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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, August 27, 2005

But the rich get their tax cuts.

Let's see, 300 Billion in tax cuts, a 250 Billion dollar war with no apparent purpose and the advice is to just keep spending or Al Quaeda will win. When the ship goes down, it will be like it always has been. First class to the life boats, and steerage will wait.

You owe $145,000. And the bill is rising every day. That's how much it would cost every American man, woman and child to pay the tab for the long-term promises the U.S. government has made to creditors, retirees, veterans and the poor. .....

A chorus of economists, government officials and elected leaders both conservative and liberal is warning that America's nonstop borrowing has put the nation on the road to a major fiscal disaster — one that could unleash plummeting home values, rocketing interest rates, lost jobs, stagnating wages and threats to government services ranging from health care to law enforcement.

David Walker, who audits the federal government's books as the U.S. comptroller general, put it starkly in an interview with the AP:

"I believe the country faces a critical crossroad and that the decisions that are made — or not made — within the next 10 years or so will have a profound effect on the future of our country, our children and our grandchildren. The problem gets bigger every day, and the tidal wave gets closer every day."

Interesting bits on Abu Ghraib

The US released 1,000 people from Abu Ghraib, I'm assuming as part of the negotiations on the charter/constitution(this wording thing still hasn't cleared up,) and in the story there were these interesting little bits.

U.S. military officials say detainees sent to Abu Ghraib typically spend six months to a year in custody before a decision is made in Iraqi courts on whether to prosecute them.

U.S. military lawyers in Baghdad estimate that 80 to 85 percent of those arrested by U.S. forces are released without being convicted.

Also of curiousity to me, after some badgering by the press corp, Trent Duffy, McClellan's stand-in while he gets away from Crawford for awhile, admitted that Bush himself called one of the Shiite leaders to try to get them to reopen negotiations. Since I read this, I've been wondering about the tone of that call. Threatening, cajoling, bartering, begging? Just don't know.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Bolton torpedoing UN reform.

Again, that's why they wanted the crazy loyalist at the UN. So he could continue the fine work he did as head of wmd proliferation at state keeping N. Korea and Iran from getting nuclear resources.

Check out the changes he's proposed on the perviously finished reform package.

I'll give you one for a start.

~ and oddly, strikes out the need to establish a legal definition of terrorism, which the Bush administration has previously stated is a requirement before proceeding towards a U.N. Convention on Terorrism.

Another good example of blogging

Another good example of blogging from someone I've never heard of. Clever, funny, makes a good point.

Dick Cheney has talked ad nauseam about how we are "...in a fight to preserve our freedom and our way of life." But what exactly is our way of life? And why does Osama bin Laden hate it so much?

Let's take me, for example. I like to golf and yet I don't recall any videos coming out of spooky-looking rooms in the Middle East in which hooded terrorists rail against "seven-iron-wielding Yankee jackals." .........

See, I've always thought that the American way of life had a lot to do with civil liberties, separation of church and state, freedom of speech – that kind of stuff. But under the Bush administration, all of those things have been steadily eroding.

Just what is going on in Iraq.

Two stories published within literally three minutes of each other.

One from the AP - quoting the parliament's spokesman.

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Parliament announced it had no plans to gather Thursday night and no date for a future session, signaling Iraqi factions were failing to agree on a new constitution before a self-imposed midnight target.

The statement from National Assembly's top spokesman, Bishro Ibrahim, came as negotiators struggled for consensus on a draft by the close of a 72-hour extension announced Monday night by the parliament speaker, after Sunni Arabs refused to accept a charter approved by Shiites and Kurds.

And one from Reuters - quoting the prime minister's spokesman

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The Iraqi government said a final draft of a constitution would be adopted by parliament on Thursday, despite its rejection by minority Sunni Arabs and clashes between rival factions among the Shi'ite majority.

"By the end of the day we will have a final version of the draft," government spokesman Laith Kubba told a news conference.
So, what to believe?

Long review of Plame

No real revelations here, but the LATimes published a massive "the story so far" on the Plame case. If you tuned in late, or if you've missed a couple of episodes, it's a pretty good catchup.


Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Oh, Jesus....

No comment is necessary. If you're here, you're probably smart enought to be terrified of this.

From editor and publisher.

