There are some who have accused Sy Hersh of over egging the Iranian situation. However, when one listens to the noises emanating from Israel, it becomes highly plausible that Bush is, indeed, "preparing the battleground".
Monday, June 30, 2008
Some of the things the media say about McCain simply defies belief.
That they can be talking in this way about this dreadful flip-flopper simply leaves one gob smacked.
Kind of like a Martin Luther [Chris Matthews - Hardball]
A man of unshakable character, willing to stand up for his convictions [R.W. Apple, NY Times]
An affable man of zealous, unbending beliefs [Richard Cohen, The Washington Post]
The hero who still does things his own way [Richard Cohen, The Washington Post]
Rises above the pack-eloquent, as only a prisoner of war can be [David Nyhan, The Boston Globe]
Here's an even longer list of his flip flops.
Hat tip to Crooks and Liars.
As Mugabe swears himself in for a sixth term in office, at a ceremony which many country's boycotted, there are growing noises amongst the international community which signal that this time the world is ready to take action against the Zimbabwean dictator.
Britain's Africa minister, Mark Malloch Brown, said Britain would join the US in pressing for more sanctions. "This is Mugabe against the world and that makes both sanctions and other political pressures much more plausible because they will be universal," he said.
"In the past what he called sanctions were a very limited set of European and American measures against individuals around him. We can now go way beyond that to global measures."
Even the very few foreign observers (599) allowed into the country have proven far less compliant than Zanu-PF had hoped them to be, openly talking of how undemocratic the process they witnessed was:
And now, Mugabe heads off to the African Union summit where many of his fellow African leaders are refusing to accept his legitimacy.
The Pan African Parliament monitors said yesterday that the result should not stand. Marwick Khumalo, a Swazi parliamentarian who headed the delegation of 50 observers, said it concluded "the atmosphere prevailing in the country did not give rise to the conduct of free, fair and credible elections".
"The political environment throughout the country was tense, hostile and volatile ... characterised by an electoral campaign marred by high levels of intimidation, violence, displacement of people, abductions, and loss of life," he said.
Khumalo also said the Zimbabwe electoral commission had failed to fulfil its duty as an independent body.
Kenya's prime minister, Raila Odinga, urged the AU to send troops to free the people of Zimbabwe and called Mugabe "a shame to Africa".Tanzania, Swaziland and Angola have already spoken out against him. Nelson Mandela has condemned him. The ANC have called his actions "a flagrant violation of democracy". And Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called Mugabe "a Frankenstein for his people" and has said he would support him being removed from office, by force if necessary.
It is fair to say that the pressure now being applied by the African Union is unprecedented. Only the terminally weak, Thabo Mbeki, and a few others continue to pretend that Mugabe has any sort of legitimacy.
Hopefully, Mugabe will feel the wrath of other African leaders when he attends the AU summit, and that he will leave realising that even his fellow Africans do not accept him as the leader of Zimbabwe.
Click title for full article.
How shameful that Olmert will trade now for two dead bodies, when he could have traded in 2006 for the two soldiers themselves and prevented the deaths of thousands in the Israel-Lebanon war.
Israel agreed yesterday to free a notorious Lebanese killer and several other Hizbullah fighters in exchange for the bodies of the two Israeli soldiers whose abduction culminated in the 2006 Lebanon war.
The decision to agree to the UN-brokered deal came after six hours of intense discussion by the Israeli cabinet which voted 22-3 in favour of the exchange even though it was finally revealed that the soldiers were dead.
At the time he was too proud to do so and insisted on launching a war, a war which most of us found puzzling as it was impossible to see an attainable objective. In the end he led Israel to defeat against Hizbullah, he achieved not a single war objective, he got none of his prisoners back, he killed thousands of Lebanese civilians and caused billions of dollars worth of damage to Beirut . And in the last few days of the war, he dropped thousands of cluster bombs, at the very time that he knew that a civilian population would soon be returning to their homes.
In any just society, ruled by international law, he should be in jail for what he did.
After the war, his approval rate in Israel hovered at around 3%, a rate that made George Bush look popular. Now that he has done this deal, a deal which was always open to him at the time, his approval rate deserves to fall even lower.
Thousands died because this man was too proud then to accept the deal that he agreeing to today. That's simply shameful.
Click title for full article.
The traitor has popped up yet again. And, again , he finds it very hard to distinguish between al Qaeda and Iran. He seems to think that Iran and al Qaeda are in sync. Can someone please tell Lieberman that al Qaeda is a Sunni group and that the Iranians are Shia?
Hat tip to Crooks and Liars.
SCHIEFFER: That of course begs the question if he’s ready to be president. Do you believe that Barack Obama is not ready to be president?
LIEBERMAN: Let me put it affirmatively, which is what I really mean, because ultimately, we rarely make a choice between perfect and terrible. John McCain is more ready to be President, on foreign and domestic policy, because of his extraordinary experience. And it’s good experience. It’s experience where he’s had the guts to do what’s right for his country, including in Iraq, where he opposed the administration’s policy for a long time. The surge was implemented by President Bush, it’s now working. Senator Obama, unfortunately, like a lot of the Democratic leadership, continues to take a position that we ought to withdraw, which to me is “retreat, accept defeat” even though the new policy is working. I hope that Barack Obama goes to Iraq and frankly, I hope he changes his position, because if we had done what Senator Obama asked us to do for the last couple of years, today, Iran and al Qaeda would be in control of Iraq. It would be a terrible defeat for us and our allies in the Middle East and throughout the world. Instead, we have a country that’s defending itself, that’s growing economically, where there’s been genuine political reconciliation and where Iran and al Qaeda are on the run. And that’s the way it ought to be.
SCHIEFFER: You’re saying if we had done a drawdown, as Senator Obama had suggested, that Iran would now be in control of Iraq?
