Saturday, July 16, 2005

Oh what a tangled web we weave...

David Chandler's blog Earthside has a few roundups on the scandal-plagued White House - the Plame leak being one of many scandals. BooMan has it right when he says "The Bush administration has been a scandal since its inception. In fact, it was born in the scandal of Florida vote suppression, and the overreach of the Supreme Court." Chandler puts it thusly:
The truth is that Bush lied to get his war. The Downing Street Memos are proof of the Bush lies about the Iraq attack -- the war crimes. The Rove Leak scandal is about the cover-up of those lies. The first link here is to a Daniel Schorr commentary that explains why the Rove controversy is so very, very important.

And just below that is a link to the final report from the CIA's Iraq Survey Group. Remember them? This is the Bush-appointed group that had the resources of the CIA ... and U.S. and other occupation forces in Iraq to look for weapons of mass destruction. The Bushites and radical Republicans are still trying to tell us that somehow the original claim about Iraq trying to acquire uranium from Niger was correct. Right-wing pundits are attempting to discredit Joseph Wilson by implying that his report was not credible (how that justifies the 'outing' of a covert CIA agent is something they still do not explain). However, the final findings of the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) backed up everything Wilson concluded. Link

Frank Rich says Follow the Uranium, summarized by Susan Hu as follows:
  • It is about the president of the United States. It is about a plot that was hatched at the top of the administration and in which everyone else, Mr. Rove included, are at most secondary players.
  • "To see the main plot, you must sweep away the subplots, starting with the Cooper e-mail."
  • "Another bogus subplot, long popular on the left, has it that Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor, gave Mr. Novak a free pass out of ideological comradeship."
  • "... Mr. Novak, more of a common coward than the prince of darkness he fashions himself to be, found a way to spill some beans and avoid Judy Miller's fate."
  • "That the investigation has dragged on so long anyway is another indication of the expanded reach of the prosecutorial web. Apparently this is finally beginning to dawn on Mr. Bush's fiercest defenders and on Mr. Bush himself. Hence, last week's erection of the stonewall manned by the almost poignantly clownish Mr. McClellan ..."
  • "This case is about Iraq, not Niger. The real victims are the American people, not the Wilsons. The real culprit - the big enchilada, to borrow a 1973 John Ehrlichman phrase from the Nixon tapes - is not Mr. Rove but the gang that sent American sons and daughters to war on trumped-up grounds and in so doing diverted finite resources, human and otherwise, from fighting the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11."
  • "The brief against the administration's drumbeat for war would be just as damning if [Wilson had] never gone to Africa. But by overreacting in panic to his single Op-Ed piece of two years ago, the White House has opened a Pandora's box it can't slam shut."


Curiouser and curiouser.

Iraqi Blogger Jailed

Something I stumbled upon via Susan Hu and Kurt Nimmo. His crime? Apparently being critical of the Iraqi government. Kurt puts it aptly:
In order to enforce a total vacuum-lock on the truth, the Iraqi puppet government and the Pentagon are in the process of eliminating the truth-seekers

Sign the petition to free Khalid Jarrar.

Wake up and smell the coffee

Some things to read and view with your morning java:

CNN's "That's Bullshit" Coverage - on this videoclip you'll hear a voice whispering "that's bullshit" after Dobbs reports that Rove allegedly learned Plame's name from Novak. Enough bullshit to fill a feedlot.

Huaorani of Ecuador Call for Ten Year Oil Moratorium

Thanks to Manix, I've just been turned on to a cartoonist named Mr. Fish. Since I'm already something of a fan of Tom Tomorrow's and Ted Rall's work (bet y'all would have never guessed!), this cat fits right in.

Read about Infant and child mortality in Iraq.

RubDMC has a powerful series called Iraq War Grief Daily Witness. This is Friday's entry.

Somehow, The North American Arctic Circle has been getting temperatures more befitting of the Oklahoma panhandle.

The World Speaks on Iraq - will we Americans continue to turn a deaf ear?

The Raw Story has plenty of coverage of Rove leak scandal, including an interview with Joseph Wilson.

I really dislike people who make their fellow Okies look stupid

This is just precious: Isn't there some underground Bible network to smuggle the books in Oklahoma? Turns out some folks have their BVDs in a knot because the Tulsa Zoo isn't allowing some fundies to install an exhibit on the Old Testament creation myth (note to the right-wing PC thought police: I am using "myth" here in a generic, non-pejorative sense):
Dan Hicks, the local Christian architect who the proposed the biblical creation exhibit, has condemned the oversight board's change of heart as a violation of Tulsa taxpayers constitutional liberties. He maintains there must be something very special about the Genesis account of creation for the Park and Recreation board to insist on suppressing it....

Poor baby. I know, it's really rough being a member of a persecuted majority that is effectively the dominant religious and political force in your community. It must be terrible. Yeah, I feel your pain, etc., etc.

I realize that the religious right has a veritable stranglehold on the politics of Oklahoma: that's how one can explain geezers like those mentioned above, or the fact that a majority of our state's voters elected right-wing fruitcake Coburn (i.e., the freak who's convinced there are lesbians infiltrating the state's high schools) to the US Senate, and so forth. And yet I've spent enough time in Oklahoma to know that there are plenty of good folks here who are really not this backward. They're not the ones who make the news, unfortunately. Near as I can figure, the problem is that the populist vibe that seems to resonate with my fellow Okies got hijacked by right-wing powermongers, who've proven quite adept at talking the populist talk while doing exactly the opposite of populist policies. That problem, of course, is also not unique to Oklahoma by a long shot.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Say Hello To

Our Word and My Left Wing - two of the newest blogs to spin off from DailyKos. Our Word arose from the ashes of the ill-fated pie fight ad that proved once and for all that when it comes to women, Markos has a hostility problem . My Left Wing is the brainchild of Maryscott O'Connor, a former Kos frontpager and one hell of a writer. It'll be fun to watch these two blogs grow.

