Saturday, July 15, 2006

Oh Yea, They're The "Big Tent" Party

Lemme see...the way Republicans want to enforce the borders is to treat Latinos like cattle....
Rep. King Designs Electrified Fence For Southern Border: ‘We Do This With Livestock All The Time’
(ed note: Bigoted fucking moron) Rep. Steve King (R-IA) went on the House floor on Tuesday to discuss a fence that he “designed” for the southern boarder. (King constructed a model of the fence as he was speaking.) King’s design features a wire electrified “with the kind of current that would not kill somebody.” King noted that “we do this with livestock all the time.”
Video here:
Note: Requires QuickTime by Apple, but you ought to have that anyway, if you want to hang on this blog :-)

tags technorati :

More On Democratic Politics

I've been deeply troubled (although you'd hardly know it, the way I've crowed about the Bush failures lately) about the state of the Democratic party. In the last few weeks, it's been a little better, as if someone called up the various factions and told them to tone it down, or even if in fact, a bunch of people independently woke up and realized there's a chance, an huge opportunity, to take this country back for the people.

I'm a lifelong Democrat, as anyone who's read this blog for any length of time has probably figured out. The first campaign I volunteered for was Humphrey-Muskie in 1968, when I was still in grade school and New York City was a lot more Republican than it is now. I was (probably still am a little) idealistic enough to think that a ten year-old kid could sway even one vote.

The Democrats back then stood for something: fairness. Civil justice, civil rights, progress. A break for the little guy against the big corporations and corporate agglomerations that held the Republican party in thrall. We had just suffered the loss of JFK and RFK, two giants of vision and hope for the future.

Forces were plotting against this trend and sprang up. Barry Goldwater, after his stinging defeat at the hands of Lyndon Johnson, went underground and began to formulate a new conservatism: activist, doctrinal, and populist, moving the Conservatives away from Eastern elites to a group who would even dare entertaining the notion of nominating Ronald Reagan, a know-nothing, do-nothing layabout, as a candidate.

Well, obviously, President Reagan WAS elected, even if he did little to nothing for the greater good of the nation besides make some of us "feel better about ourselves" (and I thought the Dems were the touchy-feely party!) During the 1980s, the conservatives in the Republican party reached out to the radical religious right, and thus was born a hideous two-faced monster.

Think of it this way: Ronald Reagan was the pinnacle of Conservative doctrine! And that was 25 years ago! Says a lot about the efficacies of that particular mode of thinking.

(I'm getting to the Democrats, relax!)

Then started a slippery slope in which the failures of conservative thinking having been exposed, became magnified; possibly, although I haven't thought this bit through enough to be certain, due to the alliance with the religious right. It might have been just simple greed.

Old school conservatism makes sense to me. I may not agree with much of it, but I can at least grasp the basic thinking: free markets are good, people can be not-so-good but generally they are so we need to trust them, we need a strong army and strong police force when they prove untrustworthy.

This new, warped conservatism is delusional. It says that free markets are good, so long as Jesus is running them. Christianity is the one true religion, unless you're poor or in trouble. Christianity and capitalism is the topic of an entirely other post, though (one I'm working on).

And so, in a broad skim, this is where the Dems are today: faced with a dichotomous and disharmonious opposition party that is beginning to fracture under the weight of carrying the burden of governance while failing to please either wing of its own party.

That's what makes this recent brouhaha in the Democratic ranks so unpalatable to me, and it must stop. We could have (hell, we did) beat Bush in 2000. We SHOULD have beaten him in 2004 (forget the vote counts. It shouldn't have come down to that). I don't think it's telling tales out of school to say the election was Kerry's to lose and he did just that.

This opened the door to what I think is the biggest blunder the Democrats made in the wake of the 2004 election: putting Howard Dean in as chairman of the DNC. Dean is not a reconciler, not someone who easily compromises. But let's look at the backstory a little, before we move forward.

In 1976, when Jimmy Carter won election, the die was cast for the next generation of Presidential Democratic candidates: decent, hard-working, values driven populists. That he lost to Reagan in 1980 should have been the wake up call to panic, as Reagan (who had run against Ford in 1976, unheard of for a Republican president to face primary challenges! That alone should have made the Dems sit up and take notice) was a lightweight, but the political machine behind him was not. Reagan should have been beaten easily: a party-switching, divorce with a nasty shrew of a wife, a colored political history, draft-dodging (in World War II, no less!) imbecile.

Carter lost. Reagan won just a hair over 50% of the popular vote, but wiped the electoral floor with Carter. Sounds sort of familiar, huh?

The next two candidates for President were along the lines of Carter: honest, decent, progressive and values-driven men. Mondale predicted the next President would have to raise taxes in order to stem the tide of the awful deficit Reagan had saddled us with and he was right, but he got the shit kicked out of him for being truthful. Dukakis, an extraordinarily uncharismatic man, managed to put himself forth as a competent administrator, but came across as so unemotional and disconnected when he ran against Bush the elder that he made Bush look hot tempered. Bush, who probably had never sweated once in his life into his Sperry Topsiders (well, maybe when he was shot down during World War II, if you believe the stories), was seen as emotional. Bush, who couldn't tell you the price of milk, was seen as connected.

