There are a few items in the news today that I feel are important.
Surprise, surprise. The Bush Administration Justice Department does not wish for Congress to really know what was going on at the CIA when they destroyed evidence. What do you think, Mr. Chuck Shumer? Ms. Diane Feinstein? Was Mukasey worth this? Did you really think he would allow you into the deepest darkest corners of the Bush administration? Serious, high crimes have been committed by the Bush administration, ordered from Bush himself. Do you really think he would let you in?
Do Congressional Democrats realize just how frustrating they have been at allowing the Bush administration and the minority Republicans to thrash them so many times? Do Congressional Democrats realize just how frustrating it is for citizens to see them capitulate at the mere THREAT of filibuster. LET THEM FILIBUSTER ALREADY! Let them do it guys! Let’s see Republicans talk themselves to death! Let them truly be obstructionist. Why do you give them such political victories, by both giving in to their demands without making them sweat for it, and letting them take the public relations coup?
I think we need new Democratic leadership. Y’all are cowards. Yes, you Mr. Harry Reid. Yes you, Ms. Nancy Pelosi. What do Bush and the Republicans have on you? Why do you bend over for them? STOP IT!
Heh, one wonders why. Let’s see, the reason given for the state of emergency two months ago was a threat to the state of Pakistan by Al-Qaeda. Now that the state of emergency was removed, can anyone point to any reduced threat from Al-Qaeda? Any evidence? Are they still a threat to Pakistan? Hmmm.
Maybe the real reason had to do with Pakistan’s Supreme Court, which was about to rule against Musharraf. Let’s see. Musharraf declares emergency, martial law, basically. He removes justices from the Supreme Court he didn’t like, and places ones on there that would rule in his favor. He arrests some thousands of lawyers—a true threat to the viability of the state, no doubt—-but, well…nothing really drastic done against the stated threat, Al-Qaeda. Huh.
So, who, besides Musharraf, can even consider the upcoming elections as anything but fair?
This piece of news is important because Ethiopia entered into Somalia at our request. We again farmed out what we should have done to someone else. Now that someone else, in this case, Ethiopia, is stretched too thin. Because many of its troops are in Somalia, Ethiopia does not have enough to deal with the rebels in a really dry region between Somalia and Eritrea. This is bad because it is undermining the strength of a fairly stable country on Africa’s horn. Meanwhile, over in Somalia, the Islamic militants increase their power.
Huh, I wonder if Bush will pull a Bush senior move and send soldiers into Somalia just before he gets out of office forcing his Democratic successor to handle his mess.
I don’t get Israel. I don’t think they realize the enormity of the problem in Gaza, and that by continuing to starve them out, it will only be worse for them. 1.5 million people is a hell of a lot of people. I’m sure Israel would love it for them not to be there anymore, but there is no way for that to happen.
It is really sad. A peace conference photo-op was done at Annapolis just a few weeks ago, but notably absent are the conflicting parties. Where was Hamas? Where was Hesbollah? Where was Iran? Interestingly, where was Iraq? How can you make peace with your enemy if you do not invite them to a peace conference?
On baseball here. The Mitchell Report has certainly increased baseball talk, here in mid-winter. I’ll be fascinated to see what happens in the Spring. But I wanted to quote from Ray Ratto, who is quoted in this piece. I think he makes some very interesting points in regards to baseball, the Hall of Fame, numbers, and more importantly, the business itself.
“I would vote for Bonds on the first ballot, as I would vote for Clemens, because the Hall of Fame isn’t church,” Ratto said. “It’s the history of baseball, and this is part of the history of baseball. I can assure you that Bud Selig will be voted into the Hall of Fame, and he is the commissioner whose name will be linked with the steroid era by first ignoring it, then profiting from it, and finally blaming others for it.
“I know that Cap Anson is in the Hall of Fame, and he was instrumental in the creation of the color line, which is way worse than PEDs. So this discussion ends up being an excuse for people with no institutional memory or understanding to claim a moral superiority they’re not really equipped to display.”
