The Great White North confronts the invisible fence

Posted September 27, 2006 on 1:58 am | In the category Canada, Germany, Uncategorized | by Mackenzie Brothers

US President George Bush has announced that Boeing has been awarded a multi billion dollar contract to build a 10,000 kilometer long “invisible fence” along the Mexican and Canadian borders, similar to the one that dog owners place around their backyards to keep fido from leaving the property. 18,000 towers, outfitted with motion detectors and cameras, will ensure that US citizens enjoy the kind of internal protection previously offered to populations behind the Iron Curtain, the Berlin Wall and the North Korean no-go zone.

Canadian authorities were taken by surprise by the announcement of the end of what used to be called “the world’s longest undefended border”. Recalling that more than 37,000 Hungarians showed up in Canada when the Iron Curtain was briefly breached in 1956, Canadian aid societies have begun to make preparations for the expected flow of refugees moving north across the mountains before the watchtowers are in place. In Whitehorse the Yukon government has asked for a 2-year delay to make certain that the 200,000 strong porcupine caribou herd is on the right side of the border lest they get permanently lost amidst the oil drilling equipment dotting the wildlife refuge on the Alaska side of the border. Should the herd cross while under detection, it is feared that an energy crisis will be inevitable as the detectors and cameras become challenged beyond their capabiilties.

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Press and Politics: A Synergy of Sorts

Posted September 26, 2006 on 9:16 pm | In the category Iraq, Politics, Press | by Jeff

A friend from New Zealand with considerable experience in American politics and a very good analytical sense points out to me that the Bush response to the NY Times and Washington Post reports on the National Intelligence Estimate is an indication of the power of the press in the best sense. Bush was forced to respond and respond he – sort of – did. Bush and his gang have managed the press for over five years and the press is finally and belatedly finding some courage and integrity. I don’t mean Fox News or the ilk, but serious press. No more Judith Miller; no more weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, no more sexed-up intelligence shoved on the American people by a complacent press to support a war based on bullshit. One can hope…

So what we have is Bush being forced to declassify “portions” of the NIE – that is, those portions that might provide some slim support for his theses on the war in Iraq. Obviously the best thing would be to release the entire report – he will not do that – too much political damage. End of the day I have to ask – Is there a room in the Smithsonian for the last supporter of the Iraq Fiasco? An exhibit with Rummy holding hands with General Westmoreland — Bush on his knees praying to the God of hopeless causes– Cheney swimming in Halliburton’s dough. Scenes from our American hell.

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Brain Dead at the White House

Posted September 26, 2006 on 8:56 pm | In the category Iraq, Press, Terrorism | by Jeff

Ok– the NY Times and Washington Post have reported on the NIE report that our Iraq fiasco has increased the terrorist threat; the President’s response is a typical moronic babble to the effect that we should not have been provided this information and that he would release – selectively – further information that would make it plain as can be that our Iraq fiasco was a wonderful adventure – as long as your kid wasn’t one of the ones giving it up for a pile of Texas bullshit. I understand that the press thinks it needs to treat this crap seriously – I just wonder why?

Skippy has consistently lied about everything connected to Iraq and the press was complicit in this (see Judith Miller et alia) It is actually not clear why he did it – was it his Daddy’s failure in 1991 to finish it off and a Freudian need to one-up him? Was it the Israel lobby that moved him? The direct voices from God? Wolfkowitz’s nutty obsession with Iraq? Cheney’s desire to set up a profit machine for Halliburton?

There is really no good reason for it and the puzzle remains because Skippy seems to actually believe what his speechwriters have written. What seems clear is that we have a president who does not enjoy good mental health. He avoids reality, believes he speaks personally with God, sends young Americans to death on a series of known lies, has destroyed the reputation of Colin Powell a former American hero, supports the most incompetent Defense Secretary in the country’s history, and has the audacity to go on TV and claim that everyone around him is naive. If only we knew what he knows. It is past time for America to embrace sanity.