Dukakis worked hard to lose that election, and the political machine that handled him really failed him badly.

During the second Reagan and first Bush interregnae, the Democratic party took a long hard look at itself. Born of this was a side organization, the Democratic Leadership Council, eventually headed up by one William Jefferson Clinton. This council was dedicated to a third way, that populist messages weren't working for the Dems, and that a shift to the center was in order. Sure looked like a winning strategy as Clinton was elected not once but twice.

Al Gore, too, was a member of the DLC. And he won (even if he lost), as well.

There's a hint in there somewhere...not....sure....where....*wink*

Too often, and I think not incorrectly, the DLC is criticized as yet another big business organ to wrest control of the government from the people. While you can't make the case that the DLC is as corrupt (or even as corruptible) as the Republican party, it's clear from the kow-towing that Democrats in Congress have made to the Bush agenda that there's a certain taint or corporate influence.

The one legitimate criticism that can be leveled at the DLC is that it's not energizing enough people to come out and vote, a claim that has some merit, although it can be argued that, since more people voted for John Kerry in 2004 than voted for Al Gore in 2000, this obviates that critique.

Bullshit. More people voted for Kerry because more people believed the country was headed in the wrong direction and that George Bush is a danger to us. They would have come out and voted for a ham sandwich. That had nothing to do with passion for Kerry, who by any account is a hard-working, decent man who had a vision for this country, but in the end, failed to articulate it. In fact, I'd make the case that his very thin-blooded approach to campaigning, especially to responding to the Swift Boat attacks, made people stay away from the polls.

So now we are engaged in a great political test of wills, in which the populist wing of the party, as represented by Howard Dean, is embroiled in a battle with the "triangulators" of the DLC, represented by Hillary Clinton.

Why can't we have both?

My ideas for how to do that, tomorrow

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Friday, July 14, 2006

More Good News For Dems

(I'll attribute this as soon as I find out who originally wrote it)

UPDATE: I've had my crack team of sleuth (sic) on the case, and found this earliest posting. There may be even earlier ones. (Hat tip to Katrina)

Bush Loses Core Supporters
Leonard Wilton
Associated Press
WASHINGTON, July 11, 2006

President Bush appears to be losing support among a key group of voters who had hitherto stood firmly with the president even as his poll numbers among other groups fell dramatically.

A new Gallup poll shows that, for the first time, Bush's approval rating has fallen below 35% among total fucking morons, and now stands at 27%. This represents a dramatic drop compared to a poll taken just last summer, when 62% of total fucking morons expressed support for the president and his policies.

The current poll, conducted by phone with 1,409 total fucking morons between May 4 and May 8, reveals that only 44% of those polled believe the president is doing a good job, while 27% believe he is doing a poor job and 29% don't understand the question.

The previous poll, conducted by phone with 1,530 total fucking morons, showed 62% approved of the president, 7% disapproved and 31% didn't understand the question.

Faltering approval ratings for the president among a group once thought to be a reliable source of loyal support gives Republicans one more reason to be nervous about the upcoming mid-term elections. "If we can't depend on the support of total fucking morons," says Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), "then we've got a big problem. They're a key factor in our electoral strategy, and an important part of today's Republican coalition."

"We've taken the total fucking moron vote for granted," says Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL), "and now we're paying for it. We've let the Democrats control the debate lately, and they've dragged discourse back into the realm of complex, nuanced issues. So your average total fucking moron turns on his TV and sees his Republican Congressman arguing about Constitutional law or the complexities of state formation in the Middle East, and he tunes out. He wants to hear comforting, pandering,
flattering bromides and he doesn't want to hear a logical argument more complex than what you'd find on a bumper sticker."

For Feeney, the poll is a dire warning that Republicans can ignore only at their peril. "This should send a signal that we have to regain control of the debate if we want the support of our key constituencies in the coming election and beyond. We need to bring public discourse back into the realm of stupidity and vacuity. We should be talking about homosexual illegal immigrants burning flags. We should be talking about the power of pride. We should be talking about freedom fries. These are the issues that resonate with total fucking morons."

But some total fucking morons say it's too late. Bill Snarpel of Enid, Oklahoma is a total fucking moron who voted for Bush in both 2000 and 2004. But he says he won't be voting for Bush in 2008. "I don't like it that he was going to sell our ports to the Arabs. If the Arabs own the ports then that means they'll let all the Arabs in and then we'll all be riding camels and wearing towels on our heads. I don't want my children singing the Star Spangled Banner in Muslim."

