November 5, 2007 archive

Hardball: Useless Over-Hyping

What a wanker Tweety is.


Yes, they will use their special Conventional Wisdom Super Powers to tell us who, Who, WHO! is most likely to win the Democratic and Republican nominations.

It’s sooo complicated.  Not just the polls, but also the money and the organization, and the fluid primary schedule.

Far too complicated for your simple outside the Beltway minds to understand.

So you must tune in.  How else will you know what to think without Timmeh and I to tell you what to think?



Four at Four

Some news and your afternoon open thread.

  1. The situation in Pakistan is changing hourly. The Los Angeles Times reported this morning that Pakistani police use tear gas and batons against protesting lawyers. “Police with tear gas and batons battled protesting lawyers in major cities today, and the number of political and human rights activists arrested in a police sweep climbed into the thousands.” Bloomberg News is reporting that the Pakistan police have arrested protesting lawyers. “Pakistani police charged with clubs and arrested more than 150 lawyers challenging… Pervez Musharraf’s emergency rule”.

    Pakistani uniformed and plainclothes police beating a lawyer during a protest in Lahore today.
    (Arif Ali/Agence France-Presse)

    The Associated Press reports Thousands face down Pakistani police. “Police fired tear gas and clubbed thousands of lawyers protesting President Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s decision to impose emergency rule, as Western allies threatened to review aid to the troubled Muslim nation. More than 1,500 people have been arrested in 48 hours, and authorities put a stranglehold on independent media.”

    Ever wonder how the Hell we wound up in this mess? Flash back to eight years ago today when Bush was running for president. CNN reported on November 5, 1999 that Bush fails reporter’s pop quiz on international leaders. Bush was asked by a reporter “to name the leaders of Chechnya, Taiwan, India and Pakistan. Bush was only able to give a partial response to the query on the leader of Taiwan… He could not name the others.”

    George W. Bush“Can you name the general who is in charge of Pakistan?” Hiller asked, inquiring about Gen. Pervaiz Musharraf, who seized control of the country October 12.

    “Wait, wait, is this 50 questions?” asked Bush.

    Hiller replied: “No, it’s four questions of four leaders in four hot spots.”

    Bush turned the tables on Hiller, though, asking him if he could name the foreign minister of Mexico. Hiller said he could not, but also added he wasn’t running for president.

    Bush replied: “What I’m suggesting to you is that (because) you can’t name the foreign minister of Mexico, therefore you’re not capable of what you do. But the truth of the matter is you are, whether you can or not.”

    As reported by McClatchy Newspapers on Saturday, Despite warnings, Bush officials couldn’t stop Musharraf. “The imposition of emergency rule on Saturday in nuclear-armed Pakistan underscores how little influence the Bush administration has on events in a country that has become the bulwark in the U.S. fight against terrorism. U.S. officials moved quickly to denounce the order by… Gen. Pervez Musharraf… Washington’s lack of influence… was palpable… Pakistan is a top recipient of U.S. aid. Since 2001, it has received more than $10 billion”. But, I wonder if even he still knows who the finance minister of Mexico is?

  2. Matthew Hay Brown of the Baltimore Sun reports Iraqi refugees look to U.S. to fulfill pledge.

    Ban Saadi Abdallatif and sonBan Saadi Abdallatif still has trouble sleeping some nights, remembering her uncle and cousin, shot dead by the militia, or thinking about her brother’s narrow escape from kidnappers. But it’s nothing like the fear she lived with back in Diyala, where law and order broke down after U.S. forces invaded Iraq, and insurgents targeted her mixed Shiite-Sunni family.

    “I feel relief to be in the United States,” said the 31-year-old former teacher, who arrived in Laurel with her 9-year-old son in September. “I will not plan to go back to Iraq.”

    Abdallatif is one of the lucky few. Of the more than 2 million Iraqis who have fled the country since the 2003 invasion, fewer than 3,000 have been allowed to resettle in the United States.

    The Bush administration has acknowledged a “moral obligation” to protect Iraqis displaced by the war but fell far short of the 7,000 admissions that officials pledged by the end of September – sparking criticism from refugee advocates.

