Who Remains An Ally of Bush?

December 29, 2007 at 9:02 am | Posted in American politics, Australia, Bush Administration, corruption, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, King George, Musharraf, Tony Blair | Leave a comment

Let’s count them, shall we?

1. Aznar, Spain’s prime minister. Ousted in 2004 by an electorate who he crossed by entering into Iraq without their approval. 90% of Spaniards did NOT want to go into Iraq.

2. Tony Blair, Britain’s prime minister. He had such a good legacy going for him before he joined with Bush. Now with his legacy in tatters does anyone care what Mr. Blair has to say?

3. John Howard, Australia’s prime minister. Embarrassingly lost his own seat in the most recent elections. David Hicks will soon come knocking on his legacy door, once that gag order is removed.

4. General Musharraf, Pakistan’s…well, dictator. He doesn’t have much longer left in him, and the Bush administration knows this. This is why they pressed for Benazir Bhutto to come out of exile and return to her violent home to be assassinated. I don’t know if I am surprised or not that the Bush administration under Condoleezza Rice’s reign at State, failed to consider that many Pakistanis didn’t want to see Ms. Bhutto back in Pakistan, ruling the country. It is surprising because it is assumed people in such positions of power have the foresight and wisdom to see such paths before making a decision. Then again, it is not surprising because these are Bush loyalists in power. They really are horrendous.

5. Benazir Bhutto, dead. Poor Ms. Bhutto. A mere pawn of bigger players is assassinated in her home country after being convinced to return by Ms. Condoleezza Rice.

At Rice’s urging, Bhutto earlier this year agreed to take part in the parliamentary elections, with the understanding that the Pakistani president would keep his part of the bargain by permitting her, a twice-elected prime minister, to serve for a third term (which was banned by a technical rule). Instead, Musharraf did nothing to change the law and instead declared emergency rule—a decision that President Bush did not immediately denounce. Nor did the Americans push Musharraf on the other aspects of the deal that would have allowed her to be a three-time prime minister. “The Americans left her high and dry,” says a close Bhutto ally who requested anonymity when discussing diplomatic issues. “They did not keep their word.” America wants an ally in Pakistan—but with U.S. credibility in the country so low, Washington would be better off not trying to name any successors.

It is not good to be an ally of George W. Bush. When push comes to shove, you will be left out high and dry while he gets away scot free.

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Various Items

December 15, 2007 at 6:52 am | Posted in America, American politics, Barry Bonds, baseball, Bush Administration, CIA, Civil War, Congress, conservatives, corruption, Democrats, Ethiopia, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Iran, Iraq, Israel, King George, Middle East, mukasey, Musharraf, Pakistan, Peace, Republicans, secret combinations, Somalia, Terrorism, Thoughts, War, World Events | Leave a comment

There are a few items in the news today that I feel are important.

Justice Department Seeks Delay in CIA Tapes

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!

Musharraf Lifts Pakistan’s State of Emergency.

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?

Ethiopians said to push civilians into rebel war.

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.

Sealed off by Israel, Gaza a beggar state

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?

Voters offer mixed responses on Clemens’ HOF chances

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.

Remember that.

Mitchell Report can’t be good for baseball’s short term business

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.

Bush Lied About Iran

December 4, 2007 at 10:32 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Cheney, corruption, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Iran | 15 Comments

George W. Bush has, for the last several years, lied to America about Iran’s WMD program. What is worse is that he knew he was lying. He had the NIE assessment in his hand for the past year telling him that Iran’s nuclear weapons program has been dormant since 2003. But over the past year, his, and Cheney’s and their supporters’ rhetoric, has been increasingly more virulent and violent toward Iran (who can forget John McCain’s “bomb bomb bomb Iran” moment a few months back).

This is an impeachable offense (among all the rest). President Bush knew that Iran’s nuclear program was dormant. But he pressed on as if preparing his nation to war with Iran. How is this not an impeachable offense? He played politics with national security, everybody. Has it come to such a point that we merely yawn “more of the same” every time we get this kind of news? Are we past feeling so that we’re no longer shocked when we hear such bad things? Have expectations been so lowered that we’re fine with letting Bush and Cheney still be in office even after this evidence?

Iran welcomes this news, of course, and says that America must “pay a price” for all the virulent and baseless rhetoric against its people. It is very understandable. We’ve been threatening Iranians with death over something that did not exist. We would feel the same way were say, the Chinese, to do the same to us.

It is time to prepare impeachment hearings and remove Bush and Cheney from power.

I Can’t Stand Western Hypocritical Policies

December 1, 2007 at 5:49 pm | Posted in Foreign Policy, Malawi | 2 Comments

The United States and Europe subsidize farm fertilizers. They tell other countries not to subsidize their fertilizing companies, to detrimental results. I can’t tell you how much I hate this kind of hypocritical policy. You want to know why it is such a bad policy? Because it protects the rich and makes the poor RELY ON the rich to keep going. Rich countries continue protecting their farmers while poor countries must rely on the rich countries for aide. It is a fascinating display of the lust for control that power and domination has on even the best of intentions.

