Thursday, August 31, 2006

Liars

What was the WaPo thinking running this story on the front page?
....Bush suggested last week that Democrats are promising voters to block additional money for continuing the war. Vice President Cheney this week said critics "claim retreat from Iraq would satisfy the appetite of the terrorists and get them to leave us alone." And Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, citing passivity toward Nazi Germany before World War II, said that "many have still not learned history's lessons" and "believe that somehow vicious extremists can be appeased."

Pressed to support these allegations, the White House yesterday could cite no major Democrat who has proposed cutting off funds or suggested that withdrawing from Iraq would persuade terrorists to leave Americans alone. But White House and Republican officials said those are logical interpretations of the most common Democratic position favoring a timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq.

'We Will Not Walk In Fear'

What the DNC Should be saying.

From C & L: Keith Olbermann Delivers One Hell Of a Commentary on Rumsfeld,

The man who sees absolutes, where all other men see nuances and shades of meaning, is either a prophet, or a quack.

Donald H. Rumsfeld is not a prophet.

Mr. Rumsfeld’s remarkable speech to the American Legion yesterday demands the deep analysis—and the sober contemplation—of every American.

For it did not merely serve to impugn the morality or intelligence -- indeed, the loyalty -- of the majority of Americans who oppose the transient occupants of the highest offices in the land. Worse, still, it credits those same transient occupants -- our employees -- with a total omniscience; a total omniscience which neither common sense, nor this administration’s track record at home or abroad, suggests they deserve.

Dissent and disagreement with government is the life’s blood of human freedom; and not merely because it is the first roadblock against the kind of tyranny the men Mr. Rumsfeld likes to think of as “his” troops still fight, this very evening, in Iraq.

It is also essential. Because just every once in awhile it is right and the power to which it speaks, is wrong.

In a small irony, however, Mr. Rumsfeld’s speechwriter was adroit in invoking the memory of the appeasement of the Nazis. For in their time, there was another government faced with true peril—with a growing evil—powerful and remorseless.

That government, like Mr. Rumsfeld’s, had a monopoly on all the facts. It, too, had the “secret information.” It alone had the true picture of the threat. It too dismissed and insulted its critics in terms like Mr. Rumsfeld’s -- questioning their intellect and their morality.

That government was England’s, in the 1930’s.

It knew Hitler posed no true threat to Europe, let alone England.

It knew Germany was not re-arming, in violation of all treaties and accords.

It knew that the hard evidence it received, which contradicted its own policies, its own conclusions — its own omniscience -- needed to be dismissed.

The English government of Neville Chamberlain already knew the truth.

Most relevant of all — it “knew” that its staunchest critics needed to be marginalized and isolated. In fact, it portrayed the foremost of them as a blood-thirsty war-monger who was, if not truly senile, at best morally or intellectually confused.

That critic’s name was Winston Churchill.

Sadly, we have no Winston Churchills evident among us this evening. We have only Donald Rumsfelds, demonizing disagreement, the way Neville Chamberlain demonized Winston Churchill.

History — and 163 million pounds of Luftwaffe bombs over England — have taught us that all Mr. Chamberlain had was his certainty — and his own confusion. A confusion that suggested that the office can not only make the man, but that the office can also make the facts.

Thus, did Mr. Rumsfeld make an apt historical analogy.

Excepting the fact, that he has the battery plugged in backwards.

His government, absolute -- and exclusive -- in its knowledge, is not the modern version of the one which stood up to the Nazis.

It is the modern version of the government of Neville Chamberlain.

But back to today’s Omniscient ones.

That, about which Mr. Rumsfeld is confused is simply this: This is a Democracy. Still. Sometimes just barely.

And, as such, all voices count -- not just his.

Had he or his president perhaps proven any of their prior claims of omniscience — about Osama Bin Laden’s plans five years ago, about Saddam Hussein’s weapons four years ago, about Hurricane Katrina’s impact one year ago — we all might be able to swallow hard, and accept their “omniscience” as a bearable, even useful recipe, of fact, plus ego.

But, to date, this government has proved little besides its own arrogance, and its own hubris.

Mr. Rumsfeld is also personally confused, morally or intellectually, about his own standing in this matter. From Iraq to Katrina, to the entire “Fog of Fear” which continues to envelop this nation, he, Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and their cronies have — inadvertently or intentionally — profited and benefited, both personally, and politically.

And yet he can stand up, in public, and question the morality and the intellect of those of us who dare ask just for the receipt for the Emporer’s New Clothes?