Actually it's worth noting that there have been a number of spinoffs in recent months, including Liberal Street Fighter, Unbossed.com, and Booman Tribune (which inspired a spinoff of its own, European Tribune).

There does indeed appear to be a market for liberal (and points leftward) group blogs. Each of the above has a somewhat different vibe and caters to distinct audiences. That's part of the fun, of course. Pay these blogs a visit - you're unlikely to be disappointed.

Wake up and smell the coffee

Some links to go with the Friday morning brew:

On Defensive About Rove, GOP Shoots Self in the Foot - David Sirota via Susan Hu.

Rigorous Intuition has trouble with normal, or at least "normal" as narrowly defined by "respectable" liberal bloggers.

A good one-stop resource on the growing Karl Rove/Valerie Plame Outing Scandal. Also remember that Valerie Plame wasn't the only CIA agent outed by Rove.

Lefty Blogs & ABC News Linking Bushco to London Bombings - the short version: Bu$hCo fucked up in their bid to retain the White House, and British civilians died as a consequence.

Among other news in the increasingly violent Iraq, Iraq Suicide Bombers Strike Green Zone.

Dahr Jamail on Iraqi Hospitals Under Occupation, War Profiteering and the "Brain Drain" Out of Iraq

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Two years ago

Rove commits treason. Today, he's the stain on the blue dress: All Hell Breaks Loose - Shit hits the Fan.

"I'd rather have a bottle in front of me, than a frontal lobotomy"

Lobotomy Back in Spotlight After 30 Years
The lobotomy, once a widely used method for treating mental illness, epilepsy and even chronic headaches, is generating fresh controversy 30 years after doctors stopped performing the procedure now viewed as barbaric.

A new book and a medical historian contend the crude brain surgery actually helped roughly 10 percent of the estimated 50,000 Americans who underwent the procedure between the mid-1930s and the 1970s. But relatives of lobotomy patients want the Nobel Prize given to its inventor revoked.

The lobotomy debate was discussed in an editorial in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine.

Lobotomy was pioneered in 1936 by Portuguese neurologist Egas Moniz, who operated on people with severe psychiatric illnesses, particularly agitation and depression. Through holes drilled in the skull, Moniz cut through nerve fibers connecting the brain's frontal lobe, which controls thinking, with other brain regions - believing that as new nerve connections formed the patient's abnormal behavior would end.

Moniz, already widely respected for inventing an early brain-imaging method, gave sketchy reports that many patients benefited and was awarded the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1949.

The procedure was so in vogue that Rosemary Kennedy, former President Kennedy's mildly retarded sister, had a lobotomy in the 1940s at age 23. She remained in an institution until she died in January.

Other doctors used a more primitive version than Moniz, punching an ice pick into the brain above the eye socket and blindly manipulating it to sever nerve fibers.

By the late 1930s doctors were reporting many lobotomy patients were left childlike, apathetic and withdrawn - not unlike the depiction in the novel and movie "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." Use eventually waned with the advent of effective psychiatric drugs in the mid-1950s and the growing use of electroshock therapy.

Modern views of lobotomy have led to a call to pull Moniz's Nobel prize.

There's more. Via Revolutionary Paradigm. Not only were patients likely to end up as effectively little more than human doorstops following the procedure, but a fair number actually became more violent. Turns out the prefrontal lobe of the cerebral cortex is crucial for much of what we consider human thought, including among other things the ability to control inhibitions. The human toll from barbaric procedures such as the lobotomy, as well as abuse and neglect of psychiatric patients was a primary impetus for the movement to deinstitutionalize psychiatric patients in the 1950s and 1960s.

Wake up and smell the coffee

Happy Thursday morning! Here's hoping that this morning finds you well, and ready to face another day. I've got the coffee maker locked and loaded, ready to brew up a pot of the elixir of life. And of course, here are some links with the morning brew.

Digby has kindly provided a primer of the Rovegate (or Plamegate) scandal in a number of posts, including, Clearing The Cobwebs, Judy, Judy, Judy, "It Turns Out Little Wifey Did It", Mehlman on Matthews, and Firing Offense #456. Props to The Nattering Nabob for the tip.

Not to be outdone, Billmon also seems to have a fair amount of commentary on the scandal-plagued Rove and his White House: Spock With a Beard, The Hired Hand, A Liar By Any Other Name, Slime and Defend, and Spin Dry.

The Left Coaster has been debunking the GOP Talking Points for Treason.

David Corn: Rove Did Leak Classified Information.

Earthside: The Motive for the Crime.

A couple bloggers have commented on the latest revelations on the Guantánamo prison torture scandal, including Digby, Man Eegee (of BooMan Tribune), pudentilla (skippy the bush kangaroo). I'm sure they're not the only ones out there. I've expressed my opinion on torture before (among other posts), as well as commented on some of the social psychological factors involved. A few bad apples my arse.

Goebbels & Rove -- Propaganda R' Us, a comparison by The Bulldog Manifesto.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Republican Response to Rovegate?

Lies and excuses.

And as BooMan notes, The GOP talking points simply don't stand up to the light of truth.

