Saturday, May 31, 2008

Defense of Scott McClellan

I'm with The Young Turks and McClellan on this one. This incident proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that President Bush is a liar.

He stated publicly that he would punish the leaker when he, himself, had authorised the leak. He's a liar. There's simply no other way to describe what he did.

McCain, the Surge, and 'verb tenses'

God, this guy is simply embarrassing.

I can tell you that it [the Surge] is succeeding. I can look you in the eye and tell you it's succeeding. We have drawn down to pre-surge levels. Basra, Mosul and now Sadr City are quiet."

--John McCain, Town Hall meeting, May 28, 2008.
The United States have not drawn down to pre-surge levels and are not expected to do so until the end of the year, and even that's being highly optimistic.

Nor is the city of Mosul "quiet".
Moreover, McCain's claim that Mosul is "quiet" was disproved earlier today in grim fashion. Three suicide bombings -- two in Mosul and another in a surrounding town -- left 30 Iraqis dead and more than two dozen injured, according to press reports.
It really is an indication of the difficulty that the entire McCain campaign faces, pinning it's success to the coat tails of a highly unpopular war, and trying to sell that war as a success to a public who have long given up on believing in it.

But it's the defence mustered by the McCain camp, when caught out telling obvious untruths, that I find so interesting.
In a conference call with reporters, McCain foreign policy adviser Randy Scheunemann said the issue was a "question of semantics," and that McCain would have been right if he had said that the Pentagon had "taken a decision" to draw down the troops or was in the process of drawing them down.
Taking a decision and implementing it are entirely different things, and McCain is giving us a further example of how much he is promising a third Bush term when he makes such an argument. Scott McLellan has told us just this week how Bush believes that a decision, once made, is always correct. McCain appears to be employing a similar logic here. He thinks that if a decision has been made to reduce the troops to a pre-surge level then that must be a sign of success. The decision alone is a sign of success, rather than the implementation of that decision.
Scheunemann was clearly irritated by what he considered to be "the nitpicking" of senatorial grammar. "If you're going to start fact-checking verb tenses," he admonished me, "we're going to make sure we start monitoring verb tenses a lot more closely than we have in this campaign."
This is simply bizarre and is reminiscent of Bush's "Mission Accomplished" sign. You can't define success based on what you expect to do in the future. Success is when you have done it. Before that, it's simply a wish list.
McCain insists that he did not make a mistake, in verb tenses or any other way. "I said we had drawn down," he told reporters today. "I said we have drawn down and we have drawn down three of the five brigades. We have drawn down three of the five brigades. We have drawn down the marines. The rest will be home the end of July. That's just facts, the facts as I stated them."
Those are not the facts as he stated them. In fact, I'll go further and say that this last statement of McCain's is a bald lie.

He did not say that "we had drawn down." If he had said so he would have perhaps have had a point. What he said was "we have drawn down to pre-surge levels."

That is simply untrue. And McCain has no-one to blame for that but himself. It's not a case of the Obama team "nitpicking", it's a case of McCain attempting to oversell an unpopular war.

And yet, bizarrely, that's the issue that McCain has chosen to fight this campaign on.

Click title for full article.

Rupert Murdoch heaps praise on Barack Obama

I simply loathe the way the Rupert Murdoch and other barons use the power they have to further their own selfish interests at the expense of everyone else, and was very surprised to hear that Murdoch has been heaping praise on Barack Obama, despite the fact that he is such a good friend of John McCain.

Speaking at the Wall Street Journal D6 conference in Carlsbad, California, Murdoch was asked by veteran tech correspondent Walt Mossberg if he had played a part in the New York Post's endorsement of Obama.

"Yeah," he replied, candidly. The select audience of entrepreneurs and digital business executives at the conference earlier this week cheered, as can be seen in the accompanying video.

"We're on the verge of a complete phenomenon," Murdoch said. "Politicians are at an all-time low and are despised by 80% of the public, and then you've got a candidate trying to put himself out above it all. He's become a rock star. It's fantastic.

"There are a lot of problems. The education system in this country is a total disgrace."

Murdoch heaped praise on Obama, saying he was a "highly intelligent man with a great record at Harvard", but stopped short of a full personal endorsement because he wanted "to meet him personally".

"The Obama phenomenon and undoubtedly the recession and everyone getting hurt... the average American family today is really financially hurting and that all bodes well for him," he said.

"He may not carry Florida because the Jewish people are suspicious of him, and so are Hispanics. But he'll probably add Ohio and others. He will probably win."

And why does this self confessed friend of McCain think that Obama will win?

Despite saying he was a friend of John McCain, Murdoch said the Republican presidential nominee had "a lot of problems".

"McCain has been in congress a long time and you've got to make too many compromise," he said.

"What does he really stand for? He's a patriot - he's a friend of mine and a really decent guy - but he's unpredictable.

"[He] doesn't know much about the economy and - I say this sympathetically - I think he has a lot of problems."

I have watched how Murdoch operates here in the UK and have always argued against the notion that The Sun won John Major his last successful election or that The Sun were responsible for the election of New Labour. The truth is much more simple, Murdoch is a businessman who would prefer to see a Tory in power but is smart enough to know when they are going to lose and lines his popular papers up with the probable winner so that he can pretend that his newspapers swayed the public.

That's why I think it is so significant that Murdoch is singing Obama's praises from the rooftop and telling us that John McCain "has a lot of problems".

I've always thought that Obama is going to trounce McCain come November and, from these comments from Murdoch, it appears that he thinks so to.

As I say, I loathe the power that the Murdoch's throw around for their own selfish interests, but he knows what side his bread is buttered on and is wise enough to usually pick and stick with the winner, and in this case he is telling us that he thinks Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States.

Click title for full article.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Obama: Rush Limbaugh, Lou Dobbs Responsible For Rise In Hate Crimes Against Hispanics

This is just too funny. Barack Obama has said that there is a reason why hate crimes against Hispanics have doubled in the last year and that the reason can be laid at the door of "people like Lou Dobbs and Rush Limbaugh" for "ginning things up" and said it was not surprising that things like this would happen in such an atmosphere.

