Friday, April 23, 2004

This is unbelievable:

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., is being asked by an animal advocacy group to support legislation for better animal treatment to make up for fraudulently adopting cats from animal shelters then experimenting on and killing them while he was a medical student....

Frist acknowledged in a 1989 book that he routinely killed cats while an ambitious medical student at Harvard Medical School in the 1970s. His office said it had no record on how many cats died. Frist disclosed that he went to animal shelters and pretended to adopt the cats, telling shelter personnel he intended to keep them as pets. Instead he used them to sharpen his surgical skills, killing them in the process.

Sovereignty in Iraq will be transferred in Iraq on June 30th according to plan...

Of course, that sovereignty will not include such frivolities as the ability to make laws or control the military.

The Bush administration's plans for a new caretaker government in Iraq would place severe limits on its sovereignty, including only partial command over its armed forces and no authority to enact new laws, administration officials said Thursday.

Asked whether the new Iraqi government would have a chance to approve military operations led by American commanders, who would be in charge of both foreign and Iraqi forces, a senior official said Americans would have the final say.

"The arrangement would be, I think as we are doing today, that we would do our very best to consult with that interim government and take their views into account," said Marc Grossman, under secretary of state for political affairs. But he added that American commanders will "have the right, and the power, and the obligation" to decide.

Obviously, that sovereignty will also not include the power of the Iraqi government to take foreign policy stands which contrast with those of the United States, either.

"Clearly you can't have a sovereign government speaking for Iraq in international forums, and yet leave open this possibility that we'll do something they won't particularly like or disagree with," said an administration official. "There's got to be something to be set up to deal with that possibility."

"That thing is called a pink slip," the administration official added.

Mr. Grossman was also asked what would happen if the new government wanted to adopt a foreign policy opposed by the United States, such as forging close relations with two neighbors, Iran and Syria.

The United States, he replied, would have to use the kind of persuasion used by any American ambassador in any country.

Such as the threat of force?


n 1: government free from external control

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

I'm not accusing Tom Tommorrow of stealing my idea or anything, but damn: Here is his cartoon for this week (April 20th):

And here is an excerpt from my blog post from April 13th:

So for Bush to take action against Bin Laden, he needed a time and place of attack? Using this logic, unless the intelligence memo he received said Bin Laden determined to strike the WTC on September 11, 2001 at 8:45 a.m, he wouldn't have taken action? Even if it did, would he still not have taken action because he didn't know if 8:45 a.m. was Eastern Standard Time or the Central Time used in Texas?

And at what time and place did Bush's intelligence indicate that Saddam Hussein would strike the United States with WMDs?

Ok, ok, I know, the Bushies say that everything changed after September 11th, and that after that date, it became clear that a pre-emptive foreign policy was needed.

Change they did! We went from the early Bush approach, needing a time and date of a future attack before you are willing to take any action at all, to the late Bush approach, launching attacks against countries when you have no evidence that they are planning to attack you at any time or date.

I give you credit, Tom for independently having the same train of thought that I did. Of course, if you visited, you would have done so one week earlier. [This is the point where the viewing public hastily puts a link to on their websites/blogs.]
This is starting to look like a pattern.

El presidente dominicano, Hipólito Mejía, dispuso la retirada de las tropas de su país de Irak "a la mayor brevedad posible", anunció el secretario de las Fuerzas Armadas del país, Jose Miguel Soto Jiménez.

Translation: The President of the Dominican Republic ordered the return of troops to that country from Iraq "as soon as possible," announced the Secretary of Defense, Jose Miguel Soto Jiménez.

The decision of Spain to withdraw its troops may be having a domino effect.

La decisión del presidente del Gobierno, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, de sacar a las tropas españolas de Irak ha desencadenado un efecto dominó. Primero fue Honduras quien comunicó la retirada de sus tropas y ahora el Gobierno de República Dominicana ha anunciado que secundará esta decisión "a la mayor brevedad posible".

The decision of (Spanish) President Zapatero to remove Spanish troops from Iraq has triggered a domino effect. First Honduras and now the Dominican Republic have announced that they will withdraw their troops "as soon as possible."

Brad DeLong got it really wrong on Iraq:

June 18, 2002

A Declaration of the Rights of Thugs: The American Left Loses Its Way Even More Completely
This is weird. Not, "we believe that all people everywhere have the right to free speech." Not, "we believe that all people everywhere have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Not, "we believe that all nations have the right to a republican form of government." Not, "we believe that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed."

