Saturday, July 21, 2007

America deserves good answers

By Libby Spencer

I stole the heading for this post from the ad banner that runs above William "Krazy" Kristol's latest parody piece, disguised as a serious editorial. It's an ad for auto insurance or something, but it struck me as a remarkably true statement. Unfortunately, America won't be finding any of those in the underlying text of Kristol's latest kraziness.

Kristol's current rewrite of his threadbare arguments is barely worth quoting. As Steve Benen points out, he's like an old scratched vinyl 45, endlessly repeating a vacuous recording made in 2003. However, a couple of his points brought out the snark in me. In speaking of Cindy Sheehan, he notes,

When she became an embarrassment, she, like others before her, was tossed onto the trash heap of history by her progressive minders.

Leaving aside the lack of merit in the statement, I can't help but think that it's too bad the neo-conservanuts are unable to recognize when one of their own has become such an embarrassment, else Kristol would be keeping Cindy company in his imaginary bin. But it was his closing statement that raised the biggest sardonic chuckle.

They are our best and bravest, fighting for all of us against a brutal enemy in a difficult and frustrating war. They are the 9/11 generation. The left slanders them. We support them. More than that, we admire them.

We anticipate that William will be showing his support and admiration by immediately moving his office to the Baghdad embassy, from whence he can dispense his tender accolades personally to the troops he so reveres. Perhaps he might even be persuaded to demonstrate his conviction on the surge's success by joining in the Pentagon's new PR efforts and walking around outside of the Green Zone, making eye contact while smiling warmly and waving to the people.

That's a mission this progressive would gladly support -- and admire.

(Cross-posted at The Impolitic.)

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A test for Gates, revisited

By Creature

On Thursday we learned that former Cheney aide, and always neocon, Undersecretary of Defense Eric Edelman called the junior Senator from New York, Hillary Clinton, a traitor because she had the gall to question the Pentagon about contingency withdrawal plans with respect to Iraq. On Friday the Senator responded to the treason charge by writing to Edelman's boss, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, asking if he agreed with the "outrageous and dangerous" statement made by his underling.

In my post about this Pentagon vs. Hillary battle from Thursday--a battle which benefits Hillary and her presidential aspirations immensely--I questioned on which side of the conservative/neoconservative fence Robert Gates would come down on.

Will Robert Gates stand up to the vice president? Will daddy Bush's boy stand up to baby Bush's boy? Will old-school conservatism stand up to neo-conservatism? The outcome here will shed much light on who holds sway in today's White House.

By late Friday, we had our answer. Well, sort of.

In a written statement, posted by Greg Sargent on TMP's Election Central, Robert Gates had this to say:

"I have long been a staunch advocate of Congressional oversight, first at the CIA and now at the Defense Department. I have said on several occasions in recent months that I believe that congressional debate on Iraq has been constructive and appropriate. I had not seen Senator Clinton’s reply to Ambassador Edelman’s letter until today. I am looking into the issues she raised and will respond to them early next week."

Sargent, I think correctly, characterizes this statement as Gates "distancing himself in a big way from Edelman."

However, almost simultaneously with Sargent's post, David Shuster, reporting for Hardball, breaks through the usual talking-head chatter with a statement from a spokesperson for Robert Gates that says the Secretary of Defense "was almost certainly aware and had read Edelman's letter to Mrs. Clinton before it was delivered."

Shuster also acknowledges the Gates statement quoted above, but it is clear from the spokeperson's statement that Gates had, as Shuster puts it, "signed-off on" the Edelman letter before it was issued.

It seems Robert Gates is trying to have it both ways. On the one hand he believes that "congressional debate on Iraq has been constructive and appropriate." And on the other, quoting from the Edelman letter, he believes that a "premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda..."

Which will it be, Mr. Secretary of Defense, are you with the Constitution and the checks and balances, not to mention free speech, it embraces, or are you with the vice president?

The country, and our democracy, waits for your decision.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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Back in the saddle again

By Capt. Fogg

Well the danger is over. George W. Bush's behind is back in the saddle, although probably not comfortably, and Dick Cheney is no longer acting president. Acting like a president is, of course, another matter.

Reports are that several polyps were removed from the president's colon and one can hope that this will provide him with a greater clarity of vision than he heretofore has enjoyed.

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How others see us

By Carol Gee

News sources in rival countries report on current events the United States. Today's news round-up includes several interesting stories from the point of view of and Russia's *Ria Novosti, **China Daily, and ***Al Jazeera.

Hillary's the one -- RIA Novosti (Russia) reports that, "Most Americans think Clinton will be first female president." To quote from yesterday's blurb:

According to polls carried out by CBS television, 63% of Americans believe Democrat Senator Hilary Clinton is "highly likely" to win in the next presidential elections in 2008.

While RIA Novosti reports polls say Hillary will win, today Juan Cole at Informed Comment posted "The Last Neocon Attacks Hillary," clarifying who the administration's recent irresponsible source of attack of her patriotism turned out to be. To quote:

. . . as Fred Kaplan of Slate pointed out, it was a specific bureaucrat who criticized her, undersecretary of defense for planning Eric Edelman.

. . . Just one of the last Neoconservatives who hasn't yet been forced out of office because he abused the public trust or who hasn't yet slid into a criminality fostered by sublime arrogance.

By implying that Clinton is a traitor, Edelman inserted himself into a presidential campaign on the Republican side. That is not a legitimate role for the third man in charge of the Pentagon.

While China Daily reports on Cheney and the president's colonoscopy, Paul speaks for us -- Scott Paul at The Washington Note posted "Cheney to be President," noting the fact that the Veep will be in charge while OCP gets his colonoscopy. To quote:

. . . a lot can happen in 2 and a half hours.

On an entirely serious note, the Veep has pushed to expand his influence not only beyond the customary, but also the legal authority of his office. If there were one person in public life who would exercise Presidential power as a caretaker, does anyone doubt it would be Cheney?

In all likelihood, this is a big 'ol non-story. But I'm still going to breathe a big sigh of relief when Bush wakes up and relieves Cheney after an uneventful few hours.

You think?! Yesterday Russia's RIA Novosti carried this headline, "White House preparing to stage new September 11 -- Reagan official." To quote the intro:

A former Reagan official has issued a public warning that the Bush administration is preparing to orchestrate a staged terrorist attack in the United States, transform the country into a dictatorship and launch a war with Iran within a year.

Paul Craig Roberts, a former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, blasted Thursday a new Executive Order, released July 17, allowing the White House to seize the assets of anyone who interferes with its Iraq policies and giving the government expanded police powers to exercise control in the country.

Roberts, who spoke on the Thom Hartmann radio program, said: "When Bush exercises this authority [under the new Executive Order], there's no check to it. So it really is a form of total, absolute, one-man rule." . . . The radio interview was a follow-up to Robert's latest column, in which he warned that "unless Congress immediately impeaches Bush and Cheney, a year from now the U.S. could be a dictatorial police state at war with Iran."

