Sunday, January 28, 2007

The original Iraq war resolution: invade "anywhere in the region"

And I read this where? Gentleman's Quarterly. Yes, those foreign policy wonks over at GQ had a scoop and I nearly missed it. Here's an excerpt from their Jan 2007 interview with U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (beginning on pg. 2):
[GQ] Do you wish you’d voted differently in October of 2002, when Congress had a chance to authorize or not authorize the invasion?
[CH] Have you read that resolution?
[GQ] I have.
[CH] It’s not quite the way it’s been framed by a lot of people, as a resolution to go to war. That’s not quite what the resolution said.
[GQ] It said, “to authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against Iraq.”
[CH] In the event that all other options failed. So it’s not as simple as “I voted for the war.” That wasn’t the resolution.
[GQ] But there was a decision whether to grant the president that authority or not.
[CH] Exactly right. And if you recall, the White House had announced that they didn’t need that authority from Congress.
[GQ] Which they seem to say about a lot of things.
[CH] That’s right. Mr. [Alberto] Gonzales was the president’s counsel at that time, and he wrote a memo to the president saying, “You have all the powers that you need.” So I called Andy Card, who was then the chief of staff, and said, “Andy, I don’t think you have a shred of ground to stand on, but more to the point, why would a president seriously consider taking a nation to war without Congress being with him?” So a few of us—Joe Biden, Dick Lugar, and I—were invited into discussions with the White House.
[GQ] It’s incredible that you had to ask for that.
[CH] It is incredible. That’s what I said to Andy Card. Said it to Powell, said it to Rice. Might have even said it to the president. And finally, begrudgingly, they sent over a resolution for Congress to approve. Well, it was astounding. It said they could go anywhere in the region.
[GQ] It wasn’t specific to Iraq?
[CH] Oh no. It said the whole region! They could go into Greece or anywhere. I mean, is Central Asia in the region? I suppose! Sure as hell it was clear they meant the whole Middle East. It was anything they wanted. It was literally anything. No boundaries. No restrictions.
[GQ] They expected Congress to let them start a war anywhere they wanted in the Middle East?
[CH] Yes. Yes. Wide open. We had to rewrite it. Joe Biden, Dick Lugar, and I stripped the language that the White House had set up, and put our language in it.
Greece? Well, geez, this would have been nice to, four years ago, for example!
For what it's worth, Hagel goes on to relate his feelings about military prisons, torture and Guantanamo (pg. 5):
Does being a veteran also make you sensitive to the administration’s approach to interrogation and the use of secret military prisons?
It does, because that’s not who America is. We have always, certainly since World War II, had the moral high ground in the world. But these secret prisons and the treatment at Guantánamo destroy all of that. We ought to shut down Guantánamo. There shouldn’t be any secret prisons. Why do we need those? What are we afraid of? Here we are, the greatest nation the world has ever seen. Why can’t we let the Red Cross into our prisons? Why do we deny they exist? Why do we keep them locked up? What are we afraid of? Why aren’t we dealing with Iran and Syria?
It's quite fascinating to watch Hagel 'come out' like this. I highly recommend the entire GQ interview. Should you want to see Hagel "Bring it," check out his performance in the Sen. Foreign Relations Cmte., last week (transcript).
H/T to the Sam Seder Show for pointing the way to GQ (and here I thought it was another mag about 'fab abs,' cigars and Axe body spray. For shame!).

Read on, MacDuff!

Hope by the thousands: all that is *right* with 'Merica

Saturday's massive protests on Washington, as captured by D.C. traffic cameras:

3:05 PM, corner of 3rd St & Constitution Ave NW:
Thanks to Toedancer for directing me to the traffic-camera site!