Total fucking moron Kurt Meyer of Turlock , California also says his once solid support for Bush has collapsed. "He invaded Iraq and all those soldiers died, and for what? We destroyed all their WMDs, but now their new president is making fun of us and saying he's going to build nuclear bombs and that we can't stop him. Well, nuclear bombs are even worse than WMDs, so what did we accomplish?"

Laura McDonald, a total fucking moron from Chandler, Arizona , says she is disappointed that the president hasn't been a more forceful advocate of Christian values. "This country was founded on Christian values," she says, "but you'd never know it looking around and seeing all the Mexicans running around. I thought Bush was going to bring Jesus back into the government. Instead, Christians are being persecuted worse than ever before in history, because all these Mexicans come here and tell Christians that we have to respect their religious beliefs. So now it's illegal for children to pray in school. Soon it will be illegal for them to speak English."

Not all total fucking morons have turned their backs on the president. Jeb Larkin of Topeka, Kansas says he still fully support s Bush. "He is doing a great job. He is a great president. He is a great decider. I have a puppy. His tail sticks straight up and you can see his butthole."

And not all Republican lawmakers are concerned about the poll. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), for one, does not find it a cause for anxiety.

While he agrees that his party should not take total fucking morons for granted, they "really don't have anywhere else to go. They're never going to be able to understand someone like Al Gore or John Kerry or anybody intelligent and articulate who wants to talk about substantive issues Just try having a conversation with one of them about global warming. They'll say, 'Oh, but Bush says volcanoes consume more ozone than humans do.' I mean, they're morons! Total fucking morons!"

"They've got nowhere else to go," Alexander reaffirms with a smile, "and they always vote."

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Mais oui....

Aujourd'hui est La Fête Nationale! Soulevez un verre de champagne, et observez la Tour de France! Vive la France! Vive la révolution!

La Marseillaise

Allons enfants de la Patrie,
Le jour de gloire est arrivé !
Contre nous de la tyrannie,
L'étendard sanglant est levé, (bis)
Entendez-vous dans les campagnes
Mugir ces farouches soldats ?
Ils viennent jusque dans vos bras
Égorger vos fils, vos compagnes !

Aux armes, citoyens,
Formez vos bataillons,
Marchons, marchons !
Qu'un sang impur
Abreuve nos sillons !

Que veut cette horde d'esclaves,
De traîtres, de rois conjurés ?
Pour qui ces ignobles entraves,
Ces fers dès longtemps préparés ? (bis)
Français, pour nous, ah ! quel outrage
Quels transports il doit exciter !
C'est nous qu'on ose méditer
De rendre à l'antique esclavage !

Quoi ! des cohortes étrangères
Feraient la loi dans nos foyers !
Quoi ! ces phalanges mercenaires
Terrasseraient nos fiers guerriers ! (bis)
Grand Dieu ! par des mains enchaînées
Nos fronts sous le joug se ploieraient
De vils despotes deviendraient
Les maîtres de nos destinées !

Tremblez, tyrans et vous perfides
L'opprobre de tous les partis,
Tremblez ! vos projets parricides
Vont enfin recevoir leurs prix ! (bis)
Tout est soldat pour vous combattre,
S'ils tombent, nos jeunes héros,
La terre en produit de nouveaux,
Contre vous tout prêts à se battre !

Français, en guerriers magnanimes,
Portez ou retenez vos coups !
Épargnez ces tristes victimes,
À regret s'armant contre nous. (bis)
Mais ces despotes sanguinaires,
Mais ces complices de Bouillé,
Tous ces tigres qui, sans pitié,
Déchirent le sein de leur mère !

Amour sacré de la Patrie,
Conduis, soutiens nos bras vengeurs
Liberté, Liberté chérie,
Combats avec tes défenseurs ! (bis)
Sous nos drapeaux que la victoire
Accoure à tes mâles accents,
Que tes ennemis expirants
Voient ton triomphe et notre gloire !

Nous entrerons dans la carrière
Quand nos aînés n'y seront plus,
Nous y trouverons leur poussière
Et la trace de leurs vertus (bis)
Bien moins jaloux de leur survivre
Que de partager leur cercueil,
Nous aurons le sublime orgueil
De les venger ou de les suivre !

(English translation courtesy of Main and Central)

Arise children of the fatherland
The day of glory has arrived
Against us tyranny's
Bloody standard is raised
Listen to the sound in the fields
The howling of these fearsome soldiers
They are coming into our midst
To cut the throats of your sons and consorts!

To arms citizens Form your battalions
March, march
Let impure blood
Water our furrows

What do they want this horde of slaves
Of traitors and conspiratorial kings?
For whom these vile chains
These long-prepared irons?
Frenchmen, for us, ah! What outrage
What methods must be taken?
It is us they dare plan
To return to the old slavery!