China interested in Iraq war -- Tuesday, China Daily carried the AP story, headlined "Pace: US troops in Iraq could rise." Quote:

Marine Gen. Peter Pace revealed that he and the chiefs of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force are developing their own assessment of the situation in Iraq, to be presented to Bush in September. That will be separate from the highly anticipated report to Congress that month by Gen. David Petraeus, the top commander for Iraq.

A look at new UN Secretary General -- We do not know from where correspondent Mark Seddon of wrote this interesting profile last week on "Ban Ki-moon: Six months on." Quoting from his excellent portrait:

In Africa and the Middle East, I have watched as Ban takes leaders to one side, using every opportunity, even during short stop-overs in national capitals to squeeze more informal meetings into a packed day, to build up the personal relations that can really help to defuse crises.

. . . his supporters point to the slow but steady progress over Darfur. He promised to make Africa his "number one priority", and is doing his best to honour that promise.

. . . So far, Ban Ki-moon has demonstrated a sure-footedness that would have been the envy of his predecessors. He may not be charismatic, but he is an honourable man, whose smile marks an inner steel.

China news service looks at global warming -- A link to Ban Ki Moon's WaPo article ("hat tip" to China Daily for the #link below) began an absolutely fascinating (7/17/07) expanded story on the climate change big picture. The author, Pang Zhongying, is a research fellow with the Joint Program on Globalization under the CRF-Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. To quote from Pang's story:

The birth of the world's first atomic bomb can be seen as one of the key factors influencing world politics since 1945. However, the impact of global climate change on world politics could prove more significant than the invention and possible proliferation of nuclear arms. Global warming will continue, while the complicated politics of climate change will become an issue affecting all individual lives.

. . . Ironically, challenges and tragedies such as Darfur are not all that climate change has brought, meaning not all the news about climate change is bad. To some countries (governments), communities and international groups it also presents lots of opportunities, which is good news. Because the impacts of climate change on different countries, regions, communities and various interest groups are different, the politics of climate change is more complicated than many people think.

This writer has envisioned and predicted some short-term and long-term impacts or consequences of global climate on world politics: [see link for the list]

China changed by climate change -- Ma Lie at China Daily reports: "Climate change taking toll on glaciers." To quote:

XI'AN: The rapid shrinking of No 1 Glacier on Tianshan Mountain in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is a clear warning of the reality of climate change.

. . . Experts described the glacier as the hard disk of nature, recording a wealth of information on the environment such as climate and water distribution.

Environmental information shows that the rapid melting of the glacier will not only cause serious natural disasters such as floods and mud and rock slides, but also reduce glacial runoff. This will gradually reduce freshwater resources at lower reaches.

In conclusion, when reading from foreign websites it is useful to see what they say about themselves:

  • *News source -- about RIA Novosti -- states:
    The Russian News & Information Agency RIA Novosti is one of the most authoritative and professional sources of prompt information in Russia and abroad.

    The Agency has a correspondent network in the Russian Federation, CIS and over 40 non-CIS countries.
    Every day, RIA Novosti publishes on the Internet and via e-mail social-political, economic, scientific and financial information in Russian, the main European languages and Arabic.
  • **News source -- China Daily's intro -- To quote from the website:
    China Daily, established in 1981, is the only national English-language newspaper in China. The average daily circulation is more than 200,000, one-third of which is abroad in more than 150 countries and regions.

    . . . Headquartered in Beijing, China Daily also has branches in Shanghai and Guangzhou and correspondents in all major cities in China. English-speaking staff reporters, correspondents and editors with the newspaper group are known for their professionalism, ethics, enthusiasm and creativity. The newspaper's linguistic standards are reassured by teens of foreign staff members from the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and India.
  • ***A visit to Aljazeera is always worthwhile because we find stories about important subjects inadequately covered in the US mainstream media. A quote from Aljazeera's corporate profile explains: "With broadcasting centers in Doha, Kuala Lumpur, London and Washington DC and supporting bureaux world-wide, the channel will set the news agenda, bridging cultures and providing a unique grassroots perspective from underreported regions around the world to a potential global audience of over one billion English speakers."


#Ban Ki Moon, writing at the The Washington Post, penned "A Climate Culprit in Darfur."

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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Hypocrite in chief

By J. Kingston Pierce

Yeah, yeah, I know: That headline could apply to so many things George W. Bush has done over the last six and a half years, that it hardly seems imaginative anymore. Nonetheless, today’s news that the prez is giving Senate Democrats hell for pulling a defense authorization bill from consideration until the upper chamber can reach some sort of bipartisan consensus on the future of the Iraq war is stunning in the level of its hypocrisy. Bush denounces Dems for failing to act on a bill that would “provide funds to upgrade our equipment, for our troops in Iraq and provides a pay raise for our military.” Yet the prez threatened just three months ago to veto that bill if such a pay hike was included. “Bush budget officials said the administration ‘strongly opposes’ both the 3.5 percent raise for 2008 and the follow-on increases, calling extra pay increases ‘unnecessary,’” reported the Army Times in mid-May.

Back then, Senator John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) said that he was “extremely disappointed” by the White House’s obstinacy over this pay raise issue, opining that it stood “in direct contrast to the will of the American people who support all the efforts to support our troops.” Kerry further scolded Bush for opposing the increase, even as the administration lobbied Congress to extend tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Representative Patrick Murphy (D-Pennsylvania), the first Iraq war vet to serve in Congress, chimed in with the accusation that Bush’s veto threat was equivalent to the prez telling U.S. soldiers, “Thank you for your service to your country, but that’s too much of a pay increase.”

That Bush should now seek to batter Democrats with the charge that they are standing in the way of this troop pay boost is stunning in it’s arrogance and its contempt for the intelligence of the American people. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) called Bush on his abject two-facedness in a statement released earlier today:

Democrats and a majority of Americans believe that supporting the troops means rebuilding our overburdened military and redeploying our troops from an Iraqi civil war. It is the height of hypocrisy for a President whose Administration has sent our brave men and women into combat without the proper equipment, recuperation time, training or strategy for success to lecture Congress about supporting the troops.

If our military’s wellbeing were truly a priority for this President, as he indicated this morning, why has his Administration for the past several months opposed military pay raises as too costly and blocked everything we have done to support the troops? I hope, but highly doubt, that President Bush will one day realize that supporting our troops is more than a slogan or a photo op.

