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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

"Those people" 

So now that Foxy fellow Bill O'Reilly, who was sued for sexually harassing a coworker, is making a list of "those people" -- you know, the ones who "want an America free from spirituality and judgments about personal behavior."
He doesn't like them.
He wants his millions of listeners not to like them either.
Except, I guess, that no one is supposed to make judgments about O' Reilly's own personal behaviour. Nope, its just the personal behaviour of "those people" that is now supposed to be judged and found wanting.
And I presume, as some point, all "those people" should be rounded up and put into re-education camps or maybe work camps where they will learn how to be spiritual and how to make judgements about other people's personal behaviour, or something like that ...

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Kidnapped in Iraq - and this time they're ours 

Here is the Christian Peacemaker Teams website talking about their four workers who were kidnapped. In a blog a couple of months ago I noted how courageous I thought these people were because they have been operating outside the Green Zone.
Canadian James Loney has worked in Iraq to take testimony from families of prisoners. The other Canadian captured, Harmeet Singh Sooden, is working toward a Master's degree in English literature. American Tom Fox is a Quaker, while Briton Norman Kember taught medicine in England.
And here is the most recent CPT update on Iraq -- a posting from earlier this month describing what is happening now in Falluja. CPT was one of the first groups to identify and document the prisoner abuse issue in Iraq.

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Mr. Putz 

So what is the one thing that everyone told Harper to just leave alone?
Just move on, Stephen, everyone said -- its settled now and a majority of Canadians support it and just about nobody except a few diehards even want to see it debated anymore?
So what is the first thing out of Harper's mouth? "Harper vows free vote on gay marriage"
Great judgement, Stevie -- exactly the quality of political decision-making we've come to expect from you. Mr. Putz.


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Nuts and dolts 

Well, here we go again.
I say right out front that I hope Harper and his Reform Lite party does not win.
Its not so much Harper himself that I object to -- though he doesn't manage his caucus very well and I doubt his ability to run a government. But what I am most afraid of all the right-wing nuts and dolts who would flood into Ottawa with him.
We don't need to refight all of the battles of the last 20 years -- same sex marriage, abortion, gun registration, Kyoto, missle defense, Iraq - but we will have to if some of Harper's supporters have their way.
And personally, I like Paul Martin - always have, always will. He loves this country -- all of it, including the parts that don't love him. I think the campaign will energize him, like the last one did.
So I'll be keeping track of progressive campaign coverage at Progressive Bloggers . And I'll be keeping track of the atrocities by monitoring the Blogging Tories site too -- hey, some of them are already talking about "librull" bias in the campaign coverage.

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Monday, November 28, 2005

Great line of the day 

From Americablog: "Say what you will about Bill Clinton, we never had to worry about whether he had gone crazy."

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Sunday, November 27, 2005

Great line of the day 

Digby writes:
"Yea! President Bush has finally achieved consensus for his Iraq pull-out plan. . . . As you know, Democrats have long been insisting that the US stay in Iraq indefinitely. It was only through the wise counsel and patient persuasion of Dick Cheney and George W. Bush that they were convinced that a timed withdrawal was the best way to go. While it's great news that the Iraq war is over and done with (and the liberals can finally stop obsessing over it) it's going to take some work to get them to stop lobbying for more tax cuts and destroying social security. When are they going to get some responsibility and recognize that there is no free lunch? At least the Bush administration finally got the liberals to let the poor Katrina victims keep a roof over their heads until after Christmas. Jeez, what Scrooges. "
Emphasis mine. Yep, those awful democrats!
Well, I guess the Bush administration lied their way into this war, so why should anyone be surprised to see them lying their way out?

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They'll turn themselves inside out 

The White House has jumped the shark and is now doing EXACTLY what Murtha said they should do. And the Bush bloggers are going to have to turn themselves inside out on this one.
The White House is now saying they had a withdrawal plan all along and - suprise, surprise - its just about exactly the same as Joe Biden's plan. (Of course, really, it is John Murtha's plan that both Biden and the White House are now claiming as their own.)
The White House has for the first time claimed ownership of an Iraq withdrawal plan, arguing that a troop pullout blueprint unveiled this past week by a Democratic senator was 'remarkably similar' to its own . . . the United States will move about 50,000 servicemen out of the country by the end of 2006, and "a significant number" of the remaining 100,000 the year after. The blueprint also calls for leaving only an unspecified "small force" either in Iraq or across the border to strike at concentrations of insurgents, if necessary.
Murtha wanted them all out sooner, but it was his idea to move the troops 'over the horizon' - out of Iraq but still in the neighbourhood.
So the White House will now be trying to revise history, chattering on all the talk shows today about how they had a withdrawal plan all along -- I wonder how this will go over with the general public and with the media, who can look up for themselves all the "withdrawal = treason" quotes from the White House for the last three years.
But I also wonder whether Bush's few remaining supporters are going to be able to twist themselves into knots to support this, when they've spent the last several months gleefully trashing everyone who even used the words "withdrawal plan". All those blog posts that trashed Murtha and all democrats as cowards and traitors for even daring to suggest that the US should get out of Iraq -- well, I guess they're all now "inoperative". And all those OpEds and comment pieces about that bitch Cindy Sheehan and that traitor Michael Moore and those cowardly liberal "out of the mainstream" democrats -- well, never mind.
What are these people going to do now? Will they go back over all their recent blog posts and just delete the ones that talked about how stupid it would be to announce a withdrawal plan? Or willl they also start writing now about how they actually always supported the idea of having a withdrawal plan all along -- oh, and by the way, Oceania was always at war with Eastasia and anyone who remembers it differently obviously requires some reeducation from the Thought Police.

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Saturday, November 26, 2005

John Bolton makes the US look ridiculous again 

The Bush administration thinks Bolton is hot stuff, but the rest of the world knows he is just a jerk. The British are not impressed by John Bolton's 'hold my breath til I turn blue' option at the UN, his heavy-handed attempt to shut down the budget until he gets his way. Not surprisingly, neither the Brits nor the European Union are backing Bolton -- I guess he can run down the hallway screaming and see how effective that is. The Telegraph story also reports that Bolton hasn't bothered to make friends or influence people at the UN -- "British diplomats express surprise that he has not made greater efforts to cultivate them or build alliances." Well, mainly, its because he doesn't know how.

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Well, duhhhhh! 

JoshMarshall says:
. . . there is no debate about withdrawing American troops from Iraq. That's over. What we have is posturing and positioning over the political consequences of withdrawal. The White House and the president's partisans will lay down a wall of covering fire, calling anybody who considers withdrawal an appeaser, to allow the president to go about the business of drawing down the American presence in Iraq in time to game the 2006 elections.
Well, OF COURSE that is what the Bush administration is doing. Is anyone surprised?
By the time of the Congressional midterms next year, the Republicans will all be saying "War? What war? Oh, we won that one, don't ya know!"

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Go sofa, go 

The other day, I said I wanted to see a photo of the world's fastest sofa.
Well, here it is, from the Cummfy Banana website:

It has a top speed of 87 miles per hour, and its in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Thanks very much to reader Lindsay for sending this along.

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Torture -- don't ya just LOVE it? 

