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Sunday, July 31, 2005

And another great line 

Here's another great line this week, in James Wolcott's Let the Recriminations Begin. Discussing Pat Buchanan's piece about how the US is pulling out of Iraq, Wolcott describes the piece this way: "Buchanan, hearing the bustle of mice scurrying at the Pentagon, [says] we're moonwalking to the exits."

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Great line of the day 

In describing why the dishonest neocon foreign policy approach is worse than the Realpolitik approach, Digby writes: "It makes me miss Kissinger. At least he didn't sing kumbaya while he was fucking over the wogs."

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Compare and contrast 

Are they talking about the same guy?
The Seattle Times AP story makes Mark Emery into a criminal master mind: "Prince of Pot" Canadian marijuana activist arrested on U.S. indictment:
A Canadian marijuana activist known as 'The Prince of Pot' was arrested today in Canada on a U.S. indictment targeting his alleged multimillion-dollar marijuana seed business. Marc Emery, 47, of Vancouver, B.C, is charged with conspiracy to launder money and distribute marijuana and marijuana seeds, the U.S. attorney's office said. Conviction on the charges would carry a sentence of at least 10 years in prison. Emery claims to make $3 million a year from selling marijuana seeds online and by mail, along with equipment for grow operations and instructions on raising pot plants, authorities said . . . Prosecutors say three-fourths of Emery's seeds are sent to the United States and have been linked to illegal cultivation operations in Indiana, Florida, California, Tennessee, Montana, Virginia, Michigan, New Jersey and North Dakota.
The Vancouver Sun story, on the other hand, emphasizes the Canadian perspective, and the unproven nature of the charges: Uncle Sam orchestrates Vancouver pot busts:
Pot advocate Marc Emery was arrested Friday in Halifax after his marijuana-seed shipping business on Hastings Street was shut down by police as part of a sweeping investigation instigated by U.S. authorities. Vancouver police raided Emery's multi-million-dollar business on a request from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), while angry protesters gathered outside chanting "Go home USA." Emery, 47, referred to as "The Prince of Pot" on the search warrant, was arrested by the RCMP and police in Halifax. He is charged in the U.S. with several drug-related charges, including conspiring to distribute marijuana seeds and launder money . . . about 25 chanting protesters banged on makeshift drums outside. Two American flags were hung upside-down on a nearby fence. "This is a place where people could pull out a joint and not have to fear being reported to the police, and that was okay with Canadians," said David Malmo-Levine, who was one of the four protesters later arrested. "It's really an attack on our sovereignty." The search was requested by the U.S. government through the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, a federal law administered by the Department of Justice. The warrant was authorized Thursday in B.C.'s Supreme Court, based on an affidavit provided by a Vancouver police officer. U.S. authorities say the warrant was the result of an 18-month investigation of Emery's international seed-selling business. The investigation involved about 38 DEA offices across the U.S. and allegedly linked marijuana seeds sold by Emery to indoor grow operations in several states, including New Jersey, Michigan and Florida. Jeff Sullivan, assistant U.S. attorney, alleged Friday during a news conference that more than 75 per cent of the seeds sold by Emery were sold to people in the U.S., and Emery was making about $3 million a year selling seeds and marijuana-growing equipment.
Note, in particular, how the US paper says it is Emery who claims to make $3 million a year, while the Canadian paper clarifies that this is just what the US Attorney alleges. The Sun notes the protests as well, which the Seattle paper, like other American papers, does not.

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Saturday, July 30, 2005

What would make Hans Island Canadian? 


By Cam Cardow, Ottawa Citizen

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Gonzo in the silly season 

Here's what passes for hard-hitting investigative journalism during the summer silly season - PM's travels paid for by taxpayers. The boondogle of Paul Martin's recent jaunt to Timmins is fearlessly exposed by the Globe and Mail. And reporter Gloria Galloway is shocked - SHOCKED! - that Paul Martin isn't even embarassed about such a horrendous and inappropriate waste. She writes "And he admits without hesitation that his travel was paid for by the taxpayers of Canada."
The story notes that Jack Layton and Stephen Harper have been travelling this summer too. Layton's tour "has been financed by his party and by using the limited travel points that are alloted [to MPs.] Other expenses have come out of MPs' office budgets" while Harper, says the article "has made extensive use of a party-funded minibus". So it sure sounds to me like taxpayers are funding at least a portion of their expenses too, though the article tries its best to bury this information through the use of obscure terminology for taxpayer's money ('travel points' and 'office budgets').
Basically, just another gonzo story.

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Friday, July 29, 2005

AP connects Bolton to the Niger claim 

This AP story - Rice Proposes State Department Shuffle - is very strange.
The first six paragraphs describe a announcement from Condi Rice to reorganize some unnamed State department offices into a Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation.
Then it veers off into a completely different track -- it lists things which Rice DID NOT mention during her announcement, and then it makes a surprising statement about John Bolton.
Not that I don't appreciate writer Anne Gearan's points -- she is titled as AP Diplomatic Writer, and apparently she knows her background.
But its very strange, none the less. After describing Rice's announcement about the office reorganization, the story continues:
Rice's brief address Friday said nothing about Saddam, al-Qaida or the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. The insurgency in Iraq is a mix of Sunni Arab opponents of the overthrow of Saddam and foreign supporters of al-Qaida and other terror groups bent on ousting the United States. Rice was once of the chief architects of the Iraq war as President Bush's first-term national security adviser, and she was one of the most vocal advocates of the administration's claim that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction that could be used against the United States or Iraq's neighbors. 'The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons,' Rice said in a September 2002 interview with CNN. 'But we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.' The State Department's existing Bureau of Arms Control and International Security was one of the arms of the U.S. government keeping track of Saddam's capabilities, and was a participant in the dealings surrounding the administration's false claim that Saddam tried to acquire uranium - a component of nuclear weapons - from the African nation of Niger. Until recently, that office was headed by John R. Bolton, now Bush's embattled nominee to be United Nations ambassador. The administration also contended Saddam had ties to al-Qaida terrorists, and hinted that he might provide them with WMD. That claim was rejected by the independent Sept. 11 Commission's report last summer.

And did you note this sentence (emphasis mine) : "The State Department's existing Bureau of Arms Control and International Security was . . . a participant in the dealings surrounding the administration's false claim that Saddam tried to acquire uranium . . . from the African nation of Niger. Until recently, that office was headed by John R. Bolton . . ."
Now, I haven't read every single thing about Plamegate or Rovegate or whatever it is now called, but I had not heard anything before that stated so firmly that Bolton was connected to the Niger claim.
Is this actually new news, buried in the 10th paragraph of an 11-paragraph story?
(Thanks to this Kos diary for the link.)

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Its a natural 

So Village Voice reporter Ron Pearlstein suggests that the Democrats should become the party which guarantees that Americans will never have to pay another bill for medical care, in this article Unfucking the Donkey.
Well, duhhhh!
Of course they should.
Why do they think the Liberals have now been in power in Canada for 12 years, with no end in sight? It was Martin's vigorous defense of the Canada Health Act and his promise to deal with waiting lists that likely gave him the thin margin of safety last June. Why do they think there is not a provincial premier anywhere in Canada, regardless of their party, who dares to talk about bringing back personally-funded health care -- except Ralph Klein, who is on his way out as premier.
If Social Security is the 'third rail' of American politics, medicare is Canada's third rail. We just will not do without it, regardless of how high a percentage of our income tax it consumes. It is perhaps the one government expenditure (other than, perhaps, highways) which everybody supports, everybody needs, and everybody uses.
Pearlstein writes "The most glorious thing about congressional Democrats is that they have drawn the line and said: No further. Don't. Touch. Social. Security. It is a heroic stand. What's more, it's been enormously politically effective. Now think about this: They are drawing on the capital of an entitlement passed 70 years ago. It is the duty of every generation of Democrats to produce new geese to lay 70 years of golden eggs. It is the only way our party has grown . . . Democratic congressmen can do that, for example, by making a credible collective pledge that if you vote Democrat enough you will never pay another medical bill as long as you live. You really think people wouldn't stop voting Republican then?"
If Hillary Clinton wants to run for President, she should promise to implement medicare. She is already associated with medicare in the public mind -- she was in charge of Clinton's health care effort 12 years ago. Her lack of success with this plan can now be blamed on the secret agenda of the Republicans who scuttled it not because medicare was a bad idea for Americans but because it was such a good idea -- the Republicans knew how effective it would be in it assuring a generation of middle-class votes for the democrats.
For Hillary, its her natural issue.

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Four guys in a gym in Leeds 

Juan Cole comments on the end of the GWOT:
. . . they have finally realized that if they are fighting a war on terror, the enemy is four guys in a gym in Leeds. It isn't going to take very long for people to realize that a) you don't actually need to pay the Pentagon $400 billion a year if that is the problem and b) whoever is in charge of such a war isn't actually doing a very good job at stopping the bombs from going off . . . former CIA analyst Marc Sageman estimates the number of radical Muslims who can and would do significant harm to the US in the hundreds. That's right. The old "war on terror" was a war of the world's sole superpower on a few hundred people. (I exclude Iraq because it is not and never was part of any 'war on terror,' though the incredible incompetence of the Bush administration has contributed to the ability of terrorists to operate there.)
Cole also has an interesting summary of how a suicide bomber is created -- worth reading.