Malawi decided to not listen to the West, but rather follow the West’s own polices, subsidizing their farm fertilizers. And guess what, it worked! Good for them.

Why This Dismal Annapolis Meeting Will Fail (UPDATED)

November 27, 2007 at 11:50 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, condoleezza rice, conservatives, corruption, Diplomacy, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Iran, Israel, Middle East, Peace, War | 2 Comments

I noted in a previous post that Condoleezza Rice is a bumbling ignorant fool when it comes to the Middle East. She is attempting to somehow wrap up a peace deal between Israel and Palestinians before the end of her boss’s term. This is solely a selfish move, as she is more concerned about her legacy (war war war) than about peace. She has had ample opportunities to force her ideologically driven boss to make the right decisions, but every time, she failed. Well she finally convinced him to throw her a bone, and, as you’ll see, that’s what he did, throw her a bone.

President Bush, who’s largely ignored the risky business of Middle East peacemaking throughout his nearly seven years in office, will take center stage Tuesday at the international peace conference he’s hosting in Annapolis, Md.

He won’t remain there for long, however. Bush plans to head back to the White House after delivering his opening speech to the diplomats and dignitaries at the U.S. Naval Academy, and while surprises are always possible, White House aides said he wasn’t planning to offer new American proposals to resolve the conflict.

Nor is Bush expected to jump into extended post-Annapolis negotiations or head off to the Middle East to pursue peace in the waning days of his tenure.

He’s not going to really participate, get into the nitty gritty details. This may be a good thing, seeing how terrible a leader and diplomat he is.

It’s not only that he won’t really participate, but that he has completely ignored the REAL parties at conflict in the Middle East. Like, for example, orthodox Jews, who are none too happy about making peace with Palestinians. In fact, they, along with their counterparts in Palestine, Hamas, are counter-rallying against this meeting.

In a show of defiance against the U.S.-sponsored peace conference in Annapolis, thousands of Hamas supporters rallied in the streets of the Gaza Strip Tuesday and a second armed Palestinian movement vowed to intensify its attacks on Israel, saying “the only dialogue with the enemy with be with rifles and rockets.”

The demonstration that filled Gaza City’s wide central avenue came a day after thousands of Israelis, also opposed to fresh negotiations to create a Palestinian state, marched from the Western Wall, the holiest place Jews can pray, to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s residence near this city’s center.

Among them were leaders of at least one party that is part of Olmert’s governing coalition, a sign of the political tremors likely to follow the inauguration of the first Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in nearly seven years.

Israeli and Palestinian rejectionists — the term used to describe those who deny the other’s right to a state nearly six-decades after Israel’s founding — have hampered past negotiations and worked to undermine efforts to implement the few agreements that have been reached.

But the hawks on both sides hold particular power at the moment given the political weakness of Olmert, who is under criminal investigation, ill with prostate cancer, and still criticized for waging a poorly conceived war in Lebanon last year, and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president whose electorate is violently divided.

The biggest problem, of course, is that no one bothered to invite Iran to this meeting. Why not? Because the Bush administration is ideologically driven, rather than peace-driven. If the Bush administration truly cared about peace in the Middle East, they would be visiting Tehran, not rattling their sabers at Tehran.

More than four dozen governments, international organizations and financial institutions will be represented when Middle East talks open in Annapolis today. But it is the uninvited guests — Iran and its allies Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and other militant factions — that may have the biggest impact on the peace talks.

Containing Iran and its regional influence is the ambitious challenge for all the attendees except Syria, a goal officials from many participating nations contend is as important as producing peace in the Middle East.

“Iran will be the 5,000-pound elephant in the room, even though it’s not present,” said former U.S. peace negotiator Aaron David Miller. “It’s in everyone’s calculation and motivation . . . [plus] the impact of Hamas and the role it can play in wreaking havoc with whatever happens in Annapolis. . . . The balance of power is not in favor of peacemakers but in favor of the troublemakers.”

And that there is the key to why this meeting will not accomplish anything. Think back to when Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton got Israel and two of her neighbors to sign peace treaties. Jimmy Carter focused on Egypt and Israel, and Bill Clinton focused on Jordan and Israel. In order for there to be peace between two nations, BOTH nations must be there for conferences that might spell out actions. Iran is nowhere to be found because no one invited Iran. That spells major trouble.

That also sends a signal to Iran that the United States considers Iran’s regime’s days numbered, not worthy enough to consider inviting to a meeting about peace. Think about that for a while.