Yesterday's Hardball showed an odd Chris Matthews performance -- it was about torture, and Matthews came across as lovin' it. The whole interview gave me a creepy-crawly sensation, like he was feeling himself up under the desk while he was talking about all these delicious torture techniques.
Matthews was interviewing an FBI interrogator named Joe Navarro, who has just published a text on interview techniques -- something needed, I think, considering how poorly trained the CIA and military interrogators apparently are these days.
While Navarro kept trying to deal with the issue seriously, Matthews kept chattering about Famous Torturers I Have Known and Loved. Here are some of the things Matthews said during the interview:
MATTHEWS: . . . I love this title - 'Advanced Interviewing Techniques.' Is that meant to be sarcastic or what? Interviewing techniques --I mean, if somebody has their thumbs in screws, is that an interview technique?
Obviously, he hadn't read the book -- he actually thought it described how to torture someone. Then he continues with a 'torture' example, metaphorically licking his lips as he describes a scenario:
You see a snake pit in front of you, all these snakes down there, killer snakes, horrible looking creatures, and you say to a person, if you don't answer the next three questions, you are going in that, and you are going to die in that pit. That doesn't work?
NAVARRO: It doesn't, because what may happen is, what that will generate is, they may just begin to provide superfluous information.
MATTHEWS: Well, then you say that is not good enough, buddy. You're going in the pit unless you tell us the truth.
NAVARRO: We don't—you need to establish the truth. For instance, if you harass someone long enough or even torture them, one of things that happens is it attenuates our ability to detect deception. The best way to detect deception is to establish some sort of norm. If we are torturing somebody or harassing them, we are, in fact, affecting their limbic system and our ability to read them. So it works against us.
Then Matthews starts into his Famous Torturers riff. First, how about the Mafia?
MATTHEWS: If it doesn't work, why does the mob use it? Don't they use it to find out who ratted who out? They used to do it in the movies.
NAVARRO: They use it because they are psychopaths, Chris.
Next, how about Dirty Harry and Jack Bauer -- the Hollywood script where the good guy KNOWS that the bad guy knows the secret and the-bad-guy-must-talk-or-the-child-will-die:
MATTHEWS: So you don't buy the Alan Dershowitz, the professor at Harvard, who says if you've got somebody in the 11th hour and they know that it's going to be doomsday for the planet like a nuclear weapon in New York, a real nuclear bomb in New York, in the subway system, you don't think you would go to extreme measures?
NAVARRO: Look, Dershowitz is a brilliant attorney. He is not a world-class interviewer. I have talked to world class interviewers, I have taught these individuals. We don't need to torture these individuals.
MATTHEWS: What is the risk though in doing it? If you're really brutal about it, you needed to get the information, what's wrong with torturing somebody if it's a million people or 100,000 people are going to die the next day.
NAVARRO: Number one, the person may die. Number two, he may lie to us. Number three, he may lead us astray. Number four ...
MATTHEWS: Well, what do you have to lose at that point, if they're not talking?
NAVARRO: What do you have to lose? A lot. Because what if he has other information.
Finally, how about those Third-World Secret Police?
MATTHEWS: . . . We send them to parts of the world that don't have this intellectual approach to this. They may have some psychopaths on the payroll down in the basement of some truth ministry in Cairo or Amman or somewhere else over there in that part of the world. Why do we do that if we don't think torture works? Why do we have these renditions to these dark basements in the third world?
NAVARRO: I've never been party to it. And if it is going on, I don't agree to it. I think everything that we do should—or we do should stand up to judicial scrutiny . . . good interrogators don't need these techniques, they don't want these techniques. We just absolutely don't need them . . .
MATTHEWS: Do the Israelis keep their prisoners naked for weeks at a time, like in “Little Drummer Girl,” that movie?
NAVARRO: That I don't know.
MATTHEWS: Do they turn the lights on, like in “Darkness at Noon?”
NAVARRO: You know, a lot of books have been written about some of the techniques. I think they have gotten away from that because the Israeli Supreme Court said knock it off.
MATTHEWS: Do you believe that it's torture to keep a person awake for long periods of time, to use sleep deprivation to weaken their resistance? Is that torture?
NAVARRO: Yes I do. I do. I don't think it works.
MATTHEWS: It doesn't. I bet you become very hallucinatory and weak-minded if you are awake for days after days without getting enough night time.
NAVARRO: Look, if I have a subject I'm working on I want his mind to be lucid.
And at the end of the interview, Matthews still has techniques for torture on his mind:
MATTHEWS: Is there anybody who disagrees with you on this, who thinks torture works?
NAVARRO: There may be, but I'll tell you what, it's not something the FBI has ever taught and I still teach there. And we don't teach that. And we never will.
MATTHEWS: No thumb screws, no electric charges, nothing like that?
NAVARRO: Absolutely not.
MATTHEWS: God, it makes me surprised. I'm amazed there is no effort like that, even in extreme cases?
NAVARRO: We don't want it.
But Matthews does.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

November 22, 1963 



Anybody here seen my old friend John?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
He freed lotta people but it seems the good they die young
I just looked around and he's gone
. . .
Didn't you love the things that they stood for?
Didn't they try to find some good for you and me?
And we'll be free
Some day soon, it's gonna be one day

Anybody here seen my old friend Bobby?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
I thought I saw him walkin' up over the hill
With Abraham, Martin, and John

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Endorsed by the Klan? 

Harper will be just thrilled with this, I'm sure:
Ontario MP Pat O'Brien . . . announced Tuesday that he has founded Defend Marriage Canada with a Conservative ally. . . ex-Tory MP Grant Hill . . . the group will raise money, publish letters, and lobby voters to elect candidates who oppose same-sex marriage.
I'm sure they'll have a website, and I bet I'll be just one of the thousands of people watching it to see just which candidates they endorse.
Its like being endorsed by the Klu Klux Klan. Or the Communist Party. Thanks but no thanks.

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Great lines of the day 

Steve Gilliard writes about Iraq. First, why the Iraqi army is being left in the dust:
Why is the soldiering so low in most Iraqi units? Because the real soldiers are the ones fighting us, we've got the desperate and the unmotivated. We also have a military structure which continues the worst of the old Iraqi Army. The resistance is a meritocracy. Only the best and brightest can lead there. Rank matters little. There is little margin for error in guerilla warfare . . .
Second, why US politicians are being left in the dust:
People like Clinton and Biden will be left in the dust as the American people embrace an anti-war stand. They vilified Cindy Sheehan and failed. They attacked Jack Murtha and embarassed themselves. The next person they go after will turn people against the GOP. The war is over, we're only debating how we end it.
Emphasis mine.