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The Double CYA Rule 

I defer to POGGE in postings about the Maher Arar inquiry because he had done so much research in this area. But today, I couldn't resist posting about this snippet of bureaucratic buck-passing: The Globe and Mail: Mountie's lawyer accuses RCMP of shirking responsibility for Arar.
Here is what happened at the inquiry: "a lawyer [Don Bayne] for leading RCMP investigator Michel Cabana accused senior Mounties of ducking responsibility for the Arar affair by shifting blame to front-line officers . . . in the days after the Sept. 11 attacks, [then-Deputy RCMP Commissioner Gary]Leoppky issued an urgent directive to investigators to 'pull out all the stops' in giving the Americans whatever information they needed, as quickly as possible."
Now, however, Leoppky says that this directive didn't mean Cabana and other front-line RCMP officers were permitted to suspend the usual time-consuming restrictions on information-sharing with the US. So 'pulling out all the stops' actually just meant 'business as usual'. Who wouldda thunk it?
Its just another example of how people have to protect themselves in any bureaucracy. Call it the Double CYA (cover your ass) Rule -- if you think you have permission from a superior to ignore a policy, don't believe it. Before you actually do it, you must tell the superior in writing that you are going to do this, and get specific permission AGAIN. Sounds bureaucratic, I know -- but its a bureaucracy you're working in.



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Yes, I've heard that, too 

The main reason I subscribed to Salon several years ago was Garrison Keillor's Mr. Blue column. Then, he quit writing it.
But finally, he is back with a regular Salon column every Wednesday. And this week his column is about how many people in Washington have heard cool stuff about other people in Washington Thanks to All Spin Zone for the tip.

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Another eeuuuu! story 

Now here's a headline you don't see every day: Man gets amputated foot back after police seize it briefly.
People keep the darndest soveniers.
When the orthopods removed the 4"-long metal plate which had been used to fix my broken leg, they gave it to me at the hospital, telling me that most people wanted to keep these things. Well, not me. When I got home, out it went.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Has everyone signed on to GSAVE? 

Slate's Fred Kaplan notes a NYT story that the Bush administration has decided to change the name of its counterterrorist campaign from "the global war on terror"(GWOT) to "the global struggle against violent extremism" (GSAVE) He asks
. . . Are these guys really this clueless? First, this is the administration's solution to the spike in terrorist incidents, the Taliban's resurgence in Afghanistan, and the politico-military deterioration in Iraq - to retool the slogan? Second, the White House and the Pentagon are just now coming around to the idea that the struggle is as much ideological as military? This wasn't obvious, say, three or four years ago? . . . It took four years for the president of the United States to realize that fighting terrorism has a political component? It took six months for his senior advisers to retool a slogan? We are witnessing that rare occasion when the phrase "I don't know whether to laugh or cry" can be uttered without lapsing into cliché.
But the shallowness gets deeper still. The Times story doesn't notice what appears to be the driving force behind the new slogan—a desire for a happier acronym. Look at the first letters of Global War on Terrorism. GWOT. What does that mean; how is it pronounced? Gwot? Too frivolously rowdy, like a fight scene in a Marvel comic book (Bam! Pfooff! Gwot!). Gee-wot? Sounds like a garbled question (Gee what?). Then look at Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism. Its acronym is GSAVE—i.e., gee-save. We're out to save the world, see, not wage war on it. Or, as national security adviser Stephen Hadley puts it in the Times piece, "We need to dispute both the gloomy vision and offer a positive alternative." Does Hadley, and do all our other top officials, really believe this nonsense? Are they so enraptured with PR that they think a slogan and a strategy are the same thing and that retooling the one will transform the other? Have we lapsed into the banality of the mid-'70s, when President Gerald Ford tried to beat back 20-percent price hikes by urging Americans to wear gigantic lapel pins that read "WIN"—for Whip Inflation Now? The Times notes, midway into the story, that the "language shifts" come at a time when Karen Hughes, one of President Bush's most trusted advisers, is about to take over the State Department's office of "public diplomacy." If changing GWOT to GSAVE is a sign of campaigns to come, we are in sorrier shape than anyone might previously have imagined.

Three aspects Kaplan doesn't mention. First, as a number of bloggers have pointed out, Kerry said in October that the US should develop a criminal focus rather than a military forus to the GWOT, and the Republicans said this was ridiculous -- now, they also seem to be taking a criminal justice approach.
Second, this appears to be a change they are desperate to make quickly, so the Bush administration is rolling it out in mid-summer, instead of waiting until their preferred product-launch period in the fall.
And third, call me paranoid, but the Bush administration may see more substance to the change than just sloganeering.
"Terror" is rarer and more serious than "violent extremism". Terror is violence focused on civilians and innocent people which is designed to overthrow a government, while violent extremism can target infrastructure or economy or a specific cause. The goal of violent extremism can be much less radical, such as causing economic damage to an industry or challenging a country's justice system, or changing a particular law or policy. Acts of 'violent extremism' could include a large number of acts now seen as criminal, such as setting loose a computer virus or selling drugs to finance the purchase of weapons or being arrested for vandalism during a demonstration.
For example, one would not likely describe PETA as a terrorist group, though they are certainly violent extremists. Likewise one could define criminal organizations like the Mafia or the Hells Angels as violent extremists. Ultimately, the terminology could even apply to peace activists and groups. This NYT story from a week ago says "The Federal Bureau of Investigation has collected at least 3,500 pages of internal documents in the last several years on a handful of civil rights and antiwar protest groups . . . [and have said that] any intelligence-gathering activities related to political protests are intended to prevent disruptive and criminal activity at demonstrations . . ."
Expanding the terminology means all of these groups can be more easily targetted, monitored and proscuted though the Patriot Act, which allows all manner of warrentless searches and secret wiretaps.
Under the new terminology, the definition of what constitutes 'peace' becomes a meaningless concept. While wars have a beginning and an end, struggles can go on forever.
So while the range of action has widened, the focus of action has softened, making a situation where a much larger number of groups can be targetted for a much broader number of crimes for a much longer time. No wonder Bush wants the Patriot Act to be permanent.
After 9/11, there was a great rush of support for the US and their Global War on Terror as nations responded seriously to the Bush call for support. I wonder how many other countries will sign on to the Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism, especially as we come to understand its political and personal ramifications.
I wonder even how many Americans would sign on to this?

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Eeuuuu! story of the day 

If you barbeque, read this story -- Barbecuers beware: Bristles can fall off wire brushes, be ingested in food
When one of our Labradors was a puppy, he kept trying to eat just about anything, from stones to paper towels. And our vet told us the cheery stories of all these Labs they had operated on to remove socks etc. One story was about the Lab who ate a barbeque brush -- they had to operate to get the plastic handle, but they couldn't get all the bristles - some had to move out on their own. The Lab was OK eventually, though of course the owners were thousands poorer.
Needless to say, we immediately tossed the brush.

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CHEAP-TV 

So, is the problem really that there are no 'visuals'? In The Supreme Challenge: Zero Visuals Times 9, Washington Post's Howard Kurtz writes "The amount of airtime devoted to untangling [Supreme] court decisions has been dwarfed by the cases involving Martha Stewart, Michael Jackson and Kobe Bryant, not to mention wife killer Scott Peterson, runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks and missing-in-Aruba Natalee Holloway. By contrast, major court rulings on medical marijuana, racially influenced jury selection and government seizure of private property tend to be one- or two-day stories at best."
He blames the lack of visuals. But what he doesn't mention, and maybe doesn't realize, is this -- covering a police investigation story or a courtroom story is EASY, and therefore CHEAP. It requires virtually no research, promotes the excitement of 'breaking news' and gets the reporters lots of camera time.
For a missing person case, its all just interviews -- "And how did you feel when you saw the kidnappers driving away with your daughter?" -- and repetitions of police press releases.
For a courtroom case, its even easier -- just attend the trial, or even get a junior staffer to do it, then do a wrap-up outside-the-courthouse standup up just repeating what was said inside. "In dramatic testimony today, defendant XX told the jury . . . "
Hey, what could be simpler? "CHEAP-TV is now broadcasting live from . . . "

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How Democrats can shoot themselves in the foot 

This article -- Valuing Patriotism by Will Marshall from the Democratic Leadership Council is being rightly creamed by Kos, Digby, Atrios, and Gilliard.
In Canada, I don't think anyone would ever see such an article about one of our parties by a supposed 'supporter'. Or, if such a silly, subversive and self-promoting article were written, the party would ignore it.
Will Marshall founded and made himself president of something called the Progressive Policy Institute. His article, published in the magazine he edits, bashes the Democratic party's own core membership every second sentence while promoting his personal hobbyhorses as 'solutions' for the party's supposed problem. Marshall says that Democrats are not sufficiently patriotic (a basic RNC talking point -- is this guy actually a stealth Republican?) Then, he says Democrats should demonstrate their patriotism by, first, somehow getting Ivy League campuses like Harvard and Yale to reinstate the ROTC; second, stopping the promotion of increases in government spending on veterans benefits, military health care, military housing, etc and instead just promoting "intangible" support of "being recognized and honored for the sacrifices they make to preserve our way of life"; third, promoting a major expansion of the military, by 100,000 troops, to be paid for by raising taxes; and fourth, reinstating "national service"! Yes, he actually says that Democrats should show their patriotism by renaming the Selective Service System as the "national service system" and linking university grants and loans to "whose who agree to serve."
It should be noted that according to Will Marshall's biography, he has never actually been elected to anything. No wonder.