"A certain segment has basically been feeding a kind of xenophobia."
Rush Limbaugh has responded on his radio programme:
"I actually don't believe this. Barack Obama, in my own state, raising money for his presidential campaign called me xenophobic at a fundraiser," Limbaugh said. "I thought this guy was the unity candidate? Calling me a Xenophobe? Responsible for hate crimes? My feelings are hurt here."
That's just too funny. Limbaugh is hurt that people might think he's a xenophobe. This from a man who has admitted that he was once distracted by the Hispanic Mayor of LA who he assumed "was either the shoe shine guy or a Secret Service agent."

Referring to one of the country’s foremost Latino politicians in this way is acceptable in Rush's world. Not surprisingly, most Hispanics virulently disagree:
Yesterday, Alex Nogales, president of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, blasted Limbaugh for uttering “the same kind of nasty, bigoted, racist type comment that has become so prevalent in today’s society, as practiced by Lou Dobbs, as practiced by [Sean] Hannity, [Bill] O’Reilly, [Michael] Savage.”

Racial slurs, particularly fueled against Hispanics, has found a home on
right-wing radio, which claims 91 percent of radio airwaves.

The nation’s leading Hispanic advocacy group, National Council of La Raza, launched a campaign earlier this year decrying right-wing radio for its “
rhetoric that demonizes immigrants and Hispanic Americans.” “Talk like Savage’s, or Limbaugh’s or O’Reilly’s, has become routine, even systematic, and certainly a big business.
Poor, poor, Rush. He must be crushed. It's not just Obama that's got it in for him, it's those nasty shoe shine guys as well.

Click title for full article.

Carville: Clinton taking it past June 3, blames RFK story on Obama.

Carville is insane. He blames Obama for the RFK incident which he refers to as "this idiotic story out of South Dakota" and he's also continuing with the argument that Hillary has - wait for it - "the superior moral position on Florida and Michigan".

The woman who agreed that the delegates from those states should not be seated and only changed her mind when she needed their votes is the woman who holds "the superior moral position".


Scott McLellan interview on Countdown


Bush decided to go to war with Iraq shortly after 9-11.


McLellan hoped that Bush would be a bipartisan President. It didn't happen. The Bush White House was "too secretive".


Why did it take so long for McLellan to come clean? McLellan says he only became disillusioned when he discovered that Rove was involved in the Plame leak and that Bush had authorised the secret leaking of the National Intelligence Estimate. He also talks of the "obvious allies" that the administration has at Fox News.


McLellan now says that the critics of the Iraq war were right and that the administration should have been listening to them.

Campaign Jousting Returns to Iraq War

For some reason, that I am honestly unable to fathom, John McCain's team appear to think that his stance towards Iraq will prove to be some kind of vote winner and they are pushing to move his Iraq agenda centre stage in his fight with Barack Obama for the White House.

"The next commander in chief is going to have to make decisions that will either lead to peace and security in Iraq or chaos and conflict," said Alex Conant, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, sounding a theme that Republicans have pushed all week.
I love the notion that the next Commander in Chief will make decisions between "peace and security" and "chaos and conflict", as if Iraq is presently in some kind of neutral state. Chaos and conflict have already been achieved by the present Commander in Chief, so this argument is a totally false one.
The voters need to know how the candidates will make that decision. And the fact that there are 2-year-old Iraqi children who weren't born the last time Obama was in their country raises questions about what he is making his decisions on."
No doubt Conant thinks that McCain's humiliating visit to an Iraqi market gives McCain some kind of special insight into Iraq and where we go from here.

The Obama camp have been quick to point out how ludicrous this argument is.

Obama aides said yesterday that the senator from Illinois is now considering a trip to Iraq as part of a long-deferred foreign tour. But they made it clear that he intends to assess how best to withdraw U.S. forces, not to reconsider whether they should be withdrawn. And they responded that none of McCain's trips to Iraq has been illuminating enough to dislodge his commitment to Bush's war policies.

"For all the travel that he's done, what we're looking at is John McCain wanting to double down on George Bush's foreign policy, to leave our troops there for 100 years instead of putting pressure on the Iraqis to come to some sort of political reconciliation," said Obama communications director Robert Gibbs.

I really, really, hope that the McCain campaign team focuses on Iraq as much as this latest spat suggests they might. If they think the Iraq war is a vote winner then they are looking at a wipe out come November.

Although the irony is that talking about the war prevents the Democrats from concentrating on Domestic issues, which is a subject which McCain might be keen to avoid.

Senior Democrats are urging Obama not to take the Republican bait on this issue.
"Frankly, his policy is about bringing our troops home sooner and safer, and that is a message resonating with the American people," Tauscher said. "I wouldn't do anything to validate Senator McCain's attempt to change the subject and create this red-herring debate."
The Republicans are attempting to make a big deal out of the fact that Obama hasn't been in Iraq for two years. Perhaps if Obama walks through a market as McCain did - surrounded by over 100 soldiers and with attack helicopters swirling overhead - the American public will realise that Baghdad is safe after all and that Obama is talking nonsense?

I wonder....

Click title for full article.

Tutu calls for end to blockade of Gaza

The man widely regarded as "South Africa's moral conscience", Archbishop Desmond Tutu, has been dispatched to Gaza by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate the deaths of 18 Palestinians from a single family, who were killed by a wave of Israeli artillery shells in Beit Hanoun in November 2006.

He has said that he is in "a state of shock" at what he has found there and has called for an end to what he describes as Israel's "abominable" blockade of Gaza.

"We saw a forlorn, deserted, desolate and eerie place," he said. "The entire situation is abominable. We believe that ordinary Israeli citizens would not support this blockade, this siege, if they knew what it really meant to ordinary people like themselves." The international community was also at fault, he said, for its "silence and complicity".

I have long condemned international support for this blockade and think that the EU are disgracing themselves by taking part in it.

Tutu had been hoping to visit Israel and specifically the town of Sderot, which has frequently come under attack from Palestinian rockets, but Israel have been refusing Tutu entrance - I presume because Tutu famously compared Israel's treatment of the Palestinians to Apartheid - so he has had to enter Gaza from the Egyptian border.