NEW YORK The American Legion, which has 2.7 million members, has declared war on antiwar protestors, and the media could be next. Speaking at its national convention in Honolulu, the group's national commander called for an end to all “public protests” and “media events” against the war, even though they are protected by the Bill of Rights.

"The American Legion will stand against anyone and any group that would demoralize our troops, or worse, endanger their lives by encouraging terrorists to continue their cowardly attacks against freedom-loving peoples," Thomas Cadmus, national commander, told delegates at the group's national convention in Honolulu.

The delegates voted to use whatever means necessary to "ensure the united backing of the American people to support our troops and the global war on terrorism."

(Okay, one comment: Bill, do you still want to debate my stance on the existence of ideological brownshirts.) The rest of the article isn't any better.

Nobody's buying it, Pat

Just an update. Somebody should tell Pat, that when someone airs three minutes of you talking it's not really applicable to say that you're being taken out of context, unless of course the context is that you're a stark raving loon.

The one really nice thing about this, is that not only has this lunatic been very publicly outed on this issue, religious man issuing fatwa against a foreign leader, but all the other crazy sh*t that Robertson has said is being dredged back up.

There are good religious leaders out there, and maybe this will remind the TV people that maybe the guy with the best press agent isn't always the best guy. 'Course at the same time, anyone of these 24 hour network whores, Blitzer, O'Reilly, Olberman, would have killed to have had Robertson say that on their show.

Anyway, it was all just a bbbiiiiggg misunderstanding. Right, Pat?

(CNN) -- Conservative religious broadcaster Pat Robertson said Wednesday that his remarks about the removal of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez were taken out of context and that he never called for the killing of the Latin American leader.

"I didn't say 'assassination.' I said our special forces should 'take him out.' And 'take him out' can be a number of things, including kidnapping; there are a number of ways to take out a dictator from power besides killing him. I was misinterpreted by the AP [Associated Press], but that happens all the time," Robertson said on "The 700 Club" program.

Oh, and one quick complimentary, again to CNN. Reportedly, they have brought back all their reporters from Aruba and are making an effort to put the "missing white woman" story in its proper place, not reporting on it unless there's actually some change. Gotta wonder if Costa's public refusal to host a Larry King on this might have made some impression.

So, reward them. Watch CNN until they make you retch.(probably about ten minutes(less for Blitzer))


An example of great blogging

This is an example of great blogging. I know nothing of this blog, or the person who runs it, but this entry is one of the best examples of what blogs can be as thousands upon thousands of us work through our collective news analysis and memories.

The Great Liberator on March 12, 2004 celebrating "global women's human rights":

And then, after the constitution/charter was submitted.

Dr. Raja Kuzai
yesterday: "This is the future of the new Iraqi government - it will be in the hands of the clerics," said Dr. Raja Kuzai, a secular Shiite member of the Assembly. "I wanted Iraqi women to be free, to be able to talk freely and to able to move around."

"I am not going to stay here," said Dr. Kuzai, an obstetrician and women's leader who met President Bush in the White House in November 2003.

Mistrust the military?

Gallup poll in the WaPo

More than three-quarters of Americans also believe that the military occasionally provides false or inaccurate information to the media, according to the poll, which surveyed 1,016 adults during the first two weeks of June.

An ex miltary guy in the article theorizes....

Grange, who commanded the 1st Infantry Division. "The military gets negative points because they come across sometimes as being deceptive or using [operational security] as an excuse."

Really. It doesn't have anything to do with other stories in the WaPo today? Stories like this....

Tillman was killed on April 22, 2004, while fighting with his Army Ranger unit in the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan, near the Pakistani border. Tillman was shot multiple times by soldiers in his unit who told investigators they mistook him for the enemy in a twilight fight in a rocky canyon.

Officials in Afghanistan then burned Tillman's uniform and body armor. They filed reports saying that Tillman had been killed by enemy fire while charging up a hill, ordered other soldiers in the unit not to discuss the incident, and then honored Tillman with a Silver Star. Army officials waited until weeks after a public memorial service in the United States to tell the family that they believed it was a friendly-fire case.

Or this.....

