Thursday, June 28, 2007

Putting Libby In Perspective

Yglesias nails it:

"Mark Kleiman seems to me to have the goods on this one:

  • "If you had any doubt that the fuss about Libby's sentence is largely a matter of Washington insiders, political and journalistic, rallying to the defense of one of their own, consider the contrasting silence about the Siegelman case. A highly popular Democratic Governor of Alabama was indicted by a highly political U.S. Attorney's office, which is now seeking a thirty-year sentence. He was convicted of appointing someone to a state board that the same man had been appointed to by three previous governors, in return for a contribution in support of a referendum campaign.
"As Mark notes, rewarding campaign contributors with ambassadorships -- to say nothing of policy concessions -- is common. And the case seems at least a little fishy ("the fact that Siegelman was convicted of corruption in the course of fighting against Jack Abramoff, Abramoff's his Indian-gaming clients, and Abramoff's buddy, now the Governor of Alabama, may be merely ironic") on a few grounds. But even if there's nothing fishy about it, 30 years is a sentence for a vicious murderer, "And not a peep of protest from the Washington Post, which instead is running a non-stop campaign of whining about Scooter Libby's thirty months."


"As a sidebar, it's not even clear to me how Libby came to be a member of The Establishment in such good standing. I have it on good authority that he was in arrears on his dues to Temple Rodef Shalom before any of his legal troubles even started going down."

Greenwald and Thomas

A meeting of the minds.

File This One Under "Are You Kidding Me?"

Democrats and Republicans working together...to get a pay increase:

"WASHINGTON (AP) -- Despite low approval ratings and hard feelings from last year's elections, Democrats and Republicans in the House are reaching out for an approximately $4,400 pay raise that would increase their salaries to almost $170,000.

"The cost-of-living raise endorsed Wednesday evening gets lawmakers back on track for automatic pay raises after a fight between the parties last year and again in January killed the pay increase due this year. That was the first interruption of the annual congressional pay boost in seven years."

Mayor Mike just called in. He wanted to tell Congress to "Get Real!" Hey Mike, simmer down over there. Only in Washington do people have the nuggets to ask for more money to do nothing. Well them and Roger Clemens. Well at least the Spice Girls are reuniting for a world tour. Now I feel MUCH better. Oy Vey.

Supreme Court Watch

Three cases decided.

Endgame

Bush won't supply subpoenaed documents in Attorney firings investigations. Does this come as a surprise? Is there anyone who doesn't know Bush's plan? Stall, stall, stall, and then leave office. By the time the case gets to the Supreme Court (where it will no doubt be tossed, the decision exiled to the 20th page of the NYTimes) Bush, Cheney and Rove will be lamping on a beach with Ken Lay and Tupac. If Congress really wants answers, and if the US really wants justice, then they have only one option. Impeach him now.

Diversity in the FDNY

Try to find a black fireman in New York City. Go ahead, I'll wait.

Still looking huh? Don't sweat it. In a city that has a, to say the least, healthy black population, blacks remains a measly 3% of NY's bravest. Finally there's a Justice Department lawsuit charging the FDNY for discrimatory practices. There's an excellent rundown on the problem in the NY Daily News about it, including some specific changes in policy that look as though they can benefit not only blacks but the entire city, ensuring that new hires will be more qualified than their predessors. It's worth the read.

And In Case You Were Wondering

Iraq is still a mess.

No Mike, Maybe You Need to "Get Real"

Amid warnings that the MTA is running at full or beyond capacity on many of their train lines, Mayor Mike tells NY to 'get real':

"Subway riders griping about crowded trains should "get real," Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday. Bloomberg said he takes the Lexington Ave. line most days and reports, "It's not crowded."


"So you have to stand up next to people," Bloomberg said during remarks at a Crain's New York Business breakfast in midtown. "Get real. This is New York."

"NYC Transit President Howard Roberts on Monday said that some lines are at or above capacity. At a news conference at City Hall, lawmakers said the mayor is out of touch with the crowding situation on the trains.

"He doesn't take it from Queens," said City Councilman David Weprin (D-Queens), referring to Bloomberg. "The F train on 179th St. is so overcrowded from Queens to Manhattan - it's ridiculous.""

Agreed. Rush hours is becoming insane in the city, rivaling the Tokyo. And adding more trains doesn't seem to be the solution. There might be a chance that putting more buses on the streets might eliminate the stress once the streets have been cleared of cars following the proposed car tax, but it's up in the air. Mike's being particularly bull headed here, but truly something does need to be done. NY has become incredibly overcrowded in the last couple of years and every avenue of downtown NY has become like the dance floor of Club Exit on a Saturday night, but attacking your critics doesn't make the problem go away.

Omen of Things To Come

It hasn't been so long that New Yorkers haven't forgotten about the last blackout to hit our city. In 2003 New York and parts of Canada were hit with the largest blackout in American history, a power outage that lasted nearly a full day for most sections, and longer for some out the outer regions. At that time Con Edison and their related energy companies claimed that the grid had been outdated and doomed to failure. It had been considered a National Security risk and that it would be taken care of.

Then last year was a blackout of Astoria, Queens that lasted most of July. That should have been a clue.

But it appears that our leadership has memories like gnats, as shown in yesterday's blackout that unfortunately, looks like an omen of things to come:

"A power failure zapped almost half a million people in Manhattan and the Bronx yesterday - causing gridlock, snarling subways, forcing evacuations and throwing doubt on Con Edison's ability to keep the juice flowing.


"The afternoon blackout - two days into the season's first run of 90-degree weather - lasted just 48 minutes."

As Con Ed CEO Kevin Burke gave a presentation us at a press conference with the Mayor on the energy saving capablities of using florescent lights, the power grid was collapsing, and no one knew why:

"The utility insisted yesterday's problem wasn't a replay - saying lightning may have hit a facility in Astoria, Queens, and tripped giant circuit breakers.


"The likelihood of this happening again is very low," said Con Ed CEO Kevin Burke, who said that despite the high temps, the system was running well below capacity.

"We don't think this event had anything to do with the level of electricity being used.""

Then what did cause it? That's really the question on every one's mind, and until it's answered, New Yorkers' doubts will continued to be validated.

UPDATE: Thousands still without power in upstate New York.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Banished


Note: This was written last week, so some of it might be dated.

In the years between the Civil War and the Great Depression, thousands of blacks were driven out of their homes by their white neighbors and many of these communities, to this day, remain exclusively white. The movie Banished, a documentary by filmmaker Marco Williams, recounts these events and follows the struggles of three black families in their attempts to receive some sort of justice from the towns that have prospered from their kin’s suffering.

This film is a stunning, emotional rollercoaster ride that will leave you frustrated, and angry. Every one should see this.

While there is some hope (many of the people who have brought these injustices to light were white) there is also overwhelming evidence that many of the strides we thought we have made in America were really fantasies. Harrison, Arkansas, a town where blacks were banished literally in a hail of bullets, is a current Klan strong hold, remains exclusively white, but is considered “one of the best places to live in America”. An elderly white man there, one of the hundreds who have decided to retire to Harrison, explains that he moved there because, “one, the price of living here is low and…two, there’s no niggers.” Yet at the same time the more liberal whites, who are attempting to change their town’s image, are clueless as to why blacks are scared to walk their streets. In one of the most intense moments of the film, one of the members of their “racial task force” (the group whites organized to make the town more inclusive) explains to them that the Klan isn’t the town’s problem; the problem is that “you make the Klan welcome here.” Silence fills the room.

The end of the film is a study in futility. As the black families try to find a least a recognition of the crimes committed against them, the city governments try every method to deny that the crimes occurred. There’s the legal method: Show us the deed to the land, they say, but who thought to grab deeds when the side of their homes were on fire, and bullets were streaming through their windows. There’s the “it wasn’t us” method: We weren’t born then, they say. Why should they be held responsible? And when all recourse fails then there’s the method of violence: The Klan shows up, rednecks carrying Confederate flags in one hand, bottles and two-by-fours in the other. The last shot of the film is a picture of the Washington monument and the message that of the thousands of blacks banished from their homes only four have received reparations, those four are all from one town: Rosewood, Florida.