Tutu is well used to dealing with situations like the current one between Israel and Palestine and won the Nobel Prize for his work in opposing the Apartheid regime in South Africa.

He has condemned the "culture of impunity" on both sides of the conflict and has stated that peace will not come to the region until there is accountability and dialogue.

"There can be no justice, no peace, no stability, not for Israel, not for the Palestinians, without accountability for human rights violations," he said. "Israel has admitted it made a mistake but this falls far short of accountability and due redress for victims and their families."

Israel's military has said the shelling in Beit Hanoun was mistaken and was the result of a "rare and severe failure in the artillery fire control system" which created "incorrect range-findings". It said no legal action would be taken against any officer.

However, it is not clear why the artillery weapon was targeted so close to a residential district of Beit Hanoun, nor why shells continued to be fired after the first one hit the house. At least six shells were fired in the space of a few minutes that morning, though some witnesses told Tutu's team that as many as 15 were fired.

Christine Chinkin, professor of international law at the London School of Economics, who travelled with Tutu in his team, said it was her preliminary assessment that the incident was still a breach of international law.

"Firing in a way that cannot distinguish between civilians and combatants is clearly a violation of international humanitarian law," she said. "I don't think that the idea of a technical mistake takes away from the initial responsibility of the action of firing where civilian casualties are clearly foreseeable ... it has to be foreseeable when you give yourself such a small margin that any error has the potential to lead to civilian casualties."

This has long been my problem with the Israeli argument that they are targeting military units. The fact that one is targeting military units does not mean that one can fire into civilian areas, especially when it is easily predictable that such an action will result in civilian deaths.

But as always, and this is what I really like about Tutu, he has been entirely fair and has also condemned Palestinian violence against innocent Israeli citizens.

Tutu met with the former Palestinian prime minister Ismail Haniyeh on Tuesday and told him that, while he was opposed to the Israeli occupation, he condemned the rocket fire by militants into Gaza. Tutu said there should be more dialogue with Hamas.

"True security, peace, will not come from the barrel of a gun," he said. "It will come through negotiation; negotiation not with your friends, peace can come only when enemies sit down and talk. It happened in South Africa. It has happened more recently in Northern Ireland. It will happen here too."

Tutu has for a long time compared the situation in Israel with that of South Africa's Apartheid regime and has condemned the culture in the US where, because of the power of Jewish lobbies, criticism of Israel appears to be forbidden.
"People are scared in this country, to say wrong is wrong because the Jewish lobby is powerful - very powerful. Well, so what?

"The apartheid government was very powerful, but today it no longer exists.

"Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pinochet, Milosevic, and Idi Amin were all powerful, but in the end they bit the dust," he said.

Speaking at a conference called Ending the Oppression in Boston, Archbishop Tutu told delegates Jewish people had been at the forefront of the struggle against apartheid in South Africa.

He asked: "Have our Jewish sisters and brothers forgotten their humiliation? Have they forgotten the collective punishment, the home demolitions, in their own history so soon?

"Have they turned their backs on their profound and noble religious traditions?"
Of course, it will come as no surprise to Tutu that an American administration are failing to condemn Israel's actions and are, indeed, offering support. He will well remember the way that Reagan offered a "constructive engagement" policy to the Apartheid South African regime, and advocated "friendly persuasion" rather than sanctions at a time when black South Africans were calling on the world to disengage from this moral wrong.

But eventually, Israel's humiliation of the Palestinians will come to an end, just as Ireland's Protestant's eventually gave up humiliating the Catholics and South Africa's whites eventually gave up humiliating their black population. And, on that day, the US will find that, once again, they were on the wrong side of the moral fence.

Click title for full article.

Related Articles:

U.S. Withdraws Fulbright Grants to Gaza
The American State Department has withdrawn all Fulbright grants to Palestinian students in Gaza hoping to pursue advanced degrees at American institutions this fall because Israel has not granted them permission to leave.

Israel has isolated this coastal strip, which is run by the militant group Hamas. Given that policy, the United States Consulate in Jerusalem said the grant money had been “redirected” to students elsewhere out of concern that it would go to waste if the Palestinian students were forced to remain in Gaza.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Scott McClellan's Revenge

McLellan's finally spoken out about why he has written the book that he has written. He talks of his "disappointment" that Bush turned out not to be "a uniter not a divider" and that Bush got caught up playing the Washington game.

He then says that most Americans want that kind of politics to change, which sounded like he might cast his vote for Obama.

He declines to say that they "threw him under the bus" but it's clear that he was angered by being caught between Libby and Rove and being sent to the podium to tell lies on their behalf.

He talks of the disappointment he felt on discovering that Bush was behind the declassification of the national intelligence estimate on Iraq, giving Libby permission to talk publicly. McLellan had, of course, been saying publicly how seriously the president took the leaking of classified information.

When McLellan confronts Bush and asks if it was, in fact, him who "authorised the leaking of this information?" Bush replied, "Yeah, I did."

At this point McLellan knew it was time to get out.

Monbiot fails to 'arrest' Bolton

Sadly, George Monbiot has been prevented from conducting a citizen's arrest on John Bolton at the Hay Festival by security guards stepping in and restraining him. Monbiot had promised for days that he would make the attempt as he considers John Bolton a war criminal for planning the Iraq war outwith of United Nations.

He said: "I'm aware that I've made what I believe is the first attempt ever to arrest one of the perpetrators of the Iraq War, and I believe that is a precedent and I would like to see that precedent followed up."
He had earlier confronted Bolton during a question and answer session:
Mr Monbiot asked Mr Bolton what distinguished him from a Nazi war criminal.

Mr Bolton replied that in exchange for a ceasefire on the Gulf War, Iraq had been required to do a variety of things including a declaration of weapons of mass destruction and the elimination of those weapons.

"By consistently refusing to abide by Resolution 687, Iraq demonstrated it was time and time again not in compliance with the ceasefire resolution," said Mr Bolton.

"It's a fairly straightforward argument, when one party is not in compliance other parties are freed from their obligation under that resolution as well.
The error in Bolton's logic, of course, is that it is not for individual nations to decide whether or not Iraq is in breach of a United Nations resolution, that is a matter for the UN to decide. Bush and Blair attempted to get them to do so by the passing of the infamous second resolution, which they withdrew when it became obvious that the rest of the world simply didn't agree with them.

