Saturday, June 25, 2005


Bush's Hardline Actions Provoke Hardline Iranian Reaction

All those stupid liberals claiming that Bush's tough talk would result in empowering Iran's hardliners turned out to be right on the money:
Hardline vote winner vows to make Iran strong
June 25, 2005

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Ultra-conservative Tehran mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad swept to a stunning landslide victory in presidential elections on Saturday and immediately vowed to turn Iran into a strong and exemplary Islamic state.

His victory put in doubt Iran's fragile liberalisation process, started by outgoing reformist President Mohammad Khatami, and raised questions about whether Iran will harden its stance on its nuclear impasse with the West.
(Source: Reuters)
Another triumph for the Bush League's foreign policy! What's he going to do now - boycott oil?

Friday, June 24, 2005


China Moves to Control US Oil Supplies

While W and his Bush League minions spend billions of dollars we don't have buying weapons to fight 20th Century-style wars, China begins spending money to fight 21st Century-style:
LOS ANGELES -- The unsolicited $18.5 billion bid from the Chinese state-owned oil company CNOOC Ltd. to buy oil and gas company Unocal Corp. on Thursday has significant regulatory hurdles to overcome, not least of which is whether the deal would threaten national security.
"It's not a business transaction at all," said C. Richard D'Amato, chairman of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a congressional advisory panel.

"This is not a free market deal. This is the Chinese government acquiring energy resources."

Even before CNOOC made its offer, two members of Congress appealed to President Bush last week to review it for possible security threats. They warned of China's "pursuit of world energy resources."
(Source: Washington Post Unocal Bid May Face Nat'l Security Hurdles June 23, 2005.)
Why worry, say the free market folks. Here's why:
Oil prices are moving higher as demand grows in China, the United States and elsewhere. China's huge appetite for oil was reflected in an $18.5 billion bid for Unocal Corp. launched late Wednesday by CNOOC Ltd., the country's third-largest oil company.

Oil traders worry about the world's diminishing ability to pump additional oil from the ground as the global thirst grows and that a disruption in supply could lead to shortages. Limited refining capacity also has created a bottleneck, causing upward pressure on prices.
(Source: washington Post Oil's Fire Gets Hotter, June 24, 2005)
How paranoid is it to think China may be accumulating US debt so as to destroy our economy just before invading Taiwan? Accumulating oil as well really gives China the upper hand in its US negotiations...


Krugman Offers Plain Talk on Iraq.

Sharp and to the point:
On one side, the people who sold this war, unable to face up to the fact that their fantasies of a splendid little war have led to disaster, are still peddling illusions: the insurgency is in its "last throes," says Dick Cheney. On the other, they still have moderates and even liberals intimidated: anyone who suggests that the United States will have to settle for something that falls far short of victory is accused of being unpatriotic.

We need to deprive these people of their ability to mislead and intimidate. And the best way to do that is to make it clear that the people who led us to war on false pretenses have no credibility, and no right to lecture the rest of us about patriotism.
(Source: Paul Krugman, New York Times The War President, July 24, 2005.)
I expect Mr. Krugman is referring to this type of thing:
Rumsfeld Under Fire On the Hill
He Defends Effort In Iraq, Opposes Setting Pullout Date

By Bradley Graham
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 24, 2005; Page A01

Worry in Congress about the course of U.S. strategy in Iraq boiled over yesterday into a scalding attack on Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and some of the toughest questioning of the Pentagon leader since the war in Iraq began.

During a day of contentious hearings in the Senate and House, Rumsfeld disputed assertions that the U.S. campaign is faltering and argued that the conflict there remains worth its costs in lives and dollars. He also rejected the idea, backed by a small bipartisan group of lawmakers, of setting a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops, although he said he favors pressing Iraqi authorities to keep to their timetable this year for a new constitution and national elections.
Or Dick Cheney's clever misdirection here:
Cheney Defends Iraq Insurgency Last Throes Remark
Published: June 23, 2005

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Vice President Dick Cheney on Thursday defended saying the Iraqi insurgency was in its "last throes," a comment that sparked criticism the White House was being too optimistic about when the violence will end.

Cheney said he was not backing down from his remark. "If you look at what the dictionary says about throes, it can still be a violent period, the throes of a revolution," Cheney said in an interview with CNN...

"I think the months immediately ahead will be difficult months. I think there will be a lot of violence, a lot of bloodshed because I think the terrorists will do everything they can to try to disrupt that process," Cheney said.
(Source: New York Times)
Note the clever way Mr. Cheney directs reporters toward the definition of "throes" rather than to the definition of "last." Generally, it isn't the "last throes" until the end is in sight - something even Mr. Cheney can't claim with a straight face. Compare Mr. Cheney's words to those of U.S. Army General John P. Abizaid:
Though he declined during his Congressional testimony to comment directly on Mr. Cheney's statements, the commander, Gen. John P. Abizaid, said that more foreign fighters were coming into Iraq and that the insurgency's "overall strength is about the same" as it was six months ago. "There's a lot of work to be done against the insurgency," he added.