So coming out of the movie I was really tempted to get into my fuck white people mode. But I quickly realized that that shit is too simple. Banishments to some extent have been going on everywhere on this planet, and it’s not ancient history. The Armenian genocide by the Turks, in 1915 kicked out and killed somewhere between 650,000 to 1.5 million Armenians. Turkey claims it never happened. There was the Bosnian genocide and displacement by the Serbs in 1992 that claimed almost 2 million people. The International Court of Justice in 2006 found Serbia not culpable. And then there’s Rwanda, Dafur.
And what about us? In 2003 the United States, based on fraudulent evidence, misinformation and lies, invaded Iraq. At a cost to us of over 400 billion dollars we now have almost 4,000 US troops and tens of thousands of Iraqi dead, their infrastructure collapsed, and a sectarian civil war that threatens to pop the Middle East like a zit. Will a filmmaker, some hundred years from now, document about how some Iraqi family is suing the US, because their home was bombed and now the US embassy, Halliburton facility, or Starbucks is built in its place?

Now I’m not going to make any friends with this next part, but screw it, I’m going to speak my mind.

And while all this shit, this perpetuation of the cycle of suffering and greed continues, I see Dip Set…Dip Setting, 50 rapping about window shopping while he’s slurping milkshakes with Mace, Pac-Man Jones is making it rain at clubs, Beyonce is still dancing in that ‘Get me Bodied’ video, and NYCKZ is still stylin on ‘em. Yeah, I’m pointing to some particular faces, but the actions of a few are endemic of the entire community of Hip-Hop, the majority of black superstars, and maybe black’s entire mindset. I spoke in my previous column about the lack of black vision, and yes there are pragmatic things we have to face such as education, health care, and the inequity of the prison system. But along with that comes a certain moral obligation to confront the specters of our past in a way that will not allow them to continue. I’m reminded of Chris Rock in Never Scared when he talks about America’s mentality after 9/11:

“At first it was fuck those Arabs, fuck those Arabs, and I was like ok. Then it was fuck those foreigners, fuck those foreigners, and I was like ok. And then it was fuck the Mexicans, fuck the Mexicans, and I was like, hold up, we knows what comes after that—the Jews and the blacks—that train is never late!”

When blacks allow these types of actions by the state to go ignored and unconfronted eventually it will come back on us. How much moral leverage can we possibly have in regards to our plights when we show such disregard to others who are either in the same situation or getting in that same situation, in the name of America? Or to make it even more basic, why should they care if we don’t? How can we ever get America to address the issues of wealth disparity in our community, when we prosper off of the oppression of others?

Look, I’m not Bill Cosby, and I’m sure as shit not going to put the responsibility of all this crap on the shoulders of the people most burdened and crippled by the oppressive policies of this country. But I am saying that we do have to shoulder some of the responsibility. We gotta get in the game. It’s the fourth quarter, ten seconds left, we’re on the five-yard line, and Michael Vick is running a dog fight in the basement of his mansion. We’ve grown up, we’ve gone to college and become global. If we hope to succeed in our quest for justice then we’ve got to choose a side. We have to step up or sit down. But be forewarned, usually the ones that are sitting down, are the first to get run over.

Class Wins

Elizabeth Edwards vs. Ann Coulter. How sweet it is.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

They Eat Their Old

The Neo-Cons that is:

"It's the lingering divide within American conservatism, brought to vivid life by Johann Hari on the National Review Cruise:

"Aren't you embarrassed by the absence of these weapons?" Buckley snaps at Podhoretz. He has just explained that he supported the war reluctantly, because Dick Cheney convinced him Saddam Hussein had WMD primed to be fired. "No," Podhoretz replies. "As I say, they were shipped to Syria. During Gulf war one, the entire Iraqi air force was hidden in the deserts in Iran." He says he is "heartbroken" by this "rise of defeatism on the right." He adds, apropos of nothing, "There was nobody better than Don Rumsfeld. This defeatist talk only contributes to the impression we are losing, when I think we're winning."

"The audience cheers Podhoretz. The nuanced doubts of Bill Buckley leave them confused. Doesn't he sound like the liberal media? Later, over dinner, a tablemate from Denver calls Buckley "a coward." His wife nods and says, "Buckley's an old man," tapping her head with her finger to suggest dementia."

Block out the Sun; Burn the Poppy Fields Down

Remember the Matrix? Remember, in the back story told to Neo by Morpheus, how the humans, in their last gambit against the machines, blotted out the sun which was powering the machines? The gambit didn't work, but it bought them more time against a dangerous enemy.

Well it turns out that poppy seed production in Afghanistan, the root of heroin, is funding the Taliban, and this production has increased 49% from 05 to 06. If the US really wants to get serious about defeating the Taliban than a good place to begin is burning down those fields. Yes, doing such will probably decimate the Afghan economy, but the US doesn't seem to be too keen on rebuilding their economy to begin with, and isn't even going to begin to help until the Taliban are destroyed. So for the Afghan public they're between a rock and a hard place. The fact remains though that the Taliban will continue to be well funded as long as their poppy supply continues to increase.

Blow to Bush

A key Bush supporter in the Senate has publicly declared his dissatisfaction with Bush's game plan:

"WASHINGTON - Sen. Richard Lugar, a senior Republican and a reliable vote for President Bush on the war, said Monday that Bush's Iraq strategy was not working and that the United States should downsize the military's role.

"The unusually blunt assessment deals a political blow to Bush, who has relied heavily on GOP support to stave off anti-war legislation.

"It also comes as a surprise. Most Republicans have said they were willing to wait until September to see if Bush's recently ordered troop buildup in Iraq was working."

This isn't much of a surprise at the offices of the Word. The peoples confidence in Congress is dropping faster than the people's confidence in Bush, and with the June tally of US deaths rising rapidly, and stories like this popping up, the country is demanding immediate results. Furthermore, as the situation pops open, the ire of Musilms is slowly spreading over the Middle East, as Al-Qaida holds out a helping hand to Hamas. Big moves have to be made, and Iraq is not the place to make them.

Horrible

You know when I saw the story that Chris Benoit murdered his family and killed himself I would have sworn that it was a WWE stunt. Looks like I was wrong. This is a truly horrible event and my condolences go out to the whole extended Benoit family.

Bloomy Will Help Hil Against Giuliani

Look like CNN agrees with me.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Supreme Court Update

More coverage of the SC decisions here. Mithras' summation:

"Religion in government is good. Political contributions are good. Individual free speech is bad."

Sounds about right.

Double Down

Elizabeth Edwards picks up the slack for her husband by coming out for gay marriage. I say good for her, and even better for him, who by diffusion will get some credits from the gay community for having her on his side.

Meanwhile a transgendered woman falls on her sword for Obama.

No Bong Hits 4 Jesus

Two more Supreme Court rulings in, and both I find equally disturbing, especially in the vote which was drawn right across the conservative-liberal border.

First up was the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" case, where the court found 5-4 that:

"Schools may prohibit student expression that can be interpreted as advocating drug use, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote..."

But here's the thing that rubs me wrong: though the event was school sponsored, the student who wrote the banner, 18 year old Joseph Frederick, was standing on a public side walk. Further more, while no one can deny that "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" is talking about drugs (most specifically, pot) it's debatable that the message 'advocates' drug use. If you were walking down the street and saw "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" on a wall, would you run out to buy pot? Here's the ironic thing about what happened: Before this all went down, alot of religious groups were supporting the Frederick because they wanted to defend his right to use religious terms in messages. This conservative ruling manages to slide past the whole religious aspect while limiting speech for students, while highlighting "drug use"as 'bad'. Wow, they got the whole trifecta.

