Filtered news 12/29

The usual disclaimer applies: As always, I make no claim to original reporting or writing. These are just bits I've gleaned from the Internet. Enjoy. -- RK


There is a God! "In reality, the organization hasn't been the same since Ralph Reed, the organization's baby-faced point man who garnered serious face time on television pushing the organization's agenda, and Robertson, the founder and chief operating officer left the coalition." (Online Journal)

Listening to the troops on the ground Anyone curious to know what the troops actually think of Bush, the Iraq war, and plans for a "surge"? A finds that for the first time, more members of the military disapprove of Bush's Iraq performance than approve of it. The number who think victory's likely has plummeted. Oh, and only a minority think there should be more troops in Iraq. trying to quell sectarian killings in Baghdad don’t appear to be looking for reinforcements,” the Associated Press reports. “They say the temporary surge in troop levels some people are calling for is a bad idea” and Baghdad “is embroiled in civil warfare…that .”

Timing is everything, even when Dubya won't admit it Reuters, GMT ...

The White House declined to comment on the timing. That is a matter for the Iraqi people, we are observers to that process. They are a sovereign government and they will make their own decisions regarding carrying out justice," spokesman Scott Stanzel said in Crawford, Texas.

AP, Eastern

An adviser to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Saddam would be executed before 6 a.m. Saturday, or 10 p.m. Friday EST. Saddam and others were convicted of murder in the killings of 148 Shiite Muslims from an Iraqi town where assassins tried to kill Saddam in 1982....The time was agreed upon during a meeting Friday between U.S. and Iraqi officials, said the adviser, who declined to be quoted by name because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Orwell would be proud The White House doesn't know failure in its War on Terror. Only "." A "success that hasn't occurred yet"? By that logic, practically nothing could ever be characterized as failure. Indeed, I'm not sure why the Bush gang hasn't thought of this sooner.

"Budget deficits are just surpluses that haven't occurred yet."

"Global warming is just global cooling that hasn't occurred yet."

"Stagnant wages are just raises that haven't occurred yet."

"The civil war in Iraq is just peace that hasn't occurred yet."

It'd be amusing if it weren't so sad.

Owww, the stupidity -- it hurts! to give an official estimate of the geologic age of its principal feature, due to pressure from Bush administration appointees. Despite promising a prompt review of its approval for a book claiming the Grand Canyon was c, more than three years later no review has ever been done and the book remains on sale at the park.”

AT&T agrees to observe Net Neutrality principles for . Columbia University Professor Tim Wu has on why deal is a “milestone in the history of the Internet.”

Got that right! According to a new AP-AOL News poll, Bush is the top villian of 2006, winning “by a landslide.” Bush “far , the terrorist leader in hiding; and former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, who is scheduled for execution.” (Bush was also chosen as hero of the year, “by a much smaller margin.”)

But nobody's listening A in five European countries and the United States want troops out of Iraq.

Ford finally told the truth about Nixon My, I think Woodward's got some . As a country, for three decades, we've been trying to sort out Gerald Ford's motivations for pardoning Richard Nixon. And in that posthumously published interview of Ford, which Woodward has been excerpting, I think the late president goes pretty far toward answering the question. Said Ford: "I looked upon him as my personal friend. And I always treasured our relationship. And I had no hesitancy about granting the pardon, because I felt that we had this relationship and that I didn't want to see my real friend have the stigma."

Woodward follows by noting that "that acknowledgment represents a significant shift from Ford's previous portrayals of the pardon that absolved Nixon of any Watergate-related crimes."

I would say that's something of an understatement.

I've always thought the notion of some knowing bargain between the two men -- the presidency for the pardon -- was a bit too Hollywood.

With people who know each other well enough stuff like this never has to be said. Perhaps it needn't even be thought. We'd like to think at least that we know who'll really have our back at the critical moment and who won't. And perhaps Nixon's well-known paranoia helped him refine that skill to a tee. As Ford told Woodward last year: "I think that Nixon felt I was about the only person he could really trust on the Hill."