Bush claims that Democrats are playing politics with his disastrous Iraq war (“It is time to rise above partisanship, stand behind our troops in the field and give them everything they need to succeed”), yet that’s precisely what he has been doing for years now, and especially since Republican’ts lost control of Congress in the 2006 midterm elections. As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) noted, Bush’s comments “only demonstrate his administration’s unwillingness to work with Congress to give our men and women in uniform the support they deserve, including a new direction in Iraq.” Unless Bush can have everything his way--which means enjoying a free hand to send more soldiers to their deaths in a civil war halfway around the world, for an unlimited time at taxpayer expense--then he’ll continue to play politics with the financial compensation that members of the military receive for risking their lives.

(Cross-posted at Limbo.)

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Around the world: France, Spain, Pakistan, and the Ivory Coast

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Here's another installment of our Around the World series. We have the highlights, but make sure to click on the links to read the articles in full.

1) France: "France and Britain will push for a U.N. resolution to dispatch African Union and United Nations peacekeepers to Darfur, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown says." He and French President Nicolas Sarkozy met in France, the first (formal) meeting between the two new leaders.

I applaud their efforts, assuming that they should be taken seriously, but Darfur needs more than peacekeeping (there is no peace to keep) and the threat of sanctions against Khartoum. Besides, what good will a U.N. resolution do if not backed up by force? What Darfur needs is NATO, preferably with solid U.S. backing.


2) Spain: "A judge ordered copies of a satirical magazine confiscated Friday for publishing a front-cover cartoon of Spain's Crown Prince Felipe in an intimate bedroom scene with his wife, Princess Letizia, court officials said." The judge apparently thinks the cartoon may constitute "libel against the monarchy," which is punishable by up to two years in prison. The magazine is El Jueves. The cartoon is graphic -- pornographic satire, I suppose. You can see it for yourselves at the magazine's website, or here (a Basque news site -- hardly, one imagines, friendly to Madrid).

According to the Basque site, the cartoon is "about a newly approved measure brought in by President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero to boost birth rate in Spain by offering financial assistance worth euro2,500 (US$3,450) to Spanish families for each new child born or adopted." And, yes, the "intimate bedroom scene" (such a quaint way to put it by the AP, in a story picked up around the world) is actually Felipe giving it to Letizia from behind and saying: "Do you realize, if you get pregnant this will be the closest to real work I've ever done?"

That's funny, is it not? I'll defend the freedom of the press, but I'll also defend a good joke. The authorities should back off.


3) Pakistan: "More than 50 people were killed in suicide attacks across Pakistan on Thursday as the violence engulfing this country gave no sign of abating... The fatalities pushed past 150 the number of people who have died violently in the last week, since Islamic militants vowed revenge for a government raid on a radical mosque."

Not good. Keep watching this ongoing story. President Pervez Musharraf is hardly the ideal leader, not even close, but if his quasi-legitimate regime falls all bets are off.


4) Ivory Coast: "The United Nations is investigating allegations of widespread sexual abuse and exploitation by peacekeepers serving in Ivory Coast." Former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan admitted last year that "[t]here have been crimes such as rape, paedophilia and human trafficking" committed by U.N. peacekeepers on various missions around the world". This seemingly would be more of the same.

The U.N. already suffers from a massive credibility problem around the world. It hardly needs its troops going around abusing those it is tasked with protecting. More to the point, those who are allegedly being protected hardly need the U.N., or even just some rogue peacekeepers, doing this to them. Africa in particular needs a robust U.N. presence throughout the continent. This won't help matters at all.

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Time’s running out. Thank goodness.

By J. Kingston Pierce

“Eighteen months from today,” notes CBS News, “a new president takes the oath of office.” To nobody’s astonishment, the Bush White House isn’t commemorating the occasion in any way. “We see this milestone as just another day,” says White House Deputy Chief of Staff Joel Kaplan.

(Cross-posted at Limbo.)

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Changing the rules, again

By Michael J.W. Stickings

November is the new September, or so we are now being told.

Where we were once told that an assessment of the Surge would come in September, we are now being told, by both civilian (Amb. Ryan Crocker) and military (Gens. David Patraeus and Raymond Odierno) officials, that:

a) 45 more days are necessary for "a good assessment" (Odierno's words) of the Surge; and that:

b) "benchmarks do not serve as reliable measures of everything that is important" (Crocker's words).

A Jon Stewart montage would be appropriate here. Once upon a time -- actually, not so long ago -- September was the deadline and benchmarks were important. Flacks like Tony Snow will deny, deny, deny, but the record is clear. And now, with little in the way of progress to report, with Republicans slowly bleeding away from Bush, and with daily reports on ongoing chaos and violence in Iraq, the war's wagers, both civilian and military, are doing once more what they have been doing all along as things have gone wrong (and they have been going wrong all along), which is changing the terms by which the war is being waged.

Over the years, most notably, both the justification for war and the definition of success have been changed over and over again. For example, in terms of justfication, the war was about WMDs. Then, when none were found, it was about grand political reform in the Middle East, the democratization of the Arab world. Then, when that looked increasingly hopeless (and grossly idealistic), it was (and this is what it is now) about fighting the terrorists over there so that they wouldn't have to be fought at home. And there have been others in between.

And this is more of the same.

-- We'll know by September. (No progress.) No, we'll know by November. Give us more time! Please!

-- Benchmarks, that's our check on the Iraqi government. (No progress.) Benchmarks are pointless. Forget about them! Please!

Andrew Sullivan has a great post up in response to this appalling, if predictable, development:

So once again, the rules are changed on us and the benchmarks are to be reinvented by Bush political appointees. It seems to me that the basis on which the surge was sold should remain the basis on which the surge is now judged. Anything else requires that we trust the Bush administration to be honest assessors of their own strategy. After the last four years, that is simply clinical. They will say anything to advance their narrow partisan purposes.

The surge can be definitively judged by September - eight long months and several thousand deaths after it began; it should be judged by exactly the same criteria the administration and Congress agreed upon in the first place; and the key criterion should be movement toward a political settlement, evidence that a national Iraqi government can begin to stand alone, as a unifying force in what was once Iraq. If there is evidence of a political breakthrough by then, if there are clear signs that the Shiites and Sunnis and Kurds are reconstituting a viable national government and want the US to stay to help them, then that is one thing. If we are supposed to judge the surge a success based on military progress against 5 percent of the insurgency, no deal. This al Qaeda stuff is so obvious and transparent a piece of distraction it should be treated as the tiniest factor that it is. It's not about Iraq or about America. It is about rescuing the Republican party and saving face for Bush and Cheney. It's about constructing a new narrative to rescue a failed policy. We are not that stupid. No young Americans should die for such partisan posturing, however coopted the military has become, however awful the immediate future is.

If we had a president we could trust, it would be one thing. We don't.

Strong and accurate words, particularly at the end. As long as this disastrous war continues, there will be death, massive death, American and Iraqi both, and all for the sake of Bush and Cheney and their "partisan posturing".

The war has been lost. The warmongers can change the rules as much as they want, but that basic fact won't change.

