "significant challenge."

Hillier said it is unlikely that Canada's frontline presence will be scaled back because of the significant time commitment to train Afghan forces to take over security in the country.

"We still don't have all the troops in the South," Hillier said Sunday on CTV's Question Period.

"We've got a large training role to help them meet so they can be ready for operations and whether that's February or March, it's hard to tell on a specific date."
...
Hillier contends Afghanistan is a volatile country with a need for Canadian troops to continue the role of securing the nation so the development accomplished doesn't regress.

"We are in the fight. There are direct combat actions required to keep the Taliban from stopping the progress in southern Afghanistan and tearing the country further apart," Hillier said.
Hillier went on to agitate about corruption in Karzai's government and the need to put an end to it. It's preventing his Canadian Forces from succeeding, strongly suggests the General. A little CYA fronting and finger pointing again, I suppose. Why not, when you've got the public forum. Bet Foreign Affairs and CIDA will love this. But the larger point of Hillier's message today is his commitment to the current course of action and the predominance of the military mission. We are in the fight, after all.

Now is Hillier just covering off all the bases for Mini Bush? Providing him with public political cover to maintain the option of staying in Afghanistan post February 2009? Or is Hillier's political spidey sense failing him?

We report, you decide...

NY Times sends a strong message on Gonzales

A must read editorial today setting out the grounds for a Special Prosecutor to be appointed to investigate A.G. Gonzales' alleged perjury. Failing the Solicitor General's agreement to so appoint a Special Prosecutor, the Times is signalling it's going to beat the drum for the impeachment of Gonzales. I'm posting the entire editorial here as it is worthy of a serious look. Because the top Justice official in the United States of America is on trial. He may not think he is, nor might his boss. But the whole world is watching this disastrous presidency trying to protect itself from the discovery of what must be awesome abuses of power - why else would they protest so much?

Here it is - and by the way, it's also worth a look as it discloses who the Times has found to have been behind ordering Gonzales and Card to Ashcroft's post-surgery hospital bed to finagle approval of the then much disputed NSA eavesdropping program (hint - it's the real president):
President Bush often insists he has to be the decider — ignoring Congress and the public when it comes to the tough matters on war, terrorism and torture, even deciding whether an ordinary man in Florida should be allowed to let his wife die with dignity. Apparently that burden does not apply to the functioning of one of the most vital government agencies, the Justice Department.

Americans have been waiting months for Mr. Bush to fire Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who long ago proved that he was incompetent and more recently has proved that he can’t tell the truth. Mr. Bush refused to fire him after it was clear Mr. Gonzales lied about his role in the political purge of nine federal prosecutors. And he is still refusing to do so — even after testimony by the F.B.I. director, Robert Mueller, that suggests that Mr. Gonzales either lied to Congress about Mr. Bush’s warrantless wiretapping operation or at the very least twisted the truth so badly that it amounts to the same thing.

Mr. Gonzales has now told Congress twice that there was no dissent in the government about Mr. Bush’s decision to authorize the National Security Agency to spy on Americans’ international calls and e-mails without obtaining the legally required warrant. Mr. Mueller and James Comey, a former deputy attorney general, say that is not true. Not only was there disagreement, but they also say that they almost resigned over the dispute.

Both men say that in March 2004 — when Mr. Gonzales was still the White House counsel — the Justice Department refused to endorse a continuation of the wiretapping program because it was illegal. (Mr. Comey was running the department temporarily because Attorney General John Ashcroft had emergency surgery.) Unwilling to accept that conclusion, Vice President Dick Cheney sent Mr. Gonzales and another official to Mr. Ashcroft’s hospital room to get him to approve the wiretapping.

Mr. Comey and Mr. Mueller intercepted the White House team, and they say they watched as a groggy Mr. Ashcroft refused to sign off on the wiretapping and told the White House officials to leave. Mr. Comey said the White House later modified the eavesdropping program enough for the Justice Department to sign off.

Last week, Mr. Gonzales denied that account. He told the Senate Judiciary Committee the dispute was not about the wiretapping operation but was over “other intelligence activities.” He declined to say what those were.

Lawmakers who have been briefed on the administration’s activities said the dispute was about the one eavesdropping program that has been disclosed. So did Mr. Comey. And so did Mr. Mueller, most recently on Thursday in a House hearing. He said he had kept notes.

That was plain enough. It confirmed what most people long ago concluded: that Mr. Gonzales is more concerned about doing political-damage control for Mr. Bush — in this case insisting that there was never a Justice Department objection to a clearly illegal program — than in doing his duty. But the White House continued to defend him.

As far as we can tell, there are three possible explanations for Mr. Gonzales’s talk about a dispute over other — unspecified — intelligence activities. One, he lied to Congress. Two, he used a bureaucratic dodge to mislead lawmakers and the public: the spying program was modified after Mr. Ashcroft refused to endorse it, which made it “different” from the one Mr. Bush has acknowledged. The third is that there was more wiretapping than has been disclosed, perhaps even purely domestic wiretapping, and Mr. Gonzales is helping Mr. Bush cover it up.

Democratic lawmakers are asking for a special prosecutor to look into Mr. Gonzales’s words and deeds. Solicitor General Paul Clement has a last chance to show that the Justice Department is still minimally functional by fulfilling that request.

If that does not happen, Congress should impeach Mr. Gonzales.
Hardly surprising, it was apparently Cheney who ordered the attempted strong-arming of a sick man by Gonzales and Card. I had not read this to date. Even this past week, Schumer was asking Gonzales who sent him to the hospital to pursue this sickly course of action. Gonzales refused to answer. No kidding.

And the Times is barrelling on with this editorial, not getting side-tracked by its own concurrent reporting today on the sudden word from "officials" briefed on "the program" that Gonzales' hairsplitting testimony may be defensible because apparently it was data mining that constituted the other "intelligence activities" under the rubric of the TSP that was the subject of much disagreement in March 2004. There's a concerted effort to throw Gonzales a life-preserver at this point. Somehow this "revelation" is supposed to make Gonzales look good at this point. Hey, I wasn't lying because there actually were other horribly illegal activities going on that were enough to prompt the entire leadership of the Justice Department to consider resignation at the time, plus the FBI Director. That was the problem, says Gonzales, despite the testimony and reports from many others knowledgeable about the program that data mining was considered to be part of the program at issue. It apparently was one gigantic clusterf*%# of a program encompassing many activities. And never mind that the TSP has to date been confirmed, even by the President publicly, to have included many forms of "intercepted communications." Talk Left has shrewdly pointed this out - that Bush's own words did not split hairs about the "program" or say that data mining wasn't occurring. They've put a quick halt to any idea that this data mining story might burgeon into a full blown defense for Gonzales' truth challenged testimony.

