Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Hallowe'en, Canada!


Thanks to and for the pics! For pumpkin-carving fun, check out Scott Cummins and Zombie Pumpkins :) Happy Hallowe'en, everybody!

Read on, MacDuff!

Memoirs of a (White House Press) Geisha

Ugh. Now this is inbedded journalism. We know from the indictment that Judy Miller was only the first in line to lap-up the leak (yecch). I really had no idea of the extent that the U.S. press had compromised themselves in the case. Nor did I understand how much of "Scooter's" activities were actively hidden from the public in the months leading up to the 2004 Presidential election:

Non-Miller Geisha #1: Tim Russert. Salon's Eric Boehlert tells us that Tim Russert (and NBC) witheld crucial information from the public; he knew Libby had lied in 2004 and did not inform Americans before they went to the polls. HuffPo's Steve Kaus explains that the deal Russert cut with prosecutor Fitzgerald was to discuss only what Russert told Libby; not what Libby told him!

Non-Miller Geisha #2: Pete Williams?! Who the hell is that? I barely recognized this name. Turns out that, like Russert, Williams is on NBC; he's a WH correspondent. Oh, yeah, and it turns out he used to work for Dick Cheney! Center for American Progress guy, David Sirota, complained to NBC about this and they took great umbrage (a la "how dare you"):
I received a hysterical, breathless email from a well-known NBC reporter complaining about the fact that I raised questions about Williams' objectivity. He whined that I am overlooking "14 years of spotless, impartial work for NBC News" by Williams.
Non-Miller Geisha #3: the "head" geisha, if you will. Of course I'm talking about Bob Woodward. Ex-spook and former CIA-classmate of "Valerie P", Larry Johnson, counters that the leak was neither "innocent" nor just "gossip," and speculates how Woodward may have sold his soul for access and sweet book deals. Johnson says Woodward has no (legal) way of knowing that the damage was "just some embarassment." In fact, you may have seen that 60 Minutes piece last night on the damage caused by exposing Plame's identity (Dissent has the video).

Read on, MacDuff!

Mr. Floatie gets flushed

From this morning's TorStar: "Sewage activist wiped off B.C. ballot"
VICTORIA—When you're a two-metre tall human turd, who talks with a falsetto voice and wears a slightly tilted sailor's cap, you're used to turning heads, as well as stomachs. So James Skwarok, better known by the name of his character, Mr. Floatie, was certainly expecting to draw attention when he threw that cap into the ring in a bid to be mayor of Victoria. In fact, as leader of the campaign to get sewage treatment here, he counts on it to tell all who will listen that the City of Gardens uses the Pacific Ocean as its toilet.
But when earlier this month a stink was raised about Mr. Floatie's candidacy, it proved too much. City officials, correctly noting he's "a costume character," not a real person, and thereby ineligible, took him to court to get him off the ballot for the Nov. 19 election. It worked.
[...] [Denise Blackwell, a City of Langford councillor] "Any decision we make to do things differently will be based on science and not a knee-jerk reaction to somebody who's out there dancing around in a turd suit."
Awww :( That was good while it lasted, I guess. Footnote: you gotta see Mr. Floatie's website before it too gets the flush.

Read on, MacDuff!

Colbert coming to Canada!

Nov 7th, according to the Star's Vinay Menon:
CTV and The Comedy Network will announce today that The Colbert Report will premiere Nov. 7 at 11:30 p.m. (The Comedy Network) and 12:35 a.m. (CTV), airing Monday to Thursdays.
Awesome :) Thanks to my sister, for passing along the good news!

Read on, MacDuff!

A lotta chatter; a lotta "oh-pining" goin on

Oh, the "oh-pining"; yes, we loves-us some oh-pining, Dubya. Here is some of my favourite commentary about the indictments, the war, and the administration that brung-it-all-on:

The TorStar's Haroon Siddiqui warns Canadians about dropping our vigilance (Syria? Iran?):
The probe into Libby and Rove will mean something only if it serves as the start of a process of holding this administration fully accountable for the deaths of 2,000 Americans and between 30,000 and 100,000 Iraqis, and the torture of hundreds in American detention centres. The people who gave us Iraq are now targeting Syria and Iran, and are likely to get more belligerent in the days ahead to divert attention from their mounting domestic woes. Canadians need to be alert to the possibility that Stephen Harper and other local chicken hawks, who wanted Canada to go to war in Iraq, may now want us to do Bush's bidding in his new ventures abroad. [...]
[click "Read on, MacDuff!" to continue reading]

{Siddiqui, continued}
# His diplomatic offensive on Syria/Lebanon is also open to accusations of hypocrisy:
# He wants the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon disbanded, while turning a blind eye to the Kurdish and Shiite militias in Iraq.
He strikes moral poses on Syria but sent detainees to the torture chambers of Damascus, which is how Canadian Maher Arar ended up there. Canadian hands are not clean either. [...] The Bush presidency has been dangerous to the world and to America itself. Canadians need to remain vigilant about its potential fallout on us.
The NYT's Frank Rich remembers a simpler time:
For now, it's conventional wisdom in Washington that the Bush White House's infractions are nowhere near those of the Nixon administration, as David Gergen put it on MSNBC on Friday morning. But Watergate's dirty tricks were mainly prompted by the ruthless desire to crush the political competition at any cost. That's a powerful element in the Bush scandals, too, but this administration has upped the ante by playing dirty tricks with war. Back on July 6, 2003, when the American casualty toll in Iraq stood at 169 and Mr. Wilson had just published his fateful Op-Ed, Robert Novak, yet to write his column outing Mr. Wilson's wife, declared that "weapons of mass destruction or uranium from Niger" were "little elitist issues that don't bother most of the people." That's what Nixon administration defenders first said about the "third-rate burglary" at Watergate, too.
Former UN Weapons Inspector, Scott Ritter: Indicting America [see also: Seymour Hersh interviews Ritter about his new book, "Iraq Confidential"]:
The lies of Cheney, Libby and the Bush administration regarding Iraqi WMD did not take place in a vacuum. Congressional checks and balances, especially in the form of relevant oversight committees, were non-existent; the few hearings held served as little more than sham hearings designed to amplify a case for war that was accepted at face value, without question, despite the fact that all involved knew the supporting evidence was either non-existent or paper-thin.
The fourth estate was likewise reduced to little more than a propagandistic extension of the White House and Pentagon, losing any claim to journalistic integrity through its slavish parroting, without question, of anything that painted Saddam Hussein's regime in a negative light, especially when it came to the issue of retained WMD. At the receiving end of this tangled web of lies and incompetence are the American people.

Read on, MacDuff!

(Not quite) Out of Africa

Knight-Ridder has compiled a detailed timeline of the real heart of the CIA Leak scandal: who forged those Niger/uranium documents and how did they get into White House hands?
Italy's military intelligence agency, SISMI, and people close to it, repeatedly tried to shop the bogus Niger uranium story to governments in France, Britain and the United States. That created the illusion that multiple sources were confirming the story.
The "illusion" of multiple sources was, alas, stunningly persistent; if it weren't, the lazy U.S. media wouldn't keep simpering about how "everybody got it wrong on WMD." The review continues:
The CIA had begun receiving intelligence reports based on the same forgeries in October 2001, but they could not be confirmed. Copies of the fake documents suddenly surfaced at a critical point in the White House's fall 2002 campaign to take the country to war in Iraq. The CIA eventually determined that the earlier reports were "based on the forged documents" and were "thus ... unreliable," a presidential commission on unconventional weapons proliferation said in March.
Note--and this is very important: Josh Marshall & Laura Rozen have found that the "earlier reports" and the "forged documents" were not distinct: "the intelligence reports from Italy were actually text transcriptions and summaries of the forged documents. The reports from Italy and the forgeries were one and the same."