Four at Four continus below the fold with stories about Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program, the environmental damage of the Israel-Lebanon war of 2006, and a bonus story about bicycle economy in Portland, Oregon is below the fold.

Important If True: “No Pennies for the Di” edition

TERRORISM TAKES A HOLIDAY: So, today is http://www.infopleas… >the day the Brits celebrate an anti-Christian, civilian-bombing, government-hating insurgent by going door-to-door and asking for money (“Penny for the Guy?”). Why do the British hate America? . . . . Michael Mukasey would approve: After he was captured, before he could detonate his bomb that was intended to destroy the Protestant Parliament, Fawkes was tortured, at the explicit direction of King James, who instructed that the torture should be gentle at first, and increase in severity. (And yes, I’m sure King James had a note from his solicitor general saying that the whole thing was perfectly OK, provided there was no organ failure.) “The torture only revealed the names of those conspirators who were already dead or whose names were known to the authorities,” according to Wikipedia. Why does Wikipedia hate America?

On Iraq Funding: A Moment for Obama

Senator Barack Obama has run a campaign criticizing what he calls the Politics of the Moment all the while campaigning for his moments. Well, if this is true, an Obama Moment can emerge:

Despite their rhetoric about not wanting to hand President Bush another “blank check” for the Iraq War, Democrats appear poised to give him exactly that — enough cash to keep the war going full steam for as long as six months, no strings attached.

. . .Democrats are quietly preparing to give the president enough spending flexibility to keep the war going anyway. . . . Democrats began approving billions in extra funding, starting with the first stopgap spending resolution [I have no idea what Roll Call is talking about here. I kow of no additional funding measrues that have been passed since the Iraq Supplelemental that was passed prior to Petraeus's testimony. Frankly, I think Roll Call is wrong.] Next up will be the regular Defense spending bill, expected to go to conference committee Tuesday. Although the bill is not expected to include funding specifically targeted to Iraq, Democrats plan to allow much of the funding to be diverted from regular Defense accounts to the war. . . .

(Emphasis supplied.) The House can not pass such funding without the Senate. Senator Obama, just say no. Put a hold on such a bill. Lead a filibuster against it. This is your moment. Prove you are more than just pretty words.

Wanted: Scallop/Sealife Artist

Stupid idea.  

My Sockpuppet, Len

I have to confess:  I never knew what a sockpuppet was, and I’ve never practiced it myself – until this past week.

I read and sometimes comment (usually as N=1) on the Daily Nightly blog hosted by Brian Williams and containing the posts of correspondents, news writers, producers and Williams.  Sometime during the summer, Williams got tired of me complaining about the failure of NBC News to disclose conflicts of interest, and when I really complained about Russert’s testimony during the Libby trial, he (or whoever moderates his blog) stopped publishing my comments.  So I occasionally saved and pasted them on my own blog, just so others can determine whether I was making sense.

Last week, Williams was dancing on the ceiling about hosting Saturday Night Live. Remember last wek?  Democratic presidential candidate debate hosted by – Williams and Russert?  Wonder why the questions were distorted and focused on UFPs instead of Constitutional crises and unlimited executive power grabs?  Uh huh – all niters prepping for SNL.  So knowing that my comments wouldn’t be published under my known pseudonym, I became “Len”.  And here, for your reading pleasure – or emetic/laxative, depending on your need or gag factor, is the resulting post with comment section.

Intelligence Agents Call for Hold on Mukasey Nomination

Larry Johnson over at Daily Kos has released a letter to the chairman and ranking minority member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, calling for a hold on Mukasey’s nomination for Attorney General until Judge Mukasey clarifies his position on waterboarding. They ridicule Mukasey’s claim of ignorance on the subject, and suggest a classified briefing for him and other Committee leaders, which would be taped in order to “enhance the likelihood of candor”. Johnson is a former Intelligence analysis and operations officer, and was deputy director of Office of Counter Terrorism at the U.S. State Department.

