Monday, January 12, 2009

A Clean Break, A Fresh Start

Yesterday I pointed out Obama was going to have make a choice about Gitmo and make it soon. Either the US is a country of laws, or it's a country of fear. It looks very much like Obama is going to put off closing Gitmo for the forseeable future. Progressives are rightfully very angry, as should all Americans.

That makes this story coming out not 24 hours later all the more meaningful.
President-elect Barack Obama plans to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay as early as his first week in office to show a break from the Bush administration's approach to the war on terror, according to two officials close to the transition.

One of the officials said it would be in keeping with Obama's campaign promise to shut down the prison through executive order, a move which was also pushed by last year's Republican presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona.

"The president-elect has repeatedly said the legal framework at Gitmo has failed to successfully and swiftly prosecute terrorists," said one of the officials close to the transition, who was not authorized to speak publicly about private deliberations.

Such a move would reassure those concerned after Obama's recent public comments suggested he may not immediately shut the prison down.

If Obama could close Gitmo as soon as the end of the month, it would go a long, long way towards bringing America back. It's the right thing to do and always has been.

Then depends on what the meaning of "closed" is.

Who's Running The Show?

Everything you need to know about the relationship between Israeli Prime Ministers and American Presidents in the 21st Century is explained here.(h/t BooMan)
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was left shame-faced after President George W. Bush ordered her to abstain in a key UN vote on the Gaza war, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Monday.

"She was left shamed. A resolution that she prepared and arranged, and in the end she did not vote in favour," Olmert said in a speech in the southern town of Ashkelon.

The UN Security Council passed a resolution last Thursday calling for an immediate ceasefire in the three-week-old conflict in the Gaza Strip and an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza where hundreds have been killed.

Fourteen of the council's 15 members voted in favour of the resolution, which was later rejected by both Israel and Hamas.

The United States, Israel's main ally, had initially been expected to voted in line with the other 14 but Rice later became the sole abstention.

"In the night between Thursday and Friday, when the secretary of state wanted to lead the vote on a ceasefire at the Security Council, we did not want her to vote in favour," Olmert said.

"I said 'get me President Bush on the phone'. They said he was in the middle of giving a speech in Philadelphia. I said I didn't care. 'I need to talk to him now'. He got off the podium and spoke to me.

"I told him the United States could not vote in favour. It cannot vote in favour of such a resolution. He immediately called the secretary of state and told her not to vote in favour."

Nice to know Ehud Olmert is running America's foreign policy personally to the point where he can brag about it openly to the rest of the world.

Name another country's leader who would be allowed to make the entire US State Department make a 180-degree turn and then get to rub our faces in it publicly like this, and I'll leave Israel alone.

But it seems to me that Ehud Olmert almost feels sorry for Condi making that cease-fire resolution when he knew full well the US would never vote for it...because he controls that vote on anything having to do with Israel.

Just a thought, isn't having a foreign leader completely controlling our foreign policy towards that foreign leader's country, you know, illegal?


Here in the Cincy area, the impending retirement of GOP Senator George Voinovich has been all but a done deal. Today, that deal is done.
Voinovich announced his retirement this morning after a weekend filled with speculation that he was planning to step aside.

"This has not been an easy decision for us," Voinovich said of he and his wife. "I still have the fire in my belly to do the work of our nation, but after serving the next two years, it will be time to step back and spend the rest of our time with our children and grandchildren, siblings and extended family and friends."

Even as Voinovich's decision went public, former Rep. Rob Portman was moving to consolidate support behind his candidacy for the Republican nomination. Portman has already reached out to House Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) to make clear he would run, and reportedly will unveil Mercer Reynolds, the finance chairman of President George W. Bush's reelection race, as his lead money man. A formal announcement by Portman is likely by the end of the week.

Malkinvania declares personal victory over her arch enemy, the hated Republicans old white guys people who refuse to put Muslims in concentration camps, and Cap'n Crunch gives us the brilliant analysis of how Republicans "can’t afford too many more retirements if the Republicans expect to make a comeback in 2010" which is like saying "We can't let the other team score too many more touchdowns" when you're down 35-3 at the half.

Voinovich isn't a terrible guy for a Republican. He had his moments as mayor of Cleveland and Governor of Ohio before he became Senator, and he actually spoke out against Iraq once or twice (and most famously spoke out against John Bolton's nomination as UN Ambassador.) Of course, he didn't actually do anything about Bush's illegal crap...but then again a hell of a lot of Democrats fall in to that category too.

Still, this leaves the seat wide open for the Dems to pick up in 22 months.