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Where’s George?

Posted September 26, 2006 on 1:30 pm | In the category Uncategorized | by John

The New Orleans Saints took on the Atlanta Falcons at the refurbished New Orleans Superdome last night. The Superdome sucked up $165 million in its reconstruction made necessary by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Some may argue that the cash could have been better used on dwellings and basic infrastructure that remain unusable in that crippled area, but at least for one night and possibly for the rest of the football season, that investment appeared to mean a lot to the people of New Orleans. The game was preceded by a concert by Green Day and U2. It was actually moving – in an NFL pro-football kind of way. After the concert came the traditional coin toss and who should appear but the President’s Pappy – ol’ 41 himself. Now, George the First and Bill Clinton have together raised millions of dollars for important humanitarian causes and Pappy certainly had a right to be there last night. But I kept asking myself, Where is George the Younger?
Just as presidents have thrown out the first ball at the first baseball game of the new season, couldn’t – shouldn’t – George the Younger have been in New Orleans to toss that coin last night? We’re not talking about any ol’ game here – we’re talking about a symbolic rebirth of a nearly destroyed city.
The answer to my “Where’s George” question is obvious and his absence was predictable. George the Younger would have been booed off the playing field last night had he the balls to show. It was his Administration’s failure, his incompetent FEMA, his “you’re-doing-a-hell-of-a-job-Brownie” nonsense, his total lack of response in the face of one of the most serious natural disasters this Nation has ever faced that is indelibly etched in our brains. His presence would have been a downer unless you get a kick out of laughing at the man. Certainly the Younger’s handlers must have understood and advised him accordingly. This President, who has been such an abysmal failure in virtually all respects, had no place in a celebration of recovery.

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Unpaid Political Ads on Cable TV

Posted September 26, 2006 on 12:24 pm | In the category Politics, Press | by Jeff

There are a lot of ways to reduce the costs of presenting the news. One way on cable news channels is to broadcast a political speech and call it news – even “breaking news”. NECN (New England Cable News) has just finished broadcasting a speech by Massachusetts Governor in Absentia Mitt Romney in defense of his Lt. Governor Kerry Healey. She was embarrassed in a debate last night and Mitt decided to come to her rescue (no need to comment on a female candidate for Governor needing help from her alpha male mentor). And NECN carried it as news when it was clearly a political bag job.


Clown School on the Hill

Posted September 26, 2006 on 12:16 pm | In the category Iraq, Politics | by Jeff

The following quotes are from retired military testifying to an Iraq forum organized by Senate Democrats and boycotted by Republican Senators due to their fear of learning something.

“I believe that Secretary Rumsfeld and others in the administration did not tell the American people the truth for fear of losing support for the war in Iraq,” retired Army Maj. Gen. John Batiste. Batiste, who commanded the Army’s 1st Infantry Division in Iraq, said Rumsfeld at one point had threatened to fire the next person who mentioned the need for a postwar plan. Batiste also said Congress had failed to ask “the tough questions.”

Retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton assessed Rumsfeld as “incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically….”Mr. Rumsfeld and his immediate team must be replaced or we will see two more years of extraordinarily bad decision making.”

Comments from two senior Republican Senators are evidence that some clowns are simply not educable.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, a member of the Armed Services Committee, called Monday’s event “an election-year smoke screen aimed at obscuring the Democrats’ dismal record on national security.”

Said Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.: “Today’s stunt may rile up the liberal base, but it won’t kill a single terrorist or prevent a single attack.”

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The Clowns on the Hill

Posted September 25, 2006 on 5:44 pm | In the category Politics, Terrorism | by Jeff

Senators McCain, Warner and Graham, made a half-hearted attempt to salvage habeas corpus from the administration’s Constitution wreckers. Sen. Spector, having caved once already this month, on the wire-tapping bill, has re-discovered his spine and called for hearings on the bill, called by Rolling Stone’s Tom Dickinson the “Abu Ghraib Authorization and Whitewash Act of 2006”.
Is the Senate really ready to throw the U.S. Constitution under the train to further the political interests of the loonies in the Bush administration? Probably.