I'm going to try to hit the salient bits in the Knight-Ridder timeline, as it's extremely valuable. Clearly this forgery scam goes way back; at least as far back as October 2001. If you do a bit of reading-betwixt-the-lines, I think you'll see how the Vulcan-cabal availed themselves of the forgeries, the Italian "intel"-agents, and Berlusconi's media-empire to "make it happen:"

[click "Read on, MacDuff!" to continue reading]
[...] Oct. 15, 2001 - The CIA received the first of three top-secret reports from a foreign intelligence service - which intelligence officials said was Italy's SISMI - that Niger planned to ship tons of uranium ore, or yellowcake, to Iraq. SISMI was behind similar reports in Britain and France. Paris never put any stock in the reports, according to two European officials. London has stood behind its statement that Iraq was seeking uranium in Africa.
February 2002 - Cheney and other officials asked the CIA to find out more. Some CIA and Pentagon analysts were impressed with the reporting. But the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) was skeptical. Its analysts noted that France controls Niger's uranium mines and argued that Iraq wouldn't risk being caught breaking U.N. sanctions. The CIA station in Rome was skeptical of the reports from the start.
Feb. 21 - Wilson traveled to Niger at the CIA's request to investigate the purported uranium deal. He said he found nothing to substantiate the allegation. Neither did two other U.S. officials who investigated.
March 8 - The CIA circulated a report on Wilson's trip - without identifying him - to the White House and other agencies.
Sept. 9 [2002]
- With the White House's public campaign against Iraq in full swing, Nicolo Pollari, head of SISMI, met with then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley at the White House. Hadley later took the blame for including the false Niger allegation in Bush's 2003 State of the Union speech. National Security Council spokesman Frederick Jones said Thursday that the meeting was a 15-minute courtesy call and that no one could recollect talk about yellowcake.
Oct. 1 [2002; just before the Congressional vote on Iraq]- U.S. intelligence agencies sent the White House and Congress their key prewar assessment of Iraq's illicit weapon programs, which said Iraq was "vigorously" trying to buy uranium ore and had sought deals with Niger, Somalia and possibly the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The State Department's INR dissented in the report.
[...] Oct. 9 - An Italian journalist for the Rome magazine Panorama, owned by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, a supporter of the Iraq war**, gave the U.S. Embassy a copy of the purported agreement by Niger to sell yellowcake to Iraq. The journalist, Elisabetta Burba, reportedly received the documents from Italian businessman Rocco Martino, who has connections to SISMI. The Italian government has denied any connection to the forged documents. The embassy forwarded a copy to the State Department. It raised the suspicion of an INR nuclear analyst, who noted in an e-mail that the documents bear a "funky Emb. Of Niger stamp (to make it look official, I guess.)"
Jan. 13, 2003 - The INR nuclear analyst told other analysts that he believed the Niger documents were forgeries.
[...] March 3 [2003; oops! too late! US forces are already awaiting orders to invade]- The International Atomic Energy Agency told the United States that the documents were forgeries after an expert used the Google search engine to identify false information. [emphasis mine]
** Today, the Guardian is reporting that Berlusconi tried to stop the war: "We tried right up to the end to persuade Bush and Blair not to launch a military attack." If these anti-war bleatings strike you, you're not alone!

Read on, MacDuff!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

After-dinner mints :)

In case you missed it :)
  1. Maclean's: What a tool: The sad, sorry life of Canadian Tire Guy (thanks to my sister for the link)
  2. The Worst Jobs in Science: Ok, collecting pee is no fun but check out the NASA ballerina (save the .mpeg from the PopSci webpage; I don't care what that guy says...that phallic robot belongs in a Kubrick movie); thanks to my husband for the link (I think?)
  3. Bill Maher: with Helen Thomas of the White House press-corps; "Bill Maher, Attorney at Law" commercial
  4. So you're goin to Mars, eh? Don't expect to have sex in space!
  5. SNL: "Cheney" on Scooter; Harriet says a boozy farewell :)
  6. BBC Satirical News Quiz-show
  7. Still no Colbert in Canada! Gotta go to the Comedy Central page to get your fix (and bear with "US Army" recruiting commercials! How tone-deaf is that?). Sign the petition to bring Colbert North; we're only at 288!

Read on, MacDuff!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Where the wild things are

Whoa: Somebody finally disclosed Cheney's "undisclosed" location [Thanks to Emily Messner for the tip]. It's in Pennsylvania, not too far from Camp David. Most interesting bits:

There was zero cell phone service. Less than zero, as a phone seemed to turn itself off. One of the heavily armed soldiers [guarding the complex] allowed a reporter to approach and identify himself. When an outside phone failed to work, the reporter was invited into the guardhouse to use the house phone.
Before long, one of the guards was chatting away about having seen the film Fahrenheit 9/11. "There are so many people who haven't seen this stuff," the soldier said. "And this really opened their eyes."

Moonwhile, Katrina vanden Heuvel takes her best shot at a "Dear Scooter/Love, Dick" letter. The whole thing's great but the last paragraph's the best (hint: think of Scooter's letter to Judy Miller):

[...] You were indicted in the fall. It is still fall. You fell down the stairs and broke your foot. Now you don't walk so good. It would be terrible if you fell down the stairs again and broke your skull. Others can cover up our stories--Iraqi WMD and the energy task force, Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay. Out West, where you vacation, the aspens will already be turning. They turn in clusters, because their unbroken roots connect them. Do the thirty years. At least you still have your health.
Until then, you will remain in my prayers and under surveillance.
With admiration,


Read on, MacDuff!

It's called a "lidar"

It's called a lidar; like a laser mixed with radar...and it's only the most awesome integrated weather system ever built. Known for its ability to analyze dust and clouds in low atmosphere. It's a Canadian invention and its going to Mars. Awesome! :)

Read on, MacDuff!

Driving a truck through the bubble

I know this isn't very important but it's one of my favourite moments from today's Fitzgerald presser. Did I mention that I love him? :)
QUESTION: Mr. Fitzgerald, the Republicans previewed some talking points in anticipation of your indictment and they said that if you didn't indict on the underlying crimes and you indicted on things exactly like you did indict -- false statements, perjury, obstruction -- these were, quote/unquote, "technicalities," and that it really was over reaching and excessive.
[...] FITZGERALD: I'll be blunt. That talking point won't fly. If you're doing a national security investigation, if you're trying to find out who compromised the identity of a CIA officer and you go before a grand jury and if the charges are proven -- because remember there's a presumption of innocence -- but if it is proven that the chief of staff to the vice president went before a federal grand jury and lied under oath repeatedly and fabricated a story about how he learned this information, how he passed it on, and we prove obstruction of justice, perjury and false statements to the FBI, that is a very, very serious matter.
[...] And we [charge those statutes] all the time. And if a truck driver pays a bribe or someone else does something where they go into a grand jury afterward and lie about it, they get indicted all the time. Any notion that anyone might have that there's a different standard for a high official, that this is somehow singling out obstruction of justice and perjury, is upside down. [emphasis mine]
"Truck driver" v. "high official". Hmm. This immediately conjured up a particularly endearing passage from Fitzgerald's WaPo bio (I also posted this snippet here 'cause I'm, like, totally in love with him, remember?):
He worked as a school janitor in Brooklyn to make money for college and spent summers opening doors at an upscale co-op building on East 72nd Street in Manhattan. (His father worked at a building on East 75th, just off Madison Avenue.) It is part of Fitzgerald lore that he bit his tongue when rich apartment dwellers talked down to him as "just the doorman."
Bring it, dude! What can I say? I'm a total sucker for this kind of trite "working class hero smites insular-powerelite" narrative. Suck it down like Coca Cola, I do. That said, if you're looking for more cerebral coverage of the day's indictment-events (i.e. less of the "he's dreamy" calibre), be sure to check-out ex-CIA/ex-State dept. guy, Larry Johnson's blog (he went to CIA-school with Valerie "P"). Then go-see Josh Marshall. For an excellent primer, see Tim Harper's TorStar review. Oh, and don't miss Carl Bernstein's take on the whole mess. Much less sychophantic than his erstwhile partner in Watergate reporting. Update [11:14 AM, Oct 29]: RJ Eskow dissects Woodward's toadying on Larry King, Thursday night.