LIEBERMAN: Yeah, and here’s what I mean: And it’s not just Sen. Obama, it’s generally the leadership of the Democratic Party. On this issue, I respectfully but deeply disagreed. Because, they were saying a year ago, two years ago, Iraq was lost. They were saying…they were proposing amendments that would have ordered our withdrawal, a retreat of our forces, to begin and end rather rapidly. If that had happened, in Iraq today, there wouldn’t be an Iraqi government, there’d be chaos, there’d probably be genocide, definitely civil war. And the main beneficiaries of that would be Iran and al Qaeda. Instead, al Qaeda is on the run, and on the verge of a terrible defeat, one of our most significant victories over them since 9/11, maybe the most significant. Iran is being pushed back. And just a couple of weeks ago, Prime Minister Maliki of Iraq went to Tehran and Ahmadinejad and the Supreme Leader Khamenei pleaded with Maliki, “don’t enter into a long term strategic agreement with America,” and he said, “sorry, folks, I want to have good neighborly relations with you, but the Americans are our friends. We appreciate what they’ve done for us and we’re sticking with them.”
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Halliburton can still trade with Iran, in part, because McCain voted against an amendment which would have forbidden Halliburton to do this.
McCain's perceived strengths are nothing of the sort, as some Jewish Senators are beginning to point out. He certainly shows no consistency when it comes to Iran, other than his desire to attack them.
There were reports yesterday on BBC radio that the Zimbabwean election had a very low turnout and a record amount of spoiled ballot papers, but none of that is stopping Mugabe from claiming a resounding victory in what must have been one of the bloodiest and most controversial elections in African history.
But Mugabe's claims of victory have been greeted around the world with anger and incredulity:
So, as many people went into the ballot box and then deliberately spoiled their paper simply to send the message that they did not want Mugabe to be their president, as the amount who actually voted for him.
Washington called the vote a sham and said it will seek a UN Security Council resolution this week to send a 'strong message of deterrence' to Zimbabwe's leader. The US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, said Washington 'will use everything in our power for appropriate sanctions'. The US is also expected to press for an arms embargo on Zimbabwe and a travel ban on its officials.
Gordon Brown yesterday said that Zimbabwe had reached a new low point with the election. 'We will work with international partners to find a way to close this sickening chapter that has cost so many lives,' the Prime Minister said.
The head of one foreign election observer mission, Marwick Khumalo, who leads the Pan-African Parliament monitors, said that many Zimbabweans had voted only out of fear and that the turnout was in truth 'very, very low' after Tsvangirai withdrew from the race because of the violence.
Khumalo also suggested that many voters deliberately defaced their ballots after they were intimidated into going to the polls. He said that at one polling place in rural Matabeleland nearly 40 per cent of the ballots were spoilt, and that at another in Harare the combined numbers of opposition and spoilt ballots matched the vote for the President. 'There was a lot of intimidation for people to vote,' said Khumalo, a parliamentarian from Swaziland. 'You can tell people just wanted to get the indelible ink [on a finger to prove they had voted] to protect themselves from the hooligans.'
Mugabe is now anxious to be sworn in so that he can attend the AU with what I can only presume he imagines is a position of strength. I think he's in for a rude awakening when he gets there, as many African nations have turned against him.
As usual, South Africa, led by Mbeki, seeks to give Mugabe political cover, but with both the ANC and Mandela having spoken out against Mugabe, Mbeki's position - even within South Africa - is becoming an isolated one.
Desmond Tutu, the former Archbishop of Cape Town, urged African states to declare Mugabe an illegitimate leader and impose a blockade on Zimbabwe. Mugabe said last week that he will tell his critics that many of their elections are worse than Zimbabwe's.
The AU is divided. While countries such as Nigeria, Botswana, Kenya and Tanzania have all criticised the poll to some degree, there is less inclination for a confrontation with Mugabe from South Africa and his allies, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola. The AU commission chairman, Jean Ping, has urged compromise.
Mugabe's Foreign Minister, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, attempted to forestall a debate on Zimbabwe at a preparatory meeting on Friday and asked to be allowed to read a statement. But there were strong objections from a number of countries, including Liberia, Senegal and Sierra Leone.
The genie is out the bottle as far as most Africans are concerned and Mugabe will not be able to put it back in. He has been seen as what he is: a vile dictator who uses brutality to intimidate his people.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions has issued a statement:
Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called for intervention, by force, if necessary:
The 27 June presidential election was not an election, but a declaration of war against the people of Zimbabwe by the ruling party. Dozens of people have been murdered due to politically motivated violence. Thousands of others have been threatened with death, beaten, tortured and harassed for supporting the opposition political party.
The congress therefore supports the decision of our fellow trade unionists in the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions not to accept the outcome of any flawed election, and demands that the leaders of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union make a clear public statement that the 'election' held on 27 March was a cruel sham, and to withdraw their recognition of a government that has no mandate to rule following its defeat, but is clinging to power by brute force.
Africa has turned against Mugabe, and even Mbeki won't be able to legitimise his deeds now.
The former Cape Town archbishop said he would support the deployment of a UN force to restore peace in the country.
Certain Tory front benchers are said to have investments in Zimbabwe which might be helping prop up Mugabe's regime.
Blood money: the MPs cashing in on Zimbabwe's misery.
It just shows there's money to be made out of slaughter, and Cameron's supposedly "new" Tory Party have the faces in the trough. Disgusting.
Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve heads a list of Tory MPs with sizeable shareholdings in companies accused of propping up Robert Mugabe's regime, The Independent on Sunday can reveal today.
Three of David Cameron's frontbenchers are among six Conservatives – and one Liberal Democrat – with investments together worth more than £1m in firms trading in Zimbabwe. The revelations will embarrass the Tory leader, who has sought to take the moral high ground over the crisis in Zimbabwe.
Mr Cameron has called on all companies and individuals with "any dealings" in Zimbabwe to examine their consciences and ensure that they are not keeping Mr Mugabe in power.
The companies include Anglo American, the mining giant rebuked last week for pushing ahead with a new £200m platinum mine in Zimbabwe, Rio Tinto, Standard Chartered, Barclays, Shell and BP.
There is a petition that you can sign demanding that Mbeki and other African leaders find a democratic solution to Zimbabwe's problems.
Petition to Thabo Mbeki and other leaders of Southern Africa:Sign the petition by clicking here.
We call on you to hold an emergency meeting of Southern African leaders, to work by all means necessary for a legitimate Zimbabwean government that reflects the will of its people, and to decisively isolate those who stand in the way of a peaceful, democratic future for Zimbabwe.
