Filtered news 5/2

Banana Republicanism Quote of the day,

When I see the worsening degeneracy in our politicians, our media, our educators, and our intelligentsia, I can't help wondering if the day may yet come when the only thing that can save this country is a military coup.

Now that's a comforting, conservative thought, isn't it? I wonder what Buckley thinks of NRO publishing stuff like this? (And in case you're wondering, there's no further context. That's the whole quote. It's one bullet point in a long series of dyspeptic observations about how liberals have ruined the country.) This should keep us awake tonight.

AP reports: “President Bush vetoed legislation to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq Tuesday night in a historic showdown with Congress over whether the unpopular and costly war should end or escalate.” It was the second veto of his presidency. Two generals who commanded U.S. troops in Iraq .

: when doesn't a U.S. attorney's performance matter? When he's a senior official at the Justice Department, of course.

"It's the will of one nation versus the stubbornness of one man."

For all the endless debate about strategy and tactics, past and present about Iraq, it is astonishing how little the public debate in this country entertains the idea that the occupation itself is the cause of the unrest and violence in the country. This isn't an original and unheard of concept. I know that. Indeed, it's common sense. But in our public debate it is what we might call the logic that dare not speak its name. The point occurred to me when looking at the going on at PostGlobal.

Of course, the bitter irony is that it doesn't have to be one or the other. As I , the really awful thing about the situation we've gotten ourselves into is that we're both the glue holding Iraq together and the solvent tearing it apart. And neither is this to say that there aren't all sorts of hatreds and social pathologies helping Iraq rip itself apart on its own. Iraq's Sunni minority had its heel on the neck of the Shi'a majority long before the US become the dominant power in the region -- for many centuries, by some measures. But like a wound that is not allowed to heal and thus becomes infected again and again it is folly to assume that Iraq can set itself right as long as the occupation lasts. Particularly because it is one that fundamentally lacks legitimacy, which has always been the heart of the matter.

TPM Reader WG responds ...

You write that "the occupation itself is the cause of the unrest and violence in the country." I think that's partially true, but more importantly, the occupation is preventing any resolution of the conflict. Civil wars end when one side knows it has lost. As long as we are in Iraq the insurgency will not know it has lost. Both Republicans and Democrats say they want the U.S. leave -- Iraqis realize that the occupation isn't forever. Until the U.S. has left, hope will still live in the hearts of the Sunni fighters. The Iraqi government, already cheated of sovereign legitimacy, will not be able to establish credibility of force.

It's Catch-22, Iraqi-style. The U.S. can’t leave Iraq until its government can stand by itself. The Iraqi government can’t stand by itself while the U.S. is propping it up.

I think I basically agree with this, though I don't think the reality of occupation is merely an after the fact aspect of the problem in Iraq. Imperialism casts a long shadow in the region. And we fall under it.

Corruption watch A Pittsburgh lawyer asks a ...

The Bush administration's efforts to use an obscure provision of the Patriot Act to replace U.S. attorneys it deemed too vigorous in investigating Republican officials, too slow in indicting Democratic public officials or too reluctant to investigate "voter fraud" -- a euphemism for attempting to suppress the minority vote -- caused me to re-think my opinion of the fairness of Western Pennsylvania's U.S. attorney, Mary Beth Buchanan. I began to wonder why all of the recent public-corruption investigations in our region have been of Democrats.

Human Rights sold out at Walmart Human Rights Watch has issued a . For ,

Human Rights Watch, a non-governmental group based in New York, is best known for scathing reports on political issues such as the Rwandan genocide and the Congo's use of children in its military.

This is the second time it has studied an American company; the first was Enron, in 1999.

The report takes issue both with the inadequacy of U.S. labor law, which it identifies as being in violation of international law, and with Wal-Mart's record of breaking even that pitiful level of worker protection.

to prevent union formation is complex and multifaceted. The company does not engage in massive anti-union firings nor announce to workers that their store will close if a union is formed. Instead, the company uses myriad more subtle tactics that, bit by bit, chip away at—and sometimes devastate—workers’ right to organize. Many of these tactics comport with weak US labor law, notwithstanding their practical effect of quashing worker organizing efforts. Wal-Mart’s record before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), charged with enforcing US labor laws, suggests that the company has also employed illegal tactics in addition to its lawful anti-union strategy. Based on our research, we conclude that the cumulative effect of Wal-Mart’s panoply of anti-union tactics is to deprive its workers of their internationally recognized right to organize.

