Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Shit, Snyder's dead...

Tom Snyder, whose wit and eccentricity inspired and influenced such truth tellers as Keith Olbermann, passed away from leukemia. He was seventy-one. Snyder was the kind of interviewer who pulled you in and made you feel as if you were in the room with him. And he wasn't afraid to correct those he interviewed whenever they said something that was factually inaccurate. See, Snyder actually knew stuff. He was a fountain of information both pertinent and mundane. He informed us, whether we -- or his guests -- liked it or not. And now he is gone.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

My own questions for the candidates.

Last night's Democratic presidential debate on CNN, during which questions were provided via YouTube videos, provided some half-way decent questions but yielded few substantive answers from the candidates. But I don't think the questions, filtered as usual through CNN's softball meter, hit hard enough. So I'm going to ask some questions of my own.

1.) Senator Obama, during the second Democratic debate you claimed that "there is no dispute" that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, even though a CIA draft report last November stated very clearly that there is no conclusive evidence of a nuclear weapons program in that country. You also said Iran had "admitted" to a weapons program, even though it has consistently denied such and insisted its nuclear program is for energy purposes. Given that you are running for the top executive office in the nation, and given that America has already been lied into one war over WMD that turned out to be non-existent, don't you think it's important that you get your facts straight? And when someone tries to correct you, as Representative Kucinich did that night, don't you think you ought to listen instead of brushing him off?

2.) Senators Clinton and Obama, you have both, with one notable exception, voted to fund the continuing occupation of Iraq in spite of your rhetoric of opposition. When the supplemental war funding bill came up, you both had to be shamed into voting against it by Senator Dodd, and even then you waited until the supplemental was assured of passing and you did so without any fanfare or pressure upon your Senate colleagues to vote 'no'. Why won't either of you show leadership on ending the occupation of Iraq, and why have you both voted to continue funding it?

3.) For all the candidates: What -- specifically -- do you intend to do to combat Global Warming? What do you intend to ask the American people to do as far as recycling, energy-efficiency, carpooling, public transportation, replanting forests, and other matters related to slowing the progressive warming of the climate are concerned?

4.) Again, for all the candidates: Except for Representative Kucinich and Mr. Edwards, no candidate has gone into detail about health care. What specifically do you intend to do as president to ensure affordable or universal health care for all Americans? Do NOT say we need it, that is simply a restatement of the obvious. I'm asking you what -- specifically -- you intend to do, if you are elected president, to see that all Americans have health care?

5.) For all candidates: On the subject of impeachment, polls show that nearly half of Americans want George W. Bush impeached while more than half want Dick Cheney impeached. Representative Kucinich's articles of impeachment have gained, as I type this, fourteen co-sponsors with more likely to sign on. Given the high support for impeachment, and given the high crimes, obstruction of justice and refusal to cooperate with Congressional investigations by the Bush regime, why is Kucinich the only presidential candidate willing to do his Constitutional duty to hold law-breaking executives accountable for their actions? Isn't justice for the American people and the Constitution -- not to mention a large and growing demand for it by the public -- more important than whatever risks you may perceive to your presidential ambitions by supporting impeachment?

Those are some of the questions I have for candidates. I expect only one to answer them, but we'll see.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Bush appointee tosses out Plame's lawsuit.

A federal judge appointed by George W. Bush tossed out the lawsuit by former CIA covert operative Valerie Plame Wilson and her husband, former ambassador Joe Wilson, against the men who compromised her identity. The two had filed a civil suit against Dick Cheney, I. Lewis Libby and other Bush regime officials for outing Plame as CIA in 2003. The judge, John Bates, accepted false arguments from the defense claiming that Cheney and other regime officials are protected by federal law from being sued.

Outing Plame as CIA was a federal crime under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (see links 1 and 2). When her husband went public calling the regime on one of its bigger lies justifying the invasion of Iraq, officials retaliated by leaking her identity to members of the press. Right-wing columnist Bob Novak wrote the op-ed revealing that Wilson's wife was CIA.