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By Michael J.W. Stickings

Chile has a great deal to offer the world -- great wine, great literature, great natural beauty (from what I understand), not-so-great experiences with U.S.-sponsored dictatorship, etc. -- but I would not put under-20 soccer players on that list.

As some of you may know -- perhaps those of you who pay rigorous attention to what the rest of the world calls football -- Canada is currently playing host to FIFA's Under-20 World Cup. I'm not really paying that much attention to it, but I do know that the host nation stunk and that Sunday's final will feature the Czech Republic, which beat Austria 2-0 in one semifinal, and Argentina, which beat Chile 3-0 in the other (held here in Toronto).

But, oh, that second semifinal. Argentina was by far the better team, but the match was an ugly affair. Chile ended up with only nine players on the field -- two had been sent off with red cards (on top of seven yellows). And it didn't end there on the field. Here's the report from the Toronto Star:

At least nine members of Chile's under-20 national team were detained last night – some of them reportedly tasered and pepper sprayed – in an altercation with police after a heated game against Argentina at the National Soccer Stadium last night.

According to one officer at the scene, frustrated Chilean players had boarded the team bus after their 3-0 loss to Argentina in the Under-20 World Cup semifinal when they broke metal arm rests off the seats and used them to break bus windows.

That's when witnesses said police stepped in.

Did the police overdo it? Yes, perhaps. It's not clear that such force -- including tasers and pepper spray -- was necessary. (Still, Chile's coach said that his players "were upset with the ref and the red cards" -- an understatement, no doubt.)

But that's not to excuse the Chileans, who obviously behaved badly both on the field and off. Indeed, the police are saying, according to another report in the Star, that the Chileans players "confronted the referees after the game" and that the police themselves "intervened to protect the referees".

FIFA, Toronto police, and the Chilean delegation are investigating the incident. One suspects that they will all come to different conclusions.

I think I'll open a bottle of a nice Chilean red this evening. As for their under-20 soccer players -- well, I can do without them, thank you very much.

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Fairness is unfair

By Capt. Fogg

Marie Antoinette never really did say "Well let them eat cake," but Mark Fowler, former head of the FCC evoked the spirit of arrogant royalty when he said "Well, let them have unfettered access to information" in response to the attempt to re-instate the "fairness doctrine" that once required broadcasters to provide air time for rebuttals to editorial content.

The fairness doctrine was eliminated in 1987, under the wise leadership of another George Bush and the excuse was that anything designed to protect the people from distortions and propaganda espoused by the few people who own the media was unwonted interference with corporate free speech. 20 years later, we have even fewer people in control of what we hear and more of them are ultra conservative corporations with an ever deeper involvement in the editorial policies of media outlets.

To Fowler, "unfettered access to information" would suffer if the fairness doctrine were to return and people like Bill O'Reilly had to listen to their lies being analyzed by someone not hand picked by Rupert Murdoch.

An anti-Fairness doctrine bill introduced by Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minnesota was beaten back by Senate Democrats this week despite arguments such as Coleman's assertion that "There is no limitation on the ability of anyone from any political persuasion to get their ideas set forth." Of course that sentiment ignores the 400 pound corporate gorilla that controls much of what people do hear and that is well insulated by its size, wealth and government support, from public accountability.

Of course the internet has done something to provide an alternative source of information, at least so far, as a free internet is an idea rapidly being undermined by telecommunications interests, but as it is now, several million blogs can hardly compete with the platform given to people like Limbaugh, or Coulter or Hannity or O'Reilly. It's not about freedom of speech, it's about freedom to profit from without responsibility to the country that provides that profit.

(Cross-posted at Human Voices.)

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Bush to undergo colonoscopy

By Vivek Krishnamurthy

The Washington Post is reporting that President Bush is to undergo a routine diagnostic colonoscopy tomorrow at Camp David. One wonders if they might find the head of state lodged in the opening through which the probe is inserted, given some of his recent statements. Or perhaps they'll find a sensible Iraq policy somewhere deep in the bowels of the president.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

A test for Gates

By Creature

Today the Associated Press obtained a letter written by Undersecretary of Defense Eric Edelman in which he attacks Senator Hillary Clinton for being a responsible senator and for doing her job by questioning the Pentagon on their Iraq withdrawal plans:

"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, much as we are perceived to have done in Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia," Edelman wrote.

He added that "such talk understandably unnerves the very same Iraqi allies we are asking to assume enormous personal risks."

As a neoconservative, and a former Cheney aide, Edelman's remarks are unsurprisingly familiar. As Jill notes: "This is what the Bush Administration has been doing ever since the 9/11 attacks: impugning the patriotism of anyone who dares to disagree."

Keith Olberman correctly concludes that this kind of talk from the administration is an attempt at laying the scapegoat foundation for a lost war on those who spoke out against it.

Hillary's people reacted promptly by calling Edelman's words "at once outrageous and dangerous." We are also being told that Hillary's response will be directly to Edelman's boss, Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Big Tent Democrat boils it down: "His response is disrespectful, outrageous and he should be immediately fired for his unacceptable behavior."

Yes, he should be immediately fired. But will he be?

Will Robert Gates stand up to the vice president? Will daddy Bush's boy stand up to baby Bush's boy? Will old-school conservatism stand up to neo-conservatism? The outcome here will shed much light on who holds sway in today's White House.

If Cheney is pulling the strings you will see an administration dig-in and defend Edelman. If Gates is in charge you will see an immediate firing and something close to an apology issued to Senator Clinton. I'm hoping for the latter, because the former doesn't bode well for the future of our democracy.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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MSNBC's Matthews uninjured pulling head out of Judy Miller's ass

Hardball host fawns over former White House stenographer; stays away from tough questions

By J. Thomas Duffy

MSNBC's Chris Matthews, host of Hardball with Chris Matthews, escaped serious injury yesterday, extracting his head out of the rectum of Judy Miller, former New York Times reporter and White House stenographer.

"We weren't sure," offered MSNBC President Dan Abrams. "We sent Chris to the hospital, just as a precaution."

Abrams wasn't pleased with his host's interview with Miller, who served nearly three-months in jail for not disclosing her source in the CIA Leak Case, which turned out to be convicted felon I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Sources tell us that Abrams is considering a change in the title of Matthews' program to Soft Balls on Chris Matthews.

Matthews, with his trademark grinning and drooling, welcomed Miller with "Judy, you're a hero to the press. You are definitely a woman to be trusted with secrets..." -- and started off the interview on a strange, blathering tangent:

I'm in Los Angeles right now. I'm up there in a -- I was up in a Renaissance Hotel the other night, looking down -- actually, when I got up this morning -- seeing this whole city, crowded city, below me. Is it safe?