Why do I have the sense that the Times' call for the impeachment of Gonzales, failing the appointment of a Special Prosecutor, marks a real turning point. The time for word games and politics seems to be coming to an end. It's getting serious.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Say it ain't so

"Justice Dept. Lawyers Join Chorus Criticizing Gonzales."
Daniel J. Metcalfe, a lawyer who began his government career in the Nixon administration and retired from the Justice Department last winter, said morale at the department was worse under Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales than during Watergate.

John S. Koppel, who continues to work at the department as a civil appellate lawyer in Washington, wrote this month that he was “ashamed” of the department and that if Mr. Gonzales told the truth in recent Congressional testimony, “he has been derelict in the performance of his duties and is not up to the job.”

Even though they worry that it may hinder their career prospects, a few current and former Justice Department lawyers have begun to add to the chorus of Mr. Gonzales’s critics who say that the furor over his performance as attorney general, and questions about his truthfulness under oath, could do lasting damage to the department’s work.

It is a view that is widely shared on Capitol Hill, even more so after the grueling questioning of Mr. Gonzales on Tuesday at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing at which his credibility was repeatedly challenged. After the hearing, several Democratic senators called for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate whether he committed perjury on Tuesday.
...
Mr. Metcalfe, the retired lawyer who was the founding director of the department’s Office of Information and Privacy, said in an interview that the questions over Mr. Gonzales’s competence and credibility had shattered morale at the department, especially after the attorney general’s testimony this week before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“When you have an attorney general with his personal integrity and credibility so repeatedly reduced to shreds, not to mention in so public a forum, that’s just antithetical to the very nature of the Justice Department and its role in upholding the rule of law,” Mr. Metcalfe said. “This is the Department of Justice and the attorney general, where absolute integrity is Job 1.”
Poor, naive Mr. Metcalfe. Where have you been for the past 7 years, my friend?

The world is safe from cheese bombs once more

Oh, I guess everybody can relax now. Appears that those in the TSA have it all under control:

The Transportation Security Agency's national security bulletin issued was based on bogus examples that were combined to give the impression of ominous terrorist plotting, CNN reports.

"That bulletin for law enforcement eyes only told of suspicious items recently found in passenger's bags at airport checkpoints, warned that they may signify dry runs for terrorist attacks," CNN's Brian Todd reported Friday afternoon. "Well it turns out none of that is true."

...
"The FBI now says there were valid explanations for all four incidents in that bulletin, and a US government official says no charges will be brought in any of these cases," Todd reported.
...
The FBI maintained "they were right" putting the bogus reports on the TSA bulletin, which is distributed to law enforcement agencies nationwide, Todd reported. Airport security officers must be trained in identifying suspicious packages, even when those packages turn out to be innocuous.
Yes, it's quite amazing how there was such a lag time between the initial reporting of these "incidents" and the now belated disclosure of the crucial information that the incidents were indeed bogus and explained away by the passengers in question. I mean, I am just shocked...

It might be an idea for CNN and other news organizations to go back to basic principles and consider working a little harder to source such stories before breathlessly inciting fear....

Friday, July 27, 2007

Yeah, right

Tony Snow today: we assure you the Attorney General was telling the truth. There is no contradiction between what Gonzales said and what the FBI Director and others have said, even though that's what it certainly looks like. But we can't explain why because then we'd have to kill you.

National security, classified matters...can't talk about it, don't ya know. We'd love to explain but it's all classified. Trust us. We've given so many reasons why you should believe us.

Ooga booga.

Bob Fife watch

Nice spin, Bob:
On Thursday, an Ontario court clerk stamped Mulroney as being in default and issued a judgment for $300,000, interest and court costs.

"One friend said, 'This is desperate hoax by someone who desperately wants attention. This is not a judgment adjudicated by a judge. It is meaningless'," Robert Fife, CTV News' Ottawa bureau chief, said Thursday.

Mulroney's team felt the case should be tried in Quebec, not Ontario, where Schreiber filed his action. As a result, Mulroney's team did not file a defence, he said.

According to sources close to Mulroney, lawyers for both sides agreed to work out the jurisdictional dispute, Fife said. "Then Mr. Schreiber's lawyer suddenly goes to a clerk in the court and goes, 'Hey, Mr. Mulroney didn't file a statement of defence'."

Mulroney's team says its lawyers plan to complain about this to the Law Society of Upper Canada, Fife said.
Do they let you ask questions or do you just write this stuff down in your trusty reporter's notebook?

Bit of a problem for Gonzales

"FBI chief 'contradicts Gonzales'."

So sad. This kind of thing really can't help, can it?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Have a laugh



A fun video made by two women in Colorado for "The Salmon Dance," one of the catchiest songs on the Chemical Brother's new CD, We Are the Night. My favourite CD of the summer, enjoy...:)

Nice

Garth reports on life in Halton, a 905 region riding the Harperites tout as prime territory for their electoral growth in Ontario:
Local Conservatives persuaded the Chamber of Commerce to have environment minister John Baird in for a major speech a few days ago. More in the news that any other minister, Baird was expected to be a major draw. But, not so much. Despite all the promotion and frantic phone calls, the guy had an audience of 44 adults, over a third of which were political staffers and Conservative insiders. He did tell a good joke abut mice, though.

In contrast, Stephane Dion drew 350 people in Halton to a Friday afternoon Town Hall meeting which had less organizational effort. Mr. Dion, like Mr. Baird, spoke about the environment.

The other big event for local Harper Party members was a gala fundraiser in the form of a golf tournament and banquet. There were fewer people than at the Baird event. The photo at the top of this article says it all.
Oh yeah, the 905 territory is just sooooooo ripe for Mini Bush...:)

Hmmmm

Compare these two headlines on the suicide bomb incident in Afghanistan today. Here's the Globe headline: "Canada's top Afghanistan commander narrowly misses huge suicide-bomb blast." And here's CTV.ca: "Top commander escapes death in Afghan attack."

One of these appears inappropriate to me. Can you tell which one?

This seems about right

(Larry Downing/Reuters)

Finally, Rove gets his subpoena from Senator Leahy. A fitting photo to mark the occasion.

Conservative constitutional scholar calls for impeachment on Olbermann's show



Here's Bruce Fein, former Deputy Attorney General in the Reagan administration calling for the impeachment of Bush for his "political crimes against the constitution." These would include, among other things, Bush's spying on Americans, Gitmo's perpetual detention policies without habeas corpus and the Executive Order Bush signed recently permitting him to take away a person's financial resources if, on Bush's say so, a person is deemed to be a "significant risk" of undermining the Bush administration's efforts or policies in Iraq.