In late 2003, the Pentagon quietly decided that 15 Chinese Muslims detained at the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, could be released. Five were people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time, some of them picked up by Pakistani bounty hunters for U.S. payoffs. The other 10 were deemed low-risk detainees whose enemy was China's communist government -- not the United States, according to senior U.S. officials.

More than 20 months later, the 15 still languish at Guantanamo Bay, imprisoned and sometimes shackled, with most of their families unaware whether they are even alive.

They are men without a country. The Bush administration has chosen not to send them home for fear China will imprison, persecute or torture them, as the United States charges has happened to other members of China's Muslim minority. But the State Department has also been unable to find another country to take them in, according to U.S. officials and recently filed court documents. ........

Oh, and the irony that we're imprisoning Chinese citizens at Guantanamo so they won't be imprisoned in China was not lost on me.

And, a little more from the same article. Not so much on distrust of the military, just on the bad policy that is Guantanamo. Remember, these guys have been cleared.

One of the Uighurs was "chained to the floor" in a "box with no windows," Willett said in an Aug. 1 court hearing.

"You're not talking about your client?" asked Judge James Robertson of the U.S. District Court in Washington.

"I'm talking about my client," Willett said.

"He was chained to a floor?" Robertson asked again.

"He had a leg shackle that was chained to a bolt in the floor," Willett replied. .......

All 15 Uighurs have actually been cleared for release from Guantanamo Bay twice, once after a Pentagon review in late 2003 and again last March, U.S. officials said. Seven other Uighurs were ruled to be enemy combatants and will continue to be detained.

Even after the second decision, however, the government did not notify the 15 men for several months that they had been cleared. "They clearly were keeping secret that these men were acquitted. They were found not to be al Qaeda and not to be Taliban," Willett said. "But the government still refused to provide a transcript of the tribunal that acquitted them to the detainees, their new lawyers or a U.S. court." .......

The Justice Department has argued in court that it has no obligation to release the Uighurs because of "wind-up power," which gives a government the time necessary at the end of a conflict to figure out what to do with detainees. As a precedent, it cited the treatment of Italians held in the United States after World War II.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

No Surprise. Blair to Carlyle Group.

From an English tabloid, but it's been rumoured for quite some time. With the strong Bush ties to Carlyle and the sweetheart deal it really makes you reexamine Blair's motivations on the Iraq war.

TONY Blair is expected to join one of the most exclusive groups of businessmen in the world after he leaves Downing Street.

The PM is being lined up for a highly lucrative position with the Carlyle Group - an American-based investment giant with strong links to the White House and the defence industry. .........

The job could net Mr Blair up to £500,000 a year for only a few days work a month giving speeches and making "networking" trips on behalf of the company.

Go, old guy, go

Actual AP Caption:

Bill Moyer, 73, wears a "Bullshit Protector" flap over his ear while President George W. Bush addresses the Veterans of Foreign Wars. (AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac)

Needless to say, this AP photo was not published by a US organization, but instead by the Canadian National Post next to an article which had no reference to the photo. I guess the National Post is telling us what it thinks of the current Bush charm offensive and effort to justify the Iraq war.

Yeah, Gay Rights.

It's a small victory, but significant, I think. I'll lay off the gay rights rant for now and just enjoy the fact that, at least in this one small instance, a gay relationship, a gay family, is legally treated just like everyone else.

The California Supreme Court ruled yesterday that both members of a lesbian couple who plan for and raise a child born to either of them should be considered the child's mothers even after their relationship ends.

The court, stepping into largely uncharted legal territory concerning same-sex couples and parenting, issued decisions in three cases, ruling that women whose partners gave birth had parental rights or obligations in all three.

The cases involved a request for child support, a petition to establish parental rights and an attack on a lower court ruling issued before a child's birth that the child should have two women listed as parents on her birth certificate.

"We perceive no reason," the Supreme Court ruled, "why both parents of a child cannot be women."

Iraqi charter written in English.

Just a couple more quick notes on the Iraqi Constitution/Charter. There's been some interesting semantic wordplay between "constitution" and "charter" in some of the news stories. Not really sure of the difference, but on the night it was submitted it was called a constitution or draft constitution and this morning, alot of the wire stories are calling it a charter. Again, not really sure what that means, just interesting.

Secondly, take a look at this paragraph from a WaPo story on the process.