But just in case you were thinking that the court wasn't going to strengthen religion this voting season then allow me to draw your attention to the courts 5-4 ruling that blocked a taxpayer law suit that would have allowed them to sue the Bush administration for funding Faith based groups:

"The taxpayers' group, the Freedom From Religion Foundation Inc., objected to government conferences in which administration officials encourage religious charities to apply for federal grants.

"Taxpayers in the case "set out a parade of horribles that they claim could occur" unless the court stopped the Bush administration initiative, wrote Justice Samuel Alito. "Of course, none of these things has happened."


"The justices' decision revolved around a 1968 Supreme Court ruling that enabled taxpayers to challenge government programs that promote religion.

"The 1968 decision involved the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which financed teaching and instructional materials in religious schools in low-income areas."

Let me reiterate, the court didn't actually judge the suit. They judged that these groups didn't have the right to sue the administration. I think Justice Souter dissent summed up my ire:

"The majority "closes the door on these taxpayers because the executive branch, and not the legislative branch, caused their injury," wrote Souter. "I see no basis for this distinction.""

I also wonder how this fits in with the idea of taxatation and representation. I'm not sure, but I believe this money is coming from the excucative and not the legislative, but it's still tax money. If that's so shouldn't tax payers have a right to question and object to how this money is allocated?

So to summarize what has the SC decided on today, if you're a student you can't say anything that talks about drugs, um, anywhere, and, if you pay taxes, you can't even sue the Bush administration. And both votes were right down party lines, where it will remain until the Justices die, the legacy of Bush.

Then again I'll defer to Cros for his final judgement. He like, knows law and stuff.

We're #1

Break out for foam finger; the US gives the most in '06 to chariable causes:

"NEW YORK (AP) -- Americans gave nearly $300 billion to charitable causes last year, setting a new record and besting the 2005 total that had been boosted by a surge in aid to victims of hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma and the Asian tsunami...

"...according to a November 2006 comparison done by the Charities Aid Foundation. In philanthropic giving as a percentage of gross domestic product, the U.S. ranked first at 1.7 percent. No. 2 Britain gave 0.73 percent, while France, with a 0.14 percent rate, trailed such countries as South Africa, Singapore, Turkey and Germany."

You stay classy America.

Supreme Court Finds Provision of Campaign Finance Law Illegal

From The AP:

"WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court loosened restrictions Monday on corporate- and union-funded television ads that air close to elections, weakening a key provision of a landmark campaign finance law.

"The court, split 5-4, upheld an appeals court ruling that an anti-abortion group should have been allowed to air ads during the final two months before the 2004 elections.

"The case involved advertisements that Wisconsin Right to Life was prevented from broadcasting. The ads asked voters to contact the state's two senators, Democrats Russ Feingold and Herb Kohl, and urge them not to filibuster President Bush's judicial nominees.

"Feingold, a co-author of the campaign finance law, was up for re-election in 2004."

The irony smells really fishy to me. Still I do wonder if the court could have been right in this case. After all the provision was:

"...aimed at preventing the airing of issue ads that cast candidates in positive or negative lights while stopping short of explicitly calling for their election or defeat. Sponsors of such ads have contended they are exempt from certain limits on contributions in federal elections."

While I haven't seen the ad one could argue that it had nothing to do with Feingold's reelection, though it is a round about way of bringing the issue of Feingold's abortion stance to light. It's that fuzzy area that might need judicial interpretation. However in '08 it's going to be interesting to see what ads will get through the new hole in this provision, just as much as what impact youtube ads will have as well.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Everyone is Al-Qaeda!

Greenwald discusses an interesting point, one that I didn't verbalize but was fixed in the back of my head, about how in the past couple of weeks, every US confrontation in Iraq seems to be against "Al-Qaeda" rather than "insurgents". Now frankly I was willing to go along with it because I honestly believed (I should stop right here and hit myself with a stick) the media when they told us that there are Al-Qaeda strong holds that were identifiable with Al-Qaeda and not the numerous insurgent brigades that pop up in the Middle East like hot dog stands. But are they really Al-Qaeda? Greenwald makes the point:

"Are there some foreign fighters in Iraq who have taken up arms against the U.S. occupation who are fairly called "Al Qaeda"? Probably. But by all accounts -- including the President's -- they are a tiny part of the groups with guns who are waging war in Iraq. The vast, vast majority of them are Iraqis motivated by a desire to acquire more political power in their own country at the expense of other Iraqi factions and/or to fight against a foreign occupation of their country. To refer to them as "Al Qaeda" so casually and with so little basis (other than the fact that U.S. military officials now do so) is misleading and propagandistic in the extreme.
Making matters much worse, this tactic was exposed long, long ago. From the Christian Science Monitor in September, 2005:


""The US and Iraqi governments have vastly overstated the number of foreign fighters in Iraq, and most of them don't come from Saudi Arabia, according to a new report from the Washington-based Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS). According to a piece in The Guardian, this means the US and Iraq "feed the myth" that foreign fighters are the backbone of the insurgency. While the foreign fighters may stoke the insurgency flames, they make up only about 4 to 10 percent of the estimated 30,000 insurgents."

"And in January of this year, the Cato Institute published a detailed analysis -- entitled "The Myth of an al Qaeda Takeover of Iraq" -- by Ted Galen Carpenter, its vice president for defense and foreign policy studies, documenting that claims of "Al Qaeda in Iraq" is "a canard that the perpetrators of the current catastrophe use to frighten people into supporting a fatally flawed, and seemingly endless, nation-building debacle.""

I'm still not fully convinced and unfortunately I have to agree with Klein that Greenwald does seem to have an ax to grind with the M$M. Still it doesn't mean he's completely wrong either. In this cluster f-ck we call Iraq who the hell knows who is who. What does remain crystal though is that the US isn't wanted.

The Pot Calls The Kettle Black

Hamas opens up Fatah's torture chambers. But here's the rub, now that torture is American policy how should I feel?

Bush's Stem Cell Veto

Morality has nothing to do with it.

Critique of Edwards

Byron York gives some pretty fair criticisms of Edward's motives, as backed by the Times. My opinion? I'm happy Edwards is addressing the issue of poverty, but it looks like he's still using the same old tactics.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Where's the Racism?

Sully's title: "Racist Rent Regulation" and the post ties together an AM New York article on NY rent increases to a comment on an article from "libertarian blogger Kip" who begins his post with:

"How is this not a racist statement?


"The Rent Guidelines Board recommended increases between 2 and 4.5 percent for one-year leases and between 4 and 7.5 percent for two-year leases at a preliminary vote last month. That's a pinch many New Yorkers say will be hard to take."Minorities can't afford that," said Lakisha Brown, 29, a single parent who pays fully half her income for a two-bedroom apartment in Harlem.

"So all minorities are poor, and all whites are rich? (Or, alternatively: All renters are minorities and all landlords are white?)"

Wha, wha, what? Where did the racism come from? Brown, as quoted in the NY AM article makes a point about minorities but when looking at the entire AM article that's the only "racial" tid bit. Instead of seeing this as a personal opinion, or an aberration, Kip uses this as a spring board for his own anti-regulation debate:

"What the malcontent doesn't tell you, meanwhile, is that under New York rent regulation, a landlord may have to wait up to six months before he can begin an eviction procedure against a deadbeat tenant. An amoral rent-regulated tenant can, as result, pay rent whenever she feels like it, not when it's actually due. Alternatively, every rent regulated tenant could, if they so chose, simply get five month's rent free. Nice "housing crisis" if you can get it. Remind me again who's "exploiting" whom?"

Here we go again, let's make the exception the rule and the rule just vanishes. Kip was probably the same sorta dude who in the 80s would say that the greatest problem facing America was the "Welfare Queen." Yes Kip, there are poor whites and poor blacks, and both of them face incredible hardship in keeping their apartments in the city. And yes Kip there are some "amoral" people who abuse housing laws. But here's two points in the AM article you ignored:

"Half of the city's one million stabilized renters pay 32 percent or more of their income toward housing, Laurie said."

And,

"The city's homeless population is also on the rise, said Laurie. The Coalition for the Homeless estimated 35,000 people sleep in shelters every night, including more than 9,000 families."

