Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Years

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

"Raymond" star has regrets

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

Seen on the Washington Post site

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

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

A must-read op-ed by Richard Clarke today

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Riveting account of Saddam's last minutes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Video of Saddam before hanging

(AFP/Al Iraqyia)

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



CNN also has a link on its home page.

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

The most expensive personal vendetta ever?

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

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

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

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

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

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

CNN should show the hanging

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

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

Bush slept through Saddam execution

CNN just reported. There's a surprise.

What an incompetent ass.

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

Friday, December 29, 2006

Matthews candid on American involvement in the hanging

On Saddam's hanging

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

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

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

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

The lighter side...

Soldiers falling, Bush escalating

(REUTERS/Kimberly White)

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

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

Help, we're melting

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

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

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

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

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

New Orleans police officers indicted for Katrina bridge shootings

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

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

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

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

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

More coverage here...

Thursday, December 28, 2006

John Edwards getting started



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

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

Bush's tipping point

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

I'm sick of these people



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

Impeachment of Bush

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

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

Bob Woodward: crypt keeper

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Mini Bush fessing up to breaking finance laws

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

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

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

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

Fun with states

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

I didn't know Dick Cheney was in Toronto

"Man shot in face."

More on that rude awakening for W

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

News flash: Bush still doesn't get it

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

U.S. arrests Iranians in Iraq

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

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Somebody's having a white Christmas



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

Friday, December 22, 2006

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

Read this little item and then answer the question.

A blacked out day for the White House

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

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

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

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

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

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

An opening in Iran

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

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

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

Deal with it

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

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Times to run Iran op-ed by administration critic

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

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

Idiot watch

Today's winner: Donald Trump.

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

Mini Bush's Pandora's Box

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

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

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

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

Hey W

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

Student unrest in Iran

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Funny clothing label



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

Thanks to disco for the tip...:)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Cheney to be called as a Libby witness

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

Flack coming back?

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

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

Washington Post gets in on the Clinton marriage action

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

Yawn.

Bush critic on Iran policy being censored



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

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

Here's a little video gift



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

Monday, December 18, 2006

Colin Powell puts the kibosh on increasing the troops in Iraq

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

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

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

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

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

Mini Bush Time Canada's newsmaker of the year?


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

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

Saturday, December 16, 2006

I am Time Magazine's person of the year

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

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

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

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

Olbermann on Rumsfeld's farewell tour



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

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

Saturday video



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

Friday, December 15, 2006

Is your password "password1"?

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

W's green Texas roots

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

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

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

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

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

Creepy speculation

Let this Senator get well. Enough said.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Rove to retire after W's term up?

From political consulting, that is, according to Novakula.

That would be a darn shame.

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


Bush aviator action figure.

Really.

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

Mini Bush opening a can of worms

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

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

Jon Stewart says goodbye to Rumsfeld



Classic.

Tony Snow taking the heat

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

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

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

Saudis kick in for W

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Gore still kicking it around

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

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

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

Monday, December 11, 2006

Taliban regrouping in Afghanistan

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 10, 2006

WTF? Rumsfeld does farewell tour

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

The L word

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

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

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

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

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

Do ya think?

"Regulators Study Tighter Controls on Polonium 210."

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Friday, December 08, 2006

Christmas video



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

Leverage

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

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

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

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

Mini Bush loses his gay bashing motion

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

Thankfully, he and his ilk are outnumbered.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

I think I'm catching the Christmas spirit after all

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

Good for Leahy and good riddance to Specter

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

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

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

Iraq study group releases its findings

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The politics of risk management

There's an interesting idea in one of the Times' guest columns today by Thomas Edsall, "Risk and Reward," suggesting American politics of late can be viewed under the rubric of risk management. I hadn't thought of it that way at all so I found this intriguing.
The G.O.P. is the party of risk, aggression, military assertion and dominance — an approach that led to the implosion in Iraq and the Republicans’ defeat in November. Now the Democrats have a chance to demonstrate a core difference in how the two parties calculate and manage risk.

In “Fiasco,” Thomas Ricks describes the results of the Republican approach: “Bush’s decision to invade Iraq ... ultimately may come to be seen as one of the most profligate actions in the history of American foreign policy. ... The U.S.-led invasion was launched recklessly, with a flawed plan for war and a worse approach to occupation.”

While inflicting destruction on the Iraqis, Bush multiplied America’s enemies and endangered this nation’s military, economic health and international stature. Courting risk without managing it, Bush repeatedly and remorselessly failed to accurately evaluate the consequences of his actions. (emphasis added)
And I guess I'd have to add that you'd think the first MBA President would have a better sense of risk management...but of course, you'd be wrong.

Farewell to the moustache

Bolton resigns. Another of Cheney's pals bites the dust.

That's a shame...:)

Sunday, December 03, 2006

"Staunch federalist" wins in Alberta

They call him "Steady Eddie." Sounds like we ended up with two new leaders on the national scene yesterday who are both strong federalists, one from Quebec, one from Alberta. Good news all around.

Bush "Talking to the Walls"

Here's an excerpt from a particularly feisty Frank Rich today, "Has He Started Talking to the Walls?" on Bush's departure from reality:
IT turns out we’ve been reading the wrong Bob Woodward book to understand what’s going on with President Bush. The text we should be consulting instead is “The Final Days,” the Woodward-Bernstein account of Richard Nixon talking to the portraits on the White House walls while Watergate demolished his presidency. As Mr. Bush has ricocheted from Vietnam to Latvia to Jordan in recent weeks, we’ve witnessed the troubling behavior of a president who isn’t merely in a state of denial but is completely untethered from reality. It’s not that he can’t handle the truth about Iraq. He doesn’t know what the truth is.