Matthews, fawning over Miller, continued his line of questioning the former White House shrill about the recent NIE report and the alleged strengthening of Al Qaeda.

Not once did Matthews, his cranium firmly squeezed into Miller's behind, question his guest about her role in spreading the lies and misinformation coming out of the Bush Grindhouse in the run-up to invading and occupying Iraq

Another point Abrams was upset about was that the network teased and ran promos for Matthews' show, and specifically his interview with Miller, offering the tantalizing prospects of her views and opinions on the commutation of Scooter Libby's sentence and incarceration.

Without asking her a single question about Libby that Miller could have answered or chosen not to answer, Matthews gushed:

MATTHEWS: Judy, I believe in you. You‘re great. And by the way, I didn‘t ask you about Scooter Libby because—because the president didn‘t ...let‘s make it clear what happened here. If he had pardoned the guy, we could talk because there‘d be no further legal action against him. But because he‘s now floating around there in limbo, as the guy with clemency commutation but still appealing his case, you can‘t talk about the case.

MILLER: That‘s right.

MATTHEWS: I completely understand that. I sympathize with you.

MILLER: Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: And I sometimes even sympathize with Scooter Libby.

"If this is how Chris plays hardball," an agitated Abrams fumed, "than we have to sit down and have a talk... Either that, or he can pack his bags and move over to Fox News."

In a related story, unconfirmed reports have former MSNBC host Rita Cosby, recently losing out on a World Wonder title, stalking the graveyard where Anna Nicole Smith is buried, badgering workers and visitors. Cosby, it is being said, still hopes to revive the deal with Abrams to launch a 24-hour Anna Nicole Smith channel.



-- Watch Video of Judy Miller plays Hardball with Chris Matthews
-- Hardball with Chris Matthews' for July 18 Read the transcript to the Wednesday show
-- Miller To Leave 'Times' With Movie Deal In Hand; Signs On To Star In Memento Sequel; Not Sure If She Will Continue Freelancing For Bush Admin.

Bonus Link

Editor & Publisher: Judy Miller Defends Leaker -- Of Harry Potter Ending!

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What did you expect?

Look out kid
They keep it all hid
Better jump down a manhole
Light yourself a candle
Don’t wear sandals
Try to avoid the scandals

Judge John D. Bates helped Kenn Starr go after Bill Clinton. Judge John D. Bates allowed Dick Cheney to keep his secrets about the Energy Task Force and is now a close associate of Chief Justice Roberts. What did you expect?

Wasn't he just the man to dismiss Valerie Plame's suit against the White House gang over their use of executive powers in a private vendetta against her husband?

They keep it all hid. They have all the bases covered. Look out kid.

(Cross-posted at Human Voices.)

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Groundhog Day

By Capt. Fogg

To be fair, it hasn't been a full month since Douglas Lute was approved as "War Czar" but the nation seems to have forgotten him already.
The Carpetbagger Report writes today that

About 200 lawmakers were invited to the Pentagon for a classified question-and-answer session on Thursday with [Ambassador Ryan] Crocker and Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq. The two men were to brief lawmakers via satellite from Baghdad.

Bush’s new war adviser, Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, also was to be in the room. He wasn't. He didn't report on anything, give any analysis or projection or do anything one might consider Czarish, unless that includes relaxing in the Summer Palace somewhere.

It's almost as though Bush has had second thoughts and decided to let the matter drop, hoping we'd forget about it, or maybe Lute is being kept in the background in favor of General Petraeus, whom Bush likes to call "David." The Washington Post
reported last Sunday that according to the President "David" is his

"main man" -- a "smart, capable man who gives me his candid advice." And on Thursday, as the president sought to stave off a revolt among congressional Republicans, he said he wanted "to wait to see what David has to say. I trust David Petraeus, his judgment."

Bush, says the Post, has mentioned Petraeus at least 150 times this year in his speeches, interviews and news conferences, and there is speculation that he is being set up to be the fall guy in the Fall, when the Iraqi puppet government reconvenes and reality becomes harder to hide.

Meanwhile I'm having trouble finding anything about the Czar anywhere - anything at all. Could it be that he will re-emerge from his den as the shadow of Petraeus departs, to declare that there will be six more weeks of surge, or perhaps that Springtime for the president is just around the corner?

(Cross-posted at
Human Voices.)

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Views from a parallel universe

By Carol Gee

There is reality, and then there is "Bush reality." Many of us responded with a big yawn to the recent news of a call for peace by OCP.

First, The Decider - A note of explanation for the uninitiated here. In order to keep my sanity I refer to the president as OCP - Our Current President, George W. Bush. My definitions - "Current" means (thank goodness temporarily) in office, Lame Duck, and author of Middle East failures.

Why Peace talks? Today's post explores the current news around OCP's announcement of renewed efforts towards achieving peace in the region. Where is the hope of success given the chaotic track record of the current Bush administration? Why now? It may be the time for a diversionary tactic in the face of an increasingly long list of failures.

How do others decide? Becoming an ally of the West, and particularly the U.S., can be the kiss of death, literally, for any Middle Eastern country's leader. Why would any leader in the Middle East take the risk and choose to join with OCP and the USA in anything? What is in it for them?

  • Money is in it for them - Now that Palestine has been radicalized and "balkanized," is it just now time to talk peace? Where was the U.S. prior to now? BBC News reports on U.S. to aid West Bank leader Mahmoud Abbas. To quote,

    Speaking at the White House, Mr Bush also announced a $190m (£95m) aid package for President Mahmoud Abbas's emergency Palestinian government.

    Our correspondent says Mr Abbas - in many ways the lynchpin of the initiative - is already in a weak position.

    The more he is embraced by Israel and the West, the more vulnerable he becomes to the charge he is acting in their interests rather than those of his own people.

  • Loose reins and few demands - Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf has the best of both worlds in his relationship with OCP: U.S. sanction of nuclear weapons, lots and lots of financial aid, and no requirement to clean out al Qaeda from their ungoverned tribal areas. The Financial Times headlined, "US still at risk from al-Qaeda, says report." To quote,

    Al-Qaeda has regrouped in tribal areas of Pakistan and could use contacts and capabilities developed in Iraq to mount fresh attacks on US soil, a US intelligence estimate on Tuesday warned.

    . . . It was reported last week that a classified intelligence assessment had judged al-Qaeda to be stronger than at any time since September 2001. Tuesday’s declassified report confirmed that al-Qaeda had found havens in tribal areas of Pakistan and replaced leaders that had been captured or killed.

Second is Condi, the Concurrant - in short, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. My definitions - Current head of U.S. diplomacy (see State Dept. website), Lame Duck and co-author of Middle East national security and now, diplomatic failures. Why would any leader in the Middle East join with OCP, Condi and the USA? This is the current dismissive view, as presented by the administration. Here, again, is "Bush reality." It borders on being delusional; at the least it is remarkably arrogant.