(UPDATE)

I just have to add these great comics on this meeting:


(Courtesy of Ann Telnaes)


(Courtesy of Mike Luckovich)

The Bumbling Condoleezza Rice in Non-Action

November 25, 2007 at 9:29 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, condoleezza rice, Diplomacy, Foreign Policy, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Middle East, Peace, War | 2 Comments

Elizabeth Bumiller is writing a biography about Condoleezza Rice and released an excerpt to the New York Times highlighting an aspect of Ms. Rice’s…well, non-action over the last seven years on peace between Israel and Palestinians. Ms. Bumiller perfectly highlights that Ms. Rice was at the forefront of all the bad decisions regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She also points out that Ms. Rice pushed Israel to not be so harsh on the Palestinians just before the war in Iraq. After all, we can’t have our coalition be severely hampered by a sideshow.

Then we get to the best part. This is where Ms. Rice shows how inept, how ignorant, and how much of a bumbling fool she really is in regards to the Middle East.

When Ms. Rice became secretary of state in the second term, she told Mr. Bush in a long conversation at Camp David the weekend after the 2004 election that her priority would have to be progress in the Middle East. It was a turning point in more ways than one; Mr. Arafat died a few days later. Although Ms. Rice said in an interview that she had set no conditions when she took the job, her aides said that she had known that her relationship with the president would give her far greater influence to push an agenda, including peacemaking in the Middle East, than Mr. Powell’s.

You’d think that would be enough, but, well…

Accordingly, Ms. Rice spent much of 2005 working on the Gaza withdrawal that she thought would contribute to stability. Instead, it was seen as so emboldening the radicals that in early 2006 Hamas won a landslide victory in Palestinian elections over Mr. Abbas and his governing party, Fatah.

If one paid close attention to what was happening in Israel/Palestine from 2001-2006, one would have surmised that Israel was purposefully pushing Palestinians toward radicalism. For instance, a suicide bomber would blow himself and ten people up in Haifa. Hamas or Islamic Jihad would claim responsibility. What was Israel’s reaction? Why, they would bomb a Fatah police station! What? Huh? Now, why the hell would they do that, when Fatah was trying to rein in groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad? Why would Israel purposefully undermine the very organization that could lead Palestinians toward moderation and possibly peace? See, bombing a Fatah police station sends a particular message to Palestinians. The message is: Israelis don’t really want peace. Stick with the extremists. They are your only hope of survival against the Israelis.

Enter the bumbling Ms. Rice. She continued this foolish stupid policy, completely ignored Arafat and Fatah, and tried to get Abbas elected and in power. But then when Abbas did win, she offered him nothing. This sent another message to Palestinians. The same one: Israel and the West don’t want peace. Stick with the extremists. They are your only hope of survival against the Israelis and the West. See, by raising up Abbas, and then short-shrifting him, Ms. Rice set up the following event:

Ms. Rice, who had heralded the election as a symbol of the new stirrings of democracy in the Middle East, was so blindsided by the victory that she was startled when she saw a crawl of words on her television screen while exercising on her elliptical trainer the morning after the election: “In wake of Hamas victory, Palestinian cabinet resigns.”

“I thought, ‘Well, that’s not right,’” Ms. Rice recalled. When the crawl continued, she got off the elliptical trainer and called the State Department.

“I said, ‘What happened in the Palestinian elections?’” Ms. Rice recalled. “And they said, ‘Oh, Hamas won.’ And I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, Hamas won?’

She and the Israelis under Sharon set the stage for Hamas to win and then she is surprised that they won. Either she is acting or she is a complete bumbling ignorant fool. I’m going with the latter.

It then gets even worse. Hezbollah, in Lebanon, in a brazen attack, kills several Israeli soldiers and captures two. This set off a wild summer in 2006. What did Ms. Rice do that summer?

Ms. Rice’s credibility was further damaged when she delayed calling for a cease-fire as Israel plunged into a two-front war in Lebanon and Gaza that summer. By the end of 2006, with the peace efforts in shambles and the administration’s time running out, Ms. Rice began to pick up the pieces.

Ms. Bumiller, as a biographer, is being kind to Ms. Rice. She does not mention Ms. Rice’s most unfortunate words:

But I have no interest in diplomacy for the sake of returning Lebanon and Israel to the status quo ante. I think it would be a mistake.

What we’re seeing here, in a sense, is the growing — the birth pangs of a new Middle East.

RICE: And whatever we do, we have to be certain that we are pushing forward to the new Middle East, not going back to the old one.

The birth pangs of a new Middle East?

This is how ignorant and lame Ms. Rice is on the Middle East. Not only was she wrong about Hamas, not only was she wrong about Hezbollah, but both have increased their positions of strength and influence since she got “involved.” Israel lost its aura of invincibility by “losing” to a ragtag group of terrorists. Oh and Israel still has yet to get back its two soldiers.