Wal-Mart's , as measured by findings of illegal conduct between 2000 and 2005, exceed those of Albertson's, Costco, Home Depot, Kroger, Kmart, Sears, and Target combined by 15 to 4. One part of the answer to solving the Wal-Mart problem in American labor, then, is to make them obey the damned law.

But the report also emphasizes the inadequacy of U.S. labor law, and one bill addresses several of the issues raised: the Employee Free Choice Act. The House passed the EFCA in March by a vote of , but it has yet to pass the Senate, where, according to the AFL-CIO, it has - all of the Democrats except for Pryor, Lincoln, and Ben Nelson, plus both independents.

Today is . Though it's not much honored in the U.S., it would be a good time to take a moment to think about the all-too-common abuses of workers in this country, from laws geared toward protecting corporations from the need to respect their workers to inadequate enforcement of the few laws protecting workers to an Occupational Safety and Health Administration which, under Bush, has removed regulations to protect workers and to institute new regulations to protect workers from emerging threats. The people of this country are workers; the workers of this country are people. We deserve better.

Federal contractors owe billions in unpaid taxes…hope you enjoyed paying yours

It's catchy, ain't it. A short time ago, the Washington Post's David Broder that Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) was the Democrats' Gonzales. Today the Daily News' Tom DeFrank does pretty much the same thing, Bush and Reid "peas in a puzzled pod." Writes DeFrank ...

As the Iraq war becomes ever more divisive and heartbreaking, the lame-duck President and Senate majority leader pursue a high-stakes game of "Amateur Hour" from opposite ends of Pennsylvania Ave. Even their friends know it. In a town where genuine bipartisanship in the national interest seems to have died with Gerald Ford's presidency three decades ago, the two main protagonists have managed to achieve the impossible - all of political Washington shaking their heads in collective distress.

I have a higher opinion of DeFrank than Broder. But the pattern is pretty clear: DC's elderly wise men reporters seem to be falling over themselves to compare Reid to an incredibly unpopular president and an unprecedentedly disgraced Attorney General.

It's well enough to knock these guys around. I've done my share of it with Broder. But it's worth taking a moment to recognize the deeper pattern. For these guys the adoration of bipartisanship for its own sake always trumps efforts to grapple with key public questions. You either think we're fundamentally on the right track or the wrong track in the occupation of Iraq. If you think it's the latter bipartisanship is an empty vessel since the president is unwilling to change any core point of his policy and the great majority of Republican members of Congress -- for now at least -- are unwilling to oppose him. That means that trying to force the president to change policy is the only honorable option available. It's really as simple as that.

Both DeFrank and Broder zero in on Reid's 'war is lost' comment. I won't go into the ins and outs of the different versions of what he said. But the simple fact is that a clear majority of the people in the country agree. They think the war was a mistake and that as the president wants to fight it it's not winnable.

Reid's real sin in their eyes isn't verbal clumsiness or political obtuseness, though that's what they want to pass it off as. Their beef with him is that he's thrown down the gauntlet on this key issue. And that is an unforgiveable breach of decorum, notwithstanding the merits of the issue at hand.

Reid is in trouble with these guys for saying what most people consider the unvarnished truth. And to these guys that's unforgiveable.

Obama now leads the field A poll showing Barack Obama ahead of Hillary Clinton was . I believe it's the first of its kind. The field is Obama with 32% support, Clinton at 30%, and Edwards at 17%. No other candidate tops 3%. Rasmussen cautions that the 2% difference between Obama and Clinton is not statistically significant. I suppose it would be bigger news if Obama created a statistically significant lead over Clinton. We'll blog again when that happens. Other results of note:

Obama now leads among voters under 40. Clinton is strongest among those 65 and older. Clinton has a two-point edge among Democrats. Obama has a nineteen-point lead among independents likely to vote in a Democratic primary.