His more pessimistic assessment, made during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, reflected a difference of emphasis between military officers, who battle the intractable insurgency every day, and civilian officials intent on accentuating what they say is unacknowledged progress in Iraq.
(Source: New York Times U.S. General Sees No Ebb in Fight
Anyone care to claim General Abizaid loves offering aid and comfort to America's enemies? Why then are "liberals" demonized for taking our top general's assessment of the Iraq situation as simple truth?

Thursday, June 23, 2005


IOKIYAR and the Zen of Acceptable Political Discourse

Lying about Democratic positions on terrorists = Good:
Speaking to the Conservative Party of New York State on Wednesday night, Rove said: "Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers."
White House spokesman Scott McClellan defended Rove's remarks and rebuffed suggestions that he apologize. "Of course not," McClellan said.

He said Rove was "talking about the different philosophies and different approaches when it comes to winning the war on terrorism."
(Source: Washington Post W.House rejects apology for Rove's Sept. 11 remarks, June 23, 2005)
Telling the truth about the way the US treats detainees: BAD
In a Senate floor speech Tuesday, Durbin cited an FBI report describing Guantanamo Bay prisoners chained to the floor in the fetal position without food or water and sometimes in extreme temperatures.

"If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control," he said, "you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings."
White House press secretary Scott McClellan, asked about the statement, responded by saying: "I think the senator's remarks are reprehensible. It's a real disservice to our men and women in uniform who adhere to high standards and uphold our values and our laws."
(Source: Washington Post Durbin Defends Guantanamo Comments, June 17, 2005)
Reading a factual account of detainee treatment and comparing those facts to serial human rights abusers behavior is "reprehensible", but making up ridiculous allegations about "liberals" is just discussing "different philosophies." Karl Rove is a Republican, and we all know It's OK If You're A Republican (IOKIYAR.)


Supremes Allow Developers to Force Land Sales

For the folks advocating decisions by politicians rather than courts, this is an uncomfortable decision:
The 5-4 ruling _ assailed by dissenting Justice Sanday Day O'Connor as handing "disproportionate influence and power" to the well-heeled in America _ was a defeat for some Connecticut residents whose homes are slated for destruction to make room for an office complex. They had argued that cities have no right to take their land except for projects with a clear public use, such as roads or schools, or to revitalize blighted areas.

As a result, cities now have wide power to bulldoze residences for projects such as shopping malls and hotel complexes in order to generate tax revenue.
O'Connor was joined in her (dissenting opinion) by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, as well as Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.
(Source: Associated Pressvia the Washington Post Supreme Court Rules Cities May Seize Homes, June 23, 2005.)
This is an uncomfortable decision on many levels. I don't like the idea of local governments having the power to force the sale of people's homes to hotel and/or shopping mall developers just so cities can increase their tax revenues. An absolute ban on the practice sounds good until the city tries to renovate a "blighted" area - and a few slumlords torpedo the project by demanding far more than market price for their rotting properties. Litigating the issue of exactly what is a "blighted area" opens up the courts to charges of "judicial activism" by the losing side.

Bottom line: difficult to ever prove, but I think this 5:4 decision might have come out the other way without the Terry Schiavo "activist judges" circus. Our legislatures have been passing the buck on difficult decisions to the judiciary for too long, so the Supreme Court is throwing this hot potato back to the state and local governments.

Time to amend your state's constitution if you don't like the way this one came out. I expect several Californians are busy writing a new initiative as we speak, especially as Prop 13 made shopping malls far more economically attractive to cities than, say, affordable housing. Older coastal communities with nice beaches make good targets for hotel developers, and local governments starved for tax dollars will be tempted to cooperate.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


No Photo Op = No Threat?

Too bad that protecting our country from real threats doesn't involve posturing on the deck of an aircraft carrier:
U.S. Borders Vulnerable, Witnesses Say
Published: June 22, 2005

WASHINGTON, June 21 - The federal government's efforts to prevent terrorists from smuggling a nuclear weapon into the United States are so poorly managed and reliant on ineffective equipment that the nation remains extremely vulnerable to a catastrophic attack, scientists and a government auditor warned a House committee on Tuesday.

The assessment, coming nearly four years after the September 2001 attacks and after the investment of about $800 million by the United States government, prompted expressions of frustration and disappointment from lawmakers.
(Source: New York Times [emphasis added.])
We spend more than $800 million in Iraq every week, yet we don't have the funds to protect our own borders? Or is it that W and his Bush League minions want another attack so they can use it as an excuse to invade Iran and/or North Korea? Incompetence or malevolence? You make the call...

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