Monday, July 30, 2007

Sunday, July 29, 2007

warrentless wiretaps 101

the cliff notes edition, courtesy of duncan black (aka atrios @ eschaton):

look, all the parsing of statements is a waste of time. they were eavesdropping on whoever they wanted to without any warrants or oversight. whether or not "whoever they wanted to" included, say, the john kerry campaign or markos moulitsas is still an open question. they obviously claimed the power to do so, it just isn't clear if they did it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

ioiytus 1

juan cole:

meanwhile, the voice of america reports that the bush administration will freeze the assets of persons or organizations that attempt to destabilize iraq. voa says:
president bush has signed an order that allows the u.s. government to block the assets of any person or group that threatens the stability of iraq.

the order exempts the united states.

either the voa copy writer is a little clueless or this person has a wicked, dry sense of humor.

recalling that the daily show host jon stewart recently remarked that "there is nothing the administration can do that is not ironic," i'm going to have to go with door number one, juan.

1 it's okay if you're the united states.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

aye, there's the rub

stephen colbert picks apart ben nelson, the last man standing of the democratic senators who still support the war in iraq:

colbert: how, uh — how would you change the game plan in iraq?
nelson: what we would do is transition the mission. ah, and that would include taking the combat troops out of fighting the civil war — or the sectarian violence, as you choose — ah, and redeploy them into certain areas. fighting al qaeda is one of them, in al anbar and all over. i think we have al qaeda on the run ...
colbert: so you wouldn't withdraw them? ... so you wouldn't, wouldn't withdraw them?
nelson: ... wouldn't be withdrawing —
colbert: why wouldn't you withdraw them?
nelson: — them. we wouldn't, wouldn't withdraw ... we wouldn't try to micromange the war. you would just change the mission. you'd also, ah, redeploy the troops to the, ah, to the borders, to protect the borders in case ...
colbert: but what if the president doesn't want to do that?
nelson: well ... that's the problem. the president doesn't want to do that.

hmm ... yes, that would be a bit of problem, now wouldn't it, ben?

without overlooking the illogic in ...

(a) nelson's cutely-alliterative "transition the mission" game plan, which sounds less like a strategy for victory than another attempt to find busywork for keeping the overstretched troops in iraq and

(b) his argument against withdrawal, which he frames as "micromanaging the war" (while eloquently borrowing one of the republicans' favorite talking points). but wouldn't withdrawal unequivocably end our involvement in the quagmire, thereby leaving us nothing to "micromanage" ... ? doh!

... i want to applaud this comedian for confronting nelson with the grand conceit afflicting all the armchair generals who think they have the grand strategy for iraq (even if they do).

and that grand conceit is this: that their plans mean squat if the commander-guy isn't going to implement them. so what's the point of supporting this war one day longer if it's never going to be waged in the way that you think will win it?

i've been carping on this point for a while:

unfortunately (and i do say this with the utmost respect to all those who have been applying the necessary brain-power and wisdom that's been heretofore lacking in this debate) all these plans represent nothing more than idle academic masturbation. they're all quite pointless. and that's why you'll find no trademarked and patented "aarrgghh plan" on this site.

because unless the first step in your grand strategy reads:

my grand strategy for iraq
by carping know-it-all


remove george bush and dick cheney from office.

... then your plan is nothing but toilet paper.

because unless you're willing to let events continue to spiral for at least another two years, george bush will give your precious plan all the due consideration he gave to the over-anticipated iraq study group report — that is, as steve gilliard remarked, he'll "wipe his ass" with it.

which leaves us with only one plan — the only one that matters — the kagan plan, more fondly known as "the surge" ...

it's a point that i've been taking to other blogs:

probably the biggest conceit of those cheerleading the "surge", whatever their particular reasons, is the illusion that getting one more bite of the apple means that the occupation will be finally getting it right this time, whatever that ultimately means. the surge, they insist, will work as long as [fill in your personal cure-all here ], and as long as we give it time.

the reality of course is that the surge cheerleaders are not in charge. they're not going to get the chance to run the type of surge they think will finally produce that pony.

the folks in charge are the same criminals, starting with the commander-guy, responsible for the mess-o'-potamia, and they really don't care what anyone else thinks. and they certainly won't be applying [ your personal cure-all ] to the problem.

it's been oft said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results, but the real insanity of supporting this escalation is expecting the same idiots, with such a record of failure, to do anything different.

nothing will change as long as they are in charge. which means either another year and a half before even preparing for withdrawal — or impeachment now.

unfortunately, as long as fantasists like nelson remain in congress, this will be a point i'll have to keep jabbing in people's eyes for the foreseeable future. at least somebody with a megaphone is finally helping out.

