Thursday, November 29, 2007

Do you GOPTube?

After reading through some of the blog posts about last night's YouTube GOP debate the consensus seems to be the candidates did pretty awful. This was no doubt in part due to the types of questions CNN chose. While the network had already assured ahead of time there would be no "gotcha" style questions because Americans can't be trusted to pick good questions (as if CNN has any claim to fame in that area), outrage has nonetheless taken hold in Right Blogotopia. Not so much over the actual substance of the questions mind you. Most of them could care less about gays serving openly in the military or abortion unless, that is, it can be used as a wedge issue to divide Democrats. No what matters is always the messenger, in this case the supposedly ordinary Americans who were allowed to submit questions for the debate.

The righties have apparently taken to scouring the questions posed at last night shindig and finding that not all of the Tubers signed that loyalty oath that the Repubs are so fond of. Whether it was an openly gay ex-general asking about gays serving openly in the military being a Hillary supporter or an abortion questioner being an Edwards fan, righties are now saying this failure to disclose the political leanings of the Tubers is more evidence of liberal media bias. Some are even alleging that CNN specifically chose questions that would make conservatives look back.

Anyone else get the feeling they're just ashamed that out of so many questions submitted, so few could be included that didn't make the right look completely batshit crazy?

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Opening The Files: 11/28/07

Phoning It In

President Bush's brief appearance at a peace summit yesterday in Annapolis once again illustrates that not only should he be forever sequestered from attending any event with "peace" as the principal subject but also from giving any further speeches which may afford him more opportunities to mangle the name of a foreign head of state. For a president who has overseen some of the worst geopolitical upheaval in a generation to suddenly be spouting the need for two sides in a conflict he has thus far, and continues, to neglect is the height of irony.

Then again, even the Bushies weren't making this summit out to be anything other than the "mother of all photo-ops", one last attempt to spit shine a waning presidency so lacking in glorified successes that have yet to occur. And it does not say much when expectations have fallen so low that this latest bit of presidenting by proxy is deemed a success simply because more than just the janitors were in attendance.

Gordon brings us the illustrated version of Bush's Middle East peace process.

Eric says if we are going to focus on who RSVP this little shindig, perhaps we should consider the potential for actually accomplishing something.

AJ Rossmiller is glad that some narratives weren't allowed to stand uncontested. Some however...

And Maureen Dowd says that just like her exercise routines, Condi Rice's idea of diplomacy involves a lot of running but not getting anywhere.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Marriages of Convenience

Now that the Bush administration has finally overseen that shotgun wedding they always wanted, perhaps now they can get to eliminating a new scourge threating our "relationship": cross dressing terrorists.
Soldiers manning a checkpoint near Baghdad stopped a wedding convoy to find that the purported bride and groom were wanted terror suspects, an Iraqi Defense Ministry official said Monday.

The Army set up the checkpoint last week in the Taji area, about 12 miles (20 kilometers) north of Baghdad.

The soldiers became suspicious of the convoy because its members -- save the "bride" -- were all male and because one of the cars in the convoy did not heed orders to stop, the official said.

Also, soldiers said, the people in the car seemed nervous and the groom refused to lift his bride's veil when soldiers asked him to, according to the official.

Soldiers ordered everyone out of the car, the official said.

Upon inspecting the convoy, soldiers found a stubbly-faced man, Haider al-Bahadli, decked out in a white bride's dress and veil.

Bahadli was wanted on terror-related charges, as was his groom, Abbas al-Dobbi, the official said.

And here I thought all those warnings from righties that the terrorists would come to this country and get gay married were just silly.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Can You Track Me Now?

As someone who is pretty tech savvy, I'm well aware that any device like cellphones that are designed to connect to any sort of global network can in turn be used to track ones whereabouts. But your average Joe Q. Public might not understand or comprehend this. Further still, laws governing the use of such tracking technology are still very vague and ambiguous.

And it is this vagueness and ambiguousness that is allowing federal prosecutors far too much leeway in gaining access to this tracking information.
Federal officials are routinely asking courts to order cellphone companies to furnish real-time tracking data so they can pinpoint the whereabouts of drug traffickers, fugitives and other criminal suspects, according to judges and industry lawyers.