Also a little bizarre -- Edwards does best against Republicans.

Obama and Clinton are the frontrunners, but Edwards does best in general election match-ups. He leads all GOP hopefuls and is the only Democrat to lead the Republican frontrunner, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

And just a final note: 52% of Americans oppose the impending veto George W. Bush will stamp on the Dems' war spending bill that sets a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq.

Neocon media -615">Mercury Rising:

Michael Wolff writes in that "almost anyone who’s ever worked for Rudy Giuliani expects his presidential campaign to implode at any moment, thanks to his propensity for periods of mania, outbursts, and frequent forms of behavior that generally don’t win elections."
Examples: "Bernard Kerik, his frosty relationship with his children, his famous smackdown of a listener (and ferret owner) who called in during his radio show, Judith Giuliani’s stint at a medical company that experimented on live dogs (killing them in the process)..." The list goes on.

Another creepy George George Tenet is the latest Bush insider to on the ridiculous, lie-riddled lead up to the Iraq invasion:

 

There was never a serious debate that I know of within the administration about the imminence of the Iraqi threat,” Tenet writes, adding that there was never “a significant discussion” about containing Iraq without an invasion.

Tenet now describes himself as a scapegoat. Wrong. The American people (and now others around the world) are the real victims of this campaign. Tenet simply joins Colin Powell as another guy we thought we could trust (OK, not that much) who knew the truth and didn’t have the guts to risk a career to say, no, this is a all a big lie. No, these guys stood by and watched it all happen. They are no better than Cheney and the other sickos who hatched the plan to fool America. Now he wants to make some dough telling us what we already know: Namely that you can’t trust any of them and the risks of war are no match for the concern for one’s own political well-being. Chief, take your book and shove it.

Book banning in America Some things never seem to change. The desire to is one of those things. Sad.

The Vatican is threatening . Why? Read on…

 

The Vatican ambassador to Israel threatened Thursday to boycott a Holocaust memorial ceremony next week over a museum’s portrayal of Pope Pius XII’s conduct during the Nazis’ killing of Jews in World War II.

Archbishop Antonio Franco said he had written to the director of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum asking for the revision of a caption suggesting the wartime pope had been apathetic to the Jews’ plight.

The caption, quoted in the Israeli press, says Pope Pius XII “abstained from signing the Allied declaration condemning the extermination of the Jews” and “maintained his neutral position throughout the war.”

They’re mad about being described as neutral? You’re kidding right? Fellas, stay home.

Say what? Bush: Dem Iraq bill is "." Look who's talking ...

Sen. Webb (D-VA) on the president's veto: "We won this war four years ago. The question is when we end the occupation."

Shock of the Day: Bush Interior Department appointee rather than face an oversight committee hearing next week. It's Julie MacDonald, deputy assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks at Interior. For your reference, she's the one who, in addition to sharing government reports with industry lobbyists, also shared confidential Interior Department documents with a she met on an internet chat site. MacDonald reportedly commisserated with said "virtual friend" whose opinions she trusted over those of government scientists.

Bush abandons troops; blames brass A message from

Twelve weeks ago, I asked the Congress to pass an emergency war spending bill that would provide our brave men and women in uniform with the funds and flexibility they need. Instead, members of the House and the Senate passed a bill that substitutes the opinions of politicians for the judgment of our military commanders. So a few minutes ago, I vetoed the bill.

He vetoed the bill because it "substitutes the opinions of politicians for the judgment of our military commanders."

Has anybody asked any military commanders?

May 1, 2007

President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

Today, in your veto message regarding the bipartisan legislation just passed on Operation Iraqi Freedom, you asserted that you so decided because you listen to your commanders on the ground.

Respectfully, as your former commander on the ground, your administration did not listen to our best advice. In fact, a number of my fellow Generals were forced out of their jobs, because they did not tell you what you wanted to hear -- most notably General Eric Shinseki, whose foresight regarding troop levels was advice you rejected, at our troops' peril.... As someone who served this nation for decades, I have the utmost respect for the office you hold. However, as a man of conscience, I could not sit idly by as you told the American people today that your veto was based on the recommendations of military men. Your administration ignored the advice of our military's finest minds before, and I see no evidence that you are listening to them now.