  • Only the United States can assure the success of the Israeli/Palestinian peace process - Israel's Haaretz reports that Condi implies she will be in charge of the Middle East peace process, and our new Quartet envoy, Tony Blair will be there only to help. To quote,

    The United States will keep leading Middle East peace efforts with former British prime minister Tony Blair playing a complementary role as envoy to the Quartet of mediators, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Thursday.

  • U.S. Middle East view trumps that of the U.N. - Our State Department reports on OCP's "briefing" meeting with U.N. Secretary General Ban-Ki-Moon, as if he were a beginner needing to learn a thing or two. To quote,

    President Bush (July 17): "...One of the things I briefed the Secretary on was my views about extremism and these radicals that will do anything to disrupt the goals set by the United Nations and/or disrupt the advance of democracy in peaceful societies. Al Qaeda is strong today, but they're not nearly as strong as they were prior to September the 11th, 2001, and the reason why is, is because we've been working with the world to keep the pressure on, to stay on the offense, to bring them to justice so they won't hurt us again; to defeat them where we find them."

So that is the Bush Middle East reality. And then we have the rational reality for which we can only wish - intelligent, non-delusional, realistic about the facts, respectful of other Western leaders, honest and fair, consistent and timely, reasonable. I am not holding my breath for peace to break out in the Middle East any time soon.

cross-posted at South by Southwest

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Obama, sex education, and the inevitable smears

By Michael J.W. Stickings

It's our Headline of the Day. And what a doozy it is:

As it turns out -- and of course this never, ever happens in the MSM -- the headline is a gross misrepresentation both of the article below it and of Obama's views. Well done, ABC.

Right-wing nutjob Alan Keyes smeared Obama over this issue during their Senate race in Illinois in '04. At least in its headline, ABC has resurrected that smear. The impression one gets is that Obama wants innocent, wide-eyed kindergartners to be taught the finer points of anal sex technique.

But -- no. What Obama actually supports is "age-appropriate sex education, science-based sex education in schools," which is a great idea, one very much at odds with the anti-sex, anti-science bias of the right. Given that our children are being inundated with sexual images, that they are learning about sex, and not always good things about sex, at ever younger ages, that they are having sex at ever younger ages, or at least having irresponsible sex at disturbingly young ages, that HIV and other sexually-transmitted diseases and teen pregnancy remain serious problems, that, in generally, our children are being sexualized at early ages, there very much needs to be such sex education in the schools -- and this goes for Canada as well as for the U.S., I might add (Europe tends to be more progressive, in a good way).

Does this mean starting early -- like, in kindergarten? Yes, absolutely. Should children not be told the truth about where babies come from? Some details could be avoided, of course, but what is the point of lying to them or otherwise denying their budding sexuality and interest in sexuality?

Now, we get this in the ABC piece, but well below the headline:

"Keep in mind: I honor and respect young people who choose to delay sexual activity," Obama continued. "I've got two daughters, and I want them to understand that sex is not something casual. That's something that we definitely want to communicate and should be part of any curriculum. But we also know that when the statistics tell us that nearly half of 15 to 19 year olds are engaging in sexual activity, that for us to leave them in ignorance is potentially consigning them to illness, pregnancy, poverty, and in some cases, death."

When Obama's campaign was asked by ABC News to explain what kind of sex education Obama considers "age appropriate" for kindergarteners, the Obama campaign pointed to an Oct. 6, 2004 story from the Daily Herald in which Obama had "moved to clarify" in his Senate campaign that he "does not support teaching explicit sex education to children in kindergarten. . . The legislation in question was a state Senate measure last year that aimed to update Illinois' sex education standards with 'medically accurate' information . . . 'Nobody's suggesting that kindergartners are going to be getting information about sex in the way that we think about it,' Obama said. 'If they ask a teacher 'where do babies come from,' that providing information that the fact is that it's not a stork is probably not an unhealthy thing. Although again, that's going to be determined on a case by case basis by local communities and local school boards.'"

In addition to local schools informing kindergarteners that babies do not come from the stork, the state legislation Obama supported in Illinois, which contained an "opt out" provision for parents, also envisioned teaching kindergarteners about "inappropriate touching," according to Obama's presidential campaign. Despite Obama's support, the legislation was not enacted.

So: Obama does not support teaching "sex ed.," broadly understood as what might be taught to teenagers, to kindergartners. Rather, he supports sexual responsibility, including birth control, and respects abstinence. In other words, he takes sex and sexuality seriously. Rather than seeking to suppress it, or to encourage young people to repress it, which is how many on the right treat it, he wishes to empower young people to make responsible decisions. And this starts with ensuring that they know the truth -- for what is a responsible decision if not an informed decision? So he supports the teaching of "'medically accurate' information" -- again, in an "age-appropriate" way. What should be taught to a 16-year old is obviously different than what should be taught to a 5-year old. In addition, he wishes to empower parents to make decisions regarding their children's sex education, too. And is it not a good idea, too, to teach children -- and this is where getting to them at a young age is crucial -- about "inappropriate touching," that is, about sexual abuse? Why pretend it doesn't exist? It does, and it happens a lot, more often than parents know, or want to know. Shouldn't our children know what it is and what to do about it?

Kudos to Obama for taking this stand on sex education. Given how both his opponents on the right and the media that cover him misrepresent his views, making him out to be some sort of pervert, it is truly a courageous stand.

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The common cause of Bush and al Qaeda

By Michael J.W. Stickings

This is so fucking obvious, but, hey, at least Lee Hamilton came out and said it:

U.S. forces should go into Pakistan to rout al Qaeda from the safe haven it has found in the mountains on the border with Afghanistan, a co-chairman of the Iraq Study Group said.

Former Rep. Lee Hamilton, who also served as the vice chairman of the 9/11 commission, says the Iraq war distracted the United States when it had al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden on the run in the tribal region between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

He says it's now time to finish the job.

"This has to be carefully calibrated, worked out with the Pakistanis, but I am very concerned that you have a safe haven in Pakistan today where they (al Qaeda) can regroup, rethink, and get ready for more attacks," Hamilton said on CNN's "Newsroom" on Wednesday.

Declassified portions of the National Intelligence Estimate released Tuesday reported that al Qaeda has "protected or regenerated key elements" of its ability to attack the United States while in this region.

Experts may debate al Qaeda's capacities and capabilities, but what is clear is that the Iraq War -- which, remember, has now been going on for more than four years and could go on for years and years to come, has pulled America's own capacities and capabilities away from the far more pressing task of rooting out al Qaeda.

To be sure, al Qaeda -- which should not be understood to be akin to a multinational with branches around the world controlled directly from central office -- has been significantly debilitated. One cannot know for sure -- one without access to the intelligence, that is -- but there is general agreement among experts that bin Laden's organization is not what it once was.