In some cases, judges have granted the requests without requiring the government to demonstrate that there is probable cause to believe that a crime is taking place or that the inquiry will yield evidence of a crime. Privacy advocates fear such a practice may expose average Americans to a new level of government scrutiny of their daily lives.

Realize that in some of these cases, requests for this data were granted simply on the basis that the individual to be tracked possessed a cellphone and therefore must be using it for criminal activity. It's an argument that amounts to saying that simply because someone possesses a means of communication, said communication may be used to track them. When such an argument is applied to the broader spying scandal, one can see the need why scrutiny of these activities is warranted.

So just remember this the next time you pick up that new Razor you get for Christmas: While you're reaching out and touching someone, the government could be reaching out and touching you back.

More from Meme.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Opening The Files: Not So Thankful Edition

Thankin' the Obfuscatin'

Whew, for a while there it seemed like a loyal Bushie had gone off the reservation. Not to worry though since a stern warning of an invitation to go quail hunting with Dick soon straightened Scotty McC out. He now says he only thinks he was misled by his higher ups, not to suggest they did in fact lie to him. That he would still shill for them even after learning the truth just shows how much he values forthrightness, a trait he lacked in abundance when he was butting heads with the press.

Then again, maybe Scotty's just hoping he'll be one of the turkeys his former boss eventually bestows a pardon unto.

Christy has some unasked follow-ups.

John Dickerson says that this bit dog may have yelped a bit but its nothing we haven't heard before.

Joe Galloway bids good riddance to some of the unindicted co-conspirators who helped bring about things which were once unthinkable.

And Arianna reminds us of another time that Scooter tried to pass Scotty his Plame Blame cliff notes.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Stonewall Scotty Spills the Beans

By now you've probably heard about the latest strapped for cash 'loyal Bushie' to give up some juicy details about the inner workings of the Bush White House. Perhaps the most surprising thing was who was doing the revealing: Scotty McClellan.

Scotty had a tough time as Bush's Press Secretary. The halcyon days of the post-Mission Accomplished fervor were beginning to fade and we were just starting to understand that we had been lied into a war. How he parried with the press corp regarding the CIA leak investigation was one of Scotty's most notable instances at obfuscation. While his favorite reply to any question about the case was "We won't comment on an ongoing investigation", he did offer up that both Karl Rove and Scooter Libby personally assured him that they were not involved in the leaking of Valerie Plame Wilson's identity. It was plainly false of course but turns out it went even further. Scotty, playing the fool, says Turdblossom and Scooter weren't the only ones involved.
The most powerful leader in the world had called upon me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility he lost amid the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So I stood at the White house briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.

"There was one problem. It was not true.

"I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration "were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice President, the President's chief of staff, and the president himself."

I know it's probably an exercise in wishful thinking but mightn't this revelation that the President of the United States was personally involved in the obstruction of justice warrant an inquest? Should we not be at least contemplating another round of Fitzmas?

Maybe if Scotty had mentioned something about interns and extramarital affairs, more than just those who value the rule of law would care.

More from Meme. See also Chris Dodd and Larry Johnson.

Update: The King of Obfuscation strikes again.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Files Shelved (Sort of)

Due to interruption in my internet service and no idea when I will be able to get it restored, postings to The Xsociate Files will be even lighter than usual. I will still try to provide readers with the same acerbic wit I'm known for and I will still have access at work so thankfully I won't be in a complete blog blackout. And perhaps I should consider this break from the intertubes as a sort of an outrage overload reset. There are times its best to walk away and come back with a fresh mind.


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Shootin' Thru The 'Tubes

Relatively slow news weekend, but there some blurbs Shootin' Thru The 'Tubes:

I'll give Bush supporters (the few that remain outside of Laura and Barney) one thing: at least they haven't been passing off coinage with his visage as the save all of the economy ala Ron Paul supporters. Then again with the value of the dollar failing as fast as his approval ratings, if they did mint a coin of the realm with his likeness, even the preferred metal would likely be too expensive by then.