Senator Spector was likely driven by the embarrassment of a bill removing the precious Constitutional protection of habeas corpus heading for the Senate floor with no hearings in his Judiciary Committee.  But given his having collaborated with Vice President Cheney on the wiretap whitewash there is no reason not to believe that the American people will once again be sold down the river.

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Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens Terrorism Threat

Posted September 23, 2006 on 4:38 pm | In the category Iraq, Press | by Jeff

In a solid piece of reporting, Mark Mazzetti writes in today’s online NY Times: “A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The classified National Intelligence Estimate attributes a more direct role to the Iraq war in fueling radicalism than that presented either in recent White House documents or in a report released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee, according to several officials in Washington involved in preparing the assessment or who have read the final document.

The intelligence estimate, completed in April, is the first formal appraisal of global terrorism by United States intelligence agencies since the Iraq war began, and represents a consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government. Titled “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States,’’ it asserts that Islamic radicalism, rather than being in retreat, has metastasized and spread across the globe.

An opening section of the report, “Indicators of the Spread of the Global Jihadist Movement,” cites the Iraq war as a reason for the diffusion of jihad ideology.

The report “says that the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse,” said one American intelligence official…”

No further comment.

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Inviolable Taboos Broken REDUX

Posted September 23, 2006 on 4:18 pm | In the category Uncategorized | by Jeff

Referring to the previous Blog by Omar: the initial piece on the Israel lobby by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt appeared in the London Review of Books in March and is available here.  The article is provocative but not evidence of anti-Semitism on the part of the authors. This tired response does a disservice to both Israel and the United States and poisons public discourse. It is of course, possible to disagree; to review the discussion that followed publication of the article go to the energetic debate via letters to the editor that appeared subsequent to the article’s appearance; these are linked at the article’s conclusion. It is worth reading the entire ensuing comments to gauge the credibility of the authors as well as of their critics.

I end with a quote from Mearsheimer and Walt in their response to the critical letters.

“…We close with a final comment about the controversy surrounding our article. Although we are not surprised by the hostility directed at us, we are still disappointed that more attention has not been paid to the substance of the piece. The fact remains that the United States is in deep trouble in the Middle East, and it will not be able to develop effective policies if it is impossible to have a civilised discussion about the role of Israel in American foreign policy…”

Further discussion of the issues, including discussion in Foreign Policy is linked from Mearsheimer’s website.

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Inviolable Taboos Broken

Posted September 23, 2006 on 2:24 pm | In the category Politics, Uncategorized | by Omar

Since the publication of “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” by John Mearsheimer of the Univ of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard the taboo of criticising Israel has been lifted slightly. These two respected scholars who have no previous history of engaging in the Middle East debates surprised everyone and the response has also been a surprise. The paper is being subjected to reviews from the left and the right in agreement that our relationship with Israel is harming American interests abroad and to accusations of anti-semestism. The paper was recently republished with minor revisions and updates in the journal “Middle East Policy”.

In addition to the Mearsheimer and Walt piece Rashid Khalidi, a Palestinian teaching at Columbia, published his most recent book on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict “The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood” in which he says it is time to treat history with some respect; “The avoidance of the hard realities of the Middle East in some quarters in the United States is not a new phenomenon.” Khalidi goes on to discuss how Palestinians failed to achieve their dreams of statehood through a variety of external historic forces aligned against them.

These two publications are introducing a new movement in the scholarship, debates and direction on the future of the region through a different prism, Israel is no longer a sacred subject for serious political analysis where religion, politicals, partisanship and distortion characterize the debates. We are entering a new era that I think will make Israel stronger and more secure in the long run, America more secure and the Palestinians just might get their homeland once the debate focuses more on issues that matter and less on the spin of history.

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