The leak triggered an investigation, which was requested by the CIA. A special prosecutor was appointed, Patrick Fitzgerald, and he proceeded to question regime officials and reporters. During the course of the investigation, it became known that Karl Rove, Libby, and others had talked to reporters disclosing Plame's status. Libby was caught lying to investigators and the Grand Jury, so he was charged with, tried for and earlier this year convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice -- and sentenced. Bush later commuted Libby's two and a half year prison sentence, which was pretty light given sentencing guidelines, after a three-judge panel turned down his request to remain free while his lawyers appealed the conviction.

Libby's supporters railed against the trial, conviction and sentencing and petitioned the Shrub to pardon him. They lied on the talk show circuit, saying that no "underlying crime" had been committed and that Libby was the victim of a partisan witch hunt. This would have been laughable considering that many of these same critics supported special prosecutor Ken Starr's truly partisan witch hunt against then-president Bill Clinton, if not for the fact that Libby's crimes involved breaches of national security and possibly treason.

What the Libby-Liar Brigade purposely left out were key facts regarding the case, the most recent being Bush's admission that someone in his regime did in fact leak Plame's CIA status to the press. Other facts include Novak's testimony confirming that Karl Rove was indeed one of his sources for the 2003 column that outed Plame; both Plame and CIA director Michael Hayden testified under oath before Congress this past Spring, confirming beyond all reasonable doubt that her status was in fact classified--no one but a select few individuals even knew she was CIA. Meaning that yes, her status was covert and outing her was a federal crime under the IIPA.

Now, with Libby's commutation serving to keep him quiet and Bush's cronies on the federal bench preventing a civil suit, the wheels of justice have been effectively stopped. They turn, not on the rule of law, but at the whim and convenience of dictators whose complicity in the leak of a covert operative's identity is now no longer in any reasonable doubt whatsoever.

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White House listening? Don't bet on it.

I was scanning the news web sites when I found this on MSNBC (whose main page is, disappointingly, largely devoid of substantive news today). Near the end of the article, I saw the following:

“I think it is accurate to say the administration is listening as never before,”
Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., said after meeting Wednesday with Rice for 40 minutes
in his office.

Don't bet on it. No one in the Bush White House has demonstrated a tendency to listen to anything except what he or she wants to hear. The Shrub ignored the bulk of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group's findings and recommendations, dismissed intelligence that said Iraq did not have WMD or ties to al-Qaeda, and fired generals who publicly contradicted what the regime said about maintaining a long term ocupation of Iraq. And let us not forget that, with illegally used signing statements, Bush as rendered laws--and parts of laws-- passed by Congress null and void, simply because he didn't like them. The grargoyle who occupies the office of the vice presidency has also gone on record stating that the will of Congress and the people do not matter to him or to his boy, Shrubya. So why should Smith, who according to the MSNBC article is up for re-election next year, expect the Shrub to listen to him or anyone else on Iraq?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Things go from worse to even more worse.

Three news items that appeared on Yahoo News:

Al-Qaeda has rebuilt its strength to pre-9/11 levels, thanks in large part to the invasion and occupation of Iraq. While Bush, Cheney and their neocon lapdogs were busy trying to plat at building an empire, Osama bin Laden's terrorist network has used the time rebuilding from the initial invasion and occupation of Afghanistan.

Senate Republicans, nervous about their party's chances of retaining control of that legislative body (Republican stooge Joe LIEberman is a GOPer in all but name, abusing his caucus status with Democrats to neuter them) are "beseeching" the Shrub to change course on Iraq, as that country continues to fall apart under U.S. rule and the occupation continues to weaken the GOP's already diminished hold on D.C. Why they would expect him to listen now, when he has dismissed all attempts to get him to see reason, is beyond me.

But hey, at least the mob boss-in-chief can brag about ordering his stooges to defy Congressional subpoenas.