Saturday, September 08, 2007

A step forward

Maybe he listened after all...

When I saw Senator Durbin this summer, I asked him about why he continued to vote to fund the war in Iraq. He gave me an answer about opposing the war, but wanting to support the troops in the field.

This morning, I see
this from him:

The No. 2 Democrat in the U.S. Senate said on Friday he could no longer vote for funding the war in Iraq unless restrictions were attached that would begin winding down American involvement there.

"This Congress can't give President (George W.) Bush another blank check for Iraq," said Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin, who has always opposed the war but until now voted to fund it.

"I can't support an open-ended appropriation which allows this president to continue this failed policy," he said in a speech at the left-leaning Center for National Policy.

Durbin, from Illinois, said he and Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin were working on limits that could be attached to the next war funding bill, such as limiting troops to conducting counterterrorism operations and training Iraqi security forces.

It's progress.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Tell us something we didn't know, Sid.

"On Sept. 18, 2002, CIA director George Tenet briefed President Bush in the Oval Office on top-secret intelligence that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction, according to two former senior CIA officers. Bush dismissed as worthless this information from the Iraqi foreign minister, a member of Saddam's inner circle, although it turned out to be accurate in every detail. Tenet never brought it up again. Nor was the intelligence included in the National Intelligence Estimate of October 2002, which stated categorically that Iraq possessed WMD. No one in Congress was aware of the secret intelligence that Saddam had no WMD as the House of Representatives and the Senate voted, a week after the submission of the NIE, on the Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq."

"Bush insisted it was simply what Saddam wanted him to think. "The president had no interest in the intelligence," said the CIA officer. The other officer said, "Bush didn't give a fuck about the intelligence. He had his mind made up." (link)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The world according to der Chimpenfuhrer

Leader of the free whirl breezes by

Misha Schubert - The Age (from Australia)
September 6, 2007

George Bush is a man who likes a short sentence. Which is not to say the President of the United States reduces ideas to bite-sized chunks. Or maybe it is.

Either way, during the course of his first 24 hours in Sydney, there were plenty of efficient exclamations. Like the exchange on the tarmac as Deputy Prime Minister Mark Vaile inquired how things were going in Iraq. "We're kicking ass," he declared. In a similarly thrifty oratory bent yesterday, he telegraphed his lunch order — "I'm a meat guy". Then he buttered up his host — "I admire your courage" — and insisted he was not playing a double game by hinting at moves to start cutting US troop numbers in Iraq: "Whatever you do, don't call me cute."

He also managed to remain gracious in the face of further niggling about the inconvenience to the people of inner Sydney. At a joint press conference with John Howard, Bush played comic to the PM's straight man. He grinned. He winked. He made eye contact with journalists as he argued that the Iraq war could be won. He joked around, and congratulated the PM on "your … like … grandfatherhood".

But there were a few faint hints of impatience. As Howard's opening statement dragged on, Bush pursed his lips and shifted his weight from foot to foot.

The rest of the day was a giddy social whirl. A bit of local rump at a lunchtime barbecue with the troops, and an hour of mountain biking in the North Shore suburb of St Ives. By nightfall, it was back onto a pleasure cruiser for a trip across the harbour to sign the visitors book at Admiralty House and dine with the Howards at Kirribilli House. Janette Howard greeted Bush at the door, thanking him for bringing rain.

And Bush owned the second killer line of the day, as he drew US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice into a photo to make up the foursome. "You can be my date," he purred, an invitation most straight men would kill to issue.

Posted without comment. For now.

Larry Craig--the gift that keeps on giving

I'm somewhat baffled by Tappy McWidestance's position here. I know that a Republican like him would rather be considered a child killer or a Klansman rather than being gay, but it seems like a very difficult road, both politically and legally.

From a political standpoint, his party sees him as toxic. They don't need him to "clear his name" to hold the seat, Idaho is as safely red on a statewide basis as any state in the union. he can't credibly speak on any of his pet "family" issues, and he is an obvious gift that keeps on giving to Senate democrats who, while unable to touch Idaho, can use his presence in the Senate as a bludgeon in swing state campaigns.

And legally? Judgment has been entered in the case. It is VERY difficult to withdraw a guilty plea after entry of judgment. That might happen in those cases where informed consent was absent (the drunken public defender who couldn't explain the consequences, the mentally challenged defendant who didn't understand the nature of his admission, but a college-educated United States senator? That is a tough sell.

His team is mumbling about "constitutional" questions. Talk about another tough sell. He was properly advised of his Miranda rights, and there was no unreasonable search or seizure involved. I doubt that tapping and hand waving is protected "speech" when it relates to the solicitation of lewd conduct. if so, then you could go back and unwind every solicitation conviction on record. I also don't see any entrapment defense, when at least according to the police report, Craig was the instigator.

Another consideration is that this probably wasn't the good senator's first foray into this seamy world. Now that people beyond the flyover states know his name, there are stories to be told--and money to be made.

The clincher, though, would be that any withdrawal of the guilty plea could result in a trial, a tawdry public spectacle of the kind that muni court has never seen before. In open court, all bets are off, and the evidence is in, evidence that went away with a plea to a lesser charge. THAT could be fun.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Separated at birth?

I enjoyed seeing Appalachian State defeat Michigan on Saturday. My one question--why is Davy Jones from Pirates of the Caribbean on their logo?

My Trip to the ER

One of the great unreported epidemics in America today involves tragic eggplant accidents. I sliced a dime-sized patch through two layers of skin off the left index finger last evening in the kitchen. Normally, I don't head for the hospital on such occasions--not because I'm a tough it out sort, but because I am an abject afraid of needles coward. This time, though, Peg was in the kitchen when it happened. She saw the gusher open and wouldn't take no for an answer. Luckily, the hospital is three blocks away.

I was seen fairly quickly because my hand was wrapped in a visibly reddening kitchen towel (nothing serious, but quite a bleeder. They actually glued the darn thing shut!) I also thought, though, as I looked around, that my insurance card indicating that I was fully covered might have speeded the triage process.

What struck me, though, were the people waiting in the ER. The room was quite crowded, mostly Hispanic, with a few elderly world-weary poor white people sprinkled in (in other words, not reflective of the community served by this particular hospital). I gathered that many of these people had been there for hours. They were in the ER not because of an emergency, but because by law they could not be turned away. For many of these people, this was their only access to a physician. They utilized the ER out of necessity in a grossly inefficient allocation of medical resources that seems out of place in a nation of plenty.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Coming next summer to an airport near you...

Think the Minneapolis airport will hire extra security when THE GOP CONVENTION comes to town???