Read on, MacDuff!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Libby trial exhibit: CIA didn't debunk Niger forgeries when it had the chance

Emptywheel has picked up on something huge, from yesterday's evidence: a memo from the State dept. regarding the Niger forgeries (the bogus charges re: Saddam procuring uranium from Africa). As emptywheel points out, the CIA has led us to believe that they received copies of the forgeries from the State Dept. This is not true (cribbed from pg.2, last para):

So the CIA received their own copies of the Niger documents. And didn't debunk them before the war. At least not publicly. Here's another important para from the INR/State Dept memo (pg 3, 1st para; note: WINPAC is a central intelligence centre for "Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation, and Arms Control"):

So, we still don't know why the CIA decided to swallow all of the blame for the more general WMD claims. Tenet was bullied. Tenet wanted to hang with the cool kids in the new Rethuglican WH. Good ol'boy. Promises? Sure...Tenet's doin'a-ok for his'self these days...

Read on, MacDuff!

Scooter sees his shadow; trial to last at least 6 more weeks

AP photo: Scooter pokes his head out of Range Rover; Sees his shadow (Atty. Wells, below), indicating at least 6 more weeks of perjury trial.

Tuesday marked the first full day of the Libby trial-proper. I am surprised that Team Libby is running with "The White House set him up to cover for Karl Rove" defense. I guess they really are going there.

Fitz is taking no crap from nobody, nohow. He expressed his displeasure to the "if we only told you half the scary-classified-shit Libby had on his plate, you'd wonder how he managed to remember his own name" defense. Atty. Wells played dumb about that and was given a warning.

Fitz's opening remarks were incredibly detailed--reporter/Libby interactions were put into the context of the "oop, who told you there were WMD?" timeline of spring 2003. This is about the war, there's no two ways about it. Indicted on perjury/obstruction; convicted in the court of global opinion.

Only one witness examined/Xexamined on Tuesday: Fmr. Undersec. State Marc Grossman (UnderSecretary of State for Political Affairs). He was one of the guys at State tasked by VP Cheney's office to investigate Wilson's trip to Niger. Grossman was visited by Richard Armitage the night before his testimony (to the FBI? Grand Jury?). Grossman was visited by two other apparitions: the ghost of State Dept. past (Albright) and the ghost of State Dept. Future (Rice).

Ok, ok, I have a bad sense of humour. The reason Grossman's important is that Libby wants to push the idea that State told him Wilson's wife was responsible for "boondoggle" trip to Niger (i.e. nepotism). Fitz cast suspicion on Grossman, after it was revealed that Grossman & Armitage couldn't stop debriefing each other, after one or the other testified. Blabbermouths. That's quite a tight ship they run over there, eh?

Thanks so much to everyone at for providing the liveblogging. And David Corn, too! I don't know how I'd sustain myself, otherwise!

N.B. special thanks to Christy at FDL for providing the following essential information:
Because I've gotten lots of questions on this, I'm going to do the Fitz versus Wells ensemble eval.: Fitz was in a charcoal gray suit with a cerulean blue tie with a darker blue pattern woven into it.
*flutter* Oh, I do declare!

Read on, MacDuff!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Why I am Pro-Choice, by Godammitkitty

Today is Blog for Choice day--a day to think about why I am a proponent of a woman's right to choose.
All of my reasons for being pro-choice boil down to one over-arching conviction: I am pro-choice because I trust women.
Try something out for me: forget legal stuff for a moment. Forget stats and 'weeks gestation' and anachronistic notions of 'quickening.' I'm certainly not an OBGyn and I've never been pregnant. It doesn't matter what I think about 'when life begins' or 'maybe that woman would be 'better off' if she stopped having babies.'
Frankly, it doesn't matter what I think if I don't live in that woman's skin.
And it doesn't matter what you think, either.

Women know what to do.
For them.
For their families.
For their survival in this nutbar universe.
Women know.

I was going to spend this special post on a thorough debunking of myths. I might do that some other time, but I know many amazing bloggers are already "on it" as it were. I've listed a few good reads at the end of this post, but otherwise, I would like to keep it nice and simple today.