I always liked Ray Ratto. I grew up in the Bay Area and read his opinions frequently. I think he says it best here. Firstly that the Hall of Fame already includes cheaters, as well as racists and womanizers. It isn’t church. We don’t need to deify these players.
More important is his point about how the business of baseball profited from these past 12 years of steroid and human growth hormone abuse. I remember seeing a comment from a reader on CNN.com who said that Barry Bonds was being used. This commentator wrote when Barry was indicted by the grand jury on perjury. Barry Bonds may be done playing baseball for good. But that is a point rarely made.
Barry Bonds was indeed used. Bud Selig was silent because Barry Bonds brought in money. Look at just this last year’s revenue, over $6 billion dollars, according to sources. $6 billion dollars. That’s almost as good as America’s most popular sport—where enhancement drugs are also abused—football. On what did those baseball owners profit? On juiced up players of course. How much revenue did the San Francisco Giants get from the year 2000-2007? Shall we look at what profit Peter Magowan made during that time? How about Steinbrenner and the Yankees?
Baseball millionaire owners profited from their players getting juiced. And who gets blamed now? The players of course. Rape them for all they’ve got and then throw them to the trash compactor when you’re through with them. Who is the public face of the San Francisco Giants? Barry Bonds of course. Who is the money behind the San Francisco Giants? Peter Magowan. Who will pay for the juiced player? Barry Bonds of course. Who will profit from the juiced player? Peter Magowan.
Read for yourself:
George Mitchell’s steroids report hasn’t just rocked the game of baseball. It figures to shake the business of baseball, too.
As an industry, MLB has been even hotter than Josh Beckett in October. It posted record revenues of $6 billion this year. Baseball has more than doubled its take of a decade ago and is closing fast on the NFL as the top-grossing league in sports.
The Mitchell Report, though, could jeopardize that run. Maybe Commissioner Bud Selig just couldn’t stand too much prosperity. He ordered up the Mitchell Report and re-focused attention on a problem that, in many fans’ eyes, had faded as a concern.
Just remember who profited on baseball’s steroids. Not the players who get the fans’ wrath. Oh no. People like Bud Selig. I wish we had our priorities straight, here in America.
Dang, they make this too easy:
IT IS NOT merely statesmanlike restraint or responsiveness to
U.S., European and Arabevery sane person’s appeals that have so far prevented Turkeythe United States from launching a military invasion of northern Iraq.Iran. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoganPresident George W. Bush and his military commanders are also acutely aware that such an operation would play into the hands of the Kurdish Workers Party, or PKK,Iranian Republican Guard the insurgent group that is dug into the rugged, mountainous terrain along the Turkish-Iraqi border. Twelve Turkish soldiers were killed and eight others captured in a PKK ambush inside Turkey on Sunday; if there were an invasion, Ankara’s losses would be much higher, while the chances that PKKIranian Republican Guard bases inside IraqIran could be wiped out are small. Meanwhile, Turkey’sAmerica’s gains in integrating its ethnic KurdIranian population [in the world community]– a large part of which voted for Mr. Erdogan’s party in recent elections— could be nullified.
It really is too easy. One wonders why war proponents don’t want Turkey to go after terrorists who killed Turkish soldiers, but are so quick to want to invade and destroy Iran. Hypocrites!
So Turkey wants to invade Iraq to kill or capture those who killed its soldiers. Sounds like a fairly reasonable demand, seeing that Kurdish terrorists are killing Turks. I mean, don’t we find any excuse possible to want to attack Iran?
But no, the Bush administration is urging Turkey to restrain its activities:
The United States continued efforts today to steer Turkey away from a military incursion into northern Iraq, after a cross-border raid by Kurdish rebels on Sunday killed 17 Turkish soldiers and raised the prospect of an escalating conflict.
The State Department is great at highlighting our own hypocrisy and I’ll let Mr. McCormack do the talking:
As tension increased in Turkey and scattered groups of protesters gathered to demand retaliation, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the U.S. had opened what he called a “full-court press” to keep the situation from deteriorating.
“We want to see an outcome where you have the Turks and the Iraqis working together, and we will do what we can to resolve the issue without a Turkish cross-border incursion,” McCormack said.