The most startling example was his insistence that Al Qaeda is primarily responsible for the country’s spiraling violence. Only a week before Mr. Bush said this, the American military spokesman on the scene, Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, called Al Qaeda “extremely disorganized” in Iraq, adding that “I would question at this point how effective they are at all at the state level.” Military intelligence estimates that Al Qaeda makes up only 2 percent to 3 percent of the enemy forces in Iraq, according to Jim Miklaszewski of NBC News. The bottom line: America has a commander in chief who can’t even identify some 97 percent to 98 percent of the combatants in a war that has gone on longer than our involvement in World War II.
...
I have not been one to buy into the arguments that Mr. Bush is stupid or is the sum of his “Bushisms” or is, as feverish Internet speculation periodically has it, secretly drinking again. I still don’t. But I have believed he is a cynic — that he could always distinguish between truth and fiction even as he and Karl Rove sold us their fictions. That’s why, when the president said that “absolutely, we’re winning” in Iraq before the midterms, I just figured it was more of the same: another expedient lie to further his partisan political ends.

But that election has come and gone, and Mr. Bush is more isolated from the real world than ever. That’s scary. Neither he nor his party has anything to gain politically by pretending that Iraq is not in crisis. Yet Mr. Bush clings to his delusions with a near-rage — watch him seethe in his press conference with Mr. Maliki — that can’t be explained away by sheer stubbornness or misguided principles or a pat psychological theory. Whatever the reason, he is slipping into the same zone as Woodrow Wilson did when refusing to face the rejection of the League of Nations, as a sleepless L.B.J. did when micromanaging bombing missions in Vietnam, as Ronald Reagan did when checking out during Iran-Contra. You can understand why Jim Webb, the Virginia senator-elect with a son in Iraq, was tempted to slug the president at a White House reception for newly elected members of Congress. Mr. Bush asked “How’s your boy?” But when Mr. Webb replied, “I’d like to get them out of Iraq,” the president refused to so much as acknowledge the subject. Maybe a timely slug would have woken him up.
You're not alone today, Frank - in fact, you never are on the topic of Bush's failures - here's a companion piece today, "Move Over, Hoover."

Worst, President, ever.

Rumsfeld's memo

Gee, Michael Gordon's a busy guy. Prominent classified memos from the Bush administration are leaking his way on a regular basis these days. I thought the Bushites hated the New York Times? Or is that only at election time? Otherwise, it's still the paper of record when they need it to be.

The memo of the day? One of Rumsfeld's last official acts before the axe fell upon him. Stating that Iraq's gone to hell and even speculating about Murtha's redeployment plan. My goodness gracious, what a hennypenny he suddenly became in those last few days once he knew that the jig was up. One last effort to go on record about the grand mess he'd helped to create. Ensuring he'd go out not being viewed as completely delusional, so they couldn't hang it all on him. Guess it's leaked now so he can weigh in before the Iraq Study Group's report which is imminent and about to dump a bunch of reality on Washington.

Destined to become a classic in the annals of CYA memos...

Mini Bush playing politics with gay people's rights again

Displaying once again his small-minded, intolerant view of Canada, holding his promised vote on "revisiting" same-sex marriage.

Rock the house, Mini Bush, go right ahead with your right wing social conservative agenda. You likely don't have the votes, but heck, just go right ahead and play politics with people's lives. Demonstrate your cravenness, I say!

That's a shame

Looks like there won't be a wingnut at the helm in Alberta...:) Yeah, I'm talking about you, Ted Morton...

Saturday, December 02, 2006

You're being tracked

Travellers to the U.S., bet you didn't know this:
The U.S. government knows where you sat on your last cross-border flight, how you paid for your ticket, your email address, your phone number, even your special meal requests in the past.

They won't let you look at the information but they can share it with law enforcement agencies, foreign governments, even public health agencies and they can keep the dossiers compiled on millions of Canadian travellers for up to 40 years.

It's all in the name of assigning you a score as a potential terrorist under a program known as the Automated Targeting System (ATS).
Yes, we're all potential terrorists to our neighbour to the south...:) Thanks for keeping my personal info on file and doing god knows what with it. God bless America!

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Energy Wall

Tom Friedman today, "The Energy Wall," with what is likely to become a common sense long-term solution to the problem Iraq and other oil riddled Middle Eastern countries pose to the world:
But how do we insulate ourselves from the madness of the Middle East — if Iraq and Afghanistan can’t be made to work — without giving up on reform there, which is still badly needed?

Build a virtual wall. End our oil addiction.

We need to end our dependence on this part of the world for energy, because it is debilitating for us and for them. It is terrible for us, because addicts never tell the truth to their pushers. We are the oil addicts and they are the oil pushers. The only way we can be brutally honest with them is if we undertake the necessary conservation measures, investments in renewable fuels and a gasoline tax hike that could make us energy independent.

I do not want my girls to live a world where the difference between a good day and bad day is whether Moktada al-Sadr lets Iraq’s prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, meet with the U.S. president or whether certain Arab regimes alter what their textbooks say about non-Muslims. I wish them all well, but I don’t want them impacting my life and I don’t want to be roiling theirs, and the only reason we are so intertwined now is O-I-L.

Not only would ending our oil addiction protect us from the worst in the Arab-Muslim world, it would help us support the best. These regimes will never reform as long as they enjoy windfall oil profits, which allow them to maintain closed societies with archaic education systems and protected industries that can’t compete globally. The small Persian Gulf state of Bahrain just held its second free election, in which women could vote and run. Bahrain is also the first Arab gulf state to start running out of oil. No accident.