In what country was Mr. Rumsfeld raised? As a child, of whose heroism did he read? On what side of the battle for freedom did he dream one day to fight? With what country has he confused the United States of America?

The confusion we -- as its citizens— must now address, is stark and forbidding.

But variations of it have faced our forefathers, when men like Nixon and McCarthy and Curtis LeMay have darkened our skies and obscured our flag. Note -- with hope in your heart — that those earlier Americans always found their way to the light, and we can, too.

The confusion is about whether this Secretary of Defense, and this administration, are in fact now accomplishing what they claim the terrorists seek: The destruction of our freedoms, the very ones for which the same veterans Mr. Rumsfeld addressed yesterday in Salt Lake City, so valiantly fought.

And about Mr. Rumsfeld’s other main assertion, that this country faces a “new type of fascism.”

As he was correct to remind us how a government that knew everything could get everything wrong, so too was he right when he said that -- though probably not in the way he thought he meant it.

This country faces a new type of fascism - indeed.

Although I presumptuously use his sign-off each night, in feeble tribute, I have utterly no claim to the words of the exemplary journalist Edward R. Murrow.

But never in the trial of a thousand years of writing could I come close to matching how he phrased a warning to an earlier generation of us, at a time when other politicians thought they (and they alone) knew everything, and branded those who disagreed: “confused” or “immoral.”

Thus, forgive me, for reading Murrow, in full:

“We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty,” he said, in 1954. “We must remember always that accusation is not proof, and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law.

“We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men, not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were for the moment unpopular.”

And so good night, and good luck.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Here We Go Again!

CJR Daily: Psst! Iran Helped Plan September 11 ...

As today's page-one stories in both the New York Times and the Washington Post make clear, the Bush administration has begun to apply pressure on the U.S. intelligence agencies to pump up the threat that Iran poses.


Matthew Yglesias, guest-blogging on TPM, warns that "Democrats had better be prepared to confront this business aggressively."


So should the press. Because while both the Times story and the Post story make ample, if measured, reference to what happened the last time Cheney and Co. insisted on getting the "right" answers to their intelligence questions, neither reminded readers of how little skepticism we in the press brought to claims that Iraq had WMD, that Saddam's henchmen had gone to Niger and secured "yellowcake," that those aluminum tubes really were trouble, and that there was a 9/11 connection.


Nor did those stories go far enough in putting this latest bit of White House maneuvering into its proper context. The country is less than three months away from a crucial mid-term election, and with the GOP facing the distinct possibility of losing its majority in Congress, the administration is desperately trying to play the only card that has worked repeatedly with the voters -- fear of terrorism. It needs a new villain, and Iran's persistent thumbing of its nose at the West over its nuclear program provides the perfect opening to elevate one.


Finally, there was scant outrage expressed anywhere in the press today (perhaps tomorrow?) over the fact that, despite all we've learned about this administration's willingness to say whatever is necessary to get what it wants, here, it seems, we go again. [emphasis mine]

This is very serious and as Big Media Matt says, the Dems had better be prepared to hit this, and hit this hard.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Your Tax Dollars At Work

What ever happened to the so-called fiscal conservative I used to hear so much about?

The GOP's Congressional Budget Office says that 'staying the course' in Iraq will cost $1.3 TRILLION Dollars. That's right my friends, Trillion with a "T".

Think Progress has the story.

Security Moms

Citing a Pew Research Center Study, Kevin says the GOP has lost 'security moms' as well.

He then offers this sage advice,
Democrats can maintain this lead if, starting right now, they relentlessly attack the failed militaristic approach to terrorism that Republicans have championed ever since 9/11. There's a different, more workable approach that relies more on military transformation, economic engagement, public diplomacy, and serious homeland security instead of color codes and scare tactics, and I'll bet the American public is finally ready to give it a hearing. It's time to start offering the voters some common sense.
Needless to say, I could not agree more. Perhaps the American people are finally over the mass hysteria caused by 9/11 and ready to listen to adults again.

UPDATE: The WaPo now has the story: Republicans Losing The 'Security Moms'

Wow

I can't believe this.

The Carpetbagger Report: Losing the linchpin
The conventional wisdom was so widely believed, there hardly seemed any point to questioning it. The alleged terrorist plot would be a political boon for the Bush White House, the timing would hurt Democrats, and the story had the ability to completely reshape the last 12 weeks of the campaign cycle.

Since the story captured the nation's attention, however, seven national polls have been conducted. If there was a bump for Bush, it's hiding well.