Pretty remarkable, in and of itself. To say nothing of this opinion piece in the Washington Post today by two more former Reaganites expressing their objection and shame over Bush's recent clarification - again by Executive Order - of CIA interrogation policies. In a nutshell, they disavow Bush's move because in their view, as long as abusive interrogation techniques are undertaken under the guise of acquiring intelligence or preventing future attacks - as most techniques would be in Bush's perpetual war on terror - "...the president has given the CIA carte blanche to engage in "willful and outrageous acts of personal abuse." Their final appeal in their op-ed is to morality:
In a letter to President James Madison in March 1809, Jefferson observed: "It has a great effect on the opinion of our people and the world to have the moral right on our side." Our leaders must never lose sight of that wisdom.
Witness also this former Reagan Assistant Secretary of the Treasury who gave this warning last week:
Unless Congress immediately impeaches Bush and Cheney, a year from now the US could be a dictatorial police state at war with Iran.
Now whether such public ruptures in the Republican party will come to any consequence is another story. Rove and Bush's GOP is clearly not the same as Reagan's or Bush 41's. But the fact that these people are seeking out higher public profile media outlets to make their cases suddenly is striking.

Surprise! Hillier's leading the news again

And by the looks of the report today, it appears that General Hillier is running our defence policy apparatus. The Conservatives campaign on creating new reserve units? No, I don't think so says the General. Setting aside the substantive policy question about whether or not these units should be created, it seems clear to me that our civilian government should be making that decision, not the General.
Canada's top soldier appears to have sidelined the Conservative government's election promise to create 14 new army reserve units across the country that would be the first line of defence in case of natural or other disasters.

“We're not in the business of creating new reserve units,” Chief of Defence Staff General Rick Hillier told the CBC. “We have sufficient units. … We don't need new units.”

The 14 “territorial defence battalions” were a key element of the Tories' Canada First defence plan as laid out in the 2006 election campaign. Under the proposal, each unit would be made up of 100 regular troops and 400 reservists.

The units were to be established in urban areas across the country. During the campaign, Gordon O'Connor, who went on to become Defence Minister, called them “the first line of response to any disaster.” Tory campaign material referred to them as “new” defence battalions.

Gen. Hillier, who has tussled with Mr. O'Connor before, appears to have won an internal battle to halt the establishment of new reserve units and instead will concentrate on improving existing units.
O'Connor doesn't stand a chance next to this guy...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Harper has Mulroney's seal of approval

Oh yeah, this should give Mini Bush a boost. The classic partisan comes through for his party - who else could utter such material?
"Judging from Prime Minister Harper's first - I guess I could call it 'term' in office, in the sense that there appears to be a break coming - I think he's done exceptionally well," Mulroney said, notwithstanding the present Tory minority's public support has stalled at around 30 per cent in opinion polls.

"In fact, I would say that his government is probably off to the best start of any government that I can remember in my lifetime," added Mulroney, whose gift for eyebrow-lifting hyperbole is the stuff of Ottawa lore.
What is it with these guys and their penchant for Americanizing everything...Harper's first "term"? Pshaw. I'm sure Canadians everywhere will take such bluster and file it appropriately...:)

Gonzales fallout

The consequences of not standing up to Bush on his various illegalities as expressed in an astute piece by Joseph Palermo today:
The political effects of playing nice with Bush and his cronies are threefold:

1). It demoralizes the Democrats' base that was instrumental in putting the Congress in the hands of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid;

2). It emboldens the Bush Administration and Congressional Republicans to stonewall, and energizes their supporters by showing they have the guts to stand and fight; and

3). It shifts the focus from what the Bush regime has wrought these past six years -- a ghastly record the GOP wants swept under the rug -- and gets people thinking about the elections of 2008, instead of the malfeasance we should be attacking right now.
And the prescription:
The Democrats can regain their momentum only by getting tough on Iraq and aggressively investigating the pervasive corruption of the Bush Administration. If witnesses duck subpoenas, the committee chairs must slap contempt of Congress charges on them and demand the convening grand juries.

The House Judiciary Committee should immediately draw up articles of impeachment against Alberto Gonzales; we've listened to his lies long enough. Gonzales is the low hanging fruit for the Democrats. Gonzales should be impeached for lying to Congress and implementing Karl Rove's partisan project at the Justice Department. Only a full on Constitutional showdown this summer can begin to heal the wounds George Bush has inflicted on our republic.
Could not agree more. More perspective on Gonzales' performance yesterday in Time's report. The movement to impeach Gonzales, I predict, will be gaining steam as the weeks go by...

Coincidence?

On the day that two senior Bush advisers are cited for contempt by the House Judiciary Committee, initiating a constitutional showdown the likes of which has not been seen since Watergate, the media is all aflutter with reports about possible terrorist "dry runs" which have been occurring for over a year now. Suspicious items such as blocks of cheese and wires and cell phone chargers have turned up in passenger baggage apparently in combinations that could lead to suggestions of potential terrorist activity. Funny how it is just now coming to light in a leaked TSA memo. And of course, no information is released on the results of the interrogation of such individuals. Results of such interrogations are said to have produced "questionable" responses. No doubt intended to leave people wondering and distracted.

Your semi-daily Olbermann



Covering yesterday's Gonzales hearings...as only he can.

Kinsella catching heat today

For his posting of a photo gag the other day...for what it's worth, his apology seems genuine to me, in particular the last two paragraphs. It might have been better, however, to leave the attack stuff aside, methinks.

Interestingly though, as a bi-product, Kinsella seems to have gotten his pet issue, the issue of the candidacy of one Tory pol, Mr. Randy Hillier, to the level of national media attention.

Meanwhile, more evidence of a slow news day in July...

The poor, beleaguered Harper politicos

I'm sure many a heart will ache today for these people upon turning to the Globe's pages this morning.

Apparently some Conservative political staffers have elicited the media's assistance to enable them to whine about being asked to contribute $1,000 bucks a pop to the Conservative party. Boo freakin' hoo. This is Mini Bush's party, which you all more than willingly support and so if you're expecting some kind of sympathy or public cover to be provided by your leaking of this information...sorry, not going to get it here.

Now on the other hand, Impolitical can completely respect the need to shed some daylight on the heavy hand of the Conservative party and a window being helpfully opened to illuminate for the Canadian public how they treat their own. It's pony up or beeg trouble for the political staffers. Nice.

And to you leakers? You, my friends, seem to have earned yourself a studious eyeing from Sandra Buckler, popping up here once again to put out the internal fires that seem to have been lit. I sense a sternly worded memorandum could be in the works...:)

You have also earned plaudits from a content-challenged blogging public doing its best to make do with the meager Canadian offerings in July. Thank you from all of us...:)

A big shout out to Senator Whitehouse today

One of the perhaps underrated events of yesterday's Gonzales "testimony." It's Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse's presentation of two memos written by former A.G. Ashcroft and A.G. Gonzales that both significantly widened the White House's access to information about ongoing criminal investigations, civil cases and other Justice Department matters. Under the Clinton administration 4 officials in the White House had such access. Because it is inappropriate for the White House to be seen to be interfering in the operations of the Justice Department. You know, to ensure that the Justice Department is free from political interference and does not become a political wing of the White House. Such considerations used to be at work in the U.S. government. Yet in the Bush White House? Such access to the Justice Department was widened to 447 people. Open season. Gonzo appears to have offered himself up as a special conduit to the White House and a plethora of political officials if you look at page 3 of the memo he wrote in May of 2006.