Friday, July 13, 2007

comment of the day

crooks and liars: state rep. bob allen, a co-chair of republican presidential candidate john mccain’s florida campaign, is expected to address thursday charges that he offered to perform oral sex on an undercover male police officer for $20.

quoth joementum:

the sad thing is, at $20 a hummer, he was probably mccain’s best fund-raiser 1.

1 to be fair, it was allen that allegedly offered to pay for the privilege (which could explain why mccain's campaign coffers are just about empty ...)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

it's not easy being green

... in fact, it "sucks big time."

(image © will sherman)

juan cole: on tuesday, guerrillas launched some 20 katyusha rockets and mortar shells into the green zone in downtown baghdad, killing 3 persons, including a us soldier, and wounding 25 persons.

the green zone was originally supposed to be the safe place in iraq, with the area outside it (everything else) called the "red zone." the us embassy in baghdad appears to have forgotten what the phrase "green zone" means, since a spokesman there told [the la times], "there's fire into the green zone virtually every day, so i can't draw any conclusions about the security situation based on that ..."

let me draw the conclusion. if you've got fire into the friggin' green zone every day, then we can draw the conclusion that the security situation in baghdad sucks big time. when you've got people killed and a large number of people wounded in the one place in iraq that was supposed to have a "permissive" security environment, then security in general is the pits.

now you might say that we can't draw many conclusions from the events of a single day. and, being able to lob mortar shells over a wall doesn't speak to that much organization. but then what about these two nuggets in [the la times] story?

1) there were about 39 attacks [on the green zone] in may, compared with 17 in march, according to a u.n. report.

2) tuesday's attack came the same day gunmen kidnapped iraqi police col. mahmoud muhyi hussein, who directs security inside the green zone ...

in other words, the security situation in the green zone is spiralling down at an alarming pace, and the guerrillas have such good inside knowledge that they can kidnap the very person responsible for security in it, as he drives in jadiriya. that, my friends, is an inside job. and such an inside job doesn't bode well for future security in the green zone. for one thing, presumably they are "debriefing" col. hussein as we speak, looking for weak points.

people i know and respect are in the green zone, so i'm pretty distressed by this situation, and not amused by the embassy spokesman's attempt to blow smoke up our posteriors. this looks bad.

no soup for you!

now this is creative ...

ap: a senate appropriations panel chaired by sen. richard durbin, d-ill., refused to fund $4.8 million in the vice president’s budget until cheney’s office complies with parts of an executive order governing its handling of classified information.

at issue is a requirement that executive branch offices provide data on how much material they classify and declassify. that information is to be provided to the information security oversight office at the national archives.

cheney’s office, with backing from the white house, argues that the offices of the president and vice president are exempt from the order because they are not executive branch "agencies."

the funding cut came as the appropriations panel approved 5-4 along party lines a measure funding white house operations, the treasury department and many smaller agencies.

durbin, the no. 2 democrat in the senate, said cheney’s office was flouting requirements that it comply with the reporting requirements on classified information.

"neither mr. cheney or his staff is above the law or the constitution," durbin said. "for the vice president to believe that he has no responsibility to meet this requirement of the law is a dereliction of duty."

Thursday, July 05, 2007

comment of the day

from the washington post, whose editors still don't believe we've heard all the relevant facts about john edwards' $400 haircut, the man behind the scissors and sassoon is feeling a bit let down:

beverly hill stylist joseph torrenueva: i'm disappointed and I do feel bad. if i know someone, i'm not going to say i don't know them ... when he called me "that guy," that hit my ears. it hurt.

quoth legalize @ tpm cafe's election central:

dude, get over yourself. you cut the man's hair; it's not like you massaged each other and did meth together in denver hotel rooms. sheesh.

Monday, July 02, 2007

scooter skates

josh marshall: there is a conceivable argument — a very poor one but a conceivable one — for pardoning scooter libby, presumably on the argument that the entire prosecution was political and thus illegitimate. but what conceivable argument does the president have for micromanaging the sentence? to decide that the conviction is appropriate, that probation is appropriate, that a substantial fine is appropriate — just no prison sentence.

this is being treated in the press as splitting the difference, an elegant compromise. but it is the least justifiable approach. the president has decided that the sentencing guidelines and the opinion of judge don't cut it.

the only basis for this decision is that libby is the vice president's friend, the vice president rules the president and this was the minimum necessary to keep the man silent.

no bail? no-brainer!

(art © mike luckovich)

tpmmuckraker: it sounds like it wasn't even close. the decision by the court was unanimous, the ap reports, while reuters says "the appeals court rejected libby's request in a one-paragraph order, ruling he has not shown that his appeal 'raises a substantial question.'"