Click title for full article.
When reports surface, stating that Ehud Olmert is having supposedly secret meetings with Aviam Sela, then we really should all be paying attention.
Aviam Sela was the architect of Operation Opera in 1981, when Israel launched a long-range strike against Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor. If Olmert is entertaining him at home then Israel is seriously thinking of launching an attack on Iran.
Leaving aside the blatant illegality of Israel's proposed actions, there is also the small matter that no nuclear experts think that such an attack would remove Iran's nuclear ability, and that's before we get into the immorality of Israel attacking another nation for attempting to obtain weapons which she herself possesses but refrains from publicly admitting to owning.
Sela, according to sources close to the meeting, had been called in so that Olmert could ask his opinion on the likely effectiveness of a similar raid to Opera on the nuclear installations of Iran.
Peace in the Middle East depends on Sela's and Israel's answer. Yesterday, responding to the Israel's increasingly bellicose language, Iran's top Revolutionary Guards Commander, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, warned that it would respond to any attack by hitting Israel with missiles and threatened to control the oil shipping passage through the Straits of Hormuz.
If Israel were to attack it would have to overcome considerable practical problems. There is no one who believes that an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities would be anything like Opera, when eight F-16s and a similar number of F-15s crept into Iraq. For one thing, in pursuing its nuclear ambitions, Iran took note of the Osirak lessons. Its facilities, including a light water reactor at Bushehr and the controversial uranium enrichment process at Natanz, are dispersed and, in the case of Natanz, protected by up to 23 metres of hardened concrete.
To destroy the uranium centrifuge halls at Natanz alone, analysts have argued, might require up to 80 5,000lb penetrating bombs dropped in almost simultaneous pairs to allow the second bomb to burrow through the crater of the first. Opera required just a handful of bombs.
Would it be acceptable for the Iranians to launch such an attack on Israeli nuclear sites? Would the same people who argue that Israel is within her rights to self defence allow such rights to the Iranians if they chose to remove Israel's nuclear threat to the Middle East?
You bet your bottom dollar they wouldn't.
And there is no-one who has ever proven that Iran even has any plans to build a nuclear weapon. Indeed the IAEA continue to monitor Iranian nuclear facilities and, on May 26th this year, they issued their latest report. (PDF)
The results of the environmental samples taken at FEP and PFEP indicate that the plants have been operated as declared. The samples showed low enriched uranium (with up to 4.0% U-235), natural uranium and depleted uranium (down to 0.4% U-235) particles. Iran declared enrichment levels in FEP of up to 4.7% U-235. Since March 2007, fourteen unannounced inspections have been connducted.So, the IAEA have conducted fourteen unannounced inspections and have found that the Iranians are operating their plants exactly as they have said they are doing. The uranium they are enriching is about 4.7% U-235, which is significantly below the 90% needed to make a weapon.
ElBaradei, the IAEA Director General, has gone as far as to say that he would resign if Israel attacks Iran as such an attack would turn the Middle East "into a fireball".
In Israel the case for war is being loudly made by such intellectual pygmies as John Bolton, who is telling any Israeli TV station that will listen that Israel should attack Iran.
"I don't believe that what I see in Iran today is a current, grave and urgent danger. If a military strike is carried out against Iran at this time ... it would make me unable to continue my work," said the IAEA chief.
ElBaradei, repeatedly stressing that a military strike would be the worst result for the region, added that an attack would give Iran more motivation to obtain nuclear power, Reuters reported.
The end of an immoral regime, steeped in illegality, like the Bush one is always bound to be it's most dangerous phase. There are people like Bolton who realise that their extremism is likely to have alienated the general public and who are anxious to do what they can to push their extremist agenda before they are booted out of office.
It has even been stated by Kristol that Bush is considering attacking Iran if Obama wins the election in November. The neo-cons accept that their brand of "attack first and never negotiate" politics is not going to be policy if a Democrat wins the White House and the danger here is that they are going to goad Olmert into taking action before a Democratic victory in November.
There are noises that the military in the US are pushing back strongly against Bush and Cheney's wish to see an attack on Iran:
However, there are also those in strong positions, such as Defence Secretary Robert Gates and some senior military chiefs, who are thought to be privately opposed to such a move. 'If it were up to Bush and Cheney they would want to see this thing done,' said Larry Johnson, a former top CIA analyst. 'But they are now up against a lot of fundamental military realities that make it hard. The military has been pushing back against this.'All of which increases the possibility that Bush might just give Olmert the nod to do what he wants to do. And they are considering it now for the simple reason that they know Obama would not approve and that their window of opportunity is closing.
Only with a radical neo-con regime in the White House would such an insane proposal even be considered and, as it comes to the end of it's diabolical time in office, it is actually more dangerous rather than less. Time is running out and they know it.
Click title for full article.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
It's always worth bearing in mind the sheer scale of Lieberman's back stabbing as he now turns himself into Obama's leading attack dog.
His own campaign staff admit that he practically "begged" Obama to endorse him when he faced the challenge by Ned Lamont.
And now Lieberman has the gall to say this:
The top Lieberman official, who was directly involved in securing Obama's help, tells me that the campaign was desperate for Obama to come to Connecticut in March of 2006, soon after Lamont entered the race.
"We needed him to strongly validate us as a candidate that liberal Democrats should not desert," the official tells me. "We went to the Obama operation with a very urgent plea for him to come out for us."It's well known that Obama's 2006 endorsement was important. But it's not widely understood just how urgently the Lieberman people begged for Obama's help at a critical moment in Lieberman's career -- and in that light, just how much of a back-stabbing Lieberman's attacks on Obama now represent.
"It was a favor as huge as we could have gotten -- it was like a drowning man getting thrown a life preserver," the Lieberman official continued. "Just when Ned was trying to establish himself as a credible alternative on the war, Barack Obama came in and said, `Hey, I disagree with him on the war, but you should send him back to the Senate.'"
If we did what Sen. Obama wanted us to do last year, Al-Qaeda in Iran would be in control of Iraq today. The whole Middle East would be in turmoil and American security and credibility would be jeopardized.When one realises that Lieberman "begged" Obama to save his political career, it only makes the treachery that he is now engaging in all the more repulsive.