* Zogby: the president's job approval rating dropped from 36% to 34%.

* Gallup: his approval rating fell from 40% to 37%.

* CBS News: the president's support remained flat at 36%.

* Newsweek: Bush's approval rating improved to 38% from 35%.

* Fox News: the president's support remained flat at 36%.

* AP/Ipsos: his approval rating fell from 36% to 33%.

* Harris: the president's support remained flat at 34%.

In six of the seven national polls, the president's support dropped or remained the same since Americans heard about the alleged terrorist plot. In other words, the story that would obviously help Bush's standing isn't helping him at all.
Read the rest.

I really do find this hard to believe. Let's see what next week brings.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Have We Been Duped Again?

Go read Kevin's post on binary explosives and then click through to read the original article he excerpts.

I find this astounding and want to know more about it.

And as an aside, don't you just love that subtle British sense of humor?

NSA Wiretapping Held Unconstitutional

In a 44 page decision issued today, Judge Anna Diggs Taylor of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan has issued an order declaring the wiretapping unconstitutional and has enjoined the federal government from continuing the program.

Judge Diggs concludes:
For all of the reasons outlined above, this court is constrained to grant to Plaintiffs the Partial Summary Judgment requested, and holds the TSP [The Secret Program is how the judge refers to NSA program]violates the APA[Administrative Procedures Act]; the Separation of Powers doctrine; the First and Fourth Amendments of the United States Constitution; and the statutory law.

Defendants' Motion to Dismiss the final claim of data-mining is granted, because litigation of that claim would require violation of the Defendants' state secrets privilege.

The Permanent Injunction of the TSP requested by Plaintiffs is granted inasmuch as each of the factors required to be met to sustain such an injunction have undisputedly been met. The irreparable injury necessary to warrant injunctive relief is clear, as the First and Fourth Amendment rights of Plaintiff are violated by the TSP. [citation omitted] The irreparable injury conversely sustained by Defendants under this injunction may be rectified by compliance with our Constitution and /or statutory law, as amended if necessary. Plaintiffs have prevailed, and the public interest is clear, in this matter. It is the upholding of our Constitution.

As Justice Warren wrote in U.S. v. Robel, 389 U.S. 258 (1967):
Implicit in the term 'national defense' is the notion of defending those values and ideas which set this Nation apart....It would indeed be ironic if, in the name of national defense, we would sanction the subversion of...those liberties...which makes the defense of the Nation worthwhile.

This is Funny

I posted a couple days ago about Sen Allen(Racist-VA) calling native-born Virginian S.R. Sidarth "macaca" and welcoming him to America.

Since Allen made the comment the media and blog world have pratteled on endlessly about what he could have meant by "macaca" to the point of absurdity speculating about the derivation of the word, and how Allen could know that slur, etc.

The WaPo follows up today.

This is a perfect example of just how out of touch everyone in Washington -- official press and bloggers alike --is.

Newsflash: 'Macaca' isn't a word! You sould like a bunch of idiots going on endlessly about what it means, where it came from, etc.

Allen made the word up to call attention to the non-white member of the audience. He wanted to show his white supporters that those who don't support him are not white. This plays well with GOP racists. Or, to use the term the GOP prefer, their "base".

Of course it was a racist slur! That was the point. Racists never get the fact they these things are offensive because they assume everyone (well, every white person since they really don't speak much to non-whites) agrees with them even if some won't admit it.

There is nothing to debate.

Job Opening Posted

Prime Minister of Great Britain seeks new Deputy Prime Minister.

Independent Online Edition,
John Prescott has given vent to his private feelings about the Bush presidency, summing up George Bush's administration in a single word: crap.
_____

"He was talking in the context of the 'road map' in the Middle East. He said he only gave support to the war on Iraq because they were promised the road map. But he said the Bush administration had been crap on that. We all laughed and he said to an official, 'Don't minute that'." Mr Cohen added: "We also had a laugh when he said old Bush is just a cowboy with his Stetson on....
And you gotta love the non-denial denial.
Last night, an official from the Deputy Prime Minister's office said: " These discussions are intended to be private and remain within the four walls. They are private so that there may be frank discussions."

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I'm Stunned!

I've been trying to gather my thoughts on the situation in Israel, and and our most recent terror threat and post something coherent, but am just too overwhelmed by events.

Then I read George Will's most recent column.

To my shock and horror, I agree completely with George Will. Well, okay, I'm not sure about the very last paragraph, but I agree with everything else he said.