The Rich Are Truly Different From You And Me

...mainly because they can afford better legal representation, like Bernie Madoff.
A U.S. magistrate judge on Monday, has allowed Bernard Madoff to remain free on bail.
Guy steals $347 bucks in an armed robbery, he's a blight on humanity and has to be denied bail because we're tough on crooks. Guy steals tens of billions, he's clearly not a flight risk. He doesn't have the means to go anywhere.

Last Guy Out Of The Press Room Hit The Lights

Bush's final press conference (as President, I'm hoping it's the last time he's on my TV ever) was...interesting.
In a nostalgic final news conference, President George W. Bush defended his record vigorously and at times sentimentally Monday. He also admitted many mistakes, from the "Mission Accomplished" banner during a 2003 Iraq speech to the discovery that the alleged Iraqi weapons of mass destruction that he used to justify war didn't exist.

After starting what he called "the ultimate exit interview" with a lengthy and personalized thank-you to the reporters in the room who have covered him over the eight years of his presidency, Bush showed anger at times when presented with some of the main criticisms of his time in office.

He particularly became indignant when asked about America's bruised image overseas.

"I disagree with this assessment that, you know, that people view America in a dim light," he said.

Bush said he realizes that some issues such as the prison for suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have created controversy at home and around the world. But he defended his actions after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, including approving tough interrogation methods for suspected terrorists and information-gathering efforts at home in the name of protecting the country.

Why is anyone surprised at this? A petulant child mouthing "I'm sorry" so he can get dessert.

What's Taking Them So Long

The JPost is reporting that Israel would stop bombing the bejeezus out of Gaza, but those horrible Hamas folks are under pressure to reject the generous Israeli cease-fire from (deep breath) IRAN.
Iran is exerting heavy pressure on Hamas not to accept the Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire with Israel, an Egyptian government official said on Sunday.

The official told The Jerusalem Post by phone that two senior Iranian officials who visited Damascus recently warned Hamas leaders against accepting the proposal.

His remarks came as Hamas representatives met in Cairo with Egyptian Intelligence Chief Gen. Omar Suleiman and his aides to discuss ways of ending the fighting in the Gaza Strip.

The Hamas representatives reiterated their opposition to a cease-fire that did not include the reopening of all the border crossings into the Gaza Strip, Hamas spokesmen said on Sunday.

The spokesmen said Hamas voiced its strong opposition to the idea of deploying an international force inside the Gaza Strip.

The Egyptian official said that the two Iranian emissaries, Ali Larijani, Speaker of the Iranian Parliament, and Said Jalili of the Iranian Intelligence Service, met in the Syrian capital with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal and Islamic Jihad Secretary-General Ramadan Shallah.

"As soon as the Iranians heard about the Egyptian cease-fire initiative, they dispatched the two officials to Damascus on an urgent mission to warn the Palestinians against accepting it," the Egyptian government official told the Post.

Reactions from the right range from this article indicating joy at the impending end of Hamas to jubilation over a clear and total win for the IDF to a capital reason for Israel to attack Iran as soon as possible.

The possibility that a hardline Israeli newspaper is running a story that just happens to indicate total victory by reporting second hand info from Egypt on what Iran is up to regarding Hamas might be propaganda of some sort has of course not occured to anyone.

Early Warning

Although it's patently obvious in both the talking points themselves and the fact they are straight from the RNC, if you want to know what the GOP Village talking points on Obama are going to be, check on a Sunday.
White House reporters for The New York Times predict that the market collapse will force President-elect Barack Obama to abandon for now many of his campaign promises.

If his stimulus plan "doesn’t work out, he may very well be a one-term president,” said Jeff Zeleny, who covered Obama’s campaign. “It’s hard to imagine that he could be reelected if the economy’s in the exact same position four years from now.”

“A lot of the things he said on the campaign trail you can now dispense with,” said correspondent Peter Baker. “For the moment he has to focus on the economy.”

The reporters, gathered at a Sunday afternoon panel at the New York Times Center in New York City, largely concurred with the assessment that turning around the economy now trumps the issues Obama focused on from the stump until the market meltdown in August.

Baker suggested Obama would tackle smaller-scale issues related to his major agenda items as a kind of political “down payment” on his promises, for now would retreat from even some of his firmest pledges.

“You’re not going to see universal health care, I don’t think, this year,” Baker said. “You’re not going to see a cap on carbon emissions, as he has promised, probably, this year.”

And for all of his campaign trail talk about collective sacrifice, Baker observed, Obama has seemed reluctant to call for austerity in a challenging economic moment.