Read on, MacDuff!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Raw Story: "Official A" is Turd Blossom

Raw Story is reporting that columnist Robert Novaks' original source of Valerie Wilson's identity was Karl Rove. Although Wilson/Plame's identity was disclosed to several reporters, Robert Novaks was the only one to divulge her name and covert-status to the public. As prosecutor Fitzgerald indicated today: It is not over. E.g.:

Rove may be called on to testify against Libby in the latter's trial. “This investigation is not yet over,” one of the lawyers in the case said. “You must keep in mind that people like Mr. Rove are still under investigation.”

Read on, MacDuff!

I am Scooter's seething sense of contempt

I. Lewis Libby has been indicted on 5 counts: 2 counts of perjury, 2 counts of making false-statements (to the FBI, pre-grand jury), and one count of obstruction of justice. The indictment can be viewed on the U.S. Dept of Justice website.

The perjury and false-statements related to Scooter's lying about how he first learned of Joe Wilson's wife's name. He learned this from Dick Cheney but testified that he learned the name from Tim Russert. Both Russert's and Matt Cooper's testimony contradicted Lewis' earlier testimony. Scooter has resigned. Fitzgerald will hold a news conference at 2pm EST. [Favourite caption for this AP photo: "Justice blind, Scooter lame."]

Read on, MacDuff!

"Voluntary fast" v. "Hunger strike"

Depending on who you talk to, 26 to 210 of the >500 prisoners held at GITMO are on a hunger-strike. This particular mass-protest began in the summer. Desperate to avoid mass-suicide (bad press, eh), the U.S. Army has resorted to crude force-feeding techniques. Earlier in October--as the protest stretched past the 2 month mark--the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) expressed concerns to the Americans:
The ICRC backs a 1975 Tokyo declaration by the World Medical Association stating doctors should not take party in force-feeding but keep prisoners informed of the sometimes irreversible consequences of their hunger strike
The U.S. Army referred to it as a "voluntary fast" and insisted they are being given "excellent care." The A lawyer for the Center for Constitutional Rights, Barbara Olshansky:
Olshansky said conditions had driven detainees to despair and described their thinking: "The only thing I have control over is what I eat. And this is the only way that I can get the world to see how horrible an injustice that I think this is."
The Army countered: "This technique is consistent with al Qaeda training and reflects detainees' attempts to elicit media attention." Remember, only 4 of the prisoners currently in GITMO have actually been charged with any crimes. Needless to say, the status of the protesters has caused their families considerable anguish. One prisoner, Fawzi al-Odah of Kuwait, has asked his lawyers to seek the removal of his feeding tube "out of desperation" over his imprisonment without charges. Fearing his physical decline, al-Odah's family will not consent to the removal of the feeding tube. In a positive development, a U.S. District judge has recently asked the government to provide medical data regarding the hunger-strikers:
Kessler stated in her opinion that the detainees' lawyers had presented "deeply troubling" allegations of forced feedings in which U.S. personnel violently shoved tubes as thick as a finger through the men's noses and into their stomachs without anesthesia or sedatives. [...] Julia Tarver, a lawyer for the detainees, had told the court she learned during a visit to the base several weeks ago of force-feedings that caused prisoners to vomit blood. Tarver wrote, "When they vomited up blood, the soldiers mocked and cursed at them, and taunted them with statements like 'look what your religion has brought you.' Tarver told the court that prison guards took a feeding tube from one detainee, "and with no sanitization whatsoever, reinserted it into the nose of a different detainee."
The legal opinion is available here (.pdf). Canada's only known detainee is 18 y/o Omar Khadr. Although it is not known whether Khadr has participated in the hunger-strike, he has been detained for almost 4 years and is said to be at high-risk for suicide. In February 2005, his lawyers reported that Khadr "had been used as a human mop to clean urine on the floor and had been beaten, threatened with rape and tied up for hours in painful positions at Guantanamo Bay."

Read on, MacDuff!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

From Mississauga-Mullet to MSM-helmethead

Teehee. "Sharkbite," a fellow Canuck over at posted the following 80s-era pic of JD Roberts:

Yep, that's Erica Ehm :) Just for fun, here's JD...'scuse me, "John" Roberts now:

I can't believe this is the same guy I used to watch after-school on "Toronto Rocks" :)

Read on, MacDuff!

They're just not that into us

Cherniak is right: the U.S. Ambassador to Canada doesn't "get" Canada. For over a month now, David Wilkins has been our there pushing the softwood-dispute-as-domestic-politics meme. As if! This isn't like the States, where they regularly hold paralyzing year+ election campaigns. Sure we're in an election-esque mode but that's just 'cause of the fragility of minority governments. The sad part: this "don't get so emotional baby" message is seeping into U.S. media coverage of our grievances. I could have screamed last night when I saw this on CNN. Lou Dobbs took a short break from his regularly scheduled xenophobia to indulge in some cartoonishly insulting discussion of our trade disputes (angry-bold-emphasis mine):

[click "Read on, MacDuff!" to continue reading]

