Travel usually means I catch some dread ick. But this time I caught it from my own family. While with them on my trip. The sort of ick that saps all your will to do anything but sit still and try to breathe.[...]
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I've mentioned high-value terrorists. I wrote about Abu Zubaydah, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed or Mohammed Al-Qahtani (most of this story comes from Jane Mayer's book, The Dark Side). In August 2001, prior to September 11, Al-Qahtani arrived at the Orlando airport in Florida. He had $2800 in cash and no luggage. He came here on a one-way ticket from Saudi Arabia and was refused entry into the country. Further detective work, after 9/11, showed that Mohammed Atta was waiting for him in the parking lot. Al Qahtani was captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan in December of 2001. He was in United States custody for almost 7 months before he was fingerprinted and identified as an Al Qaeda operative. He was the 20th hijacker. He was at the famed Malaysia meeting in 2000. (Why we didn't get better intelligence at the Malaysia meeting is still a mystery to me. Why we allow the Malaysian intelligence agency to take the lead is mind-boggling.)
FBI interrogator Ali Soufan, who interrogated Abu Zubaydah before he was taken away by the CIA, was called into question Al-Qahtani. He got a lot of information in a short period time. He even identified a sleeper cell located in Chicago. This wasn't enough information for US officials, who "knew" that Al Qahtani was holding out. Tougher measures were needed. My question is why would officials assume that a low-level screw-up who'd been captured twice in less than six months would have a treasure trove of information? I'm just asking. It is clear that there was a lot of outside pressure being placed on US officials. In April of 2002 there was a terrorist attack on a synagogue in Tunisia. The US Consulate in Karachi was attacked in June.
What did we learn from these harsh interrogations of Al-Qahtani? Nothing. The process was slow and time-consuming. I'm forced to scratch my head and ask the question, "Why?" We learned nothing. We should've known he knew nothing. Now my question is, how do we try this guy? How do we put him in jail, where he belongs, for the rest of his life?
In an interview with Bloomberg’s Al Hunt, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) — who campaigned hard against President Obama during the 2008 election and supported his Republican challenger John McCain — said that he’s impressed with how Obama is handling the job.
“Put me down now as pleasantly encouraged by the first five months,” Lieberman said. “He has been strong, particularly on foreign policy. I think President Obama is off to a very, very good start in a very difficult time in our nation’s history.” Lieberman lauded Obama’s recent Cairo speech to the Muslim world, saying it was a “significant step overall. … My guess is he opened some minds in the Muslim world.”
Despite the laudatory comments of Obama’s foreign policy vision, Lieberman offered criticism of the president’s efforts to urge Israel to stop its settlement activities. “I thought the focus on the President’s direct call in that speech in Cairo for the Israelis to freeze all settlement activity — including the ‘natural growth‘ of settlements that everybody agrees are no longer settlements — …that was risky in the sense that it may lead listeners to believe that the main reason there is not an Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement is the Israeli settlement policy,” he said:
HUNT: Do you disagree then with the President and Secretary Clinton that there ought to be a freeze — no growth in those settlements now?
LIEBERMAN: I do. I disagree.
On Obama’s domestic agenda, Lieberman announced his opposition to a public health insurance option. “I don’t favor a public option, and I don’t favor a public option because I think there’s plenty of competition in the private insurance market,” he argued. (He’s wrong.) Lieberman warned that political pressure in favor of the public option may thwart efforts at achieving health care reform. “Let’s get something done instead of having a debate,” he said.
Separately, Lieberman said he “could support” the Waxman-Markey clean energy legislation in the House. “It’s a great act of legislative leadership,” he added, saying the critical issue is convincing “people from states that get a lot of their electricity from coal-burning power plants that we can make this change without skyrocketing the cost of living and the cost of doing business.”
Saturday pundits are lined up and ready to go! And they're off...
Despairing Republican friends have been asking me what I think we should do to rebuild the GOP and begin our certain and inevitable comeback. My answer disappoints them: "Build an ark."
I say this because I've made a career out of counting votes, and the numbers tell a clear story; the demographics of America are changing in a way that is deadly for the Republican Party as it exists today. A GOP ice age is on the way.
Jay Cost re Murphy's article:
So, Hispanics moved. But so also did white voters, and their movement was much more substantial.