I urge you to reconsider your position, and work with Congress to pass a bill that achieves the goals laid out above.

Respectfully,

Major General Paul D. Eaton, USA, Retired

Well, there you have it. Horse's mouth to horse's ass.

Rough draft George Tenet Read it and weep.

Haircuts Good stuff.

Number of targeting people in the United States in 2006, a record high. The secret court “approved all but one of the government’s requests.”

We're all traitors now National Review Online (NRO) features today with author and retired Air Force Lt. Colonel Robert “Buzz” Patterson, who accuses “Democrat politicians, big media, academia, popular culture, and nongovernmental organizations” of forming “a ” that is “facilitating defeat against Islamo-fascism.” Patterson, the author of an upcoming book with the title, “War Crimes: The Left’s Campaign to Destroy Our Military and Lose the War on Terror,” is with ties to various conservative organizations. In the interview and his book, “Buzz” Patterson isn’t afraid to accuse people he disagrees with of :

Kathryn Jean Lopez: Your upcoming book begins with a quote from Cicero about how a nation “cannot survive treason from within.” Surely you’re not calling Democrats traitors. Or are you?

“Buzz” Patterson: I am. They certainly are if their behavior during our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is held up to the light of the U.S. Constitution. Article III, Section 3 defines treason against the United States as “adhering to (our) enemies, giving them aid and comfort. Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Dick Durbin, and John Murtha, amongst others, are guilty of exactly that. … It’s not just the Democrats though but many on the Left — its faculties and administrations on college campuses, big media, Hollywood, and left-wing organizations such as the Ford Foundation, Moveon.org, United for Peace and Justice, etc. What is particularly disturbing to me is that these Americans are doing it while their fellow citizens are fighting and dying in combat. The best ally that al Qaeda has these days is the Democrat Party leadership. It’s reprehensible.

Patterson’s comments were by NRO contributor and Townhall columnist W. Thomas Smith Jr. later in the day.

Accusations of treason have become an -- tactic used by conservatives against critics of the Iraq war. Just last week, disgraced former Rep. Tom DeLay accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) of “.”

Previously, this kind of attack was mainly found in the fever swamps of talk radio or the conservative blogosphere, but the National Review is the largest conservative magazine in the country. Its columnists on major media outlets like NBC’s Meet The Press. They should have higher standards than aiding and abetting such derogatory attacks on the patriotism of literally millions of Americans.

Bill Maher was on "Hardball" to talk about the Republican presidential field and made a hysterical crack about Fred Thompson that got Matthews giggling like crazy off camera. | | The part about Thompson comes at the 4:19 mark. I included the entire interview because Maher makes alot of funny and witty points about the myriad problems the Republicans have with their frontrunners. The part about Reagan is hysterical and the part about the surrounding Rudy is dead on.

Was Saddam on hit list from day 1? On last Sunday's "Late Edition," Condoleezza Rice the notion that President Bush was intent on invading Iraq when he entered office in January 2001:

RICE: Of course, the president came in concerned about Iraq. President Clinton had used military force against Iraq in 1998. We'd gone to war against Iraq in 1991, but the idea that the president had made up his mind when he came to office that he was going to go to war against Iraq is just flat wrong.

Since taking the Bushies at their word has proven foolish in the past, let's take a look back at the evidence that suggests otherwise.

  • , publisher of "The Arab American" newspaper, says George W Bush told him in May 2000 that he is going to "take out" Iraq and Saddam Hussein.
  • Richard Clarke, counterterror czar under Reagan, Bush 41, Clinton and Bush 43, writes in his book Against All Enemies: “Since the beginning of the administration, indeed well before, they had been pressing for a war with Iraq,” Immediately after 9/11, Clarke recalls Secretary Rumsfeld .

-16828">(Read the rest of this story…)

Over 20% of Gitmo inmates free to go but not allowed to leave

Count on the GOP to dust off the Lee Atwater playbook if Obama gets the 2008 nomination :

The return of the angry pastor Do you know what makes me angry? What really chafes my shorts? What makes me feel like tossing a few people in the lake of fire?