Negotiators here described American officials as playing a major role in the draft. U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad shuttled among Iraqi leaders, pushing late Monday for the inclusion of Sunnis in talks, negotiators said. U.S. Embassy staff members worked from a Kurdish party headquarters to help type up the draft and translate changes from English to Arabic for Iraqi lawmakers, negotiators said.

So, the Iraqi constitution was written in English, then translated? It's obviously an Iraqi precess, eh?

Chavez is big news now that Pat hates him

Wow, I didn't think this would get any press at all, but the Pat Roberston assassination fatwa on Chavez is getting a lot of media space.

I would just say this, look at the filter that is being put on Chavez. He is being presented as a dictator. a strong man, a communist, a threat to America, and he is none of these. He is, quite sincerely, a threat to regional US business interests, but that doesn't mean that he's evil. Just that unlike most of the rest of the world's leaders, he actually puts the needs of the majority of his people above his own enrichment.

And look, as you read these articles, that after all the bashing and negative quotes from "authorities" on Latin America, there's always this quote:

Chavez has survived a brief 2002 coup, a devastating two-month strike that ended in early 2003 and recall referendum in 2004. The former army paratroop commander, a close ally of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, is up for re-election next year, and polls suggest he is the favorite.


Transcript the Qualls interview.

My paraphrase got it pretty close, to get reference, see this post from yesterday.

(And again, let me say that I have no issue with Mr. Qualls. He seems like an honest stand up guy who's taken a position. What I'm interested in is how he came to believe that people who are anti war are so that he has taught his kid's to stay away from them and not to "even associate with that type of people".)

Qualls: They had not even asked me permission to use my son‘s name or my family name. And whenever they found out that I was a fallen-hero father, and they realized they didn‘t have my son‘s name up there, they come up there and put the cross in the ground right in front of me. And I realized right then, Why are you doing this? You never even asked permission to use my son‘s name or my name. And yet I see all your groups around here, these types of groups that‘s affiliated with you, I don‘t believe in that type of stuff.I didn‘t raise my sons to be that type of a person or to even associate with that type of people. ......

OLBERMANN: How long do you plan too stay out there, sir?

QUALLS: I‘m not out here all the time, sir. I live just right up the road. I could be here every day if I wanted to, but I have a responsibility to my family, and as a parent and a father and a dad, and I‘ve had to play the mother role as well, I take that responsibility in stride. I stay with my family. I haven‘t forsaken them. I will not abandon them. And I stay home and take care of my responsibilities.

I have not left halfway across the country like Ms. Sheehan has, and she has forsaken her own family. I cannot do that.

OLBERMANN: Well, to be...

QUALLS: My priorities responsibilities as a parent are important.


Qualls: ......And now by listening to this on the radio, there‘s many, many other fallen-hero families, they feel the same way. They do not want their family names and their sons‘ or daughters‘ names associated with what they‘re trying to express out at the Sheehan ranch.

Iran cleared of WMD suspicions.

There was no proof that Iraq was developing WMD(even before the war,) and now we find that there is no evidence the Iranians are developing nuclear bombs.

This is Washington Post, page A01, so it's not like I'm bringing you something secret. I just think that the best way to ward off further disastrous expansionism is to repeat the truth over and over.

Traces of bomb-grade uranium found two years ago in Iran came from contaminated Pakistani equipment and are not evidence of a clandestine nuclear weapons program, a group of U.S. government experts and other international scientists has determined.

"The biggest smoking gun that everyone was waving is now eliminated with these conclusions," said a senior official who discussed the still-confidential findings on the condition of anonymity.

Scientists from the United States, France, Japan, Britain and Russia met in secret during the past nine months to pore over data collected by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, according to U.S. and foreign officials. Recently, the group, whose existence had not been previously reported, definitively matched samples of the highly enriched uranium -- a key ingredient for a nuclear weapon -- with centrifuge equipment turned over by the government of Pakistan.

Iran has long contended that the uranium traces were the result of contaminated equipment bought years ago from Pakistan. But the Bush administration had pointed to the material as evidence that Iran was making bomb-grade ingredients. .......

[This is why they wanted Bolton at the UN. It was important to get someone in there to whom the truth didn't matter.]