McClellan continues to get hammered on Rove

From today's gaggle:
Q Scott, you know what, to make a general observation here, in a previous administration, if a press secretary had given the sort of answers you've just given in referring to the fact that everybody who works here enjoys the confidence of the President, Republicans would have hammered them as having a kind of legalistic and sleazy defense. I mean, the reality is that you're parsing words, and you've been doing it for a few days now. So does the President think Karl Rove did something wrong, or doesn't he?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, David, I'm not at all. I told you and the President told you earlier today that we don't want to prejudge the outcome of an ongoing investigation. And I think we've been round and round on this for two days now.

Q Even if it wasn't a crime? You know, there are those who believe that even if Karl Rove was trying to debunk bogus information, as Ken Mehlman suggested yesterday -- perhaps speaking on behalf of the White House -- that when you're dealing with a covert operative, that a senior official of the government should be darn well sure that that person is not undercover, is not covert, before speaking about them in any way, shape, or form. Does the President agree with that or not?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, we've been round and round on this for a couple of days now. I don't have anything to add to what I've said the previous two days.

Q That's a different question, and it's not round and round --

MR. McCLELLAN: You heard from the President earlier.

Q It has nothing to do with the investigation, Scott, and you know it.

MR. McCLELLAN: You heard from the President earlier today, and the President said he's not --

Q That's a dodge to my question. It has nothing to do with the investigation. Is it appropriate for a senior official to speak about a covert agent in any way, shape, or form without first finding out whether that person is working as a covert officer.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, first of all, you're wrong. This is all relating to questions about an ongoing investigation, and I've been through this.

Q If I wanted to ask you about an ongoing investigation, I would ask you about the statute, and I'm not doing that.

MR. McCLELLAN: I think we've exhausted discussion on this the last couple of days.

Q You haven't even scratched the surface.

Q It hasn't started.

Emphasis mine.

Keeping perspective

British backbencher George Galloway has done quite a good job of telling it like it is. Today, Counterpunch posts his recent statement at the House of Commons, We Can't Separate the London Bombings from the Political Backdrop:
Does the House not believe that hatred and bitterness have been engendered by the invasion and occupation of Iraq, by the daily destruction of Palestinian homes, by the construction of the great apartheid wall in Palestine and by the occupation of Afghanistan? Does it understand that the bitterness and enmity generated by those great events feed the terrorism of bin Laden and the other Islamists? Is that such a controversial point? Is it not obvious? When I was on the Labour Benches and spoke in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, I said that I despise Osama bin Laden. The difference is that I have always despised him. I did so when the Government, in this very House, gave him guns, money and encouragement, and set him to war in Afghanistan. I said that if they handled that event in the wrong way, they would create 10,000 bin Ladens. Does anyone doubt that 10,000 bin Ladens at least have been created by the events of the past two and a half years? If they do, they have their head in the sand.

There are more people in the world today who hate us more intently than they did before as a result of the actions that we have taken. Does this House understand that the pictures from Abu Ghraib prison have inflamed and deepened that sense of hatred around the world and made our position more dangerous? Do Members of this House not understand that Guantanamo Bay has contributed to the sense of bitterness and hatred against us around the world? Does nobody in this House understand that when Palestinians' houses are knocked down, their olive trees cut down and their children shot by Israeli marksmen, an army of people who want to harm us is created? To say that is not to hope that they succeed-I started by making clear, I hope, my utter rejection and condemnation of the events in London this morning.

It does not matter whether Britain replaces the Trident submarine system with another. The threat now, as the hon. Member for Vale of Glamorgan (John Smith) made clear, is not the intercontinental ballistic missiles of other countries but the asymmetrical threat of angry people who hate us and who are ready to exchange their lives for several of ours, or hundreds of ours, or thousands of ours, if they can do so. Is that really so hard to grasp?

Indeed. Galloway's reference to Israel's great Apartheid wall, is one piece of the puzzle for those of us who are endeavoring to grasp the real human consequences of the US government's (and to a lesser degree the UK government's) willingness to not only overlook the Israeli government's violations of UN Security Council resolutions, but to actively enable that government as it continues to impose its own version of South Africa's hated Apartheid regime on the Palestinians. Andrew Rubin gives us some idea of what's up in Life Behind the Wall: "We are No Longer Able to See the Sun Set":
As part of the ongoing process of settlement that began in the Occupied Territories after Israel occupied the West Bank and the Gaza in 1967, the wall dramatically alters the conditions of life in the Occupied Territories of Palestine by establishing and consolidating a set of territorial arrangements that attempts to physically ensure that most of the existing and illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza are there to stay. By virtue of its route, which is not along the internationally recognized borders of 1967 (the Green line), the wall annexes fifty-eight percent of the West Bank and confines the Palestinians to a ghetto-like existence.

[...]

The Wall, the construction of began in June 2002, has severely disrupted and profoundly encumbered daily life. It has undermined and wretchedly destroyed the social and economic fabric Palestinian civil society. To make room for its path, entire orchards and olive groves have been uprooted. Farmers have no access to what little remains of their arable land. Thousands of Palestinian homes-over 42,165 in the West Bank­have been demolished by the Israeli military. Tens of thousands of dunams (1 dunam = 1000 square meters) have been confiscated by the Israeli military in this systematic process. Check-points and road-blocks obstruct Palestinians' unfettered access to schools, health clinics, and work. Families have been physically separated; and, in one instance, a house was purportedly divided in half. In Qalqilya, the wall rises to such a height that, it is said, one can no longer see the sun set.