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Did you know . . .  

. . . there is a worldwide tire shortage? I didn't, but apparently it is affecting particularly the industries which use those vehicles with huge tires, like in the mining industry. Here's the story from today's Star Phoenix: Saskatoon StarPhoenix - canada.com network: "'We get calls from all around the world from tire dealers and customers looking for relief,' said Bob Bennett, general manager of the mining tire group at Kal Tire in Vernon, B.C. . . . Bennett has heard pleas from as far away as Russia, England and Chile, but with the Big Three manufacturers -- Michelin, Goodyear and Bridgestone -- struggling to keep pace with demand, there's little that can be done. [It is expected that] the issue will be resolved by mid-2006, but some industry estimates say it could be at least 2008 before suppliers catch up."

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But what does it MEAN? 

Progressive Blog Digest provides a roundup of recent Rovegate stuff: in summary, it depends on what the meaning of "negligent" is, it depends on what the meaning of "covert" is, it depends on what the meaning of "notify" is . . .

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Monday, July 25, 2005

It all comes down to the people's law vs. the 'divine' law 

We stopped subscribing to Newsweek after one too many cover stories about Jesus and his angels.
So without Orcinus, I would have missed this great column on the basic similarity between homegrown and international terrorism --Untrue Believers by Christopher Dickey:
The sentencing of Eric Rudolph, who bombed abortion clinics, a gay bar and the Atlanta Olympics, ought to be a milestone in the Global War on Terror . . . Rudolph killed two people, but not for want of trying to kill many more. In his 1997 attack on an Atlanta abortion clinic, he set off a second bomb meant to take out bystanders and rescue workers. Unrepentant, of course, Rudolph defended his actions as a moral imperative: “Abortion is murder, and because it is murder I believe deadly force is needed to stop it.” The Birmingham prosecutor declared that Rudolph had “appointed himself judge, jury and executioner.” Indeed. That’s what all terrorists have in common: the four lunatics in London earlier this month; the 19 men who attacked America on September 11, 2001; Timothy McVeigh in Oklahoma City, and many others. They were all convinced they had noble motives for wreaking their violence. Terrorists are very righteous folks. Which is why the real global war we’re fighting, let’s be absolutely clear, should be one of our shared humanity against the madness of people like these; the rule of man-made laws on the books against the divine law they imagine for themselves. It’s the cause of reason against unreason, of self-criticism against the firm convictions of fanaticism. [emphasis mine]. . . [Quoting writer Eric Hoffer] “faith in a holy cause is to a considerable extent a substitute for the lost faith in ourselves” fits the profile of terrorists everywhere. "in exchanging a self-centered for a selfless life we gain enormously in self-esteem. The vanity of the selfless, even those who practice utmost humility, is boundless." The threat is more vast when it comes from those inspired by Al Qaeda, because Osama bin Laden’s pseudo-chivalric ideology of “sacrifice” and “martyrdom” has proved so infectious among small groups of young people on the margins of Muslim societies. Rudolph and McVeigh were basically loners, although they, too, claimed they were fighting for a greater cause—in Rudolph’s case, the “right to life.” . . . the difference between rationalism and obscurantism should be underlined at every opportunity. And that’s not what’s happening. Instead, since the detour into Iraq it seems the intellectual compass of those who led us there has gotten lost in a fog of moral pieties, and sweet reason has surrendered to missionary zeal. To be a true believer in the Global War on Terror you are supposed to believe that we are fighting terrorists in Iraq, but that they would never think of fighting back outside of Iraq. Any effort to understand the enemy or his motivations is treated as an apology for what he does. At times we seem to be infected by the very pathology we are fighting against . . . facing the basic painful facts and addressing them logically, reasonably, without demagoguery is not a surrender to terrorism, it is the first crucial step toward defeating it. Righteous murderers may claim they're defending Islam or unborn babies, but clearer heads and common sense can distinguish true believers from those who believe in truth.

And while you are visiting Orcinus, take a gander at his next post, The Zigzag March of the Minutemen. I think Dave Neiwert is doing the best analysis in North America today on the dangers of the -isms (racism, anti-semitism, nationalism, fascism, etc)


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This is good news 

U.S. court issues tough opinion on cattle trade
They rejected all of the R-CALF arguments
. . . [Montana Judge] Cebull erred on all counts when he sided with Montana-based ranching group R-CALF, the [Appeal Court] judges said. Canadian ranchers hope the written reasons would now convince Cebull to shelve a planned hearing on the long-term fate of the border and rule to dismiss the case. Many U.S. groups were encouraged by the tone and content of the appeal court's 56-page opinion, which attacked, one by one, all the vehement objections to trade presented by R-CALF. 'We are very pleased with the opinion . . . which upholds every aspect of USDA's rule-making process,' said Terri Teuber, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, adding her agency is making no assumptions about what Cebull will do. 'It sends a strong signal to the district court about how this case should be resolved,' said Mark Dopp, spokesman for the American Meat Institute. 'It would certainly seem a logical step (to dismiss the case).'
But R-CALF won't be going down without a fight.
R-CALF made it clear Monday that it still wants a full hearing and the fight isn't over.
Round and round and round she goes, and where she stops, nobody knows.

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How many deaths does it take 'til we know that too many people have died 

Speaking of anti-war songs (see the Fonda post, below), I found myself humming "how many deaths does it take 'til we know that too many people have died" as I was reading this LA Times story, Shots to the Heart of Iraq (thanks, Buzzflash). The story is about the increasing number of innocent Iraqi civilians who have been shot by jumpy US troops.
The answer, my friend, is that too many people have already died in Iraq.

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She's baaaaack! 


This is the antiaircraft gun photo for which Jane Fonda later apologized.

Jane Fonda plans anti-war bus tour. "Actress and activist Jane Fonda says she intends to take a cross-country bus tour to call for an end to U.S. military operations in Iraq . . . Fonda said war veterans that she has met on a nationwide book tour have encouraged her to break her silence on the Iraq war. “I’ve decided I’m coming out,” she said. Hundreds of people in the audience cheered loudly when Fonda announced her intentions to join the anti-Iraq war movement."
I love it. And I only hope that Michael Moore can join her -- wouldn't the wingnuts just piss and moan about that!
Actually, I do think it is important for more people to step up to the plate and take on the American wingnuts. The Democratic party and MoveOn and Kos can't do it all alone.
Now, time for a few rousing choruses of "We shall overcome" and "Joe Hill" and "When Johnny came marching home" and "Hell, no, we won't go" . . .

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Scorpions 

In The Beirut Express Billmon writes: "Iraq is no longer a country (if it ever was) but a collection of scorpions in a bottle, each maneuvering for position to strike. "
Once again this Sunday, the New York Times had an article pointing toward the US surrender in Iraq.
Reporter John Burns has tried for two years or more to accentuate the positive and pretend the US occupation is making progress. But there's a limit. Even Burns has flipped now.
. . . opponents of the American-led invasion had warned [that] American troops could get caught in the crossfire between Sunnis and Shiites, Kurds and Turkmen, secularists and believers - reduced, in the grimmest circumstances, to the common target of a host of contending militias . . . [now] the nightmare could come true. Recent weeks have seen the insurgency reach new heights of sustained brutality . . . with Sunni insurgents targeting hundreds of Shiite and Kurdish civilians in suicide bombings. There are reports of Shiite death squads, some with links to the interior ministry, retaliating by abducting and killing Sunni clerics and community leaders. The past 10 days have seen such a quickening of these killings, particularly by the insurgents, that many Iraqis are saying that the civil war has already begun . . . One measure of the doubts afflicting American officials here has been a hedging in the upbeat military assessments that generals usually offer, coupled with a resort to statistics carefully groomed to show progress in curbing the insurgents that seems divorced from realities on the ground.

Over the last six months, I think the American military has already been withdrawing from vast areas of the country, turning policing over to the Kurd and Shiite militias. The American military is preparing to hunker down in its bases and abandon the rest of Iraq to its fate. Bush was promoting the idea that American troops would withdraw as Iraqi troops stood up. But now we are hearing increasingly that Iraq will not learn to defend itself until the Americans leave. I call this the 'tough love" excuse, and, as Billmon notes, it is a disgusting abandonment.
Some senior officers have said privately that there is a chance that the pullback will be ordered regardless of what is happening in the war, and that the rationale will be that Iraq - its politicians and its warriors - will ultimately have to find ways of overcoming their divides on their own. America, these officers seem to be saying, can do only so much, and if Iraqis are hellbent on settling matters violently - at the worst, by civil war - that, in the end, would be their sovereign choice.
.
Oh, yessiree bob -- I'm sure we all remember seeing those Iraqi people in January making a sovereign choice to vote for a violent civil war.