U.S. officials, eager to move the Iran issue to the U.N. Security Council -- which has the authority to impose sanctions -- have begun a new round of briefings for allies designed to convince them that Iran's real intention is to use its energy program as a cover for bomb building. The briefings will focus on the White House's belief that a country with as much oil as Iran would not need an energy program on the scale it is planning, according to two officials. ......

John R. Bolton, now U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, served as the administration's point man on nuclear issuesduring President Bush's first term. He suggested during congressional testimony in June 2004 that the Iranians were lying about the contamination.

"Another unmistakable indicator of Iran's intentions is the pattern of repeatedly lying to and providing false and incomplete reports to the IAEA," Bolton said. "For example, Iran first denied it had enriched any uranium. Then it said it had not enriched uranium more than 1.2 percent. Later, when evidence of uranium enriched to 36 percent was found, it attributed this to contamination from imported centrifuge parts." .........

The IAEA had put together the group of experts in an effort to foster cooperation but also to eliminate the possibility that its findings would be challenged by the White House, officials said. In the run-up to the Iraq invasion in March 2003, the White House rejected IAEA findings that cast doubt on U.S. assertions about then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's arsenal. The IAEA findings turned out to be correct, and no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq.

So, cite this story. Repeat this story. It is the truth. Let's not let the Bush admin get away with the lie again.

Monday, August 22, 2005

The effects of the slime machine

Was watching Olberman tonight, and he had an interview with Gary Qualls, the guy who started "Fort Qualls" as a pro-Bush, pro-War counter to the Sheehan protest. To add context for my later comments, let me say, that he didn't come across as a very bright guy, it could have been that he was on television and not used to it. But, let me say, he didn't sound like a lunatic, he seemed like an honest straight up kind of guy.

He's local to Crawford, and started his (counter?) protest when he saw that a cross had been placed with his son's name on it at the Sheehan protest site. He raised a fuss, took it down, one of the anti-war people put another one up, and he took it down again, and somehow ended up starting "Fort Qualls" as a counter protest site. It's America, it's all good, more power to you.

Understand that these quotes are paraphrases until I can get to the online transcript sometime tomorrow.

But in the interview, it was really interesting to hear how he had synthesized the talking points of the republican machine.

First, from your talk radio brethren, he said something, referring to the antiwar folks, along the lines of " I taught my son not to be one of those people..... even not to associate with those kinds of people."

To him, the antiwar people are sub-human. They are the jews in Germany, the communists in 1950's america. A group so loathsome that he would teach his kids to not even associate with them. Amazing, just amazing. And you wondered how the cops in Selma could do what they did.

Second, he commented that he was only at the protest site a couple times a week because he had work, the responsibilities of raising his remaining 16 year old son, who wants to go into the military by the way. And after he said that, he kinda paused, and looked like he felt guilty that he wasn't there all the time, then re-emphasized that he had responsibilities "and couldn't just take off and abandon my family, travel half way across the country and abandon my family like ms Sheehan. I understand that nobody in her family agrees with her, that they're all against her."

Olberman then pointed out that all her children were grown and on their own and that she didn't really have any responsibilities to abandon. Mr. Qualls looked confused, but didn't say anything.

Again, when I get the transcript I'll correct the wording. Forgive me.

But I was so struck by how this man's reality had been altered, through deliberate effort, to make him believe that people on the left are so lowly as to be beyond association, and that their mothers were so inhuman that they would abandon their children just to tear america down.

This is the success of the ideological brownshirts. You know, that guy in the office who greets anything but the mythological republican America with personal derision and insult. In Houston, there are people who listen to right supporting radio eight to ten hours a day, and are discouraged from reading actual sources for news stories in the "liberal media." They are discouraged from reading source material and finding out facts. Any version or reality that does not conform is part of a liberal conspiracy to let homosexuals fornicate and "pollute our precious bodily fluids. "

Heck, even if you just listen to Limbaugh, let's say, who is no longer the far right side of what's out there, what are you doing to your mind?

Would someone voluntarily sign up for three hours of indoctrination a day? Is that validation of being a "powerful" male so necessary that you will willingly allow someone three hours a day to tamper with your mind for their own ends?

Imagine how it would be presented if a propotional number of Iranians, what a million, or two, listened to the Iranian equivalent?