Life in the Occupied Territories of Palestine has been reduced generally to an utterly debased form of collective imprisonment. In the area surrounding the town of Qalqilya alone­­includes Ras Atiya and Arab Abu Farad­­about forty thousand Palestinians remain virtually enclosed by the Wall. In October 2003, the check-point at Qalqilya was completed closed for a period that lasted several weeks, shutting off Palestinians in the surrounding area from the rest of the world in what is essentially a more or less closed ghetto. Villages such as Rafat, Deir Ballut, Az-Zawiya, have one only one exit, and, in the case of Deir Ballut, the military checkpoint is closed every evening at 19:00. In the town of Jayyus, in the district of Qalqilya, the Israeli military opens the check-point briefly. An Israeli military sign in Arabic announces the check-point is open from 7:40 to 8:00 am, 2:00 to 2:15, and 18:45-19:00, only fifty minutes a day.

The human cost of the occupation in general and the construction of the Wall in particular is enormous. Since September 29, 2000 to June 20, 2005, 3,625 Palestinians have been killed, nearly 30,000 injured, over 7,000 with live ammunition fire. In the long history of the occupation that began in 1967, roughly 400,000 Palestinian have been detained at one point or another. Calculated as proportion of the total Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza, 40 percent of Palestinian men have, at one time or another in their lives, been imprisoned.

The wall has severely disrupted the free movement of Palestinian, Druze, Bedouin and Arab residents of the Palestine Occupied Territories. In its current configuration, the Israeli Wall intersects Route 65 from Qalqilya to Nablus at five different and separate points, making travel to the larger city of Nablus, where most life-saving surgical procedures are performed, almost completely inaccessible. It geographically divides the West Bank latitudinally in half, making travel between the north and south impossible. What was once only a short distance­20km­between Qalqilya and Nablus is made all the more insurmountable by a series of obstacles, checkpoints, road blocks, and the physical barrier of the Wall which together as a system of geographical enclosure forces Palestinians to drive an extra few hundred kilometers­at least several hours­to get to the nearest major hospital that us equipped to deal with critically ill patients. In one recent case, a woman with a complicated pregnancy was denied an exit permit at Israeli checkpoint near Qalqilya. She was giving birth to twins on the spot, yet the Israeli soldiers refused to let her drive to the nearest hospital for surgery. Both babies died.

Entire villages are cut off from their crops-mostly citrus and olive groves. In the Salfit area, the Israelis seized roughly ninety percent of the land in order to incorporate the Jewish settlements of Ariel and Kaddom on the Israeli side of the wall. At certain points the wall literally juts abruptly into Palestinian territory in order to claim the Salfit area for Israeli settlements. As if that were not enough, the Wall's trajectory seizes some of the most fertile soil in the region on the Israeli side, between the Green Line and the Wall itself.

Daily existence in Gaza fares no better. Although widely celebrated as the end of the occupation of Gaza, the Sharon disengagement is actually the exact opposite: it is the armed, military encirclement of Gaza by the Israeli military. >From September 29, 2000 to December 2004, 18,311 homes in Gaza have been destroyed. In Rafah alone, which Israel invaded in October 2003, the Israeli military destroyed 120 houses, shut down 114 refugee shelters, and in that month alone left 1,240 left Palestinians homeless. From the period of September 2000 to December 2004, over 16,000 people were rendered homeless.

The aim of all this, which Ariel Sharon has admitted quite candidly, is to prevent Gaza from having any external contact with the outside world by land, by air, and by sea. Indeed, it is far more costly for Israel military to continue to occupy Gaza from within its borders, than to control Gaza from outside of it as a prison-like entity. Through a process of systematic demolition and armed encirclement, Israel has established a 200-300 meter buffer (the so-called Philadelphia corridor) between the entrance to Gaza at the mouth of Salah Edin Gate--the main entrance to Rafah's central throughway­Jamal Abdel Nasser Street­­ and demolished entire blocks of houses in front of the gate. In addition, it has razed the houses along the borders of Gaza and Egypt-the Al Brazil Block, As Salam Block, and other make-shift residences that are simply called "Block D"­­to the ground. In the Rafah camp alone, eighty children under the age of fourteen were killed by the Israelis in the process. To put the housing demolition into some relative perspective would be say it is equivalent of 1.2 million homes in the United States were destroyed. "What the army is doing in Rafah camp is nothing less than ethnic cleansing," says Dr. Moustafa Barghouti, the head of the Palestinian National Initiative

What is actually occurring is Israel's territorial consolidation of four principles which have guided Israeli political imagination since 1968:

1) that no Palestinian state shall share any borders with any other country other than Israel;

2) a Palestinian state will have no real or meaningful sovereignty, only a functional one subordinate to Israel's sovereignty;

3) that Israel will preserve and institutionalize the existing conditions in the Occupied Territories by protecting existing Jewish settlements; and

4) Israel will continue to build illegal settlements to create the illusion that any cessation of construction is actually a sign of Israel's willingness to compromise and a sign of its "good faith"-a strategy that is practiced by both the Labor Party and Likkud, with the only real difference being the conservative or liberal ideology that is used to justify its ongoing colonial expansion in the West Bank.

The Israeli ideological strategy has been part of a systematic process that involves four general practices: the ongoing military occupation of the Palestine Occupied Territories in general; the preservation and expansion of existing and illegal Jewish settlement in the West Bank and Gaza; the construction of new settlements (roughly a 102 new ones), and the construction of the Wall to preserve and make these practices seemingly physically irreversible realities on the ground. The function of part of the latter strategy--the building of the Wall­­ is as obvious as lines on the maps that represent its trajectory. A comparison between the 1993 maps of Oslo Accords and existing plans for all three phases of the Wall incontrovertibly shows that the Wall is nothing less than the physical and concrete institutionalization of precisely those aspects of Oslo that Israel had agreed to: the establishment of tiny cloisters and pockets of Palestinian self-rule, with no meaningful sovereignty, that Edward Said compared to the bantustans which the British had devised as a means of exerting its colonial authority in Africa; it established small areas of relative autonomy with local tribal leaders subjected to Britain's overall rule.