I was surfing along yesterday afternoon, when I stumbled upon a special blog written by two American abortion providers. Wow. After reading story after story about the women who came to their clinic, the story that made the strongest impression on me was--oddly enough--the least complicated.

It wasn't the 15 yr old.
It wasn't the recently-detoxed woman.
It wasn't the wife of a soldier in Iraq.
It wasn't the victim of sexual violence.

No, it wasn't a 'tragedy' or an 'after-school special' at all:
a 41 year old woman with 5 kids said that she was done, no matter what, that she was tired, could not start over. she stated that when she was younger, she would never imagined herself feeling that way because she was strongly prolife. but, she said, when you are older, you come to realize that you do have limits, that you can't punish the kids you already have. when there is not enough time, energy, money to go around, all of them suffer.
while we allow room for the sadness some women and men feel with abortion, we also feel the sense of togetherness that many women develop while they are here. the media leads women who choose abortion to feel that they are a tiny minority, that they should feel terrible about their choice. but knowing that many many others also conclude that abortion is best for their families, for their futures, women can walk out of here with their heads held high. they are ready to deal with whatever emotional or spiritual issues that come up, but can move on with their lives knowing that their abortion was safe, that they did the right thing regardless of what anti abortion protesters might say or think. we value women; we trust them make the wisest decision for their own lives.
In other words: Women know.

{Pssst...Kitty also recommends:
  1. Pro-choice Action Network
  2. "Let no fetus defeat us" by Joyce Arthur
  3. "Is Abortion Bad?" by Katha Pollitt
  4. Video: "The Last Abortion Clinic" by PBS Frontline}

technorati tags: Blog for Choice

Read on, MacDuff!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Leahy brings it!

Baby, you're the greatest!

Sen. Patrick Leahy promised that he would demand answers for Maher Arar.

And today, he did exactly that.

Leahy's anger at Alberto Gonzales and the administration was in full view today, as he reprised the role of Sen. Judiciary Chairman and demanded to know why Arar was sent to Syria to be tortured.

Crooks & Liars has the video.

His anger is genuine and wholly appropriate. Say goodbye to mealymouth Republican Arlen Spector. Leahy's gonna take y'all to school.

PS: I guess this means I have a new boyfriend. Hope Fitz won't mind.
PPS: Just realized that this post was mis-dated; I posted at 12:04 AM, not PM. My fault.

Read on, MacDuff!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Where to get your Fitz Fix :)

Oh boy, it's Fitzmas time! If you've been sitting on your hands waiting for the Scooter Libby trial, you're not alone: this is huge! And while the actual trial isn't due to begin until next week, I think we can agree that we want to be poised & ready to dine on all of those juicy newsy morsels. Here's where I plan to get my Fitzmas fix:
  1. Firedog lake: yes! A blogger 'crashed the gate' and secured a press-pass for the trial. Pachacutec has already served up some tasty treats from this week's juror-selection proceedings. If you're too busy (or uninterested) for his liveblogging, read his daily summaries (X posted here). He's doing Jane & the gang proud :)
  2. Murray Waas: now this guy's been all over the CIA leak story from the get-go. He truly fed us when we were starving! Murray's blog can be found here (or here), but you really have to check out his National Journal stories for indepth goods.
  3. David Corn: the veteran of The Nation magazine has been covering the case from the beginning. (he also posts regularly on his blog).
  4. David Shuster: the MSNBC justice correspondent has provided liveblogging from the jury selection proceedings and promises to be a useful source in the weeks ahead. Too bad he works for Tweetybird. (BTW "Hardblogger" is a most unfortunate moniker).
  5. Carol Leonnig: Leonnig is the Washington Post reporter on the scene. She's not great for deep insight but that's ok.*
  6. Dan Froomkin: my FAVOURITE person at Although his beat isn't Justice per se, he provides some of the best links & commentary going. Daily read, for sure!
Well, that's my compilation for now. Please feel free to add suggestions! Merry Fitzmas :)

*by 'insight' of course I mean: all-things-Patrick-Fitzgerald. What did he say? How did he sound when he said it? Could you see it in his eyes? Will he save the planet for us? Isn't he dreamy? Why oh why won't he return my calls?!