Remember what I said about journalists being the ones able to push a particular narrative? Case in point, a silly screed by columnist Robert Novak pushing rumors about rumors (not that I am implying the Douchebag of Liberty is in any way to be considered a "journalist"). Thankfully Team Obama lobbed the derisive molotovs in the right direction. Perhaps if Kerry had taken a similar track in '04 instead of waiting three years too late, we might have had a far different outcome.

And the media, ever mindful of their true patronage, are trying to muddy the waters of this election season's Swift Boating. Unfortunately for the revered target, these particular "veterans" come armed with something the last group lacked: the truth.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Pearls Before Swine

For those who turn to debates such as the one held by the Democrats in Sin City on Thursday to learn more about the policies and positions of their perspective candidate of choice, doing so has become somewhat of an exercise in futility. Instead of a thoughtful and reasoned debate, more often we are treated to an endless series of “gotcha” questions designed to trip up the presumptive front-runner or media deemed pre-debate stand out. As of late that has been Hillary Clinton, who the consensus seems to be staged a well played come back from the last debate in which everyone including moderator Tim Russert piled on for the pillorying.

One tactic that referees like Russert like to employ is use of off-putting questions such as “What is your favorite Bible verse?” Knowing the answer to that will say little about how a particular candidate will govern yet is the often the answers to these precarious questions that become the focus of the media’s post debate analysis. That these events thus far have been principally moderated by news professionals whose stock and trade are these sorts of trumped of bugaboos makes the practice of the “gotcha” all the more apprehensible.

Now CNN is being called out on their latest attempt at cutesy. Seems a UNLV student who asked the final question of Sen. Clinton was prompted to ask it by CNN. Realize that is bit of ham-fisted canning comes less than a week after Clinton herself was being derided for prompting her own audience queries, albeit of a better nature than her taste in trinkets.

Just goes to show you: When you try to pass off a sow’s ear as silk one too many times, eventually someone’s going to notice the smell of bacon.

More via Meme.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Burning a Bridge Too Far

How sad has our state of the union become that a comparatively mild protest during a game normally associated with little old ladies would turn into an international incident?
In the genteel world of bridge, disputes are usually handled quietly and rarely involve issues of national policy. But in a fight reminiscent of the brouhaha over an anti-Bush statement by Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks in 2003, a team of women who represented the United States at the world bridge championships in Shanghai last month is facing sanctions, including a yearlong ban from competition, for a spur-of-the-moment protest.

At issue is a crudely lettered sign, scribbled on the back of a menu, that was held up at an awards dinner and read, “We did not vote for Bush.”

By e-mail, angry bridge players have accused the women of “treason” and “sedition.”

I guess that would make the vast majority of Americans who didn't vote for Bush guilty as well. But part of me wonders if what has many, particularly the righties, so incensed by this was the reason for the improvised protest.
Ms. Greenberg [the US team's nonplaying captain] said she decided to put up the sign in response to questions from players from other countries about American interrogation techniques, the war in Iraq and other foreign policy issues.

“There was a lot of anti-Bush feeling, questioning of our Iraq policy and about torture,” Ms. Greenberg said. “I can’t tell you it was an overwhelming amount, but there were several specific comments, and there wasn’t the same warmth you usually feel at these events.”

Ms. Rosenberg said the team members intended the sign as a personal statement that demonstrated American values and noted that it was held up at the same time some team members were singing along to “The Star-Spangled Banner” and waving small American flags.

“Freedom to express dissent against our leaders has traditionally been a core American value,” she wrote by e-mail. “Unfortunately, the Bush brand of patriotism, where criticizing Bush means you are a traitor, seems to have penetrated a significant minority of U.S. bridge players.”

While it would be preferable that politics stay in the realm of politicians, the fact that the Bush administration has for so long sought to divide not only Americans but also the world at large into an "us vs. them" dynamic, it is not surprising the US team would seek to show some solidarity with their international colleagues. That they could be penalized for it makes this "ginned" up controversy all the more appalling.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Perhaps New York Times columnist David Brooks should have held off on that slavish ode to Sen. John McCain who he says "still fights a daily battle against the soul-destroying forms of modern politics."