Huh, let’s change those words just slightly and see if it makes any sense:
“We want to see an outcome where you have the
TurksAmericans and the IraqisIranians working together, and we will do what we can to resolve the issue without a TurkishAmerican cross-border incursion [into Iran],” McCormack said.
Makes good sense to me. Doesn’t it to you?
Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan and just like that, bombs went off close to her convoy killing many Pakistanis.
Two explosions ripped through this city late Thursday night, killing dozens of people, after Benazir Bhutto, the Pakistani opposition leader and twice prime minister, returned from exile to her home city.
Her celebratory welcome, with hundreds of thousands of people lining the streets and dancing atop vehicles, turned chaotic when the blasts went off near a truck carrying the former prime minister, who was returning after eight years in exile.
The Associated Press, reporting on the explosions, said Ms. Bhutto herself was unhurt, although at least 30 people were killed and 100 wounded.
An Associated Press photographer at the scene said he saw 50 to 60 dead or badly wounded people. He said some of the bodies were ripped apart.
After an initial small explosion, a huge blast came just feet from the front of the truck carrying Ms. Bhutto during a procession through Karachi. The blast shattered windows in her vehicle, The A.P. said.
Televised views of the scene showed bodies in the nighttime city streets, crowds running through traffic that is at a standstill and the noises of sirens and people screaming.
This is really not good.
It seems the number dead has climbed well past 100. The updated article has the death toll at 126 with over 250 injured.
What in the heck did George W. Bush mean when he warned that if Iran progresses further in their nuclear technology that there would be World War III? Let’s read the account first:
Q [Putin] said — well, at least the quote said that — and he also said, “He sees no evidence to suggest Iran wants to build a nuclear bomb.” Were you disappointed with that message? And does that indicate possibly that international pressure is not as great as you once thought against Iran abandoning its nuclear program?
THE PRESIDENT: I — as I said, I look forward to — if those are, in fact, his comments, I look forward to having him clarify those, because when I visited with him, he understands that it’s in the world’s interest to make sure that Iran does not have the capacity to make a nuclear weapon. And that’s why, on — in the first round at the U.N., he joined us, and second round, we joined together to send a message. I mean, if he wasn’t concerned about it, Bret, then why did we have such good progress at the United Nations in round one and round two?
And so I will visit with him about it. I have not yet been briefed yet by Condi or Bob Gates about, you know, their visit with Vladimir Putin.
Q But you definitively believe Iran wants to build a nuclear weapon?
THE PRESIDENT: I think so long — until they suspend and/or make it clear that they — that their statements aren’t real, yeah, I believe they want to have the capacity, the knowledge, in order to make a nuclear weapon. And I know it’s in the world’s interest to prevent them from doing so. I believe that the Iranian — if Iran had a nuclear weapon, it would be a dangerous threat to world peace.
But this — we got a leader in Iran who has announced that he wants to destroy Israel. So I’ve told people that if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon. I take the threat of Iran with a nuclear weapon very seriously. And we’ll continue to work with all nations about the seriousness of this threat.
Note the threat there. If we supposedly want to avoid World War III, we need to prevent Iran from having “the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.” It’s no longer even a matter of them having nuclear weapons, but they can’t even go on track to have them.
So let’s get into Bush’s insane and childish logic here. First of all, Iran is a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which specifically allows countries to proceed with nuclear technology. (note importantly that India is NOT, yet Bush signed a massive deal with them to share our nuclear technology—but hey we were never fair in terms of following international law, so why start now, right?). The NPT specifically, and most importantly, legally allows a country like Iran to have a nuclear energy program. George W. Bush would have the United States of America violate the Non-Proliferation Treaty by taking away from Iran what is rightfully and legally theirs: access to nuclear energy. Now, if George W. Bush feels the NPT is not a good treaty, he can order the United States to relinquish its terms to the treaty (as he did with the ABM treaty so long ago). After all, we’re already violating the spirit of the NPT by signing the deal with India, who does NOT belong to the NPT and probably never will.