Like I said, I'm not terribly interested in rehashing all the various arguments for why the enduring Democratic majority argument is problematic. I've done it already. I'll only say that Murphy's argument is consistent with what I've seen many times. The proponents of this hypothesis end up putting forward numbers that somehow don't tell the full story.
An April assessment by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis said pointedly: "Lone wolves and small terrorist cells embracing violent rightwing extremist ideology are the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States."
No false equivilency, there. But not enough people do something when they hear it.
That’s the gist of a January study that was written about in ScienceDaily. It was led by Kerry Kawakami, a psychology professor at York University in Toronto, and it found that although people predicted "that they would be very upset by a racist act and would take action," their actual reactions were "much more muted." Why? Because people are "much less willing to pay the emotional cost" of the confrontation than they thought they would be.
Stephen Johns, known as "Big John," was opening the door for a man he thought was just an elderly visitor to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington when he was shot dead on Wednesday afternoon. Mr. Johns was a security guard. The bullet that killed him was a reminder of the continuing menace of bigotry and violence that pervades this country — and that we insist on underestimating.
I don't know how that elderly white supremacist would take this but, according to a hospital spokeswoman, from the time von Brunn entered the emergency room, through his surgery in the operating room, to his placement in the intensive-care unit, he has been under the care of a diverse medical staff that includes blacks, Jews and Middle Easterners.
National Journal bloggers poll: Politically, how important is it to President Obama that health care reform be bipartisan?
The Virginia gubernatorial race just got a whole lot tougher for Republican nominee Bob McDonnell.
Instead of nominating a liberal from Northern Virginia (former state Del. Brian Moran) or an upstate New Yorker normally identified with the national Democratic Party (Terry McAuliffe), Old Dominion Democrats opted for a rural state Senator, Creigh Deeds, thereby giving the party a standard-bearer in the fall who can run as heir to the Mark Warner-Tim Kaine legacy of pragmatism.
Humans are amazing. It's not just that we never ever seem to learn from past mistakes, but that we, in our chosen collectives; ie religious/ ethnic /racial /political blocs, exempt ourselves from our respective contributions to the epic failures of this first decade in this new century.
I fear, the truth is that the fault, dear Democrats/progressives/liberals, lies not in our stars, but in ourselves . . . if we are underlings.
Perhaps there's an argument in the meaning here: that fault gets placed on underlings as a prerogative of power. But I read it like this: we are, whether we like it or not, in charge of our fates. When we cede our power to others, then the results belong to us.
So here we are. Screaming about THEY. And I wonder who the fuck THEY are. My mother was keenly aware of fashion fascist THEY, those insidious few controlling when I could and could not wear white pants. Remember the old rules? Not before Memorial Day and NOT after Labor Day???
And, apparently, THEY comprise killers of doctors providing abortions. THEY are killers of a nine-year-old child. THEY are the BillO followers and the minions of Malkin and the hacks licking up every word from Hannity.
On the other side of it, THEY are members of PETA and supporters of equal rights for OMG gays and transgenders. THEY are dirty socialists who want the gov't to use tax dollars in benefit of citizens rather than bailing out billionaires.
We progressives can scream about extremists, but what does it serve? It is starting to sound, to me, like Bush selling terrorists and terrorism.
Because we underlings, no matter how sane or extreme, have not taken over the world. We're no where close.
It's just another exercise promoted by the real members of the THEY party... those who keep us parted and distracted. While THEY, those really in charge, continue to exploit us and the planet.
While Obama's DOJ writes briefs in defense of marriage, because it's the law, remember this: we can change the law. Yes. We can.
While Obama's people allegedly threaten junior representatives not willing to vote for supplemental war funding, remember the mandate was to dismantle the war machine.
Remember who THEY are. Not small bands of lunatics. But a small band of vampires sitting in capitols and parliments, in board rooms and exerting power as organized crime.
This is the THEY upon whom we should keep our focus. The fringes on either side never see the fault in themselves and keep us from the real work. Finding the moderately sane humans: those Republican citizens, like Democratic citizens, Greens, Indies et al who didn't sign on for torture or bail outs or any other crazy shit being perpetrated by the power players. We need to reassure each other . . .
. . . that most of us are NOT isolationists, expansionists, or completely unaware of our footprint on this globe. We do need, however, leadership that can tap into the altruist nature most of us seem to possess...
A large majority of Americans feel that US foreign policy should at times serve altruistic purposes independent of US national interests. Americans also feel that US foreign policy should be oriented to the global interest not just the national interest and are highly responsive to arguments that serving the global interest ultimately serves the national interest. Americans show substantial concern for global conditions in a wide range of areas.