What! These foreign cohorts!
They would make laws in our courts!
What! These mercenary phalanxes
Would cut down our warrior sons
Good Lord! By chained hands
Our brow would yield under the yoke
The vile despots would have themselves be
The masters of destiny

Tremble, tyrants and traitors
The shame of all good men
Tremble! Your parricidal schemes
Will receive their just reward
Against you we are all soldiers
If they fall, our young heros
France will bear new ones
Ready to join the fight against you

Frenchmen, as magnanimous warriors
Bear or hold back your blows
Spare these sad victims
That they regret taking up arms against us
But not these bloody despots
These accomplices of Bouillé
All these tigers who pitilessly
Ripped out their mothers' wombs

We too shall enlist
When our elders' time has come
To add to the list of deeds
Inscribed upon their tombs
We are much less jealous of surviving them
Than of sharing their coffins
We shall have the sublime pride
Of avenging or joining them
Drive on sacred patriotism

Support our avenging arms
Liberty, cherished liberty
Join the struggle with your defenders
Under our flags, let victory
Hurry to your manly tone
So that in death your enemies
See your triumph and our glory!

We shall enter the career
When our elders will no longer be there,
There we shall find their dust
And the mark of their virtues.
Much less jealous of surviving them
Than of sharing their coffins,
We shall have the sublime pride
Of avenging or following them!

Le vers final est écrit pour des enfants, parce que la chanson est terrifiante.

A Democratic Day

Today and this weekend, I will be posting a series of items about Democratic politics, how to fix America, and probably some endorsements.

Let's get the ball rolling, shall we?
Hat tip to Miss Cellania for forwarding this site to me.

Good news for Democrats on the election front
Most Americans plan to vote for Democrats


WASHINGTON -- Republicans are in jeopardy of losing their grip on Congress in November. With less than four months to the midterm elections, the latest Associated Press-Ipsos poll found that Americans by an almost 3-to-1 margin hold the GOP-controlled Congress in low regard and profess a desire to see Democrats wrest control after a dozen years of Republican rule.

Further complicating the GOP outlook to turn things around is a solid percentage of liberals, moderates and even conservatives who say they'll vote Democratic. The party out of power also holds the edge among persuadable voters, a prospect that doesn't bode well for the Republicans.
But wait, you say! What about the "incumbent factor"? The fact that, historically, 98% of incumbents are re-elected to their seats?

If 1994's ridiculous coup didn't persuade you that Americans can get angry enough to throw people out of office (in that case, good decent hardworking Americans, in this case, rascals of the first order), then this might:
The AP-Ipsos survey asked 789 registered voters if the election for the House were held today, would they vote for the Democratic or Republican candidate in their district. Democrats were favored 51 percent to 40 percent.

Not surprisingly, 81 percent of self-described liberals said they would vote for the Democrat. Among moderates, though, 56 percent backed a Democrat in their district and almost a quarter of conservatives - 24 percent - said they will vote Democratic.

Democrats also held the advantage among persuadable voters - those who are undecided or wouldn't say whom they prefer. A total of 51 percent said they were leaning Democrat, while 41 percent were leaning Republican.
What does this mean?

In a traditional election year, the incumbent party usually holds a slight edge, let's say 46%-42%, with a heavily undecided component usually swaying the outcome, and most of those critical voters will either make up their minds or change their minds in the booth.

In 1994, the year of Newt Gingrich's "Contract On With America," the two parties were dead even four months ahead of the election and overall, Republican candidates began to pull away after Labor Day.

This poll was taken just after the Fourth of July.

The only significant good news for the Republican party is that, on foreign affairs and terror, they hold a ten-point lead. This might be part of why you're seeing the "end of cowboy diplomacy." Also, you can expect a ramping up of terror-related stories (plots reported months or even years after they were "uncovered," such as the recent scare about the New York/New Jersey PATH train bomb plot, in which actual arrests were made three months ago.)

[Side note: Curious thing about that PATH train "attack." Much of the groundwork done in the arrest was performed by Lebanese authorities. You know, the same country Israel is pounding, as we speak, with bombs.]

The final nail in the Republican coffin, however, is this:
Overall, only 27 percent approved of the way Congress is doing its job. Lawmakers get favorable marks from 36 percent of conservatives, 28 percent of moderates and 17 percent of liberals.
(emphasis added)

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Thursday, July 13, 2006


By now, you've seen or heard or I've bored you with the incident at the World Cup finals Sunday, in which Zinedene Zidane head-butted a mafia thug an Italian player named Materazzi. Now come the various takes on it...
Zidane saves Materazzi from certain death!
It was an Italian conspiracy involving the world wide broadcast to cover the fact that Materazzi was drunk
The Porn Version a problem? Zidane it!
Hat Tip To LitBrit and Shakespeare's Sister

Shhhhhhhhhhhhh....Be Vewy Vewy Quiet...HUHUHUHUHUH!

OK, there are a lot of snarky stories I could dissect today, from killer kangaroos and carnivorous ducks to donut shops as terror targets, but today, I want to focus on something that strikes deep into the heart of the American political process: voting.