Instead, we seem to have a hunting license for thugs: "we believe... peoples and nations have the right to determine their own destiny, free from military coercion by great powers." Does this mean that U.S. intervention in World War II was criminal? After all, we did use "military coercion" to keep the Asian and European peoples from "determin[ing] their own destiny."

Well, there is the small difference that the Axis powers attacked the United States during WWII, whereas Iraq did not, nor was there any indication that it was planning to attack us or our allies.

Now, Mr. DeLong's tone seems to have changed somewhat...

I was fairly pessimistic about our chances in Iraq. One of the big reasons I'm pessimistic is because of our lack of a victory strategy in Iraq. We seem to be making it up as we go along, and while no plan ever survives contact with the enemy, at least it's good to have a plan.

Did it occur to you, Brad, when you were busy bashing the left in the run-up to the Iraq war, that perhaps one of the reasons that it isn't a good idea to militarily impose a form of government considered just by one country upon another country is that it's nearly impossible to devise an effective plan by which to do so in and of itself, because:

1.) The recipients of the generosity of the conqueror (the conquerees) may actually not want foreigners to come in and impose a new government upon them.


2.) Lack of knowledge and appreciation by the conquerors of the history and culture of the conquerees will lead to serious miscommunications and misteps which will hamper the efforts.

I'm guessing no.
Remember when the standard thinking about the Bush campaign's financial situation in this election went something like this?

If money is the mother's milk of politics, as one Republican fund-raiser puts it, then George W. Bush is swimming in it, thanks to a small army of "Rangers" rounding up cash for the presumptive GOP presidential candidate.

Political observers believe Bush's network of fund-raisers, along with campaign-finance rule changes that work strongly in Bush's favor, will likely allow the president to overwhelm any Democratic opponent with an unchallenged flurry of spending.

- ABC News, 3 July 2003

The picture certainly has changed:

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and his Democratic allies have raised almost twice as much money as the Bush-Cheney campaign so far this year, according to recent government filings.

The data show that despite the fears of many Democrats, their White House nominee likely will not be significantly hurt by his funding disparity compared to President Bush this election year. The figures also call into question the effectiveness of campaign-finance reform and whether it has in fact wrung special-interest money out of politics.

Calls into question the effectiveness of campaign-finance reform? Are you kidding? Campaign finance reform couldn't have worked better. We started this election cycle with the near universal expectation that the incumbent politician would have an overwhelming money advantage that would be almost certain to knock out his opponent.

Instead, the Democratic party has embraced its grass-roots, and now, due almost entirely to millions of dollars of donations over the internet to Democratic groups, the Democrats are financially competitive. This is a big first, at least in recent history. It is also another sign that the Bush folks are off their game.

One more thing. Two new polls out suggest that Bush has pushed slightly ahead of President Kerry. Some others, like the Zogby Poll, show Kerry slightly ahead. What's clear is that the election is very close. Before Democrats start getting nervous and critical of Kerry for running a poor campaign, it's important to keep in mind that Kerry has been shooting at Kerry with a semi-automatic weapon, while Kerry has been loading. Now that Kerry is fully armed, the campaign will truly be afoot.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Don't worry everybody! Tom Dashcle is safe after all!

When Tim Giago, a native of the Pine Ridge Indian reservation, decided to run for the Senate as an independent, he did more than shake up the state's tight, closely watched race between Senate Democratic leader Thomas A. Daschle and John Thune, a former Republican representative.

He made South Dakota's Indian Country the focal point of the campaign.

Daschle, who had the most to lose from Giago's run, now has the most to gain. After a meeting with Daschle on Saturday, Giago, a nationally syndicated columnist and advocate for Indian causes, said he is withdrawing and throwing his weight behind the Democrat

Ralph, you can show that you are a big man by doing the same.
Tony Blair is in trouble

Opinion swings against PM after bloodiest month in Iraq

Alan Travis, home affairs editor
Tuesday April 20, 2004
The Guardian

Support for Tony Blair's stand on Iraq has fallen sharply in the last two months, according to the findings of the latest Guardian/ICM opinion poll.

The bloodiest month since the invasion of Iraq has seen public opinion in Britain swing sharply against Mr Blair, with 48% saying the war was not justified.