Just keep all this in mind when Ms. Rice attempts any future “talks on peace” in the Middle East. She is more worried right now about her “legacy” than actually about making peace in the Middle East.

If she truly would want to make peace in the Middle East, her first visit as of right now, should be to Tehran.

Musharraf: Protests are Producing Negative Vibes, Negative Optics

November 13, 2007 at 12:56 pm | Posted in Bush Administration, conservatives, corruption, Foreign Policy, Pakistan | Leave a comment

That’s why he must be a dictator, because the protesting will “disturb” the election process:

The president of Pakistan, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, vigorously defended his declaration of emergency rule in a 40-minute interview, insisting that it would not interfere with the holding of free and fair elections.

He defended the decree issued 10 days ago that scrapped the Constitution, dismissed the Supreme Court and resulted in the arrests of 2,500 opposition party workers, lawyers and human rights advocates, and rejected an appeal by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to lift emergency rule.

“I totally disagree with her,” General Musharraf said in an interview with The New York Times at the presidential building here on Tuesday. “The emergency is to ensure elections go in an undisturbed manner.”

General Musharraf said the decree was justified because the Supreme Court had meddled in politics, specifically the validity of his re-election, and because of the serious threat from terrorists.

In the interview General Musharraf was critical of the opposition leader, Benazir Bhutto, saying she was confrontational and would be difficult to work with.

General Musharraf complained about her conduct since her return a month ago, saying: “You come here on supposedly on a reconciliatory mode, and right before you land, you’re on a confrontationist mode. I am afraid this is producing negative vibes, negative optics.”

In the interview, the general, dressed in a gray suit and blue tie, described Pakistan as suffering from a “disturbed terrorist environment.”

“I don’t know, I don’t know,” he said, when asked when the emergency rule would end. “We need to see the environment.”

Can you say, whacked! Can you say, unhinged from reality! The man is holding on to power he knows he is losing. He’s not going to last long, see. So he has to do whatever he can. Including coming up with the dumbest excuses for his emergency decrees.

This is George Bush’s man. This is the foreign policy of the Bush administration. Coddle dictators who give false promises on democracy. See, if we were to actually have real democracy in the lands of our enemies, it just might end up that our enemies will win power. In the end, democracy is not our overriding priority. We are hypocrites.

Here’s Your Chance, George W. Bush, Stand For Democracy!

November 13, 2007 at 5:34 am | Posted in Bush Administration, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Pakistan | Leave a comment

You’ve got a chance to redeem yourself, Mr. Bush. You want to be known as one who stands for democracy? Then get Musharraf to stop his actions, now! The more Musharraf continues to undermine protests against him, the more the dream of democracy in Pakistan goes away. Do it now, Mr. Bush. Stand up to Musharraf. Just say no! I know you previously sacrificed the Lebanese democracy at the altar of the war on terror, but you can redeem some part of your utterly battered reputation. Say no to Musharraf. Don’t let him get away with this. If this was Ahmadinejad doing what Musharraf is doing, you’d be going bananas about wanting to bomb the hell out of Iran. Why not keep the same standard, eh? When you don’t, it completely undermines your principles in the eyes of everybody else around the world. It tells everybody around the world that you REALLY ARE NOT interested in democracy, only in democracy in your enemies, as a way to overthrow their regimes. What a sad and pathetic foreign policy.

General Musharraf Learned Much From George W. Bush

November 9, 2007 at 1:26 pm | Posted in Bush Administration, corruption, Foreign Policy, Pakistan | 3 Comments

In the interest of self-preservation, knowing that the Supreme Court was going to rule against him, General Musharraf ordered martial law last week in Pakistan, jailed the Supreme Court justices he knew would vote against him and installed his own loyal judges. Lawyers across the nation protested, were beaten and arrested by Musharraf’s men. Today was to be a day of protest led by Benazir Bhutto, in what just simply seems a weirdly scripted scenario. Maybe she’s just ineffectual as a true revolutionary leader, but she seems to be taking this all in strides. Maybe Pakistan is still in denial about what Musharraf is doing, consolidating his power like he is.

Take his actions today, putting Bhutto under de facto house arrest.

Benazir Bhutto, who had threatened to lead a major protest rally in the military garrison town of Rawalpindi to challenge President Pervez Musharraf’s emergency rule, never made it out of her quiet, tree-lined street in Islamabad. By dawn Friday scores of helmeted riot police, some armed with automatic weapons, had cordoned off the road at each end, blocking it with coils of barbed wired and armored cars. Police were also picketed just outside the gate and wall of her two-story house. Clearly, Musharraf had placed her under de facto house arrest.