But you cut off housing regulations and what? The market solves this problem? Gimme a break. The market is building multimillion dollar condos in the city like they were Starbucks. The market is about profit, and it should be, no one should expect a private landowner to build buildings just to lose money. But that doesn't change the fact that people need a place to live (you know, it's like decency and stuff) which means either finding a way to get more money in the poor's pockets, or finding them affordable places to live that aren't in Mexico. Ergo, rent control. There are problems in the laws that we have governing this policy, but introducing your issues of race, and pointing the finger at a minority of criminals isn't going to solve the problem or change the dynamic. That would be like me pointing at Ken Lay and saying all rich white people are corrupt and then concluding that capitalism should be abolished. Let's be serious about the issue and stop reading from this ultimately counter productive script.

The Company Giuliani Keeps...

...tells alot about the man. First there was Bernie Kerik, and now we find out that Giuliani's employs a Catholic priest who was accused by a grand jury of child molestation. Add that to Giuliani's proud ignorance of Iraq and foreign policy and you begin to get a good idea of where the GOP is at right now.

Do the Democrats even have to try? The anwser, of course, is yes.

Zimbabwe Collapses

Inflation is up to an unheard of 1.5 million percent:

"Zimbabwe's inflation will rocket to 1.5m% before the end of the year, the US ambassador to Harare predicted yesterday, forecasting massive disruption and instability that will drive President Robert Mugabe from office.
In a telephone interview with the Guardian, Christopher Dell said prices were going up twice a day, sapping popular confidence in a government which is now "committing regime change on itself"."

Somewhere in the depths of the IMF some one is rubbing their hands together and muttering, "Yessss my precious."

Senate Passes Important Energy Policy

Some good news from the homestead:

"WASHINGTON - The Senate voted Thursday to require average fuel economy of 35 miles per gallon for new cars, pickup trucks and SUVs by 2020, raising efficiency standards that have not changed significantly for nearly two decades.
The fuel economy measure was added to a broad energy bill without a roll call vote even as senators were holding a news conference announcing the compromise."

But how could any energy bill be complete if there wasn't some concession to the oil companies:

"Republicans earlier blocked Democratic efforts to raise oil taxes by $29 billion and use the money to promote renewable fuels and other clean energy programs."

Sadly, does any one think that Bush won't add a signing statement to this one?

Is Cheney Committing Treason?

So the VP refuses the National Archives and Records Admistration's request to oversee his classified documents. While on the surface this might seem like another Bush adm ploy, John Aravosis over at Americablog sees it as much more significant and threatening:

"I had a high level security clearance when I was on the Hill, beyond Top Secret, so I'm familiar with how serious the government is about the security of classified documents and information. What Cheney is doing isn't some esoteric battle over protocol. He's refusing to let the national security watchdogs make sure that his staff isn't being sloppy with classified information. He is quite literally risking our national secrets during a time of war. These rules exist for a reason, the oversight exists for a reason. People are sloppy, and sometimes they're even evil. When you're dealing with classified information, information that can quite literally get someone killed, you need several layers of protection to ensure that the information doesn't slip out, by intent or neglect. That's why we have inspections of offices and individuals who receive and retain classified information, to make sure that their sloppiness (or worse, duplicity) isn't putting our nation, and our troops, at risk.

"That's what this issue is about. It's about protecting our national security secrets during war time. For some reason, Dick Cheney doesn't think his staff needs to be as careful with our national security secrets, with the national security secrets of our allies, as do other officials in the federal government. That's an incredibly dangerous and reckless decision that puts at risk the classified information itself, the sources of that information, and every one of us who rely on America's, and our allies', intelligence apparatus to keep us safe."

Bush and Cheney don't want to win this war, nor do they care about the troops. Their only concern is destroying the rule of law, and they do this very, very well.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

More on Cheney's Status

More people trying to figure out what branch of the government the VP belongs to over at Digby's.

Cheney's Brass Balls

They must be huge for him to declare that his office is not part of the executive branch:

"Vice President Dick Cheney has asserted his office is not a part of the executive branch of the U.S. government, and therefore not bound by a presidential order governing the protection of classified information by government agencies, according to a new letter from Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., to Cheney.

"Bill Leonard, head of the government's Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO), told Waxman's staff that Cheney's office has refused to provide his staff with details regarding classified documents or submit to a routine inspection as required by presidential order, according to Waxman.

"In pointed letters released today by Waxman, ISOO's Leonard twice questioned Cheney's office on its assertion it was exempt from the rules. He received no reply, but the vice president later tried to get rid of Leonard's office entirely, according to Waxman.

"Leonard did not immediately respond to requests for comment."

I was actually about to look up whether the Vice-President was part of the Executive branch but then I beat myself bloody with a rock. The gall of this administration has gone from astounding to holy shit! in a heartbeat. Pretty soon these guys will claim that they're exempt from international law because they're from Mars, and we'll actually look up on Wikipedia their birthplaces, and go to write a rebuttal, but by that time they'll have invaded Iran...and lost.

Impeach them all.

Losing Afganistan



People for the last two years have been saying that US's ignoring of the Taliban would come back to bite them in the ass, and now the chickens are coming home to roost:

"The Taleban in Afghanistan are changing their tactics to mount more attacks on the capital, Kabul, a spokesman for the militant group has told the BBC.

"The spokesman, Zabiyullah Mujahed, said Taleban were recovering after Nato had infiltrated the group and killed some of its leaders.

"But more people were volunteering to carry out suicide bombings, he said.

"A police bus in Kabul was bombed on Sunday killing up to 35 people, in the deadliest attack there since 2001.

"Mr Mujahed said the city was the next main target of the Taleban."

And people want to discuss invading Iraq? It's an old joke, but it remains true, "you can't start a war without finishing your last two."

The Biggest Loser of Bloomberg's Revelation?


Probably Obama. Look, it's obvious to every one that Mayor Mike is planning his run. The Times reports that his aides have been planning for an independent bid for the last two years. And as usual, it's a smart move for the billionaire, especially if the polls continue to carry the way they are with Rudy and Hillary leading. In a three way race, I predict he'll have the reverse Nader effect of 2000. That is he'll pull more people away from Giuliani that Clinton.
Unfortunately for Obama, he's left in the dust. Just the effect of Bloomy announcing his independent status has taken the gas out of Obama's jets, which unfortunately was just about all he had in terms of media exposure. Obama was a media darling--especially in the liberal media because of the narrative he represented: the new outsider, young articulate and "clean" black man. But one thing that the narrative media would like more than to see Obama in office is the anti-partisan coalition candidate (the unity candidate), and should Bloomy join forces with Hagel or Powell (who might have an ax to grind with the GOP since they threw him under the bus at the UN) Bloomy could crack the GOP wide open. I'm not saying that he'll win, but with him in it the GOP will definitely lose.

US Troops Find Starving Children in Iraqi Orphanage

From Newsday:

"BAGHDAD - One photograph shows a skin-and-bones boy lying on a bare floor, leashed like a dog to the pink bars of an unoccupied crib. Another shows more boys curled naked on the ground, one smeared with human waste.The scenes are ghastly. But almost as jarring was the response of an Iraqi government minister called upon yesterday to explain how a state-run orphanage in Baghdad could have kept two dozen children in such conditions.

"Mahmoud Mohammed Jawad Radi, minister of labor and social welfare, accused U.S. troops and the media of exaggerating the situation and distributing the photographs for political gain."Are they really concerned about how well the children are treated in that shelter, or is it just propaganda for their alleged kindness?" Radi asked reporters after the U.S. military released the photographs. A military statement said the pictures were taken June 10 after U.S. and Iraqi soldiers were tipped off about conditions at the orphanage in western Baghdad."