One of the things that Rubin notes is the forms of protest used by the Palestinians in their efforts to resist the colonization of their land. Indeed today at least a couple bloggers have made reference to the "Palestinian Gandhis" of Bilan. Doug Ireland's post is well-worth reading, as is this by Rahul Mahajan of Empire Notes:
According to Mohammed Khatib, a member of Bilin's Popular Committee Against the Wall and secretary of the village council, writng in an International Herald Tribune op-ed, Help Us Stop Israel's Wall Peacefully, Bilin is due to lose 60% of its land to the Wall (even though it is 2.5 miles east of the Green Line), and has held 50 peaceful protests since February.

Apparently, among their innovative tactics was holding a demonstration with protesters already in handcuffs, to undermine the inevitable claims by soldiers that they had to fire because they were attacked.

Apparently innocent of the deep insights of Thomas Friedman, Khatib points out that, despite their nonviolence, villagers are routinely attacked by the IDF:
In the face of our peaceful resistance, Israeli soldiers attack our peaceful protests with teargas, clubs, rubber-coated steel bullets and live ammunition, and have injured over 100 villagers. They invade the village at night, entering homes, pulling families out and arresting people. At a peaceful protest on June 17, soldiers arrested the brothers Abdullah and Rateb Abu Rahme, two village leaders. Soldiers testified that Rateb was throwing stones. An Israeli military judge recently ordered Rateb's release because videotapes showed the soldiers' claims were false.
These much-beleaguered people certainly deserve all the support they can get.

As long as our nation is associated with those who abuse human rights - not to mention acts to perpetrate human rights abuses itself - we will continue to see efforts by those victimized to push back. The tactics may vary (with some choosing nonviolence and others violence), but the message is clear: "don't tread on us." We ignore that message at our own risk.

Wake up and smell the coffee


Noticed that yesterday marked the release of Al Kooper's new album Black Coffee. The clip I heard sounded good - maybe the aural equivalent to my favorite beverage. So it goes. I'm slowly getting around to outlining and writing up a social psychological approach to understanding genocide - utilizing the General Aggression Model of Anderson and Bushman as a framework, and hope to start dropping some of the rough material for it on this blog over the next few weeks. Let's just say I've been reading quite a bit and am in the process of digesting it all. In the meantime, some links with the morning brew:

The Devil's Flypaper - if there were one must-read this would be it. It's certainly worth repeating that for all the conservative drivel about preventing civilian casualties at "home" (i.e., the US and UK), the attacks we have seen are but a mere fraction of what Iraqi civilians deal with on a daily basis.

As the Angry Arab News Service notes THIS is Zionism: Israeli Barrier in Jerusalem Will Cut Off 55,000 Arabs. Apartheid by any other name still stinks.

Susan Hu helps to publicize Niger's food crisis.

A European news roundup, for your consideration.

A trip down memory lane

Time has a way of flying. I recall once upon a time when the outing of Valerie Plame (a CIA agent at the time) was but a mere footnote - something which might be followed up by a few dillegent bloggers or commentators, but which otherwise slips by, overlooked. Back then, the conventional wisdom was that Bu$hCo held all the cards. Some of us had the sense to figure they were bluffing, but the time to call their bluff just never quite materialized. That summer McClellan could bluster about how such leaks were "not how this White House operates", and one could read or listen to promises (empty though they may be) to fire anyone who would out a CIA agent. I still love the Joe Wilson quote from Sept. 2003, where he refers to wanting to see "Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs". Although the White House was certainly tight-lipped, McClellan would contend that Rove was not the leaker.

Two years later, the situation has changed. The truth is coming out, and it shall set us free. McClellan is being grilled, Novak, while cooperating with the investigation, isn't exactly considered trustworthy, Rove's lawyer seems confused - refusing to state whether or not Rove knew Plame was a covert agent and also claiming that Time "burned" his client. Corrupt with near-absolute power, the GOP is perfectly okay with Rove's treasonous behavior. At least Lautenberg has the good sense to call Rove a traitor, and Kerry & H. Clinton are among those who've added their voices to the call to fire Rove.

PBU28

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The consensus on Rove and the White House:

Crooks and liars. Susan Hu notes that the Rove scandal along with Republican cuts in the budget for domestic security give the Dems an opening to really shine on that issue. Armando aptly sums up the Republican reaction to the unfolding Rove scandal: "lying and treason are okay when Republicans do it." They'll excuse the misdeeds of their own while attacking anyone who even dares to point out the obvious: they're a bunch of damned crooks who don't care about the welfare of this country. He sums up the whole sad spectacle with decent soundbites:
When it is Rove's OWN ASS on the line, who could expect anything less. We already know for Republicans and Rove, NOTHING is more important than their own skins.

They won't volunteer to fight in Iraq.

They will deliberately damage the national security of the country.

They will lie to the American People.

There is NOTHING they won't do. Nothing.

Juan Cole makes the case that Rove is unfit for public office. He also notes that a president who would continue to harbor Rove is unfit to occupy the White House.

As I gathered from briefly watching CNN Headline News, today's White House reaction is more of the same: silence.

Wake up and smell the coffee


Here we go again. Once more, without the cream or sugar, some links with the morning brew.

Quieter than bombs, Iraq's foul water also kills - It's safe to say that all the money earmarked for rebuilding Iraq went toward some executives' brandy and cigar budget. In the meantime, real Iraqis continue to suffer:
BAGHDAD, July 11 (Reuters) - In Baghdad's Sadr City slum a pipe has burst, turning an empty building lot into a garbage- strewn mudhole. Children are gambolling in the filth, cooling from the 45 degree Celsius (115 Fahrenheit) summer heat.