Via Greg Sargent:
We've just obtained some video of a Fox local affiliate reporting on a McCain campaign appearance in South Carolina. In it, one of McCain's supporters emphatically calls Hillary Clinton, McCain's fellow United States Senator, a "bitch."

McCain's response? According to the Fox affiliate's reporter, McCain "laughed off" the comment.

It never fails to amuse me when righties cry foul over foul language in political discourse when they and their supporters are among the worst offenders. That McCain did not immediately denounce the questioner perhaps shows just how serious he is in his "battle against the soul-destroying forms of modern politics".

And if we are going to get all bent out of shape over Hillary coaching her questioners, might not some intrepid soul be asking if the McCain campaign sought to plant a hate seed in with the hayseed to reap some valued red meat for the CDS sufferers among their constituency?

More from Meme.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Box Office Busts and Boffos

The righties appear to be desperate for something to decry. So much so that they seem to have taken to tallying up box office receipts to determine America's patriotic mood. Thus they gloat that that because the new Robert Redford film "Lions for Lambs" bombed at the box office that Americans don't hate their country as much as liberal Hollywood would have us believe.

But there is another creature feature which is sure to have the righties giving raving mad reviews and that's the latest from director Tom Tancredo. While it's only playing is select battleground states right now, like most of the sort of cliched fare likely to be put out next summer in anticipation of November sweeps, the script for this latest bit of fictionalized terror just won't cut it with audiences anymore. Perhaps if the writers strike is ever resolved it will help breath some life into this stagnant sequel.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Shoo Fly, Don't Bother Condi

Insect irks State Sec.

WASHINGTON (XF) - In what looked at the time to be a light-hearted annoyance on national television soon turned into a potentially life threatening incident. The Xsociate Files has learned that a fly which pestered Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during an interview has been detained by Homeland Security on suspicion of links to terrorism.

According to security officials with knowledge of the incident, during a taping of This Week with George Stephanopoulos, a seemingly ordinary house fly continually interrupted Rice's interview to such a degree that the Secretary's personal security detail was brought in to subdue the errant insect. It escaped but was later apprehended while dinning on a sandwich belonging to a member of the ABC staff. The sandwich was also taken into custody.

This isn't the first time winged suspects have been apprehended. A bird which flung droppings on President Bush during an out door press conference was detained shortly thereafter. As with both incidents, the main concern was for the safety of White House officials.

"Secretary Rice's safety was paramount and that is why security was called in to intervene," said one of her aides on condition of anonymity, "I mean any preschooler can tell you what happened to the last lady that swallowed a fly."

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Opening The Files: Veteran's Day 2007

As with most anniversaries, it becomes exceedingly harder to write something profound year after year. I find it doubly hard to put down in words my thoughts on days like today. You see it is Veterans Day and while I feel compelled to say something on this solemn day, words fail me. But it is not surprising that I should find the effort difficult. Indeed what do you say to a man or a woman who has literally put their lives on the line time after time to defend you, your family, your livelihood. All the pageantry and ceremony in the world will never seem to be enough to thank this thankless lot of brave souls.

But there are some things we can do as a means of making amends for their sacrifice. We can ensure it is not done in vain. We can ensure they are afforded all the benefits that come with that highest of service to country. We can ensure there will not be those who seek to profit from their service. And most important of all, we can ensure their leaders will not take lightly the responsibility we bestow upon them and that they will be held accountable if they do fail.

John Nichols: 11th Hour, 11th Day, 11th Month

Fixer: Veterans Day

Jeff Huber: Breakfast of Veterans

The Mahablog: Armistice Day

Minstrel Boy: Veteran's Day 2007

RendRF: The Visual Veteran

Jonathan Powers: Honoring the Price of Freedom

Justin Hudnall: All Soldiers Fade Away

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)


Shootin' Thru The 'Tubes

Another lazy Sunday, so here's what's Shootin' Thru The 'Tubes:

It must be "Bring a Parent to Work" week as the Presidential and potential Presidential parents have been out in force defending their offspring. Bush Sr. just wants everyone to leave his poor boy alone (and go ahead and forget what he said before about Iraq). Meanwhile, fellow GOPer John McCain had his mom in tow during an interview but probably thought better of it the instant she opened her mouth to utter some Mormon malapropisms.