Whitehouse's focus in this clip was on the tremendous expansion of power to the Vice President's office that the widening of the circle of information caused and how "on earth" that could be considered in any way appropriate. What a great job he's been doing in these hearings and what a great addition to the Senate. Anyone in Rhode Island missing Lincoln Chafee? I don't think so...

As always, these are "good questions" and underscore how the Bush White House once again is exposed as boldly and improperly going where no White House has gone before.

And the word coming out of the Gonzales hearings is that the A.G. may be subjected to a perjury inquiry. The A.G. of the United States sticking with his job with the full backing of the President, yet subject to a perjury inquiry. Wouldn't that be something?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Resign - or impeach this oaf



Watch through to the end of Senator Leahy's closing statement, the calls in the Senate hearing room for Gonzales to resign ring out...that's the state of affairs in Gonzales' tenure as A.G. at the moment. Chaos.

Romzi-bin-Al-Shieb



Mitt Romney gets cleverly taken to the cleaners by Olbermann on his smiling and holding up the "No to Obama, Osama and Chelsea's Moma" sign this weekend. Complete with video of Romney's grilling by a voter at a campaign event today. To which Romney's response was, partly, that the questioner should "lighten up." Nice. Not to fleet on your feet there, guy.

A nicely timed focus on Romney's penchant for major league pandering. Just who is this guy, anyway?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Spitzer metes out consequences for politicization of law enforcement

You see, this is what should happen when such improprieties take place. In glaring contrast to the whitewashing of such conduct in Washington, D.C. by Bush, Gonzales, Cheney, et al.

Unreal



Tpmtv's spin around the Sunday talk shows, showing snippets from the key players who made the rounds. I like the way they edit this and cut to the chase on what's being said. The Bush administration's latest high profile flunky, Fran Townsend, the Homeland Security maven, seems to be a new regular on the scene. Her message: the U.S. is safer since 9/11 and the U.S. is not torturing. Despite the National Intelligence Estimate's message this week that Al Qaeda has actually strengthened itself in the years since 9/11. Such reports mean the Bushies must spin for their lives.

The surreal juxtaposition of her appearances against those of leading Democrats is jarring. It's never been more clear that the Bushies continue to speak as if they live in a dream world, oblivious and uncaring about the facts. There's a point at which spin, however, becomes outright absurdity. These people have crossed that line a long time ago.

A Rovian banana republic

Scott Horton's latest salvo against Karl Rove and the stunning - well, somewhat - decision by the corporate dominated print media in Alabama to come to his defense on the allegations he had something to do with the former Democratic governor's prosecution and now conviction:
There are many historical touchstones for Republican leadership: Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Reagan. But Karl Rove has no genuine ideological connection to any of these leaders, nor indeed, to any legitimate philosophy of government; indeed, one of the landmarks on Rove’s résumé is that he was fired by the first President Bush for engaging in dishonest and possibly illegal campaign tricks. And yet there is little question about where most of our friends in the Mobile press stand. They’re in favor of a Rovian banana republic, run by banana Republicans.

Rove reflects the rule-from-the-shadows and any-tactic-is-fine-if-it-works mentality that now hangs like a cloud over our nation. And more often than not his worst victims have been fellow Republicans. Ask John McCain about how he lost the tightly-fought but decisive 2000 Republican primary in South Carolina—in which Rove circulated photographs of McCain with his adopted South Asian daughter, and then had callers ask Republicans whether they were concerned about allegations that McCain had fathered a black child out of wedlock. Yet this is the Press-Register’s favorite flavor of Republican, and Rove’s is the mindset which shapes their vision of the news.
Interesting information cited by Horton as well on Alabama Republicans tiring of the blatant partisanship of the Bush administration:
As one Alabama G.O.P. source told me, he did not want his children growing up in a banana republic–and that’s what he thought Alabama was turning into. Even staunchly conservative Republican Rep. Spencer Bachus of Birmingham has questioned the treatment Siegelman received immediately after his sentencing; similarly, a large number of Republican attorneys general from around the country have flagged the striking irregularities in the Siegelman case as evidence of justice gone off the tracks.
For good measure, there's also news of hostility being displayed toward Alberto Gone-zales within the Justice Department from his own political appointees who believe he should have resigned by now and are giving him the cold shoulder...whether that will do any good, who knows. But at least there's some evidence of Republicans turning against the lawlessness, at long last, that's bubbling up...

A timely reminder of the power of Congress over the war

Adam Cohen in the NY Times today, "Just What the Founders Feared: An Imperial President Goes to War":
The nation is heading toward a constitutional showdown over the Iraq war. Congress is moving closer to passing a bill to limit or end the war, but President Bush insists Congress doesn’t have the power to do it. “I don’t think Congress ought to be running the war,” he said at a recent press conference. “I think they ought to be funding the troops.” He added magnanimously: “I’m certainly interested in their opinion.”

The war is hardly the only area where the Bush administration is trying to expand its powers beyond all legal justification. But the danger of an imperial presidency is particularly great when a president takes the nation to war, something the founders understood well. In the looming showdown, the founders and the Constitution are firmly on Congress’s side.
...
The founders would have been astonished by President Bush’s assertion that Congress should simply write him blank checks for war. They gave Congress the power of the purse so it would have leverage to force the president to execute their laws properly. Madison described Congress’s control over spending as “the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people, for obtaining a redress of every grievance, and for carrying into effect every just and salutary measure.”

The framers expected Congress to keep the president on an especially short leash on military matters. The Constitution authorizes Congress to appropriate money for an army, but prohibits appropriations for longer than two years. Hamilton explained that the limitation prevented Congress from vesting “in the executive department permanent funds for the support of an army, if they were even incautious enough to be willing to repose in it so improper a confidence.”

As opinion turns more decisively against the war, the administration is becoming ever more dismissive of Congress’s role. Last week, Under Secretary of Defense Eric Edelman brusquely turned away Senator Hillary Clinton’s questions about how the Pentagon intended to plan for withdrawal from Iraq. "Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq,” he wrote. Mr. Edelman’s response showed contempt not merely for Congress, but for the system of government the founders carefully created.

The Constitution cannot enforce itself. It is, as the constitutional scholar Edwin Corwin famously observed, an “invitation to struggle” among the branches, but the founders wisely bequeathed to Congress some powerful tools for engaging in the struggle. It is no surprise that the current debate over a deeply unpopular war is arising in the context of a Congressional spending bill. That is precisely what the founders intended.