He would probably not have the platform that he is now using to attack Obama had Obama not come to his aid at the moment when he most needed it. As his own staff say, "It was like a drowning man getting thrown a life preserver". And now that same man is attempting to drown Obama.
Republicans always want elections to be about character rather than policies. Well, the character of the man slithering around reminding McCain of the difference between Shia, Sunni and al Qaeda is that of a snake.
Click title for full article.
Republicans are simply bizarre. Here we see a memo where they consider that perhaps they ought to "empathise" with the voters. This is a novel concept to them. They have, up until now, operated on the basis that they know best and that it's "weak" to pay attention to opinion polls. Now, in their panic that they are facing a wipe out, they are sending each other memos reminding themselves to "feel the voters pain".
Too little, far too late...
McCain goes to great lengths to say that he is not running for Bush's third term, but the facts tell a very different story. Last year McCain voted with Bush 95% of the time. That is simply a fact. Maverick, he is not.
However, the truth is not so much that McCain represents a continuation of Bush, but that - much more damagingly - he represents a continuation of the neo-con policies which have proven so catastrophic over the last seven and a half years.
Carpenter believes that the more realist advisers such as Henry Kissinger on the McCain campaign are largely window-dressing to protect him from Democratic charges that he is really a neoconservative.The fact that McCain is a dangerous neo-con is obvious from the people who he has chosen to surround himself with and from the people who support him.
"John McCain is almost a wholly owned subsidiary of the neoconservative movement when it comes to foreign policy," Carpenter said.
"The Democrats have to go on the offensive and stay on the offensive. The message has to be: John McCain and his foreign policy team are very, very dangerous for America," he added. "A worried American electorate on that score might very well shy away from McCain."
When Bill Kristol is singing his praises it's time to realise what this man really is:
Few of McCain's top advisors are well known to the general public, and even fewer are directly linked to the highly unpopular Bush administration.
However neoconservatives, whose thinking has directed Bush's foreign policy following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, are ever-present and powerful in McCain's inner circle.
But John McCain is a not-so-modern type. One might call him a neo-Victorian — rigid, self-righteous and moralizing, but (or rather and) manly, courageous and principled. Maybe a dose of this type of neo-Victorianism is what the 21st century needs.The best that Kristol can come up with is that he is "rigid, self-righteous and moralizing." And, of course, Kristol comes up with that other Republican obsession that McCain is "manly". For a party of homophobes, they really do some serious man-loving in order to sell their candidates "qualities" as a way of avoiding being confronted on their appalling policies.
And, in McCain's case, those are the policies of the neo-cons.
Obama, perched on a stool, did not take his eyes off her - a switch from their earlier encounters where he had often seemed uncomfortable under Clinton's gaze. When it came to his turn, Obama paid tribute to the grit Clinton had demonstrated during the primary season and as a First Lady who was often the target of Republican attacks. Then in reponse to the crowd, he departed from the script: "She rocks," he said. "That's the point I am trying to make."
I take my hat off to Hillary Clinton. True to her word, she has thrown herself 100% behind Barack Obama as the Democratic presidential nominee.
"Senator McCain and President Bush are like two sides of the same coin," she said. "To anyone who voted for me and is now considering not voting or voting for John McCain I strongly urge you to reconsider."Gone are the days when she implied that she and McCain had passed some threshold for the office of presidency which Obama had not yet obtained, yesterday she made clear that this was all campaign hype and that her supporters should now work for an Obama presidency.
Obama spoke of how moved he was to have her standing next to him supporting him, and pointed out that her campaign had been a truly inspiring example for millions of women around the world. "They can take it for granted that a woman can do anything better than a boy can do and do it better - and do it in high heels," he said.
Hopefully, the women who have said that they could never bring themselves to vote for Obama will reconsider.
Obama, perched on a stool, did not take his eyes off her - a switch from their earlier encounters where he had often seemed uncomfortable under Clinton's gaze.
When it came to his turn, Obama paid tribute to the grit Clinton had demonstrated during the primary season and as a First Lady who was often the target of Republican attacks. Then in reponse to the crowd, he departed from the script: "She rocks," he said. "That's the point I am trying to make."
"This is really important. Friends of mine are still mourning the loss of Hillary Clinton. They are really having trouble coming over to Obama," said Mary Boyle, a microbiologist professor and a local Democratic party official in the nearby town of Cornish. "People are going to be watching what she says today, and if the Democrats want a strong campaign, with people really engaged in the events, these Clinton supporters need to be able to say: 'I can see she's really with him. I am going over to the other side.'"And that's the point here. She really is with him all the way.
As Obama said, when they both first campaigned in this small town called Unity, it was 107 votes for Hillary and 107 votes for Obama but now it must become 214 votes for the Democrats.
Click title for full article.
The state run newspaper is predicting a massive turnout for Mugabe, and have the gall to pretend that this is what the people of Zimbabwe want, when they must know that the people are voting because they fear that, if they do not, they will face a dreadful punishment.
The young man who gave his name only as Wilson wanted just one thing from yesterday's presidential election in Zimbabwe: the indelible red ink on his little finger to show he had voted.
"They said they would come to see if we voted," he said after casting his ballot in a tent in a Harare suburb. "They know if we went to vote we would have to vote for the president. They were watching."
Who are "they"?
"The ones who made us go to the meetings at night. The ones who told us we must be careful to correct our mistake."
Wilson voted for Robert Mugabe yesterday, against his will but judging that it was the best way to save himself from a beating or worse.
The UN has said that it "regrets" the Zimbabwean election but has stopped short of saying that the election was illegitimate, which is pretty spineless.
The Zanu-PF militia was out early in Chitungwiza, one of the Harare townships where the ruling party unleashed its violent campaign of retribution to "reorient" people who voted for the opposition last time. They moved from house to house at dawn, singing liberation war songs and banging on doors to warn people to vote.
Near some polling stations in the township, voters were directed to buildings where ruling party activists told them to record the serial numbers of the ballot paper they received at the voting booth and to return with it.
The results, which after the election in which Mugabe lost took almost five weeks to surface, are miraculously to be available on Saturday afternoon. What a difference it makes to the whole process when Mugabe is guaranteed victory.