So Bolton's argument is basically a pile of old tosh.
Speaking afterwards, Mr Monbiot said he planned to pursue former PM Tony Blair.

He said he considered Mr Blair and other leading politicians to be war criminals who had breached international law by their involvement in the decision making process which led to the Iraq war.

He said he had given a dossier of evidence on Mr Bolton - who was President Bush's representative at the United Nations during the time of the Iraq War - to Dyfed-Powys Police ahead of his attempt to present his charge sheet.

Good on Monbiot for making the attempt. We appear to live in a world where only our enemies can commit war crimes, while we can do things that would be considered war crimes were other nations to do them, but they are clearly not war crimes when carried out by ourselves.

And quite how Bolton can sit there spouting that tosh when Scott McLellan has blown the lid off the lies told before the war is simply beyond me. It was nothing to do with WMD, as even Wolfowitz has previously confirmed. And McLellan has now also told us that the war was for "the neoconservative dream of creating a democratic Iraq that would pave the way for an enduring peace in the region."

In other words, the war was for Israel, that continual neo-con obsession. McLellan has also told us that in order to make sure this war took place that the administration "intentionally" ignored any evidence which did not support war.

So the war criminal Bolton can sit there bleating about UN resolutions all he likes, McLellan has revealed that as the bunkum which we always suspected it was.

Click title for full article.

Mea Culpa: Chris Matthews admits WH engaged in “pure press manipulation”

McLellan's book has caused miracles to occur. Matthews is now admitting that the press were utterly manipulated by the Bush White House prior to the Iraq war.

The lies are now being openly discussed as what they were: Lies and propaganda.

Can't we impeach them yet?

Falling out with the President: the devious world of George Bush

Rupert Cornwell - in today's Independent newspaper - is giving his critique of Scott McLellan's new book, "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception" and is in agreement with most people that this:

"is no falsely touted insider memoir, jazzed up with a few titillating anecdotes to boost sales. It is a 341-page disquisition on Mr Bush, on his misbegotten war in Iraq, and on his entire conduct of the presidency, which Mr McClellan says was built on the use of propaganda, and on the technique of government as permanent campaign.

"History appears poised to confirm," he writes in arguably the most damning paragraph of a book full of them, "that the decision to invade Iraq was a serious strategic blunder. No one, including me, can know with absolute certainty how the war will be viewed decades from now ... What I do know is that war should only be waged when necessary,
and the Iraq war was not necessary."

It's hard to overstate how damning this indictment is, coming from a man who owes his entire Washington career to Bush, a man who was part of the "Texas mafia" which Bush brought to Washington.

Indeed, the only comfort the Bush team can take from this is the fact that their boss has fallen so far that even this searing indictment of his job as president is unlikely to damage him further. When you've hit the floor, there's simply no further to fall.

However, Cornwell picks up on passages that have, so far, not been reported on which go to the centre of the Bush presidency and where it all went wrong.

In fact, Mr McClellan's portrait of the President – a man he says he still respects and admires – is far more nuanced. Which of course only makes it more telling. Mr Bush comes across in now familiar guise, as a skilled politician, possessed of charm and an engaging wit, who is, "plenty smart enough to be President". On the other hand, he is utterly incurious and uninquisitive on policy matters, preferring to rely on gut instinct than a detailed sifting of the arguments.

For the 43rd President, a decision once taken is always right. The approach reflects not only Mr Bush's ingrained stubbornness but his ability to deceive not only others, but also himself.

That's utterly damning for the simple fact that it rings so true. The Bush presidency has been one where Bush thinks that once "the Decider" has made the call then it is the duty of everyone else to make what he wants happen.

And as for his ability to deceive himself as much as others, McLellan offers a damning example:
Mr McClellan offers as illustration a moment on the campaign trail in 1999, when he heard the governor/candidate talking on the phone to a friend about reports that he had used cocaine in his youth. Apparently, Mr Bush remarked that ... "the media won't let go of these ridiculous cocaine rumours. The truth is I honestly don't remember whether I tried it or not. We had some pretty wild parties back then, and I just don't remember."

In 2000 voters – battle-hardened by having to confront Bill Clinton's marijuana use ("I did not inhale") and explain to their curious children the finer points of the Monica Lewinsky affair – did not seem greatly bothered. They assumed Mr Bush might indeed have indulged in cocaine, just as he had indulged in the bottle which he had emphatically given up. But Mr McClellan drew a different lesson from the episode. "I remember thinking to myself, how can that be?" he writes. "How can someone simply not remember whether or not they used an illegal substance like cocaine? It didn't make a lot of sense."

On the other hand, Mr Bush wasn't, "the kind of person to flat-out lie." So, McClellan concludes, "I think he meant what he said in that conversation about cocaine ... I felt I was witnessing Bush convincing himself to believe something that was not true, and that, deep down, he knew was not true. And his reason for doing so is fairly obvious – political convenience." And thus, by implication at least, it was with Iraq and Saddam Hussein's non-existent weapons of mass destruction.

If Bush could convince himself that he couldn't remember whether or not he had ever used cocaine, then he really was capable of convincing himself of anything.

And that brings us to Iraq. Wolfowitz had already confessed to Vanity Fair that WMD were not the reason for the invasion, but merely "something everyone could agree on". McLellan goes further stating that the reason for the war was "the neoconservative dream of creating a democratic Iraq that would pave the way for an enduring peace in the region."

In other words, the war was for Israel, that continual neo-con obsession. But how does one sell such a war for such a purpose? It's here that McLellan sticks the knife firmly between the shoulder blades of his former friends.

But the White House had to sell the war as necessary because of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. They accordingly took a different tack, not of "out-and-out deception", but of "shading the truth". This was achieved by "innuendo and implication", and by "intentionally ignoring intelligence to the contrary".

They simply made a decision to ignore any evidence which might prevent their war. That's something which we have always suspected and which McLellan has just confirmed.