Members of Congress should not be intimidated into thinking that they are overstepping their constitutional bounds. If the founders were looking on now, it is not Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi who would strike them as out of line, but George W. Bush, who would seem less like a president than a king.
Another well argued case for action against this dangerous president and his single-minded devotion to war...yet I wonder if the clock will simply run out on this presidency, unchecked. The record of the last seven years suggests that is the likeliest scenario.

Bock, bock, bock, bock

What's the matter, Mini Bush? Is someone afraid of running in Ontario?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

What kind of country do we want to live in?



About that military obsession of Steve's...the opposition's on his case. Good: "Opposition questions PM on military spending spree." 22 billion and counting, they say? Biggest build up since WW2? Just freaking incredible. And this is Mini Bush in a minority government situation.

Yet Toronto's got a burgeoning $575 million dollar budgetary shortfall. Explain that one to me, Steve. Full stop. $22 billion on tanks, helicopters and fleet spruce-ups...yet the Mayor is talking about drastic cuts to Canada's largest city. That's an outrage.

Bridges are caving in or near dilapidated in Quebec. Trucks are banned from driving on 135 of them.

And there's no money for the Court Challenges Programme. It's gone. And they didn't care enough to ensure the funding for traditional student summer jobs programs. I mean, when there's guns and ammo to buy, this kind of stuff pales in comparison, right?

To name just a few glaring examples of the misguided priorities of Harper and his crew.

That's what you get with Mini Bush. And I don't know about you, but I can't stand it.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Judgment


Mitt Romney's gut is to say OK to this sign, laugh it up and join in on the fun. Anything goes when you're sucking up to the nasty Republican base, I guess.

It's going to be quite an election in the U.S., isn't it? Starting with Eric Edelman this week - only the latest in a long line, of course - the Republican m.o. will continue to be to conflate the Democrats with terrorists.

Because it worked so well for them in 2006.

Think Mitt owes Obama and Clinton an apology for this crap.

And the military obsession continues

Mini Bush and his gang are still on a military spending spree. And still dumping millions into the Conservatives' precious political target of Quebec in the process. Why not? They're in 3rd place there in a recent poll with 16%. The spending strategy is working wonders!
An air force unit capable of rapid deployment will be established at Canadian Forces Base Bagotville in northwestern Quebec, the government said yesterday, a move seen by some experts as a major shift away from Canada's traditional military role as a peacekeeper.

Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor said the government would spend about $300-million on equipment and other costs to set up the unit, and would add 550 new troops to the base over seven years.

"What this unit does is allow the air force to establish an operating air field anywhere in the world, even in remote areas of the North," Mr. O'Connor said in an interview.

It was the second major military announcement in as many days in a province where the military enjoys less support than in other parts of the country, and where the Conservatives must pick up seats to win a majority government.

On Thursday, Mr. O'Connor announced $200-million in funding to resurrect the Saint-Jean campus of the Royal Military College in Quebec, a move designed to draw more potential francophone officers into the Canadian Forces. CFB Bagotville is the only predominantly French-speaking air base in the country.
Is there a week that goes by when Mini Bush and his crew fail to make some kind of military announcement or appearance?

We call him Mini Bush for good reason here at the Impolitical blog, don't ya know...:)

Romney's culture ad pretty effectively mocked

Watch Mitt's ad:



Now watch this spoof of it:



Pretty clever, hey?

Olbermann tells Bush to go fight his own war



Geez...and to think I missed this because I had a plumber at my house...doh!

This is Keith's special comment from Thursday night on the absolutely putrid letter by Eric Edelman, under secretary of defense, launched at Senator Clinton the other day, accusing her of propagating enemy propaganda by simply asking responsible questions of the Pentagon about withdrawal from Iraq. And for having the nerve to ask for a public discussion of this momentous issue. Imagine.

If I were an American, I would be as outraged as Olbermann clearly is here. And he clearly feels the need to beat this nascent line of attack back before it takes hold. And to once again utter the impeachment word...

Friday, July 20, 2007

Rant away

The great enabling of the great lawbreaker continues:
OK, let me see if I can sum this up.

There's a scandal in the government: the White House is being investigated as to whether it violated the law by expressly politicizing the operations of the United States Department of Justice, essentially rendering the very laws of the land into weapons of a political party. During the investigation as to whether the Justice Department has been illegally politicized, Congress seeks the testimony of individuals who worked at the White House and who were known to have engaged in the conversations in question. The president blocks their testimony, under claims of executive privilege. The president and his Justice Department -- the one being investigated -- then assert that they will refuse to enforce any legal actions against the White House or administration members as a result of those acts.

To repeat: in an investigation into the politicalization of the Justice Department by the president, an investigation that has turned up numerous accusations that members of the Department of Justice were directed to enforce the law unequally, the president is blocking the investigation... by ordering the Justice Department to not enforce the law.

Yes, I think that might count as "politicizing the Justice Department".


It is itself obstruction, there is no possible question of that. The difference between this and Nixon's infamous "Saturday Night Massacre" is that Bush, unlike Nixon, doesn't have to fire anyone to obstruct the investigation into possible illegal acts by his administration. (And to the extent he did, he already fired those people -- the entire point of the current investigation to begin with.)
And the key point:
Back in the days of Watergate, Nixon was opposed by Republicans of conscience: people within Congress and the Justice Department who, despite sharing a party affiliation with Nixon, knew that illegal acts were illegal acts, and would not condone them. The difference between then and now is that there are no such men and women surrounding the president or within his party. The president never cared to surround himself with people of integrity: his party has been purged of all but the most obsequious.

And that is why the scandal is still not recognized as a scandal in his own party or in the compliant arms of administration-friendly advocates: because in order for a violation of law or Constitution to be condemned, it requires people of integrity to condemn it. Any such voices, if they existed, would have already abandoned this president long ago; all that remain are sycophants nearly by definition.

So as of yet, mere violations of constitutional law remain seen as mere partisan squabbles. There is insufficient moral fiber within a hundred miles of the president for either press or party to declare it as anything worse.
Leading Senate Republicans oppose the president's Iraq policy yet when it comes time to vote, they adhere to the party line. Voinovich, Lugar, Warner. Cowards, all.

When will these people break from this disastrous presidency?

Discussing withdrawal from Iraq = aiding the enemy

Good for her: "Clinton strikes back at Pentagon aide." There's not going to be any swift-boating this time round.

The lawless presidency gets worse for Americans

Bush is expanding his claim of executive privilege in the case of the U.S. attorney firings to the point where he is insisting the Justice Department cannot pursue contempt charges against White House officials. He's saying that if he invokes executive privilege, that's the end of the story. No legal review applies and Bush won't let the Justice Department pursue the contempt. That's revolutionary. The President is above the law, people.
Bush administration officials unveiled a bold new assertion of executive authority yesterday in the dispute over the firing of nine U.S. attorneys, saying that the Justice Department will never be allowed to pursue contempt charges initiated by Congress against White House officials once the president has invoked executive privilege.