Read on, MacDuff!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

An odious man for odious jobs: whither James A. Baker III?

There is a 'kindly ol' gentleman' quality to James A. Baker III. In fact, given his history, you really can get the impression that he's simply doing the jobs that others just can't stomach themselves. It's just business, really. Nothing personal.

The former Sec. State has been inordinately busy, these last few years. While he's gained the most attention for his work with the Lead Balloon Group (er...Iraq Study Group), the gentle fellow has also served as head of the panel tasked with investigating the March 23, 2005 explosion at a Texas City oil refinery--an explosion that killed 15 and injured >100 people. Of course, given his track record, you wouldn't expect any panel headed by Baker to actually come to any conclusions or anything (most ungentlemanly!):
Baker noted the panel did not set out to investigate the causes of the March 23, 2005, explosion at its Texas City refinery, nor did it seek to lay blame.
Instead, it set out to provide [British Petroleum] with specific and extensive recommendations to improve the company's corporate safety oversight and culture. [...] [BP PLC Chief Executive John Browne] also denied charges the company has placed profits above safety and said the company had never forgone spending on safety resources when necessary. However, some BP workers told panel members that safety wasn't a spending priority and recommendations for repairs were often met with resistance.
[...] Baker and [Sen. Slade Gorton] both said the panel found no evidence that BP ever withheld resources for safety practices. "Clearly, there were times when BP didn't recognize the urgent need for process safety improvements," Gorton said. "But we didn't find any deliberate and conscious efforts on their part to short-circuit safety."

Why does this sound so familiar? We've grown weary of reports of corporate neglect for worker safety? Oil companies are evil? Maybe...but there's just something about Baker and his involvement that smells familiar. You know it, too. Like that moment before you go rifling through your refrigerator, in search of the thing that's gone bad. You play guessing games: is it the tomatoes? the milk? Oh god, it's the cauliflower! Only cauliflower can make that stink!
No need to politely ignore my tinfoil hat. I wear it with pride and scream from the rooftops: "James A. Baker III has left a trail of putrefying cauliflower!"

Ok. Think back to 2004. Do you remember when Shrub sent Baker as his Presidential Envoy to the Gulf States? Baker was tasked with approaching Iraq's erstwhile creditors for debt forgiveness. Particularly Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Conflict of interest? Oh nothing really...just a $180 M stake in the Carlyle Group--a huge merchant bank & defence contractor. Although the Group later denied its participation, Carlyle was involved in a Consortium to retrieve most of Iraq's debt to Kuwait and other Gulf states. Naomi Klein caught this 'conflict' back in October 2004:
According to the documents, Carlyle is seeking to secure as part of the deal an extraordinary $1bn investment from the Kuwaiti government.
The main proposal would transfer ownership of $57bn in unpaid Iraqi debts. The debts would be assigned to a foundation created and controlled by a consortium in which the key players are the Carlyle Group, the Albright Group (headed by another former secretary of state, Madeleine Albright) and several other well-connected firms. Under the deal, Kuwait would also give the consortium $2bn to invest in a private equity fund devised by the consortium, with half of that going to Carlyle.

