Yesterday I wrote part 1 of my Discovering Young Voters series designed to help those unaccustomed[...]
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In a report on the failure to capture Osama bin Laden on the Today Show at 7:10 a.m, Matt Lauer was asking NBC's Pentagon reporter Jim Miklaszewski, a question. Lauer began "The reports says that, uh, Obama....excuse me, Osama bin Laden...'
It's going to be a long four months til November.
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.
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Beyond the headlines, we occasionally get "soft" news about how the post-9/11 world really is, as we do today in disturbing narratives about the unseen wars in Iran and Pakistan--patterns of secrets and lies that Americans and their representatives in Washington either don't know or want to talk about publicly.
In the New Yorker, Seymour Hersh details a new "major escalation of covert operations against Iran...designed to destabilize the country?s religious leadership" as part of a literal tug of war in the White House and Congress on how to deal with the nuclear threat from Tehran.
Meanwhile, the New York Times reports "a secret plan to make it easer for the Pentagon?s Special Operations forces to launch missions into the snow-capped mountains of Pakistan to capture or kill top leaders of Al Qaeda," a plan that exists only on paper as a result of Washington indecision and in-fighting.
Until the Bush Administration departs next January, it will be easy enough to blame all this dangerous confusion on their certified bunglers, but how well will successors of either party in a country that prides itself on government transparency be equipped to navigate this shadowy world of shifting alliances among violent splinter groups?
In Iran, the M.E.K., which has been on the State Department?s terrorist list for a decade, is receiving arms and intelligence, from the US, a Pentagon consultant tells Hersh, even though "its leaders are thought to have been lining their pockets for years" and "it is almost useless for the purposes the Administration intends.?
In Pakistan, after being swindled by Pervez Musharraf for years, the US wants to be more aggressive in going after terrorists there but, according to the Times, "With Qaeda operatives now described in intelligence reports as deeply entrenched in the tribal areas and immersed in the civilian population, there is also a view among some military and CIA officials that the opportunity for decisive American action against the militants may have been lost."
Meanwhile, Hersh tells CNN, Congress has authorized up to $400 million to fund the secret campaign in Iran, which involves US special operations troops and Iranian dissidents.
As the Bush Administration tries to throw "Hail Mary" passes before it leaves the field and the candidates confidently promise new approaches to dealing with terrorism, there is a sinking feeling that this is the way we are going to be living for a long, long time.
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I'm going to need more than one Tivo tonight:
At 5pm, the Sundance Channel replays the documentary "Runnin' Down a Dream" about Tom Petty and his 30 year career while at 8:30pm, the Oxygen Channel will show Richard Gere and Diane Lane in "The Unfaithful."
And on ABC at 8pm, last year's jilted Bachelorette, Deanna Pappas, pares down from the final three to the final two, who almost everyone I've read thinks will be Jason, the single father from Seattle and Jesse, the professional snowboarder from Breckenridge, CO. It's followed by a "Men Tell All" episode with 15 of the guys who got eliminated. I'm rooting for Jesse when she makes her final choice on July 7, but he's definitely the longshot.
Who needs cable news with a lineup like this?
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.
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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.?
If you haven't followed the story of Al Giordano of The Field and how he's unjustly lost his bloggers' credential, go over to the new location of The Field, and read the latest update. Al has been doing some great blogging this spring, and he deserves to be in Denver.
To quickly summarize, he was awarded a credential for blogging at his first blog, the owners of that blog started to censor him, so he moved to his current blog. But the original blog owners still have the credential, even though the original blog wouldn't come close to qualifying for a credential without the traffic Al brought it.
All the DNCC has to do to fix this is give Al a credential. (They don't even have to take away the old one). This should be an easy one for the DNCC to take care of.
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Watching scores of Democrats in Congress stuffing millions of dollars from the telecom corporations up their asses and then voting to grant criminal telecom executives retroactive immunity made me remember-- well, it isn't like I ever forget, but it brought it to the fore-- that both Inside the Beltway political parties are corrupt and less than worthless. Even if only 40% of the Democrats are hopelessly corrupt-- compared with
95% 99% of Republicans-- as long as the Democratic caucus is controlled by elements like Rahm Emanuel and Steny Hoyer, it hardly matters. The country is doomed. Or am I wrong?
Sometimes something happens that reinforces that there are real and tangible differences between the two parties which have a substantive impact on the lives of people apart from the filthy game of politics. A few days ago, looking to placate the extreme and bigoted end of the crumbling Republican coalition, McCain endorsed the anti-gay constitutional amendment in California he knows very well is wrong. It reminds me of when he famously said that a border fence was a huge waste of money but if the extremists in his party's base wanted a fence, he'd give them a damn fence. Everyone who knows McCain-- especially the folks in Arizona-- knows he is the biggest phony-baloney in American politics and the most opportunistic rodent to ever seek the presidency.
Obama is no saint himself, but yesterday he came out clearly and firmly against the hate-inspired amendment proposal in a letter to the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club. Obama:
As the Democratic nominee for President, I am proud to join with and support the LGBT community in an effort to set our nation on a course that recognizes LGBT Americans with full equality under the law. That is why I support extending fully equal rights and benefits to same-sex couples under both state and federal law. That is why I support repealing the Defense of Marriage Act and the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy, and the passage of laws to protect LGBT Americans from hate crimes and employment discrimination. And that is why I oppose the divisive and discriminatory efforts to amend the California Constitution, and similar efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution or those of other states.
For too long, issues of LGBT rights have been exploited by those seeking to divide us. It's time to move beyond polarization and live up to our founding promise of equality by treating all our citizens with dignity and respect. This is no less than a core issue about who we are as Democrats and as Americans.
Finally, I want to congratulate all of you who have shown your love for each other by getting married these last few weeks. My thanks again to the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club for allowing me to be a part of today's celebration. I look forward to working with you in the coming months and years, and I wish you all continued success.