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Sunday, July 24, 2005

The Bette Midler response 

This is priceless.
A gay blogger called Manhattan Offender makes up a funny post about how Supreme Court nominee John Roberts must be gay (catholic boys school, wrestling team, drama club, took French -- you know, all the usual "gay" stuff!) -- How gay is this guy?
Well, it got picked up by Wonkette, the must-read Washington 'sex in the city' blog, who added the tidbit that, according to the NYT's fawning Roberts profile, it was also terribly suspicious that he had played Peppermint Patty in a school play.
Well, that got it going. But its mainly being talked about by right-wing bloggers who were shocked -- SHOCKED! -- that left wingers could come up sith such a horrible, disgusting smear campaign.
Powerline pontificates "Throughout American history, until now, there have been limits. There have been depths beneath which Americans would not sink for the sake of partisan advantage. Even during the Civil War, when the Democrats were fighting to preserve slavery, limits were observed [ED: oh yeah? check out Andersonville, and Sherman's march, and . . .] Now, all civility is gone. There is no depth to which some Democrats will not sink. Hold your nose. Things are only going to get worse. With MoveOn and the Daily Dose dominating Democratic politics, all constraints are gone."
And Reasoned Audacity writes "Of course it is the height of hypocrisy for the (allegedly) pro-tolerance crowd to start questioning someone's sexual preference. It's a strange and twisted tactic for those who are allied with the gay rights movement to try to make an issue out of someone supposedly being gay. Who cares? Well, that's just the point: they think we do. They think that they can undermine support for someone among conservatives if they can dredge up some sort of homosexual connection -- or, in this case, just the manufactured whiff of a question. If it weren't so cruel and small, it would be funny."
But. . . but . . . but. . . it IS funny.
It was supposed to be a joke - that is quite clear from Manhattan Offender's original post.
I guess being gay is such an terrible, horrible, no good, very bad prospect for right wingers that they simply cannot comprehend a gay person making a joke about a straight person being gay.
I can only conclude with what Bette Midler used to say "Fuck them if they can't take a joke."

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Saturday, July 23, 2005

Teach your children well 

AltHippo at the TPM Cafe directs us to photos on Rush Limbaugh's site showing dozens of people wearing his "Club G'itmo" t-shirts. The idea seems to be, while actually wearing the shirt, to go openly and courageously to some Libbrul place and have your photo taken. No chickenhawks here, these Limbaugh crusaders are carrying the fight to the enemy, taking the supreme risk of getting yelled at by actual libbruls at places like the Carter Centre, the Clinton Library, the FDR memorial, the Supreme Court building, a Birkenstock store, the University of Colorado, LL Bean, Starbucks, a Muslim-owned store in Dearborn, Michigan, and various Democratic Party offices. Why, one t-shirted man even had the guts to go to an actual anti-Bush demonstration for a photo, though he stayed across the street of course. Libbruls bite, you know.
Interestingly, the town of New London, CT, where the "eminent domain" court decision originated, was featured prominently in several photos -- anything that pisses these people off seems to be, by definition, 'libbrul'.
And the shirts have SUCH cute sayings on them, like 'Club G'itmo, Your Tropical Retreat from the Stress of Jihad' (also available as a car flag), 'I Got My Free Koran and Prayer Rug at G'itmo', 'What Happens in G'itmo Stays in G'itmo', and, for the kiddies, 'My Mullah went to Club G'itmo and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt'.
But it was the photos of the children that really got to me. I guess its just loads of fun for the whole family now to teach their kids to cheer for indefinite imprisonment, torture, and denial of the Geneva Convention.
Here's (left) Conner, 13, from Texas and (right) Dan, 14 and Mike, 10 (who also have a bunch of Limbaugh's other products, which he labels EIB for (gag!) Excellence in Broadcasting):



Here's (left) Victoria from Florida, and (right) Dan, 12 and Matt, 13, with Club Gitmo mugs

Here's Seth and Nate with their own Gitmo lego model

And finally, here's a couple of cute baby photos:

Oops, I'm so sorry, this last one isn't on Limbaugh's site after all. But it looked so much like the others, I guess I got confused.
Teach your children well -- their father's hell did slowly go by --
And feed them on your dreams; the one they pick's the one you'll know by.
Don't you ever ask them why. If they told you, you would cry.
So just look at them and sigh, and know they love you.

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Running from police into a subway station can be a capital offense 

The BBC is reporting 'Shot man not connected to bombing' The former police commander told the Beeb that "he expected officers to face criminal charges, and other officers could even refuse to carry weapons. "
I hope that criminal charges are not laid -- sounds like it was an honest, though horrendous, mistake.
He exited a house connected to the subway attacks, he looked like he was wearing explosives, he ran when police tried to stop him. then apparently he vaulted over the subway turnstiles and ran to the train. Perhaps he didn't speak English; perhaps he thought he was some hitman's target, not realizing that the people chasing him were police, or perhaps he did know they were police but he had committed some other crime and that's why he ran. But its understandable why police would think he was a suicide bomber determined to complete a mission, so they had no choice but to shoot him before he could trigger his explosives. In fact, police threw themselves on the man even though they believed they were risking their own lives, trying to protect the public.
Its very sad, but I think we all have to realize that in large cities or in sensitive locations like airports and subway stations, there is a very limited tolerance now for strange behaviour.
Just as people had to learn not to joke about hijacking at the airport, and teenagers had to learn not to joke about shooting their classmates, so people now need to recognize that running from police toward a subway station can be a capital offense.
When we visit a foreign country, we need to find out whether everyone will be on edge due to a recent terrorist activity, and we need to learn what "This is the police. Put your hands up" sounds like in their language. And the people for whom this new caution is most important -- the people who are most at risk in any of these security situations -- are men aged 15 to 40.

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Friday, July 22, 2005

Good, better, best 

Good

Patrick Corrigan, The Toronto Star

Better

Jeff Stahler, The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio

Best

Bill Day, The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tennessee

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Hooray for Canada -- that'll show ya! 

Canada wins dumbest gov't at World Stupidity Awards: "Canadians often feel we're in the shadow of the U.S., especially when it comes to stupidity, but now we're proving we're world class."
Oh, Canada!

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"Severed from its moral foundation" 

It's not just me.
Here's how Guantanamo is described by Washington State writer Mike Whitney in this Smirking Chimp article 'Guantanamo: The calculus of human misery':
Guantanamo was intentionally shoved in the world's face to announce the arrival of the New World Order; the neocon phantasm of autocratic rule and perpetual war. It has become the foremost icon of the Bush regime; an ominous stone monument to human cruelty. It is cleverly disguised as a prison facility but, in fact, Guantanamo is a state of the art laboratory where the parameters of human suffering are explored by a highly-trained staff of professionals. To be precise, it is a "Torture-lab" replete with all of the modern gadgetry required for enhancing pain . . . psychiatrists, psychologists and other medical professionals worked intimately with the military at Guantanamo "advising officials on how to conduct harsh interrogations of detainees". Their experimentation focuses on establishing the limits of human endurance; trying to gauge, through original and highly-controversial techniques, the maximum agony their subjects can withstand before they die or become unresponsive. This is not merely torture, but the science of sadism; a finely-tuned regimen of systematic abuse, the calculus of human misery. It has become a vital adjunct to the new American foreign policy . . . Guantanamo is the truest expression of Bush's America; a looming block monolith where the crimes of empire can be carried out with impunity. It has become the primary symbol of the global onslaught on international law, personal liberty and human decency. Languishing beneath the blood-striped standard, the gun-towers and concertina wire depict an America that has changed at its very core; a rogue nation severed from its moral foundation; executing the coercive policies of the state.

And today it was announced that the Pentagon is not going to follow a judicial order to release more Abu Ghraib photos and videos. In June they asked the judge for more time so they could redact the faces in the photos; now they are asking for an exemption not to release anything -- "to withhold law enforcement-related information in order to protect the physical safety of individuals."
This is a laugh -- NOW they're worried about people's physical safety?
These new photos and videos apparently show, in Rumsfeld's own testimony to congress as quoted in a 2004 news story "acts that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel and inhuman". The news story quotes NBC news as saying that the unreleased images show American soldiers beating one prisoner almost to death, apparently raping a female prisoner, acting inappropriately with a dead body, and taping Iraqi guards raping young boys. It also quotes Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham "We're not just talking about giving people a humiliating experience; we're talking about rape and murder and some very serious charges.'' Seymour Hersch said last year that the videos cover "women who were arrested with young boys/children . . . The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. The worst about all of them is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking."
Its probably their own safety that Rumsfeld and the Pentagon staff are worried about.