There's nothing of stunning originality here, what's mind boggling is that it comes from a former member of Bush's inner circle, it's coming from someone who was there at the time. And he's not only saying that Bush and Co. conned the US into the Iraq war, he goes as far as to say that, if Bush knew then what he knows now, that Bush would never have gone to war in the first place:
"I know the President pretty well," Mr McClellan writes. "If he had been given a crystal ball in which he could have foreseen the cost of war, more than 4,000 American troops killed, 30,000 injured, and tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis dead, he would never have made the decision to invade, whatever he says or feels he has to say publicly today."
But his criticism is not limited to Bush alone:

What Happened delivers tough criticism of the President's once vaunted national security team. One member of it of course was Dick Cheney, referred to by Mr McClellan as "the magic man" who somehow "always seemed to get his way" on every issue that mattered to him, be it the war, boosting the executive power of the presidency, or the harsh treatment of detainees.

Even more damning is his verdict on Condoleezza Rice, national security adviser in the run-up to the invasion. Her main talent, Mr McClellan suggests, was a Teflon quality. Whatever went wrong, "she was somehow able to keep her hands clean," even when the problems related to areas for which she was responsible, such as the WMD rationale for war (including the infamous "16 words" in the 2003 State of the Union address about Saddam seeking uranium in Africa, that led to the CIA/Valerie Plame affair) and the planning for post-war occupation. History, he predicts, will not be kind to Ms Rice. But "she knew well how to adapt to potential trouble, dismiss brooding problems and always come out looking like a star".

History, I suspect, will not be kind to any of them. Rarely does an administration get it this wrong on so many different levels. Rarely does an administration act with such arrogance and so little common sense. This really has been the first Frat presidency, run by a man who gained his position solely through his father's achievements and who governed based on the notion that he didn't care what anyone - including history - thought of his actions.

A man who could convince himself that he didn't know if he had ever tried cocaine, really could convince himself of anything. And a presidency which was not based on facts was always going to hit the wall. At times like this I am very proud to be part of the reality based community which Bush and his cohorts so despised:
The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." ... "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
It was that mindset which defined Bush's presidency and which led it to be the unqualified disaster which McLellan describes.

Click title for full article.

US cluster bombs to be banned from UK

Good for Gordon Brown. He has actually gone ahead and banned the UK from using cluster bombs, but he has dared to go even further, banning the US from stockpiling any cluster bombs on US bases on British soil.

This is the kind of clear, moral distinctions which he should be making to put some light between his government and Cameron's conservatives.

Bush's government had made it very clear that they were opposed to this treaty, going as far as to say that it's endorsement would hinder US participation in joint peacekeeping and disaster relief operations, as most US military units carry cluster bombs. The notion that the cluster bombs could be removed from US military units obviously wasn't something which team Bush had even considered. Once again, Bush was offering threats, in this case the threat that the US would abandon joint peacekeeping if Europe went ahead and outlawed the use of these dreadful weapons which maim thousands of children every year.

I am very pleased to note that the Bush regimes threats have not only been ignored but that Brown has gone much further, banning the US from even keeping these weapons on their own bases on British soil.

The government has agreed to scrap the two types of cluster weapon in the armoury of British forces, but it will also ask the US to get rid of its cluster bombs based here, and it will no longer ask for a "phasing out" period for its newest cluster munition - the M73, which is attached to Apache attack helicopters.

Both this weapon and the M85 - an Israeli-designed artillery shell used by British forces during the 2003 invasion of southern Iraq - will now be scrapped as soon as possible. Cluster weapons scatter "bomblets" across a wide area. Many of them fail to explode, later killing and maiming civilians long after the weapons are fired.

Gordon Brown yesterday described the treaty - due to be formally signed in Oslo in December - as "a major breakthrough". He added: "We will now work to encourage the widest possible international support for the new convention." In a statement released by Downing Street, he said: "I am delighted that the negotiations in Dublin have come to a successful conclusion, and congratulate the Irish government and all those involved. I am confident that this agreement is in line with British interests and values, and makes the world a safer place."

At last, Brown's government has made a clear moral decision, giving not a fig what the neo-cons threaten to do if he goes along with it. Indeed, by going even further and banning these foul weapons from American bases, Brown has considerably upped the ante. And he has done so whilst maintaining the moral high ground at all times.

Campaigners and human rights groups welcomed the UK government's ban on cluster weapons.

"The treaty will create a new international standard that will prevent the use of cluster munitions even by those countries that have not signed up," said Simon Conway, of Landmine Action UK. Along with the US, Russia, China, Israel, India and Pakistan are not taking part in the Dublin talks.

At last a Labour government is doing something, not because we are keeping in with our allies, and not because we are acknowledging "the real world" as the right wing always call it, but rather we are doing something because it is the right thing to do.

We can create the kind of world we want to live in and, in Dublin yesterday, we stated clearly that we want to live in a world where those who use cluster bombs will face prosecution. That's a great step forward.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Clinton Casts Wide Net of Exaggeration, Claims to Lead in “Every Poll”

When Bill made this claim the other day I thought he was getting carried away and being delusional. But now Hillary has started saying it as well.

“You have to ask yourself, who is the stronger candidate? And based on every analysis, of every bit of research and every poll that has been taken and every state that a Democrat has to win, I am the stronger candidate against John McCain in the fall,” she said.
The only problem with this claim is that it is utterly untrue.

This is Hillary finally detaching herself from reality and now demanding that reality be what she imagines it to be rather than what it actually is.
“Who is the stronger candidate against John McCain? We have not gone through this exciting, unprecedented, historic election, only to lose,” she said.
If the Democrats do lose come November there will be many people, myself included, who will lay a fair portion of the blame for that outcome on Hillary and her inability to quit when it became mathematically impossible for her to win. Which apparently even she appears to be now conceding; as she is not claiming victory on the delegate count, or on the popular vote, but on which candidate is best placed to beat John McCain. Unfortunately for Hillary, the polls say that the person best equipped to do that is Barack Obama.

However, as the end approaches, she is becoming utterly deluded, making monstrously false claims and comparing the decision not to seat the delegates of Michigan and Florida - a decision which she formally approved of - to the struggles of the early suffragists and likened the primaries of those states to the fraudulent election that took place in Zimbabwe.