It really is terrifying to me, because if you are able to separate the populus from facts, the leaders then have ultimate power. This is the way cults work. And in Mr. Quall's interview, I heard just a little of that.

America's on it's way to hard fascism, folks. And, as always happens with states that go to power cults, that will bring about our downfall.

I was born at the Crest of the Empire.


UPDATE: Only sort of related, but I think it applies.

A US conservative radio talk-show host said he had been fired after reportedly branding Islam a "terrorist organization" in remarks slated by Muslim groups as "hate radio."

Michael Graham said bosses at WMAL-AM in Washington, owned by the Walt Disney Company, sacked him after he refused to apologize for the remarks, for which he was suspended last month pending investigation.

"I find it absolutely outrageous that pressure from a special-interest group like (the Council on American Islamic Relations) CAIR can result in the abandonment of free speech and open discourse on a talk radio show," Graham said.

"As a conservative talk host whose job is to have an open, honest conversation each day with my listeners, I believe caving to this pressure is a disaster," Graham said in a statement.

Graham, part of a line-up of conservative talk-show hosts at the station, did not repeat his incendiary remarks, referring instead to "Islam and its tragic connections to terrorism."

He reportedly claimed last month that blame for recent acts of terrorism lay not with Islamic radicals alone but also with Muslims generally.

"The problem is not extremism," Graham told listeners. "The problem is Islam." He also said: "We are at war with a terrorist organization named Islam."

No facts, no facts, no facts. Just vitriol.

How much is your soul worth?

I wish I knew how much they paid to get this guy, a national democrat with likely strong ties to California dems, to shill their product. Not gonna go into all the problems Diebold has had with California, but suffice to say that there were plenty.

With a phone call and a retainer, Diebold CEO Walden O'Dell has launched former Democratic National Committee chairman Joe Andrew on a 50-state ambassadorship for electronic voting.

O'Dell said he ``wanted to reframe some of the issues,'' Andrew said.....

Former Secretary of State Kevin Shelley suggested criminal prosecution, citing misleading statements by Diebold Election Systems executives and ``reprehensible'' tactics. The state joined a false-claims suit against the company and won a $2.5 million settlement.....

But Andrew isn't traveling the nation to talk about that or even to talk much about Diebold. So why is a ranking Democratic operative who was convinced Republicans ``stole'' the 2000 election working for Diebold and O'Dell, a battlestate fund-raiser for Bush-Cheney 2004?

Money!!!! He can say all he wants that it's about access and equality, but FORMER DNC Chairman Andrew has sold his soul for a pile of money.

------ And a quick shout to Marcia for the nice catch on this article.

Duck, Hugo!!!!!!

I have sort of a soft spot for Hugo Chavez, mainly because he actually represents the majority of his people, which is quite rare, and has earned him a spot on th US s**t list. So, when I see stuff like this, I feel sorry for the guy.

From the August 22 broadcast of The 700 Club:

ROBERTSON: There was a popular coup that overthrew him [Chavez]. And what did the United States State Department do about it? Virtually nothing. And as a result, within about 48 hours that coup was broken; Chavez was back in power, but we had a chance to move in. He has destroyed the Venezuelan economy, and he's going to make that a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism all over the continent.

You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war. And I don't think any oil shipments will stop. But this man is a terrific danger and the United ... This is in our sphere of influence, so we can't let this happen. We have the Monroe Doctrine, we have other doctrines that we have announced. And without question, this is a dangerous enemy to our south, controlling a huge pool of oil, that could hurt us very badly. We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.

Oh, and don't let the irony of Pat Robertson, man of god, calling for assassination trouble you, it's done all the time in middle eastern fatwas.

And besides, Pat's aim hasn't been so good lately. After all, it's been months since he was praying that Rehnquist would die so he could help put another lunatic on the court, and Rehnquist's doing just fine.

It's almost like God isn't listening to Pat. Almost like he's a powermad charlatan of the middle ages. Hmmmmm........

Quick notes on an Iraqi Constitution.

Just a couple of quick bullet points on the Iraqi Constitution.

1) They missed another deadline today, instead submitting an "incomplete document" a minute before the midnight deadline leaving it to their parliament to thrash out some details. Supposedly three more days til the parliament votes on it, but I find that highly doubtful considering the issues still unresolved.