In addition to Paul Krugman, another must read columnist freed with the demise of the Times' dreaded firewall was Frank Rich, who with today's piece skewers the Bushies' Musharraf policies and the quite coup they've managed to conduct with the help of an abdicating and capitulating Congress.

And it's that time of year again boys and girls. Time to dust off those Holiday ornaments because it's open season on the War on Christmas season. As an added bonus, I hear the Feds, in an effort to thwart would-be holiday gift givers who adorn their presents with insufficient garland, will be rummaging through fruit cake buyer receipts.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)


Saturday, November 10, 2007


President Bush was asked during a recent interview for German television whether he thinks there is a point at which a military option will be the only one sufficient to deal with the Iranian imbroglio. Here is his response:
I would never say that. I would say that we would always try to try diplomacy first. In other words, I -- I've committed our troops into harm's way twice, and it's not a pleasant experience because I understand the consequences firsthand. And so I owe it to the American people to say that I've tried to solve this problem diplomatically.

Leaving aside the grammatical errors for a moment, the part that struck me was his claim that he understands the consequences of being in harm's way "firsthand". Sorry to get all nutty and foulmouth on you but that is a load of shit.

No Mr. Bush, you do not know the consequences firsthand. Someone who has never faced combat can never know firsthand. Someone who has never had to watch their fellow soldiers be struck down by a sniper's bullet or blown to bits by an roadside bomb can ever know firsthand. Someone who has never had to take the life of another human being will never know firsthand (and no, video games do no count).

Now you might like to think you know the consequences because of all those staged visits for photo-ops with wounded soldiers. But does seeing them ever make you think twice about your decision? Does it ever sacrifice your piece of mind?

And don't even begin to suggest you know the consequences of war more than the average Iraqi. While you might think you know what they should be thankful for, they know far better the consequences of your war.

Face it Mr. President. As much as you like to think you know firsthand, you don't. Your arrogance, stubbornness and narcissism blind you to the consequences and they always will. Sadly, these are qualities we've all come to learn about you firsthand.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Friday, November 09, 2007

The Righteous Recreancy of Resuce Rudy

Sorry to have been off the grid lately but I've been transitioning to a new job and it has left me precious little time to keep up with the news (or sleep for that matter). I did, however, happen to catch some bits of Rescue Rudy's latest follies and foibles.

By now you're aware that Rudy received a much needed endorsement from religious right leader Pat Robertson the other day. The endorsement is unlikely affect the campaign much and may in fact be a liability since as it will only better juxtapose with Rudy's rather less than conservative past. That he does not see that nor the fraudulent irony of accepting the endorsement goes to show what poor judgment Rudy has.

Other examples are his choice of associates, such as with former police commissioner turned indictee Bernard Kerik. Rudy defends himself by saying it was a poor choice.

And since he is bringing up the issue of having made so many decisions as Mayor of New York (when he wasn't part timing all those other roles), mightn't now be a good time for the media to start questioning his judgment?

See also Josh Marshall.

Update: Meme has more.

Blog Thanks: Joe Gandelman has a great roundup on the Kerik indictment and gives yours truly the last word.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Countering a Tortured Argument Revisited

Now that Attorney General nominee Micheal Mukasey has sailed through a Senate Judiciary Committee vote, a full Senate vote on his nomination could come as soon as this week where it is expected he will be approved. One hopes that my argument against those who countenance torture will be part of the floor debate but there is also another argument for why torture is not only morally wrong but also dangerous for our foreign policy: false confessions.

Few but the most meticulous of wonks will recall the story of Ibn al Sheikh al Libi, an Al-Qaeda operative whose allegations of a link between the terrorist organization and the government of Saddam Hussein were eventually used to justify the ouster of the Iraqi regime. That he later recanted his story was of little consequence since the damage had already been done and the US was deeply entrenched in a war which rages to this day.