We do, btw, have statistics to tell us who we are and what we believe. And, according to statistics, we are a LIBERAL country. How do progressives reach out to this middle, who may vote Republican but in poll after poll are much more like us????
...the average for the past 30 years: 20 percent liberal, 33 percent conservative, 47 percent moderate. And yet when ?moderates? were questioned by pollsters for Louis Harris and Associates in 2005, they turned out to share pretty much the same beliefs as self-described liberals?they just couldn?t bring themselves to embrace the hated label.
Over the past 25 years or so, regardless of the party in power, about 37% of the country has self-identified as liberal or progressive or Democratic or ?Blue;? about 25% of the population has self-identified as conservative or Republican or ?Red,? and the remaining 35% percent ? call them moderates.
It should come as no surprise that conservative media figures repeat the myth that most Americans share their views. Even when Democrats win, conservatives claim that their ideology is still dominant. On election night 2006, Fox News Washington managing editor Brit Hume acknowledged that Democrats were winning, but stressed that "from what we could see from all the polling and everything else, it remains a conservative country."
I've read a lot about how horrible Republicans are. They're like a lynch mob and they're haters and they're racist and they're......... our neighbors, family members, and friends as well. And most of them do not fit into the caricature being painted. By a corporate media that wants us to feel overwhelmed by an image of our fellow citizens as a bunch of crazed white power freaks.
We missed a big moment in the 2008 election cycle to try and oust some influential Democrats. We should NOT lose the opportunity in 2010 to find strong net roots and grass roots citizens to challenge the real group comprising THEY... the Pelosis, the Reids, and the Schumers.
It isn't more Democrats we need. It is better thinkers. Mature citizens. People of depth and vision but not in lock step. God no. Not more power players completely blinded by their corrupt and meaningless game.
We're a good people, we Americans. And I believe we can take our leaders along with us... when those leaders have the potential of Barack Obama . Yeah. I'll admit it. While some of our President's decisions have me worried that he's just another politician, I know he can be more. I hope he can be more. I pray to a god I don't believe in that he's more.
But they heavy-lifting is up to us . . . to bring him along with us . . .
Great news. Many of you may know the story of Jasmina Anema who is suffering from a svere form of leukemia. After thousands of New Yorkers turned out to help little Jasmina Anema a match was found for a much needed bone marrow transplant. Doctors found an almost perfect match and Jasmina has gotten her [...]
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There’s a loud voice in politics that accuses you of being a bleeding-heart with empathy in the grip of special interests if you mention the human suffering and loss that Americans endure when they cannot get primary health care in our current ’system’.
That’s why I’ve tended to focus on the wasted money and stupid mis-allocation of resources that lets a person go on disability after their health is permanently compromised.
But if you wonder what’s behind the statistics, if you wonder about the human cost, it’s all around us. One courageous writer has put a photo-essay on line, living with peritoneal dialysis. go there if you dare—
What a week for the GOP. First the party was heaved onto a gurney and declared conspicuously brain dead by Gallup, and then one of its leading strategists wheeled it into a cryonics chamber.
Wrote Gallup, via Susan Page of USA Today: the Republican Party is "finding even the most basic questions hard to answer," having effectively been lobotomized and thus rendered speechless; and writes Republican strategist Mike Murphy, in the June 22 edition of Time: "A GOP ice age is on the way," although his substantiating findings are more current than futuristic.
"Who speaks for the GOP?" That's all Gallup asked. Pretty simple. Just pick a name, any name. Yet a majority could not. A majority, wrote Page, were "flummoxe[d]."
As for those who did dare to name names, the results were Voldemortian: in descending order of recognition, Rush Limbaugh, Dick Cheney, John McCain, Newt Gingrich, and George W. Bush. Oh my, a gallery of rogues, demagogues, nitwits and has-beens, or, as Page put it with a bit more dignity, "all men, all white, all conservative and all old enough to join AARP."
"It's a problem," mused former McCain-adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin in a spectacular display of radiant understatement. "We need," he continued, "the perceived leadership of the party to be those who are the future" -- which Mr. Murphy, as noted, has already declared a long and wrenching geological deep freeze, which I would designate, quite fittingly I think, the Bushtocene era.
