Wednesday, February 28, 2007

vice president sock puppet

i guess now that his "former hill staffer" and former right hand man is waiting for a jury of his peers to decide said staffer's fate, our cartoon-villain vice president is stuck pimping his own "background" ...

washington, feb 28 (reuters)the senior bush administration official who briefed anonymously on vice president dick cheney's visit to afghanistan and pakistan sounded suspiciously like, well, cheney himself.

the white house transcript of the tuesday briefing left little room for doubt as to the official's identity, including this opening sentence:

"the reason the president wanted me to come, obviously, is because of the continuing threat that exists in this part of the world on both sides of the afghan-pakistan border," the official said.

cheney had just left afghanistan, where a suicide bomb attack against bagram air base killed up to 14 people. cheney used the visit to the two countries to press for stronger action against the taliban and al qaeda.

"let me just make one editorial comment here. i've seen some press reporting (that) says, 'cheney went in to beat up on them, threaten them.' that's not the way i work," the official said.

the official was speaking on "background," a common practice in washington that means he could only be identified by the euphemism, "senior administration official." media critics have long complained about the practice, saying public officials should be identified.

the "senior administration officials" often make sure they leave no clues to their identity in these sessions.

but in this case, the official blew his own cover.

"i would describe my sessions both in pakistan and afghanistan as very productive," the official aboard cheney's plane said.

cheney arrived back in washington early on wednesday and briefed president george w. bush on his trip.

the "senior administration official" full press report can be seen in its entirety on the white house web site.

hat tip to gary crosse.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

dead man's hand

the arguments have all been made. all the cards are on the table.

in special prosecutor patrick fitzgerald's hand:

robert grenier, cia iraq mission manager, who testified that he told libby about ex-ambassador joe wilson's wife's employment at the cia.

cathy martin, cheney's public affairs officer, who testified that she relayed to libby from cia director of public affairs bill harlow his confirmation of grenier's information about wilson's wife.

marc grossman, former number three at the state department, who testified that he also told libby about wilson's wife.

craig schmall, cia briefer, whom libby and cheney together asked, after the novak article, about the repercussions of leaking the name of a cia officer. he replied that there was a "very grave danger."

david addington, cheney counsel, now chief of staff, whom libby asked about the president's authority to declassify material.

judith miller, former new york times reporter, who testified to three conversations with libby during which wilson and his wife were mentioned.

ari fleisher, former white house press secretary, who testified that libby told him about wilson's wife, that it was "hush-hush and on the q.t."

tim russert, nbc washington bureau chief and host of meet the press, from whom libby had told the fbi and the grand jury he first learned about wilson's wife. russert flatly denied ever speaking with libby about wilson's wife, destroying his principal alibi.

libby was depending on russert and miller and the other reporters who received the leak to win their court battles to keep the leakers secret.

but one by one the libby's cards were burned. from the beginning he'd been threatening to see fitzgerald's bet, by calling rove, by calling cheney, by taking the stand himself. but in the end it was all a tantalizing bluff. he folded without a word in his own defense.

all that's left now in libby's hand are his lawyers' assertions that libby doesn't remember anything — because it wasn't important enough. and nobody else remembers what really happened either. and the one thing libby does remember is russert telling him about wilson's wife.

after handing down libby's indictment fitzgerald explained:

when someone charges obstruction of justice, the umpire gets sand thrown in his eyes. he's trying to figure what happened and somebody blocked their view.

in his summation he reiterated his predicament:

there is a cloud over the vice president. he wrote those columns, he had those meetings, he sent libby off to the meeting with judy, where plame was discussed. that cloud remains because the defendant obstructed justice. that cloud was there. that cloud is something that we just can't pretend isn't there.

in other words: dick cheney, you're next.

time to ante up.

jim morin © 2007

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

from the mouths of babes

(cross-posted at daily kos)

from today's "grim" new unicef report on child welfare in the the top 21 industrialized nations, in which the netherlands and scandinavia came out on top, while the united states and britain sat "roundly bottom":

peter marshall, narrator: in the netherlands, home of liberal views on sex and drugs, their young people rank at the top of unicef's survey for well-being. we went to a school in the heart of amsterdam to talk to sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds.

laura vos, student: in this country it's very free. you can do what you like, you can smoke when you're sixteen, you can buy pot in the store next to the school —


because it's not illegal, it's not that interesting for us to just — to provoke our parents with.

are you listening, mr. social conservative, mrs. moral majority, uncle christian coalition and auntie no-child-left-behind?

probably not.

still, miss vos does leave us with an interesting question: just what do dutch kids have to do there, to provoke their parents?

overall rankings from the report:
15.czech republic
20.united states
21.united kingdom

all kidding aside, it is of course simplistic to attribute the success of the dutch solely or even primarily to its liberal attitudes. after all, a number of conservative and strongly religious nations like spain, italy and ireland made it into the top ten.

but what's noteworthy is how the report discredits the long-standing conservative-religious argument that morally permissive societies are dangerous to its children's moral and physical well-being. presumably this is the argument propping up their endless campaigns against hollywood, music, drugs, sex education, birth control, abortion, and the rest of their entire program. it's all about saving the children, don't you see?