Later in the morning the police rather politely rolled back the barbed wire to allow several senior Bhutto aides and members of parliament from her Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) to walk to her house and meet with her. But the same courtesy was not extended to perhaps three dozen party activists and supporters who came individually or in small groups. As they approached the barricade they were quickly arrested and thrown into police vans. Several women, both young and old, one carrying a bouquet of flowers for Bhutto, were among those arrested. Some of those arrested went quietly, others raised a V sign with their fingers, others wailed and shouted, and some unfurled red, black and green PPP flags and shouted, “Long live Benazir!” and “We will not obey the emergency!”

The New York Times puts it this way:

In a huge show of force, the Pakistani government stopped a protest rally by the opposition leader, Benazir Bhutto, before it started today, blanketing the rally site with thousands of police today, blocking roads to stop demonstrators, and barricading Ms. Bhutto inside her residence in Islamabad.

In Rawalpindi, the nearby garrison town where the rally had been due to take place, double lines of police and police vans prevented most of the thousands of demonstrators from entering the city to protest emergency rule, which the president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, declared six days ago. Thousands of party workers had already been arrested over the past few days, party officials said.

Now, the reason I said this was weirdly scripted is because of this:

On the surface, the crackdown on the rally and Ms. Bhutto’s detention appeared to be an obstacle to power sharing negotiations that had been taking place for several weeks between Ms. Bhutto and General Musharraf. But the events today do not exclude the possibility negotiations continue by back channels.

I wonder, just what does Ms. Bhutto think she will be negotiating with a general who is so blatantly disregarding the rule of law? That’s why I mean this is like following a script. Why does Ms. Bhutto trust the General? I mean, look at his justification for stomping on her protest:

In justifying Ms. Bhutto’s detention, the Pakistan government said that that there had been credible evidence she could have been the target of a terrorist attack during the rally.

Um, huh, how would he know something like that? She may indeed, but the terrorist might not have been an Islamic fundamentalist from the Pashtun region. He may have been in Islamabad, sitting in a pretty palace…

Seriously, what kind of threat is Ms. Bhutto to Islamic fundamentalists? After all, she is pushing for democracy in Pakistan. They WANT democracy in Pakistan, because it would mean more influence for them! The only person Ms. Bhutto is a real threat to is the General, Mr. Musharraf.

So why do I title my post “General Musharraf Learned Much from George W. Bush?” Because of that last quote there, where the reason Musharraf decided to squash Ms. Bhutto’s protest was because of some anonymous terror threat to her life. Does that sound familiar to anyone? Why does President Bush justify torture? Why does President Bush justify spying on Americans? Why does President Bush justify violating the Constitution? Because of some vague anonymous terror threat!

Pakistanis know that this clampdown by Musharraf has nothing to do with terrorism. From the elite to the lowest Pakistani:

In interviews on the streets of Islamabad, the capital, and in this nearby garrison city over the last three days — rich and poor, professionals and laborers, members of the security forces and civilians — they overwhelmingly opposed the president’s emergency decree, rejecting it as a naked attempt by General Musharraf to bolster his fading powers.

“People are not fools,” said Muhammad Saleem, 35, a phone shop clerk in a wealthy section of Islamabad, the capital. “They do understand it’s not to stop militancy.”

Uniformly, they said the decree had reduced General Musharraf’s already low popularity. “If I stood for election here,” said Jehangir Ahmed, a welder from Rawalpindi, “I would win more seats than Musharraf.”

And what the United States doesn’t seem to get a real good grasp of is that General Musharraf’s naked power grabs severely affect our “war on terror.”

It never had to be this way. Bush could actually have stuck to his principles and not backed a dictator, but instead tied funding of this dictator to verifiable promises that he would move away from totalitarianism. Problem is that Bush would never have done this, because he AGREED with Musharraf’s choice of governance over Pakistan.

So sad.

Clueless, Dangerous Mitt Romney

October 26, 2007 at 9:20 am | Posted in conservatives, corruption, Foreign Policy, Iran, Military, Mit Romney, Mitt Romney, secret combinations, War | 10 Comments

What does it take to raise the level of discourse of these Republican candidates for president? Here we have Mitt Romney responding on the new sanctions placed on Iran that he is in favor of “a military blockade or “bombardment of some kind” to prevent Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon.”

A bombardment of some kind? A military blockade? Just what in the hell will those do? Are Republicans really this far unhinged? This shows a real poor understanding of foreign policy on Mitt Romney. It shows that he would rather pander to an out of touch political Right than state things as they are. Com’on Mr. Romney, you were a stake president for Pete’s sake!

Kurdish Terrorists Kill Turkish Soldiers

October 22, 2007 at 12:41 pm | Posted in Bush Administration, corruption, Foreign Policy, Iran, Iraq, Terrorism, Turkey, War | 4 Comments

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 Turks Americans and the Iraqis Iranians working together, and we will do what we can to resolve the issue without a Turkish American cross-border incursion [into Iran],” McCormack said.

Makes good sense to me. Doesn’t it to you?