God knows he had plenty of help -- some of it, appallingly, Democratic -- but for eight years George W. Bush swaggered and stumbled and boasted his way to a cataclysmic end, whose enduring consequences we'll all pay for in exponential time. And when the GOP's obituary is finally written, which may be sooner than we think, it'll be cross-referenced under "B": the party's death and Bush's contributions will be indistinguishable.
For now, however, the party's unperceived nonleadership is intent on whacking away at its funereal image and digging the party out. How does it smartly begin? Why of course. It takes its annual fundraising dinner, an event prominently covered by every media outlet in the cosmos, and makes of it an opportunity for one of its more detested Voldemorts to stand up and bellow that President Obama's economic recovery plan has "already failed."
Now I ask you: Is that really what most Americans want to hear in the fitful grips of the Great Recession? That all is lost? That we're doomed? The GOP tried that nearly 80 years ago, and all it earned them was four terms of FDR and about eight years of Truman -- hence it's only your tactics, Newt, that have "already failed."
A new way, a third way, any different way for the GOP is vividly indicated in Gallup: "A majority of those surveyed said the party should make changes to draw moderates." But ah, here's the rub, or so believe the post-Bush stumblers either eyeing the crucible of presidential primaries or merely congressional reelection: "Among Republicans ... nearly two-thirds said the party would be better off by holding a conservative line and advocating it more effectively -- as Limbaugh advocates."
And there it is, their death warrant. If they possessed any demographic maneuverability, that would be one thing. But they don't. The all male, all white, all conservative and all old enough to join AARP ideology isn't just dying; it's already, practically speaking, dead.
Observes Murphy: "I've made a career out of counting votes, and the numbers tell a clear story; the demographics of America are changing in a way that is deadly for the Republican Party as it exists today." Chimes former RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie, with Holtz-Eakinesque if wry understatement, "I was not a math major, but I know that getting an increasing share of a decreasing percentage of the overall vote is not a good thing."
Bingo, Ed, which your party should have collectively screamed years ago. But of course it didn't -- so what now?
Murphy's prescription appears to hunker down in two essential apostasies: "Young voters need to see a GOP that is more socially libertarian, particularly toward gay rights," plus "the overall GOP view on abortion must aggressively embrace the big tent"; and "Latinos need to see a quick end to the Republican congressional jihad on immigration."
Valid and wise points both. Where it misses the mark, however, is in its failure to comprehend and accept a far, far broader and sweeping historical undercurrent (brilliantly analyzed in such groundbreaking histories as Lizabeth Cohen's Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1919-1939) since FDR's founding of modern progressivism. And the undercurrent is this: For decades the average American has come to see government as a potentially positive force in his or her life -- which is to say, the average American wants government, in fact demands government; and as long as it's a competent government, size doesn't matter.
Until the GOP and its flummoxed followers learn to appreciate that unshakable reality, they shall, indeed, remain in the cryonics chamber.
"We've got a lot of rebuilding to do ... The good news is - and it's hard for some to see it now - that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house - he's lost his entire house -[...]
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I've already made my disgust at Hazel Blear's actions known, but it is rather amusing to watch the way she is behaving now that Brown has survived what was a blatant attempt at a coup by the Blairite wing of the party.
Ex communities secretary Hazel Blears says she regrets "enormously" the timing of her shock resignation - just before local and European elections.The notion that she thought she could stand down without "sparking a huge firestorm" is simply as dishonest as it is possible to be. She resigned on the day she did - two hours before Gordon Brown was due to face Prime Minister's Questions - precisely because she wanted to bring Brown down.
The Salford MP said she thought as two other ministers had announced they would stand down, she could do so without sparking a "huge firestorm". "In the end, that judgement was wrong," she told the Manchester Evening News.
Labour activists in Salford have put forward a vote of no confidence in her, expected to be discussed next Thursday.
She told the Manchester Evening News the "effect on the party", which crashed to an all-time low in share of the vote at the European polls and lost control of key local authorities, is "something I will regret forever".The truth is that she now faces censure from the Salford Labour party and could very well be deselected by her party, which is why she is now giving us all this mea culpa.
She said the decision to wear the "rocking the boat" brooch as she headed back to her constituency after her resignation came after four weeks of intense media pressure over her expenses claims, which she said had affected her and her family.
"At that point I just had enough, it was a stupid thing to do in retrospect but it was just putting a brave face on, not going out cowed on the basis of expenses claims which genuinely are not true," she told the newspaper's website.