Now I need to lie down.....

The Triumph of Unrealism

This is a must read, and there is to much to capture in a blurb, but here is a taste,

Cooperation between Pakistani and British law enforcement (the British draw upon useful experience combating IRA terrorism) has validated John Kerry's belief (as paraphrased by the New York Times Magazine of Oct. 10, 2004) that "many of the interdiction tactics that cripple drug lords, including governments working jointly to share intelligence, patrol borders and force banks to identify suspicious customers, can also be some of the most useful tools in the war on terror." In a candidates' debate in South Carolina (Jan. 29, 2004), Kerry said that although the war on terror will be "occasionally military," it is "primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation that requires cooperation around the world."

Immediately after the London plot was disrupted, a "senior administration official," insisting on anonymity for his or her splenetic words, denied the obvious, that Kerry had a point. The official told The Weekly Standard:

"The idea that the jihadists would all be peaceful, warm, lovable, God-fearing people if it weren't for U.S. policies strikes me as not a valid idea. [Democrats] do not have the understanding or the commitment to take on these forces. It's like John Kerry. The law enforcement approach doesn't work."

This farrago of caricature and non sequitur makes the administration seem eager to repel all but the delusional. But perhaps such rhetoric reflects the intellectual contortions required to sustain the illusion that the war in Iraq is central to the war on terrorism, and that the war, unlike "the law enforcement approach," does "work."

I Think David Wallace May Need Our Support,...

not unlike the support PA Green Party Senate Candidate is getting.

TPMmuckraker,
Texas Republicans are scrambling to choose their party's "official" write-in candidate to oppose Democrat Nick Lampson's congressional run. Because Tom DeLay withdrew late from the race for Texas' 22nd district seat, Republicans are barred from officially nominating a candidate and placing his or her name on the ballot.

At least three GOPers have thrown their hats in the ring, and the local Republican leadership is scheduled to meet Thursday to make the call. One, perceived frontrunner David Wallace -- also mayor of DeLay's (former?) hometown of Sugar Land -- says he's running no matter what party says.
Some things to remember about this race. Although TX-22 is a GOP district, DeLay diluted GOP numbers when he redistricted TX because he didn't think he needed them and as much as a neighboring district. Dem candidate Nick Lampson is not some sacrificial lamb sent up to get swatted down by DeLay, but a former Congressman forced out of Congress by DeLay's redistricting -- with substantial popular support. Even if the GOP could agree on one candidate as the write-in choice, they would have to convince a majority of ALL VOTERS on election day to go to the trouble of writing-in that person. I don't care how red a congressional district is, that ain't going to happen. Many GOP voters in TX-22 will sit this one out in November which may impact GOP chances on state-wide races.

And finally, and this should be a concern for Lampson as well, a massive write-in campaign -- even with low GOP turnout -- will bring voting in the district to a virtual halt. Lampson's people need to be working with the local election authority to make sure there is a plan in place to deal to handle a massive write-in campaign on election day. A court ruling may be necessary.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Tuesdays With EJ


When we talk about the financing of political parties, it's important to remember the GOP has outraised and out spent the Dems forever,as this graphic from Opensecrets.org demonstrates. And although Kerry's fundraising was all the news in 2004, Bush still outraised Kerry by nearly $41 million dollars.

So, with this information in mind, you need to read EJ's column today. The Dems have a natural disadvantage to the Rs because while the Rs can focus on the concerns of white men with money the Dems really are a big tent party, with many competing interests groups all seeking to control and guide the party. Despite media reports to the contrary, this is not a new issue. But it is still a big issue and EJ says Dems need to get over their selfish provincial interest and start thinking like one, cohesive party.

Here is the crux,

...While Republicans believe in their party and in the cause of building its organization from bottom to top, Democratic sympathizers tend to focus on favorite causes and favorite candidates, notably in presidential years.

_____

"On the Republican side, everyone plays a role in supporting the party and building a party structure," says Amy Chapman, executive director of Grassroots Democrats,..... "It's too big a job for one part of the party to do," meaning that Dean and the DNC can't do it alone.

The odd result is that Republicans, who defend individualism in theory, act like communitarians where their party is concerned. Democrats claim to be more community-minded but act like radical individualists in their penchant for candidate-centered, one-cause-at-a-time politics.

_____

But Republicans -- from President Bush on down -- have long dismissed the fashionable claptrap about political parties becoming meaningless. If Democrats are to shed their self-image problem and create a durable majority, they, too, will have to learn to operate as a party.