“He hasn’t asked anybody for sacrifice,” Baker said. “His whole economic package is about giving things to people.”
So yeah, the insufferably liberal NY Times has not only decided Obama now owns the economy, but the Village has already declared Obama a one-termer before he has even been sworn into office. Think about that. Politico is certainly trying to become the one-stop shop for Village Idiocy in the 21st century, and it is well on its way of being the fastest way to metagame GOP talking points into a nice, portable lump of crap. It's a convenient way for wingnuts, Village Idiots, and "sensible pundit types" to sit around and share their collective disdain for all things progressive. Clucking their tongues, wondering where he went wrong, resigning him to Jimmy Carter status, already doing the post-mortem on his term...and he's not even President yet. Gotta love our "liberal media".

As Mel Brooks said in Robots, "See a need, fill a need." Unfortunately the problem is in Washington there's a need for all the preening Village centrists to hear themselves speak ad nauseum.

Historical Parallels

Over the weekend, George Will compared Obama's apparent decision not to go after Bush to Ford's pardon of Nixon. For once, I completely agree with the man, it's exactly like pardoning Nixon.
"With regard to investigating the Bush administration, he's made the decision that Gerald Ford made with regard to pardoning Richard Nixon, which is your presidency can be swallowed up by the past arguments or you can go forward. That's very sensible," Will said.
History was somewhat kinder to Ford than it will be to Obama should Bush not suffer any consequences, however...and even then Ford was rewarded with a brutal economy and only 29 months in the Oval Office.

It was often said that Ford did the right thing for the country in 1974, but all he really did was leave the door open a generation later. If Ford had not pardoned Nixon and the whole stinking mess had gone to jail, that would have ended the career of one Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and certainly would have been the end of Nixon's White House Chief of Staff -- a fellow by the name of Dick Cheney.

I'm Going To Need A Few To Repair The Irony Detector

Joe the Plumber, loose in Israel as a war correspondent for Pajamas Media, seems to think he and other war correspondents shouldn't actually be corresponding.

I’ll be honest with you. I don’t think journalists should be anywhere allowed war. I mean, you guys report where our troops are at. You report what’s happening day to day. You make a big deal out of it. I think it’s asinine. You know, I liked back in World War I and World War II when you’d go to the theater and you’d see your troops on, you know, the screen and everyone would be real excited and happy for’em. Now everyone’s got an opinion and wants to downer–and down soldiers. You know, American soldiers or Israeli soldiers.

I think media should be abolished from, uh, you know, reporting. You know, war is hell. And if you’re gonna sit there and say, “Well look at this atrocity,” well you don’t know the whole story behind it half the time, so I think the media should have no business in it.

I'm gonna leave the response to this one to Tbogg.
I know we should ignore Wurzelbacher but he's the piƱata of stupid and every time you whack him he disgorges more idiocy and then the right wingers have to clutch this idiot child ever tighter to their chicken-breasted bosoms.
The life lesson Joe's bringing out of a two-week plus slaughter of Palestinians inside a massive wall is that the entire journalistic world should be downright ashamed of acknowledging that there's any other valid viewpoint other than "Israel and/or the United States has any and every right to defend itself by destroying as much of the Islamic world as it sees fit."

I'd weep, but in order to have that kind of emotional investment I'd have to get past the monolithic idiocy of the right first.

[UPDATE] Jesse Taylor at Pandagon skewers Joe' employers.
Bob Owens compares Joe to Stephen Crane, dynamo war correspondent and author of The Red Badge of Courage. Because as we all know, The Red Badge of Courage was written after a highly publicized week-long publicity junket where Crane stood around and asked bizarre, pointless questions with his mouth gaping open, and then filed a dispatch declaring that he shouldn’t be allowed to do the job he was being paid to do.

But there is an obvious fear among so many members of the media so defensively and preemptively dismissive of “Joe the Plumber” trying his hand at reporting. Deep inside, they must wonder if an Ohio plumber could really be much worse than the so-called professionals we already have. There lies the fear that underlies those mocking Wurzelbacher in the media. It is a bruise to their egos when they realize that almost anyone can do what they do.

Here’s the thing: political blogging is built in no small part on the idea that many journalists do their job poorly, and therefore we need better reporters who do their job more competently. This is deeply undercut by the idea that journalism is a job babbling simpletons can do so long as they’re conservatives. How to solve this dilemma?

Apparently, more simpletons.

Makes sense to me. When you're devoted to spewing out mindless idiocy, you turn to idiots to make sure the job's done right.


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