The survey also found that two-thirds of British voters have little or no confidence in the Americans' handling of the situation in Iraq, with 79% saying it is too dangerous for civilians working for British companies to be in the country.

There is still majority support for US and British troops to remain but a growing and significant minority - 42% - believe Mr Blair should follow the example of the new Spanish government and bring the army home within six months.

The prime minister's personal rating remains in the doldrums at minus 20 points. But this month's Guardian/ICM poll does contain some good news for Mr Blair, with the Labour party regaining a five point lead over the Conservatives despite being buffeted by the Beverley Hughes immigration row at home and by events in Iraq and Israel.

Now, I understand from all this that Tony Blair's public standing has considerably declined as a direct result of the situation in Iraq (and his relationship with Bush). What is not too clear to me is the significance of his personal rating being minus 20 points. Very low, okay, but below zero? Must be a differing methodology from that which we use here in the States.

More bad news for Blair follows, this time regarding the historic constitution proposed for the EU:

Tony Blair
was battling to defend his timetable for the government's proposed referendum on the EU constitution last night as Downing Street faced accusations that its handling of the strategic u-turn had been shambolic...

The strategy is a bold but risky throw of the dice for No 10 at a time when Mr Blair's reputation has been damaged by the Iraq war. If it results in a No vote - as many on both sides expect - it could cost him the premiership.

Also gone would be his reputation in Europe, where a veto from Eurosceptic Britain would cripple the constitution.

This comes on the heels of info that

A collapse in the number of Labour party members is jeopardising the party's election prospects, amid claims that the total has hit a 70-year low.

The lesson here, as President Aznar knows very well, is that if you are the leader of any country, and you become closely associated with President Bush, you are politically in great danger, if not finished. If Al Gore were today the President (de facto as well as de jure), Tony Blair would probably have no problem pushing through the EU constitution or with Labor Party membership, because he wouldn't have lost all his credibility by getting his country bogged down in an illegal pre-emptive war.

Also in Europe,

El reports that Honduras, following the lead of Spain, is withdrawing all of its soldiers in Iraq (370) as soon as possible.

El presidente de Honduras, Ricardo Maduro, ha anunciado que su Gobierno ha decidido "el retorno inmediato y en el menor tiempo posible" de las tropas hondureñas en Irak, un día después de que Rodríguez Zapatero anunciara la misma decisión.

Another day, another politician realizes that a pact made with Bush is a lose-lose situation.

And in other news, the biggest democracy in the world votes today for parliament. The BJP, India's governing party, didn't send any Indians to Iraq, so they will probably win.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

In Spanish News...

First of all, reports that in addition to the five US troops that were killed yesterday near the Syrian border, five more were killed today (Sunday), three in Diwaniya, one in Baghdad, and one in the province of Al-Abnar...

Al menos cinco marines estadounidenses y diez ciudadanos iraquíes murieron en un enfrentamiento cerca de la frontera con Siria, en un nuevo frente que se suma a los de Faluya y las ciudades chiíes del sur del país. Otros cinco han muerto en las últimas horas: tres en Diwaniya, uno en Bagdad y otro en la provincia de Al-Anbar.

Also, new Spanish prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero has demanded that Spanish troops be pulled out of Iraq as soon as possible .

El presidente del Gobierno, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, ha anunciado la retirada inmediata de las tropas españolas de Irak. El regreso del contingente se hará "en el menor tiempo y con la mayor seguridad posible" y se debe a las pocas perspectivas de que la ONU se haga cargo de la situación en Irak.

and in American news...

Cheney says Kerry a threat to gun owners
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Vice President Dick Cheney portrayed President Bush and himself as champions of the Second Amendment — and Democratic candidate John Kerry as a potential threat to gun owners — in a speech at the National Rifle Association's 133rd annual convention Saturday....

Cheney spoke for about 25 minutes after he was greeted by a standing ovation punctuated by chants of "Four more years."

Cheney did not address the federal assault weapons ban, which expires in September, and which the NRA maintains has been ineffective.

Earlier in the day, Tom Mauser, whose son, Daniel, was killed with an assault weapon in the Columbine High School killings five years ago, tried to enter the convention hall where the NRA was meeting, seeking to urge Cheney to support extending the assault weapons ban.

Mauser was turned away by a security guard as several conventioneers applauded. A couple of conventioneers yelled "Get a life" and "Vote for Bush."

Can somebody please remind me how it is possible that there are roughly as many of them as there are of us?