George Bush, Iran, and World War Three

October 18, 2007 at 12:11 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Iran, King George, Middle East, secret combinations, Terrorism, violence, War, War on Terror, World Events | 3 Comments

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.

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, He Must Be A Phony Soldier

October 13, 2007 at 7:55 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, Foreign Policy, Iraq, War, War on Terror | 1 Comment

After all, he is speaking out against the war calling it a “nightmare” and all. Must be phony.

Speaking of Ahmadinejad…

September 26, 2007 at 1:58 pm | Posted in Ahmadinejad, Foreign Policy, Iran | 4 Comments

This is probably the best analysis of Ahmadinejad’s appearance at Columbia University yesterday.

But the most tragic part of the event was the Q and A segment. The Iranian regime is as vulnerable with regards to its domestic policies as America is with regards to its foreign policy and war in Iraq. It is true that Iran has occasionally funded various groups that have been hostile to U.S. interests. But the United States has done the very same thing to Iran and much more. An example which Ahmadinejad pointed out to was Reagan’s sales of weapons to Saddam, which he used against in Iran for eight years. I can still vividly remember the sound of sirens, duct taped living room windows and American-funded air strikes.

And yet, most of Bollinger’s questions focused on Iran’s foreign policies. By keeping the focus on international issues, Columbia gave him an easy way to turn the conversation around time and again and criticize American policy. One question was why Iran was enriching uranium, which Bollinger naively ended with “would you stop?” And why should they stop? There is no evidence that they are building a bomb, they are a member of the NPT, which gives them the right to enrich uranium, and their two main open enemies — Israel and America — both possess nuclear weapons, with the former not being a member of NPT and the latter breaking its rules by not moving toward the treaty’s ultimate goal: elimination of all nuclear weapons.

Without asking these significant questions or any meaningful understanding of more than 2,500 years of Iranian history, Columbia provided an environment for Ahmadinejad to criticize American policy, divert every viewer’s attention from the country’s brutalities and oppression and play to the audience’s idealist beliefs that scored him more applauses than any meaningful challenge to his stance and record on issues that mattered the most.

Indeed.

“We wanted to send [Ahmadinejad] a powerful message”

September 26, 2007 at 1:55 pm | Posted in Ahmadinejad, conservatives, corruption, Foreign Policy, Iran, United Nations | 1 Comment

the ridiculousness and petty childishness of our current administration continues

The U.S. delegation walked out of the General Assembly chamber when Ahmadinejad went to the podium, leaving only a low-ranking note-taker to listen to his speech, which also indirectly accused the U.S. and Israel of human rights violations. Gonzalo Gallegos, a State Department spokesman, said the U.S. wanted “to send him a powerful message.”

Oh yeah, real powerful message. You only showed how petty and childish you really are. Why are you so afraid of this piddly man? Why does he instigate such fear in conservatives, enough to drive you to war?

The Pope Rebuffs Condoleezza Rice

September 19, 2007 at 10:33 am | Posted in American politics, condoleezza rice, corruption, Foreign Policy, Iraq | 3 Comments

Man, that’s gotta hurt that poor legacy of hers, but the Pope denied Condoleezza Rice an audience over foreign policy.

The latest request was made during the summer. The US secretary of state Condoleeza Rice indicated to the Vatican that she urgently needed to meet Benedict XVI. She was on her way back into the viper’s nest of the Middle East and it would have been no bad thing to meet her counterparts with the credentials of a papal audience. Ms Rice had hoped that the audience could be fixed for early August at Castelgandolfo, the papal summer residence, when Benedict XVI returned from Lorenzago in the Dolomites, but she was told the Pope was on holiday. She insisted but to no avail. Vatican diplomats were adamant and “Benedict XVI is on holiday” continued to be the official reply.

Ah, it seems the reason was because Ms. Rice was not too kind to the Vatican way back in 2003 on the war in Iraq.

No one will say so officially but the refusal may also have been prompted by Ms Rice’s stance in 2003, when she was Mr Bush’s national security adviser. On the eve of the Iraqi conflict, it was Ms Rice who said bluntly that she did not understand the Vatican’s anti-war stance. She treated John Paul II’s envoy, Cardinal Pio Laghi, with a coolness that bordered on disrespect when he was sent to Washington on 2 March 2003 on a desperate mission to avert military intervention. Clearly, the incident has not been forgotten.

Payback’s a bitch, Ms. Rice.

Austria Breaks With the West

August 23, 2007 at 5:57 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Foreign Policy, Iran, Russia | 3 Comments

Well done, Austria. They are asking the United States to stop recreating the Cold War by setting up a missile shield over Eastern Europe. Bush may say whatever he wants to about this shield being a protection of Europe from Iranian missiles, but really, please, we all know it really is a way to take advantage of the peace with Russia to reposition ourselves against an emerging Russian strength.

Why are many Americans so afraid of the Russians?