But her claim to be ahead in "every poll" simply flips her out into wacko land:
With or without participants in the caucus states of Iowa, Nevada, Maine, and Washington (i.e., states where voters’ preferences were expressed by gathering in corners and the like, and whose numbers can be estimated but are not pinpointed), and with the totals for both Florida (whose primary was unsanctioned by the Democratic Party, with the consent of all the candidates, and where no one campaigned) and Michigan (also unsanctioned, and where Obama’s name was not even on the ballot), Clinton’s claim that more people have “voted” for her is factual. But her claim to be “ahead” depends entirely on a tally for the Michigan primary that is distinctly North Korean: Clinton, 328,309; Obama, 0. However, if the bulk of the 238,168 Michiganders who voted “uncommitted” are assumed to have been Obama supporters—a reasonable assumption—then Obama leads by every possible reckoning. And if only Florida is included, then Obama leads whether or not those four caucuses are counted.
It's getting harder and harder to work out what she's actually talking about now. She's changed the way a winner should be decided so many times that its starting to make my head spin.

Click title for full article.

Why I think Hillary inserted assassination into the public debate.

I know that Taylor Marsh and her guest bloggers have decided to do everything in their power to project every Clinton act as an inherently noble one, even as she brings up the suggestion of assassination during the Democratic search for a presidential nominee, but guest blogger Grey is surely pushing the boat out when describing Hillary's apology as "agonized".

My take on Hillary's apology was that she was blaming Obama for causing such an outrage over her comments, rather than truly accepting that what she said was unforgivable. Once again, Hillary chose to portray herself as the victim of an Obama led media attack, rather than apologising for taking this election into a truly despicable gutter.

There has been much written about what Clinton said, by people who I very much admire, although I have a slightly different take on why Hillary said what she said.

Firstly, as with Bill's comments regarding Jesse Jackson in South Carolina, I do not believe that the Clinton's make many slip ups and I think they often inject things into the political discourse because it suits their purposes for that subject to be discussed at that particular time.

However, where I slightly disagree with friends online is with the reasoning as to what Clinton hopes to gain by bringing this up now.

It has been suggested, by Keith Olmermann and many others, that Clinton is suggesting that she has to hang around in this contest in case Obama gets shot. I think that reading is too crude even for a game player like Hillary, who has so far showed herself capable of doing literally anything in an attempt to win the nomination, something which Marshians seem to see as her greatest strength, showing that Hillary is "a fighter".

I actually think that the message Hillary sought to convey is aimed at the same audience which Bill was aiming at during the South Carolina campaign when he made his infamous comments. I thought at the time that Bill was sending a subtle message to the super delegates, asking if they wanted a good guy who loses, or a Clinton, people who would take the fight into the gutter and beat the Republicans at their own game.

And I believe the super delegates remain Hillary's prime target with her not too subtle insertion of the possibility of assassination into the Democratic race.

I think she is sending a signal to the super delegates that the possibility of assassination is one of the reasons why they must choose her over Obama, unless they want that hideous responsibility on their own hands should such a grotesque event take place.

Hillary would have us believe that she was merely discussing RFK's demise simply to prove a dateline, which I regard as preposterous. She need not have mentioned the assassination in order to make that point. She could simply have have reminded us that RFK was still campaigning in June.

No, she wanted the subject of assassination to be part of the public debate, but not to justify her remaining in the race, as she's going to do that no matter what common sense or pledged delegates or the popular vote demands.

It's yet again another of her insane reasoning's as to why Obama can't possibly be the Democratic nominee. She wants all of us to know that, if anything were ever to happen to him, it would be all of our faults.

I've always said that Hillary will do or say anything - even contradicting herself in the process - to win this nomination, but with the assassination comment she has gone further than any of us could have predicted.

She's now arguing that if you love Obama, you should vote for her. For his own sake.

It is utterly without morals. And I agree with Mash that, at this point, American politics have truly entered, " a new low".

Rapture Ready: The Unauthorized Christians United for Israel Tour

Rapture Ready: The Unauthorized Christians United for Israel Tour from huffpost on Vimeo.

As even McCain distances himself from Hagee and his beliefs, here we see Joe Lieberman describe Pastor Hagee as Moses.

I want to take the liberty of describing Pastor Hagee in the words the Torah uses to describe Moses. . . and those words really fit him. Like Moses, he has become the leader of a mighty multitude, even greater than the multitude that Moses led from Egypt to the Promise Land.
The rest of the views on display here, the bombing of Iran to benefit Israel etc, simply speak for themselves. But to see mainstream US politicians openly embracing this kind of lunacy really is deeply disturbing.

Why is Liberman not being vilified for supporting such a person that even McCain has had to distance himself from? And why are people who hold such extremist views so easily accepted into the American political mainstream?

What's also astonishing is the belief that the anti-Christ will be the person "who forces Israel into a peace deal with the Arabs". Why are mainstream American politicians associating themselves with such extremists?

McClellan whacks Bush, White House

As the ship slowly sinks, the rats are leaving, and some of them are realising that there is money to be made from, at last, coming clean.

Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan is leading the way with what has been described as "a surprisingly scathing memoir" in which:

McClellan charges that Bush relied on “propaganda” to sell the war.

He says the White House press corps was too easy on the administration during the run-up to the war.

He admits that some of his own assertions from the briefing room podium turned out to be “badly misguided.”

The longtime Bush loyalist also suggests that two top aides held a secret West Wing meeting to get their story straight about the CIA leak case at a time when federal prosecutors were after them — and McClellan was continuing to defend them despite mounting evidence they had not given him all the facts.

McClellan asserts that the aides — Karl Rove, the president’s senior adviser, and I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the vice president’s chief of staff — “had at best misled” him about their role in the disclosure of former CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity.
I doubt that many of us had expected McClellan to be as forthright as he appears to be being, nor can one predict what will be the legal ramifications of such honesty for the main participants.