Or more to the point, the Voting Rights Act renewal. The backstory:
The Voting Rights Act, adopted initially in 1965 and extended in 1970, 1975, and 1982, is generally considered the most successful piece of civil rights legislation ever adopted by the United States Congress. The Act codifies and effectuates the 15th Amendment's permanent guarantee that, throughout the nation, no person shall be denied the right to vote on account of race or color. In addition, the Act contains several special provisions that impose even more stringent requirements in certain jurisdictions throughout the country.

Adopted at a time when African Americans were substantially disfranchised in many Southern states, the Act employed measures to restore the right to vote that intruded in matters previously reserved to the individual states. Section 4 ended the use of literacy requirements for voting in six Southern states (Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Virginia) and in many counties of North Carolina, where voter registration or turnout in the 1964 presidential election was less than 50 percent of the voting-age population. Under the terms of Section 5 of the Act, no voting changes were legally enforceable in these jurisdictions until approved either by a three-judge court in the District of Columbia or by the Attorney General of the United States. Other sections authorized the Attorney General to appoint federal voting examiners who could be sent into covered jurisdictions to ensure that legally qualified persons were free to register for federal, state, and local elections, or to assign federal observers to oversee the conduct of elections.
OK, that's pretty straightforward: minorities had undue burdens to voting in elections, therefore were not represented properly in the governmental process. The Federal government, the erstwhile protector of our civil rights against the tyranny of the majority (or even minority), said "Nuh uh!" and passing the Voting Rights Act, whereby they could impose voting equality if necessary.

Makes sense to me, dontcha think? Naturally, the law is revisited every so often as Congress doesn't feel its necessary to carve in stone that which should be etched in our hearts, and I agree. It's been renewed three times, most recently in 1982, and was up for renewal again. Some parts of it have been made permanent, but others will eventually become unnecessary (one can hope!).

Just recently, when it was brought up for a vote to renew, it was, um, shelved temporarily, by some neaderthalic Congresscritter named Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia, who felt shocked, SHOCKED, that several states specifically named in the original 1965 act were STILL singled out for their particular peccadilloes in terms of abusing "th' nigras" votes 40 years ago.

Guess again, Sparky.Many of y'all earned the right to be handheld into the 21st Century. Here's a nice tall cool glass of Shut The Fuck Up, Lynn.

Next moron: Steve King of Iowa wants to include language that strips provisions of the Act requiring translated ballots and linguists at polling sites.

Now, Iowa is 95% white. 3.5% of those are counted as Hispanic. Maybe another 1.5% of the state is Asian. Now, I can see why Congresscritter King might believe that minorities don't get the right to vote. He probably doesn't see many driving his Lexus SUV to and from Des Moines "International" *snark* Airport to his mansion in the sprawling suburbs of, say, Council Bluffs, but y'know what, Steverino?

Some of us in the more, um, cosmopolitan centers of the nation realize there are an awful lot of American citizens whose first language isn't English. This has been true since, you know, the first Dutch settlers discovered New York City (Nieuw Amsterdam, to them), and so bilingual America predates some lower-class jackass from some Anglo Saxon family with airs enough to call themselves "King", presumably after a royal hound. Capisci, signore?

Now, onto today's story:
House Moves to Renew Voting Rights Act

Associated Press Writer

July 13, 2006, 8:54 AM EDT

WASHINGTON -- Having quieted dissenting conservatives, House Republicans are trying again to renew the 1965 Voting Rights Act in an election-year effort to win support from minority voters.

The bill's progress through Congress is considered by Republican leaders as one way to stem the damage to the party's "big-tent" image among minorities watching the contentious debate over whether to grant most of the nation's 12 million illegal immigrants a chance at citizenship.
Snarky bullet point one: Better check the guy wires on that tent, sugar, because the big top is droopy. You haven't been the big tent party since, oh, I don't know, Bob Dole needed Viagra.
The renewal of the Voting Rights Act -- the legislative centerpiece of the civil rights movement -- is widely supported by House leaders in both parties. It had been expected to sail through the House last month, but a rebellion in a closed GOP caucus meeting forced supporters to cancel the vote.
TRANSLATION from CongressSpeak by way of Newspaperese: The dumb crackers in the South had to go home to their districts and the county fairs and tell the Klansmen that they stopped the darkies from voting.
Conservatives, mostly from the South, contended that the bill singled out their states for Justice Department scrutiny without giving them credit for strides on civil rights.
I was right! But I'm still trying to figure out how they get "strides on civil rights" out of their actions of the past forty years which have been to obstruct, deny, and delay any reforms until they've been forced to, through exhaustion, swallow their medicine.
Hours of negotiations in recent days yielded an agreement, approved 8-3 on Wednesday by the Rules Committee, to allow votes on a few amendments proposing the changes pushed by the objectors.

The changes are not expected to be added to the legislation. But House leaders, intent on passing the bill over to the Senate this week, agreed to allow votes on the four amendments to move it along.