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Monday, November 21, 2005

Haggling about the price 

There's an old joke that goes like this:
A fellow approaches an attractive girl and says "would you sleep with me for a million dollars?" and she says "Well, sure!" Then he says "Would you sleep with me for a dollar?" and she says "Certainly not! What do you think I am?" and he says "We already know what you are. We're just haggling about the price."
I thought of this joke when I read Digby's article about torture and what the current torture discussion demonstrates about America:
To some extent civilization is nothing more than leashing the beast within. When you go to the dark side, no matter what the motives, you run a terrible risk of destroying yourself in the process. I worry about the men and women who are engaging in this torture regime. This is dangerous to their psyches. But this is true on a larger sociological scale as well. For many, many moons, torture has been a simple taboo --- you didn't question its immorality any more than you would question the immorality of pedophilia. You know that it's wrong on a visceral, gut level. Now we are debating it as if there really is a question as to whether it's immoral --- and, more shockingly, whether it's a positive good . . . When Daniel Patrick Moynihan coined the phrase "defining deviancy down" he couldn't ever have dreamed that we would in a few short decades be at a place where torture is no longer considered a taboo. It certainly makes all of his concerns about changes to the nuclear family (and oral sex) seem trivial by comparison. We are now a society that on some official levels has decided that torture is no longer a deviant, unspeakable behavior, but rather a useful tool. It's not hidden. People publicly discuss whether torture is really torture if it features less than "pain equavalent to organ failure." People no longer instinctively recoil at the word --- it has become a launching pad for vigorous debate about whether people are deserving of certain universal human rights. It spirals down from there. When the smoke finally clears, and we can see past that dramatic day on 9/11 and put the threat of islamic fundamentalism into its proper perspective, I wonder if we'll be able to go back to our old ethical framework? I'm not so sure we will even want to. It's not that it changed us so much as it revealed us, I think. A society that can so easily discard it's legal and ethical taboos against cruelty and barbarism, is an unstable society to begin with. At this rather late stage in life, I'm realizing that the solid America I thought I knew may never have existed. Running very close, under the surface, was a frightened, somewhat hysterical culture that could lose its civilized moorings all at once. I had naively thought that there were some things that Americans would find unthinkable --- torture was one of them.
Emphasis mine.
I have a couple of thoughts about this. It makes me wonder just how synthetic was American democracy, that a single horrific event, 911, could produce such an hysterical overreaction of the Patriot Act, imprisonment without trial, loss of habeus corpus, the doctrine of preemptive war, Guantanamo, assertion of a Presidential 'divine right of kings', and now Vice President Cheney -- the Vice President! -- promoting torture as state policy.
Maybe it was just the bad luck that Bush and Cheney happened to be in power when 911 happened - they are bombastic, incompetent and fearful men whose every instinct takes them toward the dark side. But no one stepped up to stop them, not in Congress nor in the media.
Maybe there really is some basic difference between Canadians and Americans -- even though there is a lot of rhetoric in the United States about democracy and freedom, maybe we Canadians actually do value our freedom and democracy more because we're had to fight for it in our own quiet way. Maybe our democracy has been tested more, and has matured, so we wouldn't haggle it away in a fool's trade-off for mythical security. Over the last fifty years, Canada has acknowledged Aboriginal self-government, dealt with the FLQ and the October Crisis and the War Measures Act, met many of the challenges of Quebec separatism and western alientation, adopted bilingualism and multiculturalism, approved gay marriage. And even though it took us a few months, most Canadians were eventually outraged at Mahar Arar's ordeal and the abuse of civil liberties which it represented. We are still grappling with separatism, I know, but even if Canada eventually loses that battle, I don't think we would let our country degenerate into violence. We know what we are, and what we are worth.

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Now there's something you don't see everyday* 

I'll bet your local newspaper didn't cover this -- the world's largest motorized shopping cart:


The photo cutline reads: "This photo supplied by Guinness World Records shows Edd China talking to a shopper while driving his way into Guinness World Records book in Henley-upon-Thames, England,Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2005, after engineering what the book calls the largest motorized shopping cart in the world. The 11.4 feet tall, 9.8 feet long and 5.9 feet wide cart was created to celebrate the book's self-proclaimed first ever Guinness World Records Day on Wednesday Nov. 9, 2005. Edd is also currently featured in the Guinness World Records 2006 edition book for his record for the World's Fastest Sofa."(AP Photo/Guinness World Records/Tim Anderson)
I would have liked to see a photo of the sofa, too.

*And yes, this is my favorite line from Ghostbusters, said by Bill Murray when the StayPuft Marshmallow Man makes his appearance.

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Sunday, November 20, 2005

Preparing to declare victory and leave 

Well, looks like the strategy is changing again:
After fiercely defending his Iraq policy across Asia, President Bush abruptly toned down his attack on war critics Sunday and said there was nothing unpatriotic about opposing his strategy. 'People should feel comfortable about expressing their opinions about Iraq,' Bush said, three days after agreeing with Vice President Dick Cheney that the critics were 'reprehensible.' The president also praised Rep. John Murtha as 'a fine man' and a strong supporter of the military despite the congressman's call for troop withdrawal as soon as possible. Bush brought up the growing Iraq debate when he met reporters . . .
Bush brought it up himself? Sounds like the White House war room has realized that if you move too far along the road of branding Iraq questioners as "unpatriotic" then you leave Bush without enough wiggle room to pretend to be listening to the voice of the people, so that he can declare vistory and leave. And leave he will, before the congressional midterms.

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Blame the Republicans 

I just posted this as a diary at Kos:

Amid all the criticism of the Democrats for their role in voting to permit Bush to go to war in Iraq, it seems to me that the Republicans in congress are getting off the hook.
If ANYONE had even a faint hope of deflecting Bush and Co from the rush to war, it was the Republican congressmen, not the Democratic ones. These people didn't do their job, and they are even more to blame because they actually could have influenced the war decision much more than the Democrats ever could have.
Imagine if a significant block of Republican senators and representatives, say 10 or 15, had gone to Bush in October, 2002 and said, "stop this pell mell rush to war, you've got to let the inspections work. Listen to what the anti-war marchers are saying, listen to the Security Council, don't send our boys into an illegal war" -- why, that point of view, forcefully expressed, might have made a difference. Instead, they went along to get along.

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Great line of the day 

In The Salvadoran Option II, Billmon writes:
. . . the U.S. and U.K. embassies have been aware for some time that Iraq's Ministry of the Interior has been turned into what the old National Guard used to be in El Salvador, or the Presidential Intelligence Unit in Guatemala, or the National Directorate of Investigation in Honduras, which is to say: death squad central . . . so now we have Iranian-backed Shi'a death squads hunting their political enemies through the slums of Baghdad under the pretext of fighting the insurgency, while Sunni Baathists (and/or their jihadist allies) blow up Shi'a mosques at prayer time under the pretext of fighting the American occupation . . . Meanwhile, back here . . . the ruling party is reliving Joe McCarthy's glory years, while the leaders of the so-called opposition party try to hide their worthless carcasses behind an ex-Marine congressman who finally saw one too many broken bodies warehoused at Walter Reed and suffered a temporary fit of sanity, causing him to blurt out the ugly truth that the war is hopelessly lost . . . Truly, to quote Leonard -- the psychotic recruit in Full Metal Jacket -- we are in a world of shit.
Emphasis mine.



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Saturday, November 19, 2005

"Review of key objectives & critical success factors" 

Hey, Lawyers, Guns and Money points out that today is the anniversary of the Gettysburg Address.
And here, in tribute, is one of the funniest things I have ever read, the Gettysburg address done as a powerpoint presentation. And don't miss the powerpoint essay that goes with it.

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Good, bad, ugly 

Good

Sandy Huffaker, Cagle Cartoons

Bad

Tab, Calgary Sun


Ugly

Daryl Cagle, Slate.com




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Stupid is as stupid does 

The mark of a stupid person is someone who just won't grow up: "An atheist who has spent four years trying to ban the Pledge of Allegiance from being recited in public schools is now challenging the motto printed on U.S. currency because it refers to God."
There have been too many of these kind of pointless junk lawsuits in the States, and in Canada too -- running to courts to stop harmless things like opening the school day with a prayer or singing a hymn at Christmas. Too often organizations like the ACLU get sucked into defending this kind of tripe. It doesn't do our society any good, and just contributes to giving 'liberals' a bad name.