Rove has always denied any role in this affair and the fact that McLellan is letting it be known that he was "at best misled" over this issue will surely open the door for further investigation by Fitzgerald. McLellan states:
“There is only one moment during the leak episode that I am reluctant to discuss,” he writes. “It was in 2005, during a time when attention was focusing on Rove and Libby, and it sticks vividly in my mind. … Following [a meeting in Chief of Staff Andy Card’s office], … Scooter Libby was walking to the entryway as he prepared to depart when Karl turned to get his attention. ‘You have time to visit?’ Karl asked. ‘Yeah,’ replied Libby.

“I have no idea what they discussed, but it seemed suspicious for these two, whom I had never noticed spending any one-on-one time together, to go behind closed doors and visit privately. … At least one of them, Rove, it was publicly known at the time, had at best misled me by not sharing relevant information, and credible rumors were spreading that the other, Libby, had done at least as much. …

“The confidential meeting also occurred at a moment when I was being battered by the press for publicly vouching for the two by claiming they were not involved in leaking Plame’s identity, when recently revealed information was now indicating otherwise. … I don’t know what they discussed, but what would any knowledgeable person reasonably and logically conclude was the topic?
Like the whole truth of people’s involvement, we will likely never know with any degree of confidence.”
There's something ironic about the very people who dismissed any critics of the regime as people "with books to sell" now rushing towards every available publisher in a desperate desire to dish the dirt and portray themselves as one of the good guys in a corrupt administration.

But some of Scotty's revelations are truly disturbing. And they won't be dismissed as "book selling" as easily as Scotty managed to do when he was White House Press Secretary.

Amongst his many home truths McLellan also speaks of the "botched federal response" to Hurricane Katrina and says that Bush's infamous photo-op aboard Air Force One was all Karl Rove's doing.
He writes, for example, that after Hurricane Katrina, the White House “spent most of the first week in a state of denial,” and he blames Rove for suggesting the photo of the president comfortably observing the disaster during an Air Force One flyover. McClellan says he and counselor to the president Dan Bartlett had opposed the idea and thought it had been scrapped. But he writes that he later was told that “Karl was convinced we needed to do it — and the president agreed.”
Why is Rove spoken of as some sort of political genius when he has been behind so many disastrous decisions?

And McLellan takes no prisoners when it comes to the honesty of some within the Bush administration, even going so far as to name the names.
“I had allowed myself to be deceived into unknowingly passing along a falsehood,” McClellan writes. “It would ultimately prove fatal to my ability to serve the president effectively. I didn’t learn that what I’d said was untrue until the media began to figure it out almost two years later. “Neither, I believe, did President Bush. He, too, had been deceived and therefore became unwittingly involved in deceiving me. But the top White House officials who knew the truth — including Rove, Libby and possibly Vice President Cheney — allowed me, even encouraged me, to repeat a lie.”
The Vice President was encouraging the Press Secretary to repeat lies. Who would believe it of such an honest man?


Olbermann and Maddow discuss McLellan's new book.


The tossers over at Fox News are parroting the usual bullshit.

Click title for full article.

US businessman says he gave Olmert $150,000 in cash-stuffed envelopes

We have been hearing for weeks that there are corruption allegations against Ehud Olmert which the press were gagged against making public.

Yesterday, in Israel, Morris Talansky, a long-time supporter and friend of Olmert, was interviewed in an Israeli court before he left for the US in case he never returned. This good friend of Olmert told of how he used to supply the Israeli PM with envelopes stuffed with cash, a practice which he claims Olmert always insisted upon.

Talansky testified that Olmert asked for money in cash. When Talansky asked why it could not be given in cheques, he said Olmert told him it was down to internal regulations in his political party, which was then the rightwing Likud party. "I didn't really grasp it," Talansky said.

He said he saw Olmert as a politician who could reach out to the Jewish community in the US. "That's why I supported the man. That's why I overlooked, frankly and honestly, a lot of things," Talansky said. "I overlooked them. Maybe I shouldn't have, but I overlooked them."

Moshe Lador, the state prosecutor, asked Talansky what disturbed him. "Cash disturbed me," Talansky replied. "I couldn't understand it and I accepted the answer simply because I saw something bigger, hopefully, out there."

Talansky has gone as far as to suggest that some of this money was used to finance Olmert's own lifestyle, although this is unproven.

Talansky said he suspected some of the money he gave went on Olmert's personal expenses. "I only know that he loved expensive cigars. I know he loved pens, watches," he said. Yet Talansky insisted he received no personal gain.

"I had a very close relationship with him but I wish to add at this time that the relationship of 15 years was purely of admiration. I never expected anything personally. I never had any personal benefits from this relationship whatsoever," he said.

The Israeli press are already pronouncing Olmert to be dead in the water. Ha'aretz are saying that Olmert is finished:
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's lawyers are right: According to the law, it is not at all clear whether there is something illegal in Olmert's dealings with his own private bank, the "Talansky Bank." It is certainly worth waiting for the cross examination on July 17. It is likely to reveal contradictions about the sums of money, or to refute a story or two like the luxurious family vacation in Italy, which Olmert's attorneys claim never happened.

But no cross examination, no matter how brilliant and effective it may be, will save the politician Ehud Olmert. It will not polish his image nor remove the stench rising from the description of his relationship with Talansky. It will never return Olmert to the days before the investigation.

Publicly, Olmert is finished. There is no going back.
It simply appalls me that Olmert could bomb Lebanon into the dark ages for a crime that the Lebanese did not commit, he could watch his personal popularity drop in the polls to around 3%, and yet still survive as the Israeli PM, but any whiff of financial scandal and he is suddenly finished.

I personally think the crimes he committed in Lebanon are of much greater significance than the charge of taking money in envelopes, and I worry about any system where the taking of money is regarded as more shocking than the killing of innocents through the dropping of thousands of cluster bombs at a time when the UN were negotiating a peace settlement.

And yet that's where we find ourselves. Olmert is on the brink of being brought down for financial avarice rather than for his war crimes. Money is regarded as more important than the lives of innocents. It's a strange, strange, old world.

Click title for full article.

UK ready to scrap killer cluster bombs

After offering initial resistance to the scheme, it now appears as if Gordon Brown's Labour government is going to do the decent thing and apply a ban to cluster bombs, including scrapping Britain's entire arsenal, in a move which will cost millions of pounds.