F.U.B.A.R. in Iraq

August 8, 2007 at 10:26 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, conservatives, corruption, Foreign Policy, Iran, Iraq, King George, Military, Republicans, secret combinations, War | 1 Comment

Michael Gordon writes another propaganda piece in the New York Times, unquestioningly passing along Bush’s false assertion about Iran being our greatest enemy, blah blah blah. Interestingly in his piece, while uncritically writing what the military wants us to hear—accusations that Iran is supplying the worst EFPs— Mr. Gordon probably unknowingly reveals a bit of a truth. See, Mr. Gordon and the Bush administration want us to believe that our greatest enemy in Iraq is Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia. But Mr. Gordon writes:

Such bombs, which fire a semi-molten copper slug that can penetrate the armor on a Humvee and are among the deadliest weapons used against American forces, are used almost exclusively by Shiite militants.

and

While the group [al Qaeda] is seen by the American military as the most serious near-term threat, there are other signs that Shiite militias remain active. According to General Odierno, the day-to-day commander of American troops in Iraq, Shiite militants carried out 73 percent of the attacks that killed or wounded American troops in Baghdad in July.

Even though Shi’ite militias are attacking us at a greater rate, he can’t help himself and state what a threat Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia is. Note that he states that Al-Qaeda is “seen by the American military as the most serious near-term threat,” even though “Shi’ite militants carried out 73 percent of the attacks” in July, which would seem quite “near term” frankly.

Worse, of course, is that Mr. Gordon does not even care to show what evidence the military has that proves that Iran is behind the EFPs, even though a previous raid in southern Iraq found a bomb-making factory that made those very EFPs that are killing Americans. In Iraq. Not Iran. Hmmmm…..

“Iraqi army soldiers swept into the city of Diwaniya early this morning to disrupt militia activity and return security and stability of the volatile city back to the government of Iraq,” the U.S. military said in a statement.

Bleichwehl said troops, facing scattered resistance, discovered a factory that produced “explosively formed penetrators” (EFPs), a particularly deadly type of explosive that can destroy a main battle tank and several weapons caches.

That was in April of this year. But that doesn’t matter to Mr. Gordon and the Bush administration. They would rather have Americans believe that Iranians are the Great Satan, the dark that the light of America must consume, the evil that must be vanquished. Forget that over half the foreign fighters in Iraq come from our bestest of friends, the Saudis. Forget that Shi’ites in Iraq themselves are actually creating these EFPs.

Worse yet, we’re now funding Sunni insurgents we used to be fighting. And to top it off, 30% of our weapons that we gave to Iraqis have gone missing. Is there a more appropriate time to use the old FUBAR phrase than now to describe our mission in Iraq?

As Anonymous Liberal writes:

The administration would have us believe, particularly of late, that our primary enemy in Iraq is al Qaeda of Mesopotamia. But if 73% of attacks in Baghdad in July were carried out by Shiite militants, who are certainly not al Qaeda fighters, then that’s a major story, one that underscores just how unmanageable the situation in Iraq is.

We are simultaneously under attack by Sunni and Shiite militants, who, when not attacking us, are attacking each other. Both Sunni and Shiite militant groups are (apparently) being supplied, whether with official blessing or not, by sympathetic parties in Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Some have suggested that we are in a proxy war with Iran. I think it’s far more accurate to say that we are stuck in the middle of a proxy war between Iran and its Sunni rivals.

Meanwhile, in order to root out al Qaeda, we’ve started arming the very Sunni militants we were previously fighting. And we continue to support a Shiite-led central government that is openly allied with Shiite militias who, when not ethnically cleansing Sunnis in the Baghdad area, are apparently blowing up our troops with Iranian-made bombs. There’s a word for this type of situation and it rhymes with fustercluck.

Indeed.

UPDATED: Matt Yglesias adds:

The administration is lying (for them not to be lying would be unprecedented) and Gordon is passing on what his sources tell him.

As a policy matter, looking at the Iranian support issue tends to highlights how pointless it is to get one’s hopes raised by such minor signs of progress as may or may not be thought to exist in Iraq. Iran is charged with supplying a bit more than 100 explosive-formed penetrator bombs to Iraqi militants per month. Iran is also a bit of a rinky-dink third world country. But even they clearly could be providing a lot more weaponry than that were they so inclined. Hezbollah’s armaments are, for example, much more sophisticated than that. If the Iranians ever were to reach the conclusion that the US were in danger of achieving its goals of creating a stable Iraq happy to play host to large US military installations and serve as an anti-Iranian bulwark in the region, Iran could easily step up its assistance and then you’re back to square one.

The issue here, then, really isn’t where, exactly, these EFPs come from and why. The issue is whether you think it serves US interests to try to reach an accommodation with Iran so they we can fight terrorism by trying to fight the al-Qaeda terrorists who want to come here and kill or, or whether you think it serves US interests to continue picking unprovoked fights with tangential adversaries. But before you pick what’s behind door number two, just keep in mind that a US-Iranian escalation cycle will certainly lead things to get much, much worse over the short and medium terms.