DOBBS: The United States tonight is also locked in a bitter trade dispute with Canada. A dispute that is raising new questions about Canada's reliability as an American ally. This dispute, and we're not making light of it, is over the lumber trade. And it follows Canada's threat to divert oil away from the United States to China. It also comes after disagreements over the war in Iraq, border security and missile defense. Kitty Pilgrim has the story. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Protesters in Canada call Condoleezza Rice a war criminal. She was also under fire on the issue of trade. Canadians said the U.S. can't be trusted.
[Canadian] REPORTER: How are other countries around the world going to be able to trust the word of the United States on anything?
PILGRIM: She called for
a little perspective. [Grrrrr!!!!]
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: I think the word of the United States has been as good as gold in it's international dealings and it's agreements. I think it's extremely important not to speak in apocalyptical language about this issue.
PILGRIM: U.S.-Canada relations have deteriorated so badly that President Bush on his last trip to Canada quipped he was surprised Canadians were waving in a civilized way when his motorcade passed.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to thank the Canadian people who came out to wave, with all five fingers, for their hospitality.(LAUGHTER)
PILGRIM: Lumber is only four percent of trade. But meanwhile, the United States supports Canada's industries: 85 percent of Canadian exports are bought by U.S. customers; some $250 billion worth from machinery, furniture, building materials and farm products. The United States is also Canada's biggest customer for oil, but Canadian officials recently
gloated about the possibility of selling oil to China, clearly to aggravate the United States. [Grrrr!] Prime Minister Martin in a New York speech earlier this month said the United States has to pay back the $4 billion in duties it collected on Canadian lumber.
PAUL MARTIN, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: This is nonsense. More than that, it is a breach of faith. Countries must live up to their agreements. The duties must be refunded. Free trade must be fair trade.
It is fair -- the World Trade Organization ruled in favor of the United States. [Grrrr!!! no mention of NAFTA rulings!] (END VIDEOTAPE)
PILGRIM: Now, the Canadian prime minister is grandstanding for the public. He has said the U.S. is out to humiliate Canada, while Canadian elections are expected early next year, and with the Canadian voters it serves political purpose to push back on the United States about trade, so the climate will likely stay tense for a little while longer -- Lou? [Grrrrr!!!]
DOBBS: I am shocked and dismayed to learn that our neighbors to the north have government officials who play politics just like ours do down here in the barbarian south.
PILGRIM: And the thing they don't point out is that the lumber trade is subsidized, but they don't mention that. (LAUGHTER) [Kiss my ass, "Kitty"!!!]
DOBBS: It is -- I think that was pointed out pretty well at the WTO. But I think it's humorous that Paul Martin and company would get so excited over what is three percent of a trade deal and one in which the Canadians are doing very well, thank you. [What?! Lou, you hate the WTO. I guess it only deserves your wrath when China's involved, eh?]
We're good pals, good neighbors. We'll have politics in both countries, see how it all works out. I'm sure it will work out well for all.
Paging Frank McKenna: Yeearrrrrggghh!
Plan B: comedian Greg Behrendt's book, "He's just not that into you." Particularly Ch. 11: "He's just not that into you if he's a selfish jerk, a bully, or a really big freak."

Read on, MacDuff!

PUP.E. local #322

Breaking: Dogs enjoy walking. Yes, dogs counted an important victory in Italy this week: Rome dogs win right to daily walk.

Negotiations between labour and management had been at an impasse for months, first due to a sweltering summer and more recently due to what management referred to as "the blahs." A spokesperson for management issued the following statement: "I think you will find that we have reached an agreement in principle on the issue of walks. This is contingent, however, on PUP.E's commitment to keeping their asses off our pillows." A representative from labour could not be reached for comment.

Read on, MacDuff!

"A Whitman Sampler"

Guess it'll be Friday before we hear about indictments in the CIA leak investigation (WaPo, NYT). I'm not sure what Fitzgerald did today but it looks like he's really wrapping it up; it's doubtful he will ask for an extension at this point. "Wimblehack" runner-up Howard Fineman was on Chris Matthew's show tonight, just a-guessin' away about the outcome (WMP format). Veteran WaPo reporter Walter Pincus was on too, but he was a lot more measured and reticent to engage in wild speculation. By far the funniest line came from Matthews himself. Think Progress provides us with some of his exchange with Time magazine's Mike Allen:
MIKE ALLEN: A lot of activity happening that we’re not seeing. A likely scenario for what happened today, Patrick Fitzgerald got some indictments from this grand jury.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: You think they’re sealed right now?
MIKE ALLEN: Very possible. What I’m told is typically, in a case like this, he could get the indictments and now he can go to the targets and say, you can plead to these or I’ll go back Friday and get more. You have 12 to 24 hours to think about it.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: And he can give them a little Whitman Sampler of suggestions pleading to the charge of obstruction or perjury or…
MIKE ALLEN: I can add a bunch of counts. You can take a couple of counts or we can do a bunch more.

Mmmm...sampler :)

Read on, MacDuff!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

*Reload* key gets workout awaiting Fitzmas

Oh, the agony! :) Although Special Pros. Fitzgerald's grand jury has adjourned for today, the word on the "street" is that we'll have to wait till tonight or Thursday for any announcements. Raw Story seems to be staking out the Washington, D.C. courthouse so I would check-in with them for any (premature?) ejaculations. Looks like indictments are coming but poss. targets still have time to cop plea deals, suicide pacts, or last-min pity "dates" with Jimmy Jeff Gannon. I kid, I kid :)

In other CIA-leak news, the WaPo's Dan Froomkin points out that the NY Times has posted a correction to their Monday night "Cheney knew" scoop. Turns out that Cheney did not testify under oath. Quelle surprise. But what about those Niger/uranium forgeries? Markos from points to an article by intelligence-reporter, Richard Sale (hint: the password is Michael Ledeen).

[click "Read on, MacDuff!" to continue reading]

Sale's sources indicate:
Fitzgerald is looking into such individuals as former CIA agent, Duane Claridge, military consultant to the Iraqi National Congress, Gen. Wayne Downing, another military consultant for INC [Iraqi National Congress?], and Francis Brooke, head of INC's Washingfton office in an effort to determine if they played any role in the forgeriese [sic] or their dissiemination [sic#2]. Also included in this group is long-time neoconservative Michael Ledeen, these federal sources said.
And finally: isn't it time that Bush threw a party? Catty WaPo columnist, Dana Milbank reports:
It was, perhaps, not the best possible time for the Republican Party to hold a soiree...And yet, there they were at the gilded Mellon Auditorium last night: the Republican Party's biggest donors, men in tuxedos and women in cocktail dresses, dining on Asian spoon canapes, orange carpaccio and seared mignon of beef, and listening to the soothing tones of a jazz band and a keynote address by President Bush.
[ comes my favourite bit!...] [Republican National Committee] Chairman Ken Mehlman, who, like Bush, had the political judgment not to dress in formal attire, took an innovative view of recent days. "This has been an incredible fall!" he announced, pointing to the approval of a constitution in Iraq, elections in Afghanistan, confirmation of a new chief justice and education reforms. "Yaaaaay," a lone woman in the audience yelled."
Mr. Smithers could not be reached for comment but a 'senior staffer' offered hearty praise: "I like the way Snrub thinks!" :)

Read on, MacDuff!

Wednesday video fun: leftover edition

In case you missed it :)
  1. This weekend's National Press Gallery dindin: Canadian politicos roasted to perfection (ok, not perfection but still, pretty damn funny)
  2. Al Franken on Dave Letterman, Friday night
  3. Bill Maher: on the Right-wing's new meme: "criminalization of politics"; Maher takes Tucker Carlson to school on Canada's healthcare system; Maher interviews Arianna Huffington
  4. The Daily Show: "This Week in God" with Rob Corddry; on 24h news: "We have cameras!"; on "Reconstructing Harriet"
  5. MSNBC's Keith Olbermann on "Leaky Friday"
  6. SNL Teleconference with the troops (a good SNL bit!)
  7. Rick Mercer's show doesn't come back till November 8th; till then, watch his back-issue video clips. They're all awesome but I have to insist that you watch the Canadian Tire guy (Nov 8, 2004) and Rick's visit to 24 Sussex Dr. (Oct 25, 2004);Rick visits PM and discovers that the place hasn't seen a decorator since Mila Mulroney decked it out in animal-print--I shit you not!)

Read on, MacDuff!

8 minutes of nothing...then Haiti?

I just watched Susan Bonner's interview with U.S. Sec. State, Condoleeza Rice (Realplayer). Ugh. Rice sure has her new lines down pat. She chastised Canadians for using "apocalyptic language" about our softwood lumber grievances. What, like "mushroom cloud" apocalyptic? Just asking. Rice also disputed our assertion that 1/2 Canadian gun crimes are committed with smuggled Yankee pistols. She said something about Canada having a substantial gun "industry" of its own and then veered off into our mutual responsibility to interdict weapons of mass destruction. Very non sequitur and very annoying.