Smelled pretty bad, eh? So what happened next? Well, the day after Klein's article was published online, The Carlyle Group issued a letter denying its involvement in any such Consortium. Naomi Klein received "congratulatory" calls suggesting her "success" at squashing Carlyle's chances at a whopping $1 Billion fee from the government of Kuwait. Klein would have been proud, were it not for the side-effect of completely obliterating the Baker-Carlyle-Kuwait conflict from the collective memory of the American media. And what of Iraq's debts?
And why should the people of Iraq have to repay Saddam-era loans? Weren't these 'odious' debts? House Democrat Carolyn Maloney (14th NY) thought so:
Repudiating Iraq’s debts under the concept of odious debts was raised by some Members of Congress in 2003 in H.R. 2482, The Iraq Freedom From Debt Act, introduced by Representative Carolyn Maloney. The bill, which was not enacted, called on the IMF and the World Bank to cancel Iraq’s odious debt and called on Congress and the President to urge fellow Iraqi creditors to cancel their owed debt as well.
Well hmmm... if I'm BushCo., I'm gonna start looking for useful stooges to help me out. Hey! Look! There's a bona fide Iraqi who agrees with us! Let's listen to him:
Iraqi officials have steadfastly claimed that they would not seek repudiation under the odious debt concept. In an interview with Euromoney in September 2004, Iraq’s Minister of Finance, Adil Abdul Mahdi said:
"Iraq’s need for very substantial debt relief derives from the economic realities facing a post-conflict country that has endured decades of financial corruption and mismanagement under the Saddam regime. Principles of public international law such as the odious debt doctrine, whatever their legal vitality, are not the reason why Iraq is seeking this relief."
Ok, very good start, Mr. Iraqi Finance Minister. Now, what about Mr. World Bank? Awww crap, we're gonna need another stooge over there, too, aren't we?! Quick! Appoint Paul Wolfowitz to the World Bank!
But we're still none the wiser about Iraq's debts. I had the worst time finding recent updates on this issue, but here's a little tidbit from the Kuwaiti news. Condoleezza Rice is approaching Gulf states about forgiving Iraq's debt. This is part of her current Middle-East "charm offensive":
"The debt relief. We have negotiated for the Iraqis 80 percent debt relief from most of the Paris Club debtors and 100 percent from ourselves and several others. We are trying to get the Gulf States to do the same," she said.
Ah yes. Wasn't that Baker's Job?! Well, lest you worry that Baker didn't finish his work, let me hasten to remind you of his other job: head of the Iraq Study Group. You see, it is here where the smell of cauliflower is most pungent. I sincerely believe that Baker was never really tasked with securing debt forgiveness for Iraq, for Iraq's sake. No. Baker was tasked with prepping Iraq for a Big Ol' American Oil takeover. Here's Antonia Juhasz, speaking on Democracy Now, December 7, 2006:
It’s a completely radical proposal made straightforward in the Iraq Study Group report that the Iraqi national oil industry should be reorganized as a commercial enterprise. The proposal also says that, as you say, Iraq’s oil should be opened up to private foreign energy and companies. Also, another radical proposal: that all of Iraq’s oil revenues should be centralized in the central government. And the report calls for a US advisor to ensure that a new national oil law is passed in Iraq to make all of this possible and that the constitution of Iraq is amended to ensure that the central government gains control of Iraq’s oil revenues.
[...] Baker has his own private interest. His family is heavily invested in the oil industry, and also Baker Botts, his law firm, is one of the key law firms representing oil companies across the United States and their activities in the Middle East.
[...] The Iraq Study Group report, page 1, chapter one, says that the reason why Iraq is a critical country in the Middle East, in the world and for the United States, is because it has the second-largest reserves of oil in the world.
And really, if you're going to promise yourself a country's-worth of oil, you really oughta make it nice & legal. Spiegel Online, Dec 25, 2006 (h/t Galloping Beaver):
The Iraqi government is working on a new hydrocarbons law that will set the course for the country's oil sector and determine where its vast revenues will flow. [...] the draft law lays the ground work for private oil companies to take large stakes in Iraq's oil. The new law would allow the controversial partnerships known as 'production sharing agreements' (PSA). Oil companies favor PSAs, because they limit the risk of cost overruns while giving greater potential for profit. [...] some fear Iraq is setting its course too hastily and in too much secrecy. Greg Muttitt of social and environmental NGO Platform London told SPIEGEL ONLINE: "I was recently at a meeting of Iraqi MPs (members of parliament) and asked them how many of them had seen the law. Out of twenty, only one MP had seen it."
Last week, the Iraqi Labor Union Leadership suggested the same. "The Iraqi people refuse to allow the future of their oil to be decided behind closed doors," their statement reads. "(T)he occupier seeks and wishes to secure themselves energy resources at a time when the Iraqi people are seeking to determine their own future while still under conditions of occupation."
Many worry instability would only get worse if the public feels cheated by the government and multinationals -- the Iraqi constitution says the oil belongs to the Iraqi people. The Labor Union Leadership warned: "We strongly reject the privatization of our oil wealth, as well as production sharing agreements, and there is no room for discussing the matter. This is the demand of the Iraqi street, and the privatization of oil is a red line that may not be crossed."
The Spiegel article reiterates Antonia Juhasz's observations about Baker's Iraq Study Group:
The recent Iraq Study Group report recommended the US help Iraq "prepare a draft oil law" to hasten investment. The report estimates Iraq could raise oil production from 2 million to 3 or 3.5 million barrels per day over the next three to five years.
Critics say the US is leaning on the IMF and World Bank to push Iraq into signing oil contracts fast, so western firms can secure the oil before Chinese, Indian and Russian firms do. An IMF official told SPIEGEL ONLINE that "passage of a hydrocarbon law is not a condition for financial support from the IMF." Nevertheless, Iraqi authorities found it necessary to promise the IMF a draft petroleum law by the end of this year -- this in the same letter that says "we will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that the program remains on track."
And then we come full-circle. The Iraqi Debt problem (Baker's "Special Envoy" role circa 2004):
The IMF sets the conditions for Iraq's debt relief from the so-called Paris Club countries. Eighty percent of that debt has been wiped clean, and the final 20 percent depends on certain economic reforms. With the final reduction, Iraq's debt would come to 33 percent of its GDP -- but if the reforms are not made, debt would climb to 57 percent of GDP, according to an IMF report.
Odious debt? Nahhh...just an odious job. But someone's gotta do it.