A man scoops up the dirty water with a tin bucket into a tub in the back of his pickup truck to take home to his family.

[...]

"My son is suffering from dehydration," says Lamia Khudier, clutching tiny baby Akeel at Sadr City's Health Clinic Number 6.

"It's the water. The water is dirty. It smells. Please, fix the water. It is disgusting."

Baghdad's pipes are broken. Fresh water and raw sewage mix underground. Water pressure is low or non-existent, forcing Baghdadis to use their own pumps to suck out foul water.

The clinic's director, Ziad Nima Salman, says most children in the slum suffer from dehydration, diarrhoea and vomiting. Babies are fed milk made by mixing powder with putrid water.

TREND WORRYING

Few records are kept of how many children are dying. International aid organisations have largely fled. But from where Salman is sitting, the problem has got worse over the last two years.

His clinic has treated twice as many patients with hepatitis A and typhoid in just the first six months of this year than in all of 2004, he said.

"For us, the most important thing is the children. They are suffering because of this contamination," he said.


[...]

Iraq's water supply was probably the single most important victim of the overall neglect of infrastructure during more than a decade of UN-imposed economic sanctions.

Many had hoped that after the fall of Saddam Hussein, U.S. forces would oversee rapid reconstruction and improvement.

[...]

"The entire fresh water system needs to be replaced," said Webster. "About 50 percent of fresh water was already being lost before reaching the taps because the pipes were in such bad shape."


We'll just add the above to Susan Hu's list of outrages.

Read Kurt Nimmo's Blame and Bomb Iran.

France is having its worst drought in 30 years. Check out the pic of Europe included in the post - it looks like much of Europe has been unusually dry this year.

Read Paul Krugman's Un-Spin the Budget, followed by news on soaring gasoline and house prices.

American Filmmaker Held by the U.S. Military in Iraq for 7 Weeks Is Released - apparently he looked like he'd been beaten at some point during his imprisonment. As Steve put it, "So except for the beatings, everything is cool, right?"

Cookie Jill has an example of how Republican financial fraud effects average joe.

And Skippy notes that the asspress deserves some credit for beginning an article on the scandal-plagued Karl Rove with this gem:
for two years, the white house has insisted that presidential adviser karl rove had nothing to do with the leak of a cia officer's identity. and president bush said the leaker would be fired.

So, when does Karl get his pink slip?

Monday, July 11, 2005

And now for something completely different:

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Murder

Detained Iraqis suffocate in police van:
Nine Iraqi bricklayers detained by security forces on suspicion of involvement with armed fighters have suffocated to death while held for more than 14 hours in a police van.

Three other suspects, who survived the ordeal of being locked up in a van in the sun, were taken to hospital on Monday morning where they were to be interviewed by officials who are investigating the case, an Interior Ministry official said.

The incident began on Sunday in the Amariyah district of western Baghdad when one of 12 bricklayers sustained gunshots during a firefight between armed fighters and police.

His colleagues took him to a hospital in the Shuala district where he was pronounced dead.

Iraqi police commandos then arrived at the hospital where they arrested the 11, along with one other man who was there accompanying his pregnant wife.

The suspects were taken to the commando headquarters in the Jihad neighbourhood in western Baghdad where they were said to have been beaten and locked in the police van from 11am on Sunday to 1am on Monday.

The article also provides a roundup of some of the other violence occurring in Iraq. Actually, the article understates the plight of the bricklayers. See this BBC story for yet another take (via No Capital):
Nine building workers have died in Iraq after being arrested on suspicion of insurgent activity and then left in a closed metal container.

Three men survived the ordeal, police sources said, despite being left for 14 hours in the burning Iraqi summer heat.

They had apparently been caught up in a firefight between US troops and Iraqi gunmen, and were detained after taking an injured colleague to hospital.

[...]

Police sources told the BBC that at least 12 men had been arrested on Sunday after they had taken a colleague to hospital in Ameriya with gunshot wounds.

A local resident, thinking they were insurgents, called the police, who sent commandos to arrest the men.

Police commandos are accused of systematic abuse of detainees
At about midday, they were put into a metal container and by nightfall eight prisoners were dead and three were in a critical condition.

The survivors were taken to a central Baghdad hospital where staff said a ninth man died.

The Iraqi capital suffers scorching heat during the summer months, with temperatures often reaching 50 degrees.

A doctor told the BBC that one of the survivors had said he had been given repeated electric shocks by the commandos.

The survivors were kept under police guard as they were treated and were taken away without being allowed to speak to journalists.

Recent UK press reports have alleged police commandos systematically torture and abuse detainees. The security forces themselves are the target of much of Iraq's insurgency violence.

Note that the BBC story uses degrees celsius when describing summertime temperatures. For my American readers, that converts to 122 degrees fahrenheit. That is, to state the obvious, extremely hot. To put that into perspective, those are the sorts of daytime temperatures you will routinely find in places like Death Valley, California during the summer months. To put things into still more perspective, the interiors of vehicles and metal containers are likely to reach temperatures well beyond the daytime temperature, as they absorb heat from the sun. It's probably a miracle that the whole lot of these detainees didn't die - as it is, only three survived.

More food for thought

Via Planet Grenada, What is the Islamic stance on the London bombings?:
There is no Islamic justification possible for crimes against humanity, such as the recent London bombings.

The killing of innocents is against basic humanity, and has absolutely no place in the Shariah. The Shariah came to preserve five fundamental interests (maqasid): religion, life, intellect, honor, and property. Things that harm any of these are contrary to the very foundations of Divine Law.