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Someday, Murtha will be proven right 

Lawmakers Reject Immediate Iraq Withdrawal
You know what is really dumb about this?
If Republicans HAD used Murtha's motion, THEN the Democrats would really have found themselves in a quandry. But no, the Republicans had to get cute and write their own motion, which the Democrats then had no problem voting against.
Murtha's motion read:
Whereas [etc etc for seven 'whereas' clauses] . . . Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That:
Section 1. The deployment of United States forces in Iraq, by direction of Congress, is hereby terminated and the forces involved are to be redeployed at the earliest practicable date.
Section 2. A quick-reaction U.S. force and an over-the-horizon presence of U.S Marines shall be deployed in the region.
Section 3 The United States of America shall pursue security and stability in Iraq through diplomacy.
The GOP motion read:
Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately.
Even Murtha himself could and did vote against this.
Sorta backfired, didn't it, especially because the one soundbite which will live in infamy from the debate was Jean Schmidt calling Murtha a coward and then having to retract it.
Of course, personally I wanted to see Murtha's motion pass. And someday it will.
Right after the debate, after all the republican pontificating about how the US has to "stay the course" and "win" in Irag, came this story:
The top U.S. commander in Iraq has submitted a plan to the Pentagon for withdrawing troops in Iraq . . . Gen. George Casey submitted the plan to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. It includes numerous options and recommends that brigades -- usually made up of about 2,000 soldiers each -- begin pulling out of Iraq early next year.
And the US media may finally have jumped the shark. They may not be playing along anymore. Today in a very thoughtful piece on Kos, Hunter wrote:
When the only weapon the White House is capable of using is to impugn the very patriotism and Americanness of their opponents, what happens if the reactions to that attack change? What happens if the press decides that dissent is, after all, patriotic? And is it happening, just the twinges, because of the utter collapse of the poll numbers, because of the Plame indictment(s?), because of the continuing quagmire of the war, because of the 2,000 deaths mark, because of the other Republican investigations and indictments, seemingly raining down like hailstones anywhere Abramoff has brushed up against the woodwork of power, and/or simply because of the continuing Republican political schtick that works so well for dismissing a minority, but considerably less well when you are calling sixty percent of the country traitors for not dancing to the tune? . . . accountability is now a majority position in America. Accusing the American people of treason for demanding it is not simply cowardly -- it is also being met with decidedly more organized hostility than in previous Republican "campaigns" against the American citizenry.
I also think that the media is simply tired of being told that they have to play along to get along. The tipping point may well have been Bob Woodward and his 18 months of lies about the Plame investigation. OK, Judy Miller nobody in the working press had much respect for as a reporter anyway, not after all her discredited WMD 'scoops' and all the queening it around Iraq. But the dream of uncovering another Watergate has been a motivating force for 20-somethings to get into journalism for the last 35 years. So to see Watergate hero Bob Woodward pulling a Miller, destroying his journalistic reputation, ducking and weaving, apologizing and denying, all so that he can continue to help some self-important poohbah in the Bush administration cover up the illegal leak of a CIA agent's identity, well, this may have finally hit the US media's collective gag reflex. Now, when someone in the White House or the Pentagon or the State Department implies they aren't on the right team anymore if they don't spin the coverage, they will remember 'Boob' Woodward and how the mighty have fallen.

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Canadian crabs 


Yahoo provides this photo of Canadian crabs for sale at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, where restaurants are buying Canadian crabs due to a price dispute between American crab fishermen and processors. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
And I couldn't resist these photos of a few other Canadian crabs:


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Bubbles 

Want to read something fun?
Here's a story about a toy inventor's 11-year search for a coloured bubble.


From Popular Science magazine, via Crooks and Liars.

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Friday, November 18, 2005

The ideology of information 

This falls into a Great Line of the Day category though its a little long. On TPM Cafe, Mark Schmitt explains the deeper issues regarding what the Bush Administration did or did not know about WMD before the Iraq war began:
We're asking very traditional questions: Was information withheld? Was there deceit about the information? Those are the familiar Watergate/Iran-contra questions. But they overlook the Ideology of Information that the administration created. By this I mean the whole practice of evaluating all information going into the war not for its truth value, but for whether it promoted or hindered the administration's goal of being free to go to war. The President could have been given every bit of intelligence information available, and he and/or Cheney would have reached the same decision because they would have discarded, discounted, or disregarded most of it. Information that was Useful to that goal was put in one box, Not Useful put in another. Entire categories of information were assigned to the Not Useful box because their source was deemed an opponent of U.S. military action, or assumed to have some other motive. All information from the UN inspectors went into the Not Useful box because they were deemed war opponents, or because it was believed that giving any credence to the inspectors would lead back into the mid-1990s cycle of inspections and evasions of inspections. Any information from the CIA was considered Not Useful because they were deemed to have overlooked Saddam's arsenal in the 1990s . . . just a couple of stories that slipped through the cracks of The Ideology of Information: the yellowcake-from-Niger fraud, which had been debunked everywhere, and the question of the aluminum tubes not suitable for centrifuges . . . The White House didn't so much deceive itself or deceive others as close its eyes to the very possibility that there were any questions at issue, regarding not only WMD but also post-invasion planning. They did so in the name of preserving their freedom to act when and how they wished, and as a result got us trapped in a situation in which we no longer have any freedom of action.
It is important to call attention to the Ideology of Information promoted during that period because it is very much alive. It is inherent in the Plame leak and to this day in the criticisms of Wilson -- the argument that he was the one who revealed information in his op-ed. It is inherent in the Bush and Cheney speeches: criticism and second thoughts, reminders of alternative information are all deemed simply Not Useful. It's something much deeper and sicker than just withholding or manipulating information.
Emphasis mine. And of course this approach is still being taken today, to continue to insist that "progress" is being made in Iraq as long as the US continues to "stay the course" regardless of what anyone who has actually been there says. It also applies to Guantanamo and the secret prisons and all of the other illegal and immoral claptrap from the Bush administration.

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Thursday, November 17, 2005

I habe a code 

I habe a code in the nose (and throat and etc) so I haven't been blogging -- and also, things are just too stupid to blog about.
Here's a story about the possible election -- which everyone has settled on calling on Nov 28 except maybe it will be earlier or maybe later or either or neither or both.
Now I ask you, how in the world am I supposed to pontificate about what would be best for the country, when apparently neither Harper nor Layton have a clue and Martin is sticking to his April date while the Bloc doesn't care about the country at all?

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Deja vu all over again 

So there's this new tag thing going around, and I got mine from Scott of Montreal, whereby you take a little stroll down Memory Lane and repost the fifth sentence of your 23rd blog post.
So here is mine, from March 9, 2004 -- and just to show that the Republicans are STILL recycling the SAME OLD talking points (or else how I am still writing about the same old stuff) this was a post about how some democratic politicians like John Kerry could have voted to support Bush going to war with Iraq and yet be opposed to the war itself.
As I said then -- and keep saying now -- ". . . what I remember is hearing Bush and everyone around him say repeatedly that they hadn't decided to go to war yet and they wouldn't go to war unless it was "necessary" -- they said it over and over, and, way back then, most people actually believed them (amazing, isn't it!)" and now here's my fifth sentence "But that's why millions of people around the world marched against the war, in the belief that their actions could make a difference, that Bush would listen to them and would consider their views when he made his decision -- more fools they, of course!"