Footnote: for more details on Iraq's new petroleum law and corporate interference, see also Antonia Juhasz's latest piece, "Spoils of War" (In These Times Magazine) & The Galloping Beaver's series "Iraq: it was always about the Oil" Pts. 1, 2, & 3.

Read on, MacDuff!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Code Pink rep. flashes peace-sign at hearing

Update [Jan 12, 10:42PM]: I wanted to get a proper shot of the Code Pink activist, from Thursday's Sen. Foreign Relations Cmte. hearing (I missed most of her in my haste to get a live screenshot). I revisited the C-span page and captured the "act" for posterity. I know this seems a bit OCD but I really wanted to have a record of this:

Original post:

This is awesome! A representative of Code Pink flashed the peace-sign behind Condi's lyin-head today at the Senate Foreign Relations Cmte. hearing on Iraq. It happened ~10:21am, Jan11 and aired on c-span3. I couldn't get a good screenshot in time, but if you look at the top-right-hand corner, you can see her leaving the frame (Pink coat!):

Read on, MacDuff!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Update: Code-pink at Condi Rice's hearing

An update on this post: around 11:45 this morning, you can see a police-officer bending over to speak with a group of Code-Pink reps in the public gallery (Sen. Foreign Relations Cmte. hearing on Iraq). I hope they're allowed to stay (and I certainly hope they're not arrested!). Here's a screenshot from c-span3:

Read on, MacDuff!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Said the man on the Titanic: You usin' that deck chair?

You could be forgiven for being confused by Bush's latest series of appointments. It's been a dizzying few weeks at the Executive business card shoppe:

'Wait...I thought he resigned?'
'You mean there's still no Deputy at State? I thought National Intel was looking for a Deputy. What do you mean they both are?!
! Stop the presses! We're gonna have to do another batch in
Premium Matte!'