Fun with the White House Press Briefing

I wonder if Scottie realizes that there's a special place in Hell reserved for anyone associated with this White House.
QUESTION: Does the president stand by his pledge to fire anyone involved in a leak of the name of a CIA operative?

MCCLELLAN: I appreciate your question. I think your question is being asked related to some reports that are in reference to an ongoing criminal investigation. The criminal investigation that you reference is something that continues at this point.

And as I’ve previously stated, while that investigation is ongoing, the White House is not going to comment on it.

The president directed the White House to cooperate fully with the investigation. And as part of cooperating fully with the investigation, we made a decision that we weren’t going to comment on it while it is ongoing.

QUESTION: I actually wasn’t talking about any investigation.

But in June of 2004, the president said that he would fire anybody who was involved in this leak to the press about information. I just wanted to know: Is that still his position?

MCCLELLAN: Yes, but this question is coming up in the context of this ongoing investigation, and that’s why I said that our policy continues to be that we’re not going to get into commenting on an ongoing criminal investigation from this podium.

The prosecutors overseeing the investigation had expressed a preference to us that one way to help the investigation is not to be commenting on it from this podium.

MCCLELLAN: And so that’s why we are not going to get into commenting on it while it is an ongoing investigation — or questions related to it.

QUESTION: Scott, if I could point out: Contradictory to that statement, on September 29th of 2003, while the investigation was ongoing, you clearly commented on it. You were the first one to have said that if anybody from the White House was involved, they would be fired.
And then, on June 10th of 2004, at Sea Island Plantation, in the midst of this investigation, when the president made his comments that, yes, he would fire anybody from the White House who was involved, so why have you commented on this during the process of the investigation in the past, but now you’ve suddenly drawn a curtain around it under the statement of, We’re not going to comment on an ongoing investigation?

MCCLELLAN: Again, John, I appreciate the question. I know you want to get to the bottom of this. No one wants to get to the bottom of it more than the president of the United States.
And I think the way to be most helpful is to not get into commenting on it while it is an ongoing investigation. And that’s something that the people overseeing the investigation have expressed a preference that we follow.
And that’s why we’re continuing to follow that approach and that policy.
Now, I remember very well what was previously said. And, at some point, I will be glad to talk about it, but not until after the investigation is complete.

QUESTION: So could I just ask: When did you change your mind to say that it was OK to comment during the course of an investigation before, but now it’s not?

MCCLELLAN: Well, I think maybe you missed what I was saying in reference to Terry’s question at the beginning. There came a point, when the investigation got under way, when those overseeing the investigation asked that it would be — or said that it would be their preference that we not get into discussing it while it is ongoing.
I think that’s the way to be most helpful to help them advance the investigation and get to the bottom of it.

QUESTION: Scott, can I ask you this: Did Karl Rove commit a crime?

MCCLELLAN: Again, David, this is a question relating to a ongoing investigation, and you have my response related to the investigation. And I don’t think you should read anything into it other than: We’re going to continue not to comment on it while it’s ongoing.

QUESTION: Do you stand by your statement from the fall of 2003, when you were asked specifically about Karl and Elliot Abrams and Scooter Libby, and you said, I’ve gone to each of those gentlemen, and they have told me they are not involved in this ?

QUESTION: Do you stand by that statement?

MCCLELLAN: And if you will recall, I said that, as part of helping the investigators move forward on the investigation, we’re not going to get into commenting on it. That was something I stated back near that time as well.

QUESTION: Scott, this is ridiculous. The notion that you’re going to stand before us, after having commented with that level of detail, and tell people watching this that somehow you’ve decided not to talk.
You’ve got a public record out there. Do you stand by your remarks from that podium or not?

MCCLELLAN: I’m well aware, like you, of what was previously said. And I will be glad to talk about it at the appropriate time. The appropriate time is when the investigation…

QUESTION: (inaudible) when it’s appropriate and when it’s inappropriate?

MCCLELLAN: If you’ll let me finish.

QUESTION: No, you’re not finishing. You’re not saying anything.
You stood at that podium and said that Karl Rove was not involved. And now we find out that he spoke about Joseph Wilson’s wife. So don’t you owe the American public a fuller explanation. Was he involved or was he not? Because contrary to what you told the American people, he did indeed talk about his wife, didn’t he?

MCCLELLAN: There will be a time to talk about this, but now is not the time to talk about it.

QUESTION: Do you think people will accept that, what you’re saying today?

MCCLELLAN: Again, I’ve responded to the question.

QUESTION: You’re in a bad spot here, Scott…
(LAUGHTER)
… because after the investigation began — after the criminal investigation was under way — you said, October 10th, 2003, I spoke with those individuals, Rove, Abrams and Libby. As I pointed out, those individuals assured me they were not involved in this, from that podium. That’s after the criminal investigation began.

Now that Rove has essentially been caught red-handed peddling this information, all of a sudden you have respect for the sanctity of the criminal investigation.

MCCLELLAN: No, that’s not a correct characterization. And I think you are well aware of that.
We know each other very well. And it was after that period that the investigators had requested that we not get into commenting on an ongoing criminal investigation.

And we want to be helpful so that they can get to the bottom of this. Because no one wants to get to the bottom of it more than the president of the United States.

I am well aware of what was said previously. I remember well what was said previously. And at some point I look forward to talking about it. But until the investigation is complete, I’m just not going to do that.

QUESTION: So you’re now saying that after you cleared Rove and the others from that podium, then the prosecutors asked you not to speak anymore and since then you haven’t.

MCCLELLAN: Again, you’re continuing to ask questions relating to an ongoing criminal investigation and I’m just not going to respond to them.

QUESTION: When did they ask you to stop commenting on it, Scott? Can you pin down a date?