Civil rights advocates, however, see the amendments as the latest in a history of attempts to undercut growing political influence of racial minorities.

This has been your daily demonstration of the absurdity of the right from Actor212, a wholly owned subsidiary of Actor212 Enterprises, a Cayman Islands Corporation.

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Eu Estou Indo Aprender Portugese

I found this while searching through my sitemeter. Damn. This blog looks better in Portugese than in English!

Eu encontrei este ao procurarar com meu sitemeter. Nada. Este blog olha melhor em Portugese do que em inglês!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Isn't It Funny How...

....when you want real news about America, you need to go to England?:
Pentagon breaks with Bush on detentions

· Geneva convention covers Guantánamo detainees
· Supreme court ruling prompts policy switch

The Bush administration was facing the collapse of its detention regime in the war on terror yesterday after the Pentagon said for the first time that prisoners at Guantánamo and elsewhere in US military custody around the world would be granted the protections of the Geneva convention.

In a memo released yesterday, the Pentagon's second in command, Gordon England, broke with the Bush administration's insistence of the past five years that the rules of war do not apply to the fight against al-Qaida.
(Sidenote: Irony of ironies that an American general named England (no relation to Lynndie, presumably) makes an announcement that's barely covered in the States, but is featured on, well, English news media!)
While the Bush administration has said it will implement the supreme court decision, there were indications the new policy was only reluctantly endorsed by the White House. "We are going to do this in a way that is consistent with national security," the White House spokesman, Tony Snow, told reporters .

Other administration officials expressed reservations. In the first of three days of hearings in Congress on the treatment of detainees, Steven Bradbury, of the justice department's office of legal counsel, told senators the Geneva convention protections were ambiguous and poorly defined.

Those tensions dampened the response of civil rights organisations to the Pentagon announcement. "At the same time that the defence department is showing signs of heading in the direction of restoring the rule of law, the justice department is urging Congress to abandon it," said Anthony Romero, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union.
So we're back in the middle of the struggle between the Pentagon and the White House over how to prosecute the war and its ancillary issues, such as handling detainees. Bush has said he will seek Congressional approval for continuing the previous treatment of indefinite incarceration and secret tribunals, while the Pentagon (and by extension, the CIA) will now treat prisoners according to the Geneva convention.

Going to be kinda hard to tell your players without a scorecard this time around, since there's a LOT of political infighting to be had here. The short answer is, the Pentagon will prevail, and it's only a matter of how flexible they'll be willing to be in order to end the internecine conflict.

The failure of the Bush administration in its efforts to stop "terrorism" worldwide has been a rising topic these past few days. In an article entitled "The End of Cowboy Diplomacy," Time Magazine argues that "the Administration has been forced to rethink the doctrine with which it hoped to remake the world as the strategy's ineffectiveness is exposed by the very policies it prescribed."

Presumably this turf war over the Gitmo issue is front and center in Condi Rice's makeover attempts. But why is this happening now? Time explains it this way:
The most obvious answer is that the Bush Doctrine foundered in the principal place the U.S. tried to apply it. Though no one in the White House openly questions Bush's decision to go to war in Iraq, some aides now acknowledge that it has come at a steep cost in military resources, public support and credibility abroad. The Administration is paying the bill every day as it tries to cope with other crises. Pursuing the forward-leaning foreign policy envisioned in the Bush Doctrine is nearly impossible at a time when the U.S. is trying to figure out how to extricate itself from Iraq. Around the world, both the U.S.'s friends and its adversaries are taking note--and in many cases, taking advantage--of the strains on the superpower. If the toppling of Saddam Hussein marked the high-water mark of U.S. hegemony, the past three years have witnessed a steady erosion in Washington's ability to bend the world to its will. is most clearly evidenced in the suddenly nuanced approach to North Korea. There we have a dictator who has weapons of mass destruction, has made noise about hurting us, and has shown himself to be unstable and self-destructive.

But we invaded Iraq. The signal that sends to Kim Jong-Il is one that the US will tolerate bullies, at least those who can fight back.

We had North Korea contained in the way we had Saddam Hussein contained, yet this part of another Time article struck me as being, well, disingenuous:
FOR SOME IN THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION, the ideal strategy for dealing with Kim has always been economic and diplomatic strangulation, with the hope that his government will eventually atrophy into collapse or succumb to a coup that might usher in a more amiable--or at least more predictable--leader. That approach is based on the idea that rather than try to negotiate with Kim or take military action against him, the U.S. and its allies are better off keeping him in a box and focusing on preventing him from peddling his arsenal to other rogue actors. Elements of that strategy have been in place for some time and have produced a few notable examples of success.
Or you could call it the "Castro strategy" (I'll get to that in a moment). Nevertheless, this strategy was working to great effect in Iraq, and it was only in a fit of huffiness after September 11 that Bush decided that he would merely beat the living crap out of a defenseless dictator, not that plans to do just that hadn't already been in the works. September 11 provided a convenient excuse to execute them.