While Radi's explanation is extremely weak and distracting, there is a sliver of truth in his words. Considering the fact that US troops still haven't reconstructed Iraq's infrastructure, the continued policy of home raids, and the recent revelations that the US has been detaining, imprisoning, and interrogating children, their concern for human rights abuses seems dubious. Still, the overwhelming evidence as shown so far shows that these kids, in particular, were abused and exploited by Iraqis. It may have been in the shadow of the US, but for the love of pete, take some bloody responsibility!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Looks Like I Might Not be Wrong

Yglesias agrees with my idea that air strikes are counterproductive in Afghanistan. Yeah, it's the company I keep.

Nader on Bloomberg



Yeah, I didn't think he was going to endorse him either, but he definitely touches on the lure of Bloomberg, especially in the comparison with Perot.

Hat Tip: Yglesias

Well Duh!

Sully states the obvious:

"It seems to me that Rudy Giuliani's negligence with respect to the Iraq Study Group is a big deal. He blew off service to his country to rake in moolah on the public speaking circuit. Classic Rudy, but not exactly of a piece with "America's Mayor trying to save the country from terror." Greg Sargent swiftly exposes the Giuliani's campaign's attempt at spin here. He didn't show up because he was a presidential candidate and didn't want to turn the report into a political football? Then why did he agree to participate months after he declared himself a candidate? The truth is: Giuliani has shown no interest or expertise in crafting war policy. And on a study group dedicated to the critical issue of Iraq, Rudy couldn't be bothered to show. If he were a Democrat, this record would be translated as clear evidence that he is unserious about foreign policy and national security. And the truth is: Giuliani is unserious about national security. Just listen to his boilerplate: full of testosterone and devoid of content or analysis. The man is simply unqualified to be president."

The Mexicans don't think he does such a good job fighting crime either.

About my "Sponsored" Posts

I've been getting some grief about posting sponsors in Word of the People. Hey, I'd love to do this for free but even writers have to eat. If you're really against it then please click on the Amazon Honor System link (to the right of this), to support your favorite blog. Beyond that I will always make sure you know which are the sponsored postings by using the "now a word from our sponsors" title.

I do have a bit of integrity, that is, until Fox News buys me out.

More of the Downward Sprial That is Iraq

More Mosques destroyed in Iraq:

"BAGHDAD - Gunmen blew up two Sunni mosques Wednesday south of Baghdad, causing heavy damage but no casualties, police said, in an apparent retaliatory attack a day after a suicide truck bombing devastated a revered Shiite mosque in the heart of the capital, killing at least 87 people."

Many of you might wonder why, if Muslims are so reverent of their religion, why would these different sects go around blowing up each other's holy sites. One thing you have to understand, and believe me the Bush administration didn't understand it, is that the two major sects of Islam in Iraq, the Sunnis and the Shia, don't believe the other is a "real" Muslim. Last year I taught a class at City College, and one of my assignments was for students to write about something they felt passionately about. One of my students, a Sunni Muslim, told me about his religion and also about his feelings regarding the Shia. And while he didn't call for their elimination or anything that radical it was obvious that he didn't think of them as 'real' Muslims and his disdain for them was apparent. It opened my eyes up to sectarianism, and told me that there's bound to be alot of grief in that area for a while. If you're interested to know more, check out the Wiki link here.

Israel Pushes in to Gaza

From MSNBC.com:

"EREZ CROSSING, Gaza Strip - Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the army on Wednesday to allow into Israel any of the hundreds of Gazans holed up at a fetid crossing who might desperately need medical treatment.

A teenager with leukemia was on his way through shortly after, the military said. Additionally, Israeli officials allowed all foreign nationals in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip to cross over to Israel."

Sounds good but this concerns me:

"Israeli aircraft, meanwhile, fired missiles at two rocket launchers in northern Gaza, in the first aerial attack since Islamic Hamas militants took over the coastal strip late last week. No injuries were reported. Earlier in the day, Israeli tanks entered southern Gaza, and four people, including at least two militants, were killed in an exchange of fire, Palestinian hospital officials said."

This all reminds me of a piece of graffiti I saw when visited Amsterdam (the country not the avenue) "Pick a side or run for your life." Seems those are the only choses left for the Palestinians and it's really hard to outrun a bullet.

Guess He Couldn't Figure How to Phrase the Writing Statement...

Bush to veto stem cell bill:

"WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush has chosen to use his veto pen three times - twice on the stem cell issue where politics, ethics and science collide. Pushing back against the Democratic-led Congress, Bush plans to veto a bill Wednesday that would have eased restraints on federally funded embryonic stem cell research..."

Bloomy Goes Independent

The Subway Mayor comes out and exposes his true colors:

"NEW YORK - New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg left the Republican Party on Tuesday and switched to unaffiliated, a move certain to be seen as a prelude to an independent presidential bid that would upend the 2008 race.

"The billionaire former CEO, who was a lifelong Democrat before he switched to the Republican Party in 2001 for his first mayoral run, said the change in his voter registration does not mean he is running for president.

"Although my plans for the future haven't changed, I believe this brings my affiliation into alignment with how I have led and will continue to lead our city," Bloomberg said."

Yeah, and if you believe that you probably aren't as smart as Bloomberg. Anyway he wasn't much of a Republican, switching his party when he made his first run for Mayor, so what is Mike Bloomberg really? I think Mike represents a new generation of American voter, birthed from the fires of the Bush administration who don't have time for incompetency and partisan bickering. Mike could just be the future of progressivism. This is a very exciting time, and with so many good politicians in the 2008 hunt, and an opportunity for an all NY election, I am pumped. Am I more pumped for Bloomberg than say, the Transformers? It's pretty close but I'll take Bloomy. But when Heroes starts up again, then all bets are off...

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Most Important Story of the Day

The GAO finds 6 Government agencies are actively breaking the law. Why? Well if Bush can do it why not them?

Bush = Criminal.

Hat Tip: Swampland (special tip to Karen Tumulty for keeping her eye on the big picture)

The Clintons' Are Fools For This One

Just click and try not to explode with laughter.

What's even more hysterical? Hil probably gained three points for it. But then lost them right back when you realize that her theme song is sung by Celine Dion. SHE'S NOT EVEN AMERICAN! Sigh...

So You Think TV Doesn't Affect How People Think?

Just ask Justice Scalia:

"OTTAWA -- Justice Antonin Scalia is one of the most powerful judges on the planet.
The job of the veteran U.S. Supreme Court judge is to ensure that the superpower lives up to its Constitution. But in his free time, he is a fan of 24, the popular TV drama where the maverick federal agent Jack Bauer routinely tortures terrorists to save American lives. This much was made clear at a legal conference in Ottawa this week.

"Senior judges from North America and Europe were in the midst of a panel discussion about torture and terrorism law, when a Canadian judge's passing remark - "Thankfully, security agencies in all our countries do not subscribe to the mantra 'What would Jack Bauer do?' " - got the legal bulldog in Judge Scalia barking.

"The conservative jurist stuck up for Agent Bauer, arguing that fictional or not, federal agents require latitude in times of great crisis. "Jack Bauer saved Los Angeles. ... He saved hundreds of thousands of lives," Judge Scalia said. Then, recalling Season 2, where the agent's rough interrogation tactics saved California from a terrorist nuke, the Supreme Court judge etched a line in the sand."

No, this isn't an article from The Onion, this is actual news and an actual Supreme Court justice. We used to ask, "What would Jesus do?" Now it's what would Jack Bauer do?" Personally if we're going to look for advice from fictional characters, I think we need to ask Reed Richards, but I like, believe in intellegence and stuff...

Hat Tip: Sully

Do Blacks Owe Democrats Their Vote

Check out my editorial at Allhiphop.com.

Bloomberg Update

Look America, you want Mike Bloomberg to be your President. Seriously.

He still claims he's not running, but after bringing NY a record 4.4 billion dollar surplus, increasing library hours, giving homeowners a 7 percent cut in taxes, and now supporting a hefty incentive plan to give kids money for grades, he's doing a nationwide tour just to let people know what he's about. And what he's about it competent, pragmatic leadership:

"The country is in trouble," he told thousands of Google employees in a morning speech in Silicon Valley. "I don't think you can blame either party.... I think they've all done this together...