The European Union and the US earlier dismissed the vote as meaningless. Foreign ministers for the Group of Eight nations (G8) meeting in Japan said they could not accept the legitimacy of a government "that does not reflect the will of the Zimbabwean people".The question now is what the world community is actually prepared to do to overturn this outrageous fix. Mugabe has stated that he intends to attend the African Union summit. I would hope that - difficult as it is - that some members of that Union will use the opportunity to publicly slay him for this brutal assault on his own people.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said they would consult other members of the UN Security Council to see what "next steps" might need to be taken. "There was a strong sentiment... that what is going on in Zimbabwe is simply unacceptable in the 21st century and it can't be ignored by the international community," she said.
The US ambassador to the UN, Zalmay Khalilzad, read out a statement by the Security Council which said members "agreed that conditions for free and fair elections did not exist and it was a matter of deep regret that the election went ahead in these circumstances."
He is not the legitimate leader of Zimbabwe, and people need to make that fact crystal clear to him.
Click title for full article.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Notice that Yoo hedges his answers to such an extent that he refuses even to say that the president does not have the power to bury someone alive, merely that he doesn't think any president would ever give such an order.
The notion that the president actually has such a power he leaves unaddressed. Because, deep down, Yoo thinks a president, at a time of war, has any power he requires. And Addington is hysterical as he tries to negotiate around what is meant by "unitary theory"
Addington though, gives the funniest answer ever as to why he can't discuss torture: al Qaeda may be watching C-Span. That will be why there are all those satellite dishes sticking out of those Afghan caves.
Here we see Addington slither around refusing to answer any questions and Yoo talk for three minutes and yet say nothing at all.
These two sleazebags are the kind of people who have been advising Bush on what is legal. It's no wonder - when one adds Gonzales into that mix - that the US has lost it's moral compass. Whe you watch these two you realise that they are beyond shame.
For a man who has never previously expressed any belief in rehabilitation, it was a remarkable turnaround. George Bush has decided that North Korea is no longer "evil".
And it's happened in the strangest fashion.
Clinton had North Korea pretty much in a box when Bush, Cheney et al decided that this was pandering to a dictator state and pretty much tore up Clinton's carefully constructed plan to contain them.
Having been rejected by the Bush regime, North Korea then went on to build a nuclear bomb and, when they did this, Bush, Cheney et al suddenly wanted to talk to them again.
And now, for having agreed to dismantle the bomb that Clinton's plan would never have allowed them to build in the first place, Bush has decided that Kim Jong-il - the man he once described as a "pygmy" - is no longer a pygmy at all. Indeed, he now joins such luminaries as Gaddafi of Libya, as people who used to be "evil" but became good again through destroying their weapons arsenals, even though many of us question whether Gaddafi ever had any WMD at all... but I digress.
So now Bush is removing North Korea from the US's list of states that sponsor terror and lifting sanctions on Kim Jong-il.
"This can be a moment of opportunity for North Korea," said President Bush, "If it continues to make the right choices it can repair its relationship with the international community." By "international community" Bush is, of course, referring to himself. In this case, he is the international community.
But, just along the corridor of the White House, this is going down like a cup of cold sick in Dick Cheney's office.
Two days ago, during an off-the-record session with a group of foreign policy experts, Vice President Dick Cheney got a question he did not want to answer. “Mr. Vice President,” asked one of them, “I understand that on Wednesday or Thursday, we are going to de-list North Korea from the terrorism blacklist. Could you please set the context for this decision?”I am suspecting that Dick Cheney is not a fan of rehabilitation and that that minx, Condi Rice, is off his Christmas card list.
Mr. Cheney froze, according to four participants at the Old Executive Office Building meeting. For more than 30 minutes he had been taking and answering questions, without missing a beat. But now, for several long seconds, he stared, unsmilingly, at his questioner, Steven Clemons of the New America Foundation, a public policy institution. Finally, he spoke:
“I’m not going to be the one to announce this decision,” the other participants recalled Mr. Cheney saying, pointing at himself. “You need to address your interest in this to the State Department.” He then declared that he was done taking questions, and left the room.
It's strange though that we should have such acts of symbolism at the very end of the Bush presidency.
And in a sign of its good faith, to be carried live on television, it will today demolish the cooling tower of the already disabled Yongbyon nuclear reactor, 60 miles from the capital, Pyongyang. Diplomats and TV networks from the US, China, Japan, South Korea and Russia will witness the largely symbolic act.But the real symbolism here isn't in the destruction of the cooling tower; it's the fact that Bush is, in his final days, being forced to accept the limitations of presidential power.
The world would be a much better place had he been forced to realise this much, much earlier.
Click title for full article.
Mugabe has, of course, rejected the calls from the international community to suspend the elections in Zimbabwe and plans to claim legitimacy after a vote which the MDC have withdrawn from due to the relentless violence inflicted upon them by Mugabe's thugs.
Even an intervention by the man many believe to be Africa's conscience has had little effect and Mugabe's supporters have gone as far as to condemn Mandela for his statement:
Mandela has made the same judgement as many African nations have in condemning this viscous assault on democracy. There is no doubt that Mugabe will find Africa a colder place after he steals this election as, for the first time ever, other African nations have publicly spoken out against him.
A ruling Zanu-PF official described Mr Mandela's comments as unacceptable and unfortunate for a man of his stature.Speaking to the BBC, the parliamentary chief whip for Zanu-PF said Mr Mandela's statement was "very unfortunate". "I don't see the merit in that kind of statement... [It's] totally unacceptable... the judgement that he has made," Jerome MacDonald Gumbo said.
Asked whether the final round of the presidential vote would be postponed, he said: "There is no chance of that. There is no reason."
This can only be welcomed. And Mugabe's great supporter, Thebo Mbeki, now finds himself utterly isolated, with both Mandela and the ANC speaking out against his passive stance towards this stain on Africa's name.
With other African nations now solidifying their opposition to what he is doing, Mugabe has rejected the opinions of the African Union out of hand:
While he said he intended to attend an African Union summit in Egypt next week, Mr Mugabe said the AU had "no right in dictating to us what we should do with our constitution, and how we should govern this country".
He told supporters during Thursday's Harare rally that he was not interested in the opinions of the rest of the world.
