Within the context of Iraqi politics, this is pretty big, although not likely as significant as the Kurdish elections held today. Early reports are that Barzani and Talabani held on, meaning the much predicted oil and territory conflict with the Shia national government looms.
Later: There's a lot of coverage that "reformers" had a significant showing in Kurdistan, but I have trouble seeing how 15 seats in a 111 seat legislature, leaving the ruling coalition with a clear majority represents any serious "change."
They were going to use the military to seize the Lackawanna Six? Later investigating by multiple sources showed these guys were nothing (NYTimes, NPR, Frontline,) but Cheney, et al, wanted to conduct an Army raid?
(I mean, if NPR can investigate and find these guys were nothing, what does it say that Cheney was freaking out?)
This would seem to suggest one of two non-exclusive things. Either 1) they seriously had no idea about the actual terror threat in 2002 or 2) Cheney's efforts to "expand executive power" extended far beyond anything we imagined.
(Sarah Palin and her daughter Piper dish out hot-dogs during the governor's picnic in Wasilla, Alaska Friday, July 24, 2009. This is one of three governor's picnics Palin is attending before she resigns as governor in Fairbanks on Sunday, July 26, 2009. (AP Photo/Al Grillo))
Bottom line: People in Muslim countries are seeking out his speeches and addresses. Working on the assumption that these speeches are sought in the positive outreach mode they're intended, that's a major soft power influence (that people there are seeking out!)
I thought your article about the end of term clash between Dick Cheney and George Bush over the possible pardon of Scooter Libby was quite interesting, but I have one disputing point.
The leaking of Valerie Plame's name was not an act "to defend the nation's security during the war on terrorism." It was an act of politics taken to silence a domestic critic that very likely significantly damaged US efforts to track the underground global nuclear weapons markets specifically around Iran.
Plus, Libby wasn't convicted of acts in office. He was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice. Hardly "defending the nation's security."
I mean, come on.... I think you spent too long with your sources.
My Governor again makes my state a world laughing stock
In his effort to placate his far right supporters and win what looks to be a tight primary race, my Governor, Rick Perry, has put the Christian crazies in position to screw with the state school curriculum.
If you'll remember, just a couple months ago, Perry appointed folks went after evolution, making national news.
(AP) The Israeli tests of the Arrow-2 anti-missile system designed more or less specifically for use against Iran's missiles have been aborted three times after technical problems. (And Israeli officials are telling the press this why?)
(Reuters) A US man, Bryant Van Neal, has been charged by the Feds for training in Afghanistan and "giving al Qaeda details about the New York City transit system and the Long Island Railroad, as well as firing rockets at American troops in Afghanistan." ("There was never an imminent threat to the system.")
(Reuters) "One of Osama bin Laden's sons was probably killed by a U.S. missile strike in Pakistan earlier this year, U.S. National Public Radio reported, citing U.S. intelligence sources." (The guy wasn't anything. More or less wrong place wrong time.)
And, if you want to see how much Khamenei has been damaged in the Iran turmoil, (AP) Ahmadinejad defies Khamenei over a controversial VP pick. (The irony being that Khamenei got so damaged cheating Ahmadinejad into office, and now Ahmadinejad is using that weakness for his own ends.)
So, the ISI (which is frequently accused of working with the Taleban, Al Qaeda, and other terrorist groups) comes to the NYTimes (the "most respected" US news outlet) with a well crafted 2 hour briefing/slideshow asking the US to let up?
Doesn't that seem as weird to you as it does to me?
At this point, it's a little unclear what that means whether it's arms sales or a South Korea/Japan style extension of US commitment, but it is an interesting threat to alter the Iranian defense equation.
I understand the theory that a mandate for everyone to buy health insurance should (could) lower costs, but that seems to rely on the belief that insurance companies will be "good actors," and, judging from their history, I'm not so sure about that.
Over the weekend, the three main opponents of Khamenei (Rafsanjani, Khatami, and Moussavi) all made significant speeches or statements against the current government.
Khamenei responded harder than usual,"The elite should be watchful, since they have been faced with a big test. Failing the test will cause their collapse..."