"On Iraq, Bloomberg criticized people calling for an immediate withdrawal of troops as not having thought clearly about the consequences.


"He called the country's "anti-immigration" policy a national "disgrace" and slammed the Bush administration for damaging America's credibility around the globe.

"During the recent debates, Democrats and Republicans "pandered" in the "same ways," he complained. "You have a much greater chance of being killed on the streets of our city from street crime than you do from terrorism," Bloomberg said. "Yet ... they all beat their chests and say, 'I can protect this country better from terrorists.' What about protecting them out in the streets every day?"


"The best way to solve many of the nation's problems is to improve the educational system, "yet I don't hear anybody standing up on a national level" addressing this issue, he said.

"Bloomberg also blamed the nation's education system for what he calls the "scary" percentage of people who believe in creationism."

Of course I'm a bit weary about Bloomy's stand on the war, however two things about him that I believe would change the situation is that 1) I think he would competently manage the war, without torture, and 2) I believe you would get an open and more transparent debate about policy then with any other member of the GOP (Except Ron Paul who would probably pull out the troops as adamently as Bush put them in). Furthermore, I think after more consideration he would pull troops out, possibly moving them to Kurdistan (which is how I would handle it).

Either way Mayor Mike is still the man.

Today's Reason to Hate NY M$M
















Front and back pages of today's NY Daily News











Front page of the NY Post. Notice anything missing? Maybe you're thinking about the most important stories of the day? Like the 75 people killed in a Mosque bombing in Baghdad? You know, it was just one of the largest attacks there, which occurred as US troops go on the offensive in the Northeast of Iraq. Or maybe you're thinking of the 100 people who died in fighting between NATO and the Taliban in Afghanistan? That's pretty important.

But in the NY News, the Mosque bombing wasn't included (although, in all fairness it might have occurred after they went to press), and the Afghan fighting was placed on page 10, right above the corrections.

Now look you know I have no problem posting up a pic of an attractive woman, like so:


But is a story about a scantly clad Israeli woman used in marketing materials really headline material? I suppose so if your name is Rupert Murdoch. He owns something else too doesn't he? Something that rhymes with Pox Toos...ummm.

US Goes on Offensive in Iraq

















Iraqis wait to have their hearts and minds won by US Troops:

"BAGHDAD - About 10,000 U.S. soldiers launched an offensive against al-Qaida in Iraq northeast of Baghdad early Tuesday, killing at least 22 insurgents, the U.S. military said.

The raids, dubbed “Operation Arrowhead Ripper,” took place in Baqouba, the capital of Diyala province, and involved air assaults under the cover of darkness, the military said in a statement. The operation was still in its opening stages...

"A top U.S. military official said American forces were taking advantage of the arrival of the final brigade of 30,000 additional U.S. troops to open concerted attacks."

Two things: One, it seems to me that this is the final push that the US military is going to be able to make in Iraq before September and I'm sure Gen Petraeus is going to try everything he can so he won't have to go back to Congress and eat crow. This is going to possibly mean a spike in violence and coalition deaths.

Secondly, "Operation Arrowhead Ripper?" Are we chasing Al-Qaida or Geronimo?

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Dominican Cockfighting


Yes, it has a website.

Exploring the Final Episode of the Sopranos

Via Rude Pundit:

"The Fuck-You of the episode is to deny you catharsis. You want it all tidy, all the moralistic good and bad so neatly bundled into a final grand gesture, Tony dead, maybe his family dead, nice Shakespearean and unified. You wanted blood. But what the series told us is that, at the end of the day, we are all tainted by the immorality we're willing to endure, even "benefit" from, and that, no matter what the culture around us tries to force on us, most of the time we simply go on living with the evil that we do or are willing to overlook. The war won't just "end." It'll be this thing that haunts us, this thing that reconfigures how we exist in the world, re-creates what we believed to be our identity and morality. And, no, this ain't about some goddamn TV show or books or movies that explore the same thing.

"A writer once posed this question to a young Rude Pundit, after reading an early draft of one of his plays: "Do you believe that evil people are always punished?" That was when the Rude Pundit still held out the possibility of that kind of retribution. But he had to admit to the old writer: no, no, so often evil just maunders on, even after we've stopped looking."

That's why Summer Movies do so well. Because real life is too damn...real.

What We Can Learn From Ethiopia

Yglesias on their insurgent problem in Somalia.

Google You


I just had to post up this article on Mashable.com about the new features hitting Google. Seriously, what can Google not do?

Tiger Falls Short Again

He just couldn't find the hole:

"OAKMONT, Pa. - The only thing Angel Cabrera couldn’t conquer at this U.S. Open was Oakmont.

"That was much tougher than Tiger Woods.

"Cabrera hit all the right shots at the right time Sunday, none bigger than a booming tee shot down the middle of the 18th fairway that stopped a late slide, allowed him to post a 1-under 69 and forced Woods and Jim Furyk to catch him."

I don't know what's sicker: the fact that Cabrera won the US Open with a nasty looking +5, or that Tiger got 2nd for pretty much doing nothing but making par. Or we're making such a big deal out of the fact that Tiger came in 2nd, because that's so horrible. Either way Tiger looked about as human as he's every looked playing against Oakmont which has to be the sickest course I've ever seen in my life. The only way they could make a course harder is if they put ninjas in the trees who jump down on golfers who miss the fairway. By the way, I really do encourage the PGA to do this. It would make the game more exciting.

Another Example of Winning Hearts and Minds...

US led air raid in Afghanistan kills 7 children:

"In an operation backed by Afghan troops, jets on Sunday targeted a compound that also contained a mosque and a madrassa, or Islamic school, in the Zarghun Shah district of Paktika province. Early reports indicated seven children at the madrassa and “several militants” were killed, and two militants detained, the statement said.

"Coalition troops had “surveillance on the compound all day and saw no indications there were children inside the building,” said Maj. Chris Belcher, a coalition spokesman. He accused the militants of not letting the children leave the compound that was targeted.
"If we knew that there were children inside the building, there was no way that that airstrike would have occurred,” said Sgt. 1st Class Dean Welch, another coalition spokesman."

Let me just state one thing, I don't believe, at all, that the US is purposefully targeting children. But this is just another example of Bush's failed policy and military strategy. First the let the Taliban regain a foothold in Afghanistan, and now they're still doing carpet bombing runs when they should be using Special Op forces.

Could some one explain to me again how staying in helps more than pulling out?

36 More Dead in Iraq

From MSNBC.com:

"BAGHDAD - As many as 36 people were killed in a fierce battle early Monday between Shiite militiamen and British forces doing house-to-house searches south of Baghdad, Iraqi police and hospital officials said.


"More than 100 others were injured in the fighting in Amarah, located 200 miles southeast of Baghdad, the officials said.


"A doctor at the city’s general hospital said 36 bodies had been taken to his facility, though he could not determine how many were militiamen and how many were civilians. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to media."

What bugs me about this is that I wonder how much of this violence spontaneously erupted because of these house to house searches coalition forces maintain. Furthermore, power outages, and lack of infrastructure in Iraq continue to frustrate US and Iraqi relations:

"But the ban on vehicle traffic and large gatherings led to steep price hikes for fuel, and fresh food as well as longer power outages than normal because people were forced to remain home, putting an additional burden on the power grid. Baghdad is routinely off the central grid for as long as 20 hours a day.


"Sunday saw some of the longest gas lines since Iraqis began suffering what are now chronic shortages. The lines stretched for a mile or longer, in some cases weaving around several blocks, stretching from main roads deep into side streets."

This is insane. How does Iraq have gas shortages? That's like 42nd street having a shortage of bootleg DVDs. Furthermore can you imagine how the Iraqis must feel? No wonder sectarian violence is rising. To the common Iraqi, Democracy must look completely inept and corrupt. September can't get here fast enough.