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Pandering to our Inner Joe 

' Ontarians to have say in whether province changes daylight saving time'. This stikes me as meaningless pandering to Canadian ego, our Inner Joe -- 'I don't change my watch when Americans do! I am Canadian.'
The Ontario attorney general Michael Bryant is quoted in this story as saying "Our government's going to do what's in Ontarians' interests, which does not necessarily mean automatically following in lockstep with the United States government's change to daylight saving time."
So I guess it is in Ontario's interest to dither, causing disruption and anxiety to businesses across the province before making the obvious decision, eh?
Can anyone give me any reason for Ontario, or any other Canadian province which is already on DST, to not just follow the American hours for Daylight Savings Time? Most provinces have significant US border trade plus Ontario has industrial involvement in US industries like the auto industry, so why on earth would Ontario NOT want to be on the same time as Detroit and Buffalo and New York?
Being in Saskatchewan myself, where we don't bother to switch times anymore, we feel that time is just an arbitrary constructed concept anyway.
We don't change our clocks because of the very early evening or very late morning which DST would cause to half of the province. Being on Manitoba time in the winter means Yorkton isn't dark by the time school lets out, while being on Alberta time in the summer means Lloydminster gets longer summer evenings. It works out for everything except the TV schedules.

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Stand and deliver 

The Senate is trying to hijack the defense spending bill to do somthing about torture, so naturally the White House is threatening to veto the bill.
Let Bush bluster and threaten -- what odds would anyone give me that Bush would actually issue his first veto in five years over the 'principle' that the president should be able to imprison and torture people at whim?
And its about time the Senate stepped up. The issue is this: the US Senate is reviewing a $442 billion expenditure for US defense programs. Republicans John McCain and Lindsay Graham are working with Armed Services Committee chair John Warner to add amendments to the bill to standardize treatment of prisoners, to define the legal status of the Guantanamo prisoners, to barr the holding of "ghost" detainees, to codify a ban against cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment, and to use the Army manual as a basis for all interrogations. Democratic senator Carl Levin also wants to add an amendment to establish a commission on abuses, which the Pentagon says would be just "political theatre".
So now the White House has announced that such amendments would "interfere with the protection of Americans from terrorism by diverting resources from the war." and has threatened veto "if legislation is presented that would restrict the president's authority to protect Americans effectively from terrorist attack and bring terrorists to justice."
I think the Pentagon and the White House will find that their 'political capital' on the torture issue is long since spent. McCain, Graham and Levin aren't going to let their own presidential campaigns be hijacked over torture and Guantanamo.
Not to mention, of course, that stopping all this stuff is the right thing to do. In the past, Congress and the American people could expect that their executive branch would defend the American constitution -- in his oath of office, the president swears to protect and defend the American constitution. But the Bush gang demonstrated their basic contempt for the constitution when they responded to 911 by so quickly and eagerly embracing the characteristics of dictatorship -- torture, imprisonment without trial, and abandonment of habeas corpus. More than any other issue, this revolting stampede to abandon constitutional principles has caused a substantial loss of US respect and prestige around the world, and rightfully so.

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Thursday, July 21, 2005

Dueling leaks 

If the Supreme Court nominee announcement was intended to distract everyone from Plamegate, it worked.
For about 24 hours.
Here's Thursday's front page story in the Washington Post -- 'Plame's Identity Marked As Secret' which describes the State Department memo that Powell was supposedly carrying around Air Force One on the trip to Africa and which said that "The paragraph identifying [Valerie Wilson] as the wife of former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV was clearly marked to show that it contained classified material at the 'secret' level, two sources said. The CIA classifies as 'secret' the names of officers whose identities are covert . . . Anyone reading that paragraph should have been aware that it contained secret information . . . It is a federal crime, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, for a federal official to knowingly disclose the identity of a covert CIA official if the person knows the government is trying to keep it secret."
I also have the impression from this story that the Fitzgerald investigation staff (and maybe Powell, too) are countering with their own leaks the heavy spinning of leaks from the GOP usual suspects about Rove's Sargeant Schultz imitation -- he knew nu-thing, NU-THING!

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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

"Delayed indefinitely" or "still on the docket"? 

The Globe and Mail: Mad-cow case delayed indefinitely
Well, I'm not sure I would use the term "indefinitely" for this delay -- when the written reasons why the appeal court overturned Judge Cebull's injunction are received, then the Judge will decide whether to schedule another hearing.
The Billings Gazette reported the story this way last Friday: "A hearing on a request for permanent injunction against Canadian live cattle entering the United States is still on the docket of U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull in Billings. The judge will make no decision on the July 27 trial until he has reviewed the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals' reasons for dissolving his preliminary injunction, issued March 2, his law clerk said Friday afternoon. "
Cebull's injunction in March was pretty supportive of R-CALF's case in just about every respect.
The USDA has evidenced a preconceived intention, based upon inappropriate considerations, to rush to reopen the border regardless of uncertainties in the agency's knowledge of the possible impacts on human and animal health. Deference cannot be given to an agency that has made the decision to open the border before completing the necessary scientific analysis or risks to human health. The USDA cannot favor trade with Canada over human and animal health within the U.S. . . Plantiff has demonstrated the numerous procedural and substantive shortcomings of the USDA's decision to allow importation of Canadian cattle and beef. The serious irreparable harm that will occur when Canadian cattle and meat enter the U.S. and co-mingle with the U.S. meat supply justifies issuance of a preliminary injunction preventing the expansion of imports allowed under the Final Rule pending a review on the merits. As the States of Connecticut, New Mexico, North Dakota, Montana, Nevada, South Dakota and West Virginia have stated in the Amicus Curiae Brief: "The threats are great. Delay is prudent and largely harmless."
As well as the brief from seven states, the U.S. congress also passed in March a joint motion of disapproval of the border reopening.
So I don't think we can assume we are out of the woods quite yet.

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"It coulda been worse" -- what a resounding endorsement! 

Yale law professor Robert W. Gordon provides some initial reactions to Bush's supreme court nominee John Roberts:
Roberts is a very conservative nominee. Both business and social conservatives will support him strongly . . . his career locates him solidly on the far right of today's Court, the Rehnquist-Scalia-Thomas wing . . . All the indications are that he will become another vote to expand presidential power in national-security affairs, to limit the federal government's authority to regulate business and the environment and protect civil rights, to make it harder for women, minorities, labor and the disabled to pursue practical remedies in the courts, and to favor a larger role for religion in public life and as object of public subsidy. He is most likely to do this incrementally, case-by-case, rather than by sweeping new doctrines. My guess is that he would not vote to overrule Roe v. Wade but would sustain state efforts to chip away at abortion rights. On economic liberties, however, he might well be a more adventurous innovator. He wrote articles as a law student suggesting that courts use novel theories of the Takings and Contracts clauses of the Constitution to strike down state action affecting business (such as legislation creating new rights for workers). He has done advisory work for right-wing public-interest firms like the Washington Legal Foundation. He may well be a quiet but effective influence for the piecemeal demolition of the regulatory welfare state. Because his style is quiet and low-key, he is more likely to attract votes of fellow Justices than the inflammatory Scalia and the mediocre Thomas. Roberts will be very hard to challenge, because all Bush's choices were bound to be bad and this one could have been much worse.

Actually, maybe not. Sure, Bush could have pandered to the Christian Right by nominating Judge Roy Moore, but he, like Bolton, is such a controversial figure that he would never have been confirmed. A stealth conservative like Roberts will attract just enough Democratic support to be confirmed -- just in time to rule on these cases, and perhaps also on Rove's conviction.

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It's all going according to plan -- but it's Iran's plan 

Robert Scheer writes about Iraq's dangerous new friend, Iran.
So the United States has destroyed their army as an effective fighting machine and strangled their economy and destroyed their reputation for abiding by the rule of law and killed or injured tens of thousands of people -- all for the sake of establishing in Iraq a religious fundamentalist regime which prefers to ally with Iran.
Forced democratization of Iraq, according to its neocon architects, was supposed to secure oil for the U.S., protect Israel, open markets to Western corporations and, oh yeah, maybe even decrease terrorism. After the invasion, however, the U.S. . . . was loath to allow elections, because their outcome would probably not produce a pliant government. Then Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the Shiite religious leader, threatened to take his followers into the streets against the foreign occupation if one-person-one-vote elections were not allowed. And when it became clear the "wrong" guys might win the elections the U.S. was forced to hold, the Bush White House, according to an investigative article by Seymour Hersh in the current New Yorker, tried to buy the vote for former CIA asset Iyad Allawi. When Allawi's slate was soundly defeated, what was Bush to do? With absolutely nothing having gone right in Iraq between the successful military invasion and the inspiring election nearly two years later, he had no choice but to embrace the winners — mostly Shiite, mostly fundamentalists — as the saviors of a free and democratic Iraq. Sadly, they are nothing of the sort. In Basra, where they have been in power since the U.S. invasion, religious thugs are in de facto control, applying more oppressive theocratic rules over women's behavior and other basic human rights than neighboring Iran. Even worse, their victory has fueled fierce Sunni resentment, and the accompanying insurgency has begun targeting Shiite civilians with the clear goal of fomenting ethnic war. Over the weekend, more than 100 people were killed by suicide bombers. Sistani himself denounced what he ominously said was now a "genocidal war." Facing that hideous possibility, is it surprising to find the Iraqi government looking for help from powerful Iran? No, but it certainly poses a problem for the White House, which now finds itself putting American soldiers' lives on the line every day to prop up an active ally of the country that we claim, with some plausibility, funds anti-Israeli and other terror groups and is bent on making its own nuclear bomb. Somewhere a guy named Osama bin Laden must be laughing.
And Iraqi prime minister Jafari paid tribute to the shrine of Ayatollah Khomeini.