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Bush jokes 

In the comments to the previous post, Flootsnooty tells this Bush joke:
A driver is stuck in a traffic jam on the highway. Nothing is moving. Suddenly a man knocks on the window. The driver rolls down his window and asks, "What happened?"
"Terrorists kidnapped President Bush and are asking for a $10 million ransom. Otherwise they are going to douse him with gasoline and set him on fire. We are going from car to car to take up a collection."
The driver asks, "How much is everyone giving on average?"
"About a gallon."
So I tell this to my husband and he immediately counters with this joke:
After Katrina a photographer was in New Orleans taking photos of the devastation when suddenly he sees President Bush floating past him. The photographer realizes he can either save Bush, or take a Pulitzer-prize-winning photo. So the question he has to answer is: colour film or black-and-white?
So I went on a search for more Bush jokes. Found some bad ones and some good ones:
In the light of all the criticism that George Bush is an idiot, the Republicans decide to hold a "George Bush Is Not Stupid" convention. Eighty thousand Republicans meet in the Kansas City Chiefs Stadium.
Trent Lott says, "We are all here today to prove to the world that George Bush is not stupid. So ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce President George Bush."
After the cheers die down. Lott says "Mr. President, we're going to prove to the world once and for all that you are not stupid. So tell us, what is 15 plus 15?"
Bush, after scrunching up his face and concentrating real hard for a moment, declares, "Eighteen!"
Obviously everyone is a little disappointed. Then the 80,000 Republicans start cheering, "Give Bush another chance! Give Bush another chance!"
Trent Lott says, "Well since we've gone to the trouble of getting 80,000 of you in one place, I guess we can do that." So he asks, "What is 5 plus 5?"
After nearly 30 seconds of chin-rubbing and grimacing, Bush meekly asks "Ninety?"
Trent Lott is quite perplexed, looks down and just lets out a dejected sigh -- everyone is disheartened.
But then Bush starts pouting, and suddenly the 80,000 Republicans begin to yell and wave their hands, shouting again "Give Bush another chance! Give Bush another chance!"
Lott, unsure whether he's doing more harm than good, eventually says, "Ok! Ok! Just one more chance -- What is 2 plus 2?"
Bush looks down, counts on his fingers, and after a whole minute, proudly announces "Four."
A moment of total silence, then an electric charge surges through the stadium as pandemonium breaks out.
All 80,000 Republicans jump to their feet.
These GOP partisans start to wave their arms, stomp their feet and create a deafening roar:
"GIVE BUSH ANOTHER CHANCE! GIVE BUSH ANOTHER CHANCE!"
And from Letterman
President Bush is on his Asian tour now. He'll visit Japan, China, South Korea, Mongolia. Once again, he's skipping Vietnam.

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Great line of the day 

John at Americablog gets it right:
. . . Bill Clinton and the Democratic Congress never declared war on Iraq. The Democrats saw the SAME evidence as Bush, or so Bush says, yet the Dems decided to use sanctions, the UN, targeted military operations, and diplomacy to contain Iraq, and it worked. Until Bush invaded, that is. So what Bush and Rummy are now admitting is that they had the same information that Clinton had, yet Clinton decided that invading Iraq was a dumb idea, while Bush deciced that invading Iraq was going to be a 'cake walk.' Remember that phrase? Yes, Mr. President, keep using this argument. Bill Clinton had the same information Bush had, yet Clinton didn't launch a poorly planned and executed war that has now turned into a quagmire and a money-hole, threatening to destabilize the entire region and fanning the flames of anti-American hatred and terror. So you're telling us you're an idiot. I feel better already.
Emphasis mine.

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Monday, November 14, 2005

Great line of the day 

In Vino Veritas says this in the Americablog comments: "Bush reminds me of what they used to say about Warren Hardings speeches: 'An army of pompous phrases moving over the landscape in search of an idea.' "

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Stars and bars now 

James Wolcott writes about the Senate decision on Friday to deny habeus corpus to the Guantanamo and Secret Prison inmates: "Torture, black sites, indefinite detention and deprival of due process--the United States has forfeited its right to lecture other nations about freedom and democracy. Red, white, and blue are no longer the true colors of this country's flag; the flags that fly in the Capital should be henceforth be prison gray."

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Sunday, November 13, 2005

Which Monty Python character are you? 

Dazzlin' Dino has found another great quiz -- which Monty Python character are you?
Me? Why, I'm a lumberjack and I'm OK, I sleep all night and I work all day...
though apparently I have issues, too.

You are a Lumberjack...with definite issues...
"You are a Lumberjack...with definite issues..."

What Monty Python Sketch Character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

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Hope springs eternal 

Analysis: Bush Slump May Hobble World Role
Well, we can always hope . . .

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Saturday, November 12, 2005

Turning your back on Canada 

This was an insult to the office of the Governor General and to Canada as a whole: "a small number of veterans chose Friday's Remembrance Day ceremony in Ottawa to launch their protest against Canada's new Governor General. As Michaelle Jean laid a memorial wreath on the War Memorial, the words 'Turn, turn,' were called out, and about 25 people, led by veterans, turned their backs on the Governor General."
The organizer of this protest, a veteran named Frank Laverty, expected hundreds of people to show -- in the end, only about 25 did. The Royal Canadian Legion wasn't happy about this protest either:
The Legion issued a strongly-worded statement against a Remembrance Day protest, saying: 'Such action would be a disgrace and an offence to Her Majesty as well as to the memory of our fallen veterans.' . . . spokesman Bob Butts said: "We think it's the wrong time and the wrong place."

So I hope these veterans felt stupid as they shuffled around during the wreath-laying ceremony -- because they looked it:


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Great line of the day 

Brad Blog writes about the Bush speech:
Here was 'the message' [from Bush]: "While it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began." In other words, after years of questioning the patriotism of those who criticized his decision or the conduct of the war, he'll give up on that battle as long as we all stay away from the one point that is likely to bring the entire house of cards crumbling down, namely; How the war began. Or more aptly, how he began it.
Something like six out of ten Americans now believe Bush lied to get the Iraq War started.

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Friday, November 11, 2005

Remembrance Day 

From Afghanistan

From Yahoo: "Captain John Cochrane, right, and Captain Darryl Damude, second from right, salute during the playing of the Canadian National Anthem at the Remembrance Day ceremony held at the Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan, Friday, Nov. 11, 2005. The ceremony held at Kandahar Airfield was a Canadian-led multi-national ceremony where deployed Canadian, American and British military forces gathered together to pay respects and remember those who served and died for their country. (AP Photo/Canadian Forces Combat, Robert Bottrill, HO)"


"Cpl. Kristie McKay with Task Force Afghanistan, places her poppy in a wreath following the conclusion of the Remembrance Day ceremony held at the Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan, Friday (AP Photo/Canadian Forces, Robert Bottrill, HO)"

From Canada

"Veterans march to the cenotaph during Remembrance Day ceremonies Friday, Nov. 11, 2005 in Quebec City. (AP PHOTO/CP, Jacques Boissinot)"


"Students from John Paul I high school hold up signs during Remembrance Day ceremonies in Montreal, Friday, Nov. 11, 2005. (AP PHOTO/CP, Ryan Remiorz)"


"A poppy is placed alongside other poppies and a thank you sign left on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier following Remembrance Day ceremonies at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 11, 2005. (AP PHOTO/CP, Tom Hanson)"

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Does Karl Rove now remind us of Uncle Junior? 

This is priceless.
The Federalist Society is a big-time conservative group of lawyers and scholars who claim to have actual principles, like respect for the spirit of the law and stuff like that.
So Karl Rove decides to piggyback on their reputation to try to polish some of the tarnish off his own image. And they let him. He was one of the keynote speakers at the 2005 National Lawyers Convention.
And as a result, the Society itself ends up talking like the Soprano's defense team -- turning its principles inside out and trashing all of its own dearly-held values just to defend the sleazy Rove.
Here's what one member actually said: "Everybody's presumed innocent until convicted and a mere investigation shouldn't hinder anyone's political activities". And here's the conference co-chair speaking: "He's come into the cross-hairs of criticism from the liberal establishment here in Washington [and when the establishment can't defeat the power of one's ideas] they crank up the engine of personal attack in order to distract the leaders."
So I imagine Jack Abramhoff and Tom Delay will be speaking at their next meeting? And then Bill Clinton? How about OJ next? And Blake? And maybe Saddam Hussein at the meeting after that?