Corruption watch "The Federal Election Commission more than doubled its civil penalties in 2006, imposing $6.2 million in fines for campaign-law violations. More than half — $3.8 million — came from penalties against Freddie Mac, the federal mortgage corporation accused of making illegal contributions to political committees, according to year-end numbers released Thursday. Even without the record Freddie Mac fine, the FEC issued 12 penalties of more than $100,000, or almost a quarter of all six-figure fines in the agency's 31-year history." (AP)

The Kerry photo Steve at has more on the "" photo, pointing out the picture may not be faked, but the story surrounding it obviously is. Guess who helps prove that? Malkin. Go figure, she's dumb enough to sabotage herself trying to prove her point. : An apology, or at least a correction, from some of the conservatives who mocked Kerry incorrectly seems entirely appropriate. I agree, Steve, but I don't think it's a-coming.

I don't know whether to laugh or cry over this one. Thanks to Gregory for calling my attention to it.

President Bush worked nearly three hours at his Texas ranch on Thursday to design a new U.S. policy in Iraq, then emerged to say that he and his advisers need more time to craft the plan he'll announce in the new year.

Burdened by low approval ratings on his handling of the war, the president is under mounting pressure to come up with a new blueprint for U.S. involvement in Iraq where the execution of Saddam Hussein - perhaps as early as this weekend - could incite further violence.

"We've got more consultation to do until I talk to the country about the plan," Bush said, appearing outside an office building at his ranch.

NEARLY three hours?!?!?! You know, I spent more time wrapping gifts this Christmas than Bush has spent meeting with his advisers over a war that has lost us 3,000 troops and more than half a million Iraqis. Glad to know he's not done consulting after those nearly three hours.

Hanging Hussein "Bush administration officials" are that Saddam Hussein will be hanged this weekend (Update: Reports are that it happened about 10 PM est). Convention dictates that we precede any discussion of this execution with the obligatory nod to Saddam's treachery, bloodthirsty rule and tyranny. But enough of the cowardly chatter. This thing is a sham, of a piece with the whole corrupt, disastrous sham that the war and occupation have been. Bush administration officials are the ones who leak the news about the time of the execution. One key reason we know Saddam's about to be executed is that he's , which tells you a lot. And, of course, the verdict in his trial gets timed to coincide with the US elections.

This whole endeavor, from the very start, has been about taking tawdry, cheap acts and dressing them up in a papier-mache grandeur -- phony victory celebrations, ersatz democratization, reconstruction headed up by toadies, con artists and grifters. And this is no different. Hanging Saddam is easy. It's a job, for once, that these folks can actually see through to completion. So this execution, ironically and pathetically, becomes a stand-in for the failures, incompetence and general betrayal of country on every other front that President Bush has brought us.

Try to dress this up as an Iraqi trial and it doesn't come close to cutting it -- the Iraqis only take possession of him for the final act, sort of like the Church always . Try pretending it's a but it's just more of the pretend mumbojumbo that makes this out to be World War IX or whatever number it is they're up to now.

The Iraq War has been many things, but for its prime promoters and cheerleaders and now-dwindling body of defenders, the war and all its ideological and literary trappings have always been an exercise in moral-historical dress-up for a crew of folks whose times aren't grand enough to live up to their own self-regard and whose imaginations are great enough to make up the difference. This is just more play-acting.

These jokers are being dragged kicking and screaming to the realization that the whole thing's a mess and that they're going to be remembered for it -- defined by it -- for decades and centuries. But before we go, we can hang Saddam. Quite a bit of this was about the president's issues with his dad and the hang-ups he had about finishing Saddam off -- so before we go, we can hang the guy as some big cosmic 'So There!'

Marx might say that this was not tragedy but farce. But I think we need to get way beyond options one and two even to get close to this one -- claptrap justice meted out to the former dictator in some puffed-up act of self-justification as the country itself collapses in the hands of the occupying army.

Marty Peretz, with some sort of projection, any attempt to rain on this parade "prissy and finicky." Myself, I just find it embarrassing. This is what we're reduced to, what the president has reduced us to. This is the best we can do. Hang Saddam Hussein because there's nothing else this president can get right.

What do you figure this farce will look like 10, 30 or 50 years down the road? A signal of American power or weakness?


December 30, 2006 - 5:43pm