MCCLELLAN: Back in that time period.

QUESTION: Well, then the president commented on it nine months later. So was he not following the White House plan?

MCCLELLAN: I appreciate your questions. You can keep asking them, but you have my response.

QUESTION: Well, we are going to keep asking them.
When did the president learn that Karl Rove had had a conversation with a news reporter about the involvement of Joseph Wilson’s wife in the decision to send him to Africa?

MCCLELLAN: I’ve responded to the questions.

QUESTION: When did the president learn that Karl Rove had been…

MCCLELLAN: I’ve responded to your questions.

QUESTION: After the investigation is completed, will you then be consistent with your word and the president’s word that anybody who was involved will be let go?

MCCLELLAN: Again, after the investigation is complete, I will be glad to talk about it at that point.

QUESTION: Can you walk us through why, given the fact that Rove’s lawyer has spoken publicly about this, it is inconsistent with the investigation, that it compromises the investigation to talk about the involvement of Karl Rove, the deputy chief of staff, here?

MCCLELLAN: Well, those overseeing the investigation expressed a preference to us that we not get into commenting on the investigation while it’s ongoing. And that was what they requested of the White House. And so I think in order to be helpful to that investigation, we are following their direction.

QUESTION: Scott, there’s a difference between commenting on an investigation and taking an action…

MCCLELLAN: (inaudible)

QUESTION: Can I finish, please?

MCCLELLAN: I’ll come back to you in a minute.

Or, shorter McClellan: "Karl, who?"

Interesting

Shipping through Houston, on a blog called Sprol: See The Worst Places In The World.

Food for thought:

Ken Macleod says
One area where the self-professed followers of the Carpenter have shown some superiority over those who abuse the name of the Prophet is in the creativity of their terrorism. Christian terrorists have invented or perfected the car bomb, the no-warning bomb, the false warning bomb, the secondary bomb, the proxy bomb, the VCR-timer bomb, the dump-truck bomb, the fertiliser bomb, the litter-bin bomb, and the on-camera hacksaw beheading. Even the airliner hijack was invented by (presumably Papist) Cubans. The world record for suicide bombing was until quite recently held by the Tamil Tigers, who are godless communists raised as Episcopalians. In terms of bang-for-a-buck and political effectiveness, the Christian fascist terrorist McVeigh accomplished more at OKC than Osama achieved at the World Trade Centre.

Wake up and smell the coffee

Neocon rage at the gang who can't shoot straight? Strange but true.

Wind energy becomes a viable alternative energy source.

Remembering terrorism: the Rainbow Warrior bombing - commemorating the only case of international terrorism to strike New Zealand's shores.

More on the Plame game: When Did The White House Plame Outing Really Start?

Frank Rich says We're Not in Watergate Anymore. See also, Bush White House is Nixonian

Bush's Iraq/Terrorism Fraud - or what do you expect when grifters occupy the White House?

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Send some love over to Skippy

Or if not love, at least your traffic at his blog, as Skippy tries to make the 1,000,000 mark on the 3rd anniversary of when he started keeping track of hits.

Heck, I figure almost a couple years ago, Skippy was kind enough to send some traffic my way, so I'll do my small part to return the favor.

And now that my blog is only about 966,000 hits away from the 1,000,000 mark, maybe we can start a drive to get The Left End of the Dial to that lofty number by my third anniversary (we have just over 13 months). Hell, I'll just settle for reaching the million mark by the time I retire - that should give y'all some 25-30 years to play with. :-)

Fun with compare and contrast

Jesus' General contrasts Muslim and American right-wing presumably "Christian" reactions to the London attacks. Who are the hate-filled barbarians?

Wake up and smell the coffee

Time to don my "Sunday best" - today's attire, my finest tie-dye t-shirt, jeans, Birkenstocks (and yes, I have been known to show up at church services precisely like that!). And now on to our regularly scheduled caffeine and links:

Paul Craig Roberts says, Blowback hits Britain. To quote just a bit of his editorial:
Blair and Bush are on their high horses claiming the morality of "civilized nations" and denouncing the retaliation they have provoked as "barbarism."

Their hypocrisy plays poorly in the world. Far more innocent Iraqi civilians, especially women and children, have been slaughtered than British and Americans. Why do Bush and Blair believe they should be praised for slaughtering civilians and only Muslims denounced?

Why do Americans think it is heroic and honorable for our troops to massacre Iraqis with bombs, missiles, gunships, tanks, and heavy machine guns, but cowardly and barbaric when our victims fight back in the only way they can?

The US and Britain started this fight, not Iraq. We should be ashamed that Bush and Blair deceived us, tricked us into a pointless and unjust war, and that innocent people on both sides are paying with their lives and limbs for Bush's and Blair's lies. Our real anger should be directed at Bush and Blair who are responsible for the deaths and destruction.

The American and British people had better wake up, depose their immoral leaders, and put a halt to this war.

And yeah, Roberts has genuine conservative credentials (for the uninitiated, it's worth pointing out that not everyone against this stupid war in Iraq is a "lefty" like me).

Norman Solomon has some words of wisdom in Terrorism, the 'War on Terror' and the Message of Carnage:
Forty years later, with a "war on terrorism" serving as the central theme of pro-war propaganda, the United States and its military allies are routinely sending lethal messages. It should not surprise us when such messages are returned to sender.


Leaked 10 Downing Street Dossier - London Bombers Homegrown? is a good read. Whoever is responsible for the recent London attacks is apparently likely to be British, Muslim, and reasonably well-off according to the leaked info.

Finally, before I forget, check out David Sirota on Why America Needs Less Mindless Conformity.