The position presents serious legal and political obstacles for congressional Democrats, who have begun laying the groundwork for contempt proceedings against current and former White House officials in order to pry loose information about the dismissals.

Under federal law, a statutory contempt citation by the House or Senate must be submitted to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, "whose duty it shall be to bring the matter before the grand jury for its action."

But administration officials argued yesterday that Congress has no power to force a U.S. attorney to pursue contempt charges in cases, such as the prosecutor firings, in which the president has declared that testimony or documents are protected from release by executive privilege. Officials pointed to a Justice Department legal opinion during the Reagan administration, which made the same argument in a case that was never resolved by the courts.

"A U.S. attorney would not be permitted to bring contempt charges or convene a grand jury in an executive privilege case," said a senior official, who said his remarks reflect a consensus within the administration. "And a U.S. attorney wouldn't be permitted to argue against the reasoned legal opinion that the Justice Department provided. No one should expect that to happen."
Expect a flood of opinion opposing this move:
Mark J. Rozell, a professor of public policy at George Mason University who has written a book on executive-privilege issues, called the administration's stance "astonishing."

"That's a breathtakingly broad view of the president's role in this system of separation of powers," Rozell said. "What this statement is saying is the president's claim of executive privilege trumps all."
This is going to get a lot worse. That is, it better get a lot worse. Or the rule of law in the U.S. is clearly no match for this U.S. president.

Of course they're getting away with it

Well, it's almost complete. The Bush White House outed an undercover CIA operative and they're going to get clean away with it. Patrick Fitzgerald nailed Libby...Bush commutes his sentence. The Wilsons sue the gallery of rogues, Cheney, Rove et al. for their leaking of her name...lawsuit gets thrown out yesterday. For these ludicrous grounds:
U.S. District Judge John D. Bates said that Cheney and the others could not be held liable for the disclosures in the summer of 2003 in the midst of a White House effort to rebut criticism of the Iraq war by her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV. The judge said that such efforts are a natural part of the officials' job duties, and, thus, they are immune from liability.

"The alleged means by which defendants chose to rebut Mr. Wilson's comments and attack his credibility may have been highly unsavory," Bates wrote. "But there can be no serious dispute that the act of rebutting public criticism, such as that levied by Mr. Wilson against the Bush administration's handling of prewar foreign intelligence, by speaking with members of the press is within the scope of defendants' duties as high-level Executive Branch officials."
Implicit in the judge's reasoning is the notion that outing a CIA agent is something that is done in the ordinary course of these officials' duties. That is simply incredible. Yes, political officials should be able to rebut political charges in the media. That's part of their job. But to ruin someone's career upon which their anonymity depends? Someone who was working on weapons of mass destruction issues in relation to Iran, undercover? This seems strangely misguided to be protecting officials for such activity.

Just incredible. Par for the course, says the judge.

What an absolute travesty this entire mess has been. Karl Rove's still smirking away in the White House and a CIA operative's career is ruined, not to mention the operations she was involved in over the years. Too bad, so sad. You're but roadkill for the political necessities of Bush's disastrous White House years.

Is Harper using the military for political purposes...again?

Whenever he gets the opportunity to play commander in chief, he's right on it: "Harper greets sailors in photo-op." And my oh my, isn't it interesting how a Canadian frigate is coincidentally in Barbados at the same time as Mini Bush? Is he using taxpayer funds simply for the purpose of letting him play GI Joe once again? As the backdrop for future campaign ads? Sandra Buckler's explanation for the out of the way journey for the ship sounds a little stretched when read in conjunction with the military spokesman's. I don't believe it for a minute.

You know, you'd think we were a big military country or something with his repeated military appearances. It's frankly quite out of sorts to the Canadian psyche. Never seen anything like this before. But keep it up, Mini Bush. We know it's really all about this:



Imagine me coming across such a banner on a recent jaunt out of the country...thought it was very Steve-appropriate for his many photo-op stagings...:)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

I love me a good anti-Harper headline in the morning

Is there anything better, people? Here it is: "Harper failing to win country over." That is such a shame, now. Why, whatever could be the problem?
Discomfort with Stephen Harper's Conservatives is deepening among women, francophones and wealthier Canadians, according to a new poll that puts the government in a dead heat with the Liberals in popular support.
Please, do go on.
Compared with one year ago, when they were at 37-per-cent support, the Tories find themselves less popular among women, French-speaking Canadians and voters who earn more than $100,000 a year.

“The gender gap, in particular, is a potential problem for them,” said Peter Donolo of the Strategic Counsel, which conducted the survey. “And it's really pronounced in support for sending troops to Afghanistan.”
Afghanistan? You don't say. You mean the mission which Steve has wholeheartedly and enthusiastically rah-rahed for over a year now? Yeah, turning out to be a bit of a problem.
Mr. Donolo said the drop in support among the more affluent may be due to the decision to tax income trusts and a spate of foreign takeovers of Canadian companies, while the decline among women and francophones is almost certainly due to the numbers of Canadian soldiers who have been killed in Afghanistan.

The poll shows that 26 per cent of women would vote for the Conservatives if an election were held today, compared with 32 per cent in June of 2006, while 17 per cent of French speakers would vote Conservative compared with 25 per cent from one year ago.

When it comes to Canadians earning $100,000 or more, the drop is precipitous, with 31 per cent saying they would vote Conservative, compared with 49 per cent one year ago.
Got to love those income trust billboards. Other highlights:
Women may be uncomfortable with Mr. Harper's combative style, said Mr. Donolo.
Why yes, we are. Thanks for noticing. And oh, what's this? The summer world tour's not turning out as planned:
With the sitting over, some party members had expected the Conservatives' support would rebound, but cross-Canada touring by the Prime Minister has not done the trick.
Think that G8 turn where Mini Bush enabled Bush's do-nothing approach on the environment had something to do with all this? It just may be. To me, that's one of the most high profile Harper actions of the last six months. That and, of course, the trips to Afghanistan and the botched handling of the detainee issue.

It's so refreshing to read such good news first thing in the morning...:)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Steve's making friends everywhere he goes

Can't recall the last time this happened: "Protesters say 'Harper go home' on PM's last day in Chile."