ABC's The Blotter now reports that al Libi, who has since mysteriously disappeared, was subjected to harsh treatment at the hands of the Egyptian government, seemingly for no other reason than to elicit the "right" confession.
In one such six-foot-by-10-foot cell in February 2004, equipped with a low mattress and a bucket as a toilet, sat a man in shackles named Ibn al Sheikh al Libi, the former al Qaeda camp commander described by former CIA director George Tenet in his autobiography last year as "the highest ranking al-Qa'ida member in U.S. custody" just after 9/11.

In this secret facility known to prisoners as "The Hangar" and believed to be at Bagram Air Base north of Kabul, al Libi told fellow "ghost prisoners," one recalled to me for a PBS "Frontline" to be broadcast tonight, an incredible story of his treatment over the previous two years: of how questioned at first by Americans, by the FBI and then CIA, of how he was threatened with torture. And then how he was rendered to a jail cell in Egypt where the threats became a reality.

In his book, officially cleared for publication, Tenet confirms how the CIA outsourced al Libi's interrogation. He said he was sent to a third country (inadvertently named in another part of the book as Egypt) for "further debriefing."

The Bush administration has said that terrorists are trained to invent tales of torture.

Of course tales of torture weren't the only tales al Libi was "trained" in invent. The CIA believed al Libi's claims this time and wrote a series of cables to CIA headquarters documenting some of his treatment.
Under torture after his rendition to Egypt, al Libi had provided a confession of how Saddam Hussein had been training al Qaeda in chemical weapons. This evidence was used by Colin Powell at the United Nations a year earlier (February 2003) to justify the war in Iraq. ("I can trace the story of a senior terrorist operative telling how Iraq provided training in these [chemical and biological] weapons to al Qaeda," Powell said. "Fortunately, this operative is now detained, and he has told his story.")

But now, hearing how the information was obtained, the CIA was soon to retract all this intelligence. A Feb. 5 cable records that al Libi was told by a "foreign government service" (Egypt) that: "the next topic was al-Qa'ida's connections with Iraq...This was a subject about which he said he knew nothing and had difficulty even coming up with a story."

Al Libi indicated that his interrogators did not like his responses and then "placed him in a small box approximately 50cm X 50cm [20 inches x 20 inches]." He claimed he was held in the box for approximately 17 hours. When he was let out of the box, al Libi claims that he was given a last opportunity to "tell the truth." When al Libi did not satisfy the interrogator, al Libi claimed that "he was knocked over with an arm thrust across his chest and he fell on his back." Al Libi told CIA debriefers that he then "was punched for 15 minutes." (Sourced to CIA cable, Feb. 5, 2004).

Here was a cable then that informed Washington that one of the key pieces of evidence for the Iraq war -- the al Qaeda/Iraq link -- was not only false but extracted by effectively burying a prisoner alive.

Sadly the cables languished in the back pages of a Senate Intelligence committee report. Which isn't surprising since events at Abu Ghraib would soon come to dominant the news and were by far the clearest example of how the US treated its detainees.

But what happened to al Libi makes the debate on Mukasey all the more important. The Bush administration used a false confession to drive the US into the last war. By confirming Muskasey, the Congress would be ensuring the Bushies could do so again for the next one.

Blog Thanks: Salon's Blog Report for linking to the SotD of this post.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Olbermann on Torture

In a Special Comment that should be read on the floor of the Senate as they vote tomorrow on whether to confirm Micheal Muskasey as Attorney General, Keith Olbermann practically seethes with contempt for the Bush administration. He tells of former acting assistant attorney general Daniel Levin, a man for whom should be commended for his willingness to do something so few in this administration have: put themselves on the line to determine the truth. Instead, Levin received a pink slip for the simple act of refusing to cover the ass of this President and his toadies. That even the counter argument matters naught to this group of individuals shows that their reign of error is best ended sooner rather than later.

C&L has the vid, YouTube to follow when I'm out from behind the workplace firewall. As they say, a must view.

See also Will Bunch.