Yup, it's been pretty krazee. There's been so many holes in the Dept. State, you'd think they didn't even care about diplomacy anymore. That, or Condi Rice truly is the superhero Bush fancies her to be and we've all gone & misunderestimated her agin. As for the super-spy-centre ('scuse me, "center"), there are now two holes to fill at DNI. Just so's we're clear:
  • Negroponte takes the Deputy Sec. State position and passes the baton of DNI to Vice Adm. Mike McConnell. McConnell's a story all unto himself, that lad. Larisa tells us that Cheney wanted Negroponte out of DNI because he wasn't thirsty enough for Iran. McConnell's a crony of Cheney/Rumsfeld and he'll make the perfect toady in his new digs. Bonus marks:
McConnell’s background is in surveillance programs, dating to when he served during the Gulf War as Director of the National Military Joint Intelligence Center, followed by a term as Director of the National Security Agency. After leaving government service in 1996, McConnell became a vice president at Booz Allen Hamilton, a major defense contractor.
[...] McConnell’s unique banking intelligence experience aligns with a major facet of President Bush’s international banking surveillance efforts.
In June 2006, The New York Times [Lichthblau and Risen] revealed that the CIA had been given authority by the Bush administration to mine the banking records of suspected "Al Qaeda' members using the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT).
[...] "The records mostly involve wire transfers and other methods of moving money overseas and into and out of the United States." The CIA and Treasury Departments both said they had instituted safeguards for protecting privacy by hiring an "outside auditor" to provide a check against civil rights violations. The company auditing the SWIFT program is Booz Allen Hamilton. In September 2006, Privacy International and the American Civil Liberties Union issued a joint statement describing why Booz Allen Hamilton was not a genuine "check" on the SWIFT program.
  • Ok, so that takes care of #1 at DNI (literally: lookin out for #1). What about #2? The Deputy DNI spot's been growing cobwebs ever since Gen. Michael "gee, your wiretapped conversations are rivetting" Hayden left in May 2006. Ideal candidates should have pleasant phone demeanour, experience in MS Snitch (Vista, only; no XP), and proficiency with tea kettles.
  • This brings me to the United Nations Ambassadorship. Bush has had at least an inkling of John Bolton's doomed prospects as Amb. to the U.N. since Summer 2005. And yet he is only now floating Zalmay Khalilzad (Amb. to Iraq) as Bolton's replacement?! Please. Didn't anyone ever teach Dubya how to remove bandaids?
On Dec 12, US Ambassador Ryan C Crocker was quoted as telling senior journalists in Islamabad that “his country wanted a sustainable and instutionalized democracy in Pakistan, but clarified he was not talking about the kind of a democracy [that] Pakistan had in the last decade.” The US envoy had also reportedly said that “the return to such governance would not be fulfilling that requirement”.
According to Mr Crocker, civilian governments had been unsuccessful in achieving the objective of stable governance. At the same time, he lavished praise on Gen Pervez Musharraf’s steps to establish democracy in the country, saying: “Gen Musharraf had outlined the vision of a sustainable, stable and true democracy in Pakistan” and that he believed in him.
Nice, huh? Amb. Crocker is just the man for Iraq! Bring'm on! (*cough* well...maybe not).

As for the rest of the Dubya Express...well, keep your eyes peeled for more sneaky-resignations (like this guy) or advertisements for open-posts. Remember: you don't have to be a war profiteer, a death-squad-denier, or good with spyin' on the neighbours. But it sure would help us out a spell, y'hear?

Read on, MacDuff!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Recruiting the dead? A US Army Christmas card.