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'The difference is to the human spirit' 

Canada adopts gay marriage law
Next step is royal assent.
The Senate erupted in a loud cheer as it adopted the Liberal government's Bill C-38, which will give gay and lesbian couples the right to marry in courthouses and city halls across the country. The 47-21 vote came after years of court battles and debate that divided families, religious groups and even political allies. Three senators abstained. There are currently 95 sitting senators and 10 vacancies. The final word in the debate came from a Liberal senator who read to the hushed chamber an e-mail from a Yukon constituent. 'You have no idea what a difference it makes to the human spirit to know that you are treated equally under the law,' said Ione Christensen, the 71-year-old senator from Whitehorse.
But even now, some just do not get it.
"Let the country speak at the next federal election," Tory Senator Gerry St. Germain said hours before the bill passed. "Let's not pass this legislation now. Let's wait. Let's make (the election) a referendum on this bill."
Equal rights are NOT a voting issue. Rights are an expression of law, not of opinion.
We can have elections about government policies and government actions, like war or peace, trade, protectionism, immigration, interest rates, wage controls, federalism, etc etc -- these are things over which government has a choice, so it is quite right that Canadians should decide on what policy they want government to follow. But once the courts have declared that the charter mandates equal rights, it is no longer a matter of government choice whether to follow the court decision or not -- the court decision is the law of the land unless the notwithstanding clause is enacted.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Rice? Are you kidding? 

Buzzflash links to this story - Some in GOP Hope Rice Runs for President - by titling its link this way "Some in GOP Want Someone Who Was Warned of 9/11 and Did Nothing to Replace the Man in Charge of Our National Security Who Was Warned of 9/11 and Did Nothing". Says it all, really.

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Hate-preach 

Is there something in the communion wine these days that makes Anglicans and Catholics and now Baptists so prone to hate-preach?
From Steve Gilliard, we get notice of a sermon by Washington DC Baptist minister Willie Wilson, who is noted in Washington now for trying to organize another Million Man March. So he decided it was timely and appropriate for him to hate-preach against gay people, as described in this story - Minister's fiery anti-gay sermon riles activists.
Two quotes from the speech just cry out to be highlighted:
Lesbianism is about to take over our community. I’m talking about young girls. My son in high school last year, trying to go to the prom, he said, ‘Dad, I ain’t got nobody to take to the prom because all the girls in my class are gay. There ain’t but two of them straight and both of them are ugly. I ain’t got nobody to take to the prom.’ Now, can I talk here? I ain’t homophobic, because everybody in here got something wrong with him . . .
Well, no wonder nobody would date this boy -- just how attractive does he sound to you? Telling a boy you are gay may have become the ultimate turn-down line in high school these days. And here's another quote, even funnier:
Can't make no connection with a screw and another screw. The Bible says God made them male and female . . . there is something unique to man and unique to woman and it takes those two things to complement each other. You can't make a connection with two screws. It takes a screw and a nut!

Well, I'll say!

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Westmoreland gone at last 

Vietnam-Era Commander Westmoreland Dies
There are many things written in this article that upset me, but mainly that Westmoreland lived to be 91 when Americans and Vietnamese died by the hundreds of thousands 35 years ago. Here one of the most annoying parts ot this story: Westmoreland "contended the United States did not lose the conflict in Southeast Asia. 'It's more accurate to say our country did not fulfill its commitment to South Vietnam,' he said. 'By virtue of Vietnam, the U.S. held the line for 10 years and stopped the dominoes from falling.' " 60,000 Americans dead and this jerk wanted more to die just because he could not bring himself to admit that Vietnam was simply not 'winnable' against the North Vietnamese.

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Monday, July 18, 2005

Hooray! 

CBC Saskatchewan - Truckload of Canadian cattle enters U.S.: "A truck carrying live Canadian cattle crossed the border from Ontario into the United States on Monday morning, after a ban of more than two years was lifted."
Finally.

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Sunday, July 17, 2005

POWs this time? 

'Canada's JTF-2 to hunt al Qaeda in Afghanistan' and when we catch some, are we going to turn them over to the US again, to disappear in Guantanamo or some other secret US prison, or will we treat them as prisoners of war, the way they are supposed to be treated?

This Canadian Press photo shows JTF2 soldiers with Afghan prisoners in 2002, who apparently were turned over to the US.

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Pining for the good old days 

Ohhh, poor babies!
In this story about the Senate hearings on the gay marriage bill, "Church to restrict baptism of gay couples' children", a Catholic cardinal complains about all the problems that it will cause when Canada requires that everybody be treated fairly and equally. "If I take the example of the ceremony of baptism, according to our canon law, we cannot accept the signatures of two fathers or two mothers as parents of an infant," Cardinal Ouellet told the committee. "With a law that makes these unions official, situations of this will multiply and this threatens to disturb not just the use of our territory, but also our archives and other aspects of the life of our communities."
Ohhh, isn't that just so sad, too bad. It would have been so much easier to continue to discriminate, I guess, rather than to review your church policies and maybe consider changing them. If only Canadian society didn't insist on gay people being treated like everybody else, then the Catholic church would be free to continue to treat gays like dirt. Damn you, Canadian society!
So difficult to live in the 21st century, isn't it, when you really want to live in the 17th or 18th -- when Catholics and Protestants were slaughtering each other across Europe and the Inquisition was running around burning people at the stake. Ahhh, the good old days.

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Saturday, July 16, 2005

What's it all about, Georgie? 

Frank Rich, in his column Follow the Uranium, cuts through the bullshit and focuses on what it'a all about -- the lies told by Bush and Cheney to start the war in Iraq.
. . . we shouldn't get hung up on [Rove] . . . [or] Matt Cooper or Judy Miller or the Wilsons or . . . Robert Novak. This scandal is not about them in the end, any more than Watergate was about Dwight Chapin and Donald Segretti or Woodward and Bernstein. It is about the president of the United States. It is about a plot that was hatched at the top of the administration and in which everyone else, Mr. Rove included, are at most secondary players. This case is about Iraq, not Niger. The real victims are the American people, not the Wilsons. The real culprit . . . is not Mr. Rove but the gang that sent American sons and daughters to war on trumped-up grounds and in so doing diverted finite resources, human and otherwise, from fighting the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11. That's why the stakes are so high: this scandal is about the unmasking of an ill-conceived war . . . and its omniscient author is Dick Cheney. . . Once we were locked into the war, and no W.M.D.'s could be found, the original plot line was dropped with an alacrity that recalled the "Never mind!" with which Gilda Radner's Emily Litella used to end her misinformed Weekend Update commentaries on "Saturday Night Live." The administration began its dog-ate-my-homework cover-up, asserting that the various warning signs about the uranium claims were lost "in the bowels" of the bureaucracy or that it was all the C.I.A.'s fault or that it didn't matter anyway, because there were new, retroactive rationales to justify the war. But the administration knows how guilty it is. That's why it has so quickly trashed any insider who contradicts its story line about how we got to Iraq, starting with the former Treasury secretary Paul O'Neill and the former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke. Next to White House courtiers of their rank, Mr. Wilson is at most a Rosencrantz or Guildenstern. The brief against the administration's drumbeat for war would be just as damning if he'd never gone to Africa. But by overreacting in panic to his single Op-Ed piece of two years ago, the White House has opened a Pandora's box it can't slam shut . . .

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Friday, July 15, 2005

Divine Rights 

Krugman's column this morning provides an object lesson for all of us living in democracies, from both sides of the blogosphere: nothing is perfect. Every political party. even your own, is sometimes wrong. Every political leader, even one you revere or love, makes mistakes.
Just because he's the leader of your country doesn't mean that everything he does is right.
We should all repeat this, as a mantra, five times a day. Otherwise, as we indulge in our partisan rants and ravings, its just too easy to fall into the same kind of thoughtless, unprincipled, knee-jerk, hero-worship cult which appears to be taking over US politics.
From Krugman's column: Karl Rove's America:
What Mr. Rove understood, long before the rest of us, is that we're not living in the America of the past, where even partisans sometimes changed their views when faced with the facts. Instead, we're living in a country in which there is no longer such a thing as nonpolitical truth. In particular, there are now few, if any, limits to what conservative politicians can get away with: the faithful will follow the twists and turns of the party line with a loyalty that would have pleased the Comintern . . . there's no question that [Rove] damaged national security for partisan advantage. If a Democrat had done that, Republicans would call it treason. But what we're getting, instead, is yet another impressive demonstration that these days, truth is political. One after another, prominent Republicans and conservative pundits have declared their allegiance to the party line. They haven't just gone along with the diversionary tactics, like the irrelevant questions about whether Mr. Rove used Valerie Wilson's name in identifying her . . . or the false, easily refuted claim that Mr. Wilson lied about who sent him to Niger. They're now a chorus, praising Mr. Rove as a patriotic whistle-blower. Ultimately, this isn't just about Mr. Rove. It's also about Mr. Bush, who has always known that his trusted political adviser . . . is a thug, and obviously made no attempt to find out if he was the leaker. Most of all, it's about what has happened to America. How did our political system get to this point?
I think that frankly, sir, people don't give a damn. Too many people can't be bothered reading up on issues and thinking about things and formulating their opinions -- that's too much work. Its easier just to go along to get along.
Particularly easy is to fall into the belief that the leader is always right just because he's the leader. And seeing this happen to a democracy as long-established as the US is just a little scary for the rest of us -- will there come a time when our own democracy is just too much work, where it will be easier to just go along with every crackpot, harebrained spin cycle of "our party" and "our leader" than to consider a contrary position?
That path leads to the divine right of kings.