(Filed at State of the Day)


Monday, November 05, 2007

Opening The Files: 11/05/07

George and Pervez: Peas in a Pak

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf continues his crackdown, rounding up more of the opposition. And it would seem my prediction that it might be awkward for the Bushies to continue to support Pervez was a bit off. Turns out that "nightmare scenario" was just a pipe dream since they apparently aren't feeling awkward at all. In fact some are giddy over the developments. And the Pentagon certainly isn't willing to disrupt business as usual over little things like human rights abuses, political imprisonment and military coups.

Such a half-hearted response almost makes one wonder if President Bush is casting a knowing wink and a nod towards his fellow Decider-in-chief.

Josh Marshall wondered how Pakistan's "mixed government" works. Good question given it's even less mixed than before.

Andy Borowitz reports that Bush has given Pervez some pointers.

Paula Newberg tallies up the score to find the rule of law down but hopefully not out.

The Heretik teaches us about high steps and goosesteps. Or something.

And Barnett Rubin, blogging from Islamabad, says that Pervez has taken on Bush's penchant for combating an overzealous judiciary.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)


Sunday, November 04, 2007


Musharraf Leaves White House in Lurch.

Unconfirmed whether Cheney is Uncle Fester.

(Filed at State of the Day)


Percolating Problems

Like many who choose to write about current events, one has to pick their battles wisely. There are only so many hours in the day after all. As such, much of my attention of late has been focused on documenting the inanities of the right wingers. A full time job in and of itself, it has sadly left little time to focus on foreign developments.

On that front there is a mix bag. Iraq may be seeing a noticeable turn for the better. If we have indeed "won" in Iraq, I would be among the first to gladly gobble a heaping helping of humble pie but as some note we are merely at the same level of violence that necessitated the surge to begin with.

Developments in Pakistan are even more distressing as President Pervez Musharraf, has declared a state of emergency, suspending the constitution and rounding up members of the opposition. The action does not bode well for US-Pakistani relations because it puts the Bushies in the awkward position of backing an ally in the war on terror who is now seen as suppressing institutions of democracy, a goal we are ostensibly trying to attain in Iraq.

But this has always been one consequence of how the US has handled its Mid-East foreign policy. For decades we have played one group against another, first with the Afghan fighters against the Soviets and now Pakistan is battling some of those same Muslim extremists we help cultivate. In a sense, we must rely on a new ally to confront an old one.

And when one is forced to rely on such a dynamic, one must occasionally be forced to confront the consequences when the new ally inevitably has to crack the whip.

More via Meme.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Countering a Tortured Argument

With word that Sens. Diane Feinstein and Chuck Schumer have voiced their intention to back Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey, his installment as head of the Justice Department is all but assured, barring some heretofore unheard of spinal stiffening by the remainder of the Dems in Congress. Thus far, the sticking point for those opposed to his nomination has been because of his hedging on the issue of whether or not waterboarding constitutes torture.

Here is the only question that need be asked of Mukasey (or anyone else) who refuses to affirm that waterboarding is indeed at form of torture:
If a member of our Armed Services, intelligence agencies or any American for that matter were ever subject to a procedure like waterboarding, would you consider the perpetrators to have committed war crimes?

I've used a similar argument before, but given that we are still at the point where torture is somehow considered a debatable subject, it bears repeating. And this argument works because of the "tortured logic" of it, as it were. Should the answer be yes, a follow up question could then be, "Why is it okay when the US does it?" If the answer is no, then one could ask, "Is it okay for any country to waterboard, say, a captured US soldier?" Of course the answer would be: "Absolutely not", which merely brings us back to the earlier point.

No doubt some will try to argue that it doesn't matter how we treat our detainees, because terrorists do not abide by the rules of war. While this is true, a good many countries, even ones we've ostensibly deemed "the enemy" do. And we may not always find ourselves in future conflicts solely with non-state terrorists. Indeed, a war with Iran seems to loom menacingly on the horizon even as I write this. How would we feel if the Iranians were to subject a captured U.S. pilot to some of the treatment we have inflicted on our own detainees?