Really Sums Up the GOP

The demographics just don't work for the GOP anymore, which they are slow to understand. So race-baiting isn't quite the tool it once was, which is why Allen apologized. But don't be naive, he made his point.

From the WaPo,
Virginia Sen. George Allen (R) apologized Monday for what his opponent's campaign said were demeaning and insensitive comments the senator made to a 20-year-old volunteer of Indian descent.

At a campaign rally in southwest Virginia on Friday, Allen repeatedly called a volunteer for Democrat James Webb "macaca." During the speech in Breaks, near the Kentucky border, Allen began by saying that he was "going to run this campaign on positive, constructive ideas" and then pointed at S.R. Sidarth in the crowd.

"This fellow here, over here with the yellow shirt, macaca, or whatever his name is. He's with my opponent. He's following us around everywhere. And it's just great," Allen said, as his supporters began to laugh. After saying that Webb was raising money in California with a "bunch of Hollywood movie moguls," Allen said, "Let's give a welcome to macaca, here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia." Allen then began talking about the "war on terror."
Sidarth, a native born Virginian, got it exactly right when he told the Post, "I think he was doing it because he could, and I was the only person of color there, and it was useful for him in inciting his audience."

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Al Qaeda or Not?

Al Qaeda or Not? U.S., U.K. Differ On Its Likely Role

Gap Reveals Basic Questions
About the Group's Strength
And Its Possible Evolution


If you can get behind the firewall, the Wall Street Journal has a great article today (Saturday) that explains why the US and the UK differ on if Al Qaeda was involved in the "liquid bombs plot" this week in England. The basic premise of the story is that the US admits that the network of Al Qaeda sympathizers is so spread out and spider web like that it is impossible to know how strong the group is or reach of the group.

Huge gaps remain in our understanding of the group's mindset, decision-making processes, organizational dynamics as well as command and control relationships," says Bruce Hoffman, a counterterrorism expert at the Rand Corporation think-tank. Some allies speculate that American officials would like to show links to al Qaeda because it could help the Bush administration's political message about the importance of fighting the war on terror. However, blaming al Qaeda also could undermine the administration's argument that it is waging a war over in Iraq and Afghanistan partly in order to avoid having to fight the terrorists in America and Western Europe someday. The idea of an explicit link to al Qaeda also underscores the U.S. failure so far to crush the organization, nearly five years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack


I'm sure Bush would love to be able to "prove" the link, but that may be impossible.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Bush Rushing to Cash In

Bush seeks political gains from foiled plot,
US President George W. Bush seized on a foiled London airline bomb plot to hammer unnamed critics he accused of having all but forgotten the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Will anyone have the balls the ask the President to name these evildoers who have forgotten about 9/11?

Perhaps more telling is the gleeful WH staffer who would not allow himself to be named,
"Weeks before September 11th, this is going to play big," said another White House official, who also spoke on condition of not being named, adding that some Democratic candidates won't "look as appealing" under the circumstances.
Be afraid, my friends. Be very afraid. Fear is all they have.

Has the public finally figured that out? Are the Dems constructing a stratagy to speak about this issue?

We shall see.

Once Again, It All Started With a Tip

The WaPo has a very good rundown on the terrorist plot uncovered yesterday.

This is a textbook case of effective counter-terrorism, and again makes the point that counter-terrorism isn't about invading armies and wiretapping an entire nation.

Effective counter-terrorism is about good police work on an international scale. It's about allies and true international cooperation.

And just like the Canadian terrorism arrests and the arrest in Miami earlier this year, it all starts with a tip.

From this morning's WaPo,
It all began with a tip: In the aftermath of the July 7, 2005, suicide bombings on London's transit system, British authorities received a call from a worried member of the Muslim community, reporting general suspicions about an acquaintance.

From that vague but vital piece of information, according to a senior European intelligence official, British authorities opened the investigation into what they said turned out to be a well-coordinated and long-planned plot to bomb multiple transatlantic flights heading toward the United States -- an assault designed to rival the scope and lethality of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackings.

By late 2005, the probe had expanded to involve several hundred investigators on three continents. They kept dozens of suspects under close surveillance for months, even as some of the plotters traveled between Britain and Pakistan to raise money, find recruits and refine their scheme, according to interviews with U.S. and European counterterrorism officials.