Still, one must speak not just of al Qaeda but of "al Qaeda," that is, the symbol (or ideal) that al Qaeda has become. Bin Laden may not be dead, but he is already a martyr, a hero to be emulated, if not worshipped. Hence the various copycat organizations, or cells, and other organizations loosely affiliated with, or that wish to be affiliated with, whatever the reality, al Qaeda. This is a serious threat -- if a group of "al Qaeda" followers detonate a radiological bomb in the middle of an American city, it won't much matter what they call themselves or whether their affiliation with al Qaeda is real or imagined.

But now, if the NIE is to be believed, the real al Qaeda may be building itself up again in a new safe haven across the border from its old one. And that is where the U.S. and its allies -- which, in terms of Afghanistan and the war on terror, include more than the meager "coalition of the willing" that followed Bush on his misadventure into Iraq. Here we have Canada and Europe, many in Asia, and many others. But they -- my own country, Canada, in particular -- are focused on Afghanistan. It is the U.S. that would need to lead a refocused war against al Qaeda in Pakistan, but would that happen with Iraq still such a significant drain on American resources, military and otherwise?

For it is that war in Iraq, Bush's war, that has both weakened the U.S. and strengthened al Qaeda -- and it will continue to do so for as long as the U.S. remains in such large numbers, that is, as an occupying force grappling with a complex civil war, as well as with al Qaeda (or "al Qaeda"). For al Qaeda, what is better than the Iraq War? And yet Bush continues to wage that war and to support yet more war in Iraq and perhaps with neighbouring Iran? Does that not mean that Bush is, in essence, supporting al Qaeda (and "al Qaeda")?

Yes. Yes it does.

That is the dirty truth about the Iraq War.

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Nuclear power, feel the love

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Let's not get into the usual coal vs. nuclear debate. The solution, ultimately, is neither.

You all know about Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. It may not be quite at that level, but you can add Kashiwazaki to the list:

A radioactive leak at a major nuclear plant in Japan damaged by an earthquake on Monday was worse than previously thought, the plant's operators say.

Owner Tokyo Electric Power company said 50% more radiation was discharged into the sea, following the magnitude 6.8 quake, than was earlier reported.

But the firm insisted the leak was still well below danger levels.

The mayor of nearby Kashiwazaki City has ordered the plant to remain closed indefinitely.

Yeah, that might be a good idea. And I'm not about to trust Tokyo Electric Power. Whatever the danger levels, there was still a leak -- and it was still bad.

How to dispose of nuclear waste remains one of the key problems, but consider what else can go wrong. Is it worth it?

(Watch The China Syndrome, a great film with Jane Fonda, Jack Lemmon, and Michael Douglas.)

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

To focus on females...

By Carol Gee what Ed Kilgore at The Democratic Strategist says that Democrats need to do. We need to get more women candidates into '08 races. He includes these stats in his piece from which I quote:
According to the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP*), women hold the following percentages of key elective offices in the U.S.: Governors 18 %; U.S. Senators 16 %; House Members 16.1 %; State Legislators 23.5 %.

The one conclusion all Democrats should be able to support is that the Party and progressive groups should recruit more women candidates and invest more time, training and money toward getting them elected.

The current crop of female U.S. Senators exemplifies why electing women leaders is a good idea. Yesterday, last night and today it will be all about "the all-nighter" pulled by the U.S. Senate. Many of us listened as senators from both sides of the aisle either contributed honestly to the debate or played politics with the process. I was particularly impressed with the two Republican senators from Maine, Susan Collins, and Olympia Snowe. Senator Diane Feinstein of California, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, and Hillary Clinton of New York, also made thoughtful and impressive speeches. Reporters Shailagh Murray, Paul Kane and Debbi Wilgoren pulled their own all-nighter at the Washington Post to write the story. I quote from an excellent overall summary of the event:

A handful of U.S. senators sustained a marathon all-night debate on Iraq overnight, alternating speechmaking on the Senate floor with snatches of sleep in makeshift dorm rooms or, in some cases, at homes and apartments a few blocks away on Capitol Hill.

Republicans were determined to block legislation forcing a withdrawal of combat troops. They dismissed the Democrats' overnight effort as political theatrics and vowed to enforce a 60-vote threshold for passing the withdrawal proposal.

Success in getting women elected has taken a great deal of money. When women began to get enough money to mount real election campaigns things started to change in U.S. electoral politics. One of the most significant factors in this new fund raising power was the founding in 1985 of Emily's List. Early on they helped Hillary Clinton. Senator Clinton, as we all know, has become a formidable fund raiser. USA Today has the latest figures. Quote:

Clinton has $45.2 million, and $33 million is available for the primary, spokesman Howard Wolfson said. She has more saved in part because her total includes $10 million transferred from her Senate campaign.

Never elected to office -- but memorable leaders nonetheless -- First Ladies of the United States have exercised power in a variety of ways. My admiring memories of them begin with Eleanor Roosevelt's very impressive life of public service, Betty Ford's example of openness about a life "in Recovery," Rosalyn Carter's advocacy of mental health issues, and Hillary Clinton's transition into elective office. They also include Lady Bird Johnson's love and activism on behalf of the land and our environment. Lady Bird Johnson was laid to rest Sunday, "near the banks of the Pedernales River," according to Her daughters' eloquent eulogies were memorable moments for us who watched the various ceremonies marking the passing of this great lady. Five former First Ladies attended her funeral. To quote:

Johnson, who died Wednesday at 94, was remembered as an astute businesswoman, a woman who worked to preserve nature and the devoted wife of a president.

"I'm not sure why she was so preoccupied with this, but she always seemed to be wondering if she had done enough for the world, regardless of her own condition," Nugent said.

. . . About 1,800 people, including family, friends and presidents, attended a two-hour funeral Saturday at Riverbend Centre overlooking the Hill Country. People in attendance included former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, first lady Laura Bush and former first ladies Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Winners of elections someday? Scott Paul at The Washington Note posted "Buzz Cuts: Malaria Activism on Campus" on 7/17/07. From their names it sounds like a significant number on his list are young women. To quote his intro:

. . . I want to recognize some campus activists who will be campaigning to raise awareness and funds to fight malaria. These individuals were chosen from a large pool of applicants to receive a scholarship from The People Speak. I was at the UN Foundation today to offer some tips on how to carry out pragmatic, effective advocacy on global issues.

We can easily imagine that elected leaders might emerge from this group of students in years to come. You never know. But they are getting off to a good start as activists on behalf of a good cause, the way ever so many women now serving their country in elected office got their starts.

P.S. -- Can I join Novak's group? Please, please! I close this post with a link to Michael's excellent post from yesterday titled, "Venemous women, vicious bloggers." However, my post may be too tame; I'll try harder the next time.