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Great line of the day 

"We must not surrender flag and faith to those who would use both to support a war which honors neither."
This is from a very interesting essay "Confessions of a Repentant Republican" which I found originally on The Smirking Chimp. The whole essay is well written and presents a coherent framework for opposition to the war in Iraq -- a worthwhile read.

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When the gales of November come early 


I had forgotten that the wreck Of the Edmund Fitzgerald happened on 30 years ago, on November 10:
Music
The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they called 'Gitche Gumee'
The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead
When the skies of November turn gloomy
With a load of iron ore twenty-six thousand tons more
Than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty.
That good ship and true was a bone to be chewed
When the gales of November came early.

The ship was the pride of the American side
Coming back from some mill in Wisconsin
As the big freighters go, it was bigger than most
With a crew and good captain well seasoned
Concluding some terms with a couple of steel firms
When they left fully loaded for Cleveland
And later that night when the ship's bell rang
Could it be the north wind they'd been feelin'?

The wind in the wires made a tattle-tale sound
And a wave broke over the railing
And every man knew, as the captain did too,
T'was the witch of November come stealin'.
The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait
When the Gales of November came slashin'.
When afternoon came it was freezin' rain
In the face of a hurricane west wind.

When suppertime came, the old cook came on deck sayin'.
Fellas, it's too rough to feed ya.
At seven P.M. a main hatchway caved in, he said
Fellas, it's been good t'know ya
The captain wired in he had water comin' in
And the good ship and crew was in peril.
And later that night when his lights went outta sight
Came the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Does any one know where the love of God goes
When the waves turn the minutes to hours?
The searches all say they'd have made Whitefish Bay
If they'd put fifteen more miles behind her.
They might have split up or they might have capsized;
May have broke deep and took water.
And all that remains is the faces and the names
Of the wives and the sons and the daughters.

Lake Huron rolls, Superior sings
In the rooms of her ice-water mansion.
Old Michigan steams like a young man's dreams;
The islands and bays are for sportsmen.
And farther below Lake Ontario
Takes in what Lake Erie can send her,
And the iron boats go as the mariners all know
With the Gales of November remembered.

In a musty old hall in Detroit they prayed,
In the Maritime Sailors' Cathedral.
The church bell chimed till it rang twenty-nine times
For each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald.
The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they call 'Gitche Gumee'.
Superior, they said, never gives up her dead
When the gales of November come early!

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Friday Cat-and-Dog blogging 

I love stories like this one:

"A schnauzer-Siberian husky mix named Ginny will be eulogized Nov. 19 at the Westchester Cat Show, where she was named Cat of the Year in 1998 for her uncanny skill and bravery in finding and rescuing endangered tabbies . . . Among the best-known rescues is the time Ginny threw herself against a vertical pipe at a construction site to topple it and reveal the kittens trapped inside. She once ignored the cuts on her paws as she dug through a box full of broken glass to find an injured cat inside." For more about this remarkable dog, see the Ginny Fan Club website.

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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Prime Minister Chalabi? 

LiberalOasis notes that Chalabi is "being spun once again as a possible prime minister" for Iraq. Well, I suppose its a possible outcome, if he can figure out a way to steal the Dec. 15 election . . . Hey, do you think THAT'S why he's visiting in Washington this week? To get some election-stealing tips from the masters?

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Wanker 

What an asshole!: "Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito said Thursday he was 'unduly restrictive' in promising in 1990 to avoid appeals cases involving two investment firms and said he has not made any rulings in which he had a 'legal or ethical obligation' to step aside. "
Yeah, sure, Sam -- so what are you lying about NOW?

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Paul Martin's mom didn't raise a stupid kid . . .  

...though apparently Jack Layton thinks she did.
Here's Jack's plan -- first, in two weeks tell Martin that he has lost the confidence of the House and so he should set the election date a few days after the final Gomery report comes out, in mid-February, rather than waiting until March to call for an April vote. Second, in four weeks demonstrate your confidence in the Martin government by voting in favour of the Dec 8 spending estimates, so everyone gets their goodies.
Yeah, great plan guys -- Martin's sure to go for it. It will really put him on the spot, knowing how you support him or don't support him or either or neither or both.
Everyone just loves the idea of campaigning in January. And OF COURSE the Liberals would WELCOME the chance to have the vote happen just days after every newspaper in the land runs the expected centre-page spreads about Liberal corruption and millions missing and bag men and all that stuff likely to be in Gomery's final report.
So why would anyone expect the Liberals to take this seriously? Do the opposition parties think they can play some sort of 'principle' card here, pontificating that the Liberals would have "a hard time justifying remaining in power against the clear will of the House of Commons" when they themselves are too afraid of Canadian anger to bring the government down over its spending plans, which is how the Commons is supposed to actually demonstrate "clear will".
The opposition parties have to quit playing games here. They're not very good at it.
Jack, Stephen -- either vote Martin down before Christmas, or just shut up and wait until March.
Oh, and by the way, in the meantime you could be trying to come up with some ideas -- you know, some policies that might make Canadians think you actually have a clue about why we should vote for you . . . whaddaya think of that for a plan?

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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

What part of 'no exceptional circumstances' does Cheney not understand? 

Back in the good old days when that highly-moral Bill Clinton was in power, this is what the US told the UN about torture:
Torture is prohibited by law throughout the United States. It is categorically denounced as a matter of policy and as a tool of state authority. Every act constituting torture under the Convention constitutes a criminal offense under the law of the United States. No official of the government, federal, state or local, civilian or military, is authorized to commit or to instruct anyone else to commit torture. Nor may any official condone or tolerate torture in any form. No exceptional circumstances may be invoked as a justification of torture. U.S. law contains no provision permitting otherwise prohibited acts of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment to be employed on grounds of exigent circumstances (for example, during a 'state of public emergency') or on orders from a superior officer or public authority, and the protective mechanisms of an independent judiciary are not subject to suspension.
Emphasis mine. I don't care how many things "changed" after 911, this statement doesn't permit torture under any circumstances. And there is no allowance for Cheney to argue about a Presidential exemption.
Even the White House appears to be backing off Cheney's campaign, telling reporters that they have to "ask the Vice-President's Office" why he is continuing to lobby the Senate about this. But I'll bet Cheney just will not give it up, because he can't stand to lose.
Laura Rosen writes:
I was in a torture chamber once, in the basement of a police station in Kosovo days after it was abandoned by Serb forces defeated by Nato. It was hideous as you would imagine. The British soldiers who were with me were equally shocked. A lot of the instruments and interrogation drugs I saw there also suggest they were not designed to cause organ failure or death in their victims, just pain and terror . . . Having laid my eyes on what such a scene looks like, I just associate such activities with the forces of not only the pathological and depraved, but those who are headed for defeat. If you've seen it, you realize in a way that's hard to explain, it's the tactics of the losers. If Cheney and his office mates haven't had the experience, perhaps they should. And I really don't think it's inconceivable that the remote possibility of the Hague may lie in some of their futures. Things change fast when they do, as history shows, and they could find their current willing protectors eventually chucked from office, and a whole new climate at home and abroad.