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How stupid (etc, etc): part 2 

Rove Reportedly Held Phone Talk on C.I.A. Officer. This NYT story makes no sense.
We're supposed to believe the story of an anonymous source that it was actually Novak who told Rove that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA. And then, apparently, Mr. Motor Mouth just passed the rumour on to Cooper without really checking it or thinking much more about it. So see, folks, Rove is innocent -- innocent, I tell you!
The bullsh*t meter is clanging loudly.
Wilson's op ed was published July 6 and the Rove-Novak conversation happened July 8. The discussion about Wilson -- which was the biggest story on the planet that week -- supposedly happened only casually, at the end of Novak's discussion with Rove about homeland security hirings. The mythical Rove-Novak "Homeland Security personnel" discussion is perhaps not quite as incredible as the mythical Rove-Cooper "welfare reform" discussion three days later, but its close -- and once again, with Cooper, the Wilson discussion supposedly happened only casually at the end of the phone call.
This charming Novak tale doesn't explain at all how Rove apparently "knew" that Valerie Wilson had suggested or mentioned that her husband knew people in Niger. And it doesn't explain why Rove told Chris Matthews that "Wilson's wife is fair game". And particularly it doesn't explain the actions of Rove's lawyer over the last week -- do you think if Rove actually had heard the Plame information casually from Novak in the first place, that his lawyer wouldn't have found a way to mention this at some time in the last week?
They must think we're pretty dumb.

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Congratulations, Simon Pole 

Progressive Bloggers in Wikipedia
Hey, the Progressive Bloggers made it into Wikipedia.
And congratulations particularly to Simon Pole who led the charge to save the PB listing, and posted dozens of times to inform the Wiki editors about the significance of the Progressive Bloggers site. I think Canadian political blog sites will have an easier time in the future getting their entries onto Wikipedia because Simon kept hammering home the importance of political blogging in the Canadian political scene, and also ensured that the Wiki editors learned about the differences between the US and Canada in terms of the blogosphere.

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Thursday, July 14, 2005

War with China? 

Top Chinese general warns US over attack: "General Zhu said his views did not represent official Chinese policy and he did not anticipate war with the US."
Oh. Well. So that's OK then. (I hope.)

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How stupid do they think people are? 

The dumbest thing about the Rove Defense so far is this idea that Rove and Cooper were chatting about welfare reform on Friday, July 11 two years ago, just before Karl went on holidays.
Such a hot topic, welfare reform, wasn't it?
And then, supposedly, the subject of Joe Wilson just happened to come up, just casual-like, right at the end of the call.
Bullsh*t.
The Wilson op ed had appeared FIVE DAYS BEFORE in the New York Times, causing Bush and Rice to spend EVERY DAY SINCE stuck with an hysterical press corps in Africa screaming about yellowcake and Iraq, while Bush and Cheney and Rice were frantically spinning the "it was just 16 words" meme and supposedly trying to track down the error, culminating in Tennant falling on his sword about the State of the Union error later that very same evening.
And Cooper and Rove were supposedly just chatting about welfare reform? Well, maybe Cooper didn't care about the hottest news story on the planet, but Rove sure did.

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UUAT 

Over at MyDD, there's a post linking Rove to Watergate as well as 'Leakgate' -- interesting stuff.
But while reading the comments to this article, I also found out this little known (or, at least, unknown to me) fact about Rove -- that he dropped out of the University of Utah in 1971. It started me wondering -- why would he do that?
Maybe its now time to start the University of Utah Alumni for Truth (UUAT).
So Rove just "dropped out" of the University of Utah in 1971? Perhaps a check with his fellow students and professors is in order to see if, really perhaps, he may have been booted out for cheating.
Now of course, I am not making ANY accusations whatsoever, just that someone really should discuss this on a few talk shows, now that this serious question has been raised.
And why, once he left university, was he not drafted and sent to Vietnam? Did Nixon personally issue a special deferrment? Or did Rove tell the draft board that he was gay? And was this the truth, or did he just lie to get out of serving in the military?
Once again, of course, I am not making ANY accusations whatsoever, just asking.
But of course, now that these serious questions have been raised, well, once again they must all be discussed in detail on the talk shows. The UUAT should demand definitive and documented answers to these serious questions! The UUAT wants Rove to release ALL of his medical and university and selective service records, so that the UUAT can see for itself what the truth really is!

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"Oops! My bad" 

Saying 'sorry', 'oops'. and 'my bad', just doesn't cut it.
This is why Canada doesn't have a death penalty and will never have one again: Convicted, Executed, Not Guilty
And also, of course, David Millgard, Guy Paul Morin, Donald Marshall . . .

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My helpful nature 

Gee, I must be well known around the world for my helpful nature, my generous personality, my intuitive warmth and graciousness.
I just got ANOTHER opportunity to help someone in Africa or somewhere, by allowing them to deposit $16 million in my bank account.
Thanks, guys. Its so nice to be famous.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Bolton? Who's that? 

White House urges another vote on Bolton
Yes, I'll bet they'd be thrilled right about now if there was some more controversy about Bolton, to the point that he would dominate the front pages again, instead of all the stories about Rove and Iraq and WMD and all that -- ah, the good old days of a month ago, when it was all Bolton, all the time.

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Liars 

OK, I'll just quote the whole Poorman post:
Larry “Grandmama” Johnson: "At the end of the day, Joe Wilson was right. There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. It was the Bush Administration that pushed that lie and because of that lie Americans are dying. Shame on those who continue to slander Joe Wilson while giving Bush and his pack of liars a pass. That’s the true outrage."
Furreal. And it’s not like there’s all these otherwise decent people out there who just kinda happened to fall on the wrong side of the fence on this particular issue. In fact, I’d say that there is a pretty strong correlation between engaging in one of the following activities and engaging in the other two:
1. Smearing Joseph Wilson and pooh-pooh’ing (or cheering) the well-documented and now admitted burning of a CIA operative.
2. Condoning, excusing, downplaying, and/or ignoring the extensive use of torture under the Bush Administration, while smearing anyone who actually opposes it.
3. Passing along every half-assed rumor about how Saddam and Osama were best friends and had this huge underground a-bomb factory together, and smearing and slandering anyone who questions any of this Administration’s destructive nonsense.
If you are one of these people, you can basically just shut the fuck up forever, starting now. I don’t care if you are ashamed of yourself, I don’t give half a fuck about you either way, I just want to make sure that your bullshit is never listened to ever again. Enough already.

Morality, anyone? Don't any of these people go to church?

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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Intentional is as intentional does 

Hmmm . . .
OK, one more point on the Rove thing, and then I'll quit.
The US law is described as saying no one can “intentionally disclose[] any information identifying [a] covert agent to any individual not authorized to receive classified information”.
Now, the common interpretation of the word "intentional" in the Rove story so far has been in the sense of "intended to reveal a secret" -- in other words, only if Rove knew Plame was covert and told Novak anyway could the leak be described as "intentional". This is certainly the spin that Rove's lawyer is using.
But suppose the word "intentional" in a legal sense means only "not accidental" -- in other words, because Rove knew he was speaking to a reporter, anything he said was "intentional" regardless of what he knew or why he said it. In that sense, a "non-intentional" leak would have been if Rove was talking about Plame to the head of the CIA on the phone, and Novak had sneaked up to his office door to overhear the phone call.
Hmmm . . .

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Unfit 

Juan Cole provides a concise summary of the whole Rove issue: Rove Unfit for Public Office: "Whether the courts can and will punish Karl Rove for telling Time Magazine's Matthew Cooper that Joe Wilson's wife was a CIA operative should be beside the point. That's for the courts to decide. The real question is whether we want a person to occupy a high office in the White House when that person has cynically endangered US national security to take a petty sort of revenge on a whistleblower." Read it all.

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Put your sweet lips a little closer to the phone 

The tune is now in my head:
Put your sweet lips a little closer to the phone
Let's pretend that we're together all alone.
I'll tell the man to turn the jukebox way down low.
And you can tell your friend there with you, he'll have to go.
Why? Well, it seems like there's a history of 'sweet lips' between Rove and Novak. From MyDD comes this link -- Karl Rove and Novak: They've Talked Before "Karl Rove was fired from the 1992 re-election campaign of Bush Sr. for allegedly leaking a negative story about Bush loyalist/fundraiser Robert Mosbacher to Novak. Novak's piece described a meeting organized by then-Senator Phil Gramm at which Mosbacher was relieved of his duties as state campaign manager because "the president's re-election effort in Texas has been a bust." Rove was fired after Mosbacher fingered him as Novak's source."

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Oh, for crying out loud 

We won. You lost. Stop grandstanding.
Anti-same-sex group lobbies Queen: " The former television host of 100 Huntley Street is leading a group urging Queen Elizabeth to step in and block Parliament from passing same-sex marriage legislation."