Officials are paving the way for the unexpected and radical step at talks in Dublin on an international treaty aimed at a worldwide ban on the bombs.

Well-placed sources made clear yesterday that despite opposition from the military, the government is prepared to get rid of the cluster munitions in Britain's armoury: the lsraeli-designed M85 artillery weapon used during the 2003 invasion of Iraq and in attacks on Lebanon two years ago; and the M73, part of a weapons system for Apache helicopters.

"The prime minister is very much behind this process and wants us to sign [the treaty]", a senior Foreign Office source said yesterday.

It might not be enough to differentiate a clear distinction between Brown's Labour government and the Tories but I certainly applaud this move by Brown to do the right thing and recognise it as a move in the right direction.

Cluster bombs have long been known as a weapon which maims civilians, often long after conflict is over, and any treaty which bans them is to be welcomed. It is a brave Prime Minister who removes them from our arsenal, especially as he has to do so against the advice of the military, and especially as our banning of them will put pressure on the US not to use them during any joint military operations with the UK in future.

Human rights groups campaigning for a ban on all cluster bombs said yesterday the planned treaty was being threatened by the refusal of the US to remove stocks from its airforce bases on UK territory.

Simon Conway, a former soldier and the director of Landmine Action UK, said: "Gordon Brown has pushed the Dublin negotiations in the right direction. Now is the time for him to have the courage of his convictions and tell the US that it cannot store these outdated and indiscriminate weapons on UK soil."

Article 1 of the planned treaty, due to be signed in Oslo in early December, prohibits assistance with the use, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions. The US, Israel, Russia, China, India and Pakistan are not taking part in the talks.

If this brings Brown into direct conflict with the US over this then so be it. It is long overdue that Brown made some stance against the Bush regime on a moral issue and the use of cluster bombs is, indeed, a most moral issue.

Indeed, Brown - if he even remembers - can claim to be honouring the death of Princess Diana, who controversially campaigned for an end to the use of cluster bombs before her death.

I have been arguing that Brown must make a distinction between his government and the Tories and, although I am not sure that this is the place to do it as I am unsure of how deeply this will resonate with the general public, I nevertheless wholeheartedly support this as the right thing to do and applaud Brown for having the moral courage to make this principled stance.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Liz Trotta apologizes.

She has, at least, had the good sense to come out and offer a full apology. Hillary should take note of what a full apology looks like.

Bill Clinton: 'Cover up' hiding Hillary Clinton's chances

This shit is beginning to become really tiresome.

Former President Bill Clinton said that Democrats were more likely to lose in November if Hillary Clinton is not the nominee, and suggested some were trying to "push and pressure and bully" superdelegates to make up their minds prematurely.

"I can't believe it. It is just frantic the way they are trying to push and pressure and bully all these superdelegates to come out," Clinton said at a South Dakota campaign stop Sunday, in remarks first reported by ABC News.

Clinton also suggested some were trying to "cover up" Sen. Clinton's chances of winning in key states that Democrats will have to win in the general election.

" 'Oh, this is so terrible: The people they want her. Oh, this is so terrible: She is winning the
general election, and he is not. Oh my goodness, we have to cover this up.' "

Clinton did not expound on who he was accusing.
The simple truth is that the Democratic party has shown great patience with Hillary when she claimed that she and McCain were ready be Commander in Chief and that Obama was not. When she personally said that Florida and Michigan should not be counted and then compared not seating the Florida and Michigan delegates to the Florida recount, Zimbabwe's brutal "elections," the fight for women's suffrage, and the civil rights movement.

Enough of this bullshit. No-one is now trying to force her from the race. It is so near the end that she should, of course, complete the election cycle.

But, when that is done, the super delegates will be asked to come off of that fence they have nailed themselves to, and give their vote to one of the candidates. And we all know what way that is going to go.

However, Bill is setting us up to see it as manifestly unfair if the super delegates do not choose Hillary for reasons that border on laughable.

The former president added that his wife had not been given the respect she deserved as a legitimate presidential candidate.

"She is winning the general election today and he is not, according to all the evidence," Clinton said. "And I have never seen anything like it. I have never seen a candidate treated so disrespectfully just for running."

Just what evidence points to the fact that Hillary is winning and Barack is not, Clinton chooses not to elaborate upon. She's certainly not winning the only measurement that counts, which is the delegate count.

Most of us are simply tired of this now, we are willing to watch Hillary slog it out for another three weeks, although very few people can any longer see the point. But, if that's what she wants to do then that is what she must do.

However, Bill is also repeating the myth that Florida and Michigan must be seated or the Democrats will lose in November.
"And they're trying to get her to cry uncle before the Democratic Party has to decide what to do in Florida and Michigan," which Clinton said the party would need to do "unless we want to lose the election."
The people of Florida and Michigan knew that their votes were not going to count before they even cast them, so why they should now feel disenfranchised is simply beyond me. And, as including them will not give Hillary a lead in the delegate count, one has to wonder why they are making such a big deal out of this.

However, Bill is now claiming that Hillary is winning "according to all the evidence", which simply means that the Clinton camp have left planet Earth. I can't find a simple way to make that statement true. She's losing the delegate count and the popular vote, so quite what measurement Bill is using to make that astonishing statement is simply beyond me.

He's claiming that certain polls say that Hillary would do better against McCain than Obama, and this might be true, but it doesn't change the way this election should be decided. However, Bll sees a cover-up at play here.
"If you notice, there hasn't been a lot of publicity on these polls I just told you about," he said. "It is the first time you've heard it? Why do you think that is? Why do you think? Don't you think if the polls were the reverse and he was winning the Electoral College against Senator McCain and Hillary was losing it, it would be blasted on every television station?"
He's missing the fact that the election isn't decided on whether or not polls predict that Hillary will do better or worse against McCain than Obama, it is decided by who the people vote for.

The Clinton's have been trying to change the way this election is decided ever since she failed to win outright on Super Tuesday. But to claim there is a cover up, to stop her winning an election which she has long ago lost, is simply being fantastical.

Click title for full article.