Now contrast this with the case of Jose Padilla. By now you should all be familiar with his story. The short version is that US intel learned in early 2002 that Padilla, a US citizen, had traveled to several ME countries know to harbor terrorist / Al Qaida types in the aftermath of 9/11. Padilla allegedly was trying to win backing to build and detonate a dirty bomb inside the US. As the story goes (he's never been charged with any of this) an Al Qaida chieftain told him to go back to the US and begin work on this plot. US intel was waiting for him at O'Hare as he returned to the US. So what do they do? Do they place him under surveillance to determine what if any contacts he has, what means is available to him via Al Qaida or otherwise in the US, just like the Brits did with their plot? Nope, they just kidnapped him at the airport and have been holding him ever since. If Padilla did have knowledge of an Al Qaida ring operating in the US, we'll never know.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Lieberman Joins In

TPM Election Central,
Joe Lieberman today said that Ned Lamont's policy for withdrawal from Iraq would be a victory for terrorists. According to the Stamford Advocate, Lieberman today said that Lamont's policy for an Iraq pullout would be a "tremendous victory" for and would "strengthen" the people who wanted to blow up the planes in the scheme foiled in England
And Lamont is the radical?

As I Said, Here We Go Again

Bush this morning,
"This nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom, to hurt our nation," he said, his remarks carried live on television.
And here we already have a good example of why I wanted to run down the actual known facts as well as who (the Brits, the French, the US) is saying what. As I pointed out earlier, the Brits seem to be saying that those arrested were all British citizens.

Former National Security Counsel member Ivo Daalder has some excellent observations today,

At the core of the administrations'‚’ war on terror are two strategies, neither of which appear to be particularly relevant in this particular case. One is the notion that we can best win the war on the offense ‚— that should ‚“fight them over there so we don'‚’t need to fight them over here.√É‚”...

But as far as we know, the plotters in the UK were homegrown ‚— all were British citizens. Taking the offense in this war ‚— by which the administration means using military force ‚— is worse then useless. For who are you going to bomb? Safe houses in High Wycombe or Birmingham?

What appears to have cracked this case is not a war strategy or military offensive, but good intelligence, skilled detective work, and months of careful surveillance ‚— the kind of traditional law enforcement strategies and defensive measures that Bush and his administration have always shunned.

This apparent success also undermines the second core element of the administration√É‚’s war on terror ‚— the notion that effective counter-terrorism action requires ignoring established procedures and the rule of law. As the Brits have shown, there is no need to subvert the law, or civic liberties, to conduct effective counter-terrorism operations.....

This all seems to go back to a fundamental misunderstanding that the Bushies just can't seem to understand about the post cold war world. Our enemy is not other nations -- but rather non-governmental organizations that rarely make good bombing targets.

And as for Daalder's point that effective counter-terrorism is effective law enforcement cannot be overstated. I've made this point several times as well with the recent examples of supposed Canadian terror arrests and the cult arrested in little Haiti earlier this year. Neither of these arrest had anything to do with overseas military operations or domestic spying. Simple, effective law enforcement.

Here We Go Again

Woke up this morning to learn that the Brits have apparently foiled a major plot to blow up several planes in flight.

That the Brits are making this announcement makes me much less cynical, and I certainly won't be making any quick judgments.

Here is what we seem to know so far:
  • The Brits have arrested 21 people they claim to be at the center of this plot.

  • The French - who apparently are also involved in the investigation - say the plotters 'appear to be of Pakistani origin' but an anonymous British police offer described the suspects as 'homegrown' what ever that means.

  • Interestingly, despite that fact that this has been a lengthy and involved investigation over a period of time, it appears that US officials were not involved in this operation as Bush was briefed by Blair in the middle of last night! What's that all about? Do the Brits not trust DHS to keep its mouth shut?

  • US officials claim that up to 50 people may have been involved. The targeted flights were American, United and Continental flights from London to NY, D.C. and California.

  • The bombs were apparently going to be assembled on the plane in flight from common products (like peroxide and acetone).

  • Chertoff says this smells of Al-Qaida (and it does), but the Brits aren't saying anything about this.
So let's watch how this develops. Who are those arrested and what is there nationality, what involvement did the US actually have, how far along was the plot, etc.

Who will be the first Pol to exploit this for political gain?

With this being a major election year, how this is played to the US will be interesting.

Josh has a good summary,
So, for all our very real and legitimate worry about dirty bombs and gas attacks, planes really do seem like they remain our chief vulnerability. And it makes sense. Flying bombs. Thousands of them in the air over our major cities at any one time. As I've written before, I have next to no confidence that this administration won't pump exaggerated or bogus terror plots for short term political advantage. Especially as we move toward an election they seem likely to lose. But when the Brits completely shut down their major international airport (though now the shutdown seems to be easing) I'm quite ready to believe they found something very real.