But what of Castro? After all, here's a thorn in our side for generations, sitting 90 miles off the coast, and our policy towards him has always been motivated by domestic political concerns and not in doing what's right for the Cuban people. Florida is a key electoral state, and the small number of Cuban-Americans in Miami hold much of those electoral votes in the palms of their hands. A leader would discount that, especially in a second term. For once, it looks like Bush may actually be making the right moves, albeit years later and dollars short, and somewhat misguided:
US has $80m plan for Cuba after Castro

· Aid and advisers should be on standby, says report
· Authors fear Venezuela could fund successors

America should be prepared to move quickly to pour aid and advisers into Cuba in the event of Fidel Castro's death, to turn the island away from communist rule, a government report due for release this week will recommend.
The report, the second from a group set up by George Bush three years ago to intensify US pressure for regime change in Cuba, calls for $80m (£43m) to be put aside to step up opposition to Mr Castro.
Sounds pretty good, huh? Fund an opposition that's prepared to step in as soon as Castro dies, take over, and run the country with us as its guide. Not much military opposition to it, certainly China can't get troops over there, and Venezuela will have its own problems to deal with.

Trouble is, this strategy demands the US keep an active armed force ready to fly in to tamp down a counter-revolt, since any opposition seen as funded by America will be resented, particularly after we hemmed and hawed about Castro for so long, not really tolerating him, but not really rejecting him, either. So how to defeat Castro?

The obvious solution, unilaterally pull down the sanctions we've imposed, would go a long way to defeating Castro's vision for Cuba, since it would force him to deal with the reality of the poverty and dishumanitarianism of his regime, full stop. Fuck the Miami Cubans, the thinking goes, since at the end of the day, a free Cuba is what we all want, and this is the fastest way to get there.

But Time points out a less-obvious solution: Brazil.
Paying attention to Brazil would involve offering an attractive trade agreement that would grant freer access to the U.S. market for Brazilian steel, shoes, orange juice, ethanol and other products that currently face import barriers. The costs for the U.S. economy would be relatively minimal. For Brazil, such a deal would stimulate exports, drive investment and lift the economy.

Even more important, such an approach would reward and support a country (and a government) that is providing a powerful counterexample to the populist policies that are gaining favor in the region. That could be a very inclusive initiative: any Latin American country could be invited to join the two leading nations in the western hemisphere in this agreement. To be eligible, countries would need to adopt pro-poor, growth-inducing economic reforms that spur competition and open markets. They would also be required to enact political reforms that strengthen democratic practices and institutions. It could be a powerful stimulus for positive change, since few countries in the region could afford to be left out of an economic arrangement that included Brazil and the U.S.
Imagine if we had done this with Iraq. Imagine if, instead of bombing the fuck out of them then invading, raping, and killing her people, we had engaged with nations around Hussein on footing other than how much oil we could get out of the ground?

How much would you wager that Iraq would have stopped being a problem years ago? Moreover, Iran would stop being a problem, Afghanistan wouldn't even have allowed the Taliban (and by extension, Al Qaeda) access to it, and there might actually be democracies besides Israel in the region that work.

Imagine...that we had a President Gore who would have done just this: been strong where needed, but open and friendly whenever possible...

This is not America's world, but we can make it an AmeriCAN world, if we just engage with other countries and, yes, firmly make our demands, but listen and accomodate those around us, whenever possible.

More and more, I am convinced that we are seeing the fall of the American republic, and it's troubling to think that the greatest minds in the greatest nation ever on the face of the planet can't seem to stop it.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A Massive Horde!


July 11, 2006 -- Dozens of protesters yesterday denounced The New York Times for disclosing details of anti-terror efforts by the Bush administration.
(emphasis added)

Also, neener, neener, neener leaps to mind.

You may recall that Michelle Malkin, she of the bug-eyed, "deranged serial killer" poses, harped about this massive protest to descend upon the Times like a flock of locusts to chew up and spit out the loony libs who reveal state secrets (leaked to them by high-ranking administration officials). Some "high profile assholes groups" were to attend:
The groups on board so far are Free Republic, Caucus for America, the Congress for Racial Equality, and Protest Warrior, NYC Chapter. We have reached out to several other groups as well, and are waiting to hear back from them.

All I gotta say is, did you want a hot-steamin' cup o' "shut the fuck up" to go with the egg on your face, beeyatch? The best you could do was to recruit a class from the local ESL institute to stand around holding a few signs up? How much did you pay them? I'm guessing less than minimum wage...

And to think, I was worried I might need 500 people to bust up this little, and I do mean, little tea party... Muahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!

I love this moment so much, I want to have sex with it.

UPDATE: Fox resident Business Jackass, Neil Cavuto, dedicated four minutes of precious airtime to this debacle. That's about a minute a protestor, by my count.
Even though the interview aired minutes before the protest was set to begin, and a video showed just one person protesting on the street in New York "dressed as Osama bin Laden kissing The New York Times," Cavuto and Spero spent nearly four minutes discussing the event.
(Emphasis Added)
I may have to buy this moment dinner now...LOL!