The letter follows the news last Friday that Democratic Senators Feinstein and Schumer said they would vote to recommend Mukasey out of committee. The memorandum from assorted former intelligence operatives from the CIA/FBI/DIA and State Department is full of lofty calls for a return to American values and a return to the “high moral ground” supposedly held previously by the U.S. military and CIA. One only has to contemplate the history of the CIA, of how the U.S. government has trained torturers around the world, of the U.S. unprovoked invasions of Iraq and Vietnam with deaths in the millions, of the torture-assassination program that was Operation Phoenix, in addition to the fact the agents’s memorandum says nothing about other forms of torture, or about the CIA extraordinary rendition program, to recognize the bogus nature of such previously held moral values and positions.

The letter itself is worth publishing as an example of the rebellion within the governmental bureaucracy against the hard-line Bush/Cheney cabal, for whom anything goes. You can bet that these former government spooks wouldn’t have published if there wasn’t some support for their position within the active military and intelligence community.

The memorandum also demonstrates that political opposition to the Mukasey nomination hasn’t totally crumbled in the wake of Feinstein and Schumer’s genuflection to Bush. Johnson says this letter can be posted “at any blog or site, in full”, asking only for attribution to No Quarter. What follows is the full text of this letter to the Judiciary Committee:

Oh, Mexico: Update on Tabasco Flooding

And speaking of under reported stories, and…..Just so it is on the Front Page somewhere…

Though news reports are sketchy and unreliable….as can be deduced from the fact that the reporting states that only about 10 people have died in a disaster of this magnitude….

…there are around 300,000 people still stranded by floodwaters in Tabasco, particularly in Villahermosa. Up to 800,000 people are homeless. The State of Tabasco is roughly the size of Belgium….and 80% of it is flooded.

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Mexico has called out its entire army to help, but food and water are running low as people are living on their rooftops. Just as in Katrina….helicopters are plucking people from the floodwaters and delivering supplies. The government has called on everyone with a boat to help.

But. There are at the very least 300,000 human beings that need help.

All the crops in the region have been destroyed, and presumably the floodwaters have destroyed the water supplies in the region as well. No large outbreaks of disease have been reported, but there have been reports of fighting over food and water.

The flooded rivers have barely started to recede, but it is being reported that, just like in NOLA, huge areas will have to be pumped dry.

With a Hat Tip to mishima, please check the videos on this page,  for a sense of the damage.

I wish I could tell people where to donate to help, but I have yet to see a consensus on a “good” charity. If you have info on how to help, please post it in the comments. And please keep the people of Tabasco in your thoughts and prayers.

The New Project Censored List Is Out

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Project Censored compiles an annual list of stories that are un- or underreported in the traditional media.

From their About Us section:

Project Censored is a media research group out of Sonoma State University which tracks the news published in independent journals and newsletters. From these, Project Censored compiles an annual list of 25 news stories of social significance that have been overlooked, under-reported or self-censored by the country’s major national news media.

Pony Party: Daylight Saving No More!

Light Emitting Pickle here to bring you the most recent open thread. First, a few words about Pickle Pony Parties:

Please do not recommend a Pony Party when you see one.  There will be another along in a few hours.

What Would The Child You Once Were Think Of The Adult You Have Become?

I was sent this article by a commenter on October 29, 2007 and re-published it on my own blog.

After reading some of the comments in the past day or so to Armando’s post at Talkleft CNN: Torture As The Punchline, I am re-posting the article here because I think it is an important enough subject, and I think that the experiences of Rev. Fred Morris are things that need to be known, and the responsive actions of Foreign Service officer Richard Brown are valuable educationally.

My own opinion of torture is that it is an utterly indefensible and unquestionable evil, and my own opinion of people who excuse or support or condone torture or attempt to obfuscate and confuse definitions of torture is that they are beyond debating with. Torture is morally, ethically, and legally wrong, and it is a travesty that it is now being “debated” in mainstream media as if to condone it is “just another opinion as valid as any other”.

To those people I ask “What would the child you once were think of the adult you have become?”. Perhaps they should ask themselves that question.

Please read Rev. Fred Morris' article.


“As we are now facing the horrifying spectacle of our president, vice president, Secretaries of State and Defense and Attorney General all making torture a “legitimate” weapon in our arsenal against international terrorism, I ask, Where is Richard Brown when we really need him?”