Rove and his crew of course will stop at no end of bamboozlement and terror manipulation for political ends though. And the timing, well ...

Let's wait and see how this develops.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Lieberman Fired His Campaign Staff

Wow.

Greg Sargent writing at TPM Cafe caught this buried in an AP Story,
Lieberman said that he fired his campaign manager and spokesman, and asked for the resignations of his campaign staff.

"We did not answer, adequately answer, the distortions of my record on Iraq and my relationship with George Bush, that the Lamont campaign put out," said Lieberman, though he said he did not blame campaign workers.
Lieberman, on the other hand, bares no responsibility for the consequences of his actions 'bipartisanship' for the last 4 years.

By the way Joe, good luck hiring a new staff. You're now a man without a party. What sort of professional campaign staffers do you think will work for you? At this point in time, there is not exactly a shortage of campaign jobs for the best and brightest, and they all have party affiliation.

Denial ain't just a river in Africa.

Statement from Senators Reid and Schumer

DSCC: Statement from Senators Reid and Schumer

Democratic Leader Harry Reid and DSCC Chair Chuck Schumer issued the following joint statement today on the Connecticut Senate race:

“The Democratic voters of Connecticut have spoken and chosen Ned Lamont as their nominee. Both we and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) fully support Mr. Lamont’s candidacy. Congratulations to Ned on his victory and on a race well run.

“Joe Lieberman has been an effective Democratic Senator for Connecticut and for America. But the perception was that he was too close to George Bush and this election was, in many respects, a referendum on the President more than anything else. The results bode well for Democratic victories in November and our efforts to take the country in a new direction.”

....Just be a Man!

Not surprisingly, Josh says it much better than I.

....I'ts a like a mini-version of the Iraq War or the War on Terror. You're either with Joe or you're with the extremists. Apparently half of Connecticut Democrats are outside the mainstream.

This is really the attitude that got poor Joe into this bind.

The mainstream is Joe Lieberman, along with possibly Sean Hannity and Bill Kristol. If you disagree with Joe Lieberman, a disagreement about policy is the least of it. It's a major existential crisis for the Democratic party which risks conquest by unreconstructed leftists, extremists and miscellaneous other freaks.

The idea that Ned Lamont is 'outside the mainstream' on any issue I'm aware of is laughable.

_____

...It's all about him and stabbing his own party in the back while he disingenuously pleads that he's trying to save it. He can't admit or realize or get his head around the idea that his denial about Iraq and his obliviousness to his own constituents got him into this mess.

In the end, he just won't come clean. Forget about being a Democrat. Just be a man. It's time.

Lieberman's Run as an Independent

I stand by my earlier comments on Joe's run as an independent.

He will be out by October 1, at the latest. Joe's full of himself and emotion now, but as reality sets in and money and support departs, he will withdraw.

Lamont was not chosen in some arcane, back-room deal by a handful of corrupt local politicians. Party Dems will not support an independent over the party candidate chosen in an open election. This is one of the laws of nature in modern politics as certain as gravity, and especially true at this time. Joe's delusional belief that he can somehow transcend this fact of life is just one more piece of evidence as to why he lost a primary.

Just watch the line of nationally known Dems lining up to support their "party's candidate" over the course of the next couple weeks. Look for some of his key campaign staff to leave him as well.

And finally, we should pay attention to who actually funds Joe's campaign going forward.

Will Joe rely on R money and continue to trash his supposed party as he has been doing to this point? How will that sit with the lifelong Ds who have always supported him and recently told pollsters that they would vote for him as an independent?

From the Conn voters' perspective, Joe as an independent was an abstract concept. It's reality time now, and that's not going to go well for Joe.

We should start a pool to pick what day Joe withdraws.

What do you think?

The Radical Dems,.....

is all the buzz this morning as Lieberman goes down to defeat.

What doesn't seem to be making the headlines is the moderate R incumbent defeated last night by a conservative rival.

From the WaPo,
The defeat ....Michigan moderate Rep. John J.H. "Joe" Schwarz (R) appeared to confirm the strong headwinds that polls suggest members of Congress will face in November from an angry electorate looking for change.
_____

....Schwarz was beaten by Walberg, a former state representative who garnered conservative money and support nationwide with his contention that the freshman lawmaker had been too liberal and compromising for the largely rural 7th District.
_____

....Walberg showed that voters of both parties are in an uncompromising mood. The ordained minister had the support of conservative outside groups, such as the Washington-based Club for Growth, as he attacked Schwarz for his support of abortion rights and legal recognition of same-sex partnerships.