Overall it was a lotta nothing. But then something weird happened: in expressing her appreciation for Canada's contribution around the world, she included the current UN mission in Haiti. Now, we don't hear much about Haiti these days--and what we hear isn't good. For example, I find it pretty frightening that some UN guys were caught on tape killing people in Cité Soleil (July 2005). I might have missed it, but I don't think I ever heard an explanation for that in the mainstream news. The only thing I remember is the footage of that activist throwing red paint on Pierre Pettigrew. Were Canadian forces involved? Did "we" tolerate it? I have no idea but it sure doesn't make me feel very good.

And now there's that weird report about the the Texas oilman currently trying to run for president of Haiti (there's a magical election afoot; that always works, right?). Anyway, I gotta admit that I feel vastly uninformed about what's going on down there. Was Aristide ousted for failing to live up to IMF austerity settlements? Is it that formulaic? I don't know about you, but I'd like to know more about what Rice and PM Martin talked about on this "file." It sure seemed odd to see Rice so happy and satisfied about the Haitian state of the union. Yikes...must have been awkward meeting our awesome new Gov. Gen, eh?

Read on, MacDuff!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Italian Job

Laura Rozen has a breaking piece of news over at the (thanks to Josh Marshall for the tip). It's aboot those "crude forgeries" re: uranium in Niger. Rozen confirms an Italian paper's scoop that Stephen Hadley (former National Security #2; now #1) met with the head of Italian intelligence/SISMI in September 2002. If Sept 2002 has any significance, consider that Congress voted on the Iraq resolution one month following this meeting. From Rozen:

[click "Read on, MacDuff!" to continue reading]

[The Italian newspaper, La Repubblica] goes on to note the significance of that date, highlighting the appearance of a little-noticed story in Panorama a weekly magazine owned by Italian Prime Minister and Bush ally Silvio Berlusconi, that was published three days after Pollari's meeting with Hadley. The magazine's September 12, 2002, issue claimed that Iraq's intelligence agency, the Mukhabarat, had acquired 500 tons of uranium from Nigeria through a Jordanian intermediary. (While this September 2002 Panorama report mentioned Nigeria, the forgeries another Panorama reporter would be proferred less than a month later purportedly concerned Niger.)
The forged documents were cabled from the U.S. embassy in Rome to Washington after being delivered to embassy officials by Elisabetta Burba, a reporter for Panorama. She had received the papers from an Italian middleman named Rocco Martino. Burba never wrote a story about those documents. Instead her editor, Berlusconi favorite Carlo Rossella, ordered her to bring them immediately to the U.S. embassy.
What may be most significant to American observers, however, is the newspaper's allegation that the Italians sent the bogus intelligence about Niger and Iraq not only through traditional allied channels such as the CIA, but seemingly directly into the White House. [emphasis mine]
The Panorama story and Elisabetta Burba stuff just confirms what Seymour Hersh reported in one of his 2003 New Yorker columns. But the SISMI/Hadley meeting is new news for sure! Footnote: what was the U.S. Congress doing to get to the bottom of these forgeries? L'il whitewash: Josh Marshall reminds us that the head of the Senate intelligence committee, Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) went out of his way to squash a CBS/60 min report on the origins of the Niger forgeries.

Read on, MacDuff!

Press Gallery dindin :)

Wow, sounds like a good time was had by all at the National Press Gallery dinner, eh? Rick Mercer's hilarious take can be found on his blog. My favourite bit:
Belinda’s dress was all the talk. One of those bright young conservative MPs in the Tory youth caucus asked me if I thought Belinda’s dress was "appropriate". Maybe he was confusing me with his pastor. Usually when guys in their 20’s talk about boobs they are pro cleavage. Maybe next year she should consider a Hugo Boss Burka so as to not offend the young conservatives.
Ok, now I have to see what all the fuss was aboot. No pictures? I'll bet it was nothing; maybe a bit of a scoop-neck deal. Re-laaaax you Tory twits. You know, there's something particularly creepy about young conservatives. Anyway, if you want to see the cleavage-free highlights, you can check them out on the site. Mulroney cusses, Martin ribs, Harper "joshes" and Layton sings (again). Thanks to 'The Hive' for the link!

Read on, MacDuff!

Nugent, Lapdancers and other Parks Poseurs

Rest in peace, Rosa Parks :( Ever since I heard about her death tonight, I've been thinking of an essay about Parks by Sarah Vowell ("Rosa Parks, C'est Moi" in The Partly Cloudy Patriot). Vowell lists an odd assortment of people who've likened their cause to that of Ms. Parks:
  1. Larry Gatlin thinks Katherine Harris is a shoe-in
  2. A Florida street-performer banned from doing his thing feels he's Parks-esque
  3. A Tampa Bay area lap-dancer: ditto
  4. Ted Nugent likens himself to "Rosa Parks with a loud guitar"
  5. Speaking at an Oct 2000 Nader rally, Michael Moore likened Naderites to Ms. Rosa (what with the "rising up" and all; how'd that work out, by the way?)
Vowell's essay makes an excellent point: "about the only person in recent memory who has an unimpeachable right to compare himself to Parks is that Chinese student who stared down those tanks in Tiananmen square." PS: Sarah's essay ends with the irony that at the very moment Katherine Harris was being compared to the civil rights heroine, she was actually being sued by the NAACP for voter disenfranchisement. PPS: The Partly Cloudy Patriot has an hilarious chapter on Canada--must read :) PPPS/Confession: I was one of those childish goofs who tried to monkey with the vote for "Greatest American" on the Discovery Channel webpage, so that Rosa Parks & Dr. King would win. It didn't work. This "States rights" arsehole won instead.

Read on, MacDuff!

Fitzmas miracles and Dissenters-come-lately

By now you may have heard the late-night scoop on the CIA leak investigation from the NY Times: Libby's source was Cheney; Cheney's source was George Tenet, former director of the CIA. But Libby told investigators that his source was Tim Russert and/or other reporters. Russert says no way. For a good catch-me-up, chef recommends that you read the TorStar's Tim Harper, Knight Ridder's FAQ, or even NPR's Q & A for a quick primer on this whole affair.

And so what? Well, it's all about the phantom uranium. The invasion of Iraq. You know, the last 3 years of Manichean madness hatched from "down there". And we can be forgiven ("up here," as it were) for thinking that the whole place is run by crazies; with the exception of an occasional hiccup from Colin Powell to Bob Woodward, there has been scarcely a peep of dissent from within the halls of power. But now it's coming down and coming down hard. Last week I posted about Col. Wilkerson, Powell's former aide; last night I posted about Scowcroft, a Bush 41 loyalist. So what's changed? Something big is coming and people know it all goes back to Iraq. And the dissenters of officialdom are having a belated coming-out party. Yes, it's a Fitzmas miracle! Dissenters queue for the 'airing of grievances' (wait...that's "Festivus").