Well, I'm glad you asked. It's like this (not Greenwald, but the people he cites):

UPDATE IV: I'm pretty much speechless about this, which takes a lot given the amount of time I spend swimming around in the primordial muck of neoconservative fantasies. The project to which Dave Gaubatz is currently devoting his time is called , the purpose of which is to create a comprehensive map of every mosque and Islamic school in the U.S. This is what he says:

    It is our task to conduct an extensive mapping of all the Islamic day schools, mosques, and other identifiable organizations in the US and to determine which ones teach or preach Islamic law, Shari’a. Further, the mapping will scale the Shari’a threat by identifying to which school of jurisprudence it belongs, its historical and contemporary call for Jihad, and whether the Jihad includes violent Jihad against non-believers.

    This investigation will also map the leadership of these Muslim organizations and their other affiliations. We will also attempt to uncover any related businesses used or run by the organizations as fronts for money laundering and other illicit activities.

    Finally, we will examine and map any potential targets situated near these organizations, such as city, county, and federal government buildings, schools and universities, US military installations, major utility or infrastructure sites (i.e., nuclear installations, pipelines, water supply, etc.), and transportation hubs.

The ultimate goal is "to produce an interactive map that allows a macro- and micro-analysis of the current Shari’a-based Jihadists in the US, together with a fact-specific threat level analysis." It provides helpful hints to those who want to pitch in, such as this:

    Be in touch with us by sending in tips on new mosques, Islamic day schools, and the like. There is no crime in keeping tabs on these organizations but it is a crime of indifference to pretend that the Jihadists walking down your streets and preaching to the faithful are not a threat to our national existence and existence simply!

Gaubatz has secret sources which told him why all of this is so necessary:

 

    What we also know from our intelligence sources, and again much of this is public information, is that the ideological infrastructure is already in place for the Islamic assault on American (sic) from within America. This includes Islamic mosques, day schools, and social clubs and other organizations openly teaching historical, traditional and authoritative Islamic law or Shari'a.

This is the individual to whom Glenn Reynolds, Powerline, Michelle Malkin's blog and scores of others are pointing as the Iraqi Weapons Expert who knows the Real Truth behind Saddam's Missing WMDs. They do this all the time. How can anyone rational take right-wing pundits like these seriously? How far behind can Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh be with this story?

Let me put this in the strongest possible terms: Pastor Angry! Smash wingnut idiocy!! Smash!!! Grrr!!!!

Freedom of the pulpit is an absolute. Without it, no minister or rabbi or imam can do their job. We cannot lead our congregations into the moral lives to which they have been called if we are constantly looking over our shoulders to see if we've crossed some arbitrary ideological line erected by fools so spooked by brown people that they cannot allow a diversity of religious belief in their nation.

To monitor what is taught at the mosques and Islamic societies of America is beneath contempt. It makes my pulpit less secure.

More to the point, it undermines the very things it claims to stand for. We cannot defend the liberties granted by the First Amendment by curtailing them for select people. If a Muslim leader preaches radical Islam, let him. That's speech. If he does something to actually incite violence or takes action to support terrorism, that's another thing. It can and should be punished.

It's incredible to me that we should have to review such basic legal concepts in this day and age, but there it is.

Even worse, though, is that we should have to explain a basic theological concept as: God stands beyond the political life of a transitory nation. By measuring the religious practice of Muslims according to the scare tactics of the most corrupt and incompetent administration America has ever seen, these fools have placed the Word of God at the service of Dick Cheney.

Yes, yes, clash of civilizations, ideological Islamofascism. Whatever.

I am the Lord your God, brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.

You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am I jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.

You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

Shorter : I made you free, don't doubt me. I don't appreciate you worshiping anything other than me, whether that's a statue or some misbegotten ideal of a "War on Terror". Oh, and don't use my good name to further your own creepy agenda.

The systemic monitoring of Muslim pulpits is pure fascism, hypocrisy and idolatry. Is that clear now? I wish I could say for sure, but somehow, I think these fools aren't going to get it.

Published

May 2, 2007 - 8:47am

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