I don't have a good look into the political backrooms where this struggle is currently playing out, but my sense is that the "reformers" might well be winning. (...although I'm not sure by what mechanism they would actually wrest control.)
The NYTimes has a piece today highlighting the jack boot of the Revolutionary Guard, but if you'll notice, Khamenei and Ahmadinejad have gone to great lengths to keep the regular army out of this. There are some signs that they might be split, and possibly in support of the "reformers."
This thing is still very alive even though most of the media has moved on. At this point, Khamenei has been seriously delegitimized and Ahmadinejad has been turned into a lap dog/joke. The question is the next step. Where does the momentum go?
As a broad brush, mining/mineral/oil companies are some of the most "evil" in the world, orchestrating violence/local militias/coups, abusing local populations and workforces, and polluting on a level rarely seen in other industries.
After all those years of fueling their base with hate and misinformation, probably peaking in the 2008 election, their people have finally gone insane. (This is from a townhall in Delaware. The speaker is Republican Mike Castle.)
I mean, seriously. Do you expect moderates to come to this party? Do you expect sane people to want to associate with this?
And yet, Republicans are now tied to it, and individual candidates really can't succeed without, at least, humoring these people.
A couple months ago, I did what I thought was an interesting macro post looking at four decisions of electoral expediency the Republicans have made over the past 40 years which have won the moment, but cost them dearly down the line. (Nixon - Southern Strategy. Reagan - empowering the Christian right, Gingrich - anti-60's reactionism, and 2000's anti-immigration.)
It's still too early to say if this brand of fervent irrationalism will have the same permanent/long term alienation of some of those past decisions, but in the short term, I think you gotta say that the Palin-McCain campaign's feeding of the crazies has cost the Republicans many, many moderates.
(Maybe the Republicans should take a page from the Dems on how to deal with their fringes. The Dems haven't listened to whole sections of their base for decades....)
One more thought: The "birthers" and the "he's a terrorist/socialist/gonna take away our guns" people aren't really all that fringe inb the GOP. Admittedly, I live in a red state, but I run across seemingly rational/normal people making these complaints regularly.
(Iranian protesters shout slogans during Friday prayers at a university in Tehran July 17, 2009. In apparent defiance of Iran's supreme leader, a powerful cleric declared his country in crisis after a disputed poll, and tens of thousands of protesters used Friday prayers to stage the biggest show of dissent for weeks. (REUTERS/via Your View))
We're at a a very weird phase in the torture story. With AG Holder having lots of lieutenants "leak" that he's thinking of naming a special prosecutor for torture and detainee issues, the game for those involved has substantially changed. So stories like this one in the WaPo take on new meaning. Those very involved, now have an incentive to "leak" their exculpatory versions of what happened.
So, as you read the inevitable torture stories over the next month, keep in mind that there's a much bigger game being played: Who does this version protect and who does it put in the jackpot? How much specific detail is revealed to try and accomplish those goals.
Smell the spin? According to this version, the contract psychologists who developed all the horrors aren't really so bad. By this recounting, if you want to find the real bastards, look to folks at Langley.
This Senate Intelligence Committee investigation wouldn't normally be that big of a deal, but as it could likely be foundational to any future DOJ investigation, there is a huge incentive for those at the sharp end to try and shape the politics and perception of it. (Unlike a prosecutor's investigation, Congressional investigations are extremely political, investigating towards the participants' interests, not the thorough neutrality of a criminal investigation.)
So, the politics of this are extremely important. Those at the focus will be spinning incredibly hard and trying to get out front to shape the Senators' perceptions and interests. This story probably signals the breaking of the stone wall, and we may now see alot of ugly details as everyone tries to turn the focus on everyone else.
(The crazy thing is that once Holder actually launches an investigation, everybody will probably shut up again. ("...will not comment on an ongoing investigation..."))
And, This post is to add context, not to minimize this story. There's a lot of detail throughout. Worth a full read.
This is not the America I was brought up to believe in.
This blog seeks to highlight abuse of power, deception, corruption, and just plain bad ideas in government and corporations.
Updated several times a day.