[click "Read on, MacDuff!" to continue reading]

Former Powell aide, former GHW Bush National Security director, and now WaPo is reporting that a current State dude wants in on the Fitzmas action:
A top State Department official involved in Iraq policy, former ambassador Robin Raphel, said the administration was "not prepared" when it invaded Iraq, but did so anyway in part because of "clear political pressure, election driven and calendar driven," according to an oral history interview posted on the Web site of the congressionally funded U.S. Institute of Peace.
If some of this feels like "Day late, dollar short," you're not alone. Fred Kaplan at Slate agrees. Although Kaplan concedes that Scowcroft rang alarum-bells well before the invasion of Iraq, he makes a good point about the rest of the dissenters-come-lately. More importantly, Kaplan goes on to make a broader point about the lack of "resignations in protest":
Edward Weisband and Thomas M. Franck wrote a breezily insightful book 30 years ago called Resignation in Protest: Political and Ethical Choices Between Loyalty to Team and Loyalty to Conscience in American Public Life. They observed that resignations in protest are common in Britain, where Cabinet ministers tended also to hold parliamentary seats; they could therefore leave the government and still retain power and a constituency. In the American system, officials who quit the president in protest are left with nothing. Not even the opposition party wants them because they're seen as loose cannons; if they squealed on their current boss, they might squeal on a future boss too.
[I would also add (*ahem*!) that resignation in protest is also a fact of Canadian life]. Back to Iraq. If the current U.S. administration goes down, there will be no smug vindication here. Sorry but there's no other way to say it: many thousands are dead. Iraqis are now largely confined to their homes. The tortured won't be magically un-tortured if Libby & co wind up in the dock. As Bob Herbert of the NY Times put it: "What is the next disaster that this crowd will be unprepared to cope with? Or the next lunatic idea that will spring from its ideological bag of tricks?" It's not 'celebration,' it's relief; someone might finally hit the brakes on this ghoulish train.
Update [2:52 AM, Oct 25]: Seriously! Somebody stop them: "Cheney Plan Exempts CIA From Bill Barring Abuse of Detainees"

Read on, MacDuff!

Monday, October 24, 2005

The Untouchable

I'm in luuurrve with this guy (thanks to Atrios for the pic). I confess that I was deeply cynical when, in late 2003, the U.S. Justice Dept. began its investigation into the CIA-leak/Plame scandal. John Ashcroft was Attorney General at the time and who woulda thunk anything but the purest whitewash would come from his office. But after Ashcroft recused himself (too many dirty, moneyed ties with Rove & co. from his Missouri days) and appointed Spec. Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald...well, I still expected nothing.

And now here we are on (what could be) Fitzmas Eve. So I thought to myself: time to find out a bit about this guy they call "Fitzie". First off, there are strains of 'Hollywoodism' in almost every bio of this type, so I'm sure some of these writers are forcing the narrative just a tad. Even so, the guy comes off as a cross between Eliot Ness and the "doorman" from that hilarious Seinfeld episode. Both the NY Times and WaPo bios describe his dogged prosecution of terrorists in the mid-late 90s. Ditto corrupt politicians (former Gov. of Illinois and Chicago Mayor). That's all fine and dandy. The guy's a prosecutor after all; it's kinda his job, eh? Furthermore, the bios like to stress his reputation as a smarty-pants (Amherst for Math & Economics; Harvard Law School)...again, the guy's a federal prosecutor. I'm sure he's very smart but so what? Nope, what endeared me to this Fitzie guy were the following anecdotes:
  1. For months he did not bother to have the gas connected to the stove in his Brooklyn apartment. Once, in a fit of domesticity, he baked two pans of lasagna, recalled Amy E. Millard, a New York colleague. Distracted by work, he left them uneaten in the oven for three months before he discovered them, Ms. Millard said. When he tried to adopt a cat, she remembered, he was turned down because of his work habits and only later acquired a pet when a friend in Florida had to give up her cat and had it flown to him to New York. [NY Times bio]
  2. He worked as a school janitor in Brooklyn to make money for college and spent summers opening doors at an upscale co-op building on East 72nd Street in Manhattan. (His father worked at a building on East 75th, just off Madison Avenue.) It is part of Fitzgerald lore that he bit his tongue when rich apartment dwellers talked down to him as "just the doorman." [WaPo bio]

Read on, MacDuff!

Task Force Onion :)

You can't make this stuff up: the NY Times is reporting that the U.S. President's counsel has admonished the satirical newspaper, The Onion, for using President Bush's picture & official insignia on its site:
The newspaper regularly produces a parody of President Bush's weekly radio address on its Web site (, where it has a picture of President Bush and the official insignia.
[...] Citing the United States Code, Mr. Dixton wrote that the seal "is not to be used in connection with commercial ventures or products in any way that suggests presidential support or endorsement." Exceptions may be made, he noted, but The Onion had never applied for such an exception.
[...] "It is inconceivable that anyone would think that, by using the seal, The Onion intends to 'convey... sponsorship or approval' by the president," wrote Rochelle H. Klaskin, the paper's lawyer, who went on to note that a headline in the current issue made the point: "Bush to Appoint Someone to Be in Charge of Country."
Thanks to the Rachel Maddow show's blog for the link :)

Read on, MacDuff!

new New Yorker piece

This one looks like a doozy. It isn't yet online but Steve Clemons has substantial excerpts posted on his site, The Washington Note. The coming New Yorker article by Jeffrey Goldberg contains a lengthy interview with former U.S. National Security Advisor, Brent Scowcroft (Bush 41's guy). Scowcroft made no secret of his disagreement on Iraq--well before the invasion, too. I guess he was effectively ostracized from the Bush 43 gang after he aired his dissent on the pages of the Wall St. Journal. Condi Rice, former Scowcroft protegee, fumed about it, too: "How could you do this to us?" Rice & Scowcroft have since parted ways. They met once for dinner in 2003, shortly after Sharon announced his plans to pull out of Gaza. Rice was feeling very smug about it and didn't take kindly to Scowcroft's more pessimistic feelings about the announcement:
I said that for Sharon this is not the first move, this is the last move. He's getting out of Gaza because he can't sustain eight thousand settlers with half his Army protecting them. Then, when he's out, he will have an Israel that he can control and a Palestinian state atomized enough that it can’t be a problem." Scowcroft added, "We had a terrible fight on that."

And on their arguments over Iraq:

"[Rice] says we're going to democratize Iraq, and I said, 'Condi, you're not going to democratize Iraq,' and she said, 'You know, you're just stuck in the old days,' and she comes back to this thing that we've tolerated an autocratic Middle East for fifty years and so on and so forth," he said. Then a barely perceptible note of satisfaction entered his voice, and he said, "But we've had fifty years of peace."
"You're just stuck in the old days"?! As in: "this ain't your daddy's Middle East, old man." Whew. I wonder what she'll have to say to our PM tomorrow. Yikes.

Read on, MacDuff!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

He card read good!