Huge Problems Still Plague Walter Reed

Even after the scandal, Walter Reed continues to fall short in providing proper medical care to our veterans:

"Every month, 20 to 40 soldiers are evacuated from Iraq because of mental problems, according to the Army. Most are sent to Walter Reed along with other war-wounded. For amputees, the nation's top Army hospital offers state-of-the-art prosthetics and physical rehab programs, and soon, a new $10 million amputee center with a rappelling wall and virtual reality center.


"Nothing so gleaming exists for soldiers with diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder, who in the Army alone outnumber all of the war's amputees by 43 to 1. The Army has no PTSD center at Walter Reed, and its psychiatric treatment is weak compared with the best PTSD programs the government offers. Instead of receiving focused attention, soldiers with combat-stress disorders are mixed in with psych patients who have mental issues ranging from schizophrenia to marital strife.

"Even though Walter Reed maintains the largest psychiatric department in the Army, it lacks enough psychiatrists and clinicians to properly treat the growing number of soldiers returning with combat stress. Earlier this year, the head of psychiatry sent out an "SOS" memo desperately seeking more clinical help."

If this is curtailed immediately we're going to see another huge batch of homeless Vets with mental issues filling our streets. Have we learned nothing from Vietnam?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Quotes That Make My Balls Retreat Into My Neck

From TNR:

"Perusing the Weekly Standard's promotional package (which isn't online), I came across this testimonial from Joe Lieberman:

"If [Bill] Kristol says what I'm doing is right, it must be right.""

Hat Tip: Henry

Don't Write So Quickly

You know in regards to Hamas' take over of Gaza, I was all ready to write a post calling for the US and NATO to step up and broker a piece deal. I even had gems like this all ready for you:

"Imagine you wake up one morning and you see dudes like this outside of your window, licking shots off into the air. You didn't vote for them, hell you don't even know who they are with their ski masks and all, looking like Val Kilmer in Heat, and they tell you they're running the government now. Hey maybe you agree with their politics, maybe you even hate Israel--but gosh darnit you voted and now you feel like you supported Gore in 2000. You're right back to where you were a decade or more ago. You sigh and close the window, and are blown to bits by a stray rocket a moment later. You don't even know who fired it.

"That's the reality in Gaza right now."

But after doing a bit of research the US and NATO might have played a part in the breakdown of the unity government:

"Everyone following the conflict in Gaza knows full well that the reason for the violence is not that Palestinians have not “sorted out their politics” — they’ve made their political preferences abundantly clear in democratic elections, and later in a power-sharing agreement brokered by the Saudis. The problem is that the U.S. and the corrupt and self-serving warlords of Fatah did not accept either the election result or the unity government, and have conspired actively ever since to reverse both by all available means, including starving the Palestinian economy of funds, refusing to hand over power over the Palestinian Authority to the elected government, and arming and training Fatah loyalists to militarily restore their party’s power."

Matt seems to see it all in the same way(got the link from him as a matter of fact), not that the US play was bad, but it was poorly executed, Bush style.

I don't know, but the more crap like this seems to happen the more Ron Paul looks right. Maybe we need to mind our own business. Who the hell knows.

The NYPD is Color Blind...

Dooooonnnn'ttttt Yoooouuuu Beellliiiivveeee IT!

In case you haven't heard last Sunday's Puerto Rican parade was marred by the wholesale arrests of hundreds of Latino people, mostly young males. The excuse given by the NYPD was that they were preventing members of the Latin Kings, a Latino street gang, from breaking into the parade. In the years preceding this parade the Kings had been licenced to march, but this year they were banned from the parade by Mayor Bloomberg whom said later through a City Hall spokesman, "[Bloomberg] doesn't think it appropriate for a criminal enterprise to march in the parade...Gangs commit crimes. They murder people."

But according to parade officials, the Kings posed no threat during the parade. This did not stop the police from rounding up Latinos in bunches. In Gonzales' article he describes the arrest of one such kid, son of a retired Fire Fighter and transit officer, Nick Nieves:

"Nieves [the kid] says he and a 15-year-old friend, Jasmine Rodriguez, were enjoying Sunday's parade and crossing Fifth Ave. about 2 p.m. behind a large crowd.

"The police directed us to go toward Madison Ave.," Nieves said. "We were behind a big group of people who all had yellow shirts."

"Police officials have said the Latin Kings members were wearing gold and black, the gang's colors.

"Nieves was wearing a white shirt with a Puerto Rican flag and blue shorts. The yellow shirts worn by the group of strangers in front of him were promotion shirts for Def Jam records, he said, and none of them had made any attempt to break into the parade.

"Suddenly cops descended on the group from all sides and began handcuffing and photographing everyone.

""They let my friend go because she was 15," he said. "But they took me and about 20 others to the precinct [stationhouse]."

"Nieves said he was not allowed to make a phone call to his parents until 10 p.m. and was not arraigned until the next day.

"Because of all this, I missed my final exam in Spanish Monday morning," he said."

Personally, I hate parades. Maybe I hate them because I don't much like people and when you get too many together they can be worse then Hamas. The only one I really celebrate is St. Patrick's Day, and I do that in the traditional Irish fashion: sitting at a pub, drinking. But the idea of the NYPD rounding up Latinos willy-nilly makes my blood boil. Look I don't think the Kings should march either, and furthermore I think that Bloomberg should have just come out and given his reasons pre-parade rather than having the organizers weakly say that their applications were late. (I'd like to see them deny J. Lo, and Marc Anthony their places in the parade for that reason). But fighting crime based on what colors people wear or what shade of skin they are makes the "good guys" just as much tyrants as the gangs themselves. Also, it doesn't work. The city owes NY Latinos an apology for such poor behavior, because what sense does it make to allow for a Puerto Rican day parade if Puerto Ricans are too afraid to go?

Coming to the Defense of My Woman


That's right...Angelina and I are secretly going out. I really only let her be seen in public with Brad Pitt to protect my identity, but really her partner name should be Teethelina. And frankly I'm a bit upset over the harsh criticism coming at her from alot of hatas out there about the $26 dollar dress she wore to the premiere of "A Mighty Heart". Look here's the real story...she was busy with me before the premiere, and needed to find an emergency dress. At first she wanted to go to Armani but I was like, "Look, you're Angelina-freaking-Jolie, you could wear a paper bag to the premiere and you'll still look good!" Our compromise: the vintage gown. Anyway no one seems to notice that she also wore $800 dollar shoes! Doesn't that make her snobby enough for you? I think it's a much bigger waste to spend $800 on shoes than on a dress, but hey, that's just me, I only service Angelina, and frankly that's enough.

Now for the real news...




Thursday, June 14, 2007

Fun Read for Today

Cros on Iranian porn. The visual aide ties it all together.

Of Course

I just noticed I use the words "of course" quite often. Perhaps I'll switch that to "obviously".

Of course that will work, obviously.

Will Petraeus Fess Up to The Iraq Mess?

According to Americablog, maybe not:

"A new report from the Pentagon flat-out contradicts the rosy view of Iraq that top-US general David Petraeus tried to peddle only a few weeks ago. The report says that violence is getting worse, in spite of the surge, and that "it was too soon to judge whether the security crackdown was working." Contrast that with General Petraeus leaking to ABC, only two weeks ago, news that he's already seen enough progress to decide that come this September he's going to call the surge such a success that he wants it to continue twice as long."

I'll say one thing, if he comes out and paints this rosy picture for Congress, and they continue to follow along, then they will have no excuse for their ignorance, and the public will continue their downward spiral towards apathy and loathing for government. Of course this is exactly what Bush wants.

Hamas Closer to Seizing Control of Gaza


They've got Abbas' Fatah on the run:
"GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Hamas fighters overran two of the rival Fatah movement’s most important security command centers in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, and witnesses said the victors dragged vanquished gunmen into the street and shot them to death execution-style."
Here's the rub, Hamas isn't good at running a country, but it's good at taking over one. It seems that perpetual war is a good state for these guys (sort of like Rudy Giuliani). Of course what would any war within Palestine borders be, without war crimes charges being sicced on Israel:
"Israel was also caught up in the Palestinian power struggle, with Hamas officials alleging that an Israeli tank shell killed four children in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah. The Israeli army said it would look into the report.
"The report came after Hamas also seized control of Rafah, the second of Gaza’s four main towns to fall into the Islamic militants’ hands."
I can almost see it...two Hamas soldiers fire off a rocket. It flies through the air, dancing around when it suddenly malfunctions and obliterates a playground. The soldiers look at each other, and simultaneously say, "Israel."
It would be funny if it weren't so dammed serious.