Secondly, why would George W. Bush think that if Iran would gain nuclear technology and knowledge it would lead to a WORLD war? When you talk about World Wars, you’re talking about something along the lines of what we saw in the 1910s and 1940s. Is George W. Bush saying that multiple countries will be involved in a prolonged conflict that will lead to the deaths of millions of people?
Think about this, if Iran merely has the knowledge of nuclear technology, they can’t USE that knowledge to start wars. Knowledge in and of itself is practically useless. It must be put into PRACTICE in order for it to become forceful. So how could the KNOWLEDGE of nuclear technology lead Iran to START a world war? It couldn’t. So who would be STARTING that next World War?
Just follow George W. Bush’s own logic, guys. He is basically telling you that HE AND THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA will be STARTING THE NEXT WORLD WAR. We will be the instigators of WORLD WAR THREE.
Bush administration lawyers are actually considering if Blackwater security guards may not actually end up being unlawful combatants. Steve Benen quotes from this LA Times report which has some very interesting nuggets:
For a guard who is only allowed to use defensive force, killing civilians violates the law of war, said Michael N. Schmitt, a professor of international law at the Naval War College and a former Air Force lawyer. “It is a war crime to kill civilians unlawfully in an armed conflict,” he said.
If the contractors were the aggressors in an incident, they could be deemed to be unlawfully using offensive force, said Scott Silliman, a retired Air Force lawyer and now a professor at Duke University. He said they could claim self-defense only if they had been fired on.
“The only force they can use is defensive force,” Silliman said. “But we may be seeing some instances where contractors are using offensive force, which in my judgment would be unlawful.”
“We are going to be hard-pressed to draw a distinction between the guys in Blackwater carrying automatic weapons and the bad guys setting bombs along the side of the road,” said Hutson, now dean of Franklin Pierce Law Center in New Hampshire.
U.S. officials have described many of the suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban affiliates it holds at Guantanamo Bay as unlawful combatants either for taking part in hostilities against the United States or by supporting the hostilities while not part of a nation’s military.
By that standard, some of the private guards in Iraq and Afghanistan also could be seen as unlawful combatants, particularly if they have taken offensive action against unarmed civilians, experts said.
“If we hire people and direct them to perform activities that are direct participation in hostilities, then at least by the Guantanamo standard, that is a war crime,” Schmitt said.
The 2004 immunity measure prevents Iraq from prosecuting private guards under Iraqi law. But some international law experts think Iraq could use international treaties to try contractors for killing civilians.
Extra-national non-military guys with guns? Check.
Killing civilians? Check.
No state-sponsored uniform? Check.
Shouldn’t Blackwater guards be in the same cells as all those guys languishing in Guantanamo Bay Camp X-Ray?
Well, this won’t go over well for those who back Blackwater, but Blackwater employees fired first in last week’s incident according to a video.
Time to fire a lot of people Ms. Rice. Time to hold them accountable and charge them with the murders they committed. Remember, they were working for the United States of America while they killed these civilians. If they are immune from prosecution, what does that say about the standards of this country?
This is normally called terrorism when done by our “enemies.”
It is a muggy cloudy day with intermittent rain from the remnants of tropical storm Gabrielle. Today is Tuesday, September 11, 2007, six years after 19 men took control of four planes, crashing two of them into the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington DC and the fourth, a failed crash in a field in Pennsylvania. It was a very sad day in the history of the world, as nearly 3000 people of many nationalities, though mostly American, died.
I was not in New York City six years ago (I was actually driving through Saskatchewan from Alaska to Massachusetts on that day), but I work close to Ground Zero these days and walk by the site frequently. I took a few pictures on my phone and share them here.
It is very sad to see that hole instead of the World Trade Center. Before 9/11 I had actually looked forward to one day seeing those two towers, such iconic architecture they were. I can only hope the city works things out soon to fill that hole back up with something, to show the world that we pick up and move on, not cowering to terrorism.
I pray for those who lost loved ones and hope that God will heal their pains.
Finally, they are no longer afraid to say it as they really think it:
Exclusive: Conquering the Drawbacks of Democracy
Author: Philip Atkinson
Source: The Family Security Foundation, Inc.