There's an old saying which recommends treating others in the manner that you'd like to be treated. In the case of torture, that saying is paramount to countering the pro-torture argument.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Friday, November 02, 2007

A Prophetic Petulant Presser?

Everyone was talking about President Bush's speech yesterday at the Heritage Foundation. And indeed petulant doesn't begin to describe President McPissyPants rant. I am starting to wondering if Dennis Kucinich may have been right to question Bush's faculties. With a mere 15 months left before he has to shuffle off back to Crawford or a Rancho in Paraguay, the guy has completely lost all touch with reality and it's showing in spades. He was at his fearmongering best, with references to tried and tested bogeyman like Bin Laden, Nazis and Communism. He scolded Congress for listening too much to the MoveOn's and Code Pink's of the world and less to the neocon warmongers who frequent the halls of the White House. He says they are falling down on the job in not confirming without question his tortured Attorney General nominee nor in doling out the cash to keep his war on.

The guy is grasping for relevancy. Right now that has mostly taken the form of vetoing everything under the sun. But as his poll numbers continue to dip and his sycophants continue to desert him, I fear that he may do something irrational. You know like start a war for no good reason just so he can relive one last time those halcyon days when no one questioned him and he was riding high on a wave of uber-patriotism and nationalism.

I know the cornered animal metaphor has become rather cliched at this point. But it really does feel as if he's looking for the opportune time to move away from take nips at his opponents and inflict a far more fatal wound.

See also Cernig, Larisa, and Booman.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Not So Quite Generation

A few weeks ago, Daily Kos diarist Georgia10 took to task NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman for his disdain of what he referred to as the Quite Generation. He lamented the seeming lack of any sort of meaningful protest from this generation's young voters. Georgia rightly pointed out that there are indeed those whose priorities far exceed merely waiting for the next XBox release or iPhone variant.

Nickelodeon had a program on the other day in which they document just some of those of that younger generation who Friedman says doesn't exist. Many of them aren't even old enough to vote, yet they are doing far more to further their various causes then many of Friedman's generation ever do. And for that, the righties are up in arms. They claim that Nickelodeon is "indoctrinating" children. That they are undermining American values. Yes for shame on Nickelodeon for undermining such American values as war, torture, and child labor.

The righties of course would rather children stay stupid, ignorant and watch some Spongebob (on second thought, forget Spongebob. He'll just indoctrinate them into the gay agenda). But if those depicted in that Nickelodeon program are any indication of our future, it looks far brighter than the one the righties would have them inherit.

Update: More from Libby.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

There is a God

Many of you are no doubt familiar with the exploits of Fred Phelps. He's the Kansas pastor made famous for his congregation's protesting at funerals for soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. What singled out the Phelps troop was how they chose to protest, carrying signs reading such things as "God Hates Gays" and "Thank God For Dead Soldiers". For you see Phelps and his band of homophobes (mostly his extended family) see the deaths of these soldiers as God's punishment for America's tolerance of homosexuality.

Now I'm not an overly religious person. If fact I'd probably describe myself as pretty agnostic about the subject. But this might make me think twice about the presence of heavenly deity.
A Baltimore federal jury awarded nearly $11 million Wednesday to the father of a Marine killed in Iraq, deciding that the family's privacy had been invaded by a Kansas church whose members waved anti-gay signs at the funeral.

It was the first-ever verdict against Westboro Baptist Church, a fundamentalist Christian group based in Topeka that has protested military funerals across the country with placards bearing shock-value messages such as "Thank God for dead soldiers."

They contend that the deaths are punishment for America's tolerance of homosexuality and of gays in the military.

Relatives of Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder wept and hugged at the jury's announcement, which came a day after closing arguments in the civil trial in federal district court.

"Now I know it's going to be harder for them to do it to anyone else," said Albert Snyder, who mourned at his son's funeral in March 2006 while seven Westboro members waved signs nearby.

The jury originally award the Snyder's $2.9 million dollars, a sum which was nearly triple the net worth of the Phelps clan's estate. Combine this verdict with laws being passed in many states barring any sort of protests at military funerals and we may be seeing the end of such shameful behavior. And Fred Phelps will likely be carrying signs of a different nature soon.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)