Retaliation


After the bombing of Shiite's holiest site, you knew it was bound to happen, but fortunately it seems as if the tide has been stemmed for now:

"BAGHDAD (AP) -- A handful of Sunni mosques were attacked or burned Thursday, but curfews and increased troop levels kept Iraq in relative calm a day after suspected al-Qaida bombers toppled the towering minarets of a prized Shiite shrine."
The mid surge (crackdown) figures though, when placed in conjunction with this, do not look good:
"The crackdown was launched in mid-February and had early success in reducing the number of targeted sectarian murders between Shiites and Sunni Arabs, who were dominant under Saddam Hussein but now form the backbone of Iraq’s bloody insurgency.
"But civilian deaths rose by 29 percent in May to almost 2,000, the highest level since the crackdown began.
"U.S. military deaths have also risen during the crackdown as thousands more troops fan out through the streets of Baghdad, becoming more visible targets.
"A total of 126 were killed in May, the highest monthly total for two-and-a-half years and the third-highest since the invasion to topple Saddam began in March 2003."
September can't approach fast enough.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Angry Left

Look, as much as I hate to say it, Joe Klein has a point. Of course he communicates it badly, because, well, that's how Joey talks, and yes, it seems he internalizes their hate against himself (ironically, linking himself with the right-wing, those he claims to disagree with) but we have finally got to admit that certain elements of the Left wing of the blogosphere are rude and belligerent.

I mean just read the comments under Mudcat's last post on Swampland. From what was a rather innocuous and saccharine essay came dozens of ugly, rude, and counterproductive comments.

Look I'm not saying that sarcasm and a bit of bile doesn't have its place, but I thought the progressive left was supposed to be the good guys--the Jedi to the right's Sith. We should do a bit better than Ann Coulter rhetoric, especially against our own.

Iraq: A Guide for GI's

No I didn't make it up, the Department of Defense, called the War Department back in 1943, did, and it had such golden nuggets of information such as:
  • NEVER discuss religion or politics or women with Moslems.
  • Don't stare at anyone. Remember the fear of the "evil eye".
  • Knock before entering a private house. If a woman answers, wait until she has had time to retire.
  • If you see grown men walking hand in hand, ignore it. They are not queer.

And my favorite:

  • American success or failure in Iraq may well depend on whether the Iraqis (as the people are called) like American soldiers or not. It may not be quite that simple. But then again it could.

Sully asks, "How did we get so much dumber in fifty years? And, yes, I am not exempting myself from this assessment. I guess we panicked, didn't we?" Gee I guess we did, and guess what, we still are.

Senate Democrats Get Ready for Round 3

More amendments to Bush's Iraq strategy to be introduced:

"The first amendment, crafted chiefly by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), mandates the start of a troop withdrawal from Iraq within 120 days of passage. The second amendment, crafted chiefly by Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), would set strong troop readiness standards and ensure a minimum period between Iraq deployments.


"The third amendment, a hotly sought goal of Reid’s that was crafted chiefly by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), would block spending on a future military presence in Iraq after April 2008, save for troops on counter-terrorism and training missions.


"A possible fourth vote could come on revoking Congress’s original 2002 war authorization, a tactic favored by many but agreed upon by few. Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) has suggested “de-authorization” followed by a new, targeted mission, while Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) have suggested forcing President Bush to seek a new authorization from Congress."


And you thought it was over. Then again, so did I.

Civil War in Gaza.

It's on:

"GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Hamas pounded Gaza City's three main security compounds with mortars, grenades and assault rifles Wednesday, calling on beleaguered Fatah forces to surrender, as it battled to take control of the entire Gaza Strip.


"In one dramatic victory, hundreds of members of a Fatah-allied clan that had fought fiercely surrendered to masked Hamas gunmen and were led, arms raised in the air, to a nearby mosque...

"“This is madness, the madness that is going on in Gaza now,” [Palestinian President] Abbas told reporters.

No this isn't madness this is Sparta...or Palestine, it's just about the same thing. All joking aside this a huge barrier blocking peace in the Middle East. Some possible scenarios here.

Subpoenas Issues for Bush Officals

Namely Harriet Myers and Sara Taylor in relation to the Attorney General firings.

My question: why hasn't Rove been called in? It seems pretty obvious that he's the keystone in all this. Samson directly linked the two, and even said he took his marching orders from Rove. It's time to get him sworn in.

Holy Shiite Shrine Attacked Again


















From MSNBC.com:
"BAGHDAD - Saboteur bombers destroyed the two minarets of Samarra’s Askariya Shiite shrine early Wednesday, site of a 2006 bombing that shattered its famous Golden Dome and unleashed a wave of retaliatory sectarian violence that still bloodies Iraq. Sunni extremists of al-Qaida were quickly blamed.
"The repeat assault on a revered Shiite shrine immediately stirred fears of a new explosion of intra-Muslim bloodshed, and prompted the 30-member bloc of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to suspend its membership in Iraq’s parliament, threatening a deepened political crisis."
This is trouble of the biggest kind. There's violence in Iraq and then there's violence, and the latter kind usually follows an attack on holy shrines. One thing I wonder: how much is the US working to protect these places? It seems to me that if your goal is to decrease sectarian violence, then keeping mosques protected should be high on your agenda.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Damn

I blogged again, now I'll have to kick myself in the neck, which is pretty hard. Well since I already broke my oath and the title fits I guess I'll give you this short link following up the Genarlow Wilson case. Thought he was free...don't be so sure. Sully's getting his Sharpton on, I'm just wondering why the US is so nuts about BJs.

Then again, no I'm not--they're GGGGGgreat!

Rather vs. CBS

In a recent interview Dan Rather, former anchor for CBS Nightly News had the following critque of his former show:

"...I want to make clear that I have nothing against Katie Couric at all. She’s a very nice person and I have a lot of friends at CBS News. However, it was clear at the time and I think it has become even clearer that the mistake was to try to bring the ‘Today’ ethos to the evening news and to dumb it down, tart it up, in hopes of attracting a younger audience. And I just don't think that people at 6:30, or seven o’clock at night or even 5:30 in the central time zone , six o’clock when it’s seen, that that is what they want. This is a continuation of a trend that we've talked about before, Joe and Mika, and John, and that is the combination of what I call the corporatizing of the news has led to the trivializing of the news. If you notice, it isn’t just anybody's evening news. That the front page of the New York Times took space the other day to talk about, I know we don't mention her name, so I will call her Rome Marriott. This woman, Rome Marriott, Paris Hilton, on the front page of the Times. And then, today’s Washington Post has a big spread, a multi-column spread on the front page about celebrities. And the belief runs strong in the corporate towers of almost every news organization, print or over the airwaves these days, that if you go to celebrities, uh, it increases your audience. There is no empirical evidence to indicate that. But even if it were true, I think that those of us in journalism are going to have a lot to answer for when you put Paris Hilton on the front page and put developments and celebrities on the front page and put developments such as the splintering of the coalition of the Anbar Province in Iraq, which has been helpful to us, but is now splintering apart and the fact that, what, 12 or 13 people were blown up and killed at a police station on Tikrit, when you put the war on the inside pages and Paris Hilton and other celebrities on front pages, it tells you that we have got a lot to answer for in journalism."
So what was the CBS rebuttal? Rather's a sexist.
My opinion? I don't watch CBS, or any nightly news show, but I think Rather's statements in terms of the entire M$M is right on the money. Unfortunately, he still has a problem with his sources because I've never heard of Rome Marriott.

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