Topic: General News.
Let me get this straight; according to Orin Hatch, Samuel Alito is one of the best judges in the US, yet W. said two weeks ago he had looked and looked and the best person he could find was Harriet Miers. So, does this mean Alito isn't all that and a bag of chips? If he's so great why didn't W. pick him in the first place? What made the brains behind Bush think his wingnut base was going to go along with anything other than a dyed in the wool anti-abortion radical in the first place? The mind boggles.
By the way, the right wingers keep changing their story about what happened with the president's "mistake," otherwise known as the Miers nomination. I thought all their angst was caused by uncertainty over whether she would do the right thing and overturn Roe, which is the sole justification for most of these people's existence. Now, however, the narrative has shifted; I heard both David Frum and Rich Lowery say yesterday their concern wasn't over Roe (Because the liberals could then accuse them of being hypocrites.) but rather the integrity of the institution of the Supreme Court, which could have been undermined by an unqualified nominee. (Riiiiight! Because Clarence Thomas is such a genius) And it's not that the right has W. wrapped around their little fingers, but that liberals hate Bush so much they would never go along with his agenda so he has no choice but to govern from the extreme right. They're the only ones he has left! W. ought to keep in mind weakness breeds contempt.
Beschloss, be gone!
Is there anyone out there who can give Michael Beschloss a real job? I'm so sick of seeing that guy on the Newshour! He's like a professional wedding quest or something, he's always getting his puss on camera and all he does is recite boring antidotes from the Eisenhower administration that no one cares about. David Korn is another talk show schnorrer who has too much time on his hands. He always gets the call from NPR when they need a token liberal. There are other voices on the left, NPR, try updating your rolodex, maybe listen to Pacifica sometimes, they are out there.
Oh, sorry, I said the word that cannot be spoken: "Pacifica." Last week one NPR reporter had to lower himself and use a clip of a Joe Wilson interview from Democracy Now. That must have killed them. If they would actually have people like that on their programs they wouldn't have to rely on Amy Goodman. But then they might be accused of left wing bias and Cheryl F. Halpern might have to remove them physically from the studio.
PhARMA's terrorist plot
Here's weird story: a consultant named Mark Barondess came up with an idea to help out the pharmaceutical trade group PhARMA in its efforts to scare people about imported drugs, a big danger to drug company profits, by commissioning a thriller novel that portrays terrorists poisoning pharmaceuticals on their way to the US from Canada. Ken Johnson, a senior vice president for PhARMA says of this dubious project, "We didn't know anything. We had credible, safety based arguments supporting our position against importation." PhARMA says a deputy vice president for federal and state affairs with "limited budgetary authority" gave Barondess $100,000 (Well, it's PhARMA; that's chump change to them.) for consultant fees which he said he used to underwrite the book. Also involved with this farce was former NY Times reporter and fabricator Jason Blair who was hired to edit the book. In the end, everything fell apart badly with much bad feelings on both sides and now Barondess is writing a book, the Karasik Conspiracy, about a major drug company commissioning a terrorist attack to scare Americans away from buying imported drugs. Classic! [I have a friend who is a big shot at PhARMA, so I find this particularly amusing.]
In Iraq news:
Now that the president has got the Miers fiasco and the Libby indictment behind him, he can take comfort in the fact that at least the Alito story will put Iraq back on page A-15 for a few days. At the beginning of last week, the big news story was the death toll in Iraq hitting the 2000 mark, but that nasty bit of reality didn't mar the front pages long before the Miers withdrawal came along to draw attention away from the slaughter house that is George Bush's Iraq. Over the later part of last week and over the weekend, we lost another 25 troops; the highest daily casualties being 5 killed on Thursday and 7 on Sunday for a grand total of 93 for October. Along with the deaths of our troops, about 60 Iraqis are dying everyday according to a pentagon civilian body count no one even knew existed.[BBC]
It seems a day doesn't go by without news of dozens of bodies being found with their hands tied behind their backs and bullets in the back of their heads, presumably Sunni victims of Shiite death squads. Various car bombings in Shiite areas are also an almost daily occurrence along with the obligatory assassinations of government officials. The rate of 85 insurgent attacks a day has remained pretty steady since the start of 2005 and it doesn't appear the insurgency has been in the least bit deterred by US bombing raids and offensives with catchy names on the Syrian border.
The US reported another "precision" strike on two "safe houses” in the Syrian border region on Sunday that reportedly killed al-Qaeda militants but most likely also killed civilians. AP reports at least six dead including 3 children and a local doctor says up to 40 died, including 12 children. A Marine spokesman said he had no reports of civilian casualties, of course, and the information that the houses were full of insurgents came from local sources. In two years of fighting in Iraq what we apparently haven't learned yet is that our million dollar smart bombs are a good way for local disputes to be solved in one fell swoop, courtesy of the US tax payer.
A round up in Baghdad led to the arrests of a hundred "suspected insurgents," who I'm sure, were all guilty as hell and will get a fair trial before they disappear into Abu Ghraib, never to be seen again. Didn't we recently deploy another two battalions to Iraq to guard the over flow of about 10,000 prisoners currently held by us? With all these insurgents being detained you'd think we would get a grip of the situation over there by now.
Ap: "Military commanders have warned that Sunni insurgents will step up their attacks in the run-up to the Dec. 15 election." (I wish I had a nickle for every time I've heard that.) Therefore we've upped the Iraqi deployment to 157,000 troops. What I don't get about this mini escalation is why we need that many troops in there if we're turning over so many areas to Iraqi military control. Supposedly they're in total or partial control of large sections outside the "triangle of death." Are these troops there for the election or for regime change in Syria?
The Vietnam analogy department:
Ap reports the military is looking into a case of fragging involving a sergeant killing two of his superior officers. This supposedly the first case of a fragging in the Iraq war, but probably not the last.
The NYT reports the NSA has kept secret a report that finds, "NSA officials deliberately distorted critical intelligence during the Gulf of Tonkinepisode that helped precipitate the Vietnam war." The accusation is that, "The agency's communications intercepts were falsified to support the belief that North Vietnamese ships attacked US destroyers on Aug. 4 1964, two days after the previous clash." A NSA historian, Robert Hanyok, has had his report suppressed since 2001 because, "Agency officials feared its release might prompt uncomfortable comparisons with flawed intelligence used to justify the war in Iraq." Now, who could possibly think that? Besides, the intelligence that got us into Iraq wasn't "flawed," it was made up, manufactured, twisted to fit the policy, that's why Scooter Libby is going to court tomorrow.
The 'we still haven't learned our lesson' department.
John Hannah has been promoted to be Cheney's new National Security Advisor. Wasn't this the guy last week who was reported to be telling all his friends he thought he was going to get indicted? Why did he think that, I wonder? Guilty conscience?
Hannah is best known for being Cheney's liaison to Ahamd Chalabi and his cadre of liars and misfits. Apparently Hannah, along with his mentor John Bolton are really, really, gullible. If I could find out where they lived I'd offer to pave their driveway or maybe sell them some land in Florida. If you're completely incompetent in this administration you get ahead. This move puts paid to the theory that W. is going to shuffle the deck and get some fresh blood into the mix. It’s the same old crap, just a different day.
David Addington---aka. I've got mashed bananas in my pants---becomes Cheney's chief of staff.