"I would rather the world left us in peace. Sanctions, well, let them continue with their sanctions, but we will find our way of existing," said Mr Mugabe.
The greatest gag of all in this is that Mugabe is now saying that he prepared to enter into talks with the MDC after the election.
The irony here is that this is what Mbeki has wanted all along, for Mugabe to agree to talks. However, there is not a chance in Hell that Tsvangirai will take part in talks after an election process that has killed 80 members of his party and forced 200,000 of his supporters from their homes. It's way past the time for talking. Africa needs to unite and force this man from office.
"Should we emerge victorious, which I believe we will, sure we won't be arrogant, we will be magnanimous and say 'let's sit down and talk,'" he said.
Click title for full article.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
As he's now actively campaigning against the Democratic candidate, it really is time for Joe to stop the pretence and admit that he is now simply a Republican.
The irony here is that Obama was one of the few Democrats prepared to defend Lieberman in his attempt to get re-elected. Lieberman was willing to accept Obama's endorsement then, but now finds himself unable to endorse Obama. There's a word for that, it's traitor.
And there have already been stories suggesting that Obama has made this clear to Lieberman. I really hope that when Obama becomes president that he kicks Lieberman out.
Sign the petition: http://liebermanmustgo.com
Okay, now I'm officially confused. Obama had originally promised to back the FISA bill but to work when president to remove the proposed Telecom immunity clause from the bill. I had always presumed that the Democratic leadership had been advised by Bush of what he was actually doing and that this was why the Democrats were so keen to push to give immunity.
But now the Democratic leadership are saying that they will support a filibuster while Obama is continuing to support the bill.
He has stated:
"The bill has changed. So I don't think the security threats have changed, I think the security threats are similar. My view on FISA has always been that the issue of the phone companies per se is not one that overrides the security interests of the American people."However, Sens. Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Russ Feingold (D-WI) have promised to do all that they can to remove retroactive immunity from the legislation and Harry Reid's office has issued a statement saying that he will do all that he can to help them:
Unfortunately, the FISA compromise bill establishes a process where the likely outcome is immunity to the telecommunications carriers who participated in the President’s warrantless wiretapping program. Sen. Reid remains opposed to retroactive immunity, which undermines efforts to hold the Bush Administration accountable for violating the law. Thus, he will cosponsor the amendment offered by Senators Dodd and Feingold to strip out the immunity provision, and support their efforts to strip immunity on the floor.Even Nancy Pelosi has stated that it would be "healthy and wholesome" were the Senate to filibuster the bill.
Obama's position makes no sense. He now says that going after the phone companies was never more important than finding out what actually took place here, which completely misses the point I think. Going after the phone companies was the only way we were ever going to find out what had taken place here.
And I had always presumed that he was reversing his position on the filibuster due to pressure from other Democrats, but with Reid and Pelosi now appearing to favour the filibuster I am left wondering why Obama is taking the position that he is taking.
Perhaps he is suffering from that continual Democratic fear of being portrayed as weak on national security by the Republicans going into an election, which is a great shame. Up until now Obama has been great at redefining these issues in a way that does not play into this Republican game plan.
Perhaps he's playing the long game, publicly supporting a bill that he knows will be filibustered by Dodd and Feingold, thus denying McCain the ability to label him soft on national security during the run up to the election. But, I freely admit, I'm grasping at straws here.
I previously thought I could see what he was up to, I have to now admit to myself that I don't.
Speaking at a dinner in London to mark his 90th birthday, Mr Mandela said:
"We watch with sadness the continuing tragedy in Darfur. Nearer to home we have seen the outbreak of violence against fellow Africans in our own country and the tragic failure of leadership in our neighbouring Zimbabwe."
Until now Mandela has maintained a dignified silence so as not to undermine the policy of his successor, Thebo Mbeki, who has been operating what he referred to as "quiet diplomacy", but - with Mbeki's plan clearly getting nowhere and Mugabe's behaviour getting worse by the day - Mandela has clearly come to the conclusion that it is time to speak out. And, although it is barely one sentence of condemnation, the very fact that it is coming from the world's most famous and respected African, means his words will carry great weight.
Africans traditionally do not speak out against each other, and especially not when the condemnations have been coming from former colonial powers like Britain, but Mugabe's behaviour has been so appalling that nations like Swaziland, Tanzania and Angola have already condemned Mugabe's plan to claim legitimacy from tomorrow's elections.
The three countries from the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) are responsible for overseeing peace and security in the region.
The leaders said they were concerned and disappointed by Morgan Tsvangirai's withdrawal on Sunday from the vote.
But they said that holding the election under the present circumstances might undermine the credibility and legitimacy of its outcome.
They also said the people of Zimbabwe deserved a "cooling-off period".
This comes on top of the condemnation from other countries:
The crisis has drawn growing international condemnation of Mr Mugabe and his government.
Britain has said it will withdraw an honorary knighthood granted to President Robert Mugabe.
Mr Mugabe is the first foreigner to be stripped of the award since Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in 1989, the day before his execution.
US President George W Bush said Friday's vote appeared "to be a sham" because the opposition had not been able to campaign without fear of intimidation.
The US has said it will not recognise the results of the vote.
Mbeki has already allowed the UN to vote against Mugabe, something which he has previously blocked with the help of China, in a signal that even Mbeki is finding it hard to justify the lengths Mugabe is going to in order to cling to power.
But Mandela's voice is the most important and carries the greatest weight with all Africans. In Zimbabwe, state television will totally ignore what Mandela has said and ordinary Zimbabweans will likely never hear that he said what he said, but Mugabe knows he said it, and he knows that it is Africans themselves who are now condemning what he is doing.
Zimbabwe is utterly dependent on South Africa for economic assistance, now surely even Mbeki realises that it is time to make the final push and end the presidency of Robert Mugabe.
Click title for full article.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
It appears that there is no hoop of hypocrisy that journalists aren't prepared to jump through, desperate to explain why John McCain's constant flip-flopping on major issues simply isn't a big deal.
Richard Coen explains why:
I'm sorry, but that's frankly ridiculous on it's face. There is "only so far he will go and then his pride or his sense of honour takes over"? Is that a gag?