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Khadr is a prisoner of war 

When considering the Khadr case, Ottawa and everyone else needs to remember this: when the US talks about enemy combatants and how the Geneva Conventions don't apply in Afghanistan, they're wrong. Omar Khadr is actually a prisoner of war. He was captured on the battlefield: "Khadr was just 15 when he allegedly threw a hand grenade that killed an American soldier and wounded another during a firefight with Taliban fighters in Afghanistan in July 2002. " I don't know enough about the Geneva Conventions to know whether or not POWs can be put on trial what they did during battle.

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Great line of the day 

From John at AMERICAblog, in regard to Kansas deciding to teach creationism as science: "But look on the bright side. We no longer have to worry about those pesky Kansas kids competing with our kids to get into Harvard."

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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Gentlemen, we must avoid a mine-shaft gap 

Oh, come on -- lets not get hysterical here. In this Calgary Sun column, Roy Clancy quotes a counter-terrorism expert as saying that international terrorism 'is maybe the biggest threat ever posed to humanity' and going on to say how terrorism is even worse than the Cold War.
What garbage! I guess its not surprising that a counter-terrorism expert would think his own job is the most important job ever, but the media have to have some balance here -- terrorists are an intractable problem, but there is no way that the scale of the terrorist threat is comparable to the danger humanity faced for 50 years of blowing millions and millions of people off the face of the earth and causing an environmental catastrophe for hundreds of years to come.
What worries me is where such ideas lead. If terrorism is "the greatest threat ever" than is it going to be suggested that they be stopped with the worst weapons ever, like small-scale tactical nukes? And suddenly then we find ourselves in Strangelove territory, where fear magnifies to the point of hysteria, and the unthinkable starts to appear logica and sane.

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Vet to get pension after all  

Here's some good news: Ombudsman says decorated air force vet deserves pension after 44 years: "A decorated air force vet who was unfairly denied a pension 44 years ago should get an apology and compensation, the military ombudsman said Tuesday. " Too many times, people who work in jobs where they hand out money start acting like they are on commission, and that they will get a nickel for every dollar they "save". Quit doing that!

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Great line of the day 

Today's great line is from Pat Buchanan, the poster boy for the Republicans delusionally in denial.
I read about this discussion on another blog earlier tonight, but I didn't believe it until I saw this transcript from the The McLaughlin Group on Sunday:
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, the human toll: The U.S. military dead in Iraq, including suicides, 2,035; U.S. military amputeed, wounded, injured, mentally ill, 48,100; Iraqi civilians dead, 117,700. . . . Exit question: On an escape probability scale, zero to 10, zero meaning zero probability, 10 meaning metaphysical certitude, what's the probability of the Democrats escaping from their vote in favor of the Iraq war? Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: It is about zero. They were derelict in their duty to really force the president to make the case for war convincingly that it was necessary and had to be done now. They did a rotten job in the Congress of the United States, and they're not going to recover by attacking Bush.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The president lied to them about the causes for going to war.
MR. BUCHANAN: He did not lie to them. The president emphasized, cherry-picked, hyped the causes for going, and set the others aside. That's not lying . . .
MS. CLIFT: Hyped, cherry-picked, misled, whatever the words you used, to me are criminal offenses when you see the suffering that has gone into this war and the cost of this war. It was a war of choice that was sold to the American people on fear.
MR. BUCHANAN: But why didn't the Democrats stop it? Why didn't the Democrats stop it?

Emphasis mine.
Those damned Democrats -- damned traitors! How could they? How dare they believe President Bush and Vice-President Cheney and the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of State and the head of the CIA and the FBI and every single Republican member of the House and the Senate? Of course the Iraq War really is all their fault, I see it now . . .
And I guess the US will just have to elect a majority of Republicans at the congressional midterms next year to get them out of this mess. Oh, wait a minute . . .

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Fruit of the poisonous tree 

There is a legal principle called "fruit of the poisonous tree" by which evidence is inadmissable if it was generated from an unconstitutional or illegal act.
In discussions about the Iraq War, I think we need to talk more about its poisonous tree -- the first mistake which is the mother of all the other mistakes made in this awful war.
Josh Marshall describes what is happening now: "It seems the president's defenders have fallen back on what has always been their argument of last resort -- cherry-picked quotes from Clinton administration officials arranged to give the misleading impression that the Clintonites said and thought the same thing about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction as the Bushies did."
Yes, this is exactly what the Bush apologists are doing.
But the right wing and the left wing are both making the same error -- neither is talking about the poisonous tree.
Folks, it doesn't matter WHAT Clinton thought. It doesn't matter what Sandy Berger thought, either. Or Al Gore. Or the whole Senate and House and Pentagon. Neither does it matter what Powell thought, or Rice, or Tenent, or Rumsfeld, or Cheney, or Bush himself.
The point is this -- regardless of what ANYBODY thought, they had no right to ACT -- not unless or until Saddam committed an overt act of aggression first.
Clinton, it should be noted, did NOT unilaterally start a war even if he thought Saddam's weapons bore watching.
But with George Bush, the US pomulgated the Bush Doctrine, giving itself the authority to strike preemptively, to start a war.
Now, this doctrine is illegal in terms of international law. Regardless of how powerful the US thinks it is, it cannot legally ignore the Security Council, and demand "regime change" in another country, regardless of what weapons Saddam had or how awful his government was.
The Bush Doctrine is the basic mistake here, the poisonous tree which has produced poisoned fruit. The inability of the US to establish a legitimate and respected government in Iraq flows from the basic illegality of the Bush Doctrine. As a result of this doctrine, the US and Britain started the Iraq War without international support or credibility, and hence their occupation of Iraq was not legitimate. From the very beginning, they lacked the moral authority to govern; no democratic government can ever be successful without such authority.
Now, what Juan Cole calls "the guerrilla war" in Iraq is killing hundreds of Iraqis every week, including a dozen or more American soldiers. The insurgency is so widespread and so powerful that there are more than 100 attacks against American soldiers every day -- that's right, EVERY DAY. Now the news comes that the US was using white phosporous bombs in Fallujah last November
Juan Cole writes "The lessons of British Iraq were mostly unknown to the American politicians who planned out and executed the 2003 Iraq War. One of them is that the military occupation of a conquered population is a barbaric business and can easily draw the colonizer into the use of horrific means to control the rebellious occupied. The Americans' moral fibre is being destroyed from within by things like Abu Ghraib, Fallujah, and other atrocities. In the end, America may not any longer be America. The country that began by forbidding cruel and unusual punishment is ending by formally authorizing torture on a grand scale, and by burning small town Iraqis down to the bone with white phosphorus."
Poison. Pure poison.

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Monday, November 07, 2005

Great line of the day 

d r i f t g l a s s writes:
". . . .the GOP hasn’t just hit a bad patch: they’ve “lost the room." . . . And in ways that are virtually identical to Republican Herbert Hoover’s response to the Great Depression, the GOP’s response to the calamity their own policies have created is to freeze up, do nothing, and hope it’ll all just blows over, even though that path leads to ruin. Why? Because they are ideologically bound on all sides. Because like the Christopaths that ate their Party, Republicans are congenitally unable to admit error. . . . the GOP will spend millions on scapegoats, but not one cent on solutions. Hoover's failure to deal decisively with the Great Depression effectively killed the Republican Party for a generation. Eisenhower brought it back, but with a humane and moderate touch that this generation of anti-American Gingrich and Falwell Republicans have completely repudiated, and now the brighter among them are beginning to dimly perceive the size and shape of the pit into which Bush has led them.
Because they can't get rid of him. If instead of yapping about it, the GOP really ran the government (which they now completely control) like a business, George W. Bush would have been out on his ass in April. He has bankrupted the United States in every way conceivable, blow his performance evaluation worse than any other man in modern history for four quarters in a row, and has presented no turnaround plan to the Board beyond three more years of the same corruption, deception and bumblefuckery that got us here in the first place. And there is no way to get him the hell off the stage. Their Chickenhawk-in-Chief has become a 500-pound albatross hanging around the neck of the Republicans Party.
Emphasis mine. I know, a little long, but I thought it was all pretty good.
The advantage of a parliamentary system is that a government will fall if too many people lose confidence in the leadership.