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Monday, July 10, 2006

A Final Thought On The World Cup

I was surprised that Bush didn't insist on this substitution:

tags technorati :

Exploding Buildings, Exploding Marriages

You've probably all read about the building on the Upper East Side, my old neighborhood, which exploded today.

It was not the first explosion in this house, as a cursory review of the divorce settlement will show:
We affirm the determination awarding a divorce to plaintiff on grounds of cruel and inhuman treatment. Plaintiff's proof, when viewed cumulatively, established by a preponderance of the credible evidence that defendant had engaged in a course of conduct which was harmful to the plaintiff's physical and mental health, thus rendering cohabitation unsafe or improper (Domestic Relations Law § 170 [1]).

This was not a case of ordinary marital dissatisfaction or even "riotous quarrels" as defendant suggests. Defendant intentionally traumatized plaintiff, a woman of Jewish origin born in Nazi-occupied Holland, with swastika-adorned articles and notes affixed around their home, and became enraged when she removed them. He ignored her need for support and assistance while she was undergoing surgery and treatment for breast cancer (see Siczewicz v Siczewicz, 92 AD2d 915, 916 [1983], appeal dismissed 59 NY2d 968 [1983]). He systematically cut off her access to marital funds and credit as a means of psychological abuse. Even plaintiff's assertion that defendant completely ceased speaking to her is not benign, but must be understood in the context of the prior years' verbal abuse.

Physical violence is not a prerequisite for a showing that plaintiff's physical or mental well-being rendered it unsafe or improper for her to continue cohabiting with defendant as required by Domestic Relations Law § 170 (1) (see Hessen v Hessen, 33 NY2d 406, 410 [1974]; Pfoltzer v Morris-Pfoltzer, 9 AD3d 615, 616-617 [2004]). Nor did plaintiff need an expert to prove that defendant's actions had the claimed effect on her mental condition (see Levine v Levine, 2 AD3d 498, 500 [2003]), particularly in view of her explanation that she is the type of person who finds it difficult to consider seeking psychological treatment.
Nice guy. No need to pity him for this.

The Do-Nothings

You'd think that, when a party controls both houses of Congress, and the White House, they could get some bidness, no matter how evil, done. And you'd be wrong:
Congress faces long list of unfinished tasks

By Donna Smith

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. lawmakers returning from a weeklong break on Monday will take up a long list of unfinished -- and possibly insurmountable -- tasks that could help decide whether voters will re-elect them in November.

[....]"Historically this is certainly not a Congress that will be remembered," said Larry Sabato, of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics. "There is just not much there."
The contentious issues that remain to be handled? Nothing too much, just immigration reform, stem cell research, protecting pension plans, rising energy prices...nothing TOO important to legislators who have access to the best health care, best pension plan and under-the-table illegal laborers.

Oh...but there is one issue that Congress might take a bit of interest in getting done: funding the goverment.
When the Senate returns on Monday, it will take up a spending bill totaling nearly $32 billion that includes money for border patrols, the embattled Federal Emergency Management Agency, dirty-bomb detection and other domestic security activities.

It is one of 11 spending bills Congress hopes to complete before October 1, when the new fiscal year begins. There is little agreement, even among members of each party, about how much to spend and how much to cut.
Goodness knows, we wouldn't want to underfund homeland security, now would we?

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World Cup Finals

Germany 3 Portugal 1

Germany recaptured some national pride on Saturday as they took the title "Second Biggest Loser In the World Cup" home, taking third place away from an obviously exhausted Portugese side. Two goals by Bastian Schweinsteiger, in the 56th and 78th minutes, as well as an own goal by Petit, propelled Germany to a richly deserved win for the home country. Nuno Gomes salvaged a goal late in the 88th minute to restore some pride to Portugal.

Italy 1 France 1

Let's face facts: Italy came out in the second half of this game determined to cheat to win the Cup. Forcing the best French scorer, Thierry Henry, to leave the game in the 108th minute with an injury suffered on a cheap tackle, the Azzure then focused their venom on Zinedine Zidane, baiting and harassing him until finally in a fit of asinine frustration, he head-butted Marco Matterrazzi in the chest. Mattarrazzi won an Academy Award for dramatics, but the penalty is an automatic red card and Zidane was sent off from his last international match in disgrace. Cheating to win, the Italians, who were dominated, outplayed and even scored on (on an offsides play so no goal) by the French, managed to scrape their way out of extra time and won the Cup on penalty kicks, 5-3.

Italy now heads home to reap the fruits of their cheating, as four squads who provided the Italian national side with the lion's share of its players are under investigation and subject to penalty for fixing games at home. All in all, a sad disgrace that the Cup is going with them in such a disturbing fashion.