2) Among the early reporting, "federalism," the relative strength of the central state vs. the regional powers, is being cited as the main stubling block. I may be mistaken, but from what I saw reported on the last public draft, I would think the role of Islam, "that there will be no law which contradicts Islam" as determined by a council of clerics, could in fact be a big sticking point. Beyond, the obvious interpretational problems which would occur between the sects, I would think that the minority groups would absolutely refuse this model, as it would allow a massive influence of the Shia clergy. It looks to be a model much like Iran's governmental structure, and that has not been particularly kind to Iran's religious minorities.

I find this division being sorely underreported relative to the "federalism" argument. Coincidentally, it is the most damaging for the Bush, "bringing freedom to the world" war justification. Not saying there's a link, eventual Iraqi Kurdish independence would be a massive changing force in the region, offering safe haven and support for the PKK in Turkey, and its parallel in N. Iran, but I just find it odd that the implications of this structure, minority repression, enforcement of a sharia, severe retrogression on women's rights, aren't being brought forward in this discussion.

3. Also notice, as you read on this draft document, that there is very little mention of the division of power between the parliamentary and executive posts. It is a parliamentary system, so you're talking Prime Minister type construction, not US style independent executive, but there are both weak and dictatorial prime ministers out there. This also could be tremendously significant for both the near term and long term future of Iraq. If the strong executive route is chosen, near term security will probably be better, but long term stability will probably be more questionable. Look at the history of the puppet strongmen the US has set up elsewhere to get some idea of what I'm talking about.

4. Lastly, although I doubt this will come to pass, if a draft constitution cannot be agreed upon and brought for a national vote, the current parliament is to be dissolved, and a new round of national elections is to be held. This will also take place is 2/3 of the voters in three of the provinces reject the new constitution. There are three pretty good sunni province candidates for this to happen, so keep an eye on what their side is saying.

Now, as to the timetable for these new elections, I don't know what precisely is involved.

Although I find this scenario highly unlikely, as it would, more or less, be an open declaration of civil war, it would be a possible final outcome of failed negotiations.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Lowering the bar

This comes from the Meet the Press transcript. The speaker is a former official in the Coalition Provisional Authority.

MR. GERECHT: Actually, I'm not terribly worried about this. I mean, one hopes that the Iraqis protect women's social rights as much as possible. It certainly seems clear that in protecting the political rights, there's no discussion of women not having the right to vote. I think it's important to remember that in the year 1900, for example, in the United States, it was a democracy then. In 1900, women did not have the right to vote. If Iraqis could develop a democracy that resembled America in the 1900s, I think we'd all be thrilled. I mean, women's social rights are not critical to the evolution of democracy. We hope they're there. I think they will be there. But I think we need to put this into perspective.

MR. GREGORY: All right. We're going to have to leave it there.

Able Danger is a marketing scam.

There you go. That makes more sense. Again, after Weldon published the book linking Iran to all terrorism based on the testimony of Manuchar Ghorbanifar, Iran-Contra accomplice and known source for some of the bad Iraq intel connections, I just had a feeling that this whole Able Danger story was a bunch of Hoohah.

There has been more to come out questioning Weldon's presentation of the Able Danger story, preeminently, the mention that Atta was clearly identified when Weldon says he was.

This is kind of a complicated story that I'm not fully sure I understand, and am again highly dubious of the source, so I haven't done much here about it.

But now we know at least one reason that US Rep Curt Weldon has been pushing it so hard.

So, if you are keeping up with the story, you might want to check it out.

Otherwise, have a nice Sunday.

Ms. Rice?

Not a big fan of Condi Rice, but today's post is not about that, it's about the NYTimes coverage of her. When Colin Powell was Sec State, wasn't he referred to as Secretary Powell? Right? It certainly wasn't Mr. Powell.

Then why are they calling Condi Rice, Ms. Rice? Did they do the same thing with Albright? I thought it was Sec Albright, but I could be wrong. And I'm quite sure it wasn't Mr. Baker when James Baker held the post.

I know its a small thing, but this bothers me and I don't know why. Is it sexism? I just don't know.

Ms. Rice suggested further that the administration ......

Though President Bush and Ms. Rice promised a revamped "public diplomacy" .....

And it goes on like that throughout the article.