In 1963, Fred Morris became a missionary of the United Methodist Church to Brazil, where he spent eleven years. As the result of his journalistic activities and his close association with Archbishop Câmara, who was the leading opponent of the Brazilian military, who had overthrown the democratically-elected government in 1964, he was kidnapped by the Brazilian army in 1974 and spent 17 days in their torture chambers in Recife before being expelled by presidential decree as a person “prejudicial to national interests.” On his return to the United States, Time published a two-page first-person account of his experiences entitled     Torture, Brazilian Style (Nov. 18, 1974). He subsequently appeared on the  Today Show  and more than 25 other TV talk shows in the U.S. and Canada. He testified before the U.S. Congress and lobbied for human rights in Latin America in Washington for nearly two years, and published another story in  Harper's  (October, 1975  'In the presence of mine enemies')

“Where is Richard Brown when we really need him?”
By Rev. Fred Morris

10/26/07 “ICH” — — The story of a young Foreign Service officer who risked his budding career to defend a principle and the honor of the United States

Intro: In the fall of 1974, I was being tortured by members of the Brazilian army in Recife, Brazil, led by officers who bragged about having been trained at the School of the Americas (then in Panama). When I was kidnapped from my home in Recife, (Time, November 18, 1974 and Harpers's, October, 1975) on September 30, 1974, I did not expect to survive. Since the CIA-sponsored overthrow of the democratically elected president of Brazil, João Goulart, in April of 1964, hundreds of Brazilians had been “disappeared” by the military security forces in their ongoing war against “international Communism” and its alleged collaborators within Brazil.

Why I Concentrate My Critiques On The Non-Clinton Candidates

Over at the Big Orange Satan, our good friend ClammyC writes one of those “why do you want to be President” things. As a general rule, I dislike those types of diaries, as it buys into the whole idea of pols as something more than they are. Why does anyone run for President or for elected office period? To get elected. What values will they stand for? The ones that get them elected. Folks, that is what pols are. They are vessels for the political views that prevail in elections.

I have no doubt that each of the persons running believe they will do what is best for the country and be the best President ever. But they run to win. Asking them why they are running is silly in my opinion.

It’s funny that the most famous and damaging moment the “why do you want to be President?” question was asked was to Ted Kennedy by Roger Mudd in 1980. Kennedy fumbled the question and did great damage to his candidacy. But I ask you, did anyone have any doubt what Ted Kennedy would have tried to do as President? Ted Kennedy of all people?

I think Ted Kennedy is now the most honest, committed and, dare I say it, best representative of HIS OWN VIEWS in Congress. Heck, in politics. Why? Because Ted Kennedy will NEVER run for President and Ted Kennedy will never be beaten in an election. He is free. Of accountability with the voters. And of personal political ambition.

Every other politician, Russ Feingold not excluded, still feels the sway of the voters and personal political ambition. Pols are vessels of the politics of our country. They are the vehicles for the voices of the powers that decide elections. They do what they can and must to win elections.

Some call this pandering. Pandering, to me, is good. The question is who do you pander to. And why. Hillary Clinton is the frontrunner in the Presidential race. She is behaving in ways that she believes will enable her to win. To be frank, Hillary will not be the primary vehicle for making our voices heard on the issues. She must feel pressure from her rivals.

That is why I focus my attention on her rivals. That is why I support Chris Dodd. He has paid attention to the issues that matter to me. He has brought them to the fore. He has made his rivals move on those issues. Barack Obama, on the other hand, has moved NO ONE on any issue since he became a Senator. From my perspective, his candidacy has been an utter failure. I think from his perspective, he wants to win, it has been as well.

I deplore this focus on “doubletalk” (as if all them do not engage in it.) Press Clinton on the issues. Indeed, press Clinton’s RIVALS on the issues. Asking them why they want to be President is not only a waste of time, it distracts from what I think most of us want – attention to the issues we care about.

I know this admonition will fall on deaf ears when it comes to the rabid supporters of particular politicians. It seems clear to me that they have decided to put issues on the backburner. But for the rest of us, I hope we can focus in on what matters and pressure those who can put the issues on the front burner.

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