Steve certainly evokes a response on the international scene, doesn't he? Not necessarily of the good kind, however...:)

Harper's preoccupation with the military solution

More evidence of Steve's obsession today: "Afghanistan could be world threat without increased military presence: Harper." Gee, I think there's a few world threats we have on our hands, Steve. And we can't possibly solve it all militarily. Namely Iraq and now Pakistan, increasingly making the news for its special Al Qaeda spa (as Maureen Dowd referred to it today) in them there hills of Waziristan:
While the administration lavishes billions on Pakistan, including $750 million in a risible attempt to win “hearts and minds” in tribal areas where Al Qaeda leaders are hiding and training, President Musharraf has helped create a quiet mountain retreat, a veritable terrorism spa, for Osama and Ayman al-Zawahiri to refresh themselves and get back in shape.
Comic, yes, but sadly, looks to be true. This has been reported for months now:
Senior leaders of Al Qaeda operating from Pakistan have re-established significant control over their once-battered worldwide terror network and over the past year have set up a band of training camps in the tribal regions near the Afghan border, according to American intelligence and counterterrorism officials.

American officials said there was mounting evidence that Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, had been steadily building an operations hub in the mountainous Pakistani tribal area of North Waziristan. Until recently, the Bush administration had described Mr. bin Laden and Mr. Zawahri as detached from their followers and cut off from operational control of Al Qaeda.

The United States has also identified several new Qaeda compounds in North Waziristan, including one that officials said might be training operatives for strikes against targets beyond Afghanistan.
Not to mention the burgeoning home grown threats in evidence in Britain, in particular, that are likely to keep festering. Now unless we're going to substantially build up our own reserves, and get other European NATO partners to miraculously hup to, we can't possibly stabilize this entire region militarily. For Harper's military solution in Afghanistan to succeed, it would take years and likely an expansion into Pakistan's border regions. Pakistan being, of course, the nuclear power teetering on the brink as Pervez Musharraf clings to his military control.

We simply don't have enough military to go around. International plans to deal intelligently with such threats by attacking the root causes need to be the priority. Sadly, in the era of the Bush administration, such thoughtful international leadership has proven impossible to establish. It's military solutions that predominate international discourse.

The military as a tool is but one part of the solution and Harper is inappropriately leaning on it as the backbone of the Afghanistan operation. This emphasis, marked by the domestic prominence of General Hillier in Defence department access to information matters regarding the Afghan mission and public relations efforts to sell the mission, is sorely misplaced. It's antithetical to the deep-seated views Canadians traditionally have of our role in the world. And perhaps why polls are in a downward trend on support for the Afghanistan mission.

Hilarious



Check out the "David Vitter song." "A married father of four, runnin' around with whores...that ain't what Louisiana needs..."...:)

Hillier being called on the carpet

Good for Dawn Black, leading the charge today with an excellent question on Hillier's involvement in blocking freedom of information on the detainee file:
The NDP has threatened to haul General Rick Hillier before a House of Commons committee unless the Department of National Defence explains within 10 days the “stonewalling and unreasonable delays in obtaining detainee records.”

In a formal letter addressed to Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor, NDP defence critic Dawn Black said she will move to recall the standing committee on national defence and call Gen. Hillier, the deputy minister and “all relevant officials” to testify – unless the department provides “an explanation of the rationale, legal or otherwise, for the department to deny the release of information related to detainees.”

The letter also calls for an explanation of Gen. Hillier's involvement in the decision not to release the documents. Ms. Black said in an interview that she is most concerned with the lack of civilian oversight concerning how to apply the access-to-information process at National Defence.

“From my reading of the Access to Information Act, the only position for the Chief of Defence Staff is that he's subject to the act. He's not meant to administer the act,” she said.
Denis Coderre's been on the job too, it must be said.

This is a fine point to be pursuing. Just what is the General's authority to be reviewing such requests for information? Is that the proper bailiwick of General Hillier or has he stuck his nose in a bit too far with this? We are in need of some serious civilian oversight here.

Meanwhile, Gordon O'Connor's still looking hopelessly irrelevant as the General continues to suck up all of his oxygen...

W's a loser, let us count the ways

Fine column in the Washington Post today, with the brilliant title "Why Bush Is A Loser." It's David Corn's "rebuttal" to Bill Kristol's unreal Sunday column in the Washington Post bizarrely predicting Bush's presidency will be deemed a successful one ("Why Bush Will Be A Winner"). Here's Corn:
Who knew Bill Kristol had such a flair for satire?

How else to read his piece for Outlook on Sunday, in which he declared, "George W. Bush's presidency will probably be a successful one"? Surely Kristol, the No. 1 cheerleader for the Iraq war, was mocking himself (and his neoconservative pals) for having been so mistaken about so much. But just in case his article was meant to be a serious stab at commentary, let's review Kristol's record as a prognosticator.
Corn then goes on to review Kristol's abysmal record in predicting success for Bush at many key junctures of his presidency...and then on to Bush's record on Iraq, Afghanistan, you know, all the great accomplishments of the man. And sums up in fine form:
It's remarkable what Kristol leaves out of his bizarro-world view of Bush the Great: Hurricane Katrina, the collapse of the Justice Department, global warming, and much else. An American city was practically destroyed on Bush's watch, but that merits no consideration in Kristol's case for Bush. The Justice Department -- run by Bush cronies accused of corruption, incompetence, or both -- is in tatters. (A former department official tells me the administration is having a hard time finding people willing to fill the vacancies at the top.) And though Bush begrudgingly conceded that global warming is underway and human-induced, he has taken no significant steps to redress this pressing problem. If one wants to peer into the future, it could well be that Bush will be judged a failure more for his inaction on global warming than for his action in Iraq. Vetoing stem cell research legislation, commuting Scooter Libby's prison sentence, rewriting clean air rules to benefit industry, pushing tax breaks for oil companies, suppressing the work of scientists, enhancing government secrecy -- Bush has repeatedly placed parochial interests over the public interest.

The Bush-Cheney years have been marked by ineptitude, miscalculation, and scandal. A successful presidency? Bush will be lucky if he gets a public elementary school in his adopted hometown of Crawford, Tex., named after him. He has placed this country in a hole. Yet Kristol, with shovel in hand, points to that hole and says, Trust me -- we're about to strike oil!

If it's true that history repeats first as tragedy and then as farce, Kristol has short-circuited the process and gone straight to parody. His Bush boosterism -- an act of self-justification -- would be amusing were it not for all the damage he has helped Bush to cause.
Well said.

Straightforward talk on Iraq



Cindy Sheehan's appearance on Hardball yesterday. Nice job.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Bush in a different universe and David Brooks likes it

David Brooks' column today, "Heroes and History," is positively in awe of Bush. Brooks attended Bush's recent press conference and is stunned by Bush's upbeat demeanour. Throwing the record low approval ratings aside, and the judgment of such a large segment of his fellow citizens who are so ready to move on from Bush, Brooks nevertheless gushes about Bush's self-confidence and uncanny abilities to read other leaders in the world. This somehow leaves Brooks with a sliver of hope that Iraq just might turn out OK, if Bush is right.
Rather, his self-confidence survives because it flows from two sources. The first is his unconquerable faith in the rightness of his Big Idea. Bush is convinced that history is moving in the direction of democracy, or as he said Friday: “It’s more of a theological perspective. I do believe there is an Almighty, and I believe a gift of that Almighty to all is freedom. And I will tell you that is a principle that no one can convince me that doesn’t exist.”