Date: August 3, 2007
While democratic government is better than dictatorships and theocracies, it has its pitfalls. FSM Contributing Editor Philip Atkinson describes some of the difficulties facing President Bush today.
Conquering the Drawbacks of Democracy
By Philip Atkinson
President George W. Bush is the 43rd President of the United States. He was sworn in for a second term on January 20, 2005 after being chosen by the majority of citizens in America to be president.
Yet in 2007 he is generally despised, with many citizens of Western civilization expressing contempt for his person and his policies, sentiments which now abound on the Internet. This rage at President Bush is an inevitable result of the system of government demanded by the people, which is Democracy.
The inadequacy of Democracy, rule by the majority, is undeniable – for it demands adopting ideas because they are popular, rather than because they are wise. This means that any man chosen to act as an agent of the people is placed in an invidious position: if he commits folly because it is popular, then he will be held responsible for the inevitable result. If he refuses to commit folly, then he will be detested by most citizens because he is frustrating their demands.
When faced with the possible threat that the Iraqis might be amassing terrible weapons that could be used to slay millions of citizens of Western Civilization, President Bush took the only action prudence demanded and the electorate allowed: he conquered Iraq with an army.
This dangerous and expensive act did destroy the Iraqi regime, but left an American army without any clear purpose in a hostile country and subject to attack. If the Army merely returns to its home, then the threat it ended would simply return.
The wisest course would have been for President Bush to use his nuclear weapons to slaughter Iraqis until they complied with his demands, or until they were all dead. Then there would be little risk or expense and no American army would be left exposed. But if he did this, his cowardly electorate would have instantly ended his term of office, if not his freedom or his life.
The simple truth that modern weapons now mean a nation must practice genocide or commit suicide. Israel provides the perfect example. If the Israelis do not raze Iran, the Iranians will fulfill their boast and wipe Israel off the face of the earth. Yet Israel is not popular, and so is denied permission to defend itself. In the same vein, President Bush cannot do what is necessary for the survival of Americans. He cannot use the nation’s powerful weapons. All he can do is try and discover a result that will be popular with Americans.
As there appears to be no sensible result of the invasion of Iraq that will be popular with his countrymen other than retreat, President Bush is reviled; he has become another victim of Democracy.
By elevating popular fancy over truth, Democracy is clearly an enemy of not just truth, but duty and justice, which makes it the worst form of government. President Bush must overcome not just the situation in Iraq, but democratic government.
However, President Bush has a valuable historical example that he could choose to follow.
When the ancient Roman general Julius Caesar was struggling to conquer ancient Gaul, he not only had to defeat the Gauls, but he also had to defeat his political enemies in Rome who would destroy him the moment his tenure as consul (president) ended.
Caesar pacified Gaul by mass slaughter; he then used his successful army to crush all political opposition at home and establish himself as permanent ruler of ancient Rome. This brilliant action not only ended the personal threat to Caesar, but ended the civil chaos that was threatening anarchy in ancient Rome – thus marking the start of the ancient Roman Empire that gave peace and prosperity to the known world.
If President Bush copied Julius Caesar by ordering his army to empty Iraq of Arabs and repopulate the country with Americans, he would achieve immediate results: popularity with his military; enrichment of America by converting an Arabian Iraq into an American Iraq (therefore turning it from a liability to an asset); and boost American prestiege while terrifying American enemies.
He could then follow Caesar’s example and use his newfound popularity with the military to wield military power to become the first permanent president of America, and end the civil chaos caused by the continually squabbling Congress and the out-of-control Supreme Court.
President Bush can fail in his duty to himself, his country, and his God, by becoming “ex-president” Bush or he can become “President-for-Life” Bush: the conqueror of Iraq, who brings sense to the Congress and sanity to the Supreme Court. Then who would be able to stop Bush from emulating Augustus Caesar and becoming ruler of the world? For only an America united under one ruler has the power to save humanity from the threat of a new Dark Age wrought by terrorists armed with nuclear weapons.
Wow…wow, um…I don’t know what to say.