In some recent magazine articles, I and certain of my colleagues have been accused of being soft on McCain, forgiving him his flips, his flops and his mostly conservative ideology. I do not plead guilty to this charge, because, over the years, the man's imperfections have not escaped my keen eye. But, for the record, let's recapitulate: McCain has either reversed himself or significantly amended his positions on immigration, tax cuts for the wealthy, campaign spending (as it applies to use of his wife's corporate airplane) and, most recently, offshore drilling. In the more distant past, he has denounced then embraced certain ministers of medieval views and changed his mind about the Confederate flag, which flies by state sanction in South Carolina only, I suspect, to provide Republican candidates with a chance to choose tradition over common decency. There, I've said it all.
But here is the difference between McCain and Obama -- and Obama had better pay attention. McCain is a known commodity. It's not just that he's been around a long time and staked out positions antithetical to those of his Republican base. It's also -- and more important -- that we know his bottom line. As his North Vietnamese captors found out, there is only so far he will go, and then his pride or his sense of honor takes over. This -- not just his candor and nonstop verbosity on the Straight Talk Express -- is what commends him to so many journalists.
Let's repeat the places where he has flip-flopped.
Immigration. Tax cuts for the wealthy. Campaign spending. Off shore drilling. The use of the Confederate flag and "agents of intolerance" suddenly becoming no such thing.
Cohen also left out McCain's flip flops on abortion, torture, campaigning at Bob Jones University, and ethanol.
But there is only so far he will go before "his pride or sense of honour takes over"? Is Cohen taking the piss? McCain has turned in so many areas that there's few places left for him to change his mind on, so where does Cohen imagine this line is where McCain's sense of honour and pride kicks in?
Oh wait, it's here:
Obama might have a similar bottom line, core principles for which, in some sense, he is willing to die. If so, we don't know what they are. Nothing so far in his life approaches McCain's decision to refuse repatriation as a POW so as to deny his jailors a propaganda coup. In fact, there is scant evidence the Illinois senator takes positions that challenge his base or otherwise threaten him politically. That's why his reversal on campaign financing and his transparently false justification of it matter more than similar acts by McCain.Obama did not promise not to reject public funding, he promised to negotiate with McCain on the subject. That's not the same thing.
However, it's simply ludicrous - even if Obama had reversed his position as some claim - to say that McCain's flip flops don't matter "because he was once a prisoner of war". I have never heard anything more ridiculous in my life.
The man who took that stance against his Vietnamese captors all those years ago seems utterly unable to show the same resolve when faced with Christian fundamentalists and GOP hardliners.
Why? Because it suits him politically to bend to the prevailing wind. John McCain the soldier may have had honour, but John McCain the presidential candidate has none.
He'll believe whatever those nutcases want him to believe as long as they will make him president. There's no honour in that. None at all.
It's the worst kind of political opportunism, and - yes - it's disgraceful flip-flopping.
Click title to read the whole ridiculous argument.
Here in the UK we mostly know Norm Coleman as the person foolish enough to take on George Galloway in a public forum. At the time, many of us assumed that Coleman simply couldn't have known who he was dealing with, as Galloway utterly decimated him.
I didn't think he could top that humiliation, but with this pathetic ad... he's managed it. It really is one of the worst I have ever seen.
It started with three African nations willing to put their heads above the parapet and condemn the actions of Mugabe in Zimbabwe, despite the fact that the leader of the most powerful nation in the region - Mbeki of South Africa - was continuing to offer Mugabe tacit support.
Well, now the leaders of the ANC have broken ranks with Mbeki and issued their most powerful criticism of Mugabe to date.
Jacob Zuma, the president of South Africa's ruling party, has said that Zimbabwe's elections were now totally "discredited". Mugabe has been planning on pushing ahead with the elections and claiming legitimacy based upon them.
Zimbabwe's economic dependence on South Africa gives Mbeki a unique ability to influence what is occurring here and there are many of us, myself included, who have been angered by Mbeki's insistence that this is a matter requiring mediation rather than the outrage on democracy that it actually is.
Mr Zuma's African National Congress said it was "deeply dismayed by the actions of the government of Zimbabwe, which is riding roughshod over the hard-won democratic rights of the people of that country.
"As democrats, the ANC cannot be indifferent to the flagrant violation of every principle of democratic governance."
The statement was in sharp contrast to Mr Mbeki's silence on Zimbabwe, where a campaign of terror orchestrated by Mr Mugabe prompted the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, to pull out of the election. And it marked a break between the two movements which were once close allies in the struggle against white rule in south.
Most African nations have been reluctant to break with Mugabe as they see him as a former comrade in the fight for independence, but slowly even that loyalty appears to be slipping away, as the level of Mugabe's brutality towards his own people becomes apparent.
The pressure is now building on Mbeki to finally yield to international pressure - and to pressure from other African nations - to stop offering Mugabe this tacit support and to recognise the fact that Mugabe is now indulging in crimes against democracy.
The SADC chairman, Zambia's President Levy Mwanawasa, has clashed with Mr Mbeki over his mediation of the crisis. He complained this week that President Mbeki was not keeping him informed of the process and he had to rely on his own intelligence reports for information. This was after Mr Mbeki visited Mr Mugabe last week. The Zambian leader, who has been one of the African leaders to speak out against Mr Mugabe, said he had tried to contact Mr Mbeki but the latter had not returned his calls.
And there are signs that African nations are prepared to hit Mbeki where it most hurts if he continues to support Mugabe's actions:
Mr Mugabe's opponents made a threat last night to campaign for a boycott of the 2010 football World Cup, to be hosted by South Africa, in protest at Mr Mbeki's support for "tyranny".The World Cup is supposed to be Mbeki's moment in the sun, a boycott of it because he is supporting "tyranny" really wouldn't suit Mbeki at all.
There really is some hope here that African nations can force Mbeki to do the right thing, for his own sake, as well as the sake of the people of Zimbabwe.
Now stirred, it is vital that African governments do not return to their silence. Mr Mugabe departed from the common African cause a long time ago. The continent's leaders need not fear breaking from the past in condemning him. In doing so, they will not only pull the rug from under a brutal regime, they will also open a new chapter in African self-confidence.Click title for full article.