DeLay's Not Running, Period.

Apparently, the TX GOP had hoped that if they couldn't replace DeLay on the ballot (and they can't) that DeLay would run for the sole purpose of holding the seat for the GOP.

DeLay has now made it clear that he has intention of running thus forcing them to find a write-in candidate.

It's hard to imagine even in DeLay's conservative district that a write-in could win -- even assuming the party could agree on one candidate to back -- which they can't.

And finally, something not getting much press is that DeLay's Democratic challenger, Nick Lampson is not some sacrificial lamb, but a former Congressman forced out of Congress by DeLay's redistricting -- with substantial popular support.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

D-day for Whinnin' Joe

Given the recent polling, it's hard to imagine Lieberman winning the primary today. Likewise, given his stature in Conn. it's hard to imagine him lossing by 10 plus points.

My guess would be Lamont by 5 points, but of course I have no idea.

Lieberman fights for survival in Connecticut.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Bob Ney's Out

Wow! I'm surprised that Ney quit.

Of course it's the rational and right thing to do, but when did Ney become rational?

So who in the House leadership slipped Ney the shive?

UPDATE: From the WaPo,
....House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) met with Ney last week to urge him to step aside, reminding him that with a son in college and a daughter nearing college age, he will need money, according to several congressional Republican aides. If he lost his House seat for the party, Boehner is said to have cautioned, Ney could not expect a lucrative career on K Street to pay those tuition bills, along with the hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees piling up.
Interesting. Even now, it still comes down to the money.

Crazy America-- Hating Scalia,....

refuses TX GOP Appeal so DeLay stays on the ballot.

Is this a great country or what?

Friday, August 04, 2006

File this under: Duh!

WaPo,

Two top U.S. generals said yesterday that the sectarian violence in Iraq is much worse than they had ever anticipated and could lead to civil war, arguing that improving the situation is now more a matter of Iraqi political will than of U.S. military strategy.

"The sectarian violence is probably as bad as I've seen it," Gen. John P. Abizaid, commander of U.S. military operations in the Middle East, told the Senate Armed Services Committee. "If not stopped, it is possible that Iraq could move toward civil war."

Never misunderestimate the power of denial. Is there anyone aside from the Bushies, who doesn't believe we are already months, if not years, into the civil war? I'm with George Will on this.

Speaking the Truth about the Estate Tax

The GOP message machine is a marvel, and there is no better example then their ability to convince the average mook that the estate tax will cost them money.

Last night the Ds pulled off a big victory in the Senate defeating the GOP estate tax gutting.

Kevin Drum has a very good post up on just how effective the GOP estate tax con has been. We all need to read it, and memorize the data on the estate tax for cocktail party use.

Here is the crux,
There's an abstract sense in which every small business "could be" affected by the estate tax, but in reality virtually none of them actually are. The CBO estimates that even under current law a mere 485 small businesses are affected by the estate tax each year — note that that's not 485 thousand or 485 million, it's 485 — and if the exemption were raised to $3.5 million, a change that even Democrats endorse, the number would be reduced to 94.

Ninety. Four. The entire business community is practically giving itself whiplash making a U-turn on the hated minimum wage in order to reduce the estate tax on 94 businesses each year. Wow.

And remember, these numbers don't come from some left leaning think tank. These are the numbers from the GOP Congress.

I'm pretty convinced that the estate tax needs to be streamlined and the exemption for a married couple to something around $5 mil. As the estate tax works now, tax attorneys can double the exemption for a married couple so that 3.5 is actually 7.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Greenfield: It's more than just Iraq

Greenfield gets it right.

And in concluding, Greenfield asks,

One more question: Although polls suggest Lieberman could win in November running as an independent, wouldn't that course be a lot harder for him to follow if he loses the primary in a landslide?

Joe Lieberman won't be on the ballot come November. His Senate colleagues will abandon him as will much of his campaign staff (their Ds after all), his funding will dry up, and everyone including big Bill will tell him it's time to move on. Polls showing him winning a 3 way race are based upon an abstract idea. Once voters have time to really think about him running as an independent after losing the primary, they will abandon him too. In fact, with Lamont now sitting on a 13 point lead, I'd say it's aready started.

Too Funny!

The US Court of Appeals in NOLA rules that must stay on the ballot!

This makes my day.