It's op-ed Sunday at Hope & Onions. But these guys & gals all write better than me. Use them for all of your smart-making needs:
  1. Haroon Siddiqui on the Saddam-show-trial
  2. "Avoiding global bio-apartheid" by Peter Stoett, Prof. International Relations, Concordia University
  3. "China's quick rise to power" by Eric Margolis
  4. "Whys Behind the War" by Frank Rich
  5. "Judy Miller's WMD" by Maureen Dowd
  6. Harper's Lewis Lapham on the true meaning of the F-word
  7. Rise of the 'Patriotic Journalist' by Robert Parry
To hasten the smart-making, I've provided my favourite excerpts from (most of) these op-eds in the expanded portion of this post. I hope you'll join me :)

[click "Read on, MacDuff!" to continue reading]

Haroon Siddiqui on the Saddam-show-trial:
The problem with all this is not that Saddam may not get a fair trial, as the bleeding hearts fear. Or that the nincompoops running it will let him steal the show from the prosecutors. The real danger is that the propagandist phoniness seeping out of this exercise will undermine its validity.
[...] As Iraq becomes Vietnam, he blames the seemingly unstoppable insurgency on Al Qaeda and other Islamic militants, whom he has just compared to Stalin, Hitler and Pol Pot. But his own analysts peg their number at only a few hundred out of an estimated 10,000 insurgents. He blames Iran and Syria and won't rule out waging war on either or both. Yet suspected foreign militants caught in Iraq since April add up to a grand total of 312. Of them, the highest number, 78, hail from Egypt, about which he remains silent, as also about the other American ally, Saudi Arabia, whose apprehended citizens outnumber Iran's, 32 to 13.
[...] He crows about bringing democracy to Iraq but plans to veto a U.S. Senate vote ordering him to bring Guantanamo Bay and similar other holding pens under the rule of law.
"Avoiding global bio-apartheid" by Peter Stoett:
...we need ethical resolve, because when the big one hits, as with the Black Plague, the immediate temptation will be to shut the city doors and lock out the doomed. This won't work this time around, and we can do better. We need to avoid the bio-apartheid scenario, where the infected are cordoned into what are essentially large-scale concentration camps, while the wealthy pay for oppressive measures to keep them there.
"China's quick rise to power" by Eric Margolis:

Glory in war, Japanese samurai used to say, is a function of your enemy's courage and strength. Arabs make miserable foes. You can't justify building new $20-billion carrier battle groups or supersubs because of a bunch of car-bombers.
[...] Besides Taiwan, China poses no current military threat to any other Asian nation -- except India, which can well look after itself.
[...] Today, Americans, only 4% of the world's population, consume 25% of world oil. China, India and the EU want their share.
[...] This is a task for diplomats, not the Pentagon. America will have to learn to share energy and accept China as an equal in the Pacific
Harper's Lewis Lapham on the true meaning of the F-word:
By retrieving from our historical memory only the vivid and familiar images of fascist tyranny (Gestapo firing squads, Soviet labor camps, the chimneys at Treblinka), we lose sight of the faith-based initiatives that sustained the tyrant’s rise to glory. [...] [Umberto Eco] attempts to describe a way of thinking and a habit of mind, and on sifting through the assortment of fantastic and often contradictory notions – Nazi paganism, Franco’s National Catholicism, Mussolini’s corporatism, etc. – he finds a set of axioms on which all the fascisms agree. Among the most notable:
  • The truth is revealed once and only once.
  • Parliamentary democracy is by definition rotten because it doesn’t represent the voice of the people, which is that of the sublime leader.
  • Doctrine outpoints reason, and science is always suspect.
  • Critical thought is the province of degenerate intellectuals, who betray the culture and subvert traditional values.
  • The national identity is provided by the nation’s enemies.
  • Argument is tantamount to treason.
  • Perpetually at war, the state must govern with the instruments of fear. Citizens do not act; they play the supporting role of “the people” in the grand opera that is the state.
[...] the news media devoted to the arts of iconography, [is] busily minting images of corporate executives like those of the emperor heroes on the coins of ancient Rome.
[...] I think we can look forward with confidence to character-building bankruptcies, picturesque bread riots, thrilling cavalcades of splendidly costumed motorcycle police.
Rise of the 'Patriotic Journalist' by Robert Parry:
One early turning point in the switch from “skeptical” journalism to “patriotic” journalism occurred in 1976 with the blocking of Rep. Otis Pike’s congressional report on CIA misdeeds. CIA Director Bush had lobbied behind the scenes to convince Congress that suppressing the report was important for national security. But CBS news correspondent Daniel Schorr got hold of the full document and decided that he couldn’t join in keeping the facts from the public. He leaked the report to the Village Voice – and was fired by CBS amid charges of reckless journalism.
[...] In the late 1970s, conservative leaders began a concerted drive to finance a media infrastructure of their own along with attack groups that would target mainstream reporters who were viewed as too liberal or insufficiently patriotic.
[...] Where I worked at the Associated Press, general manager Keith Fuller – the company's top executive – was considered a staunch supporter of Reagan’s foreign policy and a fierce critic of recent social change. In 1982, Fuller gave a speech condemning the 1960s and praising Reagan’s election. "As we look back on the turbulent Sixties, we shudder with the memory of a time that seemed to tear at the very sinews of this country,” Fuller said during a speech in Worcester, Mass., adding that Reagan’s election a year earlier had represented a nation “crying, ‘Enough.’"
[...] But resistance to the Iran-Contra scandal also penetrated mainstream news outlets. At Newsweek, where I went to work in early 1987, Editor Maynard Parker was hostile to the possibility that Reagan might be implicated. During one Newsweek dinner/interview with retired Gen. Brent Scowcroft and then-Rep. Dick Cheney, Parker expressed support for the notion that Reagan’s role should be protected even if that required perjury. “Sometimes you have to do what’s good the country,” Parker said.
[...] That tendency deepened even more after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks as many journalists took to wearing American flag lapels and avoided critical reporting about Bush’s sometimes shaky handling of the crisis. For instance, Bush’s seven-minute freeze in a second-grade classroom – after being told “the nation is under attack” – was hidden from the public even though it was filmed and witnessed by White House pool reporters.
Class dismissed :)

Read on, MacDuff!

One of these things is not like the others...

Prof. Juan Cole sets us straight (again) today in his post, "The Great Iran Crock, Blair and AEI." --OR-- Southern Iraq has two Mommies. Er...Hizbullahs. This I did not know: one Iraqi 'Hizbullah' is a sub-group of the Shi'ite SCIRI ('Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq'); the second 'Hizbullah' is also comprised of indigenous Iraqis but it's primarily "a vehicle for the organization of the Marsh Arabs," lead by an elected Member of Parliament. Prof. Cole figures that the neocon American Enterprise Institute and Tony Blair's Min. Defense are trying to "hang violence in Iraq on Iran and the Lebanese Hizbullah." Although they're ideological allies, they're not the same Hizbullahs. Blair is certainly doing his part to muddy the waters. Let's hope our American and British friends don't get punked (again). I sure didn't know the diff.

Read on, MacDuff!

Give this guy a hug

...and about $100 billion to carry out his work. You may have seen a lot about Stephen Lewis, lately. He's doing the 2005 Massey Lecture tour so now everybody wants to talk to him. I hope some people with influence want to pull up a chair and talk to him, too. The U.N. envoy for AIDS in Africa is looking and sounding pretty broken these days. I saw Lewis on TVO last week, talking to that Allan Gregg guy about his book, "Race Against Time." And then there was that huge piece in Saturday's Globe:
"I've often thought to myself that it's possible" -- he pauses for a long time -- "that you need a sturdier emotional psyche than I have. I mean, you know, I just can't take what I see on the ground. I just cannot take it. I am only one person. But I defy anybody to be able to take it over the long term. Because, you know, it's all so unnecessary." His voice drops again to a whisper: "And they're all young women, they're all in their 20s and 30s. You go into a hospice, 25 beds, 23 of them filled by women in their 20s. You can't get the drugs to them in time. You know they're going to die in a matter of months. They all have children. You feel as though everything is out of kilter."
I gathered from both his interview with Gregg and from the Globe piece that Lewis knows exactly who's responsible. And it's a big list. The UN, the G8, the U.S.-strings-attached-aid, the IMF, World Bank loansharks (e.g. insisting poor countries charge school-fees in return for aid) ...and nobody with any kind of real power wants to take-charge and assume leadership. Yes, summits are convened, money is promised, concerts are held and everyone walks around with a bracelet for a few weeks. But all the real action happens at an excrutiatingly slow pace. Drug companies get unhappy. Signatures take ages to turn into cold-hard-cash. Hands are tied and condoms mysteriously disappear from the "ABC" checklist. It must be beyond exasperating to work in this field.