If there is one thing that simply never changes it is the ridiculous claims made by the US and Israel regarding what Israel's enemies appear to be getting up to in the nuclear arena.
Late last year Israel invaded Syrian airspace and dropped bombs on what she later claimed was a nuclear facility, at the time she claimed nothing at all officially and both the US and Israel were remarkably coy about just what exactly had taken place.
Now the Israelis are telling us a different and even more ridiculous story:
Notice how many of both Israel's and the US's enemies they manage to bring into this fantasy. Syria was doing this to aid the Iranians according to the Israelis, but the Americans have previously claimed that North Korea were helping the Syrians to build this reactor.
Israel believes that Syria was planning to supply Iran with spent nuclear fuel for reprocessing into weapons-grade plutonium from the site it bombed last September, and which is currently being inspected by the UN's nuclear watchdog.
The claim from an adviser to Israel's national security council, came yesterday as speculation mounts about a possible Israeli attack on Iran. The Israeli government officially backs UN sanctions to force Tehran to halt its uranium enrichment but has little faith they will succeed.
Details about the alleged Syrian reactor and the Israeli raid remain shrouded in secrecy. Syria denies it has or had a covert nuclear weapons programme and insists the Israelis hit an ordinary military structure being built at al-Kibar, in the country's north-eastern desert.
The US claimed in April that Syria had almost completed the plant with the help of North Korea, which evaded the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) checks and tested a nuclear device in 2006. Officials in Damascus accused the US of fabricating evidence in collusion with Israel, which unlike Syria and Iran is not a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and is the Middle East's only nuclear power. Washington did not mention any link to Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Now, were Syria to have actually been doing what Israel and the US claim, wouldn't it have been more sensible for Israel and the US to have notified the IAEA and alerted the whole world to this Syrian duplicity?
The IAEA would have gone in immediately and none of us would be under any doubt about what had been taking place in Syria. But they didn't choose that path. They chose to attack a Syrian facility, which many of us think was simply a warning to show the Iranians how easily their airspace could be invaded, and they then chose to make no public statement regarding what they had just done.
They had several underlings leak stories regarding nuclear facilities and the like but, strangely, neither the Israeli nor the US government would go on the record and state what had just happened.
The IAEA put Syria on its proliferation watch-list in April after receiving intelligence photographs from the US, said to show a reactor that could have yielded plutonium. Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of IAEA, condemned the Israeli raid and criticised the US for failing to share intelligence on Syria sooner. Last week ElBaradei cast doubt on his inspectors' ability to establish the nature of the site. "It is doubtful that we will find anything there now, assuming there was anything there in the first place," he said.ElBaredei's cynicism perfectly matches my own. Now that it is almost impossible to verify what actually took place there, the Israelis come out with their story. Indeed, it is notable that neither Israel or the US have ever provided the world with a post strike satellite image showing evidence of a reactor at this facility. They have shown us evidence of a clean up and asked that we draw conclusions from this, but we have never seen any images between the date of the strike and the cleaned up facility. Why not? Obviously, in my opinion, because the images taken after the strike do not show evidence of a reactor. If they did, you can bet your bottom dollar that they would be public by now.
It would have better suited both US and Israeli interests to have the IAEA inspect the facility and inform the world that the Syrians were engaged in nuclear activity, if that was, indeed, what they were up to.
The fact that they didn't do so, and the fact that - at the time - they refused to even confirm what had or hadn't taken place, makes me highly suspicious of any ridiculous claim that they now try to peddle.
Remember, had Israel taken a different path this could all now be a matter of undisputed fact. But it's not. It's murky and asks that we rely on Israel's interpretation of what took place, an interpretation that she is only now supplying months after the event.
And this latest bullshit is still not officially coming from the Israeli government, it is coming from "an adviser to Israel's national security council". Nothing about this story - from start to finish - has ever been on the record.
I'm sorry. It's horseshit, and I'm not buying it.
Click title for full article.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
He's been trolling universities, poaching youngsters to attend his speeches, so that the people standing behind him no longer look like Heaven's waiting room, but then he goes and spoils it all by sounding like Methuselah.
I mean Ron Paul's not a youngster and yet he gets it. Maybe McCain is simply too rich and has too many staff that he doesn't have to bother. Though I notice he claims his wife does it all. Yeah, right. With $100 million in the bank - and nine homes to oversee - she has to do all that stuff all by herself, 'cos wee Johnny just doesn't get it!
I'm really trying not to be ageist about this, but shouldn't a president at least understand the times that he is living in so that he can shape those times?
I mean McCain recently revealed that he thinks that EBay can be a model for job and economic growth.
To be fair to him, someone must have fed him that nonsense, as I am very sure he doesn't actually know what EBay is.
Rove: Obama's the Guy at the Country Club Holding a Martini Making Snide Comments About Everyone Else
ABC News' Christianne Klein reports that at a breakfast with Republican insiders at the Capitol Hill Club this morning, former White House senior aide Karl Rove referred to Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, as "coolly arrogant."
"Even if you never met him, you know this guy," Rove said, per Christianne Klein. "He's the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by."
It's a metaphor that says more about Rove than anyone else, as most of us don't start our stories at "the country club", a place where African Americans with funny sounding names aren't usually all that welcome.
But this is Rove attempting to play the "elitist" card all over again and genuinely imagining that this is something which will play well for the Republicans in the election.
John McCain was born into Navy royalty, is married to an heiress worth in excess of $100 million, has nine homes, and is campaigning to give further tax cuts to the rich. And yet "elitism" is the strongest card Rove feels they have to play against Obama? They're in worse trouble than I thought.
Here's Lyle Turtle, the chairman of the Maricopa County Republican Committee describing John McCain:
"He is so arrogant, and so above it all, and it just permeates his staff. He's so enamoured with himself about running for president, about being the senior senator from Arizona, and the power that he has, which is a good godawful lot, that I think he's just turned his back on the people that have elected him".Quote taken from this book.
The Republicans often campaign on side issues like "elitism" because, deep down, they realise that their policies are actually politically poisonous.
But they'll surely have to come up with better than this to stop Obama knocking McCain clean out of the park?
Click title for full article.
Tags: Karl Rove, John McCain, Barack Obama, US election 2008