  1. *Center for American Women and Politics, Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University
  2. My previous South by Southwest posts on women in politics and government: Women travel to the Middle East, men talk, War, violence and video, "Madam Speaker", More about leadership and women's roles, Women and the election, Condoleezza, Puh-leeze!, Politics: do emotions drive actions?, Condoleezza Rice's iron.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

My “creativity and dreaming” post today at Good Second Mondays is about the writing process seen as a sandwich.

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Take a dump already

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Fred Thompson is "close to joining the '08 race," reports The Hill, citing key supporter Zach Wamp (R-TN).


Is he in yet? No?



Actually, I'm quite looking forward to the Thompson candidacy. It's such a huge joke, but desperate Republicans, meaning pretty much all of them these days, are taking it oh-so-seriously, so unenthused are they by the current crop of candidates -- Giuliani, Romney, McCain (wait, is he still in the race? is he running sans staff?), etc. -- and understandably so.

But is Thompson the answer? Maybe.

It depends on the question, I suppose -- is he the sort of social conservative who will ignite the base? (no -- but his act may be good enough)? is he the next Ronald Reagan? (no -- but Reagan was also a joke, if an immensely popular one) can he beat Clinton or Obama or whomever the Dems pick? (maybe -- never underestimate the rat-fucking GOP machine) is he more desirable than his soon-to-be competitors? (yes, unless the act gives way to reality, unless the image crumbles, unless he is seen for what he really is rather than for what he plays on TV and in the movies).

He's got a shot, I'll give him that. And it'll be fun to watch.

For a party that long ago succumbed to the allure of fantasy and to the delusions that come with abandoning reality, recent electoral success notwithstanding, why not line up behind a candidate who is himself largely a fantasy? It all makes such perfect sense.


I've written a great deal about Thompson -- mostly about his dubious past and fictional present -- see here.

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Two years in Limbo

By Michael J.W. Stickings

A belated happy two-year blogiversary to our friend and co-blogger J. Kingston Pierce. Limbo is a fine, fine blog, which is why I invited him to blog with us here, and I encourage you all to check out his great blogging both here and there, as well as at his other blogs, such as The Rap Sheet (for crime fiction).

His blogiversary post is here.

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Vick the Prick

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I love the NFL. I loathe Michael Vick. Here's ESPN:

NFL star Michael Vick was indicted by a federal grand jury Tuesday on charges of sponsoring a dogfighting operation so grisly the losers either died in the pit or sometimes were electrocuted, drowned, hanged or shot.

The Atlanta Falcons quarterback and three others were charged with competitive dogfighting, procuring and training pit bulls for fighting and conducting the enterprise across state lines.

The operation was named "Bad Newz Kennels," according to the indictment, and the dogs were housed, trained and fought at a property owned by Vick in Surry County, Va.

The 19-page federal indictment, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, alleges the 27-year-old Vick and his co-defendants began the dogfighting operation in early 2001, the former Virginia Tech star's rookie year with the Falcons.

The indictment states that dogs fought to the death -- or close to it.

If convicted, Vick and the others -- Purnell A. Peace, Quanis L. Phillips and Tony Taylor -- could face up to six years in prison, $350,000 in fines and restitution.

Yes, yes, yes -- innocent until proven guilty. Fine. So put him on trial. Make him defend himself. And -- yes, this, too, this without a doubt -- put dogfighting on trial. Expose it for what it is. Crack down on it. And prosecute those who are involved in it to the full extent of the law and to the full extent of laws that need to be rewritten and laws that need to be enacted in light of what we now know, and of what we will come to know, about this horrendous cruelty and, yes, mass killing.

And -- let me quote Ed Morrissey -- "[I]f [Vick]'s guilty of this, he should do some serious prison time for participating in such a cruel so-called 'sport'. It's despicable, and if convicted, the NFL should think twice before allowing him back in the game -- and not just for the cruelty, but for the gambling as well."

Yes, serious prison time. Six years max? Way, way too lenient.

There is hardly much room for compassion here.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Venomous women, vicious bloggers

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Poor Bob Novak. He really does have his head stuck firmly up his ass. Here's what he said on Hugh Hewitt's radio show today:

I hate to say it, but I think the hatred toward George W. Bush is just mad. I listen to, sometimes in the car radio, on talk shows, and the venom that comes out of the mouths of some of these women, particularly, I'm not trying to be sexist, but they’re so vicious toward him. And I don't think that really contributes. And also, the bloggers, I don't read the bloggers very much, but it is really, it’s really vicious.

No, Bob doesn't hate to say this sort of thing. Spewing this sort of chauvinistic ignorance is how he makes a living, or at least how he continues to make a name for himself among his fans on the right.

There's no need to comment on his second point. Some bloggers are vicious, perhaps, but there is viciousness everywhere. He evidently knows very little of the blogosphere, as he himself admits.

As for his first point, here's a two-part response:

1) It's not true. Opposition to Bush, even venomous opposition, is not limited to women. Why point to them, as if they are some monolithic group? It's like he's cracking wise over scotch and cigars at some all-male country club. I assume he would prefer women -- aside from the Coulter-Malkin variety -- to keep their traps shut, raise the kids, and iron the clothes.

2) Even if it were true, would women not be in the right to express venomous opposition to Bush? For more on this, see Shakes, Amanda, Echidne, and Ann -- all of whom I like a great deal and all of whom could kick Bob's ass.

Whether you're trying to or not, Bob, you're a fucking sexist.

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I'm surprised it wasn't headlined "Mormon Candidate Ties To Cosmetic Industry Exposed"

By J. Thomas Duffy

If a Democrat running for President spent $300 on makeup, you can bet your Ann Coulter eye-patch that The Politico, Fox Noise and all the gang over at the Freak Show would have been all over it, knee-deep and calling for more shovels.

Headlines and chyrons screaming "Mormon Candidate Ties To Cosmetic Industry Exposed" and "Makeup Mitt" -- the title of one of those "I Feel Pretty" YouTube videos.

There'd be Fox Noise satellite trucks criss-crossing Utah, 24/7 on this.

And the money quote:

"He's already tan," she said. "We basically put a drop of foundation on him… and we powdered him a little bit."

Oh man, if it were a Dem, they'd be going to town on that.

And that, more or less, is what the inexhaustable Glenn Greenwald points out today in his "The Politico sewer", as the Drudge-Wannabe had the Mitt makeup story front-and-center.

But with Mitt being a Republican, no echo chamber on the piece. The second gallery has been deafening silent.

As to the Retro part, go back to May, when Greenwald wrote, more so, exposed, who and what is behind The Politico:

The Politico's DNA ... The Other Iraq ... And He's a Bible-Thumper Now ... Around The Garlic Patch

Weigh in, but only after your nails are dry.

Makeup Mitt

(Cross-posted at The Garlic.)

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