This AP report says it all: "Letters sent to dead in error"
The U.S. army said yesterday it would apologize to the families of about 275 officers killed or wounded in action who were mistakenly sent letters urging them to return to active duty.
The letters were sent a few days after Christmas to more than 5,100 army officers who had recently left the service. Included were letters to about 75 officers killed in action and about 200 wounded in action.
Incompetence + insensitivity + desperation. Yes, the Army has it all.
Tis grotesque, indeed. So much so that I will resist the urge to riff about the Army dropping its standards.
Ok, I almost resisted the urge.
{h/t to my seestr...for the article; not the gruesome joke}

Read on, MacDuff!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Don't do anything *I* wouldn't do ;)

You're oh so righteous. You think you're pitch-perfect. Right-whingers can't really nail you and the Lefties...well, they're cheap dates. They'll settle for your gourmet scraps. After all, they wouldn't want the really nasty candidates to slip in up the middle. It's easy, actually: I have [strongly worded conviction X], but I would never tolerate [Y]. Ta-da!! You're nuanced! How could they not luuurve you?
Some pull this 'nuance' off without a hitch, before the rest of us even realize we've been...err...nuanced out of something. Clinton I (Bill) was a star. Clinton II is still in rehearsal, warming up her pipes for the big '08 aria. Obama has everyone weak-in-the-knees, but (at least to date) there's more gag-inducing talk of 'coming together in a bipartisan way' than principled demands for serious progress.
While we wait for democracy to break out in the USA...there's the small matter of it breaking out up here, in da norde. Yes, 2007 is promising to be one perma-campaign, with the 'election' of new Lib leader Dion and the House-of-cards (err...Commons) just a-teetering and screaming for no-confidence motions to be introduced.
But there's a new kid on the block. A serious kid, in the form of the Green party. Elizabeth May came pretty dern close to taking a seat in the HoC, via London North Centre. I gotta admit: at first I was really chuffed to see the erstwhile head of Sierra come so close. I didn't know much about her, but what's not to like? Look how earnest! How everywoman! And green! Pourquoi pas?
And then there was this. Boy howdy, there was this. And then my face went all hot, as it does when I read stuff like this. "Ah hell. Why'd she have to go and do that?!" "Frivolous"?! Talking women out of abortions?! Nothin' nuanced about it. Nope. Can't support her. It would feel like a betrayal of everything I am.
I concede that it is possible--defensible--for a politician to be personally against having an abortion yourself. For yourself, mind. Kept to yourself. The minute you open your mouth and the words whistle past your teeth and lips, advising other women against abortion, and adding qualifier after qualifier, you have crossed a dark. red. line. That's it. I have nothing to add on this subject that hasn't already been articulated by others (e.g. Berlynn, Debra, Kuri, and many others).
Just another humourless feminazi? (I'm also available for children's parties, btw). rejection of harmful mealy-mouthing is not restricted to political candidates. Public figures of all stripes have been guilty of it.
Say, have you met the new UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon? It's the funniest story: turns out he has a really respectful, polite and---dare I say it?---"nuanced" view of the death penalty:
Responding to a question about the execution, Ban said the former Iraqi leader "was responsible for committing heinous crimes and unspeakable atrocities against the Iraqi people. We should never forget the victims of his crimes."
Yeah. We should push for more tax-credits for the illegally occupied. I can only imagine what tragedies must induce a country to sentence a man to life-in-prison. You wouldn't want to encourage frivolous appeals.

Oh it gets worse, people:
But, he added, "The issue of capital punishment is for each and every member state to decide."
'Why, I've personally talked many countries out of turning over their war-criminals to the ICC.'

Right. Far be it for an International body to impose its principles on the 'sovereign' nation of Iraq. Well, excu-u-u-use Me! What would WE know about human rights? We'll just be over here, cleaning out John Bolton's office.

Say Goodnight, Gracie. Oh, and uh...don't do anything I wouldn't do, y'know?

{h/t to Debra for the Ban Ki-Moon story.}

Read on, MacDuff!