Second, Bush remains energized by the power of the presidency. Some presidents complain about the limits of the office. But Bush, despite all the setbacks, retains a capacious view of the job and its possibilities.

Conservatives are supposed to distrust government, but Bush clearly loves the presidency. Or to be more precise, he loves leadership. He’s convinced leaders have the power to change societies. Even in a place as chaotic as Iraq, good leadership makes all the difference.
...
He is confident in his ability to read other leaders: Who has courage? Who has a chip on his shoulder? And he is confident that in reading the individual character of leaders, he is reading the tablet that really matters. History is driven by the club of those in power. When far-sighted leaders change laws and institutions, they have the power to transform people.

Many will doubt this, but Bush is a smart and compelling presence in person, and only the whispering voice of Leo Tolstoy holds one back.
Must be tough being a conservative in the U.S. these days. Salvaging some glimmer of hope from this loon, like the stretch in evidence here, must be absolutely embarrassing and excruciating.

Talk about "ridiculous"

Steve, boldly going where only he and W dare to go:
The United States Congress blocked President George W. Bush's free trade deal with Colombia earlier this month, citing human rights concerns and the failure to investigate and prosecute paramilitaries.
No such concerns for the oblivious Harper though...we are so proud.

No more taxes please, this Torontonian has had enough

Good: "Miller suffers tax plan defeat." Gotta say, I am sick to death of my property taxes climbing and climbing and climbing since Mayor Miller came to town. This guy gets the power to tax and he's off to the races. Enough is enough. Glad to see the Toronto council stand up and say no by deferring this decision until the provincial election campaign occurs and political pressure can be applied by the city. That's a no brainer.

Another idea would be to set the GST back to 7% and give 1 cent of it back to municipalities. The 1 cent cut has made little to no difference in my purchasing power. It might as well be spent by municipalities to invest in their infrastructure and services. Any federal takers?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Mini Bush up to his old tricks

Following in his buddy's footsteps by pursuing a free trade deal with Uribe of Colombia, one of W's prominent allies in Latin America who was recently at the White House. If he's OK with W, he's OK with Mini Bush. Washington again proves to be the guiding hand for the Harper administration.

And Steve sounds a little testy today, doesn't he?
"When we see a country like Columbia that has decided it has to address its social, political and economic problems, it wants to embrace economic freedom, it wants to embrace political democracy and human rights and social development, then we say we we're in," said Harper.

"We're there to encourage you and help you. We're not going to say 'fix all your social, political and human rights problems, and only then will we engage in trade relations with you.' That's a ridiculous position."
He just can't help himself from going a bit too far, can he? How dare anyone question Canada's trade policy and simultaneous considerations of human rights...that's ridiculous...

Lol

Nearly fell off my chair laughing at this one: "General Hillier says he's no politician-in-waiting."

See earlier post from this morning and make your own judgments.

Methinks the General doth protest too much. Have fun with this one today, kiddies...:)

Go get 'em Senator Webb



Love this guy...:) Tears Lindsey Graham a little piece of reality and tells some truth. Good for him. The Democrats need to have him out in front on Iraq much more frequently. Lindsey Graham asking Webb if he's ever been to Iraq? Get real...Webb's son just got back from duty in Iraq. A little bit of drama on an issue that's going to tear at Americans more intensely as this "surge" comes up for debate, as they're all clearly positioning themselves to do in advance of September.

Powerful little video



Gee, this kind of stuff could make a person really freakin' mad on a Monday morning...

Enlisting Hillier to help Harper's political fortunes in Quebec

Oh, he's on the job all right and it's more than a little inappropriate:
As more than 2,000 Quebec-based troops are deployed to Afghanistan this summer, the Canadian Forces are opening up a new front – a political and public relations battle to win over the support of Quebeckers for the mission.

The foot soldiers in that battle will be the 180 from the Royal 22nd Regiment, headquartered at Valcartier military base near Quebec City, who return from their tour of duty in Afghanistan over the next few weeks. Their experience in conducting security for the provincial reconstruction team at Camp Nathan Smith near Kandahar will be used to help sell the mission to Quebeckers who remain skeptical about the role of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan.

“There is a greater need for education,” Chief of Defence Staff General Rick Hillier said in a telephone interview. “When they come home and get a chance to talk to friends, neighbours and community organizations, clubs, schools, and get a chance to tell the story of what they were doing, what they engaged in and what values they see, that will be one aspect of helping Quebeckers … understand better why Canada is doing what it is doing.”
And why is there such a pressing need to get the military to sell the mission in Quebec?
The Harper government could pay a heavy political price should the involvement of the Vandoos and other Quebec-based soldiers produce heavy casualties in the province and reinforce the negative opinions Quebeckers have about the mission.
This is flat out obscene. And the General should refrain from being co-opted to assist Stephen Harper's electoral fortunes. But he's not. He's in it up to his eyeballs:
In its bid to influence public opinion, the Canadian Forces have invited the Quebec media to examine the mission first-hand and witness for themselves Canada's military and reconstruction role in Kandahar.

“We will have embedded media from Quebec. They will get outside the wire at Kandahar Airfield, they will get outside the wire of the provincial reconstruction team – they will get an opportunity to tell the story, good, bad or indifferent,” Gen. Hillier said.
It's up to the political leadership to oversee the military and oversee this mission. It's their responsibility to sell it and communicate with the public on it's merits, problems and issues. Not the military. This just doesn't seem to pass the smell test.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Very sad

A friendly fire death of a Canadian soldier last September 2006 from the strafing of a U.S. pilot was preventable, it has been found. The report was released late Friday, as bad news usually is. The worst part:
"The incident was preventable," the report concludes. "If the incident pilot had verified the target using the targeting pod and heads-up display, he would have realized his error and discontinued the attack."
And still more in the worst category, the breaking of the U.S. military costs lives:
The report also found fault with the forward air controllers, saying their pre-deployment training was insufficient to prepare them for the challenges of Operation Medusa.




Details of recent U.S. friendly fire incidents, background:
Graham's death is the most recent friendly fire fatality among Canadian troops.

Last week, a U.S. army investigator recommended no charges be filed against an American machine-gunner who killed Canadian army Pte. Robert Costall during a battle in March 2006 in Afghanistan.

That recommendation was in documents released by the U.S. army about the friendly fire deaths of Costall and Vermont National Guard First Sgt. John Thomas Stone. They said the deaths, while regrettable, were understandable in the context of the firefight.

The Canadian Department of National Defence released a statement saying its own investigations of that incident have been completed and authorities were reviewing the findings.

In 2002, four Canadian soldiers were killed and eight wounded when a U.S. F-16 fighter mistakenly bombed them during a pre-dawn training exercise.