The War in Iraq, Detrimental to American Families

August 1, 2007 at 8:41 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, family values, Foreign Policy, Iran, Iraq, Israel, King George, Middle East, secret combinations, violence, War, War on Terror | Leave a comment

Here may be a great reason for the multitude of Mormons still supportive of this war to think twice about it. The families, especially the children of soldiers who go off to Iraq are irreprably harmed.

Rates of neglect and abuse of the children of servicemen and women rose 42% within the family when the enlisted parent was deployed on a combat mission, according to a new study led by senior health analyst Deborah Gibbs of RTI International, a research institute in North Carolina. Previous studies have shown an association between combat-related deployments and higher levels of stress in the family, and it is this stress that is thought to play a major role in the maltreatment of children by the parent who stays home.

The current study is the first to take a comprehensive look at how deployment affects child neglect and emotional, physical and sexual abuse. Backed by funding from the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, the researchers harvested data from the U.S. Army Central Registry of 1,771 families worldwide with at least one instance of child neglect or abuse between Sept. 2001 and Dec. 2004, a period during which many soldiers were deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. The results show that a staggering 1,858 parents had maltreated their children during that period — boys and girls in equal numbers, with an average age of 6. Nearly 10% of those parents neglected or abused their children on more than one day. The number of times a parent was deployed, however, whether once or twice, did not significantly affect the rate of maltreatment — researchers speculate that by the time of a soldier’s second tour of duty, the homebound parent has developed at least few coping strategies.

The study suggests that Mom is the one taking it out on the kids. During the deployment of her soldier-husband, rates of child maltreatment tripled; neglect quadrupled; and physical abuse nearly doubled. “Female spouses are the ones that stay at home when soldiers are deployed,” says Gibbs. “They deal with the stress of single parenting, worrying about a spouse and holding down a job as well. We recognize that military families do an amazing job at getting though these situations that are tougher than many of us could ever imagine.” Abusive women were more likely to be Caucasian than Hispanic or black, suggesting that there may be differences in the way white mothers cope with stress compared with black or Hispanic moms; the study’s authors write that the racial difference may have to do with the mother’s employment status or her willingness to ask for outside help. In contrast, male spouses showed no increase in maltreatment when their wives were deployed.

The study controlled for characteristics often linked to child maltreatment — such as substance abuse, socioeconomic status and age of the children —making it evident that deployment was the determining factor.

So let us review the costs of this war and see if they do not indeed outweigh the supposed benefits

1. Our good, professional, all-volunteer force is being decimated and spent, making it more difficult to be fully ready for any bigger event on the horizon.

2. Their families are suffering at a staggering rate back home, with abuse and maltreatment.

3. The financial costs of this war are being put on a credit card for future generations to pay while we sit back and consume like good baby boomers.

4. Iraq is a veritable hell-hole. Thousands of Iraqis die violently a month. They have to rely on militias to get some semblance of security because the Americans are certainly not providing proper security.

5. There is no political resolution on the horizon in Iraq. The Iraqi Parliament is on vacation for the month of August.

6. Regional countries are beginning to be assertive in controlling the broken country to their own selfish needs. Turks are attacking Kurds in the north. Saudis are funding their Sunni brothers in the insurgency. Shi’ite Iranians are supporting the Shi’ites in the south.

7. The war has done absolutely nothing to stop Al-Qaeda regain its strength while they sit comfortably with friends in Pakistan.

8. The Taliban in Afghanistan are learning techniques used by insurgents in Iraq so as to further undermine and destabilize the country we should have already bagged years ago. Instead, Afghanistan is falling further and further in the direction of Iraq.

9. Iran is not feeling any real heat and continuing on their desired path towards nuclear technology.

10. Israel certainly does not feel any safer than it did before 2003.

I’m sure there are many more. Now, I ask those few who read my blog, what have been the benefits of our invasion of Iraq that have outweighed these costs? I ask it in this fashion, because there of course have been obvious benefits to the invasion, one being that Saddam is gone. But tell me, does his removal outweigh these costs?

Condoleezza Rice Fails in the Middle East, Again

July 31, 2007 at 10:36 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, condoleezza rice, conservatives, corruption, Foreign Policy, Middle East, Military, Saudi Arabia, secret combinations | 24 Comments

As if that is any big surprise to anyone who has closely followed the utterly inept Ms. Rice as she does a dog and pony show across the Middle East. But yet again, she has failed to produce any result from her current trip to the Middle East. Sure the Saudis are going to gobble up the $20 billion dollars of advanced weaponry; after all we’re just giving it away with nothing to show in return.

Has there been a worse Secretary of State than Condoleezza Rice?

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