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Maybe this time 

Some in the blogosphere, having been burned many times before, are concluding that unless Rove is actually charged with obstruction or perjury or criminally outing a CIA agent, he's going to be staying in the White House. All that stuff from Bush two years ago about how the leaker would be fired were just the usual BS, they're saying, and the Republicans are going to try to make everything Joe Wilson's fault. Here's The Poorman's Ships post:
. . . it is important to appreciate that there is a vast, vast ocean of difference between picking on some NY Times reporter and actually, you know, doing things which will make the White House upset. The right-wing smear machine hasn't tried to tear Fitzgerald down, the Justice Department and/or Congress hasn't taken away his funding, and Tom DeLay hasn't yet darkly warned any activist judges or jurists who might sit on such criminal cases as may result from this investigation that he cannot be responsible for the potentially violent actions of patriotic citizens which may understandably result from any anti-American type of outcome. It's not impossible that we could see justice come out of this thing, and perhaps even the long-awaited frogmarch, but I wouldn't get my hopes up. Too many people just want to see this story sail away.
But I wonder if it will actually be so easy -- are people in the United States finally getting fed up? According to Americablog, a lot of newspaper editorial pages this morning were on this story. John writes:

. . . the coverage is bad. Real bad. I'm going to post the leads of the stories, to give you a sense of how bad.
NYT (via SF Chronicle): Nearly two years after stating that any administration official found to have been involved in leaking the name of an undercover CIA officer would be fired, and assuring that Karl Rove and other senior aides to President Bush had nothing to do with the disclosure, the White House refused on Monday to answer any questions about new evidence of Rove's role in the matter.
Detroit Free Press: The White House refused Monday to repeat earlier assertions that any administration official who leaked classified information would be fired. The refusal comes days after Karl Rove, one of President George W. Bush's top aides, was revealed as the source of a news leak that exposed a CIA undercover officer in 2003.

Houston Chronicle: The White House scrambled Monday to reconcile President Bush's vow to fire anyone who leaked information about an undercover CIA operative with revelations that top political aide Karl Rove spoke to a reporter about the agent.
AP: The White House is suddenly facing damaging evidence that it misled the public by insisting for two years that presidential adviser Karl Rove wasn't involved in leaking the identity of a femaleCIA officer.
SF Chronicle editorial: THE OFFICIAL silence from the White House on Monday was quite disturbing.
Robert Scheer: To try to conceal the fact that the president had lied to the American public about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program, Rove attempted to destroy the credibility of two national security veterans and send an intimidating message to any other government officials preparing to publicly tell the truth.


Josh Marshall points out the latest Republican "Red Herring Egregious Mumbojumbo", debunking that Wilson's trip to Niger had been authorized by Tennant or Cheney -- the egregious aspect being that Wilson neither said nor implied that his trip had been authorized by Tennant or Cheney. Marshall writes "The whole thing is a dodge and a distraction. It's irrelevant to the question that was under discussion. It's just yet another attempt to whip up a phoney cover story after the fact. Or, in other words, more scofflaw Republicanism."
It seems the Republican attack machine will be trying to recycle the same points it tried to make last summer, that a Senate Intelligence report had debunked Wilson -- which is not true at all. And with no WDM found in Iraq, and Tennant saying two years ago that the Africa claim should not have been made, I wonder how many would now be persuaded that Wilson was wrong about Niger.
Armando notes that the story has now developed some of its own momentum, moving away from Wilson to focus on Rove and Bush " . . . the White House lied to the American People about the fact that Rove leaked that Valerie Plame was a CIA operative. That's the story now. The law will take care of itself. The Plame prosecutor will tell us about that if and when he hands down indictments. But the White House has been lying to the American People about the fact that Rove leaked Plame's identity and about the fact that the President would fire whoever leaked this information."

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Monday, July 11, 2005

Here's the Rove spin 

Watch for these themes to be developed over the next few days. This is from Power Line
The media feeding frenzy will, indeed, be massive. But absent a serious claim of a statutory violation or perjury, it's questionable whether anyone apart from liberal bloggers and other pre-existing Bush haters will partake in the media's dog food. This isn't a top presidential aide accepting an expensive gift, or engaging in lewd sexual conduct. It's a top aide providing truthful information to journalists in response to lies told to embarrass the administration and our government. And . . . Valerie Plame isn't very convincing as a covert agent of the United States, although she did fairly well as an agent of her husband and the president's other enemies.
Emphasis mine. So here is the spin to look for over the next few days: the only thing loyal Karl Rove did was to tell reporters the truth about that liar Wilson and his sleazy wife, who Rove didn't know was undercover so he didn't break any law.
So what us liberal bloggers need is our own spin. The truth isn't going to be enough -- it never is these days.
And here is that spin:
Instead of dealing honestly with the American people about Iraq, the president's top aides once again tried to kill the messenger by attacking Joe Wilson's personal credibility. And they are just so incompetent that they outed an undercover CIA agent by mistake.
UPDATE: Digby says just about the same thing as I did, above, but he said it first

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The 'What, Me Worry?" Kid 

They just cannot stand to be laughed at. Yahoo News reports:
Republicans Blast Sen. Clinton's Comments Well, its about time the Democrats said something about the fumblebums running the US now.
Republicans spend five months last year doing what they described as 'poking fun'at Kerry and the Democrats - remember the bandaids and the flip-flop sandals and on and on -- and just a few weeks ago, Rove continued the attack by smearing liberals and democrats as unpatriotic wimps. And Howard Dean, previously the only Democrat who was on the offensive with the Republicans, is derided as a screamer every time he opens his mouth.
So now the Democrats are just 'poking a little gentle fun' at Bush.
"I sometimes feel that Alfred E. Neuman is in charge in Washington" . . . [Senator Clinton]drew a laugh from the crowd when she described Bush's attitude toward tough issues with Neuman's catch phrase: "What, me worry?"
And the sign that it is working is how pissed off the Republicans are.

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Sunday, July 10, 2005

Depends on what the meaning of "covert" is 

Rove told reporter about Plame's role at CIA: "White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove spoke with at least one reporter about Valerie Plame's role at the CIA before she was identified as a covert agent in a newspaper column two years ago, but Rove's lawyer said yesterday that his client did not identify her by name . . . To be considered a violation of the law, a disclosure by a government official must have been deliberate, the person doing it must have known that the CIA officer was a covert agent, and he or she must have known that the government was actively concealing the covert agent's identity."
Now, I wonder how in the world the president's assistant know that Joe Wilson's wife was an agent for the CIA. Maybe some of those NSA intercepts? However, this article doesn't ask that uncomfortable question. Indeed, the whole article seems designed to imply that Rove didn't actually reveal Plame at all, even though he talked to reporters about her. Rove just called her "Joe Wilson's wife" not Valerie Plame. And he didn't tell Cooper she was a covert agent, so that means maybe he didn't know she was. And even if he did know she was covert, the CIA cannot prove they were "concealing" her identity.
So, I guess, in that case, never mind.
Nothing to see here, folks, just move along.

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Place Yer Bets 

So what are the chances that the border will REALLY reopen?
Personally, I think the odds are maybe 1 out of 3.
First, how likely is it that the 9th circut appeal court will want to be labelled as causing quintessential irreparable harm to Americans by allowing Canadian cattle across the border?
And second, even if the appeal court overturns this injunction, R-CALF isn't going to go away. The documents posted on their website appear to be preparing the ground to argue for a new injunction based on Canada's supposed non-compliance with some new BSE guidelines from the World Organization for Animal Health.
This Washington Post article explains the USDA's official position: Snow Expects U.S. to Allow Canadian Beef: "Both governments agree that enough safeguards are in place to resume trade. U.S. government officials expect to overturn a lower court ruling that has delayed its plans to reopen the U.S.-Canadian border to live Canadian cattle. Snow said the four-month-old court injunction preventing the border from reopening was 'ill considered' and not based on scientific facts."
But even with the recent BSE case in Texas, R-CALF argues to maintain the border closure. Their press release says: “The BSE safeguards already in place here in the U.S. are more stringent than measures any other country has ever implemented prior to having a case of BSE, including Canada,” said McDonnell. “Yet, USDA continues to seek to lower our import standards by writing a Final Rule that would allow cattle and additional beef products into the U.S. from Canada, a country that doesn’t meet the minimum internationally accepted standards for BSE prevention and control.” And R-CALF is lining up a batch of scientists to bolster their case for requiring that Canada meet an impossible standard -- to demonstrate that the future risk of BSE in our cattle is essentially zero -- before our cattle ever be allowed across the border again.
UPDATE -- And indeed, this Globe article reports that in addition to the appeal court hearing next week, R-CALF has schedule another Montana hearing for July 27 with the same Judge Cebull (a 2001 Bush appointee, by the way) who gave the last injunction.
Goodale is quoted in the Globe article as saying “We believe that with the most recent developments in the United States, the rationale behind the judgment of Judge Cebull has absolutely evaporated — there is no justification for that position.” That's gonna piss him off real good!
And the Conservative Party has been granted amicus standing and will submit a brief to this hearing, though the Canadian government was apparently refused intervenor status by Cebull. Do a good job, guys!

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