Have you guys noticed how often the Republicans have said this past week that if Congress didn’t pass the FISA bill, terrorists would attack us? Note Mitch McConnel and Lamar Smith who say:
“Al-Qaida is not going on vacation this month,” said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. “And we can’t either until we know we’ve done our duty to the American people.”
“I hope that there are no attacks before we are able to effectively update this important act,” said Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee.
Then there is Trent Lott scaring up the whole town of Washington DC with this:
In light of the heightened threat, Congress can either amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act or all of us can run screaming into the inferno.
Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott (R-Miss.) ominously advised Thursday that Congress needed to pass changes to terrorist surveillance laws before leaving for the August recess and warned that otherwise “the disaster could be on our doorstep.”
Further demonstrating his counterterrorism sagacity, when asked if people should leave Washington, D.C., during the month of August, Lott replied that “I think it would be good to leave town in August, and it would probably be good to stay out until September the 12th.” By contrast, a former Capitol Hill chief had the temerity to note that, according to U.S. intelligence analysis he’d been privvy to, “Americans tend to be much more oriented toward anniversaries and the jihadists seem to be less so. I’ve seen over the years where we concentrate on dates and the analysts say, ‘Don’t get wrapped up in dates because our terrorist jihadist enemies bide their time.’”
The American Heritage Dictionary defines terrorism as such:
n. The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.
One has to ask himself, just why would these Republican leaders use such threats of possible attacks to rush through a law without proper debate or even real consideration of the effects of the new law? It’s time to be quite frank. These Republican leaders are using terrorism to frighten Americans into submission. They use their favorite boogeyman, Al-Qaeda, to threaten Americans. Pass this law, or we just might be attacked, they claim. As if not passing this law means we will be attacked. Note the logic in that. It gives the feeling that Republicans can control this boogeyman, and can assure that we will not be attacked if this law is passed, but if this law is not passed, there is no guarantee that we will not be attacked. Does that sound familiar to anybody? Who else uses such threats? Anybody remember The Godfather Part II? What did that Italian mob boss try to do to Don Corleone? It’s called extortion. Wikipedia defines extortion as such:
Extortion is a criminal offense, which occurs when a person either obtains money, property or services from another through coercion or intimidation or threatens one with physical or reputational harm unless they are paid money or property. Refraining from doing harm is sometimes euphemistically called protection. Extortion is commonly practiced by organized crime groups. The actual obtainment of money or property is not required to commit the offense. Making a threat of violence or a lawsuit which refers to a requirement of a payment of money or property to halt future violence or lawsuit is sufficient to commit the offense. The four simple words “pay up or else” are sufficient to constitute the crime of extortion. An extortionate threat made to another in jest is still extortion.
You know, when I hear people like Tom DeLay and other miscreants talking about how The Terrists are about to do something that could make Washington a really dangerous place to be if Democrats don’t instantly cave in and sign over whatever else Bush wants, it sounds to me like it’s not so much a warning as a threat. And therefore, I expect Democrats to stand right up and say, “Are you threatening us?”
Because constantly trying to terrify people with the threat of violence really is terrorism, and it’s not Al Qaeda that’s doing that to us right now.
So my next question would be: “Why would Al Qaeda want to launch a terrorist attack on America just in time to give a bomb-happy executive the opportunity to suspend the elections so he can take out half the Muslim world?”
I would just love to hear the Democratic leadership stand up and ask what the Republicans are up to when they start terror-threatening over legislation. They could say:
“I thought you said you were keeping us safe. If that’s true, why are you so sure we’re about to be attacked? Aren’t you planning to stop it? Are you saying you will refuse to ‘keep us safe’ if we don’t support your bills?”
Or they could say:
“My, it sure is convenient for you that Al Qaeda is always about to attack us right before you want us to vote for your bills that we haven’t even had time to read. Are they on your payroll or something?”
Indeed. It also is so surprising that in a country like ours these Republicans can actually get away with terrorism like they do. And our Democratic leaders really are pansies of the worst kind. Com’on guys get some balls! Bin Laden is probably taking notes from them on how to effectively terrorize a population to capitulate and do their will for them.