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Sunday, November 06, 2005

Good, bad, ugly 

Good


Bad


Ugly



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Saturday, November 05, 2005

The week that was 

Here's what the last week has been like for our boy Georgie.
Last weekend, Capitol Hill Blue reports
. . . When a GOP strategist suggested . . . that the President fire Rove, Bush exploded. 'You go to hell,' he screamed at the strategist. 'You can leave and you can take the rest of these lily-livered motherfuckers with you!' The President then stormed out of the room and refused to meet further with any other party leaders or strategists . . .

Then they announce Alito for the Supreme Court on Monday, but then his silly old mother immediately says he opposes abortion, with the result that the hearings won't even start until January so the base will be pissed about that
Then Harry Reid pulls a fast one Tuesday and gets Iraq back into the news.
Then Wednesday the CIA secret prison story broke.
Thursday Libby had his first court appearance.
Friday we see Cheney still promoting torture .
We continue to see stories about Tom Delay screwing up again.
Background noice all week was that the number of attacks in Iraq have continued to escalate, with several soldiers a day being killed. The 2000 mark has been passed. The flimsiness of the rationale for war and the incompetence of its execution has become a frame for all Iraq-related news stories now. The opinion polls have Bush at 35 per cent.
Also on Friday, Bush's trip to Argentina inspires tens of thousands of people to riot.
And coming on Saturday, the inane "ethics class" story will produce a loud raspberry across the country/
And then next week, Ahmed Chalabi is coming back.
And it was just a year ago that Bush was reelected . . .

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Friday, November 04, 2005

Just follow the Jim Carey Rule 

When I read this story -- Bush Orders Staff to Attend Ethics Briefings -- I recalled Jim Carey's best line in Liar, Liar: when asked by a client what he could do about his legal problems, Carey replied "Stop breaking the law, asshole!"

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Great line of the day 

Digby writes about the "I forgot" defense as it applies to Karl Rove:
In a court of law, perhaps Pat Fitzgerald would not be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Rove lied about that. In the court of public opinion, it is as ridiculous as the idea that OJ didn't do it. Perhaps Karl can spend the rest of his tenure in the White House looking for the real leakers.
Emphasis mine.

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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

A-hunting 

A-hunting we will go
A-hunting we will go
We'll catch a little fox
And put him in a box
And never let him go!

So take 500 plus or minus in Guantanamo, and add to them 100 or more spread around the globe in the CIA's prison system -- and of course don't forget the thousands and thousands now jailed in Iraq.
Almost none of them can be proven guilty of anything at all, at least not according to the standards of law that you or I would want to be judged by -- like in a trial, with admissable evidence or witnesses, and a defense attorney, and a judge. But neither the military nor the spooks are willing to let any of them out.
This story describes what has happened in the CIA:
. . . The CIA program's original scope was to hide and interrogate the two dozen or so al Qaeda leaders believed to be directly responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks, or who posed an imminent threat, or had knowledge of the larger al Qaeda network. But as the volume of leads pouring into the CTC from abroad increased, and the capacity of its paramilitary group to seize suspects grew, the CIA began apprehending more people whose intelligence value and links to terrorism were less certain, according to four current and former officials. The original standard for consigning suspects to the invisible universe was lowered or ignored, they said. "They've got many, many more who don't reach any threshold," one intelligence official said . . . the debate over the wisdom of the program continues among CIA officers, some of whom also argue that the secrecy surrounding the program is not sustainable. "It's just a horrible burden," said the intelligence official.
So what did they think was going to happen -- that their CIA officers were going to show restraint? That they would give some priority to determining whether these people were guilty or innocent, and then let the innocent ones just go home?
Nope. No more restraint than the military has shown in Iraq or Guantanamo, where the guiding principle seems to be that the only trustworthy Arab is the one on the other side of the barbed wire.
So you have people who are supposed to be in charge of US national security, who are quite willing to imprison people they KNOW are innocent, just because they cannot figure out what else to do with them.
And someday it will be 2010, and then 2020 -- and are we still going to be reading stories about Guantanamo and secret prisons?
Or will all the journalists be locked up by then too?

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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Hubris 

Those whom the gods would destroy they first make all powerful.
Those whom the gods would destroy they first make proud
.
Hubris is the description for just about all political administrations who have been in power long enough to believe their own press releases. Occasionally, that happens in about three days (ie, the Bush administration), but usually it doesn't happen until at least one successful reelection, maybe two.
When Hubris strikes, it ain't pretty.
Chretien obviously had a bad case of it before he (finally!) left. As witness the Gomery inquiry report today -- the key paragraphs in this Globe story are these:
. . . Judge Gomery said Mr. Chrétien must shoulder at least some of the responsibility for the program's problems. Mr. Chrétien, he said, chose to run the program from his own office and to have his own staff take responsibility for its direction. For those reasons, he said, Mr. Chrétien "is accountable for the defective manner in which the sponsorship program and its initiatives were implemented."
"Good intentions are not an excuse for maladministration of this magnitude," he said. "The Prime Minister and his Chief of Staff [Jean Pelletier] arrogated to themselves the direction of a virtually secret program of discretionary spending to selected beneficiaries, saying that they believed in good faith that those grants would enhance Canadian unity." Each, Justice Gomery said, had testified during hearings that they believed the program would be administered responsibly by Mr. Guité, who ran the program from its inception until 1999. But they also did not verify that assumption "even though they had created a program lacking all of the normal safeguards against maladministration."
"The assumption was naïve, imprudent and entirely unfounded," Justice Gomery said. Similarly, he said, Alfonso Gagliano, who was public works minister from 1997 to 2002, chose to continue with the "irregular manner" of directing the sponsorship program adopted by Mr. Pelletier, when he took office. "Contrary to his testimony to the effect that his participation was limited to providing political input and making recommendations about events and projects to be sponsored, Mr. Gagliano became directly involved in decisions to provide funding to events and projects for partisan purposes, having little to do with considerations of national unity." Just as Mr. Chrétien must accept responsibility for the actions of his exempt staff, so must Mr. Gagliano, Justice Gomery added.
The Quebec wing of the Liberal Party, Justice Gomery also said, "cannot escape responsibility for the misconduct of its officers and representatives." He said two successive executive directors "were directly involved in illegal campaign financing and many of its workers accepted cash payments for their services when they should have known that such payments were in violation of the Canada Elections Act."
Not only should they have known better, its quite likely that somebody TOLD them not to do it this way. Somebody said, this isn't right. Somebody said, you should be following the rules. And they ignored that aggravating bureaucrat, that stick-in-the-mud, that useless twit who couldn't get with the tour, that annoying naysayer who wasn't 'onside' with the program. So they remained secure in the comfortable belief that their cause was just and their aspect noble, so pure were they that they could not possibly be doing anything wrong, just cutting a little unnecessary red tape . . .

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