The book is dedicated simply to "the women of Africa." Lewis speaks often of how they bear the brunt of this scourge. He told Gregg that the only way to make meaningful progress is to have strong female representation in the very world-bodies that make the big-decisions.

Read on, MacDuff!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

That's Jeebus in your Joe

From today's Guardian:
"Starbucks has printed 63 quotes from writers, performers, academics and politicians on its cups over the past year as part of a campaign called The Way I See It."
The latest? A religious quote from the Rev Rick Warren ("The Purpose-Driven Life"). I won't reprint it here, 'cause I don't want to wind up in anybody's google prayerlist :) It suffices to say that it was very...uh...preachy. You might say that it's enough to 'put you off your tea.'

Now, if you have to listen to a Reverend, listen to "Reverend" Billy of the "Church of Stop Shopping," the hilarious & charismatic anti-consumerism/ anti-sweatshop activist. I first heard of him on Majority Report radio last summer. He was chastising Janeane Garofalo for her Starbucks and made her promise not to drink it for at least 4 months :) As somebody who can't keep her boycotts straight anymore (getting old), I can totally sympathize with Janeane. That said, we all know Billy's right and I'm glad he's working his creative mojo to silence the Siren Starbucks. Chef also recommends:
  1. Deadprogrammer's Cafe (funny): How the Starbucks siren lost her boobs
  2. will help you find an alternative coffee shop in your area
  3. Get some info on fair-trade joe at

Read on, MacDuff!

The League of Pissed off Kittens

The chair recognizes the delegate from London:

Rebuttal? Yes, the delegate from Oakville has the floor:

Meeting adjourned!

Read on, MacDuff!

Must watch doc

If you didn't catch the film, "Enemy Image" last Sunday night, please do yourself a favour and watch it tonight, Oct 22nd, 10PM on Newsworld. It's a France/Canada (and others) co-production about the evolution of wartime telejournalism. Marc Daniels interviews journalists who covered various conflicts (Vietnam, Grenada, Gulf I & II) and provides really interesting commentary on how much things have changed. Presidents sure don't like losing control of the coverage. Morley Safer discussed the backlash from Pres. Johnson after his 1965 piece from Vietnam in which he showed U.S. Marines burning the village of Cam Ne. "He's Canadian and his cameraman's Vietnamese!" exclaimed Johnson. I guess some things don't change.

Read on, MacDuff!

Worst case Ontario :)

I don't like this one bit! Beginning 2007, Ontario will synch-up with the proposed American Daylight Savings scheme: daylight time will begin on the second Sunday of March and end on the first Sunday in November. I don't know if I can deal :(

Aside from synching up our trade with the states, I'm not convinced that this'll make a speck of difference in terms of energy-conservation. Listen to CBC's Andrew Nichols interview with Michael Downing, author of "Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving" (Real Player). Downing contends that 100 years of history has taught us that we won't save any energy with DST. As we get into November (or backwards into lousy sMarch), our sunrises are going to be no earlier than 7:30, and even as late as 8:30; we will have kids going to school in the dark. I don't totally get this but Downing also discussed how retailers have learned to rig DST: he said that Dept. stores figured out that more sunlight at the end of the day will get us out to spend money and that the Petroleum industry knows we'll go into our cars and shop more. More convincingly, Downing said that this new scheme is just a rehash of a Nixon proposal from the OPEC oil embargo days. Mornings were too unpleasant and, since most of us don't use oil for home heating/electricity, it didn't really save anything. But politicians like DST because it doesn't cost anything or require sacrifice/conservation.

Read on, MacDuff!

Karen's world

U.S. Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy and serial B.S. artist, Karen Hughes, was in Indonesia yesterday to speak with University students about American foreign policy. Hughes, shown here lying to a little girl (clue: her mouth is open), was raked over the coals by several of the young women in attendance. Photo courtesy of the Washington Post.

And this isn't the first time Hughes has been caught schilling shite. The women she met in Turkey had an earful for her too:
"War makes the rights of women completely erased, and poverty comes after war -- and women pay the price," said Fatma Nevin Vargun, a Kurdish women's rights activist."
So who is Karen Hughes?

[click "Read on, MacDuff!" to continue reading]

Laura Flanders knows. Hughes was among the many "Bushwomen" featured in her book, last year. Here is an excerpt from a Democracy Now interview about the book:
LAURA FLANDERS: [Karen Hughes] grew up -- and we heard that she was an army brat. Not quite, again, the story that you imagine of being dragged from place to place. Sure enough she did stay a lot of time in different bases. But her father was one of the top people in the Panama Canal Zone, ultimately the last Governor. And he was the man whose job it became to pull down the U.S. Flag. And as you recall or have read, you're so young, the 1970's fight, the Panama Canal was the fight in the Republican party, the issue against which Republicans campaigned against Jimmy Carter, that he was going to sign a pact that would ultimately hand over power of the canal to the Panamanian people. That was the dividing line political issue in that election. Her father was deeply involved in the sense that he was the man who ultimately had to pull down that flag, a sign of tremendous ignominy. She spent many years in the Panama Canal Zone, a very segregated place. I think she takes these issues of American empire very personally.
AMY GOODMAN: You also say Karen Hughes says she would have loved to do PR for Exxon after the Exxon Valdez.
LAURA FLANDERS: I found that quote. I thought it was worth repeating. She’s a PR person. She sees it as war. She says I look at PR as a war game. And she was asked, you know, are there any PR campaigns you wish you had in your contract. She said she would have liked to have represented Exxon after the Exxon Valdez spill. So, I think she found the right job.
Of course, you're really in trouble when Tucker Carlson thinks you're full of shite:
"I've obviously been lied to a lot by campaign operatives, but the striking thing about the way she lied was she knew I knew she was lying, and she did it anyway. There is no word in English that captures that. It almost crosses over from bravado into mental illness."
Yes, Karen's world is a very cynical one indeed.

Read on, MacDuff!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Crude likeness

The 'Sherlock Google' diarist over at has published an important report about the "uranium from Niger" document. Please go take a look at this post: these forgeries are the story behind the CIA-leak/Plame scandal. This is not about 'political hardball' or the Swiftboating of a slick diplomat (Joe Wilson). Nor is it about dame Judy Miller. Those are mere sideshows to the main event: duping a scared citizenry into an illegal war. At this point, it appears as though the special prosecutor, Fitzgerald, has expanded his purview to include these Niger forgeries. This could be huge.

By all accounts, the documents were really terrible forgeries; the International Atomic Energy Agency was able to debunk them within days of having access to them. The problem? They were witheld from the IAEA right up until the eve of the invasion of Iraq. I've seen some speculation about (Iran-Contra "figure") Michael Ledeen's possible involvement in the forgeries, but that's by no means proven-fact. The speculation regarding Ledeen centres on his ties to Italian Intelligence, 'SISMI,' the very agency that "found" the documents about Iraq's alleged interest in uranium from Niger.

Read on, MacDuff!