and uncle christian coalition and auntie no-child-left-behind would have us all believe that only a strict country devoted to dogma can protect the young, not that a "decadent" country like the netherlands could ever rate such a list, much less come out on top.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

finally, someone grew some stones

oh wait — he isn't one of ours ... ?

hat tip to crooks and liars.

the speaker: order. order. the honorable leader of the opposition?

opposition leader kevin rudd: thank you, mr. speaker. i seek leave to move the following motion: this house censures the prime minister

[scattered boos]

rudd: — for his statement that al-qaeda is praying —

the speaker: order! order!

rudd: — for a democratic party candidate to win the next united states presidential election.

two: his false statements today in parliament that his statement yesterday was restricted to one u.s. senator, and not the democratic party as a whole.

three: the damage that this partisan comment has done to the united states-australia alliance and to australia's relationships with both american democratic and republican members of congress and

four: the gross insensitivity in lecturing united states presidential candidates on iraq, when the war in iraq is responsible for the deaths more than 3,000 u.s. servicemen and -women, the wounding of 20,000, and expenditures exceeding 360 billion, and finally demands that the prime minister unreservedly withdraws this remark.

the speaker: his leave granted. leave is granted. the honorable leader of the opposition:

rudd: thank you, mr. speaker.

how can the man who is prime minister of this country come into this parliament and say that he is a person of experience on the question of national security when within the last 24 hours he has made this statement, that when it comes to the operation of al-qaeda and its dealings in the world of international affairs today, that somehow al-qaeda is an organisation, a terrorist organisation that would prefer to see a democrat win the next presidential elections rather than any other representative of another political party?

the prime minister today has inserted that in fact he was only making a reference to mr. obama, one of the us democratic party presidential candidates. it's important that we place this unequivocally on the record. yesterday the prime minister was asked this question, in relation to the obama plan:

yes, i think he's wrong. i mean, he's a long way from being president of united states. i think he's wrong. i think that that would just encourage those who wanted completely to destabilise and destroy iraq and create chaos and victory for the terrorists to hang on and to hope for obama victory. if i was running al-qaeda in iraq, i would put a circle around march 2008 and pray as many times as possible for a victory — not only for obama but also for the democrats.

but also for the democrats. that is not an addition invented by the australian labor party. that's not an addition invented by anybody else. that was spoken yesterday — or would we dare say misspoken yesterday — by the prime minister of australia on a matter of great consequence — that is, the future of this country's relationship with the united states, particularly on the question of the future direction of iraq policy.

to accuse the democratic party of the united states as being al-qaeda's party of choice, to accuse the democratic party as being the terrorists' party of choice — this is a most serious charge. to accuse the party of roosevelt, to accuse the party of truman, to accuse the party of kennedy and johnson of being the terrorists' party of choice. i cannot understand how any responsible leader of this country can say to the nation that it's his serious view that the democratic party of the united states is the terrorists' party of choice. but these are your words, prime minister. i did not invent them; they are yours. and in this parliament today we gave you every opportunity to say that you got it wrong —

the speaker: order! order! the leader will refer his remarks through the chair.

mr rudd: — we gave the prime minister every opportunity to say that it was wrong. it may have been that he got caught up in the flurry of the interview. it may have been that he didn't hear it clearly. it may have been that he didn't understand it clearly. i understand that these things can happen, but when you are given given not once, not twice but on three separate occasions in this place today an opportunity to say, "i got that wrong; i didn't mean that." and for him to pass each of those up i think says much about the partisan nature with which this prime minister now views the relationship with our great american ally.

let us be absolutely clear about what is at stake here: not just an attack on a single u.s. senator, but an attack upon an entire political party. and here is where australia's national interest kicks in: this party, the democratic party, currently controls the majority in the united states house, it controls the majority in the united states senate, and within a year or so's time, may control the white house itself. and this is the party which this prime minister, in this country, and this parliament today, has reaffirmed he describes this party as the terrorists' party of choice. this is a serious matter.

prime minister, could you imagine if i stood up in this parliament as the alternative prime minister and said to the people of australia that the terrorists would be advantaged if the republicans were to return to the white house at the next presidential election? ponder for a moment how that would be regarded. how would it be seized on by those opposite?

[scattered assent]

can you imagine the reaction from those opposite. if i stood at this dispatch box, if i appeared on national television and said that the republicans, if they won, would cause an eruption of joy on the part of al-qaeda and on the part of the terrorists? can you imagine the reaction from those opposite?

[scattered assent]

this is a grave mistake and i fear that it reflects a deep view on the part of the prime minister in turn to those with whom he may not share a view within the u.s. political system.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

what's your sign?

because my camera decided to poop out on me last weekend, i came back with just a single shot of my entire trip to washington last weekend. it was taken the night before the march, as i was checking the camera at a friend's house in philadelphia. the picture shows the sign i would carry throughout the next day. the camera pooped out after taking the shot.

but what the flying spaghetti monster takes away with one noodly appendage, he/she/it gives back with another.

during the march, someone liked the sign so much that he offered me 50 dollars for it right on the spot. since the sign was double-sided (in fact it was two complete signs taped back-to-back), and since i didn't want to go without it, i separated the two halves and gave one to the guy for 20 dollars.

photo by dave hill © 2007.